There’s a box on my table

Right now, on my dining room table, there is a box.

Inside the box is the answer to the most common question about a new baby.

Is it a boy or a girl?

The box is wrapped with cute paper.  Little tiny hands and feet in lots of colours.  It was put together with love.  Our neighbour did it.  The one who is the nurse at the fertility clinic.  She gave it to us today at our scan.  9+1.  That’s 9 weeks and one day.

The baby looked perfect.  The measurements and heartbeat were exactly what they should be.  For once I didn’t ask for numbers.  I heard the heart beat was one sixty something.  I’m sure there is a range of measurements anyway, but they said my baby is spot on so that’s all I need to hear.  I don’t need to Google the numbers and analyze them against a range of others.

Ok, I do.  I just checked and the normal heartbeat range at 9 weeks is 140-170.  We’re good.  Some suggest that the higher rate indicates a girl.  Others disagree.

The answer is in the box.

I have thought girl since a couple of days before the transfer.  I’ve been talking to my little girl.  Luckily it’s too early for the baby to hear me so if it’s a boy, he won’t be confused.  My acupuncturist also thinks girl.  I think she bases that off my heart rate because she uses my pulse to tell.  I didn’t look at the Chinese or Mayan calendar to determine which it is.  Maybe I’ll do that now…

I just realised it won’t work.  The due date assumes that conception happened the cycle I got pregnant and it did not.  The conception date assumes that the sperm were swimming around freely and the strongest one found the egg, which it did not.  With ICSI, doctors choose a sperm and inject it right into the egg.  This combined with the fact that I can’t remember our retrieval date (I know!  Seriously!) means that I can’t use these calendars to check.

I’ll have to see what’s inside the box.

I guess you’re wondering what I’m waiting for.  I’m waiting for my husband to get home from work.  I want us to find out together.  He called to say he will be home soon and he is excited to open the box.  I’m scared.

What if my little girl isn’t a little girl?

Will I be disappointed?

I hope not.  Because I don’t actually mind whether we have a boy or a girl.  I just want a healthy baby.  But now I’ve been so certain it’s a girl, I feel like I have a picture of her in my head.  I wonder if I will be sad if that picture isn’t true.

Will my husband be disappointed?  I know he really wants a boy.  I also know he will love a little girl as well, but I don’t know if he knows that.

I’m scared.  Right now I have a fantasy and a dream.  In less than an hour I will have a reality.  I mean, I know I already do have a reality for the future, but I don’t know what it is yet and part of me wants to keep the fantasy alive a while longer.

I’m worried it will be anti-climactic.

I’m worried that the anticipation will be over.

I think I just need to go and open that box!Box

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Holy F*%K That’s HUGE! (and other stories)

As usual, I’m terrible at updating.  My excuse?  Life.  Actually, I’m kind of lazy and disorganised, but that’s what I call life.

So the title of this post seems to be something I’ve said quite frequently during the last two weeks.  For normal people, that sentence associated with trying to get pregnant would be a great thing.  Not for us IVFers!

My first Holy f*%k that’s huge came when I decided to order the generic estrogen patches instead of the name brand (saving myself a whole $6).  At that point I was sticking 4 patches to my abdomen, replacing them every 2 days.  So if you’re ever offered generic patches, bear in mind that they are around four times the size of the name brand ones!  I’m not a big person, so fitting four of these on my belly required some very careful arranging.  “Do not use the same site more than twice in a row,” warned the instructions.  Good luck with that, me.  Luckily my doctor said I could also use my bum and upper thighs because I was adding in a fifth patch and no amount of meticulous positioning could get one more on there!  The generic patches also seem to use a different adhesive which leaves my skin very red and sore – and I’m not a sensitive skin kind of person.  The name brand have been ordered for my next refill.

I added in Progesterone once my lining was deemed ‘OK’ to prepare for transfer.  Because the embryos are 5-6 days old, the body needs to be tricked into thinking it ovulated 5-6 days before transfer.  Hence the progesterone.  Now these aren’t the nice little tablets I’ve had in the past.  These come with an applicator and diagram!  At least I didn’t have to try to swallow them, but the doctor advised to begin using panty liners right away.  It was good advice.  Tablets that big make a lot of mess.  (Didn’t I used to be sexy once upon a time…)

Next comes adding in the PIO (that’s Progesterone In Oil for those of you wondering).  Oil makes the solution somewhat thicker and therefore, a thicker needle is required to draw it out.  It’s not a pleasant thing to look at.  Luckily the needle to put it in again is slightly smaller (although still bigger than the STIMs needles).  This one has to go right into the muscles.  Specifically the butt muscles.  That’s kind of tricky to do on yourself but I make it work.

So the transfer was done yesterday.  We’re at the ‘cross your fingers and hope’ stage for the next few days.  Officially a blood test will be done on 7th December but let’s not pretend I won’t pee on any sticks before then.  I will.  All the sticks!  Of course, I’m assuming every single twinge I feel is the embryo implanting.  It might be.  I have no idea.  But mostly I feel pretty normal.  I’m not sure why I’m surprised by this.  Some women go months without realising they are pregnant so why I think I will feel completely different 2 days in is a mystery.  So many of my long-term virtual friends have had IVF success recently, I really hope I can join them.

PUPO is a term used for me right now.  Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise.  Some prefer PASP.  Pregnant And Staying Pregnant.  I think I like that most.  I’m being positive.  I AM pregnant.  This morning I woke up and reminded myself.  I looked at the FRER test I used after my trigger shot for the retrieval.  I looked at the lines and pretended they were new.  I tried being grateful for those lines because they are true.  I’m going to keep up that ritual until it’s time to actually test.  It’s something I read in the book “The Secret’.

Wish me luck.

Incidentally, my lash client today is 8 1/2 months pregnant with her third.  (Is it bad to add in a HFTH here?  Probably.)  She is nine years younger than me and her second is nearly 11 months old (yep, she got pregnant with a 3 month old baby).  She’s a very nice person and very happy to be a mom, but still.  Another reminder that this is just not fair.  She talked happily about how after this one, they will wait a couple of years before having another.  Then she wants two more.  It must be so nice to just be so certain that it’s easy.  Like how I would say “I won’t eat any junk food this week, but I’ll have a burger next week,” because I can just go and get a burger any time I like.  McDonalds isn’t going to not serve me, but serve other people.  McDonalds isn’t infertility.  Usually I would have used alcohol as my analogy, but I’ve had my last drink for the next 9 months!

Five in the house and six in the freezer.

I’ll start with the six.  If you’ve been following, you know that on day 3 we had 11 embryos from our IVF cycle. On day 5 nothing was ready! Of course I was terrified.  Google articles ranged from “it’s fine and perfectly normal”  to “you may as well give up now”. My clinic and the IVF clinic both went with “it’s fine and perfectly normal” So I tried really hard not to worry. I failed of course.  The next day I got the call to say that 6 had made it to be biopsied and frozen. Tomorrow I have a meeting at my clinic to tell me the biopsy results. I’ve done really well all week at not thinking about it but tonight I’m terrified! Tomorrow I could get the news that I will never have a child, or there could be yet another wait on the horizon. Anything from 0-6 of the embryos could be normal. Please be closer to 6 than 0.

Now for the five in the house. We got a dog. It’s something we have been talking about for a long time. It was actually a bigger decision than whether to have a child. Ironic, isn’t it? We woke up last Saturday and saw a 5 month old border collie / German shepherd cross who needed rehoming and decided he would be a good fit for us. Today I realised what a dumb idea that was. I left him inside alone for a few hours and he destroyed my fall pumpkin decoration. There was Styrofoam all over the front door mat, his bed, the back door mat… And dogs are not like cats! My cats would have been fully aware that they did wrong and would have suitably ashamed.  The dog (Tommy by the way, it’s the name he came with) had no idea. Dogs memories suck apparently. Anyway, we have training classes booked to start in a couple of weeks and I know it’ll get better. 

The cats aren’t impressed with our new addition. I bought a baby gate for the stairs so that they can get up but Tommy can’t. This required me to go into the baby section of Wal-Mart. I haven’t gone into a baby section in well over a year. I actively avoid the baby section. I usually detour around it, even when going through it is the quickest way to where I want to be. It makes me sad to look at all the things I may never need to buy. Things that are being bought for babies whose parents started trying for them well after I started trying for the baby I may never have. I was feeling hopeful.

I hope I can sleep tonight. Tomorrow is the day!

The Waiting Game

TTC (trying to conceive) is a waiting game.  First you wait until you are ready to have a baby.  That’s not always a bad wait.  I certainly enjoyed this time, that was exactly why I was waiting.  I had other things to do before having children.  I didn’t want to be one of those women who look back and say “I wish I had….. before I had children.”  Not me.  My friends were getting married and having children, I was travelling the world.  I was living on a tropical island.  I was scuba diving with turtles and sharks.  I was dancing on a beach until daylight (not every night, obviously).  I was making friends from all over the world.  I was living!

Then I was ready.  Then the hard waiting began.  My then-boyfriend (now husband) wasn’t read, so I waited.  We were both ready but we had just moved to Canada and I had no healthcare entitlement and no insurance, so I waited.  Then we finally started actually trying.  I remember the excitement of the first time I EVER had unprotected sex!  Even though I knew it was too early in the cycle to be ‘the time’, it was still a huge thing.  Back then I didn’t know about charting, or any of the fertility signs.  Back then I just waited and had sex quite often.  I waited a whole 5 weeks before testing and saw my second ever BFN (I had a delayed period a few years before and tested just to be sure).  I waited another week for my period to arrive.  A couple of months later I learned how to chart my cycles.  That stepped up the waiting as I waited for my fertile period, then waited for my temperature to rise to confirm ovulation, then the dreaded TWW (two week wait) for my period or maybe, just maybe, that elusive BFP.  It never came.  Then I waited for doctors appointments, for procedures, for test results, for the referral to the Fertility Clinic, for more test results, for IUIs and more failed cycles.  It seemed never-ending.  Finally for IVF.

I waited a whole extra month to start my IVF cycle.  It may not seem like a lot but it feels like forever in the moment.  The first part of the cycle when relatively quickly.  Injections, blood tests but I escaped with only a couple of tiny bruises on my abdomen and one large one on my arm.

Retrieval day felt like an eternity.  We had to travel and stay over night so we stayed with my perfect, pregnant sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  I didn’t want them to know we were there – I wanted to get a hotel.  My husband thought that was a waste of money.   He’s not wrong, but I would have preferred them not to know.  They’re both so supportive but that doesn’t help me.  The feelings of failure and inadequacy are just magnified around them.  I also had that (probably ridiculous) fantasy of at least partially surprising them with our pregnancy announcement.  If we fail, I was hoping to do it quietly so that at least I don’t have to deal with the pity.  Pride and pity are just not compatible and I would really like to hang on to the former.  It sometimes feels like that’s all I have (and I don’t always have that).

We had a horrible journey there.  It’s about 3 1/2 hours drive.  When my husband is stressed, he disappears into himself and there is nothing I can do to help.  He hates giving his ‘sample’.  I get that.  It can’t be pleasant.  Probably embarrassing.  But COME ON!  I just spend the last 12 days repeatedly sticking needles into my belly, having blood taken and probes put up my lady-parts.  My ovaries were swollen, I was extremely uncomfortable and I was really scared about the procedure I was about to have.  Up until then I had made a point of not complaining.  I like a good complain – I think that’s an English thing, but I didn’t say one bad thing about the whole stims section.  I only showed him my arm bruise at the very end and I hid my stomach for almost the whole two weeks.  Anyway, his stress lead him to say I forced him into this and I ended up crying for a large chunk of the drive.  I really needed some support.  (Thank you to my online sisters who were there for me).

Fast-forward to the retrieval.  We get to the clinic and had to wait in the waiting room.  It was less than half an hour, but time drags.  Then we were taken to the little room with a comfy reclining chair for me and a plastic chair for him.  We waited some more.  He left to give his sample and came back a changed person!  Stress was all gone and support was there.  I had an IV attached and some Tylenol (paracetamol) tablets, and a little anti-stress table which melted under my tongue.  More waiting.

Finally they wheeled me into the retrieval room.  I was given Fentanol and I don’t remember what else.  The retrieval was painful.  Not unbearable, but I was glad to have my husband’s hand to hold.  We went back to the little room and I slept for a while in the comfy chair.  They told us they had got 15 eggs!

I had to wait until the next day to find out how many of those 15 were mature and how many had fertilised.  12 were mature, 11 of those fertilised!  That’s great numbers!

Two more days brings us to this morning.  Day 3.  I expected that we would lose some of the embryos.  It’s normal.  I prepared myself.  My phone wasn’t further than 2 metres from me the whole morning.  Finally the phone call came.

We still have 11!!!!!

I asked for grades.  If you don’t know, embryos are given a grade, similar to in school.  I was told they don’t see grade A’s at this stage so B is the best, C is average.  I have 8 B’s and 3 C’s!  I cried.  I wanted to run into the street and tell everyone.  I didn’t (of course).  But I did tell all those who were waiting to hear.  My husband, the fertility clinic, my online friends, one of my new friends from the infertility support group I go to.

So now I am waiting again.  For Sunday afternoon.  To hear how many make it to day 5, to be tested and frozen and hopefully come back and become my baby.  I’ve heard of people loosing all by day 5, but I’m choosing to believe they didn’t have 8 super-embryos and 3 good embryos (I’m also choosing to believe the super-embryos part!)

Right now I have 11 children.  I doubt many would agree with that statement, but I’m not asking for validation.  In the situation I am in, with the lot I am dealt, I am lucky.

I am lucky.

And I am grateful.

Luck is Relative

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend.  There are so many Facebook posts from people saying what they are thankful for.

Top of my list are my cats.  I’m aware this does nothing to reduce my Crazy Cat Lady status, but I’m into embracing the truth at this point.  They have kept me company when I have been lonely, they have loved me unconditionally, they have never bitten or scratched in anger (seriously, neither of them!), They put up with my ‘love’ without (too many) complaints, they keep me warm when it’s cold, they make me laugh – especially Milo, with his complete lack of any real ‘cat’ skills.  He’s sitting purring on my lap right now.  Earlier he hunted a toilet roll.  He didn’t win.  Next time, I want to be Milo.  He’s so happy.  Dumb as shit, but the happiest animal I’ve ever met.

My IVF injections are well under way now.  Two in the morning, one in the evening.  The nurse asked me how they were going and I remember saying “Ok.  A bit sore but luckily I don’t bruise easily so I look normal.”  I thought about this.  ‘Luckily’.  In the IVF community I guess that’s lucky.  I could be stabbing myself with 3 needles a day AND be covered in bruises from it.  I know some of my friends are.

I remember a time in the not so distant past when ‘lucky’ would have been not being infertile at all.  “We were lucky, we got pregnant the first / second month of trying.”  Except we didn’t.  ‘Lucky’ became those people who got pregnant within the first year.  Then it became those who got pregnant with IUIs, or just medications.  Now I’m lucky the needles aren’t leaving bruises.  If our first IVF cycle is successful, that will be lucky.  I have online friends who were lucky like that.  I have others who weren’t.

Now in the grand scheme of things, I am lucky to both be born in, and live in countries where I am able to eat 3 meals a day.  Where I can have a roof over my head every night.  Where I (mostly) have access to healthcare.  Where I have clothes to wear.  Where (especially as a female) I had access to education…  There are so many things to be thankful for.

I just want one more.

Official Failure

It’s official!  I have failed to get pregnant naturally, or even create a pregnancy within my own body.

I started IVF injections yesterday.

After a horrific 10 days of Estrace priming which made me more depressed than I can even describe, no period.  I mean, there was spotting, but not a lot.  Estrace tablets taken as suppositories (shoved up your lady-parts) gives the extremely attractive ‘Smurf Effect’  AKA, blue cervical fluid.  Combined with a little brownish spotting and you get a rather snot-like green.  This did not help me feel better.

Obviously I tested.  I don’t often bother with testing anymore, but this time I did.  Five times.  I’ve never tested more than twice in a cycle before!  I’m good at taking hints.  I’d like to call it hope, but I think desperation would be more accurate.  Obviously I kept all the tests, to [re-examine] stare at until I start to see imaginary lines.  We call that ‘line eyes’.  There’s no point throwing them out.  You only fish them out later to check again – in case you missed something.

Anyone who has experienced bad depression will know how I felt on Estrace.  I’ve had my own battles with depression in the past, and I deal with it by myself, but this was nasty!  I mean, I’ve been that bad before, and worse, but I’d still do everything I can to avoid it again.  It’s like there’s a lead weight in my chest.  I am angry and sad all at once.  Everything bad is a million times worse and I just want to cry and never stop.  I’m so glad that part is over!

The injections are not pleasant, but I’d take them over Estrace.  Menopaur is in the mornings.  The needle isn’t too bad but injecting the medication hurts.  I imagine there will be bruising because the sites are still pretty sore.  Puregon is in the evening.  That comes in a pen and doesn’t really hurt.

IVF is terrifying because it’s a last resort.

Nothing else has worked.  Nothing came close to working.  This is it.

If this fails then I am out of options.

What if there are no good eggs?  What if the embryo doesn’t stick?  What if it does?

I need to work on being positive.  Thinking positively.  Visualising my end goal and it will happen.

Unless it doesn’t.

Adoption isn’t currently an option for my husband.  I don’t know if it’s something I would do, but I can’t do it without my husband’s support anyway.  So this is our last chance.

We have a scan and blood work on Sunday so I will spend the rest of this week practising positive thinking.  Or at least, trying to.

The Worth of a Life

Disclaimer: I am applying the ‘Mother of None” philosophy to my blog:  This is my blog and I will write what I want.  If you enjoy it then great!  I’m happy to share my feelings with you.  If you don’t like what I write then that is your prerogative and you are fully entitled to your opinions, but I don’t care to hear them.  I am not at all interested in negative feedback.  Don’t like it?  Don’t read it.  Simple.

Now to the post…

Everyone is going to die.  It’s one of the two certainties in life, the other being taxes according to the comedians out there.  When someone dies, it’s sad.  No-one is going to dispute that.  It seems to be universally accepted that the younger a person was, the more sad it is.  We morn what could have been as well as what was, and the more there could still have been for a person, the more sad it seems to be.

What I’ve been noticing recently is the ‘qualifying’ of a person’s life.  This is usually not done by anyone close to the deceased.  I’ll give an example.

A fifty-something woman was telling me about a local news story where a man in his 40s was killed in a tragic accident.  That’s sad.  But she felt the need to add, “And he had 4 kids!”  Now obviously that’s sad for the kids, but should it make me, a complete stranger, more sad?

Another story, another awful accident, a retelling punctuated with, “And his wife was 22 weeks pregnant!”  Again, I do not know these people.  Should I be more sad because his wife is pregnant?  What if they were infertile like me?  What if she were alone with her whole future ripped away from her and nothing to keep her going?  Should that be less sad?

I get that these qualifiers are meant to make me feel sympathy for the family left behind – and I do, truly.  I can’t imagine how awful it would be to lose a parent so young – or before ever meeting them, or one minute being happily married about to have your first child together, the next about to be a single mother!  But what if it’s just a spouse left behind alone?  Or a single person with only friends to morn them?

Even when its not a young person, a death, or rather the life of a deceased person, is so often given worth by the family they leave behind.  “S/he leaves behind 6 children, 12 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.”  You think, wow, good going.  Did you know, in certain tribal societies, the more children a woman has had, the more she is respected?

I guess the point of this post isn’t about death, it’s about life.  Consciously or otherwise, society places one very strong measure of the worth of a person’s life on how well that person reproduced.

Infertility sucks.