Thursday, July 29, 2010

How do they get here?

A few months ago I installed Site Meter on my blog.  Since that time, it has been interesting to see the number of people who visit my blog and the search terms which refer people to this blog.  (You can view this yourself for this blog; just go to the very bottom of the page and click on the Site Meter box.)

The words in the title "Misconceptions About Conception," are obviously the most commonly searched.  Other common search terms include OPK, hcG, CD__, Clomid, Follistim, irritability, anxiety, and the most common, progesterone gel.  Probably not surprising, since I have written about all of these things on this blog at one time or another.

Interestingly, I've also gotten a lot of traffic from searches about hematomas from dog bites.  Those searches usually link up to this post from last summer when I was bitten by our dog Hunter while breaking up a fight between him and our other dog Sebastian.

[In addition to searches, I also get referrals from other blogs that list a link to my blog in their blog lists.  Thanks, ladies!]

I hope that the people who end up here because they are using a search engine to find information about something infertility-related not only find useful information here but also find their way into this amazing blogging community which has been a tremendous source of information and support for me for over a year.

P.S.  If you want to temporarily increase your blog traffic, post a question or request for information on Lost and Found and Connections Abound.  One of the days I had a high number of visitors to this blog was the 24 hours after my last question posted there.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Sometimes I feel like the little kid in the movie The Sixth Sense, except instead of seeing dead people, "I see pregnant people."  (Read the last part of that sentence in quotes in a stage whisper to get the full effect.)  Seriously.  My home and my office are my only safe havens from this phenomenon.  Even walking around our (apparently quite fertile) neighborhood is risky.  MM jokingly refers to the cul de sac around the corner from us as "Breeders' Circle" because it seems that every house has at least two or three kids living in it.

I know I have written about this before.  I've seen pregnant people in restaurants and stores, at my hair salon, at continuing legal education courses, at the car rental counter and in the convenience store, on the street, at the gym.  You name a place where daily life might take me, I've seen a pregnant woman there.

I am sure it could be argued that I don't actually see more pregnant women than the average person, rather, it just seems that way to me because I notice it more.  Maybe, but that does not change the fact that I have known a very high number of pregnant women over the past two years.

In the past 24 hours, I have learned that two more people I know are pregnant.  One is a lawyer friend with whom I worked at my previous job; she is only a couple of years younger than I am and has a son who is not quite a year old.  The other is the daughter of a friend of mine from my nursing days.  My friend is the same age is me, and she is soon to be a grandmother, while I am still childless.  ^sigh^

I am very happy for my lawyer friend.  She and her husband are wonderful people who have their act together, and I am sure they are great parents.  I am not sure how I feel about the pregnancy of the other woman, my friend's daughter.  I know her daughter is unmarried and not even in a relationship, and she is only about 20 or 21, so I can't imagine that her pregnancy was planned.  Nonetheless, I'm sure my friend is excited about being a grandmother, though maybe not before she turns 40.

I hate that other people's pregnancy announcements feel more like bombardments to me than happy revelations.  Oh well.  It is what it is.

I guess the only way to avoid this would be to cut off all contact with friends and family and never go anywhere but home and work.  Not a very realistic plan, so I will just have to live with it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Question for FB users

I have posted here often about my love/hate relationship with Fac.ebo.ok vis a vis people's pregnancy and child-related status updates.

Slightly off that topic, I have a question for those of you who are on the site.  What is the appropriate etiquette for dealing with a friend request from someone you know but do not like?

Twice I have faced the situation where a high school classmate of mine who I haven't seen since high school graduation (over 22 years ago) and with whom I was never friends sent me friend requests.  With the first person, I ignored TWO friend requests from her, and when she sent a third, I finally relented and confirmed her, thinking that I would just delete her later.  (Oddly enough, she initiated a "chat" with me not long after I finally accepted and through that chat, I learned that she and her husband have also struggled with infertility.  Actually, at this point, they have given up and are just living childless.)

Now I have the same dilemma with a second person.  Again, she has now sent me a second friend request even though I ignored the first one.  It has been in in-box limbo for a week or so.  This person is someone of whom I have not one positive memory from childhood.  In fact, we lived less than two blocks apart, and yet I've never been inside her house or vice versa, so that should tell you something about our "relationship" or lack thereof.

Thoughts?  My instincts tell me to just "ignore" again but am wondering if anyone else has faced a similar situation.

Quick check-in

I haven't been the best ICLW-er this go 'round.  I visited no new blogs over the weekend, and I didn't post here either.  Oops.

I have a couple of ideas for posts simmering on the back burner of my mind, but they haven't come together enough yet to actually gel into coherent thoughts that others might like to read.  So I will continue to let them simmer for now.

I have posted here numerous times about my desire to lose weight and how, even prior to IF, my body had "betrayed" me by its tendency to hold onto excess weight.  (My BMI is currently over 30 and has been for years; let's leave it at that.)  During our treatment break, I said I was going to work on losing weight, and I have been.  Just after July 4th, I rejoined Jenny Craig; I ended up chickening out of the hCG diet because I really didn't think I could manage to eat 500 calories a day.  So I have been on that plan now for three weeks and have also gotten back into going to the gym 3-4 days a week.

In three weeks, I have lost 4.1 lbs.  Which may sound good but is a far cry from the results I was expecting for the amount of effort I'm putting forth.  Sure, if I continued to lose at this rate, I'd eventually get to my goal weight.  In, oh, a couple of years or so.  Grr.

So now I have another reason to be angry at my frustrating, uncooperative, quickly-approaching-middle-aged body.

I have been feeling physically and mentally tired and am finding lately that most days it's all I can do just to drag myself to work and get through the workday.  So going to the gym and planning/preparing meals have taken a HUGE amount of effort for me proportionate to my overall energy level.  I think this is more mental than physical, truth be told.

Ah well.  This, too, shall pass.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Comparisons are odious

I often have a difficult time not comparing myself to others.  Surely I am not the only one who feels this way.

I don't think comparisons are always inappropriate.  After all, I attended graduate school in which nearly all our grades were on a curve.  Comparison to others in a similar position can be a good way to measure progress toward some goal, such as career progress or the like.

It can be hard for me to remember at times, but aside from being unable to have a child of our own, I am living pretty much the life I had hoped to be living. It has taken me quite a while longer than I thought it would to get to this point in my life, but I am finally here.  I have a career I enjoy.  I may currently be a bit disenchanted with my particular job, and it took going back to school  at age 30 for me to achieve this, but I like being a lawyer.  I have a loving husband who I didn't meet until I was 36, after going through a difficult broken engagement to another man and canceling a wedding which was less than two weeks away.  I have loving parents, sister, nephew, and in-laws.  I have many friends.  I have two wonderful dogs as pets and a house of my (our) own.

[I will admit that I have not achieved every one of the goals which teenage S had. . . . but then I must also admit that teenage S was not very realistic.  I thought I'd be living in a large, custom home and driving a BMW, while at the same time being married to my dream man, having my first child, and working on curing cancer, all by age 30 or so.]

Intellectually, I know my life is one that others might envy.  I am sure there are people who are out of work, even other lawyers, who would love to have my job.  Single women who would love to be married to a wonderful guy like my husband.  People whose parents are no longer living or who do not get along with their in-laws who would envy my relationships with my and MM's parents.

I know also that some of my friends DO envy at least some aspects of my life because they have told me so.  An old high school friend who didn't finish her degree because she got pregnant earlier than she'd planned  and didn't go back to school has told me she envies my education and the careers that have come with it.  A close friend who is divorced has told me she envies my marriage.  I have even had friends with young children tell me on occasion that they envy my childlessness and the freedom that comes with it.  (Ah, the irony!)

I am no stranger to envy myself.  Even before TTC and IF, I had two old friends who I envied for years.  The first I envied because it seemed that everything in her life always went according to her plan, with no drama or bumps in the road.  She came from a close, loving family with wonderful parents and a cool brother.  She met her now-husband when she was 15, so he was her second boyfriend.  He is now a very successful, prominent OB/GYN in the city in which they live.  They married shortly after she finished college, and once he was out of residency, she stopped working and stayed home with their two seemingly perfect children, a girl and a boy born a perfect 25 months apart, the first arriving not long after she turned 25.  Today they live in an affluent neighborhood and drive luxury cars.  They ski in the winter and take nice vacations somewhere warm every summer.  She is the consummate SAHM.

This friend and I have never lived in the same city, and over the years, what was once a pretty close friendship had evolved into a yearly exchange of Christmas cards, as such relationships sometimes do.  Several months ago, I had lunch with her for the first time since before she had kids. 

During our lunch, I learned that she has had some health problems over the years, including a mysterious eye ailment which baffled doctors for months and could have left her blind and having to undergo a hysterectomy at age 36.  She took Clomid to conceive both her children and was on bedrest for most of her third trimester with her daughter.  Some comments she made hinted at some past marital difficulties. . . perhaps not surprising, given her health issues and the fact that her husband regularly works 80+ hours a week and is on call nights and weekends.

The second friend I envied had not had such a smooth path as the first, but I envied her nonetheless.  This friend also comes from a wonderful family with loving parents.  She is beautiful, fit and thin, and extremely talented.  In addition to being able to sew well enough that she once made her husband a three-piece suit which he actually wore to work, she quilts and made many of her daughters' baby clothes.  (She even sold similar clothes on etsy for a while.)  She can cook and decorate and entertain, very Martha Stewart-eque.  In addition to all her domestic skills, she has also built her own furniture by hand on occasion and has run three marathons.  (Probably not difficult to see at this point why I envied her. . . . )

This friend married a "catch" at age 24 after a broken engagement with a prior fiance.  She and the catch waited until they had been married a few years before having children, her first daughter born shortly after she turned 30 and her second 21 months later.

But. . . . her (now ex-) husband suffered a psychotic break when her younger daughter was 6 weeks old.  And then had a series of extra-marital affairs.  And dragged her through a nasty, 2-year divorce, including a prolonged custody battle.

As my friend and I talked more openly during the time she and her ex-husband were separated, I learned that her father was an alcoholic who was still drinking while she was growing up.  (Though not by the time I knew her, in her late teens/early 20s.)  So though her parents were (are) loving, her childhood was not as idyllic as it had seemed to me.

It was an eye-opener for me to learn that perhaps my friends' lives weren't always as perfect as they had appeared to me.  It reminded me of something that, intellectually, I already knew: no one's life is perfect.  Everyone has her cross(es) to bear.

So comparisons are not only odious, they are also often unfair.  Often we do not know what burdens other people we know are bearing and the trials which they have had do endure in their lives.

I want to be the kind of positive, zen person who can not only understand intellectually that there is nothing to be gained by comparing myself to others in this way, but who can really internalize this message and put it into action.  I have so much to be grateful for, and I wish I could spend more time dwelling on that than dwelling on the things in my life that are not going my way.

Why do I have such a tendency to focus on what I don't have than on what I do?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Should IVF be affordable for all?

Don't know how many of you saw this recent article in Newsweek.  A friend of mine shared it with me, and I think it raises several interesting questions and that it was worth sharing here.

Although I have often thought about the high cost of IVF in relation to my own personal situation, I had never really thought of some of the other things discussed in this article.  For example, if supply exceeds demand in the field of reproductive endocrinology, as one of the physicians quoted in the article says, why does IVF continue to be so expensive?  Normal market forces would usually dictate a decrease in cost for any service where supply exceeds demand.  (At least, that is my vague recollection from the single college marketing course I took.)

Additionally, I had never thought of the idea that the cost-prohibitive nature of IVF for people with middle and lower incomes acts as a sort of "economic natural selection."  Hmm.

I also think there may be some misinformation in this article, such as when one doctor is quoted as saying that "up to 80 percent of infertility cases are caused simply by increasing maternal age."  Really?  Is the number that high?  And even when age is a factor, how can we know that it is the only factor affecting fertility and that the woman wouldn't have had trouble TTC even if she'd started earlier?  Quite a number of women in their 20s have no diagnosable reason for their infertility and are "unexplained."

I also think that the article gives short shrift to male infertility, which is a common reason why IVF is recommended.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm an idiot

I managed to "reject" (i.e., delete) 10 comments I meant to publish.  Apparently the only fix for this issue is to simply copy and paste the comments from the comment moderation emails I received. 

So if you left a comment on here in the past 24 hours or so and it isn't linked up to your profile, that's the reason.  I apologize.  :-(

[That'll teach me to try to moderate comments on my BlackBerry.]


Anyone who knows me well would tell you that I have a tendency to over-think things.  I am not entirely emotionless, but I am much more logical than emotional and always have been.  I am more like a stereotypical man than a stereotypical woman in that I generally allow my head to rule over my heart.  I live my life in my head 95% of the time.

Given this fact about me, I think I am one of the last people who would need additional time to reflect upon choosing to become a parent.  When we started TTC over two years ago, both MM and I were mature, responsible, gainfully employed people who had had ample opportunity to live the selfish lifestyle of those who have no children.  We were both more than prepared to be good parents, so waiting longer to have a child would have been of no real benefit either to us or to our future child.

Seriously, for someone with a personality like mine, the best course would have been for pregnancy to "just happen."  I was, and am, more than ready to embrace it.  TRYING to conceive, even before we knew that it would take much, much longer than we thought and that we were infertile, is just not a good thing for someone like me.

When you introduce the possibility of having to spend tens of thousands of dollars (which you don't have in the bank) to become parents, it provides even more time to think and more to think about.  It's no longer enough to just think "Yeah, we'd like to have a child of our own."  Because of all the sacrifices you are going to have to make NOW, before your child is even conceived, you have to place a value on your desire to be a parent in a way that people who conceive readily do not.  Forget about thinking about how you will pay for day care or diapers or a crib. . . . now you are thinking about how you will pay for a CHANCE to get pregnant.  And inevitably--if you are like me--thoughts of "how" lead to thoughts of "why" and "is this a good idea?"

Before infertility, there was never a true doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a mother.  Sure, being the overly analytical person that I am, as well as being over 35, I dithered over the pros and cons more than perhaps the average person would.  But the ultimate outcome of these debates with myself was that I wanted to be a parent.

Someone on my Fac.ebo.ok friends list who is an infertility blogger recently posted the following as her status update:

"The feeling you have for your child is so indescribably deep and consuming that it must qualify as one of the few transcendent experiences in your plain old ordinary life. It arrives spontaneously. It is miraculous and supreme and irrevocable. It makes all things possible."  (Attributed to Karen Maezen Miller.)  

I love this quote because it very accurately sums up my reasons, and my husband's reasons, for wanting a child of our own.  We want that "transcendent experience."  We want to experience a miracle in our ordinary lives.

I think most people would agree that you can't put a price tag on a miracle.  What would one willingly pay for a transcendent experience?  Being able to experience something like that has a value which is not readily quantifiable.

At the same time, my logical self realizes that we have to be realistic about what we can afford.  It's a sad reality, but it's the truth.  At the very beginning of TTC, MM and I promised each other a few things: that we wouldn't let TTC ruin our relationship; that we would not go deeply into debt to become parents; and that we wouldn't let our emotions rule over our logic when it came to treatment decisions, if it came to that.

Let's face it, though.  As a wise friend of mine once told me, there is nothing logical about the choice to have a child.  It is a purely emotion-driven decision.  Any possible logical reason to be a parent can be outweighed by two logical reasons not to.

Yet another hard part about the waiting associated with infertility: too much time to think thoughts on which no one should spend a lot of time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 2010 ICLW

Whether this is your first, or thirty-first, visit to my blog, welcome!  

If you are a first-time visitor, you might be interested to read the entry I wrote about myself and this blog back in May for ICLW, as well as the introduction (link just left of my photo).

In terms of where we are with regard to TTC, we are currently on a treatment break and discussing options.  At my husband MM's request, I am still tracking my cycle and we are still actively TTC on our own.

I hope to meet some new people through ICLW.  I have found the ALI community to be so supportive and informative!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Law of attraction

A Fac.ebo.ok friend of mine (former coworker with whom I was friendLY but never really friends) posted the following status update last week: "You don't attract what you want; you attract what you are.  That is the law of attraction."

I have come to the conclusion that the law of attraction *is* at work in my life vis a vis pregnancy. . . . just not in the way I want it to be.  Witness some evidence of this from just the past few days. . . .

  • Yet another lawyer-friend of mine announced her pregnancy via Fac.ebo.ok on Friday.  She is at least two years older than I am and already has a 6-year-old.
  • When I went to court Friday afternoon for a status hearing, the courtroom bailiff was 9 months pregnant.
  • We boarded our plane yesterday behind a visibly pregnant woman.
  • Saturday's fast food lunch was served to us by a visibly pregnant woman.
So you see, the Universe is sending pregnancy my way constantly.  They are just OTHER PEOPLE's pregnancies.  Not exactly what I had in mind. . . .

P.S.  I hate that hearing/reading other people's happy news--people who I consider friends--feels like a knife in my heart and a dismal reminder of my own failure rather than happiness for their good news.

P.P.S.  I find I am even less happy for pregnant women who already have at least one child.  Intellectually I realize that their fecundity has no impact on me, one way or another--and I often don't even know what they had to go through to achieve their pregnancies--but I can't stop the (momentary) childish thought of "Why does she get to have ANOTHER one when I don't even have one?!"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Um, yeah, so. . . .

Turns out that commenter "Determination" was right: AF arrived early.  The spotting I wrote about yesterday continued through the evening, getting heavier and redder.  This morning I woke up to cramps and full-on bright-red flow.  Hmm.

So the cycle I just finished was my first-ever 22-day cycle.  Aside from a time period in my mid-20s of less than a year when I was working night shift, my periods have always been regular and have generally been 27-28 days.  (My longest-ever period charting was 32 days; my shortest was 26.)  I had one 24-day cycle last December, but that was following a cycle in which I formed one gigantic follicles and was told by the RE that I was at high risk of developing a cyst. . . . so I figured that messed me up.

I don't know what to think about this.  Does this mean that maybe I never ovulated at all this cycle?  Is it a sign of approaching menopause?  Implantation gone wrong?  Nothing I've experienced or read explains to me why I would have a 22-day cycle.

Anyway. . . . I guess really the worst part is that I am now going to have my period for my weekend away in San Diego with MM.  We leave around 8 tonight.  Grrr. . . . 

This darned body of mine!!  It can't seem to get anything right lately.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Warning: TMI ahead

When I visited the loo just now, I noticed a small amount of rust-colored spotting on the tissue when I wiped.  This spotting was somewhat similar to what I usually see in the 12-24 hours before AF arrives, but usually it is accompanied by some mild cramps.  Plus, today is only CD 22 for me. . . . I wouldn't be expecting AF for another 5-6 days.

I don't know exactly when I ovulated this cycle because I forgot to check any OPKs until CD 13.  OPKs on CD 13, 14, and 15 were all negative, so I figured I had missed my LH surge.  (I usually ovulate on my own sometime between CD 13 and CD 18, based on two years of BBT charting.)

I can't imagine I'd be ovulating today. . . it's too late in my cycle, and I have no EWCM to indicate this is a fertile time and haven't for days.

Thoughts?  I hate it when my body does something out-of-the-ordinary!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The way I was

I used to think that whenever I was ready to get pregnant, it would happen in fairly short order.  (Why else was I always so careful about birth control over so many years?)

I used to think that I would be one of those women who continued to be fertile well into her late 30s.  I had precedents for this in both my grandmothers, each of whom conceived and delivered children after age 35.

I used to talk with MM about what we would name our child/ren.

I used to think about how I would decorate my baby's nursery and the clothes I would buy her/him.

I used to think about the pros and cons of getting pregnant, and delivering, at different times of the year, wondering which would be most convenient for me and best for timing my future child's birthday.

I used to love to hear all about my parenting friends' children, pregnancies, and birth stories.  (Because I love children and because I figured I would have my own stories to share "someday.")

I used to think I *could* plan my future to be as I wanted it to be.

I used to believe that there is a benevolent God who has a plan for my life.

I used to think that working hard would be rewarded.

I used to believe that I could do anything I put my mind to.

I used to think that if I made good choices, the *right* choices, eventually life would fall together.

I used to view myself as successful, confident and healthy.

Today, two years and three months after stopping birth control and beginning to TTC, I don't do anything of these things anymore.  Infertility has changed the way I view the world and the way I think about myself and about others.

At this point, I honestly don't know if I can ever do these things again. . . . even if we are eventually able to have a baby of our own.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Interview update

On a non-TTC note, I realized that I never posted about my interview last Friday.  To put it in a nutshell, I thought it went well.  The managing partner ended the interview by telling me that they weren't sure whether they were going to hire another associate at this time but that they would decide at a partners' meeting on Tuesday (today) and get back to me.

I got a call today from a partner I know at the firm where I had the interview.  (She is a woman a few years older than I with whom I have worked on a few cases in my three years in my current position.  We have some shared interests and have become friendly.  She provided my resume to the hiring partner in the first place.)  The partners decided at their meeting today that they do not have a need to hire an additional associate at this time.

Interestingly, though she told me that they are looking to bring in an additional partner within the next 30-60 days and that, between that and business picking up with the end of summer, they may be looking to hire an associate in 2-3 months.  She told me that the hiring partner (and all the partners who met me) really liked me, and that the hiring partner specifically asked her to ask me to let them know if I am offered a position elsewhere within the next couple of months, so that perhaps they can reevaluate at that time.

So no job offer, but not all bad news.  The partner I know observed that it didn't sound like I am in a big hurry to find something else, which is true, and said she is optimistic that they may be able to offer me a position in the not-so-distant future.  So perhaps this will lead to something after all; we'll see.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sense of humor

There has been a running joke for years in our office that anyone who sits in partner T's chair gets pregnant.  This joke started several years before I joined the firm, when T had two secretaries and a legal nurse consultant who worked for him all get pregnant within a few months of one another.  T, and others, often use this joke, directing it to those of us in the office who are married and childless, primarily the other (female) associate and me, or to female employees who express a desire to have another child.

T likes to joke around a lot in general.  Some of his jokes are of the type which, in a larger office, likely would not be told in mixed company.  But our firm is small, and T is very savvy about "choosing his audience" and only making his off-color remarks to those of us who he knows will not be offended by them and will appreciate them.  I can truly say he has never offended me, not only because I'm fairly thick-skinned, but also because he is a genuinely sensitive person who only kids around, in a spirit of fun, and is never nasty.

I should also add that T is a deeply religious Christian who has been married to his college sweetheart for over 41 years.  He is still devoted to her--it is obvious in their interactions with one another--and therefore there is nothing lecherous about his comments on the subject, as there might be with some other 60-something male lawyers.  T is always respectful and never leering or otherwise inappropriate, except for some of his humor.  And even then, more of his humor is of the 12-year-old boy, bathroom variety than of a sexual nature.

I have mentioned T before in a couple of previous posts.  T has two grown children, a daughter and a son, both of whom have dealt with infertility.  His daughter was a patient of our RE and conceived both of her children, a daughter now 6 and a son now 4, with the help of IVF.  (T is the one who told me our RE is "a miracle worker.")  T's son and his wife tried to have children for over 7 years, including a failed adoption, before finally having their first child last month.

So. . . . while I have never confided in T about our infertility, I think he knows or suspects.  There have been enough times when I've had to leave a little early or come in a little late due to "appointments" out of the office, coupled with my advanced (ahem) age and the length of time I've been married without announcing a pregnancy, to arouse the suspicions of someone like T who is not a stranger to infertility.  T has asked me on more than one occasion whether I am pregnant, but only in private and in a tone of concern.

As T was preparing to leave for a four-week vacation last Friday, he walked by my office where I had a desk fan turned on high, blowing right in my face.  (Not long before, I had been walking around outside in the 110-degree heat, going to lunch with people from the other firm with which I'd just interviewed.)  T remarked to his paralegal--whose office is right next to mine and with whom I am quite friendly--at a volume that was meant for me to overhear that he's often noticed that women feel really overheated during early pregnancy. 

The only other person within hearing distance besides the three of us was Ashley, a 19-year-old file clerk who works at the firm.  Ashley is a very pretty young woman who is studying to be a nurse.  I've often had vague thoughts of asking her to donate her eggs to us "in the name of science" or "to learn more about fertility treatment" as part of her education.  She doesn't look like me--she is much more attractive and about 75 pounds lighter--but she and I have similar coloring, and we both have curly/wavy hair.

I came out of my office and played along with the joke, telling him "T, I'm not pregnant, just fat."  T was apologetic and said he had had no intention to remark upon my appearance in any way.  He went on to say, though, that if MM and I were working on getting me into that state (pregnant), "S, you should switch chairs with me while I'm gone."

My retort:  "I think I'd be better off switching ovaries with Ashley. . . .that's more likely to work."

And we all laughed uproariously, and that was an end to the discussion.  (Aside from my apology to Ashley later for any offense or embarrassment I might have caused her.  FWIW, she wasn't offended.)

Isn't it great that I can still have a sense of humor about my barrenness, at least some of the time? 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How did you pay for it?

I realize money is something of a taboo subject, but I figured hey!  I am already writing an entire blog about another taboo subject--infertility--so why not go there, too?

I am directing this question to those of you reading who have done IVF, either with your own eggs or with donor eggs, and had to pay out of pocket, rather than having insurance coverage for IVF.  Our insurance will pay nothing toward IVF, either with my own eggs or with donor eggs.

I am prompted to ask my question by a discussion MM and I had recently about the logistics and practicalities of donor egg IVF.  (No, we haven't come to a final decision about what we will do yet.)  We are both the type of people who like to look at the "worst case scenario" when planning, so we talked specifically about the price tag for donor egg IVF at CCRM.  Their website indicates that the cost is approximately $29,000-33,000 (not including the donor's meds, my work-up, or ICSI, which we likely would not need).

Of course, there are clinics which charge less for a DE IVF cycle, but in many cases, the lower cost also comes with lower success rates.  Plus, Colorado is relatively close to where we live, as opposed to some other possible options.  And no matter where we went, we would be looking at a price tag in excess of $10K.

So if you don't mind sharing, how did you pay for your IVF?  Did you already have the needed amount in savings?  Did you save for the cycle once you found out IVF would be necessary for you?  (If so, how?  Second/different job?  Extra shifts?  Drastic lifestyle changes?)  Did you get the money from a friend or family member?  Did you borrow some, or all, of the money?

If you don't feel comfortable leaving this information in the comments but wouldn't mind telling just me, feel free to email me at sangela71 at yahoo dot com.

Thanks in advance to all who reply.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bitter, party of one. . . .

If I had a dollar for every time in the past few months I have felt bitter that other people I know are parents while I am not, MM and I could go out for a nice dinner.  Some mornings, when I check Fac.ebo.ok and see yet another pregnancy announcement, or ultrasound photo of a fetus, or baby picture, I want to post "Why do some people get to make babies at will while others are denied this basic function?" or something like that.  (Bitterness level varies day to day, so the tone of what I would write varies, too.)

Yes, I know that parenthood is not all lollipops and rainbows, and yes, I know that life as we know it would change dramatically if/when we become parents.  Knowing these things does not prevent me from wanting to experience motherhood myself.  I have had 39+ years of freedom to be selfish.  I am more than ready to make the sacrifices necessary to be a parent.  Truth be told, I've been ready for years, even before meeting MM.

I am also bitter that I have to consider things such as donor egg IVF, which I wrote about in my latest post.  I know I should be grateful that such a procedure is even able to help us become parents (even though at a very high cost), and on some level I probably am or will be, but at the moment, I am more bitter that our desire to have a baby of our own has led us to have to consider such alternatives.

[Oh, and to the commenter on the last post who pointed out that it was clear I am a lawyer from my analysis of the pros and cons. . . . actually, I thought things through in the same type of logical fashion before I was a lawyer.  I guess it's true what a friend once told me: real lawyers are born, not educated.]

I am bitter that our only chances at parenthood will be the result of spending tens of thousands of dollars and will not involve fun, passionate sex.  I am bitter than my body, which has already failed me in a way by its tendency to be overweight, despite my efforts to make it otherwise, has now failed to carry out its most basic biological function: to procreate.

I am bitter about the toll infertility has already taken on me. . . . the thousands of dollars we've spent, the focus and energy it has stolen from other activities in my life which were/are meaningful to me, the way it has shaken my confidence in myself and tested my faith in the ideas that hard work will be rewarded and that there is a benevolent God.  I'm bitter about the fact that I can no longer be wholeheartedly happy for anyone I know who gets pregnant unless I know that she has struggled with infertility or loss first.  I am bitter that others' lives seem to be moving forward while we are stuck, stagnant.

Bitter is not me.  I am not an envious person by nature.  While I am no Pollyanna and have had my moments of pessimism, I have usually been confident in my ability to affect positive change in my life.  And prior to this, my efforts have usually been rewarded.

At this point, I'm not sure how to stop being bitter.  I have dealt with the disappointment and heartache of infertility for so long that I'm not sure even getting (miraculously) pregnant would bring me back to my old self.  (Although, I'd love to find out. . . . )

For now, I think the best I can do is focus on other things at which there is more of a chance I will be successful.  Focus on my career, focus on (once again) losing weight, focus on doing the things I enjoy and being grateful for the many good things already in my life: my marriage, my family, my dogs, my friends, my general health.

On that note. . . . I am off to my job interview.  Time to put on a happy face.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thoughts on donor egg IVF

First, I went to say that the thoughts expressed in this post are solely mine and those of MM.  In no way do I wish to imply that we are right and that anyone who may disagree with us is wrong.  I think decisions about ART are EXTREMELY personal and individual, and what might be right for you may not be right for us and vice versa.

Also, I welcome anyone reading who knows more about this topic than I to educate me.  Feel free to either leave a comment or email me at the address provided in my profile.

Since the beginning of our TTC efforts, MM and I have been opposed to doing IVF using my eggs.  Over a year ago, I wrote a post about the reasons why we do not plan to go that route, and as our reasons have not changed, I will not rehash them here.  (If you're interested in reading them, my original post on the topic is here.  I will be alluding to our reasons at certain points during this post.)

Several months ago, around the time that we took our last (indefinite) treatment break in late November/early December 2009, MM asked me if we could "use a surrogate" to have a baby.  Like most normal, healthy men who do not work in health care, MM was wholly uninformed about the options available for treatment of infertility and thought this was a logical suggestion and possible solution to my inability to have a baby.  (Note: MM also doesn't ask many questions when we visit the RE and has done zero research or reading related to our infertility.)

Once I explained to him that, so far as we know, there is nothing wrong with my uterus specifically, or my body in general, that would make it impossible for me to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery and that it appears to be the quality of my eggs (due to my "advanced" age) which is our primary problem, MM then wanted to know what, if anything, could be done about that.  Like many uninformed people, he thought there would be a medication that the RE could give me which would improve my egg quality, and when he found out there is no such drug, he wanted to know what, if anything, could be done.

Enter discussion of donor egg IVF.  MM had never even heard of such a thing, and it was quite an education for him when I explained how women can become pregnant doing donor egg IVF or using donor embryos.  (Donor sperm he had thought of on his own.)

As I've written about here before, MM's primary--though not only--motivation for wanting a child is to have his own genetically related child.  He has a number of reservations about adopting for this reason.  (His feelings on the matter are the main reason why we are not considering adoption, and I wrote at length about why we've made that choice here.)  Doing donor egg IVF would allow MM to not have to give up his desire to have a child who is biologically "his."  (Obviously, he would give up the dream of having a child who is biologically "ours," and that is no small sacrifice to him, but it is a smaller sacrifice than never having his own child at all.)

MM's primary objection to IVF is, and has been, the cost relative to the rate of possible success.  I understand and, to a degree, share this objection.  For women my age (39), so far as I've learned through research online, there is not a fertility clinic anywhere which can boast success rates of more than 50% for IVF using your own eggs.  A quick check of the 2008 success rates for CCRM, which is widely considered to be one of the best fertility clinics in the U.S. with the highest success rates, even for "difficult" cases, reveals that only 45.9% of IVF cycles for women aged 38-40 resulted in live births.  The 2007 ART Report from the CDC (the latest one available online) shows that not a single clinic in the metropolitan area in which I live can boast a success rate anywhere near that.  The highest rate of any clinic in my area for women aged 38-40 in that report is 19.2% for live births, while our clinic has an even-more-dismal 12.5% live birth rate.

Thus, any IVF cycle using my eggs is more likely to fail than to succeed. It's hard to try anything extremely grueling and involved when you know that the odds are against you.  I know some people might view this as a challenge to be overcome, but that is not the way I, or MM, think.

Our RE pointed out to us at our last sit-down with him that success rates look at each cycle individually and thus do not include the possibility of future FETs with eggs which are retrieved and fertilized.  But those future FETs are neither free nor effortless; they still involve daily injections of hormones, sometimes multiple injections a day, and monitoring.  (At my age, I do not qualify for a shared risk program.)  And FETs have even lower success rates than fresh cycles, making it even less likely that any individual cycle will result in our taking home a baby.

For me personally, there is another complicating factor with all this that might adversely our chances of success.  One of my ovaries is positioned behind my uterus, in a place which would make it inaccessible for egg retrieval.  Our RE has told us that the position of this ovary should in no way affect my ability to conceive naturally.  However, if I did IVF using my eggs, there is absolutely no way of knowing, or controlling, which ovary will produce more eggs.  So theoretically, it is entirely possible that my left, unreachable ovary would produce the majority of the eggs, making those eggs basically a waste from an IVF standpoint because they could not be retrieved.

The other factor against us is just the expected age-related egg quality factor.  I know that my tubes are patent and functional, based on a HSG and based on the fact that I did become pregnant once, though it ended in a very early miscarriage ("chemical pregnancy").  So we know that I have no tubal issues.  Based on that same chemical pregnancy, we know that MM's sperm are able to penetrate and fertilize the egg.  So that means that the most likely problem we have is, in fact, poor egg quality.  But who's to say that every egg I have left isn't of an equally poor quality to the one which resulted in my chemical pregnancy?  Given that, in over two years of TTC, I have never been more than 5 weeks pregnant and have only even conceived once, I believe the likelihood is pretty high that I have no, or at least very, very few, decent quality eggs left.

Given all the information that we have, we feel that the odds are not in favor of our ever having success getting pregnant with my eggs.  Neither of us wants to shell out $12-15K+ per cycle for something which would give us a 12.5%, or even a 45.9%, chance of taking home a baby from the hospital.  I realize that IVF is always something of a gamble, but I don't like our odds at all.

Even putting cost issues aside--because really, can cost be the only consideration for a decision this important?--truth be told, I don't think I would be willing to do IVF with my eggs even if it were free.  The physical and emotional stress associated with the many drugs given to stimulate the ovaries for an IVF cycle is something I truly wonder if I could tolerate.  I have had only a taste of what being on stims feels like, having used Follistim in conjunction with Clomid, and it wasn't easy.  I don't want to think about how much worse it would be once the dosage of Follistim is ratcheted up and other drugs are added to the mix.  And I am even more loathe to try when there is a greater chance that the cycle will fail than that it will succeed. 

I am more than a little concerned about the possible future effects of ovarian over-stimulation, too.  Our RE had me sign a very alarming consent form when we started treatment which advised me that the drugs used could increase my future risk of ovarian cancer.  Though I have no specific authority for this thought, it is logical to me that higher doses of these drugs would create an even greater risk.

Also, I think that ART can be a slippery slope.  If you'll do IVF once, why not twice?  If twice, why not three times?  And so on and so on, until one day you wake up, emotionally spent, and you may now have tens of thousands of dollars of debt and still no baby.  Every single one of us who regularly reads infertility blogs can tell you about someone, or several someones, she knows who has done five or more IVF cycles and is still childless.

MM and I promised each other when we started TTC that we would not put ourselves deeply in debt or ruin our relationship to become parents.  I fear starting down the path of IVF could do either or both.

I understand that there are injections, drug side effects and monitoring involved with a donor egg IVF cycle, too, but my preliminary research into the matter had led me to believe that this option is preferable for us.  For one, it seems that the donor, not the recipient, is the one taking more drugs and requiring more monitoring.  Sure, I would have to take drugs to prepare my lining and to support my (potential) pregnancy, but I wouldn't have to stimulate my ovaries.

The most attractive part about a donor egg IVF cycle is the success rate.  CCRM's website indicates that their live birth rate for donor egg cycles has been right around 80% for the past few years.  I have seen other clinics with similar success rates.  I realize that the price tag for donor egg IVF is about two to three times what it would be for an IVF cycle using my eggs. . . . but if there is a four out of five chance it would work, it would be worth the risk.

I will admit that I am a little sad at the prospect of giving up my own genetic link to a future child and at giving up the chance to see what a child who is a combination of my and MM's DNA would be like.  But it is looking more and more like I would be giving these things up in any case.  Certainly the odds of our achieving a pregnancy naturally are low--around 5% per cycle, according to our RE--and the odds of achieving a pregnancy through IVF using my eggs is low, too, though not quite as low.

Donor egg IVF is preferable to adoption for us in a number of ways.  Unlike with adoption, it would allow at least MM (though obviously not me) to have a biological child of his own.  Although I know my husband loves me, and he has told me repeatedly that he would not leave me because of my inability to have a child, I feel horrible knowing that I am depriving him of his only chance to be a father.  (And his parents of their only opportunity to be grandparents.)  I'm not sure I can live with and accept that by being with me, MM had to  forfeit his chance at fatherhood and give up a dream that has been so long-held and so close to his heart.

With donor egg IVF, even though I would not be genetically related to our child, I would get to experience pregnancy and be in complete control of our child's environment literally from day one.  I would never have to worry whether our child's mother smoked, or drank alcohol, or used drugs, or even ate nothing but junk food while our baby was in utero, as I know I would if we were to adopt, because I would know exactly what the intrauterine environment was like. . . to the extent that anyone can know this, at least.  

The timing of when we would become parents would be at least somewhat within our control with donor egg IVF, too, though obviously also based upon clinic and donor scheduling.  I know from seeing the experiences of others waiting to adopt that sometimes the wait can be long and is likely to be longer if many pre-conditions are placed upon an adoption.  Even if MM were willing to adopt, we would be looking for a healthy, Caucasian newborn.  Waiting for a birth mother to choose us to parent her baby could take years.

Finally, if we use donor egg IVF vs. adoption, no one will ever know that our child is not genetically "ours" unless we choose to tell them.  To that end, we would pick a donor who shared at least my ethnic background and coloring (though given the apparent strength of my husband's paternal genes, the child may end up looking more like him in any event).  I am sure that adoptive parents are accustomed to, and perhaps don't mind, the curious looks strangers sometimes give them if they are with their adopted child who in no way resembles them.  But we would rather not deal with that if we can avoid it.

So these are the reasons we are considering donor egg IVF.  If we decide to do it, we almost certainly go somewhere other than our current clinic, and likely somewhere with the highest possible success rate.  Because of the cost involved, and because of the slim hope which MM still has that we will somehow, miraculously, get pregnant on our own, we are not looking to put this plan into effect soon.  Likely it will be at least 6-9 months or more before we do anything more than investigate this option.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

You're Going Places

This award requires the winner to tell where she sees herself ten years from now.  In some ways, it could not have come to me at a more ironic time for me, as I recently have felt very stagnant and stuck.  I certainly haven't felt like I'm "going places"!  Anyway. . . .

A big thank you to Mrs. Green of Awaiting Our Green Bean for presenting me with this! 

In ten years:

  • In spite of everything I have written here and felt over the past two years, I still see myself as a mother.  It is not altogether clear to me at the moment how I will accomplish that goal, but that is still how I see myself. 
  • Since I will be 49 in 10 years, I see myself done with TTC, one way or another!  Hallelujah!!
  • I see myself still happily married to MM.
  • I see myself continuing to do some type of volunteer work which can positively affect people, either individually or collectively.  Not sure if this will still be CASA for me, but helping others gives my life meaning, and I can't imagine ever NOT doing it.
  • I see myself still practicing law, though I'm not exactly sure where I will be working or precisely what type of law I'll be practicing.  At least in this one area of my life, work, I've learned not to have too many preconceived notions of the future, so as not to close myself off to possibilities.
P.S.  I am working on a post to flesh out a little more fully our thoughts on donor egg IVF, such as why we would go this route at all and instead of using my own eggs, where/how we think we might pursue this option, and how we came to discuss this at all.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Thoughts on this & that

  • It's funny how much less I think about being infertile when I'm not doing treatment or closely tracking my cycle (today is CD 13, in case you're interested).  It's as though I can forget more easily when I'm not constantly trying and failing.
  • I really hate it when people tell me "God has a plan for you" or something similar related to TTC.  First, keep your religious beliefs to yourself.  Second, how do you know?  Third, maybe He *does* have a plan for me, and maybe I don't like His plan.  (You get the idea....)
  • I started doing Jenny Craig today.  (I've done the plan successfully a few times before.)  My apple for my mid-afternoon snack was mealy and disgusting, so I threw it away, and now I'm starving!  I have already downed nearly 100 oz of water today, though, so yea for me.
  • I have a job interview on Friday.  I hope it goes well; I am a little out of practice.  The sooner I can get my work situation sorted, the better.
  • There is a distinct possibility that we will not be doing any further IUIs.  MM and I talked briefly about this topic over the weekend and have not come to a final decision, but I told him how I am tired of trying and failing, and we agreed to consider not doing the final two IUIs we had planned.
  • If we decide not to do any more IUIs, we will still TTC naturally (for all the good that will do) and will likely start saving money for donor egg IVF in a year or two.
  • I wish I were independently wealthy.  I would still work as a lawyer, but only part-time and on a schedule I would unilaterally set.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Versatile Blogger

For this award, here’s what to do:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Tell 7 things about yourself that readers may not know.
3. Pay it forward by nominating 10 bloggers you’ve recently discovered.

Thank you to blogger R of One Egg Please for giving me this blog award.

7 things you may not know about me:

1.  I'm musically talented.  The first instrument I learned to play, when I was 6, was the accordion.  I played the clarinet for over 7 years and even made the all-state band.  I have also played the guitar, the oboe, the alto saxophone, the xylophone, and most recently, the piano.  I also sang in the church choir throughout my childhood, have sung at special events for friends, and have been known to karaoke on occasion--cold sober!

2.  I send close friends and family members a card on their birthdays every year, without fail.  I love to send cards!  I also send cards for children's birthdays and for anniversaries if I attended the couple's wedding.  Not surprisingly, I have been a platinum level member of Hallmark's Gold Crown Program every year since 1996.

3.  My father is Irish.  He was born and raised in Ireland and did not come to the U.S. until he was 20 years old.  All my paternal relatives still live in Ireland, except one cousin who is currently living in the Netherlands (but grew up in Ireland). 

4.  I have celebrated my birthday in Las Vegas three times:  my 26th, 30th, and 39th.

5.  When I was in high school, I gave serious contemplation to entering a convent and becoming a nun. I prayed that God should send me a sign if it was His will for me to do this; shortly thereafter, college brochures started arriving in the mail. I took this as a sign that God wanted me to go to college and not to the convent, but who knows?

6.  My father thought I would be a boy. My room and all my clothes were blue. Dad asked the doctor who delivered me when he'd scheduled my circumcision.  True story.

7.  I rarely lie. . . . not just because I am an honest person, but because I am not a good liar at all.  Funny for a lawyer, huh?  ;-)

 I nominate the following bloggers:

1.  Jo of MoJo Working
2.  Gurlee of Infertility Musings
3.  Melissa G of Banking on It
6.  sparkly things distract me

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Weird dream

This morning shortly before my alarm went off, I had the strangest dream I've had in a while.  It primarily involved the lawyer for another party in one of my active cases who I have seen a few times recently for depositions.  (Guess that is how he got into my subconscious mind.)

The basic story line was that we were working on a case together and somehow ended up back at his house, along with the other lawyers in the case.  Next thing I know--you know how disjointed dreams can be--we were all sitting around watching an NCAA football game on TV and having a good time instead of working.

Then the scene shifted again, and this lawyer--who is a nice person, but someone whom I have ever particularly thought of as attractive--and I were suddenly the only ones in his house.  In the dream, it became clear that there was a strong physical attraction between us, but just before he went to kiss me, I kindly but firmly told him that nothing could happen between us because I was married.  He accepted this, and we agreed that I would ask to be taken off the case to avoid future awkwardness between us.

As I was gathering my things to leave, his wife and children arrived (note: I don't think he is actually married in real life, and I don't know if he has children).  Both of us played the situation off like a legitimate work meeting, and no one seemed suspicious.

The next part of the dream involved my walking miles to find my car.  Goodness only knows why I was parked so far from where everything else happened, but dreams are weird.  I finally found the car and got home, and it was shortly after that when I woke up to my alarm.

Anyone into dream interpretation and want to tell me what this means?