The Eternal Guest Room

Infertility kinda sucks.

the beginning

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I’ve been waiting to post until I took a picture of my meds, but I just can’t seem to get myself to do that so I’ll go ahead and write something in the meantime.

It’s kind of weird right now. Everything is very surreal.

I’m ready to be done with the birth control pills. Ever since I started taking them I’ve been more emotional and much more irritated. Last week I snapped at my supervisor and nearly lost my temper completely with her – which would have been very bad. They give me mood swings and I’ve had a few complete breakdowns, some of which were very embarrassing. And I learned the hard way that the pills and alcohol are a bad combination, at least during my first week of taking them; so much for enjoying some wine at a wedding. And the side effects are getting worse instead of better as I take them longer. I’m worried about how the rest of the meds are going to affect me – I’ve taken one of them without much problem, but it was a lot less. It’s only the beginning of the hormones and so far it is not going well; I’m scared of the next 2 months. Right now I feel like a crazy person.

I’m actually sort of having a hard time as IVF gets closer. Well, now that it’s here. I was excited and looking forward to it for so long but now that it’s here, I don’t want it to be. I’m not sure why. Maybe because for months I thought (or hoped) we wouldn’t really need it. Maybe it has something to do with spending time around children that came with no problems. Maybe it’s all the shots in my fridge and needles on my kitchen counter. Maybe it’s just too real.

I wish I was happy and excited and hopeful, but I just feel like skipping the whole thing and giving up entirely. It’s so dumb. And maybe it’s a defense mechanism. I don’t know.

But I feel crappy about the whole thing. I feel like a whiny child: I don’t want to do it, why can’t I be like everybody else? I annoy myself completely.

I have needles in my purse. Every time I see them my stomach turns over. I mean to take them out but I always forget when I’m at home. Now that it’s here, I’m terrified of the shots. There are so many.

I know it’ll be fine. Millions of women have done this and survived. I remind myself that the shots are temporary; lots of people have to take shots their entire lives just to stay alive. I can suck it up for 2 months.

I’m hoping that these feelings don’t last; I’m hoping that I start to get excited and hopeful and do all that positive thinking business. Right now though, it just isn’t happening.

I think I’ll blame the pills for that too. That’s fair, right?

it is on

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You know what sucks? Not being allowed to pee.

You know what really sucks? Finally being allowed to pee, but only enough to fill a tiny cup, and then having to stop and hold the rest.

And you know what else really sucks? Having one person push down on your full bladder while a doctor pokes around inside your uterus.

This was my day.

After following the instructions to drink exactly 32 ounces of water exactly one hour before our mock transfer appointment was scheduled, we were called from the waiting room 15 minutes late. Then the nurse said “Okay, we’re going to do your medication training first.” And after seeing a look of panic in my face, she allowed me to pee – a tiny bit.

Then we did our medication training. She showed us how to do 2 ¬†kinds of the shots (we’ve already done the other 2 kinds), including the biggest needles I’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing. After asking me “are you going to pass out on me?” she gave us a handful of slightly smaller needles, and I felt immensely relieved that I’ve lost 9 pounds and qualified to be small enough to get the “Small” needles. 1.5 inches instead of 2.

Yay.

After a crapload of instructions, we got to go back to the sonogram room. I laid down and the sono lady put blue gel on my stomach and pushed a little and immediately said “Wow – you need to go fill another cup” and so I got to go pee a tiny bit more into another tiny cup, then return to the room with a still uncomfortably-full bladder.

It was weirdly kind of fun to finally get the kind of sonogram with the blue gel and the outside sonogram thingy (you know, the kind that pregnant ladies actually get to enjoy)  Рinstead of the big freaking wand that goes up inside. But in its place was the lovely speculum and catheter combo, so that was kind of short-lived.

So the doctor measured my uterus while the sono lady moved the thingy around, and together they made me super uncomoforbale for several minutes while I stared at the ceiling and tried not to A. Pee on the doctor and B. Clench every muscle in my body and C. Stop breathing.

And, as these things do, it all eventually ended. I guess everything was fine. Measured and planned, or whatever they do. It was a quick process, after all the full-bladder pee-holding.

When we left the room I started to wander down the hallway and D said “don’t you need to go to the bathroom?” and I said “oh yeah” and got to pee for the 3rd time. I’d gotten so used to my uncomfortable state that I’d forgotten what it felt like to not have to pee in a serious way.

Then we checked out and found out that insurance hasn’t paid for a December 2010 visit. Commence eye rolling. Luckily the financial lady at our office actually seems to like me and finally believes me when I say that insurance should cover stuff (these things took a long time to work out) so she didn’t make us pay more than our co-pays. And we got new pricing sheets and found out that the pricing we got back in January is still valid. Yay! I was worried that the price shot up in the last 10 months.

On the way home we filled my prescription for birth control pills. I start tonight because my cycle already started – four days early.

Because that’s how I roll – surprises at every turn.

IVF is on.

getting ready

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Time is really flying by. IVF is almost here.

I talked to the first pharmacy I’m ordering drugs from today. We’re using two different pharmacies because one has better prices on gon.al f & the trigger shot, and the other has better prices on the rest. In the end we’re saving a whopping $45. It’s easy to say “why bother, it’s just $45 out of at least $2000,” but in the end, forty-five dollars is forty-five dollars. I always heave a dejected sigh when they ask “do you have insurance or are you paying out of pocket?” I’m going to call the other pharmacy tomorrow to get the rest ordered (I’ve been waiting for the credit card statement to roll over).

So step #1 will taken care of: Order meds.

Step #2 is next Monday: Mock transfer and medication training. The mock transfer is basically poking around in my uterus to measure it and decide where to place the embryos. It doesn’t sound too bad on the surface, but here’s the fun part: I have to drink 32 ounces of fluid one hour before the appointment and don’t get to go to the bathroom until AFTER the mock transfer. So they stick a catheter up there and poke around while you have a full bladder.

Oh lord, I hope I’m not the one to pee on the doctor…

Medication training is just what it sounds like: Learning about the medications. We had to schedule it for a time when D could come, since he’ll be the one administering all the shots. After all was said and done, we ended up rescheduling the appointment 3 different times. Hopefully it’s set now.

When I go in for that, I get my prescription for birth control pills.

Yes, it’s true. The protocol I’m doing (which is the most common) starts with a couple of weeks of birth control pills. This way they can shut everything down before starting it all up again. After a few weeks of those, we start the shots.

I’ll get into more of those specifics in a later post. For now I just wanted to let everyone know where we are, because people keep asking, because I apparently am super vague and uninformative when I post here.

I think at this point, I’m just really shocked that we’re here. Even after 4 1/2 years, it doesn’t feel like we could ever really be at this point. But here we are, counting down the days, really doing it. It’s so much different than IUIs – those feel like a lifetime ago. The whole thing is very surreal.

scared

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The reality that I will be doing IVF hit me like a ton of bricks tonight.

It’s been so easy over the years to say “I’m going to do IVF” but to actually realize it’s about to happen is another thing entirely.

I feel pathetic, overwhelming self-pity. Why do I have to go through this? Why can’t I be like everyone else? They all have it so easy – why do I have to spend a fortune and take daily shots and get invasive doctor visits on a near-daily basis, when they get it all for free? All for nothing?

It’s easy to say “Yay I’m excited! IVF! We finally have a chance!”

But it’s another to face it.

I’m scared.

Lately everyone else’s IVF cycles seem to be failing.

Why would I be any different?

What if it’s all for nothing?

The future is so cloudy. I have no idea what it holds.

Right now, I’m just scared.

visiting the newest

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I spent last weekend in Seattle visiting my little sister and her new baby. I didn’t drop or break him, so I consider the visit a success. In seriousness though, the time was mostly fine. I even enjoyed it for the most part. I originally figured I’d go pretty soon after he was born, but my sister wanted me to wait awhile so I wouldn’t be there in the midst of insanity (and 8 million other family members) and so we could have some time together (we’re close but don’t see each other a lot because of the distance). So he was a month old when I got there, and it turned out to be a good plan because we did get some sister time in. My sister has been incredibly patient and understanding throughout everything, and it made all the difference in the world.

I held him a lot. I found it to be a lot like holding my cats – a small, warm, soft little thing that makes funny noises when they sleep. Comforting, for whatever reason. I enjoy my sisters’ children when other people aren’t around – which is hard to explain, but there’s something about having other people oohing and ahhing and making a fuss that just stabs me in the heart. I can’t explain it. At one point some of her friends came over and were gushing and going on an on and I just had to get out of the house.

Spending one evening at the grandparents’ house also did not go well for me (not my parents, the other side). Something about being around the grandparents is the worst; all those feelings come rushing back that I’ve worked so hard at getting under control – those feelings of inferiority and defectiveness and isolation. It should be me producing grandchildren and bringing my kids to see their grandparents, and I’m still just the barren aunt with nothing to do but watch everyone else enjoying the expanding family. It hurts.

One morning, my sister was sleeping and her husband went out to walk the dog. He asked me to bring the baby to my sister if he started going crazy, and I said sure. After awhile he started making noises, and being the paranoid and clueless infertile that I am, I had no idea if that was a bad thing or ok (although I was pretty sure it didn’t fall into the “going crazy” category). So I went in to the nursery and picked him up and held him and suddenly I had tears down my face. And I thought “I want this so badly.” And my heart hurt. And I cried.

I have built up defenses and even shut down my heart to some extent, because I have to get on with my life. But I know it’s still down there.

At the end of the weekend I was sad to say good-bye. I know that the next time I see him, it will be surrounded by family, and it will be hard. I’m glad I had that time, with just the 2 of us, and with just my sister. It was a good visit and I’m glad I went. Sometimes the hardest things in life turn out to be the best things you can do, and this was one of them.

something crazy

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About 2 years ago, when I was seeing a therapist, she urged me to attend a support group. I was very hesitant and put it off for a few months. I’m not good with strangers. I don’t like meeting new people. I’m painfully shy. I don’t like groups. The idea of walking into a restaurant, meeting a bunch of new people, and having to talk to them was my idea of pure torture. But she kept urging me, and I finally decided I would go.

I remember the first meeting vividly. I was terrified of walking into that restaurant. And then when I met everyone and the meeting got started and I learned that we had to go around the table and tell our “stories,” I wanted to run out and never come back.

But getting up and leaving in front of everyone would have been even more terrifying. Plus, I had already ordered dinner.

So I stayed. And it was ok. I was extremely nervous talking in front of everyone, but I got through it. And I came back.

I’ve been going to the group for over a year and a half. After the first few months, the leader decided to step down. Another girl started to lead, and after a few months, she got pregnant and adopted a baby, and she left. Then someone else took over, and eventually got pregnant, and had to leave (the rule for the group is that you can stay through your first trimester because it’s such an uncertain time, and then you have to leave and graduate to the “success” group).

The group has grown from 5 active members to about 30. But this time, no one wanted to lead. Honestly, I thought about not going any more. It was so hard to continually watch people to come to the group, start to get to know them, and then have them get pregnant and move on without me. Especially when we weren’t pursuing any sort of treatment for such a long time. Toward the end, the only reason I went was to see the people who I had become friends with.

But I didn’t want the group to die. It’s been too much a part of my life and has made such a huge difference. And I’ve made friends, and I would miss them.

So I volunteered.

Anyone who knows me in “real life” knows that I am not a leader of any kind. Like I said above: I am painfully shy. Groups terrify me. Talking in front of a group is the thing in the world I hate and dread most.

Plus, I can barely get through a regular day as it is – my life is stressful and very, very busy. I can barely keep up with myself, and so I struggle – how can I keep up with 30 people?

So I was hesitant to lead the group, to say the least.

But here I am. I’ve been the official leader since the beginning of the month, and I’m starting to get the hang of keeping up with everyone and commenting on our group’s secret Facebook page on a regular basis. But tonight is the first time I host the actual support group – you know, get up in front of a bunch of people (some, strangers) and talk. Loudly enough for everyone to hear and long enough to say what needs to be said.

I figure this will either be a disaster, or maybe I’ll gain some sort of confidence in the end.

Either way, this is what I signed up for. Me – leading a group. Can you imagine? I still can’t.

Life is so unpredicatble.

getting closer

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Our IVF consult went well. We love our doctor. I’m pretty sure we held up the entire waiting room while he patiently answered all of our questions and went over all the dates so I could write them on my calendar, but, as D said, “oh well; it’s our time.”

We’re all up to date on all of our tests, so the next step is: Start IVF.

I set up an appointment for a mock transfer and medication teaching session, and planned to start the process around October 1.

Then I came home and looked closer at the calendar and realized that starting then would mean doing shots while shooting a wedding, and worse, put egg retrieval dangerously close to my cousin’s wedding in Austin at the end of the month.

So…we wait…one more month.

It’s ok though. We specifically decided to start in October in case something came up that pushed it back another month, so as long as nothing goes wrong, we’ll still be on schedule. Hopefully nothing else comes up. Hope hope hope.

I’ve decided to update throughout the entire process. I know that’ll make it harder on some levels, being so open, but my hope is that it will give people a greater understanding of what IVF actually is and entails. I know that a lot of people read this blog who know it all, but there are also a lot of people I know in real-life that don’t have the first clue. So I’m hoping this is educational.

And of course I’m hoping that it makes me feel a little less alone throughout the process.

Polyp Status

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It’s taken me awhile to update due to too much work and flying to Boston so forgive me for the lateness.

I won’t leave you in suspense:

My uterus is polyp free.

Happy dance.

I was so worked up before the doctor came in; I just knew I had another one.

But he said “I have the best news ever.”

I cried from sheer relief on my drive home.

Next Friday = the IVF consultation we planned to do in February.

More details to follow. Probably when I’m back in the land of drought and insects in a few days.

For now, happy happy happy.

set in motion

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I finally got to schedule my appointments. The office was closed yesterday so I called at 7:31 this morning.The receptionist said “you already had one, do you need another one?” and then “it’s not written in your chart.” Apparently she didn’t see the “three-month follow-up cavity check” that the nurses keep seeing whenever they pull up my chart. I know it’s in there.

Sigh. If we didn’t love our doctor so much, the rest of the clinic would definitely drive us away. It’s pretty amazing. And not in a good way.

This Friday I go in for an office hysteroscopy to see if the polyp has come back. I am hoping, hoping, hoping that it has not. If I have to have a third surgery I might just lose it. Keep your fingers crossed for a polyp-free uterus.

Assuming no polyps have invaded, our pre-IVF appointment is the following Friday. That’s when we learn when we start, what all the days are, etc. It’ll be hard to wait for the appointments; I expect time to stand still this week.

Please please please no more delays. No more surgeries. I need this to be over.

thoughts from a crappy aunt

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My little sister is having a baby tomorrow.

She’s scheduled for a c-section in the morning. As much as I knew this day was coming, it still hit me harder than I expected. She’s 5 years younger than me, has been married for 4 years, and still doesn’t seem like she should be old enough for either. Well, it’s probably more accurate to say that I don’t feel like I’m old enough for her to be at either of those points.

Tomorrow I will become a third-time aunt (for those that don’t know, I’m the oldest of 4). Each time stings, but each one also gets a little easier as the passage of time numbs my heart a little more.

I feel like a horrible person. I feel no joy in these children entering my world, and I hate to admit that; writing it for the world to see makes me feel like a monster. But it’s true. After they are born, when I meet them, I love them, of course, but when they first make their arrival I can’t see past my own ridiculous grief. My mom says “I understand that this is hard for you and it hurts, but I know you’re happy for your sisters.” I don’t have the heart to tell her that I am not.

I wish them every happiness, every joy – but I can’t say I feel happy for them.

I know that time will lessen this pain, and that someday, it probably won’t really matter. But every new baby that enters the family makes me feel less a part of it. Everyone else is full of joy, so excited and happy, sharing each others’ elation – and I’m alone, grieving, and hating myself for feeling the way I do.

When I was in college, a friend died on my 20th birthday. The pain was so raw, so intense, that I couldn’t ever see another moment without it being in my future. As I sobbed, a good friend hugged me and whispered, “this too shall pass.” And it did. Not the sadness or the feeling of loss, because 12 years later I still think of him and remember the pain, but the sharp, heart-wrenching grief has subsided, and I remember his life more than his death now.

I know that this, too, shall pass. I know that this time in my life will not last forever. I know that I will love and adore each of my nieces and nephews (and I know that I will have a lot). I can look ahead and see that things will not always be the way they are. For this I am thankful. And it’s probably the only reason my selfish grief hasn’t swallowed me up yet.

For now I am saying “it isn’t fair” and “what about me.” I use these births to mark the passage of time for us. I know it’s wrong, but that’s the thing about feelings – they don’t really care if they’re appropriate or not.