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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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?

The Storm

I’m happy to say that my hysteroscopy is in the books. Done, done, and done. And lo! I’m still alive!

The night before, I received a call from my doctor’s office that there had been a cancellation. It is the hospital’s policy that all surgeries move up accordingly. So instead of a 9:00 hysteroscopy, I was moved up to 7:40. I successfully avoided panic.

I will admit there was a part of me that believed that this might be my last day on earth. So I tried to enjoy life a little on Thursday. I went to my favorite place for lunch, ordered cake and a latte. For dinner, I ate my favorite kale salad and watched “Scandal.” I sneaked a note into Mr. O’s sock drawer just telling him how much I love him. You know… just in case I DIED. (I’ve officially accepted that I am crazy. For now, anyway.)

The next morning went really well. Since it was so early, the traffic was non existent. We got the hospital in plenty of time. This place is like the freakin’ Taj Mahal of hospitals. When they took our name, we got a beeper (like what you get at Olive Garden.) It buzzed, we were escorted upstairs to the pre-op room. On the way, Mr. O was informed that there were many things to keep him entertained while he waited for me, including an onsite gym. (REALLY? Yes, really.)

Mr. O was stellar. He helped keep me calm and made me laugh. I had a momentary freak out when they put the hospital gown on the bed- it had the same pattern of the ones my mom has been wearing in the ICU for the last 10 months. I took a deep breath, and put it on.

All the nurses were wonderful. They introduced themselves to me and Mr. O and explained the role that they’d play during the procedure. My anesthesiologist was awesome- she explained everything that would happen during the procedure.

Finally, Dr. Petrel arrived. Have I mentioned that she reminds me of my mom, if my mom were a straight-talking RE? I just felt so much more relaxed once she was there. Petrel also explained the procedure, how I’d feel afterwards, and when our post op appointment would be.

The last thing I remembered was moving myself onto the operating table in the OR. And then I woke up. The rest of day was a bit of a blur. I don’t remember talking with Dr. Petrel, but she apparently called Mr. O and explained what happened. There were not one, not two, but THREE polyps up in there. She removed them all and thinks that my uterus looks beautiful. “We are setting the stage nicely,” she told Mr. O.

Once at home, I drifted in and out of sleep for most of the morning. I was still in some pain and experiencing some light bleeding. My appetite was low. Mr. O took excellent care of me, making lunch and dinner, and running to the store for Tylenol.

I committed myself to bed for the rest of the day. Since I knew I’d be immobile, I set myself up with The Roosevelts. What better way to recuperate than with the help of a Ken Burns documentary?! #nerdalert

This is honestly a terrific documentary. It’s a bit more “History Channel” than most of Burns’ documentaries, but the subjects are totally fascinating. Like normal human beings, they faced a shit ton of obstacles. How they survived and overcame them is also what made them.  As you probably know, FDR had polio which he struggled with for the remainder of his life. A nurse once told him Polio was the storm, and he was what remained.

Maybe it was all the drugs or my overall heighten emotional state, but that’s how I think IF is. I don’t believe in the adage “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Nope, sometimes what doesn’t kill you can gut you. IF is the storm. It sucks. It will leave a mark– has left its mark on me. But at the end of this something will remain. I have to work on what that something is.

Now, I don’t think that this will make me president. In fact, I would settle for a totally benign life at this point. Please, bless me with a sleepy life with my darling little family. Leave all that trial by fire shit for something else, will you?

But then I remember that I’m already here. In the middle of the storm. The only way out is through.

The Perils of Letting Go

(Warning: This is kind of heavy. But then again, you’re reading an infertility blog. Were you expecting sunshine and rainbows?)

After a few month hiatus (brought to you by the letter “I” for Incompetence Insurance,) I’m back to seeing Dr. Macaw, my therapist. The timing could not be better, really. After my non-emotional tubing incident a few weeks back, I could tell that something wasn’t right. Luckily, Macaw has finally got Incompetence to accept her claims, though comically they keep sending her payments to a different address. Baby steps, my friends.

At last week’s session, I brought her up to speed on what has happened in the past few months. Mom is still in the hospital. I’m still infertile, though now at least I have some plan of attack. And yet I feel more detached from my life than before.

I started talking about my upcoming hysteroscopy. To be 100% open and honest, this scares the crap out of me. More than anything I’ve done in my entire life. This is not normal for me- I’m pretty fearless. If something scares me, that only gives me more reason to do it. Screw comfort zones!

I’ve been thinking about it since my appointment was scheduled last week. I didn’t used to be afraid of medical stuff. Why now?

“Because you think you’re going to die.”

The moment Dr. Macaw said it, I burst into tears because I knew it is true. I have never ever been afraid of dying– whenever that thought popped in my head, I would feel okay with it because I knew all the people I love know how much I love them. I could go out as long as I had that covered. I didn’t recognize this fear because frankly I’ve never felt it before.

I get that my fear is a smidge irrational. The risks from a hysteroscopy are so low. I’m having this done by a doctor I trust at a well-respected hospital in what is arguably the medical capital of the country.

But I cried anyway because it hit a nerve. As we talked more, it came up again and again. I can’t plan anything anymore. I don’t want to move on with my life. Get this, I’ve saved up more than enough for a down payment, but I have no desire to buy a house. I’ll drive by lovely homes that I could afford, and think “That’s nice… for other people.”

I know you all don’t know me that well, but trust me when I say that this is WEIRD. Not just the house thing, but all of it. I’m a planner! I make responsible life choices! Now I’m seriously entertaining getting a tattoo and picking up smoking again. Because who cares?

If I start working backwards, I can find the origins. I pull on the thread, following it back to November of last year. My mom went in for a routine test, woke up two months later. She has spent 10 months of her life in a hospital bed. My greatest hope for her is that she can get checked out by the end of the year, and into rehab. Not home, but into a rehab center. I dare not think much beyond that.

IF teaches us that nothing is certain. But right now LIFE seems to be telling me that all plans are for suckers.

So how do I let go without losing myself?

Back in the Saddle

First of all, thanks to all for understanding my hiatus. And for welcoming me back to the fold. It’s truly astounding how warm and loving a set of perfect strangers can be. Way to go, humanity!

And now that I’m back, I will regale you with tales of my RE appointment.

On Monday, I had my first visit with Dr. Petrel since our initial consultation. All of our tests are in, and the results are decidedly weird.

  1. My FSH levels are elevated, but my AMH levels are awesome.
  2. Mr. O’s genetic results are in the clear, but because the practice shifted to a different lab, not all requested tests were actually performed. Basically, they tested 94% of them.
  3. I may or may not have polyps. I had the sonohysterogram done at a different office, and they didn’t let me see the pictures they took of my uterus. Reviewing them with Dr. Petrel, she thinks it could be polyps– or mucus. Yummy.

Therefore, here is our plan of attack for this cycle.

  1. More tests. Dr. Petrel suggested that I get my FSH tested again, since my levels were more consistent with a Day 4 or 5 result. Maybe we got the timing off? She also suggested getting the genetic tests that were left out of Mr. O’s labs, and Fragile X. There may be a connection between my elevated FSH and Fragile X. So let’s just know for sure.
  2. Hysteroscopy. In the next two weeks, she wants to take a peek at my uterus with a telescope. After she gets in there and determines my polyp-y status, she’ll either give me the all clear or remove those suckers. It should take one day, and I should be back at work the next.

Through some miracle, I have not freaked out about any of this. Okay, not through some miracle… Through the calm, rational care provided by Dr. Petrel, I am not freaked out about any of this. The truth is that if this were going to be an easy process for me, I wouldn’t be going to an RE in the first place. Her office exists to help couples like me and Mr. O. If I do test positive for Fragile X, we would just have a different set of choices to make. She walked us through what some of those choices might be. By the time I left, I practically wanted to hug her. #bestdoctorever

And as I wait for those genetic tests to come back, a whole new two week wait begins…