Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We're on our way, and a heartbreaking story

I found out that our donor's AF arrived, and she started her BCPs over the weekend.  So we continue to be on track for a first week of June (or maybe last week of May?) embryo transfer!  Once I get the "all clear" on my sonohysterogram on May 6, I will be able to start my lu.pron for our cycle ASAP!

I'm really excited.  I knew our donor and I weren't far apart in our cycles--I started my BCPs Saturday--and I was hopeful that it wouldn't take much to synch us.  On the other hand, I've read about women having trouble related to the donor's AF not arriving on time.  So glad that hasn't happened to us!

On an unrelated note. . . a friend of mine posted a link to this website last night on Fac.ebo.ok.  When we are going through IF, I think we all hope for a full-term, healthy baby.  This poor little one was born at just 26 weeks and after six months in the NICU is battling stage 3 liver cancer.  So sad!  I thought sharing the link to her story was the least I could do to help this precious little girl.

[BTW, MM asked me not to tell him anything more about this story when I briefly mentioned it and said "I don't know why you'd want to read about something like that."]

The Versatile Blogger, Take 2

Recently I've been given the Versatile Blogger award by two readers, A Shadow of My Former Self and Krissi.  Thanks, ladies!

I didn't want either of you to think I was ignoring you, and I'm flattered by the award.  I did receive and post this award once before, in this post.  In the interest of time, I'm not going to pass this award along again.  And after over two years of over-sharing on this blog, there probably aren't too many things that people reading don't know about me!  But I'll try to name seven.

1.  My hair is naturally curly.  I used to hate it when I was younger, but since my late 20s, I have let my hair be the way it wants to be instead of struggling against it.  Since then, I have liked it more.

2.  I love, love, love to read!  Looking back, I wish I had become a book editor for my career.  Maybe next lifetime.

3.  I love cheese.  There have only been a couple of varieties I've ever tried that I didn't like.  I can pass up sweets, but if I find myself at a party with a cheese tray, look out!

4.  I have never attended a high school reunion, and I never will.  High school is not a time in my life which I am eager to revisit.

5.  I wish I had been born with a trust fund.  (Even before IF and DE IVF.)  I think it would be great to choose how to spend my days solely on the basis of what I would love to do, rather than also considering what will pay a decent salary.

6.  I loved school. . . the studying aspect, not so much the social aspect.  If I had been born with a trust fund (see above), I probably would've been a professional student until I was at least 35.

7.  When I was a nurse, I spent three years moving all over the country while working for a company which sent me to hospitals on short-term contracts.  I lived in six different cities, and I loved "trying out" new places without being committed to staying there indefinitely.  Had I not started law school, I likely would've continued doing this for another year or two.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

To be or not to be

A parent, that is.

Among those who have contemplated the question "to parent or not to parent"--as opposed to the many people who simply became parents with no advance contemplation of the matter--there appears to be a majority view and a minority view.  There are those who want (or wanted) to have children--the majority--and those who do (did) not--the minority.

Of the people who want(ed) children, there are two subsets, one large, one small.  The larger subset is composed of people who have had children or plan to have children and will have them with little to no difficulty (sometimes referred to here as "fertiles").  The smaller subset is people like me (and most of you reading this blog): people who do not have children, although they want them.  Most articles I have read on the subject refer to the people in this smaller subset as "involuntarily"

People who didn't, and don't, want children are voluntarily chi.ldl.ess, or, as I believe is the PC term in some circles, ""  By virtue of my desire to have a child, to be a parent, I am clearly not on the same page with those who have remained chi.ldl.ess by their own choice.  I "get" where those who have, or want, children are coming from in a way I don't "get" people who don't want children.

During the time that we have been unsuccessfully TTC, I have often had occasion to reflect on all the people I know, friends and acquaintances, who are parents.  I know I have written on the topic here.  Not surprisingly for someone who is 40 years old (and who has some friends a few years older than she), the majority of my friends who have wanted children, now have them.  Sadly, heartbreakingly, I have a couple of friends who wanted children but couldn't have them.  But most of my friends over 35--even over 30--who are chi.ldl.ess are chi.ldl.ess by their own choice.

I have been surprised, though, to reflect upon the people in my life who do not have children and do not want children.  In many ways, they are not much different from MM and I.  By and large, they are caring and compassionate. . . in any case, no less so than our friends who are parents.  They give back to the community through their jobs and their volunteer work.  Many are enthusiastic aunts or uncles.  They are not more selfish than our friends with children, and they are usually just as busy as friends who have kids. . . just busy with different things.

I understand that the desire to procreate is partly biological.  But what is the difference between "us" and "them"?  Why is it that some people desire parenthood--desire it so strongly that they are willing to go to great lengths and great expense to achieve it--while other people have no desire for it at all?

I don't expect anyone reading this blog to have the answers to these questions.  In a sense, I am posing this question in exactly the wrong forum: among people who desire parenthood.  It's just something I've wondered about.

As much as I want to be a parent, there are times when I have wished I were one of those people who never wanted children.  Because there are few things more painful than hoping for something with all your heart and never having that hope realized, than continuing to try to achieve something when the odds are stacked against you because you cannot bear to give up the trying.

Monday, April 25, 2011

IVF Financing

Does anyone else find it offensive that the same companies who offer loans for IVF are also lending money to people for cosmetic surgery, weight loss surgery, hair restoration, cosmetic dentistry, and LASIK?  I guess that shows pretty clearly where the majority of people classify IVF: under the heading of "things it might be nice to do but are not at all necessary."

I don't know about you, but I don't place treatments needed to attempt to do what most people do without much thought or effort in the same category as medical procedures that are primarily geared toward looking better.  (OK, I suppose weight loss surgery provides a health benefit to people who are morbidly obese and can't lose weight any other way.  So in that sense, that particular procedure is not primarily geared toward looking better.)

Maybe I'm just sensitive about the subject.  It's possible.

P.S.  For what it's worth, I would never take out a loan for cosmetic surgery/dentistry or LASIK.  To me, those are things I'd only do if I had the money in the bank to pay for them.  But that's just me.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

You waited too long to have kids

As part of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24-30), Resolve has asked bloggers to post about an infertility myth and how it has affected my life or lives of friends and family members.  Here is my post.

Myth: You waited too long to have kids.

Busted!: While it is true that fertility decreases with age, youth does not guarantee fertility. Many men and women in their 20s have infertility. And women in their early 40s can get pregnant and deliver healthy babies. However, if you know that you want to have children, the earlier you try, the less likely it is that you will have trouble.

I bought into this myth myself for a long time.  My mother has told me this on more than one occasion.  I'm sure many of my friends and acquaintances have thought this (though, fortunately, none of them has ever actually said this to me).  I have thought it myself.

I even wrote here about the fact that I felt like a fraud for claiming to be infertile when "the most likely reason for our infertility is simply that I waited until I was too old to start TTC."  Granted, I never tried to get pregnant before I was 37, so I really don't know if I would have been fertile when I was younger.  I will never know.

In retrospect, I think that perhaps REs tend to fall back too readily on "advanced" age as an explanation for infertility in any woman who is over 35. . . particularly when there is no other explanation for why she can't get pregnant.  It's true, as a general proposition, that fertility declines with age, but that does not tell us why an individual woman may be unable to get pregnant.

Really, there is just so much about fertility and conception that is not known or well understood.  Which is why many couples with infertility get the "unexplained" label.

For a long time, I blamed myself for our infertility, and I felt really, really guilty about it.  I've known since our second date that my husband wanted to be a father, and it seemed that his decision to marry me was depriving him of that opportunity.  Likewise, his choice of wife was depriving his parents of the opportunity for grandchildren (he is an only child).  I blamed myself for this.

Through counseling, I realized that our infertility is not my fault.  Even if my age were the sole cause (and we know now it is not), it still wasn't fair to blame myself.  I made the best decisions for my life with the information I had available to me at the time.  It's not my "fault" that I didn't meet my husband until I was 36.  It's not my "fault" that I chose to go back to school to start a second career at age 30.  Plenty of women wait until they are 37, or even older, to try to have children and are able to conceive naturally, without medical intervention.  (I seem to know a lot of them.)

So while it may be helpful, prospectively, to make young women aware that fertility declines with age, I don't think that blaming women who waited until over 35 to attempt pregnancy is fair or fruitful.

For more information, please visit the links below.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The things we do

I stopped the drugs for my mock cycle a week ago today, and my period arrived on Wednesday.  That means I will be starting birth control pills today and remaining on them until my cycle is synched with our donor's cycle.

Does anyone else find it ironic that taking BCPs is standard operating procedure for IVF cycles?  I mean, I understand that they are just an efficient way of taking hormones and that they help "suppress" your ovaries to a certain extent.  I just think it's funny that I will be taking a pill intended to do the one thing in the world we don't want or need to do: prevent pregnancy.

The things we do to try and get pregnant.

P.S.  I must give a "shout out" to my sister V, who turns 38 today.  Happy Birthday!

Friday, April 22, 2011


Several years ago, when my sister and her husband first decided to start TTC, I remember her telling me that he told her not to buy anything for their (future) baby lest she would jinx them.  My sister disregarded this edict and bought many things that my nephew eventually used, including, but not limited to, a stroller, a crib set and a bajillion stuffed black labs.  Out of respect for her husband's feelings, she hid the items from him until after they found out she was pregnant.

As it turned out, getting pregnant took them a lot longer than they thought it would.  Coincidence?  My BIL would say no.

MM gave me a similar directive when we first started TTC, and unlike my sister, I have actually abided by it, for the most part.  OK, I've had two lapses: an adorable onesie that says "My brother is a Golden Retriever," and this adorable hat-and-onesie set.  But they are tucked away in the back of a lingerie drawer, and MM didn't even know about them until recently, as I'll explain below.

The idea that buying items for an as-yet-unborn (or, in our case, unconceived) child can bring bad luck is not an uncommon concept.  Years ago, I was a nurse at a small hospital which bordered the Navajo reservation.  I recall working with a nursing assistant who had grown up on the reservation and still followed her culture's traditional practices.  She was horrified when someone suggested to her during her pregnancy that we throw her a baby shower: in Navajo culture, it is considered bad luck to buy gifts for a baby who isn't born yet. . . such bad luck that it can even bring about the baby's death.  (There are many pregnancy- and baby-related taboos in Navajo culture.  Another I remember is that, in direct contradiction of other cultures' traditions, Navajos never name a baby after a deceased relative.)  We ended up having a shower for her after her baby was born.

I've pointed out to MM that I think it's somewhat contradictory that someone like him, who eschews organized religion and is not-at-all-spiritual, should believe in something like a "jinx" or "bad luck."  He countered that his belief in jinxes makes perfect sense because he is a worrier who always thinks something bad is going to happen.

As I've mentioned here before, two dear friends of mine are currently pregnant.  Each friend is having her second baby, and I bought each friend a (different) gift from Uncommon Goods for baby #1.  Uncommon Goods has some really cool gifts, including some very cute and unique baby items.  I receive their monthly catalog, and MM was browsing that catalog last week.

Wouldn't you know, MM pointed out the very hat-and-onesie set I mentioned above and suggested I buy it for one of my friends.  Not so surprising, I suppose; we have similar tastes, which is probably one reason we're married.  Imagine my surprise, though, when he said "You should buy an extra one for our baby, too."

[--record scratch--]

In three years of TTC, MM has never once suggested I buy something for "Future Baby M."  Not one time.  In fact, on a few occasions when I have been tempted to buy an item while in a store with him, like a stuffed golden retriever or something similar, he has asked me not to buy it, even when I've said I will just give it to someone else if we never have a baby of our own.

Well, at that point, I had to come clean.  I went into our bedroom and pulled out both onesies and confessed I'd had them for over two years.  This revelation was met with a look of mild disapproval and a heavy sigh from my husband.

So what say you?  Did I jinx us by buying two onesies over two years ago? 

Do you have superstitions about these sort of things?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 2011 ICLW

If you are here visiting for the first time for ICLW, welcome to my little space on the internet!

I am "S", married to "MM" since November 2008.  I am 40, MM is 37, and this marriage is the first for both of us.  We have been TTC our first child since April 2008.  (We knew it "takes longer" when the wife is over 35; we just didn't realize how much longer.)

It has actually been quite a long time--close to a year--since we have done any treatment.  (A link to our TTC history is in the sidebar, if you're interested.)  We are currently gearing up to do a DE cycle at our out-of-state clinic which I refer to here as St. Mungo's.  (Our RE for our DE cycle is "Dr. Dumbledore," so St. Mungo's fits as my name for his clinic, keeping the Harry Potter theme.) 

Except for my sonohysterogram, which is scheduled for the first Friday in May, we have cleared all the many hurdles required to prepare for a DE IVF cycle.  Assuming I get the all clear on my SHG--and I have no reason to believe I won't, since all the testing I've ever had has been normal--we are anticipating an embryo transfer the first week of June, which is right around the corner!

In the process of getting our pre-cycle testing done, we recently learned that MM has low sperm morphology.  All along we both thought that our only problem was poor egg quality related to my age, so this was bad news.  Luckily Dr. Dumbledore has assured us that this result should in no way affect the success of our DE cycle.

It has been a difficult path to get to this point, but for the first time in a long time, we are feeling optimistic about our chances of success.  We really, really, really want to be parents and to put this angst-filled, stressful chapter of our life together behind us.

I always enjoy finding new blogs to read, so if it's your first visit, leave a comment so I can follow you back to your blog!  ;-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dollars & Sense of Family Building

This post is part of a "blog carnival" started by Lori.  (Link to her blog below.)  What does it mean that money has to change hands in order to bring a child into your family? What role can finances play in determining which path people take and how far that path goes?  I answer some questions related to these issues below.

1.  Consider your now, or future, children as adults, and consider the fact that you had to spend money to either conceive them or make them part of your family. What effect do you think the latter will have on the former one day? What do you think your grown children might feel about the funds it took to create your family?

I hope that we will have a good enough relationship with our future child(ren) and that he/she/they will be happy enough to be alive and part of our family that this will be a non-issue.  I think we can certainly explain that medical treatment was required in order for us to achieve the pregnancy which brought him/her/them to us and that will make sense.

If he/she/they feel anything about the cost, I hope it would help them realize how very wanted they were.

2.  How did/would you handle it if your child asks you, “Mom, how much did I cost?” How would you answer at age 7? At age 18?

At age 7, I'd probably say "you didn't cost anything because you can't buy a baby."  I don't think 7 is old enough to get into all the nuts and bolts of doctors and treatments and what those things cost.

If my child asked me this at age 18, directly in relation to our DE cycle (which s/he would surely have known about for a long time by then), I would probably answer directly.

3.  When calculating the costs of your family building, what do you include? The direct costs are easy (such as RE fees for a cycle or homestudy fees), but what about fees that didn’t directly lead to your child’s existence in your life, such as cycles that didn’t work, adoption outreach avenues that didn’t work, failed adoptions, avenues that were explored (and that cost something) but not pursued, etc.?

If I were to calculate all the TIME I've spent exploring other avenues, the cost would be staggering.  When I think about this, though, I just include our medical bills and other things which the government would consider tax-deductible.

4.  If two children in a family “cost” different amounts, should that have any significance?

I don't think so.  If we were blessed with a "free" child after doing a DE cycle, we would treat him/her exactly the same.

5.  To what extent have finances determined the family-building decisions you have made? How have you able to balance financial considerations against other factors such as medical, ethical, emotional…?

Wow.  Financial considerations have played a HUGE factor in our family-building decisions.  Really, I don't think there has been any larger factor for us.  It did take me a while to come around emotionally to the idea of DE, but apart from that, there haven't been many other considerations which have affected our decisions apart from "how on earth are we going to pay for this?"

I get that having children is expensive for everyone, but for most people, that expense starts AFTER pregnancy is achieved and AFTER the child is born. . . . not years before.

As one example, we never did IVF with my eggs because we couldn’t see gambling $12-15K on a 1 in 3 chance of pregnancy. If insurance had paid for all, or even most, of an IVF cycle, I likely would’ve been willing to try once or twice. As it is, we are moving straight to donor egg IVF because even though it costs a lot more, it is much more likely to be successful and for us, it was a more desirable option than adoption (at potentially the same cost).

Financial considerations will also play a role in how many embryos we transfer.  Although our clinic recommends transferring two embryos in a DE cycle, we might be inclined to transfer just one embryo, since our primary aim is one child.  But we are so afraid that transferring only one embryo will lead to no pregnancy (and $30K spent with no baby) that we are going to go ahead with two.  As my sister points out "two babies is better than zero."

6.  Has institutional and governmental support for certain family-building paths impacted your choices? For example, ART being covered by insurance, tax deductions for adoption expenses, etc.

Yes and no.  For us, even the incentive of tax breaks did not make us seriously consider adoption.  We decided that route was not for us for reasons completely unrelated to the cost. 

However, in terms of ART being covered by insurance, this absolutely had an impact on our decision to skip straight to DE rather than trying a cycle or two with my eggs.

Visit Write Mind Open Heart for more perspectives on the Dollars and $ense of Family Building and to add your own link to the blog hop by May 1, should you want to contribute your thoughts.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Progress and some bad news

MM and I were able to check another item off our DE cycle "to do" list this weekend.  We had our joint counseling session with NC, as required by St. Mungo's.  MM felt this was an unnecessary formality because we had already discussed all the psychological issues involved with doing this type of treatment long ago, and I think NC kind-of agreed with him.  (She did, however, explain why clinics require this and why it's a good thing.)  No new ground was covered, but NC did validate my decision NOT to disclose our treatment to my father and stepmother for the reasons I discussed in this post over two years ago.  So that was good.

We also got an email from our nurse on Saturday afternoon with the results of MM's semen analysis.  (Note to those who know me in real life and are reading: MM would NOT be happy if he knew I am writing about this, so keep it to yourself.  Thanks.)  MM's last semen analysis was over two years ago, and at that time, so far as we knew, there were no problems.  In fact, I believe the local RE said he had "super" sperm.  All MM's post-wash counts for our IUIs were good, and we have been under the impression that he has no problems or issues.

Well, we learned yesterday that his morphology is low.  It was 4% this time, when it should be >14%.  (Last time it was 10%, which in retrospect I realize was low but which our local RE told us two years ago was "fine.")  On the positive side, his count and motility are normal.

I don't know that this result has any significant implications for the success of our upcoming cycle.  (It does, however, provide an alternate explanation besides "old eggs" for our failure to achieve an ongoing pregnancy in three years of TTC, though.)  From what I understand, St. Mungo's would likely have done ICSI on most of our eggs anyway; now they will just do ICSI on 100% of the eggs.  Because I know very little about this area, not having realized previously that it was a problem, I have asked St. Mungo's for more information on how, if at all, this might affect the outcome of our cycle.

MM was very upset about this result.  For a long time I think he has dealt with our infertility in part by reassuring himself that he was not the one with A Problem.  Now it turns out he DOES have a problem that was likely a contributing factor, if not the cause, of our infertility all along.  It has been a bitter pill for him to swallow, and he felt that in giving him the news, I was probably happy to find out it "wasn't just [me]."

Um, no.  I am NOT happy to find out that he has a problem that we never knew about.  Learning this has given me cause to doubt whether our DE cycle will be successful.  Before, I thought that we were correcting for the only barrier we've had to conception by replacing my old eggs with younger, better quality eggs.  To find out now, so close to our DE cycle, that there is another fertility challenge in the mix in no way makes me feel good.

[Also, had we known this two years ago, I think we might have made a different decision about whether to go ahead with an IVF cycle with my eggs.  Might have.  But as I am now over 40, that ship has sailed, and I am fully committed to doing DE instead.]

Currently I am off all medications (yea!) and waiting for my post mock cycle AF to arrive.  When it does, I will be starting BCPs and coordinating my cycle with our donor's.  So we are getting closer all the time.

The only remaining hurdle for us is my sonohysterogram on May 6.  I have never before had any type of uterine abnormality, so fingers crossed that this is still the case and we can proceed with our cycle as planned.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Me A to Z

I don't think I've done this meme before.  If I have, it's been a long time.  Feel free to steal it if you want.  ;-)

A. Age: 40.  Yikes.

B. Bed size: Queen.  But in the interest of full disclosure, I should include that it is a queen-sized bed all to myself.  MM and I don't sleep in the same room most nights due to differing sleep/wake schedules and his being a light sleeper (and bed hog).

C. Chore you dislike: Cleaning the bathrooms.  I now hire someone to do this for me, hallelujah!

D. Dogs: We have two golden retrievers.  Sebastian is 9, and Hunter is probably 6-7 (rescue, so we're not sure).

E. Essential start to your day:

F. Favorite color: blue.  I especially like the shade of blue people call "royal" or "peacock."

G. Gold or silver: I don't wear a lot of jewelry but I wear more silver than gold.  My wedding rings are white gold, which kinda looks like silver.

H. Height: 5'5".  Well, officially.  I'm really about 5'4 3/4".

I. Instruments you play(ed): I played the clarinet for YEARS.  Have also played the accordion (don't judge; I was 6), saxophone, xylophone, guitar, and piano.

J. Job title: As.soc.iate At.tor.ney

K. Kids: None yet.

L. Live: in a house with MM and our beloved two golden retrievers.

M. Mom’s name: Delores.  I call her D-Lo.

N. Nicknames: I don't really have any nowadays.  My sister called me "Bearkie" as a child--for reasons which have been lost in the sands of time--and I've been called by my last name by a lot of friends who've had other people in their life who shared my first name.

O. Overnight hospital stays: Never.  I'd like to keep that record intact, please.

P. Pet peeves: Oh goodness, were would I start?  I'm going to go with a safe choice which (I hope) won't offend many people and say drivers who change lanes without signaling.

Q. Quote from a movie: "I look like a nerdy hillbilly."  (Bonus points for the person who can tell me what movie this is from.  It's a recent one.)

R. Righty or lefty: Righty.  MM is a lefty.

S. Siblings: I grew up with a sister 25 months younger, the fabulous V.  We also have three stepsisters (mom's remarriage), two stepbrothers (dad's remarriage; one is now deceased, though), and two "long-lost" half-sisters we have never met through our mother.
T. Time you wake up: Usually 6:00 a.m.  Lately I have been getting up at 4:55 a.m. for morning boot camp.  (MM gets up at 8:45 a.m. most days)
U. Underwear: Cotton hipsters.  I don't "do" cute underwear, and I despise thongs.  I'm all about comfort!  (And MM could care less.  He told me early on that he finds sexy lingerie "intimidating.")

V. Vegetables you don’t like: Raw onions.  Blech.

W.What makes you run late: Underestimating the time it will take to arrive at my destination.
X. X-rays you’ve had: teeth, right arm (once in college), and I had an MRI of my right arm two summers ago after a dog bite.

Y. Yummy food you make: Hmm, tough one.  I'm really not much of a cook and only prepare a real "meal" maybe once a quarter or so.  I make decent green chile chicken enchiladas.

Z. Zoo animal favorites: I like primates, especially orangutans or gorillas.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stress reduction

Dr. Dumbledore has made it clear, both directly and through his nurse, that he wants me to whatever I can to keep my stress to a minimum during my cycle. While he isn't advocating "just relax" as an approach to infertility treatment, he believes that stress can have a negative impact on the success of a treatment cycle.  And obviously we want to do whatever we can to improve our chances of success.  (Hence the complete lack of sugar and flour in my diet for the past three weeks as I try to lose weight.)

So, in preparation for our upcoming cycle, I am looking for ways to reduce my stress. Leaving my job, even for a short period of time, is not an option, but I figure I can manage my stress there.  When I am at work, I am taking the time to get up and walk around at least once an hour. I remind myself to take a few deep, cleansing breaths whenever I think about it or feel myself tensing up. I am working on an attitude of "it will get done when it gets done," which is a challenge for a lawyer in civil litigation working for four different partners.

I have recently returned to exercising 5-6 days a week, and I think that is giving me more energy, in addition to being a good stress reducer. I do my fitness boot camp three days a week, go to the gym and use the elliptical trainer at least once a week, and do basic yoga 2-3 times a week. We also take our dogs for a 15-20 minute walk every evening.

I have always been good about getting 7-8 hours a night of sleep, and I'm still doing that. I stop drinking water by 8:00 so I won't have to get up at night to use the bathroom. (I drink 3 liters of water every day and try to get the first 2 liters in before noon. I'm pretty successful with this on weekdays, slightly less so on weekends.)

I get a full-body massage every 2-3 weeks and have for most of the past two-and-a-half years.  I find this very relaxing, and it also seems to decrease the frequency of my chronic headaches.

I have tried meditation in the past but must confess that I have had limited success. My mind always fills up with thoughts of things I need to do, and my attention wanders.

On a related note, I have occasionally read about the Circle + Bloom mind/body programs on others' blogs.  Because I have never been very good at meditating on my own, I thought this might be helpful.

Have any of you used the Circle + Bloom programs?  If so, I'd welcome your input about them.

Any other suggestions for things I might consider doing?  A week on a tropical beach would be great, too, but we are stretched a bit thin financially with this big expense coming up.  ;-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Surprisingly, in over two years of writing this blog, I have received very few negative comments. Spam, yes, but negative comments, not so much.

Let me say this at the outset: I started this blog to vent my personal feelings. The fact that other women going through similar difficulties in achieving pregnancy and parenthood found this blog and chose to read it has been an added bonus for which I am grateful. I have learned a lot from many of you who have commented on my blog and through visiting yours, and it has made me feel a little better to know I am not alone in my feelings. I enjoy the support I get here.

However, at the end of the day, this blog is my personal space where I can and will write freely about my feelings. If you disagree with them, I welcome your telling me so in a respectful way (which would include identifying yourself and giving me a way to respond).

If you disagree with what I write and don't wish to engage in a respectful, one-on-one discourse with me about it. . . there is a small "X" in upper right hand corner of your screen. Please feel free to use it to close this page and don't feel that you have to visit again in future.

As you may have guessed by now, I received an anonymous comment yesterday. I'd like to share it with you. The language of the comment itself is in italics; my responses follow in bold.

I think posts like this are what lead to things like the incident on Allison's blog.

I have no idea what "incident" the writer is referring to. I guess I either don't read Allison's blog, or if I do, I'm not aware of this incident. Sorry.

It is completely understandable to feel the way you do but the way you are letting it out isn't ...good/healthy.

Good/healthy for whom? Let me assure you, I find venting my feelings on this blog VERY good/healthy, and I have visited a counselor who agreed. Are you a licensed mental health professional? I'm going to guess not.

Also, if it is "completely understandable" for me to feel this way, why isn't it also OK for me to write those feelings down in my personal blog?

"though I've long noted that felons and their significant others tend to be fertile, so that was far from unexpected. She had three children under age 6 in tow also." what an odd assumption, are you saying no criminals in the world are infertile? Are you saying that a felons child doesn't deserve to be in the world as much as another child? I live in the bible belt, lots of fertiles here, are these children more deserving of being born? What exactly is your complaint.

I'm not sure where to start with this jumble of thoughts, so let me work my way backward. My complaint is that people who are irresponsible and likely unable to adequately care for children--hard to be a good mom/dad from a prison cell or while engaged in a criminal lifestyle--seem to have children with ease and in abundance, while I know many, many good, responsible adults who cannot even have one.

None of my comments on this blog have ever been directed at innocent children. Children have no say whatsoever about when, how or by whom they are brought into the world.

And obviously I'm not saying "no criminals in the world are infertile." That would defy logic. Rather, I am saying that in my experience, which is far from limited as a former criminal prosecutor who has worked with children in foster care for nearly ten years and is married to a probation officer, felons tend to have more children than the average person.

Next, there are people who are fully capable of caring for their children who have them one after another because THEY WANT TO, I've counted 3 infertile blogs where the woman is pregnant again before her first is walking, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!!

I don't believe this post, or any other on this blog, has been critical of women who are fit to care for children having as many as they want and can adequately parent, fertile or infertile. You're right, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!! Rather, when I have made reference to friends and acquaintances being pregnant or having children, it has been in the context of writing about my own feelings of inadequacy and envy related to that. Two good friends of mine are currently pregnant with child #2. I am very happy for them, and I have never written about either of them on this blog for that very reason: because I am in no way bothered by their pregnancies.

Stop being so judgemental it cannot be healthy. (Ed. note: again with the professional opinion!) Villainizing others who have what you want accomplishes nothing!

I disagree with the writer's characterization of "villainizing," and disagree that venting on my own private blog accomplishes nothing. It allows me to write freely about things that bother me and get them off my chest. It is the cheapest form of therapy available.

As for telling me to "stop being so judgemental" . . . talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Who are you to come here, read a single post, and then leave me an anonymous comment criticizing me for writing about my honest feelings on my own blog? Maybe you should take a look at your own conduct and examine your motives for leaving this comment in the first place.

OK, I feel better now. Back to my zen place.

P.S. Anonymous, maybe you've heard of a little thing called site meter. It tells me the IP address of everyone who visits this blog. Not so anonymous after all now, are you?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pregnant people

They seem to be everywhere!

I blogged previously about my two pregnant coworkers. In the past week, I have found out that another employee here is pregnant, as well as the wife of one of the other associate attorneys.

I had to go to court this morning at 8:30, so I had to make two more trips to and from my car than usual. I saw not one, not two, but THREE visibly pregnant women in my office complex! One of the preggos even rode up in the elevator with me in the parking garage. And I saw another one at the courthouse, too (though I've long noted that felons and their significant others tend to be fertile, so that was far from unexpected. She had three children under age 6 in tow also.).

I know your average non-infertile person would say I am just noticing this more than she would, but come on. FOUR pregnant women in my path in one morning?! (Excluding the three pregnant coworkers, which would bring the total to seven.)

It's a good thing I'm feeling positive and am still in my zen place.

Universe, what are you trying to tell me?

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Helpful" comments

Ever since we married and bought our house, I've been seriously considering supplemental life insurance and short-term disability insurance. Having these coverages just seemed like a prudent, adult thing to do, and I didn't want MM to be in a position of being forced to move should anything happen to me. I'd investigated the idea of purchasing them on my own while at my previous job, and it was cost-prohibitive. Once I became eligible to opt into benefits at my new job (well, new-ish job; I've been here 5 months now), I signed up for both.

Prior to approving my application for life insurance, the company required a brief physical exam with a nurse and a urine specimen (which apparently they test for HIV, among other things). The nurse came to my office today and asked me a boatload of intrusive health questions, in addition to taking my urine specimen and vital signs. (By the way, my blood pressure was 118/70, and my pulse was 60. Yes, I'm fat, but I'm fit.)

Because of the urine testing, I had to disclose the fact that I am currently taking prescription estrogen and progesterone. And believe it or not, one of the questions included asking whether I had ever been diagnosed with, or treated for, infertility. (Why they need to know this is a mystery to me. Infertility isn't likely to be fatal.)

So obviously the topic of our infertility came up. I know this nurse thought she was being helpful, but in the span of 20 minutes, she managed to say three of the things that those of us who are dealing with infertility HATE hearing from fertile people.

(1)"I've heard metformin helps women get pregnant. Have you tried that?"

Um, OK. I suppose if a woman has PCOS or insulin resistance, metformin could indirectly help her achieve pregnancy. However, it is not a fertility drug per se, and I don't have PCOS or insulin resistance.

Also, I just told you that I have been treated by two different REs in the past two years. Don't you think one of them might have investigated possible treatments for us? Or, if you think they are both potentially incompetent, don't you think *I* might have looked into alternatives? Some time in the three years we've been trying to achieve pregnancy?

(2)"Well, I have two teenagers, and let me tell ya, maybe not having kids is the way to go."

This statement was followed by a description of her teenagers' (typical and developmentally appropriate) behavior where they alternately love and hate their parents and "want to be independent." My response? "It's a developmental phase. Keep loving them, and they will probably grow out of it."

(3)"I'm sure you will eventually get pregnant."

Really? Based on what? I'm sure she was trying to be encouraging, but geesh.

Honestly, I think this nurse needs a better filter. She also suggested I try the hCG diet during our brief encounter.

It's a good thing I am feeling positive and zen about our infertility at the moment. Otherwise this interaction might not have gone down so smoothly.

P.S. I really hated answering questions about my infertility for this purpose. Suppose I were a 40-year-old "career woman" who never wanted kids; then I would never have known I can't conceive, and none of this information would be available to the nosy insurance company. Ugh.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

CD 10 and second monitoring appointment

I visited Local Fertility Clinic this morning for my second monitoring appointment, and lo and behold! Who should perform my vaginal u/s but my actual RE. In the two-and-a-half years we have been patients at LFC--albeit not always in treatment during that time--I actually had never had him personally do any procedure on me. I've had two of his partners and a few of his nurse practitioners, but never Himself.

Anyway, LFC is a busy practice, and he is a busy man, so I'm not always sure he remembers me when I see him for appointments. (He also has a bit of an "absent-minded professor" air about him which probably contributes to my impression.) Nonetheless, he was friendly and gentle, which was appreciated.

My uterine lining measured 8 mm in a proliferative, triple-stripe pattern, which is just what is needed for successful transfer of embryos. (St. Mungo's requires >7 mm.) Yea!

In checking my ovaries for follicles (side note: I'm not sure why this needs to be checked when we will not be using my eggs, but these are Dr. Dumbledore's orders), Local RE noted that I had "a good number of follicles for a 30-year-old." I said "But I'm 40," and he replied "I know." (I guess he was trying to make a joke, and I didn't get it.)

He went on to say that the number of follicles I had was in the "top 10%" of 40-year-old women he's seen in his practice. I made a comment to the effect that it was suprising that with all those follicles, I haven't managed to produce a single decent-quality egg which resulted in an ongoing pregnancy in three years of trying. He agreed that this was surprising to him, too.

Is it just me, or is it ironic that my ovaries and their follicles are garnering praise when I'm about to embark on a treatment cycle that is not at all dependent on their performance? ;-)

I got a call from our nurse with my E2 and P4 results a little while ago. E2: 180, P4: 0.99. These numbers don't mean much to me, but the nurse said they want to see an E2 level of at least 100 and "low" progesterone and that these levels are fine.

So I have officially "passed" my evaulation cycle! I don't have to do any more monitoring appointments and can start progesterone tonight.

We are on target for a transfer the first week of June! Yippee! I am (momentarily) giddy with excitement!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


On Saturday I realized that, barring any unforeseen problems or complications, I will be on some medication nearly every day from now until our embryo transfer. Wow. I confess, I am not good about remembering to take medications. (Ironic for a former nurse, I know.) I currently have two alarms set on my phone for my morning and evening doses of est.rogen, and so far so good.

As I currently understand my medication protocol--St. Mungo's doles it out to patients as needed, probably to avoid confusion--eventually I will be adding progesterone to the mix, then eliminating estrogen. After finishing progesterone, I will start birth control pills and remain on those for a while to sync my cycle with the donor's. Once I start my actual treatment cycle, I will be taking Lu.pron or something similar to suppress ovulation along with the estrogen to build my lining.

I'm sure those of you reading who have done your own IVF cycles are probably laughing or scoffing at me by now, since I know that the numer of medications and doses you've had to take for your cycles FAR exceeds what I'm describing. Nonetheless, it's a little overwhelming for me. I don't take any daily medications normally and am only able to remember to take my daily prenatal vitamins and fish oil because I take them with dinner each night (and yes, if I eat dinner out or am away from home, I tend to forget to take them).

My est.rogen instructions clearly list the following side effects: nausea, vomiting, headache, increased vaginal discharge, increased breast tenderness, and bloating. I have to say, so far, I haven't experienced any of these. That may change as I continue to increase my dosage; we'll see. (I have had a couple of mild headaches, but as I've written about here before, I am prone to headaches anyway and spend most of my days in front of a computer, so I can't fairly attribute them to the estr.ogen.)

The only "side effect" I've been having is irritability. . . . and honestly, I can't say for sure whether that is due to other people doing things that annoy me or to the medication. ;-)

Now that we are into April, early June for our transfer sounds very close! Theoretically, in just a little over two months, I could have embryos in me. LOL

We are also making slow progress toward completing our "to do" list of required items for our cycle. MM's infectious disease testing all came back negative, so that was good news. He also produced a specimen for another semen analysis last Friday, and I've had my blood drawn for my infectious disease testing and prolactin and TSH levels; we haven't heard the results of any of those tests yet. We have an appointment for a joint counseling session discuss the psychological issues involved with the use of donor gametes for conception on April 17.

Apart from finishing the mock cycle, my only remaining pre-cycle task is getting a sonohysterogram done. That will be scheduled once I finish the mock cycle.

I also haven't heard whether the donor has done her pre-cycle testing and what the outcome of that was. I am working on letting go of my control issues and trusting that this clinic that I've carefully chosen is on top of things. Their handling of our care so far has inspired my confidence. (Though that wouldn't keep me from asking about it if I had a reason to be concerned or if we were closer to cycle time.)

I continue to be very diligent with my eating and exercise, too. Although the new has worn off my eating plan, and I have had a few temptations, I have reminded myself why I am doing this and that it is just for a finite period of time and have stayed strong. I also started a 3-day-a-week fitness boot camp yesterday morning, which was good and challenging. In addition to reducing the risk of miscarriage, I want to be in the best physical shape possible if this cycle works!

In updating my feeds on reader recently, I realized that all my donor egg blogs are now in the "parenting" or "pregnant" category. I think this speaks to the high success rate of this type of procedure vs. ART in general. Or maybe I just have a lucky sampling of bloggers.

Friday, April 1, 2011

When it rains. . .

. . . it pours.  Remember a few months ago when we had decided to put DE on the back burner and pursue donated embryos?  In this post, I wrote about a possible opportunity for us to receive donated embryos.

Today, now that we are in the thick of pursuing our DE cycle and within 60 days of plunking down the largest amount of money I have ever spent at one time--aside from buying our house, which, let's face it, is theoretical money because it's a 30-year mortgage --I found out that the donating couple are interested in us.  Given where we are and the fact that they are looking to donate their two sets of 7 embryos each immediately, I had to politely decline.

Also, earlier this week, I received an email via Miracles Waiting in response to our profile there (which I had not gotten around to taking down) from a couple with ten embryos to donate.  Because this couple is just in the beginning stages of considering embryo donation, I was completely upfront and honest with her about where we are currently, and we will keep in touch and potentially talk more if DE does not work for us.

[By the way, both these couples conceived their children (and frozen embryos) through DE.]

Ironic, no? 

I completely understand MM's feelings of not being ready to give up on the possibility of a genetic child until we try DE.  (How many months did I struggle with this question myself?  And he is not even the one with The Problem, and as a man, reproductively speaking, is far from old.)  I am more than ready to go ahead with the DE cycle we are currently pursuing.

I must admit, though, that having both these opportunities present themselves in a week has given me food for thought.  When we first talked about looking for donated embryos, I thought it would take FOREVER for someone to choose us to receive their embryos.  Turns out, even though my efforts in that regard have been minimal, two couples in just a few months seriously considered us. . . and who knows, had we not decided to go ahead with a DE cycle, one of these situations might well have resulted in our actually receiving embryos.

As I told MM when we had our (heated) heart-to-heart discussion about this in February, from my perspective, there is not a big difference between DE and DEm.  Both will allow me to experience pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding in addition to parenthood and to control our child's intrauterine environment, and both will result in a child to whom I am not genetically related.  (His feelings were a little hurt that I didn't have a preference of whether the child is "his" child, but honestly, once I gave up my attachment to a child who is genetically related to ME, giving up a child who is genetically related to HIM is simple and easy by comparison.  Does that make me an awful wife?)

Because there isn't a big difference to me between the two, I defer to his preference, which is clearly DE as a first choice.  I defer to this preference even though it's going to mean thousands of dollars more spent on the procedure because I think this is a HUGE decision with which he needs to be 100% on board.

It's just interesting to me to contemplate the other possibilities that might have been available to us, had MM not had his late February epiphany.  Although I am far from religious, and my faith, already not particularly strong, has been weakened considerably by our inability to conceive a child of our own, I find myself wondering about what is "meant" to happen for us.

Deep thoughts for a Friday morning.