Happy 2010!

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year my fellow IFers! I hope it’s a really, really good one for you.

I haven’t posted for a while because, well, because why bother? Things were crappy. Things go slowly when you’re not happy. But then one morning over Christmas holidays I woke up next to the husband and realized that I Am Happy. Really, truly happy. I turned my head on the pillow and looked over at him, peacefully sleeping, and I felt totally content in every cell of my body.

When I was actually pregnant, I read a bit about fetal development. Prior to this, I had been a bit of an existentialist and an atheist. I still am but I feel myself moving from a cynical place to someplace more hopeful. Human existence, in my opinion, is a complete random incident. (And here come my politics, folks! Brace yourselves!) Did you know that all of fetal development depends on the fetus itself? It divides its own cells; it creates the placenta; it is like a parasite. Your body is just the host. Sure, an important one, but it basically confirms for me 1: the randomness of our existence; and 2: the fact that someday when humans have wiped themselves out, there will be more life on the planet, developing the same way life has always developed since primordial times. And so I find myself more hopeful… not that I will actually have a baby someday, but somehow comforted by the thought that life itself will continue to evolve despite my own personal predicaments.

This doesn’t change the fact that I believe life has no meaning except the one that each of us ascribe to it. There is the base human level, where each one of us tries to overcome biological imperative and deal with our own genetic wants and needs; and the philosophical level where we decide for ourselves what life means, what our life means, and how we want to express our beliefs to the world. Some people may find my whole viewpoint extremely cynical, but to me it does not feel cynical at all. It is purely scientific. It’s fact. And I find that choosing to accept that fact is remarkably freeing. Will I have a baby? Who knows? What will I do with my life if I don’t? Not sure yet, but believe me, it will have meaning to me, to the people around me who impact my existence and hopefully make some small impact on the beliefs and tenets I hold dear. It’s freeing, though, to think that you could do anything and it is okay.

If there is one resolution I’d like to make this year, it’s that I enjoy the moment. That I breathe it in, savour it and exhale slowly. That I act with consideration. This is completely against my nature of course! But I’m going to try.

What are your resolutions? If you don’t have any, I think that’s great too!

It’s all over, baby

December 15, 2009

No surprises with the hCG last night: down to 19. All I can say, at least it’s decisive. There is pretty much nothing worse than sitting at home, cramping up a storm, waiting to start bleeding… all just two weeks before Christmas. On the other hand, the hCG could be holding steady, which would be a terrible thing. I like action; any decision made and action taken makes me feel like I’m moving forward. Ditched the hormones last night and I can’t think of anything more decisively condemning for the fetus than that. (Yeah, it’s sad but necessary.)

I’ve had tremendous support through all this and I am so, so grateful. Although… here’s a statement from my neurotic friend E- that is always crabbing about something (I have never met anyone who complains so much): “…at least it’s not as painful as labour.” Can you imagine?!  I swear, some people cannot extract themselves out of their view of their surroundings, events or friends. Everything has to relate back to them. Oh, poor her! She’s gone through something worse, so I can feel better about  myself. Well, I told her that after labour, she got a healthy baby and I’m not actually getting anything. Contrast that to another friend that has two sons and also had a miscarriage. Her advice was totally practical: Tylenol 3, granny pads, a good bottle of wine and cuddling with the husband. And, she calls or emails every day to check in. I never knew she was so sweet.

I’m actually laughing at myself at the moment. I’ve got these humongous granny pads — they actually add an inch to you bum when you’re sitting down! I don’t think I’ve seen or used pads like these since I first got my period more than 25 years ago. At least the packaging these days is smarter.

Anyway, this is a short post. I have to call my OB’s office now to see what the next step is. I still don’t have full u/s results and it’s driving me crazy. But I’m trying to chill….

Hope you all are doing well. I’m going to go ’round and check on you all, on your blogs, later today.

A haiku

December 14, 2009

the world continues apace

we stand frozen

dreams slip away

A Yo-Yo Life

December 11, 2009

Wow, I am on the string of a yo-yo. Results from yesterday’s hCG indicated it had dropped more than half. It’s looking like a spontaneous abortion or miscarriage, what have you. We are quite devastated. But I’m instructed to stay on the hormones and my next hCG will be taken Monday.There is less than a 10 percent chance that it could have cleaved with one twin dying and the other one growing.

I also had a “baseline” ultrasound today. The tech asked whether I was sure I had been pregnant! I guess they couldn’t see much at all. The one finding my doctor told me about was calcification in my uterus. He doesn’t think it looks problematic either now or for the future. He also said there’s something else but wanted to wait to discuss it with me next week. I can’t even begin to imagine what that ‘something else’ is or I’ll drive myself crazy.

Apologies for the short post. It’s all I can do to just stick with the facts.

Hope everyone else is doing much better than I am. Good luck to you all.

Oh, by the way, as a last note today, my doctor also told me that a significant number of his patients — and he said it’s not merely anecdotal in his practice — have had IVF in their 30s and 40s and then late in their 40s have gotten pregnant naturally! So it does happen, although I’m sure all of us would prefer to be younger moms than older moms. God, what twists and turns in life there are.

Today I am freaking out. I woke up feeling completely… normal. As in, not pregnant.

Two days ago I had faint needle-like cramps all day (similar to what I get pre-period) and today my breasts are definitely not hurting as they have been for weeks now. This has happened to me in the past, after IVF cycles, where I wake up one day and just know with absolute certainty that the embryo did not stick. I hope this is not the same thing. I am not allowing myself to think that I am no longer pregnant. I cannot think that, but I am worried. I decided to do another hCG test to know for sure. I cannot handle this anxiety. Unfortunately, that decision made me even more anxious as I ended up having to cancel an important meeting, which is now postponed until the new year and I cannot tell you how bad that timing is. I will now be without direction with my project for three weeks and I am the type of A personality that has trouble handling that. But, I just had to have this test done. I need an answer!

Scouring all the websites I could find and re-reading the What to Expect book, I am not really sure what I should be feeling after all. The book says that you can feel some of the symptoms some of the time (i.e. not consistently) and that they can change depending on where you are with your pregnancy. The OB’s nurse told me a few days ago that as long as there’s no bleeding I’m okay. On the other hand, I am taking crap loads of progesterone so that will actually prevent any bleeding from occurring in the first place. At least that’s how it worked with regular IVF. Sometimes I feel like my breast tenderness wanes… then I take estrogen again and off it goes. So I have no idea what to make of all this and am impatiently waiting for the results.

I’m sure that I’m sounding like a completely neurotic idiot right now but I can’t help it. I have never been neurotic in my life. Detail-oriented, yes. Extremely sensitive to my body, naturally. Especially after all that IVF… you get to know yourself quite intimately, don’t you? I hope I don’t feel like this the whole pregnancy. (I hope I have a 40-week pregnancy.)

Hooray! The little blast has kept dividing and our second beta hCG was up to 160. Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m still a little nervous because my sister-in-law had a miscarriage between this phase and her first ultrasound at 6 weeks. I realize that can happen to anyone. Although I’m trying to put faith into the fact that this embryo comes from a 24-year-old woman so it’s not all gnarly, aged, grey, faded and worn. I can’t help those adjectives; I’ve become used to personifying my eggs. It offers some comic relief for me to imagine them as cartoonish characters. My current embryo definitely has long, lustrous locks, sparkling eyes, healthy, glowing skin, no stretch marks… you get my drift.

However, my OB search is actually adding stress to my life. The one OB with whom I have an appointment at 12 weeks refused to see me earlier. The IVF clinic instructed me to find one, as they have graduated me from their care. And, well, I don’t have a lot of confidence in my family doctor. I am sure I could get a 6-week ultrasound and my doctor could read the results and call me with them. That is not the issue. My issue is that I am supposed to stop taking Aspirin, Estrace and Crinone (progesterone) gel at 8 weeks. In the past, I’ve been told that I would take them for 12 weeks and generally that is the protocol at the clinics up here. But my clinic has this new protocol and they are quite confident with it. I mean, they are the same people that were confident in placing just one blast at transfer time instead of two, and it worked so I should be okay with those instructions. However, I still want my hormone levels checked (there are instances where women don’t produce enough of their own hormones after going off meds and lose their babies) and I want to be followed by someone whose job it is to know about these things, instead of going to an independent lab that never sends the results same-day, then waiting until my family doctor’s secretaries find time to give her the results, then waiting to see if she even knows what to do with them or how to interpret them. Too much stress.

So now I’m continuing the hunt for another OB because the attitude of the previous one just sucks. She told me to call the IVF clinic to ask why I should stop the drugs. Duh! I know why I need to stop the drugs. Does she?!? I need follow-up! I mean, how can she let a donor IVF patient hang out to dry? It’s unconscionable, in my opinion.

You know what? I’m probably going to be one of those protective, crazed “older moms”… you know the stereotype. The one where women are just so bloody happy to have a baby they lose all perspective. But part of me now knows what it means to be a mom. Just like you have to take your own medical care into your hands — be an educated patient (without being an annoying one) — you have to advocate for care for your fetus because if you don’t demand it, who will?

Despite the fact that I might not actually need an OB after tomorrow, I decided that I’d go on the hunt for one. It’s a blood sport in this town. They are all so overbooked. One that I called (came highly recommended by a friend and has a 4.7 rating on RateMD) is taking patients with a delivery date starting in August. I can just barely slip into her schedule. So I booked her. I mean, I don’t get to see her until 3 months anyway and if I have to postpone, then at least I’m sort of in the door.

One of my friends thinks I am making a mistake. Well, not a mistake per se, but she thinks I should book with a different doctor (he got a 5.0 rating and my sister went to him but his receptionist is a b****!) because his hospital has a tunnel to a kids’ hospital next door so if anything should happen, it could be a lifesaver. This does make sense to me but I feel badly about the first doctor, who seems like she’d be really nice. No final decision yet but clearly I don’t have time to languish.

The advice I received from every single female friend I have who has kids is, call several doctors even before you get a positive result. Literally on day of ovulation or retrieval or transfer and give them the approximate date (lie if you have to, they said!) because otherwise you may be really truly stuck.Talk about more stress.

I learned another neat trick: make sure your referring doctor indicates you’re high risk. That way you’ll get priority treatment and the OB’s staff will actually return your calls. They’ll also fit you in whenever necessary, unlike a regular low-risk pregnancy. What surprised me is that my donor clinic does not consider me — or most “regular” patients — as high risk.

While I was on the RateMD site, I looked up my fertility doctor from the second clinic I went to — and wasted three years with. She and her partner are some of the lowest rated fertility docs in this town. Comments consistently say that patients are made to feel like numbers, lack of confidentiality, and not listening to the patient or explaining consequences of treatment or drugs. More seriously, someone else had a similar experience as I did where the doctor prescribed meds “just in case” even though tests showed no underlying condition existed.

So there you go, ladies! One more thing to think about and sort out while you’re in the very busy throes of IVF.

Ugh. Every time you have a glimmer of hope in the IF world, something comes back to bite you. Found out that my hCG levels from Monday were 40. The clinic says this is good but they usually want to see around 50. If my hCG doesn’t double by tomorrow morning I’m SOL. Tomorrow cannot come fast enough. Maybe if I sleep through the whole day it’ll be here before I know it. On the other hand, I’ll probably have nightmares.

I looked up hCG counts:


from conception from LMP (mIU/ML or IU/L)
7 days 3 weeks 0 to 5
14 days 28 days 3 to 426
21 days 35 days 18 to 7,340
28 days 42 days 1080 to 56,500
35 – 42 days 49 – 56 days 7,650 to 229,000
43 – 64 days 57 – 78 days 25,700 to 288,000
57 – 78 days 79 – 100 days 13,300 to 253,000
17 – 24 weeks 2nd trimester 4060 to 65,400
25 wks to term 3rd trimester 3640 to 117,000

According to this researcher:

Levels double on the average, every 30.9 hours until values reach 6500 mIU/ml (6,500 IU/L) at approximately the eighth week after the last menstrual period (LMP). After that the rate of rise becomes individualized, peaking between the 60th and 70th day (9 to 10 weeks) LMP. HCG decreases slightly between the 12th and 16th week post LMP, and then remains constant until birth.

Levels for normal pregnancy fall within the following wide ranges. You will note a discrepancy between the ranges of normal in the two tables below. The actual level can vary widely, and is not as significant as the amount and rate of rise, particularly before 10 weeks.

I suppose I’m within range… but what a range. I remember a friend telling me she was in the 100’s with her first two tests.

I want to tear my hair out but then I’d just look like a crazy woman and not be pregnant. I feel so disappointed, so sad and so worried. My uterus has been feeling kind of heavy, if you know what I mean. Like the feeling you have before you get your period… it’s waiting to disgorge. I mentioned it to the husband and he got scared but then he thought that, well, early pregnancy often feels like you’re getting your period. So I don’t know.

Last night we saw a great little house in a fabulous school district. We had decided to put an offer on it late last night but this morning, with this news… maybe it’s tempting fate? You should’ve seen the frenzy around this house. First day on the market and couples (with babies) were circling like vultures. And it’s not even that large… we’d outgrow it soon enough. But the renovation was very well executed and nothing needed to be done to it. Which is unusual in our city. The normal thing is a do-it-yourself reno (i.e. cheap and ugly) and a price raised beyond affordability.

What to do?

So happy we could cry

December 1, 2009

I don’t even know how to begin this post because I am having a hard time being happy when I feel the pain of so many of you. So it’s with a bittersweet sentiment that I post that we got a positive result yesterday. (Although how positive, we don’t know because the darn lab hadn’t done the beta hCG! What is up with these people!??) I am cautiously optimistic as we have yet to check that the hCG is doubling at the rate it should. We’ll know more at the end of the week when I do more bloodwork.

The odd thing was that due to the fact that I chose not to use a local fertility clinic (bad mistake; if I do this again, I’ll sign up with one instead of relying on my family doctor whose office is definitely not set up to handle the demands of an IVF cycle), I had to use independent labs. I used the husband’s hospital lab so the results went to his office first. I was “robbed” of getting to tell him the news; instead, he called me. It was quite strange as I’d always imagined I’d be the one telling him.

Frankly, I was stunned. I sat down in my comfy leather chair and literally just stared ahead not seeing anything. I was excited but felt keenly that I did not know how to handle the  news as I’d only ever heard bad news in the past. It was surreal.

I was moved beyond tears when the husband came home, hugged me tightly and rocked me with his sobs. It was the culmination of six and a half years of trying unsuccessfully — IUI, IVF, surrogate and now DE — to have what he most wants. It was relief and disbelief and happiness and fear that it might yet all go wrong. The feeling of, can we really be happy?

I will keep you all posted and am sending out positive vibes to each and every one of you. On the flip side, if anyone is considering DE, do think about it some more. It really could be your path to mommyhood.

The Waiting Game

November 30, 2009

In an IVF cycle it’s hard to know which day is the worst day. Is it the first time you stick yourself with a needle? Is it towards the end of the drug regimen when you can’t find a virgin spot for the daily shot? Is it retrieval day when the nurse can’t find a vein because you’re so damn cold and the drugs don’t help you stop feeling the piercing of that huge needle on your ovaries? Or post-retrieval when the drugs finally wear off and you’re dealing with the aftermath? Perhaps it’s the day you go for your pregnancy test and the countdown ’til 3pm when you’ll get The Call?

Today is the dreaded pregnancy test day. I went in this morning and am trying — rather unsuccessfully — to ignore the fact that I’ll be getting a phone call later this afternoon. I think if I had an office job, I’d be more successful in “busy work” but as I’m a creative type, I’m finding myself somewhat blocked. Looking around my desk, I’m trying to see what else I can do. Well, it’s month-end, so I can do some accounting-type stuff, but that doesn’t take all day. Maybe I’ll shop for Christmas decorations; get the place feeling like a holiday is coming. Maybe I should just pick up a book that I’ll get swallowed up in. Argh! I hate the waiting game. I’ll let you all know whether I’ll be opening a bottle of wine tonight or not. In the meantime, I’d love to get feedback on the question of what is the worst day in the cycle?