A Story In A Few Parts Dedicated To Bionic On The Belated Occasion Of Her Birth.
“Is that you? Did you come in the front door right as I stepped out the back?” asked the roommate who used to be a monk from the front porch, where he had not been just a moment before.
“I did!” said Captain Starrhill Girl as she took off her boots, a little surprised, “How funny!”
“I am going to the very young roommate with a flute’s flute recital,” said the roommate who used to be a monk.
“Oh, no! Is that today?!” exclaimed Captain Starrhill Girl, alarmed and excited all at the same time. She had just trudged up what is locally known as Vinegar Hill with a backpack full of items from school and groceries from the health food store in a lovely new bag from the far-off Park Slope Food Co-op, and – obvs – she had forgotten about the very young roommate with a flute’s flute recital.
“It is; she mentioned it to me special this morning. Four o’clock! Do you want to go? Come on!” said the roommate who used to be a monk. “It will be an adventure!”*
“Ok!” said Captain Starrhill Girl and she threw down her bags and pulled her boots back on.
Off they went to the bus stop for an adventure!
The talk between Captain Starrhill Girl and the roommate who used to be a monk turned to the bus schedule, as it often did. They compared stories of early and late buses they had known and Captain Starrhill Girl pointed out various people she knew as they drove by while they waited at the bus stop on Main street across from the fancy market. At last a bus came into view and the adventure began!
“I think we could get off this bus and get onto one of the university buses,” said the roommate who used to be a monk as they rode west along Main street, “then we wouldn’t have to wait while the bus has it’s idle time there at the stop by the hospital.” There had already been discussion about the stupidity of the length and frequency of the pauses the city buses took in order to get themselves, one assumes, back on schedule.
“Ok,” said Captain Starrhill Girl, who just assumed that the roommate who used to be a monk had a better grasp of the bus systems.
As the bus got closer to the stop by the hospital, the roommate who used to be a monk stepped down from his seat and stood, poised, at the back door of the bus, ready to hop off as soon as it stopped. Captain Starrhill Girl figured she ought to be ready, too, and stood right behind him, willing and able to hop off the bus as soon as the roommate who used to be a monk did. The bus pulled up to the stop by the hospital, and the adventure continued!
The roommate who used to be a monk nearly leapt out of the back door of the bus, with Captain Starrhill Girl close at his heals, where she decided not to remain because his legs were far longer than hers. The roommate who used to be a monk sped right through the line of people filing in the front door of the bus he had just exited from the rear, cleaving them into two groups as if they were the waters of the Red Sea and the roommate who used to be a monk were Moses, as he made his way with due haste to the university bus waiting just ahead. Captain Starrhill Girl opted to walk almost as quickly, artfully dodging around the final person in line, because she is a small town girl at heart and can’t really bring herself to cut in line, even if it is just in passing. The roommate who used to be a monk lived in New York City about a generation ago, and has many tales of adventure to tell about it; it could be assumed that this was where and when he learned his mad crowd-splicing skillz.
With all speed, the adventuresome duo stepped up and onto the waiting university bus and off they went – to adventure!
Two blocks later (yes, 2 blocks), the university bus pulled up at the stop just past the hospital. “We made it!” cried the roommate who used to be a monk and Captain Starrhill Girl with delight as they passed their original bus which has just pulled up at the same stop** and hurried up the many sets of stairs that lead, swtichback style, to the lawn of the local university. The very young roommate with a flute was lucky enough to be giving her recital in a hall with the best acoustics in the state, according to some.
The roommate who used to be a monk took his watch out of his pocket and checked the time; it was just a few minutes before four o’clock. “Sometimes I surprise even myself,” said the roommate who used to be a monk modestly.
“That was very well planned,” agreed Captain Starrhill Girl as they hurried up the final set of steps into the hall. They hesitated a moment, trying to decide if it was wiser to enter from the left side or the right side. “Ah ha!” said Captain Starrhill Girl to herself once she spied a music stand that looked as if it had been repurposed as a program holder and she lead them to the left on the final leg of the adventure, into the main and most famous room of the hall just in time to hear the very young roommate with the flute begin her sonatina.
* Some, not all, of the dialogue in this story is made up.
**It could be argued that Captain Starrhill Girl and the roommate who used to be a monk should have stayed on their original bus, but really, how were they to know it wasn’t going to have it’s usual idle time at the stop by the hospital?
(with apologies to Gideon Defoe)
The funeral was good, y’all. I love them. For a while, I tried to couch that love in more acceptable phrases like “it was as good as such things can be” and “it was lovely” and “it’s an important right of passage” but more recently, I just admit I love them. A little group-emotion-solidarity? Yes. Some ritual? Yes. Talking about the best parts of a person? Yes.
From an email to Bionic:
****’s dad is a preacher – it was his wife who died – and when everyone stands and greets each other with “peace be with you” he came over to the side of the church where a bunch of us were standing and only doing a little greeting and peace-ing and said, hanky (yes, hanky – I’d brought one of my grandma’s to give to **** and good thing I did because she gave it to her dad in the middle of the service) in hand, “for those of you are are not as familiar with our traditions, peace be with all of you” which was the most moving part of the whole deal. ****’s family really is delightful and I am so glad I went. Totally worth the 4 hour drive. Also, rural Virginia. Be still my heart.
It’s possible that one could just read my emails to Bionic (Did you really need a link again? I didn’t think so.) and Uberbutch and skip this blog entirely.
Friday I went to (another) birthday party that involved a viewing of the Topp Twins documentary and a spin in a sauna. I was exhausted from all the driving over the past couple days, and because I am a wimp, but it was an awfully nice birthday party. There was cake:
Wow, that’s not such a good picture. Sorry. Now, I’ma be honest here, since it’s my blog and all, and tell you I don’t love the sentiment on the cake. However, the birthday recipient loved it as did the host who commissioned it and the cake itself was delicious, so I’ll call it a win. Plus, all the other pictures have people in them so this is what you get.
Then Saturday (y’all, this is just like a diary!) I went to a baby shower. Yes. For my dear friend M who worked long and hard to get this baby. I had sorted through a box of baby things that a friend gave me years ago (cho-girl hid it for me in her house for a long time and then it lived in the shed and then it was just time for it to go) and I gave the bulk of it to some other friends (who might have a girl), but I saved some plain and lovely shirts and a little pair of pants for M (who knows she is having a boy). And gave her two tiny hats that were the only baby things I’d ever bought for myself because I knew she’d treasure them and also just use them. There is only so much standing on sentiment that one can do on some hats. Now, I was… unsettled? bothered?… by a number of things at this shower, but they were things that don’t relate to infertility and so from that point of view the shower was great. I am really glad I went, just to make this retelling of my friend’s shower all about me.
Last night I did nothing. It was heaven. There’d been too much time away from home and my internal organs were starting to shrivel up. I ate left overs and watched trashy tv and polished my shoes and my roommate’s shoes with my grandpa’s shoe shine kit. There was a fire. In the stove. Unrelated to my grandpa’s shoe shine kit.
This afternoon, I’m going to Red Row Farm. Five years ago, when they still lived in Starrhill, W yelled over the fence early in the morning that L’s water had broken and so we spent that drizzly Saturday walking around Starrhill and 10th & Page trying to get labor started. A little less than 24 hours later, A arrived and I fed his mama ice chips that I think she still claims are the best thing ever, and watched as they encouraged A to nurse and became a family. I left them at the hospital and came back to Starrhill and got the nicest hug from L’s mama who had just arrived from NJ. It was a pretty great day.
Y’all. It has been a day. A good day, mind you, but A Day, all the same.
School was damn good, for a Wednesday, and I made it to staff meeting “on time” which is supposed to mean that there is just enough time to run a load of laundry through the washer and dryer. Today, I realized this is a false assumption. I stayed 15 minutes late and it was still not dry. Oh, well. But! All in all, work was good.
Then I drove to RIC to pick up a friend who flew in to see her sister’s new baby and, well, RIC is far. It’s an easy drive and I’m happy to do it, but it’s far. And then we went down to Nelson County to see said new baby and her equally appealing older sisters, and, of course, then we had to come back to Starrhill. All of which equals late. So worth it. But sill late.
And it’s not over! This afternoon I got the funeral information about another friend’s mama and the service is tomorrow. So I set about scrambling to find a sub and tried to figure how late I could leave school in cville and still make it to the church in Southside and then I had to organize a car, just in case the scrambling-for-a-sub worked out, because I’d loaned mine out for the next few days and then I had to get said organized car, which my visiting friend obligingly helped out with, and then, well, it was late. Like 9:30 or something. Which isn’t late for getting home for lots of people, but it is for me.
And the trash still had to be put out and the recycling and the fire had to be started because it’s damn cold all of a sudden. Lucky for me, my housemate fed the cats, else I’d have lost a limb when I finally arrived home.
And then I did some math involving time and realized that I could scramble a little more to get a sub to go to this funeral, because, for real, ya’ll: it’s funeral. You just go, as my father always says. My uncle, my dad’s older brother, flew from the west coast back east for every damn family funeral in my life time. He’d often stay with me and he’d always arrive with a bottle of George Dickel and we’d have drinks on the porch in the evening and breakfast from the bakery in the morning and then he’d pick me up from school so we could make it to whichever country church it was that go-round. Mostly he was here for a day or two, but he’d sometimes fly in on the red-eye and then out on an evening flight. And I’m fretting over a drive to Southside? No. My subs are in order; my funeral clothes are out and ready to be carried to school; I have my dad’s truck and I am getting to that damn church on time. May all your people who are no longer with you rest in peace.
I’m not pregnant. Again. I am, however, in sometimes-sunny San Francisco, which is a decent consolation prize. Ok, consolation prize isn’t the thing, but aside from a breakdown or two, I honestly am ok.
This leg of the trip I’m staying with a dear friend of (maths….) 27 years (whoa.) and her equally dear girlfriend in their new-ish house and my childless and unpregnant state allows me to do things like sit a bar all afternoon drinking Pimm’s cups while reading a graphic novel and chatting with the (hot) bar tender (who was very into talking about guns and how she *needed* them to defend her “female partner and 12 year old asthmatic pug and hairless cat” to which should teach me to judge by appearances.)
Which is to say I am doing ok. The waste of all the money is, well a waste – and there’s little I like less than waste – but there it is. I have thrown away the PIO I hauled across the country and my friend has arranged for Lyon-Martin to take my extra needles and syringes so I don’t have to throw them away (see waste issues above), so that’s all ok.
Which is not to say that this doesn’t suck. It does. And I have no idea what happens from here. No fucking idea. But right now, I am in good company, writing and reading and drinking tea. And tonight I get on the train to travel up the coast to Seattle.
Which is to say that the world will continue to turn and I will be ok.
it only takes one
Y’all, I have had a lot of transfers. Six, if my count is correct, plus today, which makes seven. They are, for me, no big deal. Hell, I could do those fuckers in my sleep. With the two valium I took today, it was sort of close to that. Ok, not really, but two valium is fun!
My friend M, of do-your-PIO-shot-while-lying-down fame, was kind enough to drive me this morning. (The appointment was late enough that I got to make my usual trip to the market to pick up my CSA.) I obediently drank a fuck-ton of water – because this is A Full Bladder Appointment, you know – after I got back from the market and took my two valium (I thought three was overkill and told them so) at the correct time and M drove up and collected me and my big bag of medications that I was going to happily unload on the nice people at the cheater RE’s (they will donate them to people in their egg donor program). And off we went! It was a fun trip. Because of the valium. And because M is nice.
We were in the same little cold room as I was Wednesday for the retrieval, and then they wheeled me into the adjoining Room Full of Medical Things, which I thought was just an OR, but apparently is used for all sorts of things. Funny. Anyway, the lab guy (to whom I’d spoken on the phone earlier in the morning to get the lay of the embryonic land: ok, but not top of the class – much like me) came in and explained the procedure, which M and I listened to with great seriousness (she was serious in a blue hair net thing) because the lab guy is serious as well as really nice. They covered me a million bankets and used the big girl external ultrasound to see if my bladder was full enough (it was) and then my name and birthdate came up on a tv screen in the corner. Weird! Once I confirmed that was me, the screen showed my embryo. M said it was “very cute”. She’s a good friend.
And then in went the speculum and then in went a catheter – it was Dr. Soap Opera, btw – and then the lab guy came in the the embryo in it’s own little catheter which was threaded through the first catheter that was threaded through my cervix (“straight, or true north” comment Dr. Soap Opera, when I offered that my old RE had said it was NE). There is a name for this sort of transfer, but in my valium-induced fog, I have forgotten it.
And then it was all done and I was wheeled back to the small cold room to lie down for 20 minutes before they would let me up to pee.
M took me to acu, which was pretty much a repeat of Wednesday with the needles in different places. Which is to say, great. And I’ve been here on the couch ever since. S brought me coconut soup for dinner.
Ways In Which The Cheater RE Is Not Like Richmond:
- transfer takes place in the catch-all room, which is also for retrievals – in Richmond, you stay in the fancy room and they bring the embryos to you in their chariot, aka incubator.
- embryos get screen time – on screen, not watching things themselves; the AAP would never condone that.
- there are fewer staff people – maybe this is a Saturday thing? Today was the lab guy, Dr. Soap Opera and one of the clinic nurses. In Richmond, I’d get at least two nurses, Dr. S, the embryologist and then often a bonus person who was there to do… something? It always felt like a party. Or maybe that was the valium?
For all the times I’ve done this, for all the cold ultrasound gel and the need to pee, for all the tubes and face masks and the virtual strangers leaning over my nether regions, the moment of seeing that tiny glowing white bit that is my embryo pop into view on the ultrasound monitor will never cease to amaze me. One of the (few) bonuses of infertility, I think, is that there is this feeling of community: everybody seems to be on your team, even with this round robin of doctors; everyone is working toward a goal that we all genuinely *wish* to reach. Who says science is cold and heartless? Not anyone who’s be there for that moment of collective breath-holding, as we all watch to see that speck of light appear and then settle into place, carrying any number of people’s hope along with it.
Here’s to it only taking one.
That’s how many eggs were retrieved today. Good lord. No wonder my ovaries felt like they might pop through my abdomen yesterday.
Contrary to my dream last night, I arrived at the cheater RE’s right on time this morning, maybe a little early, even, thanks to D. Funny, how when one is told that one cannot eat or drink, one is terribly thirsty and hungry. For the record, I am never thirsty.
So anyway, we arrived and found the correct door, helpfully labeled “IVF Room” or some such and then as bonus sign insurance, there was a picture of a 8 celled embryo. Just in case you…. forgot what you were doing there?
So in we went and it was fucking freezing, but that’s how that particular cookie crumbles and they had warmed my gown and footies, so it wasn’t so bad. The very nice nurse asked me why I was there, which made me give her a funny look when I answered “egg retrieval?” And then she told a story about how that question seriously alarmed some woman once and the nurse had to clarify for her that it was to be sure that the patient knew why she was there and that the staff already knew. “Like a test!” I said. And then I asked if I had passed. And she said yes and then the needle she was trying to put in my arm promptly broke. (Ok, not promptly – there may have been some other chatter and some paper work in there.)
The broken IV needle isn’t as dramatic as it sounds, because I’m an easy stick and so I offered her all my other options, which she sweetly didn’t want to use because they are all bruised up from me refusing the weird wrap thing they do with blood draws now. She was dear and didn’t want to stick me where I was already bruised. As she started examining my hand (saying she hates to do hands because she feel like they sting more with the meds) the anesthesiologist came in and, very pleasantly, took over. And stuck my hand. Which was fine.
And then they ushered D out and wheeled me though a door and there I was in the OR.
And then there I was back in the little cold room (which had a great view of the mountains).
Predictably, I cried and D was sweet and comforting and then I was ready to eat my crackers and drink my ginger ale. Then they let me up to pee, which they said was A Good Sign and so then the nice nurse took out my IV and I could get dressed. There may have been more lying in the bed being sniffly than I am remembering, but really for the most part, it was all pretty fast.
I will admit not a small amount of pride in how I gave myself my first PIO injection. The nice nurse and I had a little teaching session (that is, she gave me A Lesson for the Montessori in you) and then she insisted that I dose myself then and there so she could watch to be sure I got it. And it was so fine. Not a big deal. Whew. My boobs got in the way a bit, in terms of the sight lines to my ass, but my friend M later said she used to do hers lying down and that took care of that problem. Tomorrow’s shot will be of a larger volume – same sized needle – which will change things some, but so far I feel like I am much happier with the shots than with the various pessaries and creams and goos and such.
And then I toddled off, well was driven by D, to acu. Which was it’s usual fab self; there were some needles, there was some moxibustion, there was a rub down with liniment and there was the surprise revelation that my acu guy likes si-fi!
My aforementioned friend M, of “lie down for your PIO shot” fame, picked me up from acu (I didn’t want to take up all of D’s day, although she offered several times to stay at acu with me) and treated me to extra strength tylenol, gatorade and a liverwurst bagel. All this after I almost threw up in her car. Y’all, my friends are nice. There was a quick and unpleasant round of nausea as we drive home – I had to ask M to pull over – but once it passed I felt pretty good. Like when you throw up when you’re drunk and then you’re all “I feel great now! Let’s have another drink!” It was weird. Aside from that brief spell of nausea, things were easy. I was good about staying on top of hydration and pain, which I think I wasn’t last time. And there were 17 eggs this time, not 21, which also may have made a difference.
The doctor on today wasn’t Dr. Hot, much to my sadness, but that all ended up ok, too. It was the guy I like least, but he was friendly and more accessible than he was the other day and damn if he didn’t do some loaves and fishes magic with my follicles so I am warming to him. And then we saw Dr. Soap Opera in the elevator as we left, so that was entertaining.
So hooray, the part I was most afraid of is done. (Well, I still have to take some meds that might make me vomit if I don’t take them with food, but that will be ok. It will.) Fertility report tomorrow. Transfer Saturday or Monday.
Oh, I forgot to tell you about the hospital grade pad they nicely put out for me in the bathroom at the Cheater RE’s and my not-pad-friendly undies. You’re welcome.
Ways In Which The Cheater RE Is Not Like Richmond:
- no ipod dock in the room, which was smaller and more sterile looking in general
- nasal cannula was inserted before the meds took effect – I had no idea there was one used on me in Richmond
- sticky monitoring things were stuck on after the meds – in Richmond, they put them on me before I even got to the OR
- my ride/handholder was sent back to the regular waiting room to wait – I think in Richmond, she stayed in the very posh room that was “mine” for the duration of the procedure
- no clock to look at the in OR, while counting down as the anesthesia does it’s thing
- nice view of the mountains (no mountains in Richmond, duh)
I dropped a syringe, full of a little hcg and a lot of gonal-f and a good sized air bubble, into the sink, cap off, and bent the needle a bit. Then I tried to straighten it out. Which sort of worked. I wondered if I was having an experience akin to what a serious IV drug user would have if out of needles. Then I tried to push out the now-giant-seeming air bubble and lost some of the medication. Probably less than I feared? Who knows. I don’t know how to convert droplets to International Units.
And the cetrotide was its usual pain in the ass self: while it dissolved pretty easily in its bariostatic water, I couldn’t get the last bits of it drawn up into the syringe with the (giant) mixing needle and so I swapped for the (smaller) injection needle and it still wouldn’t all come up and then I said “fuck it” quietly and to myself and gave up and went to push out the (huge-looking) air bubble and lost what felt like a million IU of the medication. Like in the movies when they hold the giant syringe up and squirt out a waterfall’s worth of liquid from the needle before giving a shot? Yeah. It was like that. In my heart it was like that. For real, it was just a little.
So I am going with the “I sort of fucked all that up tonight and that’s just a little too bad because there is nothing to be done about it now” mode of coping. N.B. how “relaxed” I must be to have such an attitude. Surely this will all work out because I am so fucking relaxed and that’s all it takes.
I roped LB into going to the cheater RE with me today. I know she was anxious to see my ovaries on screen. (They are like tiny film stars, y’all.) Actually I think she has simply known me long enough to realize the my faux-casual “you could come if you want” masked a marked desire for company. Mind you, this was something I didn’t even realize myself until she asked if I *wanted* her to go for company. Ahem. And so she got to experience the wonder of a fertility clinic on a Saturday morning. She poetically described my ovaries as looking like dried lotus seed pods. She’s got a way with words, that one.
Any damn way.
You’re more interesting in stats. I know. Here you go, cribbed from an email to Bionic, who loves a plagiarizer with her entire heart.
5 + follicles on either side. Biggest on the left 16mm. Biggest on the right 14mm. Lots of “synchronized follicles” hovering around 13. Apparently once things get to 16mm then they are certain to “participate”. New info FTW! So more meds tonight and they will see me in the am. It should be Dr. W, who D**** and M***** call Dr. Soap Opera because he is so handsome. I like him. Also, Dr. Hot was in her scrubs today. *swoon* I think I should lobby for her to do all my procedures based on how I feel when looking at her in scrubs. Raised libido helps, right?
Honest, y’all. A woman in glasses with a voice of authority and some compassion does it for me every time.
Clearly, I forgot to record the thickness of my endometrium. It was something like 10mm. E2 came in somewhere over 1000, which is good. Once all those synchronized follicles get to 16mm or more, then I can trigger. Mid-week transfer, I hope.
For the first time in days (4? 5?) I don’t have a headache. I am blaming the gonal-f. And I’m really glad not to have one. The cetrotide makes me a little itchy at the injection site, but not too bad. Everything is manageable, but…. I’d forgotten that this last stretch is not so fun. I am still remarkably cheerful for the most part though.