Friday, May 21, 2010

"I’m late, I’m late, I’m late for a very important date”!

As of tomorrow I will be 2 weeks late. Past my period date. Before anyone starts to think anything, it means nothing apparently.

Now remember, we never had an egg retrieval. I had one ripe and a couple of semi-ripe eggs but the IVF cycle was cancelled. We knew my eggs had not released thanks to the ultrasound, which gave us a window into my cycle. It is impossible for us to know with any certainty when the egg releases so with this information we knew it would release in the next few days. We thought to ourselves, why not? Maybe a miracle could happen again? Sooooooo, for the next few days, this white rabbit and her hubby, went at it like a couple of bunnies.

I’m a day 26/27 girl. Always have been. The last time I was day 29, we were pregnant. So by day 30 all the distraction in the world was not helping me with the “what ifs” that were going through my head. "The failed IVF cycle that actually worked” read the article in Infertility Weekly. (A magazine name I clearly made up). The Genesis Clinic and my doctor became famous, and other fertility experts would requests interviews with both myself and the clinic. My mind was making up all kinds of wild scenarios. My clear headed, logical thinking hubby was traveling during this time, so I did not have the voice of reason to snap me out of it.

But I did have enough common sense to do a little research and it seems some women have had their periods delayed as much as 55 days!!! But I rationalized that, by noting they had already completed 4 failed IVF cycles. So hell, their hormones and body were permanently messed up, and thus my late period was clearly different. I still called the nurse’s line at the clinic and told her what was going on. I wanted to know if I was to take a pregnancy test, would it be a false positive because of the all the hormones. She said it was very common for women’s periods to be late, but if I wanted to put my mind at rest it was okay to take a pregnancy test. If it did come back positive, then to call again and they would do blood work to confirm it.

Needless to say, it came back negative. I then went into another 3 days of anger, frustration and sadness. I took it out on my recently returned hubby who had his own stress with getting his Lasik surgery. But I was so angry, I still gave him a tough time. After a big argument the day after his surgery, I took solice in my PC and again found out via other IVF women, that PMS is brutal after failed IVF cycles. I finally broke down and cried and apologized to hubby via email. We talked further so he could understand that the hormones and my disappointment had really thrown me for a loop.

It did take a good 3 days of feeling nothing but severe anger at the world, but I got it out of my system.. again. I took another pregnancy test on day 34, quite frankly just to get it out of my house. Pregnancy tests sometimes come in a two pack and the second stick was sitting there, in my bathroom cupboard, just taunting me. So I used it, it was negative as expected and now there is no more stress..

FINALLY, the following day we had our followup with our fertility doctor. He said there is no other protocol he would suggest, that I was on the most aggressive protocol they had based on my age. If I did try again, they would basically use the same drugs. I have spoken to my friend who is going this alone, (mentioned in a previous posting), she too is well over 40 and they monitored her every other day and kept correcting her hormone injections. That did not happen at my clinic. I did not have my first blood test until well into day 7. She was amazed that I was not at my clinic every other day, which quite frankly got me concerned. Her day to day activity sounded like common sense given you have only days to correct the dosages. So finally, when my doctor in essence said, "sorry that’s our menu, no substitutions”.. I felt that was unacceptable. He then gave us a lower % of success should we try again, based on this one failed cycle. That’s not how statistics work. One failure does not mean your odds of success automatically get lowered. THEN, he had the nerve to say, if we wanted to increase our odds, we should consider an egg donor. OKAY WTF??!! I was so insulted. While my eggs are aging, it was never me that had the fertility issue. I love my hubby, and I am not pointing fingers here, but we were going through IVF or more correctly ICSI because of my dear hubby’s fertility issues. Yet the doctor felt it was my eggs that were the problem!

I was not thinking when I shut him down by saying, that in my heart I know my eggs did not like being messed with and that’s why they did not respond. They know what to do and did not like the fact that unnatural hormones pumped into my body were trying to make them do something that was not normal for them to do. In hindsight I realized how hokey my argument sounded, but I truly believe it. He actually agreed these drugs/hormones do create an environment that is not normal in a woman’s body. Finally, I asked him why my period had not arrived. He said that the eggs that have been grown turn into harmless cysts. They can sometimes block the exit of the ovary preventing the normal release of your egg, but they eventually get reabsorbed into the body and then you have period. A bigger than normal period, but it does eventually arrive. He then said if I am over 2-3 weeks past my due date, he would want to do an ultrasound and bloodwork.

So until I get this period, our normal cycle of TTC is out the window. It may take until the end of July before we can even consider going through IVF again or not. Given everything that was said by my doctor, and knowing what other patients are doing, I would not go back to Genesis, especially given their lack of options. But, for all I know I may very well be without options, only time and another clinic will tell. My immediate need right now is to get my period. After everything I have been through, I am still hopeful. Even though history has told me that every time my hope is dashed,I crash and burn and then take it out on the world. But hope is that elusive white rabbit, that I have no choice but to chase down that rabbit hole.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


It was a hell of a first week post IVF failure or “failed ovarian stimulation ". I thought I could start writing about my feelings within a day or two after the final answer but all I could get out were these "feeling sentences”. The “I am” sentences, that bemoaned my anger and sadness. No really, it was a rant that just would not end. See excerpt below:

*** (I am profoundly sad. I am extremely pissed off. I have little to no patience with the world. And my left boob has grown 2 full cup sizes. I am now seriously lopsided. I am hoping that the drop in hormones has thrown my body into chaos as well as my mood. I have become paranoid with day dreams of things happening to my son. I have been focusing on negative stories in the news, especially stories that involve children. I cannot stop eating junk food, I have stopped working out and have lost interest in cooking)*****

I continued my rant to include my hubby because he was bothering me. So I figured, throw him in too, he won’t mind me talking to what is essentially a world of strangers, but then realized before publishing, that it did include close friends. So I am glad that I had the foresight to know better, and have since had time to both reflect and talk to my hubby. Hubby was struggling with the IVF failure and was having a very tough couple of weeks at work. He was very unhappy and was frequenting DQ three too many times in one week. You know things are bad when you walk into DQ and they shout your name. He had lost all motivation in running and was losing his patience with our son more quickly than I remembered.

Hubby started to talk adoption like the MINUTE we left the fertility clinic. I have struggled with that option for years, and he has known that all along. I would have liked some time to mourn and have the follow up appointment with the fertility doctor before we discussed any other options. The more he talked about it, the more I got upset. At one point, he had arranged a dinner out with a someone who was adopted, so we could “talk". The hormones were barely out of my system, and yet I was suppose to talk to a stranger about their adoption story? I am not on that page yet; if ever. Hell I am not even in that book.

Right now the very last thing I needed was guilt because I am not okay with adoption, yet I know that I am denying my hubby that chance. I have heard nothing but bad news regarding adoptions. Okay maybe one or two good stories have crossed my path, but all in all a nightmare for the parents. If there was any chance for adoption with me, it would have to be an infant, and then hubby is saying to give an older child a lease on life.

I was in hell. All I can see is this other child hurting or manipulating my own child, and giving my own son a horrible childhood. At least with an infant, there is a better chance of bonding and attachment. Anyway, I finally had to just say it “ I am not that big a person to adopt”, “ I just do not think I could be everything that child needs, I am afraid I will not love them as my own”. I am more fearful for the child. They deserve someone who is overwhelmed with wanting and needing them. Furthermore, I know that adoptions are not like walking into your local animal shelter, where you can pick and choose the cutest or friendliest. Each couple creates a “portfolio” in which the birth mother chooses YOU. Long story, short, hubby gave up. We talked further about our feelings on the matter, and agreed not to discuss adoption, unless I was ready. I feel I have let my hubby down. But I must listen to my inner voice on this massive decision.

Meanwhile, picking up and dropping off my child has become really uncomfortable. I know all the other moms know, they all gossip. I arrive late for drop off and pick up so I can avoid as many people as possible. I fly out of there without so much as looking at another mom. I started to slow down a bit by Friday, as alot of my hurt and anger started to subside.

I have taken too long to post this blog, so I will do so now. Given this last week of added stress because of how f..cked up my body has become post hormones I should leave that story for another posting.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"The Old Gray Mare, she ain’t what she used to be"

The fertility clinic this morning was torture. It was mobbed. I sat and watched the faces of the couples in the room. Most looked very serious, almost angry. The stress was clearly having an impact on them. As women came and went for their blood work and then their ultrasound, I saw distinctly unhappy faces leaving the clinic. I also saw one very happy couple, one can assume their ultrasound went well. Now I cannot pretend to think I know what is going on with these women based on their facial expressions; but the nervous energy was palpable. One couple had struck up a conversation with two women (sisters? lesbian couple? not sure), and as they swapped stories the laughter was almost manic. The kind of laugh that is just a little too loud and bordering on hysterical. You could see they really enjoyed conversing about a topic that the other couple completely understood. For those who have not experienced infertility and the IVF journey, it’s a foreign world and hard to relate.

I figured hubby and son could stay in the waiting room while I quickly got my ultrasound. Was I wrong. The three of us had to sit in one of the conference rooms, and thanks to the iPad my son was kept occupied. Occupied or not, he is still a child and his internal volume button is set to 8. I was embarrassed to have him in a fertility clinic for obvious reasons and kept shushing him. Poor kid, he had no idea how stressed I was. It took an hour and 20 mins just to have my blood work done. Pointless, when the ultrasound was the deciding factor. Finally I was called in, stripped the lower half again. Sat in the cupboard of a room, and was quiet in my thoughts.

I was called into the ultrasound room by John Wayne. “Whatcha waiting for pilgrim?” The doctor this time was an older yet handsome rugged man, whose voice was deep and gruff. In my head he was John Wayne. “Saddle on up to those stirrups, little lady”. He struck me as the perfect John Wayne type, and visualized him hopping on his horse and riding into the sunset. But back at the task at hand. I was unceremoniously "magic wanded” to see if anything had changed in my ovaries. Unfortunately, not enough. I had one fully matured egg, with 2 that were slightly behind, and 3 that were too small/immature. The doctor seemed genuinely perplexed as he flipped through my file. Seems on a previous ultrasound prior to the treatment, I was naturally producing 10 follicles, yet with all the stimulating drugs, I could barely get 3 off the ground. He was very honest and said that he did not want us wasting our money by going forward, given the low chance of any of these developing. He said they could not possibly “grow up” the other follicles in time to catch up with the one big matured egg. I guess once it completely matures, the egg just releases and everything else left in the ovary stops growing.

The doctor said he would discuss my file with my own doctor, and in a week after he returned we should make an appointment for a debrief. He believed maybe this was the wrong protocol and maybe a different protocol would be suggested for us (a different concoction of hormones). It bothers me somewhat, that if I was suppose to be on the most aggressive formula of hormones, how could another option work? Are they just guessing? It would seem so, this is a very young science and no two women respond the same way to hormones. He said that we should end this treatment now, and save our money should we decide to go with another protocol.

Before we wrapped up our conversation, I asked if this low a follicle count was due to just this particular month (follicle counts do fluctuate month by month) or my age. He said in all likelihood it was due to my age. 40 is NOT the new 30 when it comes to fertility. Based on another previous ultrasound at another fertility clinic, I knew my follicles were dropping dramatically. I am feeling my age more now than ever. I believe my age has failed us in this journey.

We will book an appointment with our doctor in the next week, but until then I feel like I am in suspended animation. My calendar is WIDE open right now, as next week was suppose to be our retrieval. No shots this morning, and I am not sitting here icing up my tummy right about now either. This old horse feels a little lost, like I have been led to pasture, when I still think I can run.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dazed and Confused

The past day has been a melancholy time for me. I’ve been trying to keep my mind occupied, but end up being distracted constantly with thoughts of this being the end of our IVF. Today while picking up my son, my "mommy friends" enquired about my IVF and I gave them the bad news. What I was not prepared for was all the new age advice that came pouring my way. Just when I start down the path of mourning and acceptance, along comes well intentioned friends. Now I am panicking as the final ultrasound is tomorrow morning and it has been suggested I see a healer to help me get my follicle count up. I am not sure I can become a new age, conscious enlightened and active visualization practicing west coaster in less than 18 hours. There is a part of me that has always believed that we as humans have barely touched the power of our own minds, and what can be accomplished through positive thinking. But I am now more confused than I have ever been.

My mind is reeling, should I call the spiritual healer and have a quick session of healing my ovaries before it’s too late? How can I say I have done everything possible if I have not at least entertained alternative medicine? The other friend suggested an incredible Fertility Specialist who has some very interesting arguments against IVF. That the industry has scared women into thinking IVF is their only chance. That there are alternatives. Research into the long term dangers of IVF have never been explored. Herbal supplements, an organic diet, naturopathic medicine and the power of positive thinking have gone a long way to solve infertility. Women have been scared stupid with statistics, most of which have been skewed by the doctors and the media for their own purposes.

I am wracked with indecision and panic. I call hubby at work and let loose. I am crying, why do these women do this to me a DAY before the final answer? I want to do everything I can but it may be too late, But then I rationalize that time is relative in the realm of alternative medicine and it’s philosophy. It is not limited by real time frames. It sits outside of time. (whoooo oooo, do I sound crazy now!) And yes I did read the Celestine Prophecy and it did resinate with me. Maybe I should have explored alternative treatments months ago. Maybe IVF was the wrong choice for us after all.

So as my hubby slowly talks me off the ledge, he says the one thing I respond to. Destiny. If we were meant to have another child, then the choices we make, the path we take, the challenges we encounter mean nothing in the grand scheme of our lives. Knowing it is out of my control is somewhat comforting. Even though I continue to try to control my fertility, ultimately I have no “real” power to change it. If I did have that power, it would be done. Maybe alternative thinking is the real power, at this point, I guess only time will tell.

It is the not knowing which action to take or not to take that is crippling me. Do we continue to plod along after this failed IVF trying to conceive the old fashioned way? Do we go all west coast spiritual, eating only organic, loading up on supplements, all the while meditating during acupuncture? Or do we scrape together another $10K go through the hell of needles and the nightmare of emotions again and opt for IVF? Which choice is right? What if all the choices are wrong because we were never meant to have another child... my mind is spinning.

But I take comfort in what my hubby has said; we promised ourselves we would try IVF once. That we could look at our child 10 years from now and say we tried as much as we could to have another child. We will of course keep trying and we are both open minded enough to entertain a great deal of alternative medicine moving forward. My challenge will be to first not lose hope; as without hope there is nothing and secondly, not second guess myself and become confused with the "what ifs".

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Parenting Magazines in a Fertility Clinic?

It dawned on me while waiting for my first ultrasound this morning, that all around me were parenting magazines. Today’s Parent and Parents Monthly both sitting at each of the tables in the waiting rooms. This struck me as odd, and a little insensitive. It’s like having a bar set up at an AA meeting, or a Bridal Magazine at a newly divorced seminar. Are they trying to keep you positive about your journey? As if to say, "For just 3 easy payments of $3,00 and a couple of shots a day, you too can have a child just like this one”! Like some sick infomercial? Or do these magazines represent the proverbial brass ring, to aim high, be positive and reach for the impossible? Or are they that out of touch with the emotions of their clients? Maybe I am a little bitter right now as today’s results were not good.

After stripping from the waist down in a little cupboard of a room. I “tried” to cover myself with what is in essence an oversized paper napkin. Now I am far from skinny, and not exactly seriously overweight, but I struggled to keep my bits covered with the napkin. Anyone that was a little hippier or bigger in the caboose, would have found it impossible to keep their bottom half covered. Do only skinny women do IVF? Is this the “standard” hospital grade napkin with perfect dimensions based on some study of the average woman’s lower half? I am far from the casual observer. I notice pretty much everything. My University professor once advised his students to “question everything” and it stuck with me. It may just be in my head, but I do question pretty much everything. So as I sat there pondering the little white napkin, I was called into the Ultrasound room. Both a doctor and nurse were there to greet me.

If men had to experience half of what a woman does as part of her general health care, more money would be spent, less invasive measures would be invented and a mammogram would be completely redesigned. Can you imagine men accepting that their penis needed to be flattened between to plates to take an x-ray? No I didn’t think so. Well until that day comes, I had to be politely violated AGAIN, with the blue lube covered, plastic condom encased, foot long wand up the Hoo Haa or as others call it the Ba Zsa Zsa. Yeah it may sound hilarious, but it is quite humiliating, and seriously creepy. Having a woman doctor do it, makes it a wee bit more tolerable. The doctor poked around the right ovary and measured it, while the nurse took notes. She saw one big follicle, and 2 small ones. Then she moved to the left ovary, and had some trouble finding it thanks to my fibroids. I kept asking where she was looking, as the screen is just a moonscape of black and gray swirling liquid. None of it makes any sense. She finally found the left ovary and only found one follicle.

As I slowly started to realize this was not good news, the nurse gave me a sad smile. I asked the doctor what this all meant, and would I need to increase my Gonal-F dose. Both said I was already at the maximum dosage. I do remember my doctor saying they were going to be really aggressive with my procedure. I guess I assumed that there was still room for them to really ramp up my medication should they need to. I was wrong. The doctor said, let’s see what happens in the next 2 days, and come back Saturday. I asked her what was the absolute minimum they needed to move on with my IVF. She said 5 follicles, and I had 2. So I have to grow 3 in the next two days. I am not holding out much hope. Clearly my ovaries are showing their age. Ideally I should be producing between 10-20, and I am clearly not responding to the hormones. I tired to keep cheerful as the nurse warmly rubbed my arm and said how sorry she was and led me back to the other room.

I walked back to my cupboard to change and started to cry. I haven’t got out of the starting gate and I am being shut down. I wanted to have one really good crack at the IVF cycle. I knew failure was a real possibility, but I wasn’t emotionally ready for so soon a final answer. I felt if I had the egg retrieval and embryo transfer and they didn’t take, I would have had a couple weeks to prepare for a negative outcome. Here I am being told no, before I have even finished my shots.

Driving back home to get my shots from hubby, seemed pointless. Hubby was warm and sympathetic as I cried on his shoulder. He was very supportive by taking the day off to be with me. I had my shots, and felt numb to the pinch. I feel like we are just going through the motions now. We took my son to preschool together and then spent the morning in the mall just walking around. I teared up over coffee, but got ahold of myself again.

Picking my son up from preschool was torture. Seeing all those happy mothers with babies while they picked up their other older children was tough. Watching the little girls in my son’s classroom, with their sweet feminine ways, reminded me that I will never have that in my life. A little girl. But that is not even it. I really have never pined for a little girl, in fact another boy would actually make me happier. I cannot explain it, I am now wistful for what I will never have. All I wanted, was to get my son and get out as quick as I could. But if you have ever been to a school to pick up a child, you would know that you are slowed to a crawl while you try to push past mom’s with strollers gabbing to other mothers, or try dodging the pack of little boys running and tumbling down the hall with one or more moms running after them and then tripping over the a kid having a melt down on the floor. Everywhere were precious faces of infants or young babies (my son’s school seems to be extra fertile), and I was feeling worse by the minute. The next 2 days is going to be an exercise in futility. Once I get the final answer on Saturday maybe I can start the mourning process. This will not happen overnight, I know this will be a slow acceptance. I just wanted to give it my all, just one time, but as I have said before, “what will be, will be” and I will do my best to accept it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ouch, now THAT hurt!

By 7:30am this morning, I was at the clinic for my first blood work to determine how well my FSH looked. Before I could say "good morning I am here for my first blood work” - the receptionist said they needed full payment. FULL payment? Before any of the ultrasounds gave us the green light to go forward with the procedure? Yes! That will be $6,500 please. Ouch. I was sure my credit card would spit that amount back at them and ask for a verbal approval. The credit card rejected the first big amount at the pharmacy for the Gonal -F epi pens and then they shut my card down. Nothing like refusing payment and then stopping me from purchasing anything else! The card company called last week to let me know my card was flagged and after hearing that I was trying to purchase fertility drugs, maybe they realized they had hit the big one and upped our credit limit? Who knows. All I know was that $6,500 flew threw that machine a little too smoothly.

A little confusion during this mornings first blood work had me in quite a lather by the time I got back home for my shot. We thought we were suppose to wait for our morning shots until after the blood work, assuming results were immediate and we would know if the doses needed correcting. We were wrong, and so my morning shot was an hour late. But anyway, I’ve had blood work done for tests like a million times. Any woman close to 40 who has gone through a pregnancy can attest, you get tested ALOT. And I am proud to say I’ve built up a bit of a resistance to the needle issue, with chatting and looking away. I’ve found a clinic nearby that does a wonderful job and can walk in pretty unstressed, knowing it won’t hurt. So I assumed that the nurse at the fertility clinic had also done this about a million times, and so for sure this would be a no brainer. IT HURT LIKE A BITCH! She was slow, and kept moving it while it was in me and then pulled the skin tight under the little circular bandaid till my skin pulled every time I flexed my arm. OUCH!! Not at all pleased with this one. I can only pray she is no where in sight the day of the egg retrieval when my intravenous gets stuck in. I may just have to be one of those women who requests another nurse.

So off I go back to my car, less an ounce of blood, less $2.50 for my parking, and less a whopping $6,500 for the procedure. It wasn’t even 8am and I was literally sucked dry.

This afternoon we got our call from the clinic nurse. I assume all looks good, as we are to remain at the same dose until Thursday. Thursday morning I will have my first ultrasound after my bloodwork. Now I am freaked out about seeing nurse Ratchet again! So fingers crossed that my little girl follicles are being tickled pink and growing as they should.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Yesterday was a great day. Though the morning’s injections, were a little troublesome, with the Gonal-F stinging afterwards (which can happen) and the Lupron needle separated while in me, spraying hubby with Lupron and he had to redo it. It was worse for him than me. But after the stinging subsided it was okay. I had a great day. The evening’s shots went pretty good as well. Hubby is getting much better at it. I felt good all day and had lots of energy. This mornings shots went very, very well. My nerves did not get all ratcheted up because yesterday’s shots went really well, and I was still on a high.

This post was going to be about me. I have decided to put things in perspective. Even as a needlephobe, I truly have nothing to be afraid of. I have a hubby that has the balls to give me injections. He encourages me everyday, and gives me the strength when mine is all tapped out. I know there are other women out there that do not have that support. There is one friend in particular who is doing it alone. By herself. The shots, the clinic visits, the emotional roller coaster. I am humbled by her journey into IVF. She is brave beyond anything I could ever do. While most of our relationship was during our carefree 20’s, and even though our current relationship has mostly been via email, I know she has had some shitty luck with men. That being said, she has not given up on her dream of having a family. I applaud her strength and courage. I know she would make a wonderful mother. I hope and pray that she gets the kind of joy I have experienced with having a child. I think she deserves that kind of wonderful.

Whatever the outcome of my own IVF journey, I will continue to re-read these posts and remind myself how lucky and blessed I am.