Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hope springs eternal

I woke up yesterday with a headache and a little nausea.  Despite a full night's sleep, I felt achy and tired.  So I decided to take a sick day.  Later in the morning, I also had some, um, other GI upset a ways south of nausea.

I felt better by the mid-afternoon, and when MM came home from work yesterday evening, he said "Maybe you're pregnant."  At which I laughed and said "Wow, hope really does spring eternal for you, doesn't it?"

I find it amusing that MM still has hope that we will conceive a child together naturally after all this time and (failed) effort.  I think we are on about cycle #30 TTC.  I truly cannot fathom where his optimism comes from, as he is not generally an optimistic person by nature.  I guarantee that, were he looking at other people in our same situation, he would deem them hopeless. . . . and yet apparently he still thinks that a miracle is going to happen for us.

Today is CD 22, and if I interpret my one OPK which looked to be almost-positive-but-not-quite as a positive, today would be about 9 DPO.  Normally, I wouldn't be expecting my period until Monday at the earliest, but as I've mentioned here before, my last two cycles were only 25 days and 22 days long. . . . so realistically, AF could arrive at any time.

Don't get me wrong: I would be ECSTATIC if I found out I was pregnant!  Not only would it be absolutely lovely to become a parent in the way I'd always dreamed of--through sex with my spouse, producing a child with our combined genes--we could also then put the thousands of dollars we've earmarked for a DE IVF cycle toward other things.

As wonderful as that would be, though, I basically have zero hope that it will happen at this point.  Funny, because while I am certainly no Pollyanna, I tend to be more optimistic and positive generally than my husband.  Except, apparently, on this one point.

P.S.  I spoke to the DE coordinator at one of our top choice clinics yesterday to get an idea as to timeline, etc.  We are working on the theory that, if we decide to go ahead, we will do a DE cycle sometime in summer 2011.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Online shopping/dating

One of the clinics I am seriously considering for DE IVF has allowed me access to their donor database even though we are technically not yet official patients of the clinic.  I love the set-up of their site, and they provide a lot of detailed information about the donors. . . . including their psych evals and other personal information.

But I can't help but feel like I am shopping for a mother for our child.  Or browsing profiles on an online dating site.  It's an odd feeling.

(It's weird, too, how a number of the donors on the site were born after I graduated from high school.  Wow, nothing like THAT to make me feel especially old!)

I know that, should we go through with DE IVF (and it's looking more and more like we will), I will feel that the child is totally mine, regardless of the lack of my genetic material.  At this stage, though, while thinking about eventually choosing a donor, it's a little surreal.

I have kept both my parents out of the loop for a while in regard to our TTC efforts.  I talked in detail here about why my father is on limited information status (to put it in a nutshell: his wife has a big mouth), and my mother tends to be fairly self-involved in general and had said some hurtful things to me in the past.  (To be fair to my mom, I don't think she meant to hurt my feelings; she just really cannot relate to my being infertile, since she always had the opposite problem during her own reproductive years.)

This past Saturday, I decided I would tell my mom that we are seriously considering DE IVF, and the news was very well receivedShe said she thinks it is great that the technology exists for us to pursue this option and that she thinks we are smart to do it, even though it is very expensive.  I swore her to secrecy, and unlike my stepmother, I know that she can keep a secret.  (She has told some extended family about our IF, which I am OK with. . . . I just don't want her telling anyone about the DE possibility until we've decided how we want to handle that.)

My first appointment with the counselor is on 9/12, and I am eager to get started on the emotional work necessary for me to feel 100% OK with pursuing DE.  MM and I also had a long talk about my decision to go to a counselor and why I made it, and in the course of that discussion, he came to some interesting realizations.  I may write more about that in a future post, but suffice it to say, DE IVF remains his preferred next step for us.

Friday, August 27, 2010

On a lighter note. . .

Aside from my sharing the Chinese spam I get on the blog, my posts of late have been a little heavy.  So I figured why not post something a little more light-hearted, in honor of its being the start of the weekend.

(Feel free to play along if you desire; this is not my own unique idea but rather something I've read on other blogs.)

Name five things you love about your spouse:

1.  MM has a great sense of humor.  He makes me laugh nearly every day and can make me laugh when I really don't want to. . . like when I'm mad at him for something or just in a generally foul mood.  His sense of humor also means that most people who meet him like him.  It's nice to have a husband who makes a good first impression.  ;-)

2.  MM gives me my space.  Having not married until I was 37 years old, I already had a well-established life, with family, friends, work and volunteer commitments.  Some men might feel threatened by their wives doing things on their own, without them, but MM is perfectly OK with it (most of the time).  So long as I spend a significant chunk of my leisure time with him--which I do, and it's no hardship--he has no problem with my seeing my friends or family without him sometimes.  I have even traveled out of state on my own to visit friends and family.  I travel out of town monthly for my volunteer work, and he is OK with that, too.  He is even OK with my having an occasional lunch with an ex-boyfriend!

3.  MM is an excellent judge of people.  I think this quality is a combination of an innate gift and an ability honed over 12+ years of working with convicted felons at his job.  MM is much more of an observer than I and can pick up on things about people which it would take me months to realize.  Because of this quality, I trust his judgment about people much more than I do almost anyone else's.

4.  MM is very organized and routine-oriented. This quality may sound like an odd thing to love, and I will admit that it has, on occasion, also made me a little crazy, but for someone like me, who is more DISorganized and scattered, it is nice to have that balance.  Our house is in better order, and I make it to the gym more often, because of MM.  Plus, he inspires me to be better in this area.

5.  MM is sensitive.  By that, I don't mean that he is a touchy-feely, in-touch-with-his-feminine-side kind of guy, who writes poetry or makes his own greeting cards.  No, he is very masculine (and typically male) but  is actually quite tender-hearted.  (He would HATE it if I knew I was posting this about him!  He doesn't like for people to know this about him.)  He cries at movies and TV shows; he can be easily hurt by people who are important to him; and he loves our golden retrievers like children and often puts their needs (or, as he perceives it, their "desires") above his own convenience.

I am a very lucky gal.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


This week has been a quiet one for me so far in terms of TTC/IF-related angst.  Only a couple of discoveries of pregnancies of acquaintances on FB*, neither of which caused more than a momentary twinge of envy.  No new in-person pregnant woman sightings--surprising.  I am on CD 17 today, so far too early in the 2WW (assuming I even ovulated this cycle) to expect any symptoms of pregnancy. . . . and therefore no reason to obsessively analyze my body's every little sensation.

Despite the fact that my thoughts and emotions are currently in less turmoil than usual, I know I am far from OK with where I am and far from resolved about where to go from here.  In light of this truth, I have finally taken the initiative to do something I've been thinking about and talking about for a long time: I made an appointment with a counselor who regularly treats clients with infertility.  (I found her name/number on Resolve's website, and when we spoke on the phone, she told me that she has made infertility a "special interest" of hers due to her own struggles.)

On the one hand, I kind-of hate to spend the money on counseling when I feel I am generally coping quite adequately with this situation.  The only real "symptom" I have of any type of difficulty is that I am having difficulty concentrating and focusing at work. . . . but honestly, I cannot be sure that this is wholly due to my IF and the uncertainty that has come with it.  I have had this problem from time to time over the years, especially when I'm not feeling challenged at work.

On the other hand, I do think it will be helpful to get an objective outsider's perspective, especially one who is a trained professional used to dealing with people dealing with this particular problem. . . . and I don't anticipate needing to see her indefinitely.  I may ask MM to go to a session or two with me also, if she thinks it would help, and I believe he would be receptive to that.

Despite the fact that we have started planning and saving for a possible DE IVF in a year or so, I know that MM still holds out hope that we are, somehow, someway, going to get pregnant and have a baby of our own without intervention.  Although I know miracles happen--and I personally know more than one person who'd been given worse odds of success than ours and still managed to get pregnant and carry to term--I don't think that's a very realistic viewpoint.  I don't want to take away his hope, though, so I just don't discuss it much with him anymore.

Oh, one other thing I thought interesting and wanted to share.  I have written here numerous times about the fact that MM is opposed to adopting and explained his reasons in detail here.  A friend raised what I thought was a valid question, which I put to MM: "What if, G-d forbid, something happened to my sister and brother-in-law simultaneously and we had to raise my nephew?  Wouldn't you be able to love him like your own child?"

His response was that he would be OK with that even though he is not related to my nephew "because at least he is related to you."  Hmm.  I must say, the fact that he said that he could love/raise my nephew as his own child (in the unlikely event that both his parents died) made me question whether MM really, truly could not love a child who was not blood-related to him as his own, as he says.  I let it be, though.

Also, MM recently mentioned to his mother that he did not want to adopt and that he did not feel he could love an unrelated child.  He concluded by saying "I guess that makes me a horrible person."  His mom responded "Yeah, it kinda does!"  Whoa!

So that's where I am these days.
*I must say, the lawyers I know seem to be among the most fertile people in my world!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This & That

This post is going to be pretty much all over the place.

I have pretty much made up my mind that I am not doing any more IUIs.  As one of my anonymous commenters pointed out on my post on this subject, there really isn't that much of a difference in success rate between our TTC on our own and doing IUI with injectables--5% per cycle vs. 10-15% per cycle.

(Oh, and as for doing just medications with timed intercourse, medications and monitoring are the more expensive part of our IUI cycles.  I wouldn't feel comfortable at all doing medicated cycles without monitoring; too afraid of unintended side effects like high order multiples, cysts, or ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.)

As commenter gingerandlime correctly sagely (and correctly) pointed out, I am not locked in to this decision.  But at the moment, I don't think it's worth the time, effort, or most importantly, the money we would spend on more IUIs.

I am still on the fence about the DE IVF option.  MM is fully on board, but in my opinion, his desire to proceed with DE IVF is due to the high success rate which will give him a realistic chance of having a child who is genetically related to him and is primarily emotionally driven.  I, on the other hand, am thinking about all the other issues that go along with this. . . . such as how we will feel, and what we will do next, if we are in the unlucky 20% for whom the procedure does not result in a live birth.  (I have never been more pregnant than 5 weeks, so who's to say my body is up to the task?  I just don't know.)

I gently suggested we consider adoption before sinking so much money into a DE IVF cycle, and MM was not very receptive.  He said he was willing to "learn more about it," but went on to say that he wouldn't consider it as an option until/unless we did a DE IVF cycle which failed.  To which I had to respond that, if we spend $30K+ on DE IVF and it doesn't work, we won't be able to afford to pursue adoption.

I hate, hate, hate the idea of paying off a loan of over $10K--which is the least we will have to borrow to do DE IVF--while still childless.  Frankly, I'm not too keen on the idea of paying off a loan of that size while simultaneously paying for a new baby (or two) either.

I also have a lot of issues with "what if it does work."  Like what I will tell people, including my parents, about how we conceived.  MM believes my parents have "a right to know" that the child would not be genetically related to them.  I'm not sure I agree, but a lot of the reading I have done seems to indicate that it is better for a child conceived through the use of donor gametes to know this from an early age, so that it won't seem like a horrible or weird thing.  I can't very well tell my child and not tell other people. . . . that just won't work.

I am also still wrestling with guilt.  I know, many of you previously commented that you think I shouldn't feel guilty, but I do.  The reasons are many and varied.  To name just a few. . . .I feel guilty for considering depriving my husband of his (likely) only opportunity to have a child of his own by declining to pursue ART, but I also feel guilty for considering DE IVF as an option.  I feel guilty for being unable to conceive on my own and feel strongly that it is my own fault for waiting until 37 to TTC.  (Yes, I know, plenty of women conceive at that age and older.  Intellectually, I know this is true.)

So even though I have made up my mind to be done with IUIs, I am still in the "thinking it over" stage in regard to what we will do next, if anything.

Also, I am beginning to wonder if, in fact, I am still ovulating normally.  (Although another part of my brain says "What difference does that make?  Even when you know you've ovulated, it never gets you anywhere!")  I didn't use OPKs my last two cycles, and I gave up BBT charting long ago. . . . but my last two cycles were only 25 days and 22 days long.  Definitely abnormal, not only for me specifically, but in general.

Now this cycle, I never had a truly positive OPK.  I had clearly negative OPKs on CD 10, CD 11, and CD 13.  On CD 12, I had an OPK where the test line was ALMOST as dark as the control, but not quite.  (On the other hand, in looking at the OPK photo gallery on fertilityfriend, my OPK from CD 12 looked pretty much the same as most of the other positive OPKs of that brand posted there.  Example:  http://www.fertilityfriend.com/tg/gallery/f5b987f651af078fd01c86c85c24fc5f/image_7479.jpg?)

 I never had a problem with OPKs before; when I've tested daily and not forgotten, I've always gotten at least one positive.  (Hell, I've even had positive OPKs in treatment cycles when I didn't want/need them!)  So now I am wondering if perhaps I am not even ovulating anymore. 

One little anecdote I want to share. . . . this past Saturday, I was hanging out with my BFF and realized I was out of OPKs.  Saturday was CD 12, a day when I have often had a + OPK, so I didn't want to skip testing.  We stopped in a Walgreen's in an, um, unsavory part of town on our way back from lunch to buy the OPKs.

When I took my box of OPKs to the counter (the last box on the shelf, I might add), the cashier ringing me up appeared to be under 25 and was visibly pregnant, probably between 6 and 8 months along.  I was glad my BFF was with me to witness the fact that it is NOT just my imagination that I see pregnant women everywhere!  See, even here at the ghetto Walgreen's, I've run into a pregnant woman!

I noticed the cashier looking at my purchase and, as I am inclined to do, thought to make light of the situation with humor.  I said, smiling, "You don't need those; you've already accomplished that goal."  At which point the cashier told me "Yeah, but I used seven pregnancy tests when I first found out because I couldn't believe it was true after over two years of trying."

Bam!  Here I had (wrongly) assumed that, because this woman was young and likely not financially well-off, she had conceived readily and without thought. . . . and it turned out that she (at least on some level) knew my pain.  Huh.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Random spam, second installment

I must admit, when I first started getting random spam comments in Chinese characters, I was confused and annoyed.  (Oddly, I never get spam comments in any other language, including English.)

Now, though, I've come to view these comments as almost like my own little fortune cookie fortunes and find them amusing.  I use babel fish to translate them, and some are quite funny.  (It's also clear that perhaps something is lost in translation.)

Here are some recent ones:

In the life the best gift belongs to an own part.

Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today.  (Wow, sage)

How can you pass through a piece of sea, but forgets its blue?

Attractive Ye ~ has free time certainly every day for you supports.  (Got this comment my other blog but decided to share it here.)

Gives birth for the first time the happy life, is each person's dream ~~ hoped that everybody can realize!  (Hmm, this one kind-of implies that the author actually read my blog post.)

The life looks like cup of tea, if tosses down, will shift to an earlier time sees the cup bottom.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Do you consider it disrespectful, disloyal, or otherwise inappropriate for a married man to send a woman he had a relationship with in high school a message on Fac.ebo.ok including the following:

Hope all is well, you look great, and I see you are married. He is a lucky guy, you were always a sweet heart!

Other factors to consider: the man in question has other ex-girlfriends on his friends list besides the recipient of this message; he and his wife have been married for 16 years and have two children, ages 15 and 9; and the sender and recipient have not seen one another in nearly 20 years.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An open letter

Dear friend/classmate/former co-worker,

I am truly thrilled to hear that you are pregnant.  Really.  I have no doubt you will cherish your child and make an excellent parent, and goodness knows, the world needs more good parents.

At the same time, I do not wish to hear about the growth of your fetus, your pregnancy symptoms, your delivery, or how you are adjusting to new-mommyhood.  And as your child grows, unless I am related to him/her by blood or by marriage, I won't really care how tall he is, how much he weighs, and whether he is using the potty.

You see, I have been unable to achieve (in nearly two-and-a-half years of trying) what you have achieved.  So hearing about how much you are enjoying what I don't/can't have is painful.

I am glad you haven't had to walk in my shoes and experience the pain of infertility firsthand.  I wouldn't wish infertility on my worst enemy.  (OK, I admit, I probably *would* wish it on her. . . . but unfortunately for me, she already has a baby conceived at a convenient, planned time without medical intervention.)

But I ask you, please don't pity me. . . . just spare me the details.


Monday, August 16, 2010

To IUI or not to IUI?

After our last failed IUI + injectables cycle, MM and I agreed to take a couple of cycles off due to summer travel plans we had which we feared might interfere with monitoring, etc.

Today is CD 7 of the third cycle after that most recent failed medicated cycle, so we have been discussing the utility of doing additional IUI + injectables cycles.  Our insurance pays for a portion of up to six IUIs, lifetime, and we have used four.  So in theory, we have two left which would be partially covered.

I'm having a bit of a hard time deciding whether it's worthwhile to do additional IUIs.  This cycle is our 30th cycle TTC.  In each and every cycle, we have had intercourse during the appropriate "fertile" window.  So far as I know, I ovulated during each one of those cycles.  (I know for sure that I ovulated during the six cycles when I was monitored and our RE told me I can reasonably conclude that I ovulated during most of the others due to cycle length, + OPKs, etc.)

In 29 cycles of TTC, we have had a single BFP which ended in a chemical pregnancy at about 5 weeks.  (That was about this time last year.)  That pregnancy was the result of a break cycle. . . . a true break cycle, when I wasn't even using OPKs or charting or making sure we did "the deed" at the right time.  Other than that one very early miscarriage, whether medicated/monitored or not, I have never been pregnant.

I suppose one of the pros of doing additional IUI + injectables cycles is that they will slightly increase our odds of conception.  Our RE has estimated that we have a 5% chance of natural conception each cycle and a 10-15% chance with IUI + injectables, depending upon the number of follicles I produce.  If his estimates are correct, we are doubling or tripling our chances of success with this type of treatment.

On the other hand, I have done four IUIs so far, three of those after using injectables with Clomid (one Clomid alone), as well as two cycles of timed intercourse after ovarian stimulation, and have absolutely zero to show for them.  I have read a few research studies that show that IUIs are not very effective in women around age 40; I'm currently 39 and will be 40 in March.

In my mind, I'm not sure that IUIs are even indicated for us.  MM's sperm count is normal (actually, well above the threshold for all our IUIs).  His motility and morphology are also normal.  I have no reason to believe there is any problem with my cervical mucus making it difficult for his sperm to reach the eggs; in fact, our RE told us that the fact that we did conceive naturally once makes it extremely likely that there is no barrier to conception caused by my cervical mucus or anatomy.

Another potential pro is the feeling that we are doing something to increase our chances.  Although it is not impossible that we could conceive on our own, it seems highly unlikely.  And even if we decide to go the DE IVF route, it will be months and months--perhaps more than a year--before we can afford to do it.  But on the other hand, I don't know that it will really make us feel good to know that we are doing something when what we are doing is something that we doubt will work.

Also, while insurance pays for a portion of these IUI + injectables cycles, it does not pay for all of it.  Each cycle will cost us several hundred dollars of our money. . . . money that might be better put toward saving for DE IVF (or something else, who knows what) down the road.  I'm not fond of throwing good money after bad, and the fact that IUIs have not worked so far makes me inclined to think that they won't work for us, period.

Assuming our RE is correct, the main issue preventing us from conceiving a pregnancy that can continue past 5 weeks is poor egg quality.  Neither IUIs nor ovarian stimulation will remedy that problem.

So that's where we're at.  MM has said he will defer to me in making the decision, since I am the one who will have to take the drugs and do the monitoring if we decide to do more IUI + injectables cycles.

Thoughts?  What would you do?

(Bear in mind that IVF with my own eggs is out of the question for us, for all the reasons I set forth here.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Random comments in Chinese characters

I decided I would start translating the spam comments I get and sharing them periodically for your reading pleasure.  Here are a few from the past week:

It is not absurd asks, then feels at ease; It is not absurd does, then the body is peaceful!  (on Six losses of permanent infertility)

Is really very interesting. This must certainly go against one.

Man proposes, God disposes.

The beautiful thing is the eternal joy, its lovable date has increases, will not dissipate goes.  (Got this one twice, once on each of my blogs, two totally unrelated posts.)

Calm ~ wishes you to be also joyful.

Man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I sometimes feel like a bit of a fraud in this online community because it is hard for me to think of myself as truly "infertile," even after all this time.

I understand that the textbook definition of "infertility" is TTC for over a year without success.  By that definition, we are definitely infertile.  But although we are "unexplained," the most likely reason for our infertility is simply that I waited until I was too old to start TTC.

To me, the label "infertility" is used to describe a medical condition and is more correctly applied to issues such as endometriosis, PCOS, premature ovarian failure, low (or zero) sperm count, and other physical barriers to conception and successful pregnancy.  Because all of our testing is normal and neither of us has any diagnosed problem, "infertility" doesn't seem like the right word to describe our predicament. 

[I must note here what my sister has correctly pointed out to me on more than one occasion: because I never tried to get pregnant before I was 37--and in fact, tried NOT to get pregnant--I can't truly know that age is the problem.  But it seems logical and very likely.]

Perhaps I feel this way because I hesitate to call something which is a natural part of the aging process a disease.  After all, won't EVERY woman be infertile after a certain age?  Certainly that age may vary from woman to woman, but being too old to produce a good quality egg at 37 (when I started TTC) or at 39 (now) hardly qualifies as premature ovarian failure.  Just as there is much individual variation in when a woman will spot her first gray hair or wrinkle, perhaps so it goes with egg quality.  We all get old, only the rate at which that process occurs varies.

So I feel like a bit of a fraud, someone masquerading as having a real illness when what she really has is bad luck and poor planning.  

And because of this view of myself vis a vis my lack of fertility, I actually feel a little guilty when I consider using methods like DE IVF to achieve a pregnancy.  Is it right for me to avail myself of such technologies (at great expense, I might add) simply because I am now too old to achieve pregnancy on my own?  I have long been of the school of thought that just because the medicine or technology exists for something, that doesn't necessarily mean that I agree with using it.  (Example: I would never want to be kept alive on a ventilator or  via tube feeding for more than a few days, even though people can actually live this way for years if necessary.)

I read the blogs of many other women who are in the IF morass with me, and many of them are much younger than I and struggling to get pregnant.  Shouldn't the use of ART be reserved for people like them?  Women who are infertile not because they put off having children (as I did) but through no fault of their own?

Having said all this, I make no judgments of women my age, and even older, who have undergone any type of fertility treatment.  This thoughts are directed at myself alone, not to the world at large.

One more thing for me to feel guilty about.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Loss of the satisfactions of pregnancy

While I won't say that I have never fantasized about what it would be like to feel a baby moving inside me for the first time, or to breast feed, or even to give birth, I think that, for me, these are the least of the losses of permanent infertility.  Yes, I would like to experience these things, and the control freak side of me wants to gestate my own baby, if for no other reason than for the complete control over the intrauterine that would come with that.

Honestly, though, hearing my friends talk about their pregnancies over many years makes me think that, for many women, the physical satisfactions of pregnancy are darned few when compared with the physical discomforts and inconveniences.  I can happily live out my life without having experienced morning sickness, extreme fatigue, urinary urgency, varicose veins, skin break-outs, hemorrhoids, or carpal tunnel syndrome, all of which many friends of mine have experienced with their pregnancies.

Don't get me wrong: I would gladly tolerate all these things and more in order to bring my--our--healthy child into the world.  I know that if I somehow become pregnant someday, I will find these things to be minor annoyances when compared with the "reward" of having endured them.  I'm simply saying that these are things I could gladly go without having experienced.

I know there are some women who "glow" and feel terrific while they are pregnant, but they seem to be in the minority based on the stories I hear.  And even more rarely, there are some women for whom pregnancy induces potentially life-threatening conditions like pre-eclampsia, HELLP syndrome, or diabetes.

As for the "emotional satisfactions" of pregnancy, after over two years of struggling with TTC and one miscarriage, I am not sure that I would fully experience those emotional satisfactions in the same way that someone else might.  Certainly I would be thrilled and ecstatic to be pregnant, and I have no doubt that I would feel a deepening emotional bond with my baby as my pregnancy progressed. 

But at the same time, knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  I know that I would be worried throughout my pregnancy about the possibility of losing the baby or of something else going wrong.  What if, after all the struggle and expense, I miscarried again, maybe even farther along this time?  What if something was wrong with the baby?  What if I gave birth too early, resulting in lasting serious complications for the baby?

As a former nurse, and after over two years of TTC and being a part of this online community, I am almost too informed about "the shadow side" pregnancy and childbirth.  So I think it would be hard to set aside what I know could go wrong and feel fully emotionally satisfied at being pregnant. 

For me, the real emotional satisfactions would come when I finally hold my baby in my arms.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Joint conception of a child

Ever since I realized that MM was likely to become a permanent part of my life, I have thought about what our jointly-conceived child would be like. MM and I met online, so we were both aware that the other wanted children before we ever met face-to-face, and our hope to become parents someday in the near future was discussed quite early on in our relationship.

Would she be blond and blue-eyed like him, or brunette and brown-eyed like me? (In my imaginings, I admit, our child was always a "she". . . . we both have expressed a preference for having a daughter over a son, though goodness knows, we would gladly take whichever gender we got.)  Would her hair be thick and curly like mine, or fine and stick-straight like MM's? Would she inherit his high metabolism (please, please) or my tendency toward being overweight?  I was sure she would be smart, and I hoped she would have my husband's motivation and work ethic instead of mine.  I wondered whether she would inherit musical talent from my side of the family or picky eating habits from his.

Knowing that it is likely that I will never see a child who is a MM/S combination makes me sad.  I think never having a child at all would be worse, though.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Loss of individual genetic continuity

Like most people who want children, I have often pictured what my future child would be like.  I will admit that, independent of my relationship with MM (or with any other man, for that matter), I had a picture in my mind.  That picture was not entirely dissimilar to pictures I have seen of myself as a child, or of my first cousin, or more recently, my nephew, on the rare instances when I pictured myself with a son.

I also find it difficult to accept that I will likely never know "my own (genetic) child." I will admit that my grief over the loss of my individual genetic continuity is slightly eased by the existence of my nephew Rowan.  Though he is obviously only partially genetically related to me--due to half his genes coming from his father's side and the fact that siblings only share only 50% of the same genes--I do see some traits of our family in him.

It hurts to know that, in all probability, there will never be a "mini S" in the world.  Not because I think my own genes, or even my family's genes, are superior or so great. . . . but because to me, that is a big part of what I thought motherhood would be: seeing the traits of myself, my sister, my parents, my cousins, and even my grandparents in my child.

[I want to note here that this particular aspect of becoming a parent, while important to me, is absolutely paramount to my husband.  I have to admit, too, that I carry more than a little guilt at not being able to provide my husband with a child. The genetic link to his offspring is so important to MM, and I know that his parents, especially his mother, really want to be grandparents. MM is an only child, so he is--we are--their only hope of becoming grandparents or of carrying on their line and name.  I hate that my inability to have a baby is denying him something he has wanted so much for so long.]

Friday, August 6, 2010

Six losses related to permanent infertility

My fellow blogger friend over at sparkly things distract me (having trouble linking to her blog for some reason) wrote a series of posts a while back about the six significant losses related to permanent infertility.  Even though we all know about these things--have probably thought about many of them in great detail--she found it to be a helpful exercise, and ever since reading her posts, I have been wanting to explore the topic myself.

Now that MM and I are exploring the possibility of pursuing an extremely expensive family-building option, I thought it would be worthwhile to reflect on what I would miss out on if we decided instead of spending $30K+ to just remain childless.  (An option that MM is thus far unwilling to consider, as evidenced by the disapproving look he gave me when I suggested it recently during one of our conversations about "how will we pay for DE IVF?")
The six losses I'm talking about are listed below in the order that I believe they currently affect me, with the most difficult loss being first.
1) the opportunity to parent.
2) the joint conception of a child with one’s life partner;
3) individual genetic continuity linking past and future;
4) control over many aspects of life;
5) the emotional gratifications of pregnancy and birth; and
6) the physical satisfactions of pregnancy and birth.

At the beginning, I probably would have ranked the loss of "control over many aspects of life" number one. I have written here many times and at length about my desire to have plans and to be working toward goals. The most difficult things in my life have been those things over which we have little-to-no control. . . . things like happiness, love, and friendship. I would love to be one of those people who has a Zen-like inner peace about life, but that's definitely not me.

Over the past two years, though, I have pretty much come to term with the fact that motherhood, like the other desirable and difficult-to-attain things in my personal life which I mentioned above, is mostly outside my control. Yes, I can have appropriately-timed sex, abstain from alcohol, change my diet, do acupuncture, and even use fertility drugs, but ultimately it will not be up to me whether any of my actions ever results in an actual living baby.

Though I am still far from serene and accepting about the process of TTC, I think that I have mostly mourned the loss of control over many aspects of my life and moved past it. Sure, I still occasionally get annoyed when matters related to TTC, or uncertainty about whether we will ever be parents, present themselves in everyday decision-making about my life, but I am no longer as wrought-up about my lack of control as I once was. (I will frankly admit, though, how I do still envy those who have conceived readily, easily and on their own timetables! We all know women like this, and it's hard for me not to hate them.)

The most painful loss for me, should we end up truly being permanently infertile, will be the loss of the opportunity to parent. Although, in retrospect, I sometimes question how important being a mother someday was to me during the many years I spent putting it off--because I thought I had plenty of time, I was waiting for the right partner to come along, I was pursuing my career(s), I wanted to go back to school, I needed to be making more money to be a single mother--the fact remains that being a mother is something that I have always envisioned as part of my life.  I have pictured myself with my baby (who is nearly always a girl in my imaginings) since I was babysitting as a teenager.

I think I would make a darn fine mom, too, and I am not the only one who thinks so. Since my early teens, people have remarked to me on a regular basis that I would make a great mother someday and commented about how great I am with children. (The latter part, at least, is true most of the time: very few children who spend some time with me don't like me.) Friends and even coworkers have continued to tell me this regularly throughout the time we have been TTC.

I have an affinity for, and comfort with, children that many people lack. For years, I've been friends' "go to" person with questions and comments about children, partly because I am a former nurse, but also because everyone who knows me well knows how much I love kids. I've often joked that, had I been born in an earlier era, I would probably have at least 12 children by now.

So loss of the opportunity to parent definitely tops my list. Yes, I can fulfill that need to a small extent by loving on my golden retrievers, by being an excellent auntie and godmother, by nurturing friends and family, and by volunteering with children--all things that I already do--but never having the experience of parenting my own child is the loss that hurts the most. This loss is the one that brings tears to my eyes every time I think about (even as I am typing this).

I think the fact that this loss is the biggest one for me is what makes me open to considering DE IVF.  If we went that route and were successful, at least I could still be a mother.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The ugly

I hate how infertility has brought out an ugly side to my personality.  I will confess that, even prior to TTC myself and failing, I have always been one who disapproved of unplanned pregnancies.  As someone who usually used contraception and was "careful," I couldn't understand how other people weren't equally careful or how this happened to them, sometimes more than once.  (I know, I know: sometimes things happen, despite the best precautions.  I have a few friends who are examples of this fact, and if you're reading, I apologize for judging you.  It probably was not fair for me to judge so harshly.  Moving on.)

So I am not one of those women who has always been invariably overwhelmed with joy and excitement at the news of anyone's pregnancy, regardless of her circumstances.  But prior to infertility, I used to be very excited and happy for women who became responsibly pregnant and who were happy about being pregnant. 

Now, even though I am eventually happy for closer friends and family members who announce their pregnancies, any time I hear of someone being pregnant or having a baby, my first reaction is a negative one.  I feel like I've been gut-punched, even though intellectually, logically, I know that someone else's fertility has no impact on, and nothing to do with, my lack of fertility.  There is always a moment of "Why her and not me?" no matter who the mother is and how "planned" her pregnancy was.

I hate that what should be happy news has become something that brings out this ugliness in me, that I now succomb to petty feelings of jealousy over this.  But that's the way it is.

And don't even get me started on how I feel when I hear of someone's unintended pregnancy these days. . . . especially if I know the woman to be younger than 21, or unmarried, or unemployed, or any combination of these.  I can't let go of the unfairness of G-d or the Universe or fate or whatever allowing someone in that situation to get pregnant and have a baby while MM and I, who are mature, happily married, and gainfully employed remain childless.  I resent the fact that I've done things "right" and that my "good choices" have not been rewarded.

Just in the past few months, I've found out that my stepsister's unemployed, unmarried 20-year-old son is soon to be a father.  A close friend of my sister's from high school became a grandmother this week at age 38 when her unmarried 17-year-old daughter gave birth.  I also learned recently that the 20-year-old daughter of an old work friend of mine is pregnant unexpectedly; my friend is going to be a 40-year-old grandmother, while I am going to be 40 and childless.

I hate being petty, jealous and resentful, but that is the way I've become.  There seems to be no way to avoid news of others' pregnancies and babies, short of cutting myself off from contact with most of the world.  And even then, my closer friends and/or sister could still get pregnant.  A coworker of mine could still get pregnant.  I would still continue to see pregnant women everywhere I go, as I have for a long time.  (I found out this week that even the woman who makes my burrito at Qdoba is pregnant.  I thought she was even older than me!)  News of this type is inescapable.

I want to be more at peace about others' pregnancies and babies, but I don't have the first clue how to get to that point.  I'm not even hoping to feel happy for everyone because I don't think that is realistic.  I'd be satisfied if it just didn't feel like a knife to my heart when I hear this kind of news.

I worry that these feelings are going to stay with me even if we are somehow, miraculously, able to have a baby of our own, either on our own or through DE.  And I hate to think that feelings this ugly will continue to present themselves for the rest of my life

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Update re comments

At the suggestion of one of my commenters (thanks, Jess!), I asked babel fish to translate today's comment from Chinese to English.  Here's what it said:

The human cannot look like the animal to live equally, but should pursue the knowledge and the moral excellence.

Hmm.  Now I'm more confused than before. . . . 

Does anyone know. . . .

why I keep getting comments in Asian characters?  I can't read them, so I don't know what they say.  They always seem to link to blogger profiles that have no blogs and appear to have been recently set up, which makes me think they are some type of spam. . . . but since I can't read them, I cannot discern their intended message.

I have comment moderation enabled, so I just delete them, but I wondered if anyone else had experienced this.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Information overload

I've always had a need to know things and to have the best information possible before making an important decision.  If anything, being a lawyer has only increased this "need to know" for me.

Because we are not currently doing treatment, and because things have been slow for me at work, lately I have made researching clinics which perform donor egg IVF my little project.  (Sure, there are other issues to be considered before we decide to do this, but "where" seemed as good a place as any to start.)  I have visited forums and clinic websites.  I have done innumerable google searches.  I have read the CDC report for ART for 2007 as it pertains to donor egg success rates.

The internet can be a wonderful tool, and I shudder to think about how difficult this type of research would've been in the pre-internet days.  On the other hand, there is just SO much information out there!  And it can sometimes be hard to know which information you find is reliable.

While reviewing the CDC's ART report, I decided I needed to set some parameters.  I mean, there are nearly a hundred clinics in the U.S. which perform DE IVF; I can't possibly research and consider every.single.one of them.  So I decided I would only look at clinics which reported a success rate of at least 75% for DE IVF and which had performed more than 20 cycles of DE IVF that year.

The success rate is extremely important to us because just paying for one fresh DE IVF cycle, and perhaps FETs from eggs from that cycle, will be a struggle.  There is absolutely no way that we could afford to do a second fresh DE cycle, so we would need to go somewhere with high odds of success on the first try.

Even narrowing my parameters this way, I still identified eight clinics.  (Interestingly, all of them are in the West.)  Also, by narrowing my parameters that way, I eliminated from consideration some clinics about which I have seen positive posts on DE IVF forums.

Of the eight clinics I identified, CCRM performed by far the most DE IVF cycles in 2007: 217, which was nearly three times as many as the next-busiest clinic.  Two bloggers whom I read regularly, and other bloggers whose blogs I've visited on occasion, have either gone through, or are currently going through, DE IVF cycles at CCRM, so I have at least a passing familiarity with that clinic.

Most of the other clinics I'd never even heard of.  But I guess there would be no reason for me to hear of clinics performing DE IVF really, would there?  I mean, this isn't an option that's used as often as IVF with one's own eggs.

And aside from clinics in the U.S., there is also the going-abroad option.  The most attractive aspect of that option is the cost, but I do worry about having to travel far away to do a DE IVF cycle.  For one, traveling internationally is a little more complicated and time-consuming than traveling within my own region of the U.S.  Also, I worry about "what if," meaning what if the first fresh DE IVF cycle we did didn't work?  We would then have to fly back to whatever country our clinic was in to do a FET.  That is not very realistic for me because I only get two weeks a year of vacation.

Ugh.  So much to think about and consider.  Yet I feel a need to have as much information as possible before I will even be in a position to make a decision about this.  (I haven't even really started doing the emotional work of accepting this an option because I'm not even committed in my mind to the idea of doing DE IVF yet.)  So my research continues.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Ever since I've known that the likelihood of our ever having a child of our own is slim-to-none, even with medical intervention, I have probably asked myself "why?" more than any other question.  For my readers who are also "in the sh1t" with infertility, I'm sure you've asked yourself some of the same questions.  Why me/us?  Why did I have to wait until I was 37 to TTC?  (Well, the answer to that one is that I didn't meet my husband until I was 36. . . . ) Why can meth-addicted high school dropouts reproduce at will, even when they don't want to, and we can't?  Why don't we deserve to be "blessed" with a child of our own? Why do my uneducated 20-something relatives have children and I don't?

Chief among my whys has been "Why can't we get pregnant?"  Such is the particular frustration of being "unexplained."  Yes, our RE has told us that our most likely problem is poor egg quality related to my age.  But, at best, this "diagnosis" is an educated guess on his part.  As my sister has sagely pointed out to me, it is also the most convenient explanation for an inability to conceive in a woman over 35. . . . and because I never tried to get pregnant when I was younger--in fact, I always tried NOT to get pregnant--we can't know that the problem is not something else which is non-age-related.

Because we don't have a true diagnosis, any treatment we try is empirical.  It is not a case of truly treating a problem; rather, it is simply a case of "well, this has worked for some couples in your situation who have tried it."  To me, this fact makes it particularly difficult for me to make treatment decisions.

Let me be clear: by no means do I think people who aren't unexplained are lucky or that I would be happier to know why we can't have a baby if the reason were something that would have the same effect, i.e., making it difficult or impossible for us to get pregnant.  If I knew, for example, that I had blocked tubes, or I didn't ovulate, or I had endometriosis, it wouldn't make my infertility any easier to bear.  (If we knew that MM had sperm issues, I know that would actually make all this much harder for him to bear.  He takes some solace in the notion that he is not "the one with the problem.")  So having a known problem perhaps wouldn't change our (already low) odds of conceiving naturally, and it wouldn't take away the need for costly intervention. . . . but it would answer that thus-far-unanswerable question of "Why can't we get pregnant?"  It would be one less "why."

Contemplating a move to very expensive intervention--donor egg IVF costs around $30K, as opposed to the several hundred dollars each IUI cost us--has led me to even more whys.  Why doesn't MM have a higher paying job?  Why didn't we save the $15K we paid for the in-ground spa in our backyard, just in case?  Why did MM have to buy a new car last year, just before we started IUIs, when his old car was in perfectly good condition?  Why wasn't I born with a trust fund?  (OK, I'll admit; I have thought of this one before IF.)

I swear, these days I am asking why more often than my 3-year-old nephew.  So frustrating, especially when there is no answer to most of my questions.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blogger's block

I am having difficulty coming up with things to blog about lately.  I have become at least somewhat numb to others' news about their pregnancies and children; I hope that lasts, but I doubt it.  We are still on a treatment break (though still TTC on our own; today is CD 17, 3 DPO by OPK), so I don't have anything treatment-related to write about.

I am still thinking about our inability to have a baby of our own and "where do we go from here?," but my current thought patterns are a different type of thinking from my usual thinking about infertility.  It's the learning/planning/considering-options kind of thinking, not the angst-filled despair and dwelling that I have felt for a while.  And that kind of thinking doesn't really lend itself to good blog posts, at least for me.  I like to have my thoughts in order and at least a partial plan in my mind before I put those type of thoughts "out there" for others to read.

A lot of my focus of late has been on trying to lose weight, trying to find things to do at work, and trying to find another job, rather than on trying to get pregnant.  Which is probably a good thing, but again, does not lend itself to good blog material.

I still have a couple of half-written posts on topics in my head that I want to explore more fully, but neither is ripe for posting.

So that's where I'm at.  My relative absence from this blog doesn't mean that I've stopped thinking about IF by any means.  And rest assured that I am still reading your blogs, though I may be commenting less as I try to take a baby step back from the internet. . . . I've been feeling lately like I spend far too much time on the computer.  (Fac.ebo.ok should, and will, be the first thing to go; my IF blogs would be the last.  I've grown too attached to the writers of the blogs I read and too invested in the outcomes of their struggles to give them up. . . . which reminds me that my blogroll is in need of updating.)

I hope to be back with something more interesting to say soon.