So here’s a thing:
Last night I was at dinner with a friend and said, parenthetically, “…since I’m not having children…” which really makes it sound like, well, I’m not having children.
I’ve made similar statements, to friends and to myself and I’ll be the first to admit that there are times when I have not just noted that I am childless, but reveled in it. The quiet car on the train is nice, y’all. It’s quiet. And less crowded. I have this pretty nice life, sans a child. Especially now that I’m not miserably in the midst of trying to create said nonexistent child. I’ve spent a good bit of time this summer with people who also don’t have children and are not trying to get/have/make any right now. It’s…. nice. Actually really nice.
And yet. This morning I was having coffee with another friend – Sophie’s mama if you must know – who mentioned in the context of something else that she’d gotten pregnant at 42. And my first thought was, “well, damn, I’ve got two years left!” And then I rolled my eyes at myself. Because: no money, no sperm, no embryos left. You’ll all (two of you) remember that. But, still, my first thought was that I still had time.
This is not some “Woo! I’m Trying Again!” post. Because I am not. It’s more a “How Can I Hold Two Seemingly Opposing Feelings At The Same Time?” post. But who’d title a post that? Not me, clearly.
A couple weeks ago, I was at the beach (oh, the beach….) with a bunch of other gay people. Wow, the beach. So great. And yay! Gay people! Gay people who are not now, nor ever were, trying to have children. And, wow, was that a nice and unexpected bonus of the trip. I said as much, I think. And, still, I’d catch myself watching the children on the beach, sometimes wishing one of them was mine. I didn’t say much of anything about that. It was so great to be there and not have a child with me. It was hard/sad/something to see other people having a thing I always thought I’d have.
There’s no conclusion to this post.
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’s hard to wait, as we often say in my classroom.
Part of the issue, maybe, is that I have no structure to my days now that my stint at summer camp is over. The ttw for this try exists in this limbo state between work and travel and while that seems smart on some levels (rest and relaxation) it seems foolish on others (lack of structure, lack of distractions). Anyway! That’s how it is.
The part that becomes the easiest to obsess over is the timing of the beta. My old and dear RE, in combo with the Richmond RE, always did betas at 14 dpo, or 14 days after retrieval. The cheater RE has scheduled one at 16 dpo, in which “o” means retrieval. Which is sort of ok and sort of not.
I mean, I guess I feel them with wanting an unambiguous number, but if there’s an early miscarriage – sorry, I mean a “chemical pregnancy”, then that’s useful information to have, in my mind.
On the other hand, in this case – i.e. Last Best Hope – who the hell cares about useful information?
The other Issue At Hand (you can tell I’m bored by extra capitals), is that I’ll be doing the aforementioned traveling when it’s 16 dpo. Hell, I’ll be doing the aforementioned traveling when it’s 14 dpo. But there would still be enough time for a quick trip to the lab before I get on the plane.
I’m of two minds about the testing day:
- make a fuss so they will write me a slip for a beta 14 dpo because knowing shit sooner is better.
- go for the 16 dpo one, even though I’ll be out of town because then I can assume I’m pregnant for two extra days.
Y’all. I have gone back and forth about a million times.
Then factor in whether to order more PIO….. (There is enough to get me a couple days past a 16 dpo beta, but it has to be compounded and then shipped, so one needs to order in advance and I’ll be, well, traveling.)
And do I try to get a progesterone check thrown in there, too? Because I love labs?
There were some fun pseudo-symtoms earlier: cramps (that’s the only one I can actually associate with prior pregnancies, well, that and crying), crazy tired (which could be just my general state), some bloating of sorts (my clothes fit funny at least) and the need to pee all the damn time (decidedly *not* normal for a preschool teacher).
But those all disappeared a couple days ago and were probably just the giant dose of HCG I gave myself before the retrieval.
Now I’ve got nothing but tiredness and being teary over the million novels I’ve been reading.
Funny how I didn’t blog much on bed rest. I was too busy resting. I’m sure you’re sorry. It was uneventful, if y’all must know. Well, that’s not entirely true. There was a strange event with the furnace (I KNOW!) on Saturday night that caused me some mild panic and then some (few!) tears on Saturday, but my dear roommate ventured down to the crawl space and flipped the emergency off switch and now I think (hope?) I can safely ignore the whole thing until later. Why does my house freak out when I am on bedrest? (Oh, jeeze, I’d forgotten about just how bad that round of bedrest was.)
Anyway, I’m up now. I put on real clothes and went to lunch yesterday and everything, My PIO is going well (the real trick, I’ve discovered, is not to walk a mile right after shooting oil into your gluteus maximus, just f y’all’s i) and, really I do prefer it to prometrium. The mess was just like a waxy smack in the face on top of the misery of IVF. The shots? Well, they are just shots, no mess. Plus, I feel like a bad ass. (Jokes may be left in the comments.) The one down side is I feel like I am not doing enough to make this embryo stick. I mean, a needle in my ass once a day only takes a few minutes and that’s with all the clean up. Maybe I’ll get some pineapple tomorrow.
My lower abdomen is vaguely crampy, which I am assuming is residual from the retrieval. My boobs re sore and huge(r), which I know is the progesterone. I used a due date calculator today, which I know is stupid. Everything is right on track.
Except Ol’ Three Nuclei, who seems to have, well, done something. I’d forgotten that the lab guy told me on Saturday at the transfer that he was going to let the embryos we weren’t putting back hang out in their posh petri dish for a few more days, just to see what they did. Valium makes one forget, so it’s a good thing M was there for company and mental note taking. Anyway, the lab guy called today, late, and said that Three Nuclei is still growing and is looking *more* normal. Crazy.
If it keeps going until tomorrow, he wants to send it to NJ where they do their PGD and get it tested to see if it is worth freezing. He’s pitched it to them as “of academic interest” and the guy at his level there has said he will do the testing for free, but has to run it by his boss. If it looks good, genetically, then pow! Embryo in the freezer. If not, no loss. Boss is on vacation out of the country. The lab guy is going to see if it’s still in the game tomorrow and biopsy the bit he’d send off and freeze that as well as freeze dear Three Nuclei so if the genetic testing gets done *and* if it comes back normal, then things are ready to go. So we shall see what we see.
The lab guy seems genuinely fascinated and I really wish I could remember all the technical stuff he said. The one stat I do remember was that it had gone from a 3 cell to a 7 cell in around 14 hours on Saturday, which is crazy fast (unknown if this is “good” or “bad”). It’s taken it’s tiny self to blast by today, although there is still this extra “micro nucleus” hanging around. So really, this is all a big experiment, which I feel pretty good about. If I get another viable embryo, fab. If this one isn’t viable, but can shed even the tiniest bit of light into the darkness that is infertility, fab.
The lab guy also feels like the magical turn around (not his term) of little Three Nuclei bodes well for the continued development of the one (The Good One) they put back in me. And so there’s that.
Nothing left but the waiting, y’all.
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.
Or not. Not the little dog, too.
As of around 5 this afternoon, there was one lone “classically fertilized” embryo left. Which is one more than I had at this time last week, so that’s something, right? Right.
Let’s rewind to this morning, after my second shot of PIO (yes, more liquid hurts more, also a mile walk does not equal a serious butt massage with a hot wash cloth; yes, I am still sore; yes, I still like this better than prometrium) when my boss appears on the playground and waits around, patiently, for me to be done dealing with various children and their attendant parents. Turns out she’d gotten two phone calls from the lab because they couldn’t get me on my phone and so she was there to take my place on the playground so I could got find out what the fuck was going on.
Not much. That’s what was going on. The head lab guy reported that two eggs had fertilized and looked good, that four or five were not really acting like they were going to do anything, but that maybe they might, if pigs could fly and hell froze over. And did I want to do rescue ICSI on those eggs? Well, no. I don’t. Thanks, though. That’s thousands more dollars and if there are sperm in any of those four or five an extra sperm being injected into them would send them to their proverbial graves. I made clear that I understood what was going on and that I was willing to take my chances.
So then I went on about my day and awaited the afternoon phone call that had been promised. And I missed it. Because I am still weirded out enough by having a phone that it is often not on and so I missed the lab guy’s call. His voice mail said to call him on his cell phone. Or at home. He really is very nice. Did I tell y’all he’s married to my kindergarten teacher?
Turns out one of the two good looking embryos had taken a turn for the strange and developed three nuclei instead of the usual two. Part of me is all “whoa, shit – that’s amazing!” But the other part is “uum, huh. That doesn’t bode well,” which is the more appropriate response because it doesn’t bode well. For normal development, that is. But since there is only the one other good one left, Old Three Nuclei is being left in the petri dish to see if by some miracle, it chances course and begins to move in a more normal direction. Meanwhile, the 4 or 5 Miss Congenialities for whom I’d refused ICSI were showing no signs of cleaving, which might have won any one of them the honor of second runner up, but they also weren’t dead, so they are also being left in the petri dish. The nice lab guy says it’s stressful for them to be taken in and out of the incubator, so he’s going to leave them alone until Saturday.
So cross your fingers that The Good Looking one keeps on keeping on because that’s all there is.
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)