Quelle Surprise!

CD1.  You know how I know? I got my period.

I did not, however, get any of the usual accompanying PMS drama. Okay, some sore boobs, but that was it. I was genuinely surprised when I got my period this morning because my body usually makes much ado about the situation. Nausea, acne, crying, tons of painful cramping… this month, I literally did not feel this coming. It is also a few days early, which I’m a wee bit happy about. I’m that much closer to my next cycle when I start IVF.

Is this what it is like to be a normal person? To function like an actual human for the last 1.5 weeks of my cycle?! Sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you!

Ridiculousness aside, is it possible that my polyps were the culprits of my PMS? Is that crazy? Seriously, any ladies out there who had polyps– did you notice any difference in your period post op?

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November can’t come soon enough

I just got back from my post op with Dr. Petrel.

Things are looking good! My uterus is all clear. Polyps were tested and aren’t malignant (a low chance, but she wanted to test them to be sure.) And my genetic tests came back with no abnormalities.

Now that it is done (and they are fine) I will admit to being a little nervous about the Fragile X test. Thanks to my frenemy Dr. Google, I became convinced that my people must be carriers of some kind. Why? Because in milder forms, Fragile X can manifest itself in learning disabilities and ADD. My brother has both. I have mild ADD, as does my sister.

Just before a full-blown freak out, I stopped myself. Oh, dear sweet logic… Learning disabilities are caused by any number of things. Genetics can be one of them, but so can premature birth. (My brother was born 4 weeks early.)  Worse case, we could do genetic screening on the embryos before transferring.

I also realized that if this was the case, it was DONE. It wasn’t like I was going to be changing my genetic code by eating tons of kale or exercising more. So I decided to “que sera, sera” that shit.

And with good reason, as it turns out there wasn’t anything to worry about. Petrel ordered the Fragile X test because this can be linked to higher FSH levels (which I have.) I asked her if she knew why my levels would be high then, she said she didn’t know but that she wasn’t worried. My AMH levels are good, and that’s what matters. I suppose some things will just remain a mystery.

As with all my meetings with Dr. Petrel, this was really great. She is by far the best doctor I’ve dealt with throughout all this– because she takes us seriously. Crazy idea, I know!

After our consult, we were handed off to Nurse Wren* who went over all the fabulous injections that are in store for me. Not looking forward to this part. But after two years of infertility, I think I can handle two stinking weeks of injections.

With all that done, we’re on our way to IVF. Dr. Petrel’s office will put through the request with my insurance company. That should take two weeks to clear, which means we can’t get a round in this cycle. I’m a little bummed, but I also had set this expectation with myself. I was thinking an October/November timeframe. So November it is! Which means, I have yet another cycle to over-google everything. Yippie.

Mostly, I’m just impatient. I’ve even allowed myself to be optimistic. This could actually work! And when I start seeing that promise in the distance– no matter how far off– I just. can’t. take it.

*Not her real name. But I like her so I gave her a nice bird name…

I

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.

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…

“Well, Of Course.”

Today I went for my sonohysterogram, and Anti-Mullerian tests. Because Dr. Petrel was on vacation, I had to go to another office which was about an hour north from my home. Charming.

I got there a little early, and did my best to keep calm. Pat myself on the back, I was pretty successful. Before I left, I did some meditations and practiced recentering my thoughts. I had to do it a few times in the waiting room, but mostly I gave off the impression that I am emotionally balanced.

First up, ultrasounds! You ladies all know the drill- pants off, scooch your bum down to the edge of the table, lay back and relax. (Ha!) As the nurse performed the ultrasound, she asked if I had peed before. Yes, twice. Turns out my very effective kidneys were filling up my bladder yet AGAIN. She could see it. Which makes total sense, but it’s a little strange to have someone tell you that they can see your bladder getting full.

Then we moved along to the sonohysterogram. I’ve had an HSG before, and the process is very similar. Neither I’ve found to be particularly pleasant, mind you.  People say that this isn’t a big deal, and it really isn’t. But I would like to state for the record that for me, this is more than “just getting a pap.” It’s legit uncomfortable.

The doctor who performed the test was a younger woman, probably around my age. She was light, fun, asked me about my weekend. For some reason, we ended up talking about gay pride parades. I noticed that she was poking around in there a bit longer than my HSG– my cervix was playing hide-and-seek.

I do not mean to freak anyone out who hasn’t had a sonohysterogram or HSG, but I KNOW when that catheter is in. I started cramping and I had to catch my breath for a second. The lights went off, the wand went in, and they got down to work.

It’s strange to lie there and have people talk about what’s happening to you, just not talking at you. At a certain point, the doctor said that the saline balloon was deflating, so they needed to get the pictures quickly. They’re snapping up pics like my uterus is Kim Kardashian, when the doctor says “It looks like there is something on the anterior wall. Can we get that?” She starts jiggling that damn wand around, which seemed to have moved the catheter around too. At this point, I could feel my uterus getting bloated. I knew it wasn’t bad, it just didn’t feel right.

DR: Are you doing okay?

ME: Yeah… (unconvincingly)

DR: Are you feeling [INSERT MEDICAL JARGON HERE]?

ME: I have no idea what that means.

DR: Are you feeling dizzy? Nauseous? Sweaty?

ME: I am a little clammy…

DR: Okay, we’ll get this finished up then.

When they were done (which was mercifully soon), the doctor went over the results with me. Drum roll, please… I have two very small polyps in my uterus, one toward the front and one toward the back. I took the news like a champ. No idea why, since my usual MO is to freak out over everything. On a certain level, I was expecting this. I actually said “Okay, when do we schedule the operation?” (Some of you may remember this premonition from my post on Friday.) I have to wait until Dr. Petrel is back from her vacation for the final verdict, but I’m pretty sure I’m getting those suckers removed.

I put my pants back on, and waddled out to the car. I was half way there when I remember that I need to get my blood work for the Anti-Mullerian test, and I waddled back in to have my blood drawn.

As I drove the 45 minutes back to my workplace, I was abnormally calm. I was definitely feeling crampy and crabby, but that was my body, not my mind. Mostly, I just thought that this is another step on my journey. I was struck by this one thought, however.

My body really does not want to get pregnant.

It’s growing polyps, producing fewer/low quality eggs (potentially- still waiting on the AMH test results.) It’s throwing all sorts of roadblocks here. To quote some other blogger somewhere: “My body isn’t a wonderland. It is an asshole.”

I want to be clear- I do not think that this is “a sign” or that this is anyone’s “will.” I still believe that all these hurdles are surmountable. But let’s be real: if it weren’t for the miracle of medicine, I would have a very slim chance of getting pregnant at this point. Let’s hear it for science!

As a postscript to this delightful day, I learned a good friend of mine is pregnant. She is one of the folks in my life who knows about my IF dramz, so she wrote me the sweetest note about how happy she is, but how she understands if I’m upset. I honestly appreciate that she chose to email me personally, rather than get ambushed on Facebook. And as we’ve established, I’m truly happy for her. Her joy is my joy– until the Universe stops being a tool and gives me a little of my own.

However, I was struck by the timing. I’m sitting at my desk– hunched over in a ball recovering from my sonohysterogram crampage– when I get the email. She’s growing a baby. I’m growing polyps.

“Well, of course.”