A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gimme a Break; or, Return to the Beginning

It's funny how my perspective can change so completely in such a short time. Four months ago, I was diligently tracking my ovulation and body signs and anxiously hoping to time sex in exactly the right way to ensure the pregnancy that absolutely had to be around the corner.

Now, neither Lawyer Guy nor I believe we'll be able to get pregnant again without medical intervention. As he put it, "If we're not getting pregnant with help, how are we supposed to get pregnant without it?" So we're facing the prospect of a brief return to unassisted conception with something less than confidence and very little hope.

We didn't have an easy time deciding to take a break for the month of December. A large part of my heart wanted to barrel forward regardless of any possible impediments or scheduling complications. But Dr. W. didn't want to do an IUI with a frozen sample, because she said they are less successful. She advocated trying to squeeze in an insemination the morning of LG's flight to Vegas. But knowing the unpredictability of my body's ovulation schedule--even on Clomid--I foresaw a stressful week of sweaty palms and racing pulse at every monitoring appointment as I hoped even more than usual for progress.

Given that this is our last chance at getting pregnant without injections, we want to give it the best shot possible. So I'm reuniting with Pissy the CBEFM for a month, and then we'll tackle our last Clomid+IUI in January. Taking a month off will also give us the benefit of a later ovulation than I would have had on medication, so if my some divine miracle we manage to get pregnant this cycle and not miscarry, our due date will be a week or so later, which will make attending my sister's wedding next August more likely.

The Sloper household tends to struggle when there are difficult decisions to be made, so these have not been an easy couple of days. LG was worried that I will resent him for going on this Vegas trip and pushing our plans back, which I assured him I won't. He kept trying to get me to tell him whether I thought he should back out of the trip or not, and I refused to do that. I want him to have a nice weekend after dealing with so much stress the last several months. I also want to do everything possible to have a baby. So I just told him to do what felt right and I'd support him in it.

(And now that he booked his trip I'm having my typical horrible premonitions of plane crashes and disaster, but I'll just have to deal with that).

I guess if we have to go on a break, December's not a bad month to do it in. I've got masses of grading to finish over the next three weeks, and Christmas shopping and present wrapping, and cookie baking, and carol singing, and cocoa-drinking, and then Christmas with my family. I'm promising myself that this is the last year I will spend in limbo like this, so I should make the most of the time with LG while I have it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wait No More; or, Right Place, Right Time

Some days, you find yourself in exactly the right place at the right time to hear what you need to hear.

This morning, I was 15 dpiui with no sign of AF. I'd been expecting to start spotting every day since Friday, but despite the delay I wasn't feeling optimistic about this cycle. If my boobs felt dense and hard (and very, very pregnant-like) with last month's beta of 12.5, I knew that my utterly normal-feeling chest didn't suggest anything promising. But still, as each day slowly ticked by, a little spark of hope grew brighter and brighter. My period was late, really officially late, and I hoped as hard as I could that this meant something, even as I told myself and suspected it didn't.

Then, shortly before I left for church, I saw it: the faintest sign of discoloration on my toilet paper. The confirmation that Clomid had indeed given me a longer luteal phase, but that a healthy pregnancy still eluded me.

I jumped in the shower trying unsuccessfully to keep from crying. Over ninety million sperm were injected right into my uterus and they still couldn't match up with an egg. What possible chance could anything short of IVF have of working for us? I felt so tired and worn out and sick of trying and so hopeless. But I got myself dressed and dragged myself to church, anyway.

The priest's homily was about patience and about the tension he identified between living with longing and living with the understanding that we cannot control whether or not we achieve what we long for. The Gospel reading was about waiting for God's time and trusting in his love for us.

I'd been making bargains with God all week. "Just let me get through tonight without spotting," I prayed on Friday as Lawyer Guy and I arrived at his brother and sister-in-law's house, "and I promise that I won't complain when I get my period tomorrow." Even as I said it, I knew I was a liar. And of course, making it through the family even without my period wasn't enough.

But sitting in church, I realized that the priest was right. I do have faith that I will be a mother one day, despite all evidence to the contrary. And I want to live in a place of patience and peace amidst all this terrible, overwhelming longing.

We're going to pick out and decorate our tree tonight. Yesterday LG and I booked a trip to the Bahamas over New Year's Eve. I've got two weeks left of the semester and Christmas to look forward to and operas to attend. I'm going to survive this. One day, this struggle will be over, and I'm going to do my best to find a place of peace in my heart until we get there.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thank You Loss and Infertility

...for showing me that my husband and the immense love we have for each other means more than anything, even having a baby.

...for helping me see that a family of two is as strong and intimate and important as one of three or four or five or more.

...for making my marriage into a partnership and a true team.

...for revealing to me the incredible sympathy, compassion, and kindness in the hearts of "strangers" all over the country.

...for encouraging me to reach out to people I see suffering around me.

...for convincing me that I am strong enough, brave enough, and determined enough to not only be a mother, but to be a great mother.

....for curing me (almost) of my materialistic fantasies and focusing my dreams where they should be: on the baby I want to love and care for, not the clothes to dress it in or the crib to put it in or the stroller to wheel it around in.

...for forcing me to smile through tears, search for rainbows in storm clouds, and write lists like this one on the off-chance that they might be true.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Post-Thanksgiving Premonitions; or, 11 dpiui

This may be one of those post-every-day kind of weeks. I've just got a lot on my mind, I guess. Right now I could use some bloggie advice.

As the title says, I'm 11 dpiui. And I'm quite sure it didn't work. My boobs don't feel pregnant, which are the only indicators I ever have. My skin is also very, "Ha ha, your period is coming." Everything else is perfectly consistent with getting my period, and after going through this 17 times now, I've gotten pretty good at figuring out when that's going to happen.

Since I would rather whittle my peestick into a shank and plunge it directly into my heart than see one line on a pregnancy test, I won't be testing until AF misses her train. Which usually means not testing at all.

So here's my dilemma. Normally, I start spotting about 14 days after my LH surge and get full flow the following day (I was never positive whether I ovulated the day after or two days after my LH surge, so I counted from the first peak day, which seemed less equivocal). Because of the chemical pregnancy last month, I don't know if being on Clomid will change my luteal phase at all, but as I'm not taking progesterone or any other suppositories, I have to assume it won't. Thus I project that I'll begin spotting on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Now, thanks to Lawyer Guy's parents' divorce, we spend every day-after Thanksgiving at his father's house having a second Thanksgiving dinner (this year, if you count Fakesgiving, it will be the third) with LG's father and stepmother and the infamous BIL/SIL clan. Long-time readers may recall that at this event last year (only about a week after my d&c) I broke down crying and ran from the table, which action was greeted with rather deafening silence. Not the best communicators, that side of the family.

Anyway, this year the event is not going to be at FIL's house. I'll give you three guesses where it was moved. Are you thinking? Thinking really hard? If you guessed BIL's house you are right on the money! Apparently having two small children makes it extremely difficult to take a half-hour trip across the Tappan Zee Bridge on a holiday weekend, and everything has to revolve around making their schedule easier (Sorry, my bitter is showing. Excuse me while I pull down my skirt a little).

LG and I were anxious and upset when we find out the event was moving there. As he puts it, "It automatically goes from a family event on neutral territory to one that is about them and their kids." We thought about telling his father how uncomfortable we are and asking him to switch it back. We thought about doing a lot of things. But we couldn't think of a way to address this issue that didn't sound petty and like we just didn't want to go to their house. Or a way that wasn't basically forcing his father to choose between the desires of his two sons, a position in which he is not very comfortable. We also thought about not going and then decided it would cause too much fuss not to go.

Compounding all this, we learned on Sunday at our lunch in the suburbs that the family has chosen this event as their Channukah gift exchange day, because everyone's schedules are so full in December.

Yes, we found this out on Sunday. Five days before we're supposed to exchange gifts on Friday. And no one would have told us if I hadn't innocently wondered when we'd all be getting together for the gift-giving. Scrambling ensued, and I picked up a bunch of gifts and ordered others online. We now have gifts for all the adults, but the nieces' gifts won't arrive until next week at the earliest.

So to sum up: a post-Thanksgiving dinner at the home of our least supportive relatives where we will be exchanging gifts we didn't have time to procure on the day I'm due to confirm that this most recent IUI failed.

I don't know what to do. I don't want to start spotting in the middle of dinner. How will I possibly handle the devastation around everyone? We'll have to leave and it will cause such a scene. I suspect that if I start spotting earlier in the day, I'll just want to hunker down and be alone to lick my wounds and start the moving-on process. Lawyer Guy said he'd go to the dinner by himself, but I hate when he has to do that. I hate being the sad, fragile basket-case who can't handle ordinary human interactions. And I hate being left alone at home when everyone else is together.

I just wish I didn't have to think about any of this. I wish I were stronger and better able to push forward through uncomfortable situations. I wish LG didn't feel like he had no choice in whether to go or not and I wish that I felt confident everyone would understand our situation--yet I don't want to tell people exactly what is going on. I don't even want BIL and SIL to know we're seeing an RE!

I've got a few days to figure this out, and I'll be tp-scanning (and smelling, which is usually my earliest sign of impending-AF, as disgusting as that may sound) like mad. I'm giving myself permission not to decide what to do until Friday and to just say screw it to everyone's reactions. But a strong part of me still feels like the right thing to do is go and if I stay home I'll be weak and giving in to bad, selfish impulses.

Such a long post to say essentially so little. If you managed to slog through the tedium, I'd love to hear your advice or thoughts.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Saturday and Sunday; or, Reversals of Fortune

Sometimes there's so much to say, I can't find the heart to sit down and write about it. Last weekend was that kind of weekend. We had dinner with friends on Saturday night in the neighborhood and then met for lunch with my BIL and SIL and nieces on Sunday at their country club.

I was dreading the family visit all weekend. My mother-in-law had called the day before and told me that she had lunch with J (the BIL) that Saturday and that he had asked if "there were any babies yet" for Sloper and LG. My MIL responded by telling him he needs to speak with us to learn about how things are going, and he said, "They didn't have another miscarriage, did they?" in a worried one of voice. Again she told him to talk to us about what's going on, but that we're "struggling."

My MIL brought this story to me like it was some amazing evidence of how deeply my BIL and SIL care about us. "See?" she said. "He's thinking about you. I know they want you to have kids."

Yeah, I kind of figured that already. Obviously they want their kids to have cousins, and LG and I are the only way they're getting any. And they're not evil. I know they don't wish us ill.

But hearing that he made what basically amounted to small-talk chit-chat at lunch about our problems (over a year later!) isn't evidence of some extreme compassion and sympathy. I'm not angry that she told me this, but it also doesn't change that I think their reaction to our situation has royally sucked. It doesn't change the fact that I think they are incapable of having real, human connection with us on this point, or that they don't put their own events, needs, and desires over our incredibly deep sorrow. As I said to my MIL, "I don't know what I'm supposed to do with this information." Go out of my way to inform them and make them comfortable with this? Um, no.

So I was not feeling super charitable about this lunch visit and was wondering why we were making the effort to head out to Suburblandia and see them. And yet, it was fine. I held the 8-month-old niece, who is very sweet and smiley, and I saw that she has the blue eyes neither of her parents do (eyes like mine) and managed only a twinge of sadness. Our three-year-old niece was sweet and funny and very cuddly once she got over some initial shyness. LG and his brother disappeared to another part of the club for a while (a sports bar, it turned out, where they could watch some football) and I thought that maybe J was going to bring up the last year and ask how things were going. But he didn't. And LG thought that maybe S (my SIL) was asking me how things have been. But she wasn't.

Still, for all my dread of these situations, I'm very good at getting in and getting out with minimal fuss and distress. And if I wasn't my usual bright and sparkly self, if I was a little more quiet and subdued than usual, I don't think it was extreme enough for anyone but me to notice.

So Sunday was alright, despite my worries. But Saturday...

We had dinner with, among others, our Queens friends and their one-year-old son. These are the friends whose son was born the day we had our first bad ultrasound with the m&m. They are the friends who miscarried their first pregnancy almost exactly two years before we did, then tried to conceive for over a year before finally hitting the jackpot with an IUI. We are very close to them, and while we don't talk about IF and loss frequently, there's a current of understanding that flows through all our interactions and helps make things comfortable.

I noticed at dinner that Queens Wife wasn't drinking, and my radar went up. But Queens Husband was, so I thought that perhaps they designated a "Sober Sister" (as it were) to watch their little boy and drive home.

But as we peeled off from the rest of our party and walked them to their car a few blocks away, they confirmed my suspicions. They were twelve-weeks pregnant, unexpectedly but quite happily. They were due in June, just like her first pregnancy and mine.

I didn't feel that sharp spike of jealousy in the gut the way I usually do. We hugged them both and asked some questions and told them how happy we were. And in that moment, I truly was. Something raw and pointy lay underneath that happiness, but I pushed it far down. Lawyer Guy and I left them at their car and walked home to our apartment, and the night was very crisp and clear, and we both talked of other things and knew we were thinking the same thing, and it felt good to be together, whatever the circumstances.

I didn't let myself think much more about our friends' pregnancy the rest of the weekend. And then Monday morning, Queens Husband texted LG. They just had their NT scan. The results were not good--the baby's skull didn't form right. They had to terminate.

We both cried for them and ordered a basket of food to be delivered to their house and texted and e-mailed and offered to help them with anything they needed. She had the procedure yesterday and tomorrow they leave for Thanksgiving in New England.

As much as I may have felt jealous and a little sad when they told me their pregnancy news, I am devastated that this is the result. It seems so unfair--that they've had to undergo two very different but equally traumatizing losses, and even their beautiful, hard-won son doesn't make up for that. I find myself wondering why this kind of suffering has to be concentrated on the same people over and over again. Why can't it be one miscarriage per customer, no exceptions, and no more than one for everybody? Why can't it be lost pregnancy or IF, never both? I know the world doesn't work that way, and I'm sure people with ordinary, loss-free fertility would be horrified to think I'm "wishing miscarriages" and problems on them. But wouldn't life be easier to navigate if we could all share this burden?

Like losing a parent--it happens at different (more or less tragic) times for different people, but if you live long enough, your parents will die. I think we have tremendous sympathy for those whose parents die because of this sense that it will be us facing the same thing one day. But reproductive troubles aren't like that, so they're easier to dismiss or ignore. It's horrible to wish they were more universal, and yet I do. Hey, I'm surviving them, so Ms. Fertile Franny can too.

I'm rambling now because there's no real ending point to this. Lost pregnancies suck. Infertility sucks. Lack of sympathy sucks. Having to trudge on when you just want to scream sucks.

This all sucks.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hamster Brain; or, 7 dpiui

I know from past experience that there's no way to know the State of the Uterus at only 7 dpo/iui. I know that having negative, down hunches about a cycle isn't a good predictor of whether or not it succeeded. Nothing is a good predictor of that, which predictably sucks.

But still-- I'm a little constie, so maybe that means something! Except, I've been that way in plenty of failed 2wws. I'm not very hungry at all, so clearly nothing is going on. But I wasn't all that hungry last cycle either. (And I was barely pregnancy last cycle, so again, not such a good sign).

I don't think I'm pregnant. I wish I were so, so, so much, but I just don't feel like I am. However, I know that things can change quickly and I can't really be sure until 13dpo. If my boobs start hurting then, it worked. If I start spotting, it didn't.

Despite the squeaky little hamster wheel spinning and spinning, I have been able to distract myself from dwelling on this fairly well so far. I had a movie date with some friends last night that was a lot of fun and a great way to occupy my mind. I've got shittons of student papers to grade this weekend, more dinner plans with LG and friends tonight, and Thanksgiving and all its preparations to focus on next week.

And then, right after Thanksgiving, I'll know. And it will hurt a lot, I can already tell. If we can't get pregnant with a perfect IUI, I'll pretty much give up on anything short of IVF working for us at all. But Christmas is right around the corner and long nights in front of our fireplace with hot cocoa and a twinkling tree will go far toward restoring my joyfulness, even if there's no baby in the manger yet.

I hope you are all having weekends that make you happy and sane.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time Keeps on Ticking: or, 4 dpiui

This going to be a bit of a random hodgepodge post, since nothing much is going on other than my slow, steady descent into irreparable madness. Every three seconds, I think to myself, "I have to be pregnant. I can't be pregnant. I must be pregnant. It's impossible that I'm pregnant."

And on and on and on.

In the meantime, Lawyer Guy accompanied me to the opera last night (more like, was dragged by me, but who's counting). It was the Met's recent production of Carmen, and I loved it. I spent most of the rest of my non-teaching time googling every bit of news that came out about William and Kate's engagement. A fun distraction from testing out my ute goggles.

* * *

Based on the two data points I now have to go on, I know that I won't have much of an idea if AF is coming or if something else is until 13 dpiui. Both positive test cycles I was positive I was going to get my period right up until that day. I keep trying to remind myself that there's just no way to know yet and that I should try to enjoy myself right now, because the tension only increases the closer to D-Day I get.

Oh, right, and I should start spotting the day after Thanksgiving, which I'm spending with LG's family this year. Awesome.

* * *

What else is there to say as I try to kill time? I'm leaning toward skipping treatments in December, but not because of my sister's wedding. After last month's chemical pregnancy I was determined to plow forward no matter what, and felt really good about that decision. But then LG received that most dreaded (to wives) of husbandly invitations: A Vegas Bachelor Party. And it's scheduled for the exactly the weekend we'd have to be on call for an IUI.

If I begged and pleaded and insisted, Lawyer Guy would refuse the invite. But I know how much he wants to go. Many of his friends have moved from the NY metro area and now have kids, so he doesn't see much of them. He confessed recently that he's been feeling kind of lonely--he's one of the only non-dads left in his circle and everyone's too busy to do the kind of socializing they used to. I know it will mean so much to him to be able to have some relaxed time with them all. And I think he would appreciate a break from having to jizz in a cup, too.

There's still the option to freeze the sperm and do the insemination while he's gone, but that doesn't appeal to me for a lot of reasons. So it's likely that December will consist of fruitless (but fun?) au natural attempts and we'll be back on the treatment horse in January.

* * *

Tick, tock, tick, tock. For now we just keep waiting. Though not as long as Kate Middleton waited for her proposal. I'll take her as my inspiration and dub myself Waity Slopie, invest in a series of figure-hugging colorful frocks, and head to a polo match. That should help pass the time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crazy Comes Early; or, How to Survive a Two-Week Wait

I think I am good at many things: writing, reading while walking along crowded sidewalks, singing, knitting, cooking, taking standardized tests, picking outfits for my dog, correctly punctuating compound-complex sentences, listening to people, hugging, and wearing short skirts. But there is also a long list of things I am terrible at: calculus, chemistry, running, athletics of all sorts, spelling, showing up places on time, planning and timing a meal, housekeeping, putting on a poker face, losing belly fat.

To this latter list, you can add meditation and relaxing.

I have never been able to relax on command. At the end of a yoga class, when I feel stretched out like a noodle, I still have to clench my fists in corpse pose because otherwise the palms of my hands and my fingers literally begin to itch, so strong is my compulsion to move them. In health classes as a kid I was never able to relax my mind enough to feel the crazy effects of the self-hypnosis videos we would occasionally watch.

Just now, in an effort to mitigate against the extreme anxiety of the two week wait, I listened to one of the Circle+Bloom relaxation CDs that a friend sent me when I started working with an RE. I couldn't even concentrate on the woman's voice. I lay here in an extremely comfortable chair with my eyes closed and as she told me to let my body sink deeper into a metaphorical hot bath, the soles of my feet started twitching and I had to press them together. My stomach rumbled. My eyes fluttered under my eye lids. My mind spun like a top.

I suck at this.

I am pretty much a ball of tightly wound twine at the best of times, and waiting for the results of a cycle only exacerbates it. This cycle is doubly hard because everything (with the exception of my minimal egg production) is going so damn well. Not only did Lawyer Guy produce a rock star sample for the IUI, but we had sex TWICE afterward that day. (I'm not at liberty to share what helped make this cycle so much better in that regard. Let's just say it was awesome). Last cycle we had fertilization for the first time in a year, which has raised the expectations for IUI way high. And some googling turned up various studies that all agree the greatest predictors of success in an IUI cycle are total motile sperm counts and timing, both of which were great for us.

And yet mentally, I add all this up together and it equals: BFN.

Over the past 20 months, I have had more "perfect" cycles than I can count-- or as close to perfect as my body can get. Well-timed sex, and lots of it, with clear ovulation. Over and over again, I would think, "This is it! This time is the time! Everything's going so great, it just *has* to work."

And over and over again, reality would sledgehammer me over the head at the end of my wait.

Strangely, I do believe Dr. Wonderful when she tells me that I will get pregnant and I won't be her patient for long. I do believe that a healthy pregnancy is in the cards for my future. Just not yet. Just never right now. Not this cycle, not this time.

I would really like to put down this emotional armor, this chain-mail of doubt and negativity and fear and refusal that I've been carrying around for over a year to deflect the blows of IF. It's tiring and weighs a ton.

Next cycle's the one when I'll start to feel positive. It's always next cycle.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sperminated; or, R&R

Having an IUI done on a Saturday morning is infinitely preferable to a Tuesday. Instead counting the minutes as they slipped past (each one taking me closer to another canceled class) or watching Lawyer Guy obsessively responding to work e-mails on his Blackberry, we were able to stroll in, have him do his thang, have a lovely early breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, get a vial full of sperm injected in my cooter, and return home.

There was less hilarity but also less stress this time around. LG produced the sample without trouble--and what a sample it was! 95 million and 50% motility pre-wash, and 92 million with 90% motility post-wash! We couldn't believe the numbers were right when we saw the sheet, because that is such a jump from his usual 30-35 million. But we'll take it!

I let down the side a bit on my end. Yesterday at triggering I still only had one 19mm follie on the left. My lining was better this time, though, at 10mm. Still, I don't have high hopes for the outcome. One egg, one shot. Plus, I really don't think it's possible for us to have a positive result on every IUI cycle. Since we technically did have a positive beta last time, I'm going to write this one off ahead of time as a necessary loss.

LG and I had some interesting and important conversations about our future that I'll share at some other point. Nothing earthshattering was discussed or decided, but the way we talking about it all gave me confidence that we are as solid a team as I've told myself.

Now we're lying in bed with our puppy and a crossword puzzle. We've scheduled an afternoon of lounging and napping (and maybe even some grading for me) and are discussing dinner and movie options for tonight. I love my husband and I love our life together, whatever comes of this morning's adventures in medically-assisted reproduction.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans of Another War

Today is Veteran's Day. It's also the anniversary of the worst day of my life.

Things are both harder and better today than I could have anticipated on November 11, 2009. I drove home from the doctor's office that morning, sobbing the whole way, and lay on my couch in a stupor of misery and over and over again I told myself that things would get better soon. As the weeks passed and I tried to recover and move on, I promised myself that "this time next year" things would be different. I knew we could get pregnant, it was only a matter of time until it happened again, I had just lived through one of the worst things I could imagine and life had to (had to) take a turn for the positive.

If I had suspected then what I know now--that a year would pass and find us still in the same situation---I would have been horrified.

And yet, I am better and stronger right now that I possibly could have imagined twelve months ago that I would become. I struggle continually to feel optimistic, but I force myself to carry on with trying to make a baby regardless, so there's obviously hope in there somewhere. I can face the thought of more losses, more waiting, more sadness without enthusiasm but with a knowledge that I'll survive whatever comes and confidence that I'll weather whatever storms I must until we have a baby.

I can look at my husband and know that we have seen each other at our worst and our best and we have held each other up when it felt like the ground fell away beneath us.

So I'm okay today. It's a sad day but ultimately it's just a date, no better or worse than the ones before and after it. I didn't want my journey to take this long. I didn't want to have to turn to an RE and ART to have a child. But I do and I did. And now there's a 16 mm follicle and 8 mm of lining in my uterus and an IUI scheduled for this weekend and just maybe a baby waiting to be created from hope and heartache and resolution.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Too Much; or, Not Enough

Things have been quiet in Purgatory these last few days, but not because I don't have anything to say or anything going on. There's been too much of both: too much to think about, too much to plan, too much to do, too much to feel, and not enough time to do it all in.

Some of it has been dull: grading 40 papers and teaching classes and running three Junior League meetings in the span of a week.

But some of it has even been good.

On Sunday, Lawyer Guy and I cooked a Fakesgiving feast for most of my family (my parents, two of my sisters, and one sister's fiance). We used our All-Clad turkey roaster for the first time and made our very first turkey, a 12-pounder that turned out perfectly, succulent and juicy and golden brown. Go us! We also made two kinds of stuffing (sausage & sage and caramelized onions & herb), pureed sweet potatoes with molasses butter, roasted brussel sprouts, green beans in a mustard-bacon sauce, arugula salad with roasted butternut squash and cranberries, kale chips and fennel parmesean dip as appetizers, and a caramel cake for dessert. And we made every bit of it from scratch (except a pumpkin pie, which we bought, and the gravy, which my mom made). We had bourbon/apple cider cocktails and champagne and it was a great time, even if it took us four hours to do all the dishes (we did them together while I simmered a turkey-carcass stock in our giant 12-quart stock pot).

This was all made more difficult, though, by the fact that I had--and still have--a really nasty headcold: sore throat, hacking cough, sinus pressure, stuffy nose. We were supposed to go up to West Point with my family on Saturday for the Army-Air Force game, but my cold was at its worst so I stayed home to rest up and ideally recuperate. I am doing better now, but am still pretty uncomfortable. I'd love to take a sick day from teaching, but I've had to use them all for fertility related appointments.

Which, speaking of, I had another one of on Monday morning (CD 10). I'd been feeling really disconnected from this cycle--I feel like I'm still getting over the disappointment of the chemical pregnancy and haven't been enthusiastic or engaged in this current cycle at all. I also wasn't feeling the same intense ovarian reactions that I did last time (despite starting the Clomid three days earlier) so I wasn't terribly optimistic about how things would be going.

Turns out, I know my body pretty well: I had one (count 'em, one) follie at 14 mm on my left ovary. Nothing else over 10 on either side.

Ho hum.

I know one is better than none. And I'm glad that my lining was at 6.9, which seems okay for CD 10. But I couldn't get a good pregnancy out of last cycle, and I had two follies then. I don't have much hope for one. Plus--I fully admit this is irrational--both times I've gotten pregnant it's been from my right ovary. I have this feeling that the left is not capable of stepping up to the task (then again, both those pregnancies didn't last, so maybe the left side would have a better track record in that regard). I go back tomorrow morning for more monitoring, to see how things have progressed. Dr. Wonderful suspected the IUI would go forward this weekend, but she said if there hasn't been any progress at my next appointment, they'll give me another dose of Clomid and the egg will drop the weekend afterward. I'm feeling some sensations in both ovaries, so I suspect that some growth will have occurred, though I obviously can't predict how much.

After the ultrasound, Dr. W. sat and talked with me for about ten minutes about last cycle and how I'm feeling about everything. She is so amazing. She told me she definitely views last cycle's outcome as a positive. She said she knows that the psychological torture of waiting is the hardest part in all of this and encouraged me to embrace my hobbies and do whatever I can to help distract me during this time. She also said "There is light at the end of the tunnel. You are going to be pregnant." I really love working with her and I'm so glad we followed our instincts and chose her.

I've been a little freaked out, though, I have to confess, and it's entirely my own fault. I asked Dr. W. what comes next if this cycle doesn't work. While she said that she wants to go one cycle at a time and not get ahead of ourselves, she still gave me an indication of what she's thinking will follow: one more Clomid+IUI and then...IVF!

Ah! Those letters! They strike fear into my heart.

Now, Dr. W. said she would advocate for IVF as the next step because she fears the risk of triplets is too great for my case if we do IUI + injectibles. But she also said we'd have to talk about everything before making decisions about what to do. And I know how kind and lovely she is--if we tell her we're just not ready for IVF I think she'd let us make an attempt with injectibles/IUI just to see how it goes. And she's right, triplets are not an ideal outcome. My anxiety would be off the charts if I were pregnant with three babies, plus I'd likely have to be on bed rest for a very long time, which has complications of its own. And then, you know, three babies.

But the risk of triplets is only three percent (which doesn't sound like much to me). And everything in an IVF cycle (meds+procedure) would be out-of-pocket for us. We're financially capable of doing IVF at this stage, but not financially prepared: the lovely In-Case-of-Baby cushion we've rebuilt over the two years since buying our apartment would be reduced by jumping into an IVF. We'd need to talk about this a lot and save more money and possibly chat with our parents before embarking on such a step.

I'm also not even close to psychologically prepared. I still, if you can believe it, don't actually think of us as infertile! There are still many times when I think to myself that all this happened because I worried too much and put too much pressure on Lawyer Guy at the beginning and couldn't take things easy and (yup, here it comes) just relax.

I just have to cross my fingers and hope that one of these Clomid cycles will be the trick for us. I'll just have to pray that poor Lawyer Guy can hang on to his ever-fraying confidence and sanity and endure just a little bit longer. During a phone chat with him on Monday, I reassured him that "We are going to be such great parents because of going through this, and we are going to be so unbelievably happy because of how sad we are now."

And he replied, "Yeah, we've been telling ourselves that for almost two years."

So my consolations are a little thread-bare and my hope is definitely dented and my heart is very bruised. But my doctor says there's a light at the end of the tunnel and some days I almost think I can see it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sad Goodbyes; or, People in Your Neighborhood

This morning, my downstairs neighbors' little dog was hit and killed by a car right outside our apartment building. She was a two-year-old Manchester Terrier they'd had for about a year. They'd rescued her from a shelter and worked with a trainer to help cure her of her excessive anxiety. They'd done an amazing job--she was so well-behaved, and getting better all the time. Somehow her leash broke or came undone and she ran into the road.

When Lawyer Guy returned from walking Bella this morning, he told me they had taken the dog to the animal ER . Later, when I arrived on campus to teach, I got a bbm from him telling me she had died. I started crying.

I don't know why this has affected me so much. I feel so very bad for these neighbors. I keep picturing myself in their position, thinking of my little Bella and how I would feel if all her toys and her food dishes lingered here as reminders that she was gone. It makes me sick inside. I imagine that moment when they were told she was gone, and it makes me cry again.

I saw their light on when I returned home this afternoon and knocked on their door to give them a hug and my condolences. They'd clearly been sobbing for hours. We all cried together and I said what I could to give them my sympathy, told them how much we would miss her.

I felt oddly tempted to tell them about the miscarriages, though of course I didn't. We live in a small building with only a few apartments and we have one of the two remaining dogs living here. I have to think that seeing us walking Bella and hearing us take her out every morning and evening (their apartment is closest to the front door) will sting so much and remind them of their lost little pup. Maybe I wanted to tell them so they'd know that I understand sadness and loss. But telling them would have been for my comfort, not theirs.

So I just hugged them and went back upstairs.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This and That; or, Wishes and Horses

Not much to say tonight. I made a wish on a star while out walking the dog--I don't see so many of them in the city, so I felt I had to seize my chances. I revised the wish about three times just to make sure it was conveyed without any ambiguity. We can't be too careful about these things.

There's a lot on my mind. I'm wondering when we'll do the IUI. I'm wondering about December and whether we should go forward with treatments that month or not. I'm reeling a bit from a badly timed pregnancy announcement last week that I'm not quite sure what to do about and don't have the energy to blog about yet. I'm trying to hold Lawyer Guy up while he tackles some doctor's appointments he's dreading. I'm trying to get 80 papers graded. I'm trying to prepare a faux-Thanksgiving feast for this weekend. I'm trying to enjoy my life as it is right now.

It never holds for long, but I seem to have reached some kind of stasis. I take it where I can find it.

And with that, I'm off to bed.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Emotions; or, The Motions

IUI #2 officially starts tonight when I pop my first CD 3 Clomid. I'm optimistic that this will get me an earlier ovulation than last month, maybe more than the two follies I had for IUI #1, and...well, beyond that, I'm not sure what to expect. I kind of feel like last month was our month, to be honest (though I know I felt utterly differently during that two-week wait). I had just had the HSG with all its famed conception-enhancements. And from what I understand, additional IUIs beyond the first have diminishing returns for women who ovulate without assistance. Though of course, I know plenty of bloggies who conceived on their second and third and fourth IUIs and beyond.

I don't really know what I'm saying. This is all happening so quickly. I'm still coming to terms with last month's chemical pregnancy and all the hideous fears it has raised and now we're suddenly moving into another cycle, another try, and I truthfully can't see it working out. I can't see us getting off that easy.

Ah, well. Once more unto the breach.

This morning I also had my blood drawn for the RPL panel. Whoo boy. They weren't kidding. Those were an awful lot of vials of my blood being bagged up and sent off. Coupled with my continuing period, I'm surprised I had enough blood left to continue breathing and moving and, you know, living. I think I did a pretty good job with it, if I say so myself. The phlebotomist was lovely, didn't leave a bruise or anything, and she distracted me with chat about Twilight (she's a big fan) and Harry Potter (we both are). Several times I felt my hands and lips start to tingle and go numb, but Lawyer Guy squeezed my fingers and the nurse slapped a cold, moist towel on my forehead and I managed to avoid passing out. Some apple juice and peanut M&Ms (sigh) later, I was ready to go back out into the world.

The results should come trickling in over the next two weeks. I was so glad to have the blood draw over that I forgot to worry about the results. I have to remind myself that knowledge is good, even of bad things. Whatever is wrong with us--if there is something wrong-- is already there and these tests didn't actually change anything.

My brilliant plan to spend a day feeling sorry for myself and then move on appeared to be working a treat until last night. I got manicures in the afternoon with my real life IF friend in the neighborhood, and then Lawyer Guy and I spent the evening cooking up a fall feast together: fancy spaghetti and turkey meatballs from him, butternut squash soup and baby arugula with roasted squash and an apple cider vinaigrette from me. We really had a lovely time together, which is why I was so shocked when I sat in front of the tv last night, glass of wine in hand, and suddenly felt so very, very sad. The kind of sad that fills your pores and weighs down your bones and hurts all over, from your scalp to your toenails. Maybe it was the be-costumed babies all over facebook, but I hurt so much I wanted to claw my heart out of my chest just to feel relief. I actually took out my Bible, which I haven't read in years (dare I say decades?), and read all of Lamentations in bed before burying my face in the pillow and crying.

I feel like I've been going through the motions today: blood test and prescription pick-up and therapy and walk the dog and grade some papers and lesson plan for tomorrow. I don't know what this cycle will bring, and I'm afraid to think too much about it. I don't know when I'll feel better about the chemical, and I'd rather not think too closely about that either. One foot down, and then the next. Pet my dog and take a shower. Hope each day's a little better than the one before. Hope I've got enough in me to survive when it's not.