Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Clinically Depressed and Happy About It

Yes, it's true. I'm clinically depressed. I received the diagnosis this week. I should not be surprised; the failed IVF in December began a cycle of depression and sadness that kept spiraling. I'm so damned angry, sad, frustrated, lost.

At the same time, I am happy.

I am happy because somehow I found the will to go the doctor and get on medication. Not my first choice for a solution, but living life the way I have the past month is no way to live and certainly no way to be during future fertility treatments.

It's only been a few days, and I'm already feeling hopeful again. I feel like me again. And instead of the distorted thoughts I was having (i.e., "who do I think I am trying to have a baby; I'll be a horrible mom; I can't even take care of myself" and "I'm defective"), I'm thinking of all the things that my husband and I have to look forward to, not just with respect to the family that we will have but because of the life we have chosen together.

I know I'll be a parent. I just can't wait to hold him or her. Time isn't on my side, but love and hope are.

So no more depression for this chic; this is a marathon to the finish and I WILL NOT be defeated.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And...Um...God? Tell Me Again, Why Can't I Have Kids?

Because you let this guy have kids, and well, that just does not make sense to me.

At all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fun Things to Do After Your IVF Cycle Bites the Dust

I promised you in my initial blog post that I would post a list of fun things to do after a failed IVF cycle. The wait has come to an end. If you should find yourself on the shitty end of the IVF statistical curve, here are some things to do after your IVF cycle bites the dust:

1. We've already covered it. Read about it here.

2. Stop working. Alternatively, pretend like you are working when you are not. Eke out as little productivity as possible - enough to keep you employed but little enough to make you the worst employee of the year.

3. Stop bathing. Even though this will likely offend your husband, thus foreclosing the possibility of sex, which supposedly gets one pregnant, it's strangely comforting. Howard Hughes may have had something there.

4. Start a blog. I'm likin' it.

5. Read this book. It has nothing to do with IVF, ART, or babies.

6. Listen to PJ Harvey. Preferably listen to the songs in which she's REALLY pissed.

7. Watch trashy television A LOT. Like this. Note: This particular piece of advice will only help if you have followed instruction No. 3, above.

8. Eat fast food every night for two weeks, gaining an untold amount of weight, further lowering your odds of a future successful IVF.

9. Take up smoking again, further lowering your odds of a future successful IVF. (Yes I know. It's bad and causes cancer. But I just failed my IVF cycle. So I really don't care at the present moment. I'm currently in a very self-destructive mode and I will not allow anyone to take that away from me damn it. And I do not seriously recommend this particular piece of advice to anyone.)

10. Frantically attempt to locate underwear among the myriad of clothing strewn randomly throughout house for a quick load of laundry after your first bath in a week.

11. Take an unusual interest in politics. Now, the amount of interest required is relative. So, for example, if you are like me, and are a political junkie, this necessitates watching Meet the Press on a constant loop on the television, and then switching to C-Span for a little variety.

12. Wear pajamas exclusively. Change only when husband threatens to throw you out.

13. Drink margaritas with reckless abandon (Hey, I heard somewhere that this can get you pregnant, why didn't I try this before?).

14. Take a short vacation (again, I have heard that this may result in an unplanned pregnancy). This is where I went - Christmas present from hubby. I highly recommend it. Nothing like a little Clinton love to make you forget you just failed your IVF and spent $12,000 for kicks.

15. Watch ESPN. They have a nightly summary of the day's sporting activities, with this really exciting Rocky-type music and some old guy shouts "HE....MIGHT...JUST...GO ...ALL...THE...WAY" a lot. I don't understand a word of it, but like not bathing, I found it strangely comforting.

16. Read this comic strip. Every day. It will make you laugh. And laugh.

17. Watch this. It will make you laugh too.

18. Momentarily consider taking up knitting and then dismiss the idea.

19. Purposely leave your plastic bag filled with used pregnancy tests from your IVF cycle on the floor in your bathroom so you have to step over it every time you have to go pee. For no reason.

20. Start over at No. 1.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My "Perfect" IVF Cycle

Thank you for the supportive comments regarding my niece. I really appreciate it and I am doing much better now. Life just throws curve balls at you and you have to hop along, however slowly, to catch them. I really love my niece and am going to try and help her as much as I can with her disability.


Today I am wondering where my husband and I go from here. We just had our first failed IVF. Let me tell you a little about that cycle. It was "picture perfect" according to my RE. In fact, my RE actually told me that I responded "like a 22 year-old egg donor." At retrieval, I had 25 eggs retrieved, 19 of which fertilized, and had two 5-day blasts transferred. They were early blasts, however, so there was not yet an inner cell mass. That was fine by the embryologist and RE.

After retrieval though, I became worried after learning that I had nothing to freeze despite being a reputed hyper stimulator and the number of good embryos still dividing three days after transfer. The embryologist assured me that each embryo/blast is its own unique genetic entity - and that you can't say "oh I had a bad batch of eggs" or "this is indicative of bad egg quality." He said most people at our clinic (60 percent) have nothing to freeze. Not that it made me feel any better. Because there was and is (especially since the IVF did not work) this little voice inside my head telling me that my eggs are incapable of going past the early blast stage.

Everything was perfect during our IVF cycle. Both my RE and therapist (who specializes in infertility counseling) said they were "shocked" it did not work. Great. But it did not. So where does that leave us?

I do not have any reason to think that I have "bad" eggs, whatever that means. My FSH is low, I had beautiful embryos three days after retrieval and, again, 19 fertilized. But I am 36, so my eggs are older than the 22 year-old egg donor I was being ridiculously compared to. But still, WTF? 25 eggs and nothing? This is a reminder that the doctors and embryologists, however fancy their facilities and whatever their success rates, do not have it completely under control. The unknown factor will always be the unknown factor. And, as an uber-controlling person who loves the formula "Do X and Y To Get Z," this is what most distresses me about IVF and ART in general. No, that formula is Do X and Y To Possibly Get Z or ZZ, or zero.

My RE went out on a limb and said that it will happen with IVF. He says that we just have to catch the right embryo. Sounds like going fishing to me. And fishing is pretty hard based on my own limited experiences. I remember sitting there for hours with my dad doing nothing and not figuring out how to even throw the damn line.

My RE also advised that he won't change anything for the next cycle because I did "so well," which simply astounds me. And just so you know, I'm going to one of the top clinics in the country. The doctors there have fabulous success rates. It is just so hard to wrap my head around; we have 19 eggs fertilize and it does not work, while my friend has a crappy IVF cycle (she is a poor responder) and has four eggs retrieved, one of which fertilizes and is now a beautiful baby boy. (I'm very, very, very happy for her of course, I'm just saying - nothing adds up to make any sense at all).

The painful lesson is this: it is definitely quality over quantity. And even with quality, it might not work.

Our next IVF is tentatively scheduled for April 2008.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

For My Niece, Who Shall Not Live in Darkness

I must interrupt my self-centered postings to write about something that has shaken my world.

My niece, my beautiful, 3-month old niece, may never see.

We knew something was wrong. Her eyes were wandering, she wasn't focusing, and her worried parents (my brother and sister-in-law) took her to the local doctor. Local doctor diagnosed two possible problems, but was not certain. We still had hope that it was nothing serious.

Then, yesterday, my niece was seen by one of the top pediatric opthamologists in the country (in another city). He diagnosed my precious niece with this congenital disease. Optic Nerve Hypoplasia. The doctor's tests determined that she cannot see right now, but it is too early too tell what will happen. But he did say she will probably never drive a car and will most certainly have impaired vision or be legally blind.

She will need a lot of treatment, not just to learn how to live without vision or seriously impaired vision, but also because this disease is often associated with other problems such as (1) abnormal brain function; (2) impaired motor skills; (3) impaired speech; (4) seizures; and (5) hypopituitarism, which affects growth and metabolism, and could create problems with development of sex hormones, and low blood sugar.

This is just some of what I have learned about optic nerve hypoplasia in the short time since I learned of my niece's diagnosis, which has been mere hours.

Needless to say, our family is devastated. I want to hold my niece and kiss her and tell her it is OK. I feel like (and am) a complete asshole. When my sister-in-law told me she was pregnant, I was so angry and yes, jealous. She was due when I would have been due if I had not had the ectopic pregnancy, and it was hard to even be around her when she was pregnant. I was angry and judged my brother and sister-in-law because they do not have a lot of money, already have a child, and have a tumultuous and rocky relationship. I was judgmental of them and bitter about the loss of my pregnancy and thought it was so unfair that they were having a baby when they could barely afford it. I was angry that it was so easy for them to conceive, while my husband and I are having such a hard time getting pregnant.

After my niece was born, I fell in love with her at once. At the same time, I physically ached because I knew I should be holding my own newborn infant. But somehow my bitterness over my pregnancy loss evaporated just a little while holding her. She is beautiful and perfect.

After learning of her diagnosis, I am devastated for my niece and my brother and sister-in-law. I also feel horribly guilty about the feelings I had when my sister-in-law was pregnant. They are suffering so much right now and I was actually bitter because they were pregnant. They have no idea at all how I was feeling (I hid it well), but after what has happened, I just feel empty and heartless. And I feel guilty for feeling guilty about my bitterness only after I learned of my niece's diagnosis.

Most of all, I just can't stop crying for my niece. I know she will never read this, but I want to write her a note.

Darling Niece,
I am your Aunt Angie. I love you so very much. You are so special to me. We haven't been able to spend too much time together, but we will. Some will say that your disability makes you less of a person. Oh, that is not true. It will make you a stronger person. And I am here to help you. I am going to read everything I can about this disease and make sure you have the best specialists and teachers and training possible. You have so many people around you who love you, and that love will take you further than you can imagine. And dear niece, although you may never be able to see, you will not live in darkness. Because your parents and I and your uncle and your grandmother and everyone who loves you will ensure that you get the best care and learn everything there is to know about the world. We will be your eyes and we will help you see. You will not live in the darkness.
Aunt Angie
Why did this have to happen?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Song I Want to Sing to My Child No. 1

I am a music fiend.

I have filled up my entire 10,000-song capacity IPod and have not even begun to make a dent in our voluminous CD collection (this could be why my husband, M, and I are perpetually in debt and broke). I sing all the time (terribly) and hope my future child will love music as much as I do (but sing better).

I adore every type of music - from Mozart to Metallica (well, I only like a few Metallica songs, but yeah, I get them). If forced into a drunken game of "what 10 musicians' cd's will you take with you to a desert island," one that I've played a few times, I guess I would have to name as my 10 favorite artists* of all time not in order of preference as follows: 1) Otis Redding; 2) The Velvet Underground; 3) The Rolling Stones; 4) The Beatles (a choice which necessarily encompasses all of John Lennon's solo work); 5) The Pixies; 6) Simon and Garfunkel (oh my god, I love them); 7) Iggy Pop and the Stooges or any solo Iggy Pop; 8) David Bowie; 9) Sinead O'Connor; 10) Hank Williams; 11) Ray Charles; and 12) The Kinks. U2 and REM may be smuggled in.

Music is such an important part of my life (only in my capacity as a would-be connoisseur) that I often think of songs I want to sing to my child when he/she comes along. To that end, I have made a partial list of songs in my head already despite not being anywhere near having a child. (Plans for child when child is not imminent - that is another topic). One song that is definitely on this list is below. It poignantly captures a mother's unselfish love. It is so touching to hear - no one sings quite like Chrissie Hynde. Anyway, here is the song:


Kid what changed your mood
You've gone all sad so I feel sad too
I think I know some things we never outgrow
You think it's wrong
I can tell you do
How can I explain
When you don't want me to
Kid my only kid
You look so small you've gone so quiet
I know you know what I'm about
I won't deny it
But you forgive though you don't understand
You've turned your head
You've dropped my hand
All my sorrow, all my blues
All my sorrow
Shut the light, go away
Full of grace you cover your face
Kid gracious kid
Your eyes are blue but you won't cry
I know angry tears are too dear
You won't let them go
-- The Pretenders
Beautiful, isn't it? I can't wait to sing it to him or her.
* Since the act of choosing my 10 favorite artists to the exclusion of all others would an inherently unfair and cruel game, I unilaterally changed the rules of this game so that I get an extra one or two in there. First, I certainly cannot leave out Ray. And the Kinks - well they are just brilliant and underrated. Second, the Beatles and Rolling Stones should not count as actual choices, since they arguably transcend a comparison with other artists (oh my gosh, just realized I forgot Bob Dylan - I may have to revise this list in the future!).

Saturday, January 5, 2008

It Was One Year Ago Today...

that I got a call from my RE's office. I remember the nurse's exact words. "Angela, you're pregnant." Words I had longed to hear, but couldn't actually believe. I cried while on the phone with her. My beta was 46 at 13 DPIUI, which the doctor was happy with, but of course, I was told the doubling time was the important thing (the beta doubled quite nicely a few days later).

On the phone with the nurse, I was given a long list of things I could not do and drugs I could not take. I had never actually enjoyed being restricted so much before. I felt joyous and happy. My husband, M, cried too, and kept looking at me like I was this new woman. He kept rubbing my tummy. I was carrying our child and we were going to have a baby. Due September 16, 2007.

Well, I guess you know where this story goes. September 16 came, but there is no baby. There was only a fetus (was it even a fetus?) for a few weeks, and that fetus grew in the wrong place. So I had to take a cancer drug and terminate the pregnancy. I've never been so devastated in my entire life. I have no funny, or ironic or witty thing to say about it - as I often to do blunt the pain. It was fucking awful, truly awful, and I feel fucking cheated. And I have never felt more alone, or more saddened than I did on the day I found out that I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.

I have had a long time to get over the pregnancy, the diagnosis of it being ectopic, and the loss. But I'll never forget that one year ago today, that happy, anything-can-happen day, I was going to be a mom. One year later, after four more IUIs and one failed IVF, I'm no closer to that then I was when I took the methotrexate shot.

I know 2007 is over, but I'm still reeling from my ectopic pregnancy and the fact that I don't have a three month old infant in my arms. I'm reeling from my failed IVF in December (a very appropriate end for THE YEAR THAT SUCKED ASS).

I am trying so hard to move forward. It's just that the physics of progression are not working in my favor at the moment. So instead, I'll go backwards...just for a moment..to that one day a year ago today, when it was all amazing.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Fertility '08!

Warning: Extreme Political Content to Follow. Can you handle it?

After watching the Iowa Caucus results last night and being told by the ever-so-wise pundits that the next president of the United State will be the president who best represents "CHANGE,"* I began thinking about this very nebulous concept. Change. Hmmm. Can't remember when things weren't the status quo. Can't remember when things didn't totally suck since George W. became president. The idea of a real, meaningful change in government (like Obama becoming president) is too much for me to hope for. In fact, it's almost too painful to even attempt to visualize. Kind of like hoping for Fertility, you know?

Come to think of it, my battle with Infertility began during the presidency of George W. (I have no doubt that this has something to do with the Patriot Act and the government clandestinely trying to prevent two die-hard liberals from conceiving).

But secretly, just as I hope that Obama, this amazing, inspiring, and phenomenal man, might...just might...win, I also harbor the secret hope that maybe...just maybe Fertility can also be the victor in 2008. Because if CHANGE is indeed what it's all about, Fertility's got a chance people!!!

There should be an election in which voters vote for Fertility in '08. Now, such a campaign would not be easily won. It would need money of course - for future IVFs - not to mention media coverage to educate the vast majority of idiots who are totally clueless about what it's like to be infertile. Still, the Fertility '08 campaign would be honorable. It would under no circumstances pay for any negative ads against Infertility. That could prevent the election from going its way. Help us infertiles out folks. Vote for Fertility in 2008! (Can't you hear the crowds chanting Fer-til-ity! Fer-til-ity!)

If Fertility should win, I would expect a victory speech something along these lines:

Fellow Americans, today is truly a momentous event. Infertility is gone, thanks to you. Fertility is Here. People like Angela are now pregnant with their first child after wandering the barren infertile land for so long. No more RE visits. No more IVFs. No more pain. No more suffering. No more baby showers that make you feel like shit. No more hearing about how little Suzy is just sooooo cute and does everything sooooo perfectly. No more periods with tears. No more shots. No more planned sex. No more peeing on sticks. No more avoiding Target because of all the babies there. No more feeling defective. No, you are all now governed by Fertility! Fellow Americans, only because of your hard work, dedication, and voices for change has the reign of Infertility been abolished forever. The future is here. Fertility abounds. And from here on out, remember, it's not what you can do for Fertility, it's what Fertility can do for you...er...I mean, it's not what Fertility can do for you, it's what YOU can do for Fertility...well, you get the idea. [Insert big Howard Dean yell here - aaaagh!!!]

Hope for the Future. Vote Fertility in 08'!

* If this is actually true across the country and not just in Iowa, I am going to so very drunk on election night, (unless of course, I'm pregnant - yeah right) and sing "Ding dong the witch is dead" over and over. If this is not true, I am just going to get so very drunk.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Uterus of the Damned

I have often considered blogging about my infertility experience (humbly attempting to follow in the footsteps of my blog idols, Cecily and Akeeyu) but each time I did, I thought, "once I start an infertility blog I'll get pregnant right away and that would just be ridiculous - to start a blog about something that wouldn't last very long." In other words, I knew I was having trouble getting pregnant, but I never really, in my heart, believed I'd get to THIS POINT. Never thought I'd really have enough to talk about in an infertility blog. Oh, but how the joke is on me! (I can hear the proverbial TV laugh track as I'm writing this). Well, what do you know? Here I am. In full glory, after two years of trying to make a baby, one ectopic pregnancy, five failed IUIs and one failed IVF. Denial is no longer an option. I get the prize! I can start an "infertility" blog! I've made the cut! Ribbons and balloons please! No? That's ok, I'll settle for the period I got on Christmas morning (after my first IVF).

Forgive the fertility humor. I'm just full of it these days.

Just so the record is clear - I know I will become a parent - the hows and whens of that most anticipated event are anyone's guess. But the journey to date has been unbelievable. Unbelievable, as in "Holy fuck, I can't believe this shit is happening to me." Unbelievable, as in "My brother and sister are as fertile as weeds; what the hell is wrong with me?" And Unbelievable, as in, "I'm bitter, I'm scared, and I'm so very sad."

I'll post more about me and my husband later, but in the interests of full disclosure, I thought it would be most appropriate to explain the title of this blog. It was essentially stolen from this 1960 sci-fi movie masterpiece. Although I'd seen the movie before (my husband, M, and I are movie buffs and met at a cult/art/indie video store), I rented it recently only days after my truly wonderful RE called to advise that the two lovely blastocysts implanted in me only a week prior had failed to stick around. C'est la vie.

Not only did I love the movie, but I found it strangely comforting in my failed-IVF-grief-funk. In fact, I am going to make watching it number one on my list in progress of "Fun things to do after your IVF cycle bites the dust!" So without giving too much away, the movie really is fantastic viewing for failed IVF'ers. It is as if all that hate and revenge you want to inflict on everyone else for having no infertility problems, who tell you to relax and have a margarita, who do not even try to understand your pain and grief, manifests itself in this movie, albeit in an offbeat manner. So what happens in the move is - all women of pregnant-bearing age strangely fall asleep for a few hours in a small village - then they wake up and soon find out they are pregnant. My favorite scene is when the beautiful young wife of the main character goes to the store to get pickles and the sales woman winks and says "I think there is going to be some news!" And then said beautiful wife goes home with her pickles in tow and gushes to her scientist husband that they are going to have a baby! He is of course overjoyed and asks if beautiful wife needs to sit down. Well ha! Beautiful wife and scientist husband soon learn that their baby is a demon-alien-biological freak who can control people with his mind and cause the destruction of the earth. He is one of several children in the village born on the same day who are the same - blond, scary, demonic, and sinister...their demon eyes even light up when they are causing mischief. It's really very fun to watch - and after a failed IVF- the prospect of demon children taking over the village instead of happy, pretty babies, was really very cool I must say. (So I'm bitter, do you have a problem with that?)

In sum, I highly recommend the movie. It's great. As is its sequel which is a bit more serious and political. But the title of the movie and the subject matter was just too good to pass up for my new blog.

While I'll of course settle for demon children at this point, I am as of now without child and current owner of the Uterus of the Damned.

Oh, and I meant to say, it is very nice to meet you; my name is Angela.