Archive for March, 2011

The Proverbial Towel

Oof. Another blow. The first ultrasound in this IVF round showed a fat follicle, which meant increasing my suppression meds. The second one showed the follicle was gone, giving the all-clear for moving forward. Today’s ultrasound, following four days of twice-daily stimulation shots (which hurt and leave nasty bruises), showed four or five small follicles starting. A good thing. But then my blood test came back showing my estradiol (estrogen level) at 50 when it should be around 100. I’m all for a little two-steps-forward, one-step-back dance. But this… Every time I go to the clinic now I feel like the kid who has to go to the locker room every day after gym class even though he knows his ass is gonna get towel whipped.

So we’re upping the stimulation dosage. Hello hormones.

Look, keeping track of these things on this blog is cathartic and all, but I have to come clean about something… I give up.

My body is clearly fighting us on this. First the estradiol is 314 when it should be below 80, and now it’s swung the other way—even when it’s being directed by specialists with strong meds! We’ve already spent the insane amount of money for the IVF (we dropped $1800 this morning alone for the next three days’ dosages). So, I’ll ride it out because I’m not strong enough not to.

Anybody got an ark?

But I don’t have any good feeling about it. I know people would say I could chalk that up to the hormones, but I say no. Introduce me to one person who started with my numbers and went through the same ups and downs I’m facing now who came out of it with a healthy baby and money left over for diapers. Really. I don’t mean send me articles about lesbians who got pregnant after one try. And I don’t mean point me to others who are currently going through their own IVF struggles. I mean tell me about the woman you personally know who has gotten this done from the same place I’m starting. I know plenty of people who took some time getting pregnant. I even know people who used IVF. But I don’t know anyone whose 35-year-old body does the opposite of what it should be doing naturally AND the opposite of what it should be doing when controlled medically. AND gets the baby.

I’m sorry for the aggro rant. I just feel so fucking hopeless about this. I have a wonderful mother who checks in often and is very supportive. I have the best and most beautiful and loving wife in the world. But I don’t have anyone I can talk to, or even point to, that has succeeded where I feel like I am failing with every alternating ultrasound and blood test.

It’s been raining for 3000 days and hasn’t gone above 50 degrees. It doesn’t get brighter than a light charcoal during the day. I’m tired of my jeans being wet all day after walking the dog for ten minutes. I need wringing out. Where I’m from originally, it’s 90 degrees, with no lack of sunshine. I can’t go there because I have another ultrasound on Friday. Someone please give me a hormone shot that will knock me out until this is over or until the sun’s out and it’s 70 degrees.

Is This Thing On?

Yesterday we got the go-ahead. Last week’s ultrasound showed a large follicle that this week’s ultrasound showed flattened like a heavily suppressed pancake.

K injected me nightly for the four days preceding, while I continued taking the birth control pills. My breasts grew so large that I can now imagine what they will look like when I’m pregnant/breastfeeding. Man, that’s some extra weight! There were some emotional times, but my guess is these were merely appetizers to what we’re going to see this coming week.

Me in my one-woman show "IVF: You Won't Like Me When I'm Angry"

I realized yesterday that I have been an uber control freak lately. I’ve been hyper about how the house looks and, worst of all, how and when K helps me make things just like I want them. I’ve been on her like Capt. Lewis on Pvt. Benjamin. As we talked about it, it hit me… I’m so out of control over my body and this fucking process that I’m trying desperately to control whatever I can (or can’t and shouldn’t). Even though this makes total sense, the awareness came with a shock.

Saturday begins our morning shot of follistim and evening shot of menipur routine, with the occasional ultrasound to monitor the development of the many eggs. I got a little bruised from the suppression shots, so we’ll see if my belly looks like a blueberry muffin by the time this part is through. My biggest worry (okay, not my biggest — I think we all know what that is) is that I am a huge asshole to K with all the crazy hormones making me crazy(ier?). She says she’s ready for what I throw at her, but I felt so awful on the chlomid last month that I wonder if this next batch of injections will finally turn me into the big, green, muscled monster I feel like sometimes.

Ready, Set, No!

Just when you thought you’d heard the last from me for a while, I come back with more proof of how my terrible world view is actually quite realistic if you look at my life’s track record.

We went in this morning for my suppression check to make sure that the birth control pills have been doing their job these past couple of weeks. Surprise! There was a big fat follicle screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!” totally unaware that she was so not invited to the party. I don’t get it. I have such strong estrogen that my ovaries want to produce in spite of birth control, but when I’ve needed them to work in the past, they’re all like, “Oh, sorry. You snooze, you lose. We were all spent in your early 20s. Too bad you had to be a big ol’ lezzie and couldn’t sleep with one single guy in your teens!” My ovaries star in the new Mean Girls.

What this means for me is possible cancellation of the IVF for this cycle. But because my estradiol test came back with a decent number, we’re going to try keeping me on the birth control another week and adding in another suppression drug (this would be a prequel injection I had no idea to fear). If the follicle magically shrinks? or disappears?, we’ll move ahead. You know where I’m going with this.

I spoke to my sister today, and I asked her why she thought I can’t take the hint. Do I need an anvil to fall on my head? She said that I’m very “thick skulled” (which I suppose would preclude said anvil from working anyway), and that knowing what I want and being so determined aren’t always the happiest personality traits to deal with. I also asked her why, since today’s our dad’s birthday, dad couldn’t lend a spirit hand. She finally got me to laugh when she said that he couldn’t hear my crying over the Spanish music he can now listen to whenever he wants and at whatever volume he wants. I should definitely know better than to ask for miracles during a fiesta.

Body Shots

I’m not talking about regrettable Facebook photos. Nor am I speaking of the illustrious sucking of alcohol from another person’s body (why did I have to learn about this one from a boy in high school?!). When I refer to shots of any kind, ever again, it’ll be in reference to the Follistim, Menopur, Ganirelix Acetate, HCG, and Progesterone-in-Oil. It’ll be in reference to my stomach and my hips, which after the next few weeks (months if it works) will be pin cushions.

K and I had the pleasure of learning how to poke me (again, not Facebook related) today. The first shot we were shown was kind of fun; we got to assemble the syringe pen, set the dosage dial, draw out the drug, redo it to get rid of the bubble, and then stab it into a disc of boob-like foam (or rubber?). But after the next one, which was more complex, I began to feel a little overwhelmed. And then there was another. The last one we were shown how to do was the progesterone, which goes into the hip muscle instead of my belly flub. “Be sure not to hit the sciatic nerve!” was warning #1, followed by “You’ll need to draw up on the syringe a little each time to see if you’ve hit a blood vessel.” It was early in the morning of the first spring-forward weekday. I was tired, cranky, and now queasy.

I take my last birth control pill tomorrow night (yes, birth control pills are used to get infertile women pregnant—go figure), and then I get to have a period of sorts. We will shoot me up daily with all these shots for weeks. I’ll be going in to check on how things are progressing down there (ultrasounds and blood tests) every few days. I had to sign my life away by acknowledging all the bad things that can happen, including hyperstimulation of the ovaries, which is not a good thing. So, I’m glad I’ll be face-to-facing a doctor regularly, and they can tell me if I’m being hyperstimulated or just hyper.

In addition to the shot lessons, we got treated to some fine heterosexist paperwork. K pointed out to the needle nurse that now might be a good time to update their paperwork to reflect and not totally alienate their clientele. Something as simple as taking the word “male” out of the phrase “male partner’s signature” is what we were thinking. She told us she completely agreed with us, but proceeded to give us the excuses: well, we have to keep it this way for legal reasons; it’s because the male partner’s sperm is used so that’s why he signs everything too; it’s your eggs (pointing to me) and will be your baby so that’s why we just need your signature; and, finally, my favorite, things happen, and you two might split up (as if straight couples never split up). We explained that her first vague excuse (even though she totally agrees with us) is invalid because we’re registered domestic partners, which, in Oregon, means we have the same rights and responsibilities as married straight people. Her second excuse was bogus because the paperwork said zero about sperm, and, as K pointed out to her, we (as a couple) own E2’s sperm anyway. We explained to the nurse (who I would generally say doesn’t need to know everything about Oregon law, but if you’re gonna only make eye contact with me and then tell me and my wife whose baby we’re having, then know what the eff you’re talking about or shut the eff up) that we will both be legal parents in Oregon—printed right on the birth certificate at the hospital. By the last excuse (the typical gays don’t stay together condescension that no one ever gives to straight couples), K’s eyes were in lock down and her frozen smile in hungry tiger mode. I did what I do best in tense situations and made a funny. I turned to K and said, “Honey, why do you always gotta be cheating on me when I’m having your baby?”

Of course, while all of this uncomfortableness played out, the only thought in my woozy head was, “Seriously?! An enema!” Because all those shots and the “orange” size ovaries and the nausea and pain and uncertainty isn’t enough…I have to do a fuckin’ enema 12 hours before the surgery (i.e., egg retrieval)—you know, to help avoid bowel perforation. ‘Cause that‘s now something I need to worry about!

I wonder why I have to keep reminding myself that no one is making me do this and that I’m purposefully taking it all on (yes, including the risk of ovarian cancer). Why would I feel the urge to scream when I also remind myself of the many many thousands of dollars we’re purposefully paying? I’m saying this now…I will not be doing this twice. If I don’t get pregnant, it’s K’s turn; if I get pregnant and miscarry, find me a pretty padded cell.

(Disclaimer: No men were harmed in the making of this blog.)

The Family

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