Happy T Day

As you may have guessed Saturday night was a full-on shit show for me. After freaking out that I only had 3 embryos remaining, I lay on my couch watching truly weird documentaries and convincing myself that I would never have children.

This may sound defeatist, but it had a calming effect. You see, I may not be able to control the outcome of this or any IVF cycle, but I do have some say in whatever happens next. If I can’t have kids, I’m pulling an Elizabeth Gilbert. (More on that at a later date.)

I got “the call” Sunday morning that we were going in for the transfer. My appointment was 12:00, with the transfer scheduled at 1:00. They make this whole deal about not wearing perfume and emptying your bladder before you go. So showered, peed, and commenced freaking out.

Ah, what would my first IVF cycle be without several waves of panic? The clinic I go to offers you Valium for the transfer. So I become preoccupied with taking it. Or not. or maybe yes. On one hand, I was clearly so worked up about my transfer that I was having trouble staying calm. On the other hand, I was so tired of all the chemicals coursing through my veins that I didn’t want to introduce more.

As corny as this sounds, I meditated on it. I went through one of my mindfulness exercises and realized I was more anxious about making the decision that the actual decision itself. So I got off the Valium train. I set a plan with Mr. O about how he could help keep me centered and parts throughout the visit when we would check in.

We were now off to the races.

The next several hours were tedious. There was a lot of water and a lot of waiting. Water, because a full bladder helps the ultrasound during transfer. Waiting because they were clearly behind schedule.

Oh, how I love the illusion created by moving you from one waiting room to the next. As I was moved from one, two, three waiting rooms, I was not fooled that we were 45 minutes behind. More to the point, my bladder was not fooled. Once I told the nurse that my eyes were literally watering in pain, she let me pee for 10 seconds. NOT ENOUGH, I TELL YOU.

Once we were ushered into Transfer Room B, I was waddling with my massive bladder. I told the ultrasound tech that I was pretty full, and she told me that was perfect. Until she scanned me and saw how full I was. Nothing like someone looking into your bladder and expressing shock. There is, apparently, too much pee for your own good.

Of course at this point, I have exactly no pants on. But I’ve been cleared for 20 seconds of peeing before the Doc comes in for the transfer and modesty can screw itself. I wrap a sheet around me and waddle out to the bathroom. I’m not usually one to wander around offices without my underware on, so this felt really weird. Not to mention that I ended up getting ultrasound jelly everywhere in the process. But yay for sweet relief!

Back in Transfer Room B, things are heating up. Lots of people come in and ask me my name and date of birth repeatedly. The Doc comes in, and the transfer process gets started in earnest.

The way this office is configured, it looks like the transfer rooms surround the lab. Each transfer room as two doors- one for the patients and staff to access, another for the lab and embryologists. Once I was deemed ready, one of the nurses opened the lab-side door and yells “Ready for transfer in room B.” The embryologist confirms “Ready for transfer in room B.” My little bundle of cells is escorted in, the actual transfer begins.

It felt a little bit like putting an order in a diner. Yes, Chef! Order up!

Throughout this process, I was focusing on staying relaxed. Or at least as relaxed as possible when your legs are in stirrups and your vagina is exposed to three relative strangers. The ultrasound tech pointed me to the screen (which I had been intentionally avoiding for fear it would send me into hyperventilation) and explained to me that I could watch the transfer. In seconds, what looked like one tiny air bubble appeared on the screen.

I’ve never been so freaking amazed by science in my life. Holy shit. Even if this doesn’t turn into a pregnancy, I was in awe. At that exact moment, there was the tiniest combination of mine and Mr. O’s cells hanging out in my uterus. This is a first.

And just like that, we were done. For the record, transferring is fine. Because my HSG and sonohysterogram were distinctly uncomfortable, I thought transfer would be the same or worse. Not the case. It may seem incredibly obvious, but with those other procedures you’re forcing quantities of fluid into your uterus. The transfer is just a wee bundle of cells. By comparison, it is practically delightful.

As we drove home, I looked at the small picture they gave us of the embryo currently nesting in my uterus. It’s so small. I can count the number of cells. For a split second, I found myself thinking “I wish you were bigger. I wish there were more of you. I wish…” And I stopped myself.

I haven’t thought about parenting in a while. After over 2 years of trying, it seemed so far outside my purview. But if I am going to be a parent, I refuse to start by putting my own outlandish expectations first, by wishing my child to be anything other than he or she is. My job now is to harbor that little mass of cells, to offer it shelter and safety. But that’s it.

So now we wait. My official pregnancy test is scheduled for Friday December 5th, and a whole new debate begins.

To preemptively pee on a stick or not to preemptively pee on a stick. That is the question.

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And then there were 3

From 13 to 3.

Unless I hear otherwise, I’m going in tomorrow for a day 3 transfer. According to the nurse, I have 3 embryos that look like they are in good shape.

Wait… What? 3? I did all that for 3 little turds?! (Yes, I did just potentially call my future child a turd. But…. RAGE.)

I recognize that this sounds like extreme complaining, but as previous explored, I don’t always have the most realistic set of expectations.

I will now publicly admit that I had “a plan.” Anyone who has experienced infertility will recognize this as an exercise in futility. And yet… I couldn’t help myself.

After I abandoned the “plan” of having babies like a normal person, I fast-forwarded to IVF. For some reason, I just didn’t think other methods were going to work. So I underwent the Great Clomid Experiment with little faith in the outcomes. Yes, yes… I did try in earnest, but I didn’t see that as the solution. So getting to IVF seemed like I was finally in the Reproductive Technology Big Leagues– and right where I belonged.

Much like my irrational fixation on getting 30 follicles, I really wanted 5 embryos. 1 to implant, 4 to freeze. You know… a “rainy day” stash. This is who I am. I make responsible decisions! I plan out my meals for the entire week! I have savings and a 401K, goddamnit! How could I not have some freaking embryos left over, just in case?!

BAH! ALL THE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!

Now that my righteous indignation has passed, I can see this for what it is. It’s the Four Horsemen of the IF Apocalypse. And will come as no surprise to any of you, I am sure.

  1. Disappointment. I had set my hopes on 5. 3 is not 5, no matter how you cut it.
  2. Sadness. I worked hard for those 13 damn oocytes. I’m a little sad to see them go.
  3. Fear. Shit. What if this cycle doesn’t work?
  4. Shame. And what meltdown would be complete without a dash of shame? My best efforts have not yielded my best results.

I just don’t want to do this again. The injections, the egg retrieval, the general shittiness I feel since I started on the hormones… I haven’t felt well enough to run in over a week, which makes me a miserable human. (And likely compounding all the aforementioned.)

I don’t want to be on this emotional fucking roller coaster anymore.

So please, can we just get a baby out of this one and call it a day?

Lucky 13?

On Tuesday afternoon, I got “the call.” The one telling me my follicles were ripe for the plucking. After a thoroughly cryptic conversation with the nurse in my company cafeteria, I pieced together the triggering instructions. Then popped back into a meeting like it was NBD.

300 units of Gonal-F at 8:30. Novarel trigger at 9:30. At this point, I feel like one huge injection site. Ah, well… thems the breaks for the infertiles.

My retrieval was scheduled for Thursday morning. So nothing to do on Wednesday but wait. I’m used to waiting- that’s what the TTC game is all about, right? Mr. O, it seems, was late to that party. Because he had what is his equivalent to a freak out.  It happens infrequently, but when it does… Boyo, there is no talking him out of it.

It is worth noting that a “Mr. O Freak Out” looks a lot like my baseline for existence. He tends to latch on to something small then just perseverates on it for about 30 minutes. His obsession of choice today was how many embryos to implant. Like a dog with a bone, he would not let this go. “If we get one, obviously we’ll implant it and be done. But what if we get 3? Do we implant 2, then save the other one for later? What if we get 5?” And so on and so forth.

My feeling is that I will do whatever it takes to have a healthy pregnancy. If Dr. Petrel thinks that means implanting one, one it is. If she thinks that means two (and we have two viable ones), then we’ll go for two. Of all the things that have preoccupied my mind over our first IVF cycle, how many to implant has not been one of them.

Thursday morning, we show up for our retrieval. I don’t know how to explain this, but it was one of the saddest experiences I’ve had so far. Every couple that came in was “like me.” We’re all experiencing some kind of heartbreak. Perhaps I’m projecting, but everyone looked kind of sad and weathered.

When one couple walked in, the nurse said “I think I know you. Have you been here before?” They had been here in July. Like a dagger to my heart, friends.

Hooked up to my IVs, I sat and waited my turn. About 15 minutes before I was scheduled to go in, a nurse took Mr. O to the porn room. (Oh, come on… We’re all adults here, and THAT’S what it is!) I watched him walk out, and I just kept thinking “I didn’t want this for you.” I was just so deeply sad to be at this point. And so I sat there alone, trying not to weep openly.

When I woke up from the procedure, I had no idea where I was. I started crying, I babbled, I asked if it was Christmas*. It took about 5 minutes for Mr. O to calm me down, and for me to remember why I was there in the first place. Another 20 minutes later, we went home.

For the record, egg retrieval is fine. For me, it was a lot easier than the hysteroscopy. But don’t let anyone fool you- this isn’t like getting your teeth cleaned. I spent most of yesterday in bed, chugging Gatorade and eating a lot of meat because this is supposed to help my ovaries recover. (Who knew ovaries had so much in common with 15 year old boys?)

They were able to retrieve 13 in total. I’ll get a call today to let me know how they are progressing, then we could go in on Saturday to implant them. Does this seem early to anyone? I thought they’d need time to percolate or something…

Anyway, it feels like the hard part is over. Okay, the second hardest part… because this TWW will be one for the books.

Prepare yourself for more truly neurotic posts.

*This may seem random, but it isn’t. My mom went in for an endoscopy in November of last year, and experienced a whole mess of complications which have left her in the hospital for over a year. She went in November 1, and didn’t wake up until Christmas day.

Quizás, Quizás, Quizás

We’re getting close, my friends! I went in this morning for ultrasound and bloodwork, and I have at least 9 follicles ranging from 10 to 16 mm. According to Dr. Petrel, I could be triggering tomorrow or Wednesday.

Which would be welcome because I’m officially getting crabby about all this. I’m tired of the headaches. I’m tired of the sleepiness. I’m feeling swollen and tender, which seems weird to me when you think about how damn tiny these are. How is it that possible?! And yet, I feel like I’ve got a litter setting up camp in there. Ouch.

I’m also getting reeeeaallly tired of the injections. After a week, I’m starting to bruise. I thought they’d get easier over time, but in truth I only find myself getting more anxious every night.I know which ones hurt and which ones don’t. I’ve found that putting on mindless TV helps distract me from the chemistry project that has become my living room. So while Mr. O mixes me a cocktail of infertility drugs, I watch Coupling, a British sitcom from the early 2000’s. I have no idea why- it was what was most readily available on Netflix when I first tested my diversionary tactic theory.

The intro song for Coupling is “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” which I’ve long had a personal affinity for. It was the song my grandfather used to serenade my grandmother with when they were courting. And now decades later, I feel like I’m using this same song to court my own ovaries.

If you can’t make your mind up

We’ll never get started

And I don’t wanna wind up

Being parted, broken-hearted


So let’s get this show on the road, lady bits!

All By Myself

Yesterday, I went in for ultrasounds and blood tests for day 4 of stims. On one hand, I’m extremely grateful that Dr. Petrel’s office has early morning appointments. On the other hand (the hand attached to this non-morning person,) I’m thoroughly displeased I had to be anywhere at 8:15 in the morning.

The appointment went smoothly. I got in, got my blood drawn, was unceremoniously probed. Just a typical Thursday morning of the IF crowd.

The ultrasound tech told me that I have 7 ripening follicles in one ovary, none in the other. I will admit now that I was slightly disappointed. I really wanted a bumper crop of those suckers. Specifically 30. I came upon this number through a very thorough process of picking it out of thin air.  Totally at random. I have no idea why, but my weirdo pea brain was fixated on the number 30.

Of course, I have no idea what is “normal” or “good.” Even if I did, I know better than to compare my body to any sort of standard. It does whatever the hell it wants. So I spent the morning reminding myself that ultimately, I just need one. Just one that works and sticks.

Regardless of my lingering disappointment, Dr. Petrel is pleased with my ovarian progress. The stimming cocktail continues, now with the addition of Menopur at night and Ganirelix in the morning.

I have been stimming now for 5 days. Outside of a persistent, low-grade headache, I’ve felt fine. No other side effects to report. The injections themselves are no fun. Not terrible, but not something I’ll be signing up for again under any circumstances. (There goes my long-held dream of becoming a heroin addict. Shucks.)

Gonal-f is a non-event. I hardly notice it.

Menopur stings a bit going in- kinda like a flu shot.

Ganirelix didn’t hurt going in, but the inject spot was sore and a little red for about 45 minutes afterwards.

I’m making Mr. Ostrich do the shots. Between you and me, I’m okay giving myself the shots, but I really want him to be involved. Up until now, I’ve been muscling through the appointments and infuriating phone calls with my insurance on my own. It isn’t because he won’t help– I’ve just never asked him. Which is why I think he is a bit removed from the whole process.

For example, Mr. O came with me to the baseline ultrasound and blood test. He sat in the room with the Tech while the ultrasound was performed. This wasn’t such a big deal to me– I’ve been poked in every way imaginable at this point. But Mr. O was completely floored. He just didn’t realize what all this meant until he saw me go through it first hand.

That’s when I decided to ask him to administer the injections. This isn’t because I want recognition for what I’m going through- I really want him to feel invested in this in a concrete way. It seems harder for men to grasp what IVF means because… they aren’t physically experiencing it? They are biologically programed to not notice? I have no idea.

I wonder if the same is true regardless of gender- If you’re part of a lady-lady duo, does the partner who isn’t undergoing treatment “get it?” Or is this just something you have to physically go through to understand?

To be clear, I don’t intend to downplay the role of anyone’s partner plays in this process. Even if they aren’t getting probed by ultrasound wands or pumped with hormones, they offer so much love and support. They are obviously just as invested in the outcome. I imagine it’s difficult to be in the role of witness too. For Mr. O at least, he has said several times that he wishes he could do some of this for me. But you know… pesky biology gets in the way.

Mr. O and I share so much. We’re disgustingly egalitarian in our relationship. It feels odd that he isn’t experiencing this in tandem, the way we do so many things. For the first time since we started this journey, I feel strangely separate.

Quick Update: All the Drugs are All Mine

It’s official. You are magic. I don’t normally go in for that sunshine and unicorns crap, but all your positive thoughts and support have resulted in an actual miracle.

What is this miracle? My insurance company has stopped acting like a jerk face! Folks, I have an authorization for my meds.

I will spare you the tactical play-by-play because it is boring and involves almost two hours of hold music. Over that last two days, I have talked to six different people at three different organizations. (Yes, I count things. It gives me the illusion of control.) Whatevs- I got my drugs.

Even better, the pharmacy will simply deduct my adjusted payment from my balance, and credit my bank account with the rest. So no claims forms to file.

Now I can get back to the task at hand… you know, making a baby…

Thanks for all your support, ladies!

The One Where I Spend Two Months Rent on Drugs

First off, my apologies for not writing sooner.  I’m happy to see the continued correlation between my taking a blogging break and several of you ladies getting pregnant. To all of you now on your way, my sincerest, heartfelt congratulations.

Unlike before, this break wasn’t for my own sanity. I’ve just been busy. Nothing exciting , but nothing terrible. I went to visit my folks and had some truly beautiful visits with my mom (who is still in the hospital. We just hit the one year mark.) I’ve also been insanely busy at work. So I haven’t had a lot of time to obsess over my upcoming IVF treatment.

Which has started. And started off poorly, I might add.

I got a call from Dr. Petrel’s office on Thursday that my IVF treatment was approved. Perfect timing, since my CD1 was just around the corner. On Friday, I got a call from the pharmacy asking if I’d like my meds delivered or if I wanted to pick them up. Wonderful. Things appear to be going smoothly.

On Saturday, shit gets real. As in real bad. At 9:00, the pharmacy calls and says that Incompetence Insurance requires two authorization codes– one for treatment, and one for the drugs. Though they’ve approved the treatment plan, I don’t have authorization for my medication. Because it is the weekend, no one is around to get authorization. And at noon, I get my period. Panic ensues.

I spent the next several hours playing a desperate game of phone tag with my doctor’s office, the nurse on call, and the pharmacy. I cried at four different people. Repeatedly. By 4:45, I had exhausted every possibility and realized I had to pay for the start of my meds out of pocket. Two mother fucking months rent on Gonal-F, ladies. I have until Wednesday to get an authorization code for the rest of my meds, or I’m SCREWED.

First thing this morning, I called the pharmacy and asked if their team was on the case. They claim to have faxed over the forms to my doctor’s office. I called Dr. Petrel’s office. They can’t find the fax, AND their computers are down so they can’t really do anything. Well, of course… If I don’t hear back in an hour, I’m phone stalking EVERYONE.

In the name of all that is holy, why would my insurance approve IVF treatment but not the medication? I’m so done with Incompetence Insurance. Just two weeks ago, they tried to deny a claim on the anesthesiologist for my hysteroscopy. Because that was optional? What? After I pointed out that a) this occurred in a hospital covered by my plan, and b) there wasn’t a way to have the procedure without it, they finally agree to accept the claim.

What makes me angriest about all this is that insurance companies prey on people when we are at our most vulnerable. Like when I’m recovering from a hysteroscopy. Or when standing at a reception desk crying because I can’t get the medication I need.

According to the pharmacy, the “good” news is the Incompetence says no, but then says yes. And they usually approve things retroactively. In the meantime, if I don’t get the authorization by Wednesday, I have no idea what I’m going to do.

Quick- which bodily organs can I sell that are also not required for a healthy pregnancy?