Sunday, February 20, 2011

Twelve stepping it…

IF leads to a lot of anger, resentment, jealousy, self-doubt and depression. It tests our relationships with the people we love and with G-d. As a person who started this process with little to no faith, I had more anger towards the idea that a G-d could be putting me through such pain, than faith that turning to a G-d would help me get pregnant. I broke down one night while watching the television show meet the Duggers. They have an unwavering belief in Christ, they live debt free and seem to breed and multiply like yeast. I kept being told to have faith in the Lord and I would be blessed with a baby, and that I needed to pray more. Combined, I felt like I was being told to convert to Christianity. I looked to Judaism for answers and not surprisingly didn’t find much more than the names and stories of women who suffered from IF in the torah. There are no prayers and no answers. Imagine where that led me…a crisis of faith, and path of anger.

I turned my back on G-d, and unleashed my anger on the Brain. Everything set me off. It all came to a head one evening as I prepared to go to work. I think it had something to do with lunch. She almost left and I wouldn’t have blamed her.

I felt trapped, like I was allowed to do nothing more than work and try to get pregnant. I was watching my life pass by. I needed to enjoy me life, break free from my anger and depression and appreciate what I did have. This happened Around August 2010. We traveled to Napa, Sedona, bought Disneyland Annual Passes, booked a trip to Belize and in general…lived. I made a resolution to focus on the many blessings in my life by acknowledging that my life was whole. The Brain and I had a series of conversations, I apologized for taking out my frustrations on her, and discussed our feeling about my depression and feelings of inadequacy.

My crisis of faith, and fall into depression ended in all places- a bathtub. Perhaps it was the lavender scented oils or the gonadotropins surging through my system that sparked the cathartic event. By the end of my bath I felt renewed. I had released all my anxiety and fear, and accepted that I only had a limited amount of control of my fertility. Aside from taking the medications as prescribed, maintaining my physical and mental health, and attending all my medical appointments, everything else is out of my control. I have to have faith in my doctor and my body, and release all the rest of my control to my higher power. Maybe that higher power is G-d, maybe it’s fate, or my Kokopelli candle or an imaginary happy place in the corner of my mind. I inadvertently 12 stepped it.

  1. I admitted I was powerless over my IF- than my life had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore my to my sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn my will and my life (fertility) over to the care of my higher power as I understand “him”.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.
  5. Admitted to my higher power, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrong.
  6. Was entirely ready to have my higher power remove all these defects of character
  7. Humbly ask “him” to remove my shortcomings.
  8. Make a list of all persons I have harmed, and be willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with my higher power as I understand him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other people in the IF community, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Taking one day at a time...Pinky

Saturday, February 19, 2011

“Good things happen to good people…

…and you’ve always been so nice and good hearted with that all said it’s no wonder why God has blessed you so. I am happy for you. You and your hubby make pretty babies so the world is blessed too.”

The IF mind takes these kinds of comments and twists them into syllogisms, even when they have nothing to do with you, your IF, or your character. But, after over two years of hearing what people direct your way, it’s easy to understand why my brain twists a congratulatory statement of being pregnant with twins into an insult. Almost instinctually I rewrite the intended meaning: Good things happen to good people. Bad things happen to you. Therefore you are a bad person.

Then I make a brief list of why I am a bad person: I once organized myself and two other nurses to pay for a taxi for an obnoxious stranded patient because peace and quiet was worth more than the $7. Parents who don’t treat their children’s pain or fever, have acrylic nails and Coach purses, and would rather take their child to the ER than buy a $1 bottle of Motrin, really, REALLY upset me. I drive a gas guzzling truck when really I should be driving an environmentally friendly hybrid. According to the born again Christian’s being Jewish makes me a sinner, and being a lesbian makes me just down right evil. I don’t give homeless people money when they ask, but I will give them food. Yep…just as I suspected….bad.

It’s time to take a step back and examine why such a simple facebook comment can send my brain down the rabbit hole. Over the years, people have been generous with their advice and words of wisdom. What makes these people think they are qualified to give me advise? What follows is some of the advice I’ve been given.
            Stop trying.
            You are trying to hard.
            You should just get drunk and find some random person at a club to sleep with.
            If you want a baby, I can help you…I make cute babies.
            God has a plan for you.
            Everything happens for a reason.
            If you adopt, then you will be able to have a baby after.
            Why don’t you just adopt?
            Kids are expensive.
            You can have one of my children.
            No pain no gain.

Now then, lets try this again. Good things happen to good people and you’ve always been so nice and good hearted….Congratulations Nurse J…you’re fertility has nothing to do with mine.


Friday, February 18, 2011

The long introduction.....

"Begin at the beginning and go till you come to the end: then stop" -from Alice and Wonderland.

It's hard to even remember the beginning, and I can't even see the end. I know there is a story in there somewhere, it's just a matter of coming up with how to tell my story. First, I can tell you there have been a few joyous moments, a lot of tears and disappointment, tons of hope, a fair amount of physical pain, many receipts, and no babies. But in the beginning there was hope. 

In the beginning there was hope. It was exciting and new. We were met with an immediate challenge. I had been loosing weight for a while and my doctor didn't believe me until August when I dropped to about 95 pounds, and my clothes were hanging off me. As we tried to figure out what was causing the weight loss, we were also trying to convince my primary doctor to sign a medical certification. That is to say, we needed permission from my doctor to try and get pregnant. Obviously, it helps to be healthy, but it felt unfair to need permission when all the crack heads out there don't need permission, health care or prenatal vitamins. It took months to gain the weight back and be diagnosed with.....STRESS. Finally in January 2009 we were ready to go!

The Brain and I sat down and sifted through online profiles of potential sperm donors, made lists of ones we liked and met our criteria, and joked about the things we didn't like about other donors. The Brain picked a donor who sounded just like Kermit the Frog, and another one that sounded just like a hippy. Can you imagine a small child looking up at you and in Kermit's voice saying "I love you mommy"? Well, I did...ewww.We picked our donor and The Brain bought the wrong type of vial. Instead of the vial for IUI she purchased the vial with a fraction of the amount of sperm which is used for IVF.  Oops, small frustrating hiccup, but we got over it.

I still remember how excited and nervous we were that first IUI. The Brain and I brought sparkling pear cider to the office to celebrate being able to TRY to get pregnant, and poured it for everyone. The Brain injected the sample and then were were left for about 15 minutes with my butt in the air. I looked down at my abdomen and said "go little Ys, go little Ys!" We waited two weeks to take a pregnancy test. When we only saw one line we were surprised, but not discouraged. We figured it would take about three attempts, so we brushed it off and were ready to go again. 

Next chapter...the OPK. The OPK looks like a pregnancy test, but is an ovulation predictor kit. When you have two lines, one the same or darker than the control line, then you are about to ovulate. Month one, no problem. Month two...another story. We got weird results and so went in for an ultrasound. The US and a blood test confirmed that I wasn't ovulating that month, but had a bunch of cysts. So, we had to wait. A few months later we changed OPK brands but ended up needing ultrasounds. This time, the Brain was out of town and was "with me" on the phone for the IUI. Two weeks later, another negative HPT. 

The next month looked promising again, good lining, big follicle. And then after a bad night at work it was gone. I had almost passed out at work, had a head CT, a chest x-ray, an EKG, blood tests and a couple liters of saline. I was scolded about my stress levels and put on the birth control pill for two months. During that time I also had a formal ultrasound.

At the end of the two months, I was put on clomid. I was never told that I would need to be monitored by ultrasound, so I was off on vacation across the country when I was supposed to be up in stirrups again. Oh well, we weren't going to let this stand in our way. When we got back we went in for another ultrasound and were told my lining was thin and there was fluid around my ovary which could be a ruptured cyst or ovulation. Our NP said it was a 50/50 chance. We went for it and I was put on progesterone suppositories. I'll skip the details of that. The blood test was negative, but we weren't surprised at all. 

At this point I was done with my NP. I'm an emotional person, and this had been an emotional roller coaster. I had cried numerous times at her office, and not once had she stopped and addressed my crying. Besides needing more medical interventions, I needed someone to care about my feelings. I was referred to a reproductive endocrinologist in October 2009. We felt a renewed hope after speaking with him. He was going to "put my reproductive system on steroids" with some pills and shots. He seemed hopeful, like getting me pregnant was going to be easy. We were positive this was it!

In November we did a round of tamoxifen, which is actually a medication used to treat breast cancer, and femora, an injectable medication. My coworkers and the Brain gave me my shots. I had hot flashes and had to run out of patient's rooms to vomit. When we went in to check on things, I wasn't even producing any follicles. I broke down in tears, yet again. Yes, I'm a cry baby, I admit it. My RE stopped, held my hand and assured me I would ovulate. He said he'd double my meds, no problem. Except we were out of money. We had already spent about $10,000 to date and didn't have the money for more meds. He whispered something to his nurse who left the room. She returned with a sample gonal-f pen, which they gave me. I wanted to throw my hands around my doctor and give him a hug. He was treating all of me, physically and mentally. In the end I had three perfect follicles, three little chances. But, didn't work. We were not pregnant.

We weren't pregnant, and we didn't have any reasons why. We were out of money and had nothing to show for it. I decided to change my focus. I needed answers and so we did blood tests, and an HSG. The only abnormality we found was high prolactin. We had thought that I'd have PCOS, but those tests were negative. I was put on a medication to reduce my prolactin levels. For months every time I stood up I was dizzy and felt sick to my stomach. I had my blood drawn every four to six weeks to test the levels, and then had the dosage adjusted. I was really getting impatient and feeling a bit hopeless.

In November 2010 my results came back normal and we had the green light to go ahead with IVF. The Brain and I were at Disneyland when we got the news and were beside ourselves with joy. It was one of the happiest moments of 2010. We expected that I would be a hormonal bloated monster and took a moment to prepare ourselves before the chaos begun. Amazingly, I never bloated and was never emotional. I stayed positive until the day of my beta. I produced tons of eggs and narrowly avoided ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. I had a fantastic fertilization report and was told that putting one embryo back would be best. The embryologist told me that the embryo was perfect and there was no reason it shouldn't work. The transfer went well, and we starred at the ultrasound image of our little "Eggbert" as we waited for half an hour to be able to put my legs down and sit up. The Brain brought me pineapple core to munch on and all the potatoes I craved. I built a pillow fort and she had almost no room in the bed. It was the Christmas season and we were ready for our little miracle. The morning of my beta I broke down in tears. Luckily my sister in law talked me off the metaphorical ledge as I waited for the nurse to arrive. She drew my blood and then it was off to bed.

The nurse called and informed me that she was smiling. When I asked if I was pregnant she hesitated. She said the test was positive and the level was 10. I knew this was very, very low, but still positive. We would retest in a couple of days and see if it doubled. I was in limbo..."a little pregnant." I didn't feel happy, or relief or sad. I was trying to guard my heart. By the time I had my second beta drawn, I was having cramps and knew in my heart that I wasn't pregnant. This was confirmed by the blood test. It had been a chemical pregnancy. It gave me hope that maybe I could get pregnant. It was more pregnant that I'd ever been before. We knew we had frozen embryos, could do frozen embryo transfers and another round of IVF. We had planned well and purchased a package of two IVFs, knowing that nothing comes easy when it comes to me. I had really believed that I would get pregnant on the first try, but also needed some insurance in case it didn't. 

We decided to take some time off and enjoy ourselves. We traveled, drank, and learned to scuba. All of which we couldn't have done if I had gotten pregnant. We're on track to begin meds for a FET tomorrow. As I look back over this long, and very boring story, I can think of so many things I didn't talk about. I didn't talk about the pain during the HSG or the hysteroscopy. I didn't talk about the burning pain in my abdomen from the shots. Or all the bruises on my abdomen and butt from shots. I didn't talk about how the Brain and I have developed a routine when I puke, since it happens so often from the various medications. I didn't talk about the pain and jealousy I felt every time someone came bouncing up to me to tell me they were pregnant, or complained about the nausea and stretch marks. I didn't talk about the rude comments people have said in either an attempt to give advise or be cruel, I'm not always sure which. All that can be addressed later, or forgotten. Tomorrow will be different, a new start of another adventure in my IF journey. This brings us up to date, and up to speed.