Sunday, July 29, 2007

H*ll, that's not so bad.

PrideFest took over our city this weekend. We drove past the riverfront celebration on the way to my parents house. It was rocking! Of course, there were the predictable protesters perched across the street, but not nearly as many as years past. One particularly pinched and angry looking woman held a sign with an arrow towards the laughing and amiable rainbow-swathed crowd. It said:

This Way to Hell.

Well, hell, hell looked pretty fun. And if hell has a beer tent and live music, I don't feel so bad about skipping out on church for the past, oh twenty years.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Hey, but what about...

My friend sent me this article the other day on long-term childhood cancer survivors. Not bad, but other than a fleeting mention on page 2, it is missing one critical piece. The "probably sterile" one on page 10.

I'm not angry. I'm not bitter. I am just hopeful that as the circle of survivors grows and becomes a powerful demographic and social voice, those of us with the fortune to survive and the misfortune to do so before freezing eggs was even a possibility will be more than a footnote or one sentence in an eight page article.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Occupational Hazards

Things to remember when working from home:

  1. When you are writing an email and fuming over yet another last minute assignment/deadline that your boss has just given you, make sure you hit "forward" and not "reply." ***
  2. Shades or curtains in a bathroom really are necessities. This is easy to remember when you are dashing to the bathroom and find you have to hold your pee because workers are waving hello to you as they fix the drainage pipes (har har) on your building.
  3. Phone headsets should be removed before attempting said dash to bathroom. Failure to do so could result in toppled computer equipment, headsets tangled in hair and potential damage to earrings, clothes and other jewelry.

***Luckily, I was able to reach my co-worker who has access to my boss's inbox before the offending message was read. (we think). Thank you, L. You are the bomb.

Moving Forward

This weekend started at 4 a.m. Saturday morning when hubby woke anticipating the 5 a.m. alarm. We drove in the dark to meet my brother and a ridiculous amount of stuff strapped down to a huge pick-up truck and flatbed trailer that we three had loaded the night before. We waited in a long line of cars, got ushered to our spots and then began to unload, praying that we would at least sell the larger or more unwieldy items so we wouldn't have to figure out how to get them back on the truck again.

Ah yes, friends. It's flea market time.

It's one more week 'til closing on my parents' house and my brother thought we'd try to lighten their (and our) load and get them a little more cash to use towards movers, storage, incidentals, etc. Brother and I were the main wheeler-dealers. Hubby, a few of my brother's friends and even mom and dad stopped in and played supporting roles. And as shocked as I am to admit it, as reluctant as I was to spend my weekend at this task, here is where I say,

We had a great time!

Hell, we even made some money.

My brother is a pro. A sight to behold. He can sell anybody anything. We were all awed watching him in action. Dad even remarked he was in the wrong business and should take up sales. Hubby had his weekend crossword and coffee so he was fine. Mom brought a little lawn chair and stuck it on the flatbed so she wouldn't be in the way. She struck a pose as some sort of redneck queen lording over her possessions. At least in my mind. Dad, it seems, LOVES flea markets. He said it at least five times. We calm him down when he starts talking about making it a regular thing because yeah, meeting crazy people is fun (I guess) but he's not the one doing the loading and unloading of all this gear. Let's not get carried away.

So a good time is had by all. We half the amount of stuff we started with and find a neighbor to hold the rest until brother and I can do this again (ONE more time and that's it. I swear), we come home sunburned as hell and start to count the money. Just as we are getting ready to leave my parents house my cell phone rings and I know who it is. The clinic. I casually saunter back to the bathroom to take the call privately. Remember, folks don't know boo about this. I try to be casual and friendly to the nurse but I am dying to know, did she say yes??

She said yes.

She said YES! Our fabulous donor is willing to give it another go. So, we wait out a cycle to clear both of our systems out and then start our regimens again in about a month. Hubby knew the good news as soon as I emerged from the bathroom. We said our goodbyes and quickly drove home to celebrate. We popped open a beer, made some burritos, stuck a movie in

And promptly fell asleep on the couch.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

But this swift business
I must uneasy make, lest too light winning
Make the prize light.
- The Tempest

News and Next Steps

The good news is I didn't have to jump out of bed this morning and give myself a shot.

The bad news is, you guessed it, this attempt is officially canceled.

After a day spent consulting with our doctor and nurse at the clinic and lots of soul searching we have decided that we are going to try again in a month or so with our chosen donor. That is, of course, if she agrees.

She did begin to slowly respond to higher doses of her meds but our doctor felt that at this rate, she would have 3-5 eggs tops to use. Could this be a fluke? Could she be the one out of twenty women that simply don't respond to artificial stimulation? Would starting at a higher dosage of estrace and then Gonal F solve the problem?

We'll see, won't we?

But why not just choose another donor? You ask. And here is my response.

Back in March, when we had our first consult with this clinic, it was strictly an exploratory visit. We wanted to see what our options were. If they felt good and we we happened to find a donor that knocked our socks off, we would proceed. If not, we would go home, mull it over and decide on next steps after a few glasses of wine.

Well, we found that woman. She knocked our socks off. We knew from the bottom of our hearts we wanted to proceed. With that donor. With this clinic. So we did. We read and reread her profile and felt as if either of us could have written it. We laughed at her responses; we appreciated the time she she took to be so thoughtful in her answers. We felt like she could be one of our coolest friends. She was the reason we went down the egg donor path.

Our doc gave us the info and what he called the "traditional wisdom" that others had followed when faced with our decision. That would be to select another comparable donor, decrease the risk of another cancellation and increase the odds of getting a higher number of eggs. He said he wanted to remove as many uncertainties and "what ifs" from the process as possible. Fair enough.

Our chosen donor already has two children of her own. Which is another reason that we are inclined to think that a.) this cycle was a bit of a fluke and b.) she has some quality eggs, perhaps just not as many as the average person.

Who wants average?

When our doc said he wanted to remove as many "what ifs" as possible, both hubby and I immediately felt that there would always and forever be a "what if" if we settled for a donor that we felt was inferior to the one we have now. Looking through the big book of donor profiles confirmed that. We compared timelines and additional financial obligations with our doc and they are both pretty much a wash. It comes down to, do we want to take a 30% chance of success with someone we feel 100% about or do we want much higher odds with someone that we feel about 30% ok with?

If our donor declines, then we'll reassess the situation. We'll have a look at new donors that have come in. Maybe we'll even pay a visit to another clinic. Maybe we'll wait. We refuse to feel rushed or desperate. There is no reason to be. As far as having a baby, it doesn't have to be right now, it just has to be right.

Friday, July 13, 2007

No Fat Ladies Singing....

....Yet. But they are warming up in the wings.

Our donor responded, just a bit, just a little bit, to the increase in meds. They are going to keep her on them until Monday and then bring her in for another ultrasound and some blood work. We are supposed to stay the course as well. Nurse said she is not hopeful that we can continue this cycle, but on the off chance that miracles happen over the weekend, we need to be ready.

What makes me optimistic and keeps me from jumping over my balcony ledge is that they are continuing to collect information for a possible future cycle with this same donor. Would starting at a higher level of hormones solve the problem? Do we need a different protocol altogether? I so appreciate that they see the strong connection we have to this woman and want to learn everything they can before telling us that we need to move on.

I also got the go ahead to have a glass of wine (or two) with dinner tonight. I moaned to Nurse that we've been living a monk's lifestyle in preparation for the retrieval. But then hubby reminded me that monks drink.

Call Me, Dammit

While I am sitting here waiting, waiting, waiting to hear if our donor has started to respond to her hormone cocktails (1 in 20 do not), I can fill you in on our yesterday.

First of all, why didn't any of you tell me the "ultrasound" was not at all the put-the-gel-on-her-belly-and move-a-little-scanner-over it ultrasound that I was thinking of? No! It is just a big ole dildo-looking contraption. Its a good thing my inhibitions have left long ago. I had no idea.

Friendly reminder: this whole trying to get pregnant thing is all new to me.

The ultrasound went fine. My lining is just a wee thinner (7.9) than they would like (8.0). Nothing that an increase in estradiol won't sort out.

During my mock transfer (mapping the course to my heart, well, at least my uterus, with the help of a thin catheter), we learned that my inside is just as curvaceous as my outside. With the help of a small clamp to pull my cervix on down (yowch!), doc had a clear path. Smooth sailing he said.

We are scheduled to return on Tuesday for another ultrasound and to place a small stitch into my cervix so doc can pull it into a preferable position for the transfer. That way, no trauma of a clamp or anything so intrusive on the day of the real deal. I appreciate that.

Give me a minute while I consider that someone is actually going to reposition my insides like a puppeteer with a marionette in order to insert embryos inside of me. Is that not amazing?

All of this, of course, hinges on the phone call that I am waiting to receive. Right about now. Any minute now.

If my donor has not responded to an increase in her meds, odds of calling off this attempt are high. If the clinic sees even an inkling that she has started to spark, we will continue down this path a little longer, only slightly delaying retrieval, transfer, all that good stuff.

My doctor was much more optimistic than we were yesterday. He reminded us that all women are variable and that it was unfair to use pie charts or lab percentiles to try and gauge how a woman would or wouldn't react. Just because our donor didn't have the average response doesn't mean that she won't respond at all. He suggested we wait a little longer before calling the whole thing off. At least until Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Nurse just called with an update of sorts.

It seems they are a little concerned about our donor. Her estradiol level is still around 30 where they had hoped it would be somewhere between 100-200. 7 tiny follicles are present now. That's normal. What's not is her low estradiol after about a week on medications. In nurse's words, they are "disappointed she's not doing better."

Well, that makes a few of us.

Not like I know what any of those numbers mean. I just know that I asked if there was any possibility of having to call off this cycle and Nurse said, "A possibility. Yes."

They are increasing our donor's Gonal F injections and bringing her back in on Friday for another ultrasound. Us, we're just gonna hang out and wring our hands. We have an appointment at the clinic tomorrow for my ultrasound and mock transfer. Nurse promised we could spend some quality time talking then.

Hubby hasn't given up hope. I'm feeling a little deflated. This beautiful, giving woman. So cool in so many ways. If she doesn't respond to the treatments and stimulation, will we ever find someone like her again?


I am in serious need of an attitude adjustment.

My eye has almost completely healed; vision is restored. The scab on my shin from my first (and only) encounter with the treadmill has faded. My outside is returning to normal. My inside is what feels rotten. I am trying for some inner peace here (remember: happy home, happy home...) but EVERYONE ELSE IS MAKING IT VERY HARD.

For example, I just got an email saying that we are celebrating a co-worker's birthday during our already interminably long staff meeting today. Instead of saying to myself, "oh. yay. cake." My first response is a grumble and a groan, thinking, I don't have time for this. I have things to do and this means my afternoon will be totally consumed by this frigging meeting.

What the hell is wrong with me? Every email I open this morning generates some sort of snarl or snarky internal comment from me. And it's not just work-related. And it's not just this morning. I think I have been scowling (in between squints) for at least a week now. If I make this ugly face for much longer, will it stay this way?

Ok, if the phenomenon is so widespread, perhaps its not all of humankind that's the problem here. Maybe, just maybe, it's me.

Sweet, sweet hubby finally laid it out for me last night: "You have got to stop thinking about your parents. Just stop it. They are adults, right? They can make their own choices, right? Have you ever, ever in your life made a decision that they thought was foolhardy and/or ill-advised?"

Well, yes. (friends reading this post can just take a moment and chuckle thinking back to some of my many ill-advised moments. I did.)

Did they let you? Did they trust that you would work it out?


Would it be so hard for you to grant them the same respect?

Well, no but.....

And here is where I start pointing out all of the errors in their thinking and how they could be making a huge mistake and here is where hubby says,

Do you even realize how condescending you are being right now?

Ouch. No. I guess I hadn't.

So, as of today, I must be nothing but positive and affirming for them. The decision has been made. The house is sold. The movers are arranged. I have said my peace. But now I have a panicked mother filled with second thoughts. There is nothing for them to do but look forward to their new home (wherever that will be) and try to enjoy their old age. Sure it's sad leaving a home you built 40 years ago and some tears are definitely allowed, but they are not the only people in the world that have sold their house. If I am a semi-decent daughter, I will help them come to these conclusions.

So, that brings me to affirmation #1: I WILL not worry about my parents.

And the rest follows in no specific order:

#2: I WILL get pregnant. My donor will be ok. (she came in a little low for her reading yesterday)

#3: I WILL write at least an hour a day, finish our book and that book WILL get published.

#4: I will be positive in my outlook and my thoughts. I will greet each person with a smile.

And in the case of my co-worker, wish her a very, very happy birthday.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Great News!

It's official: I'm an auntie!

Hubby's sister gave birth to a healthy little girl just about an hour ago. She is 3 weeks early but initial reports say all is well. Yay!

While she hasn't shared many details with us, I know her journey towards this moment hasn't been easy either. Her medical history is just about as thick as mine and includes things like rods in her back which couldn't have made a natural delivery sans epidural too fun. But: mom is well. Baby is well. And we are taking some much relieved grandparents out to lunch today.

Hopefully their vision will be blurred by tears of joy and they won't have to look at the mess that is me. Hubby took me to the emergency room around 4 am Wednesday night because I felt like someone was slicing my left eyeball open. Yeah, I know. Graphic. Sorry.

Diagnosis: a corneal abrasion most likely caused by something getting caught underneath my contact lens. Since I have been spending the last few weeks digging through dusty bins and cleaning out my parents' shed and basement, that explanation made sense to me. The ER sent me home with a tube of some goopy goo to stick in my eye every 3-4 hours and a little bottle of Vicodin to ease the pain.

Hubby tells me I am a sight for sore eyes. Or a sight of sore eyes. One of the two.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Really? Are You Sure???

Read this today as I was digging into the french vanilla ice cream I made a few days ago:

Full-fat dairy foods like ice cream may help you get pregnant, a study from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston finds. A fat-soluble compound in dairy may up your odds of conceiving.
-Self Magazine, July 2007

Well, hell. Who am I to argue with Harvard?


I couldn't find anything on the HSPH website that directly linked to the study but I did find this BBC article which also found the report dubious. You can read the study here, but its not free.

Still, my ice cream was delicious.


Sorry, sorry for the delay. Here's a look at our busy July:

  • Thursday, July 12th - ultrasound and bloodwork (to make sure my womb is a happy home), mock transfer (practice run)
  • Friday and Saturday, July 13th and 14th - round two of my parents' moving sale
  • Thursday, July 19th (approx) - egg retrieval from donor, sperm retrieval from hubby
  • Sunday, July 22nd (approx) - one of our best pal B's birthday and embryo transfer
  • Monday, July 23rd - chilling out at home; Mandatory 24 hrs. bed rest. yes!
  • Wednesday and Thursday, July 25th and 26th - mega meetings at work; practice pretending a potentially life-changing event hasn't just occurred.
  • Friday, July 27th - Tuesday, July 31st - finishing touches on my parents' move and closure on their house. Next steps...finding them a place to be.

So, that's the news.

Last night we were out with some friends, one of whom knows the deal. Once we were alone, she couldn't stop talking about how excited she was for us and how she couldn't stop thinking about us and the future. It was really lovely and affirming. We have spent the past week so stressed about changes in my parents' lives, we really haven't had time to be excited about our own. Our focus has been timing and when/if to tell, logistics, pros and cons of parents in another state. (Pros: they're not here. Cons: they're not here.) It was nice to just sit back and dream about some what ifs with people we love.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Say What?

In one part of my life (the one that pays the bills) my days are filled with acronyms.

I work in the field of mental retardation (some prefer to say intellectual or developmental disabilities) and more recently, autism. In my notes and scribbles, these words usually shrink to MR/DD and ASD.

Add to that ICF/MR, ISP, IPP, SIS+, CH, SD, SC, 4300s, 6500s, CMS, HHS, 2380s, DPW, ODP.... the list of nonsensical letter combined to somehow make sense to somebody is unending.

Say what?

That's what self-advocates (people with disabilities who represent themselves and their community at policy workgroups and committees) have started to say. "You're not speaking my language." They say. "You are creating a dialect that purposefully excludes me and that's not fair."

"Nothing about me without me." They demand.

That's fair. And to be honest, I don't think my brain can retain any more anyway.

That is why I sometimes have trouble reading other blogs, particularly those surrounding issues of infertility and parenthood. I don't know the language. I don't know the code. I think it took me a few days to figure out what IVF meant. Oh yeah. Duh. I get it now.

I'm a newbie to all of this. I have never NOT known that I am infertile. It was stated matter-of-factly before my boobs even finished growing. Sure, I had moments of hope and delusions that maybe if i just stop taking my pills, my period would magically arrive and my body will have healed itself back to normalcy, but for the most part, this whole possibility of pregnancy is a very, very new thing to me.

I am fairly certain that my cycle will be in sync with a lot of other cool female bloggers out there. But I haven't responded to some queries, because I'm not sure. Coincidentally, my cycle also corresponds with yet another life changing event - my parents selling their house and moving to another state. It would be exciting and happy if it weren't for financial reasons. We can talk about that saga later.

I'll be posting my schedule later today.