Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The eggs they are a cookin'

The egg farm is busy! I have done 3 full days of stims so far, and one additional day of menopur (I do the Gonal F and Lupron in the evenings). I had my first follie check this morning. My little ovaries sure have been busy!

Dr M measured about 11 follicles on one side and about 9 on the other. Some of them were still pretty small, at 4 mm or so, but the largest one was at 9.5, and the closest smaller ones were at 8, 7.5 and 7 etc. Dr M. was a little concerned that the one that was at 9.5 COULD show a tendency of gaining dominance, but he said a lot would depend on the blood results. 

CCRM called back and said my blood work looked fine, E2 was at 162, and P4 was at 0.2. They want me to continue with the same dose - 75 iu Menopur, 150 iu Gonal F, 5 units Lupron, and Dexamethasone. 

I have to admit I was freaking out the whole time after the u/s visit till the phone call from CCRM. I was thinking I had spoken too soon when I said my body responds well to meds, and I was thinking "I knew it!! The low dose is what's messing everything up!" and I was imagining them calling and saying "OK, never mind, you have one dominant follicle and we are canceling your IVF!" 

I asked them if the one larger follicle was anything to worry about (even though it's really only 1.5 mm bigger than the next smaller one). The nurse said that in their perspective, it's not. She said everything looks good. 

DH says I am genetically tuned to worry. He thinks my brain NEEDS a reason to worry, and if there isn't anything to worry about, THAT becomes the reason. It's like a homing device in my brain - whirring around, looking for the worry objective! 

OK - I just wanted to update you guys on today's progress. I need to pack and do 1 million things before tomorrow, so I'd better get off my butt now. 

I will try and post an update once we reach Denver tomorrow night, but if I don't get to, and if I don't "talk" to you any more this year, here's wishing you a fantastic new year! May 2009 bring you and your family peace, joy, fulfilled dreams and much more! 

Hugs to you all - and thank you from the bottom of my heart for holding my hand and helping me keep my sanity (or what's left of it!) 

Mmmmwwwwaaaah to all of you!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The year in review

Dec 31, 2007 - We were in England, nearing the end of our WTF getaway after our m/c a few weeks before that. We spent New Years Eve with cousins at their home. It was a pretty quiet New Years Eve. We welcomed in 2008 with a strong hope of better things to come.

Jan 2008 - I continued to feel stressed at work. My job was client facing, and I needed to be projecting a smiling and happy face all the time, on phone and in person. I was finding that very hard to do, given that I didn’t have much to FEEL happy about. DH had quit his job a few months before that, and was working on launching a company. He was building the concept, and getting software development done. I needed to continue working to keep the money coming, and to continue my health insurance.

Feb 2008 - After a tough January, February didn’t seem to be getting better. The last straw was a discussion with my manager where she mentioned “Your team could have done better numbers in December”. I couldn’t believe that she was being so insensitive to what I had gone through in December. I had not even taken any time off after my D&C – I was back at work the very next working day! Had she mentioned my team’s numbers for January, I could have accepted that perhaps I was taking longer than usual to “get over it” and perhaps I should pull my act together and not let my work suffer. But to take things back to December was a bit too much for me. I also realized that if I was so stressed at work, I was not going to be in a positive frame of mind for my next IVF(s). And I was not getting any younger. I HAD to focus on my treatments and TTC more than anything else.

I spent the next few days thinking things through. We crunched our numbers to see if we could afford to live without a salary coming into the house. After several discussions between DH and me, and after several spreadsheets and number crunching sessions, our decision was made. I quit my job. We were scheduled to go to India for my brother’s wedding at the end of February, so I stayed on at my job till the end of February, training a couple of people to take over my role, transitioning out my clients and informing everyone that I was leaving (My manager wanted to tell the clients I was going on “leave for an indefinite period of time”, but I didn’t want to lie to anyone.)

March 2008 -  We were in India for my brother’s wedding. 2 nights before his wedding, we were all at a pub, drinking and dancing. I skidded on the floor, twisted my knee, and ended up with a stress fracture on my knee. I had to attend my only brother’s wedding in a full leg cast, on crutches! Further travel plans in India (to my hometown, to my in-laws’ place) were shelved. We tried to upgrade our economy return tickets to business class (because I couldn’t fold my leg to fit in an economy seat). Our cheap ass tickets could not be returned, upgraded, canceled or changed in anyway. So we ended up spending $6000 in new full priced business class tickets for both DH and me (the airline would not let me travel alone in business class!) And we had to get back because I had IVF#3 scheduled to start at the end of March.

We got back here, and asked my knee doctor if we could proceed with IVF. He allowed us to. We asked my RE if it was ok to go through IVF while I was still hopping around on crutches – and he said it was ok, as long as I was not on any medication.

So we proceeded with IVF # 3

April 2008 -  Chemical pregnancy. Low first beta, started falling at the second beta and was gone by the third. I was heart broken! But determined to get moving on. We scheduled IVF #4.

May 2008 -  I did acupuncture before starting stims for IVF#4.

June 2008 -  BFP!! We were overjoyed! Nicely doubling betas and everything seemed perfect. But even before the month was out, I had a strange feeling that something was not right. I requested for an early u/s, and they couldn’t find anything in my uterus. No yolk sac, no nothing. They repeated blood work and u/s a couple of times. No miracles happening in there.

July 2008 -  Plateaued HcG levels. I had numerous blood tests, while they waited for me to “miscarry on my own”. Finally on July 16, I had a D&C. HcG started rising after that! On July 18, I was given methotrexate to stop the growth of the embryo wherever it was – they weren’t able to find the embryo at all. The rest of the month was spent getting blood tests every second day, tracking my HcG down to 0. The process took 3 weeks!

August 2008 - WTF re-group with local RE, Dr. M. He suggested that we talk to CCRM (and I had been reading a lot about CCRM myself). We decided to go ahead, and had our phone consult with Dr. Schoolcraft the same month.

September 2008 -  Went to Denver for our one-day work up. Dr Schoolcraft felt my uterus was abnormally shaped and that before we proceeded with further treatment, he wanted to increase the room in my uterus.

October 2008 - Traveled back to Denver for my uterine surgery to fix my “sort of T shaped uterus”.

November 2008 -  Waiting

December 2008-  Post op visit to Denver. My uterus looks good. I started my shots for IVF #5. As of right now, we have 2 days to go before we leave for Denver on the 31st!

So it’s been an eventful year, to say the least. A lot has happened. We have survived the year, curtailing our lifestyle, living on a lower budget. We have survived on our savings. We have built stronger foundations in our marriage. Our “fair weather friends” have disappeared (though I’m sure if we invite all those people for a party even today, they’ll be here in 10 minutes!!). Our “true friends” have emerged and stuck with us. We have launched our company, in the midst of a shocking economic downturn, which we had not anticipated. We have not made any money yet, but are keeping our fingers crossed!

We have our fingers crossed for many things in our lives at this point. We hope our company does well. We hope our IVF works out and we get to bring home a baby in 2009.

I have a lot of hopes for 2009. I hope I’m not disappointed. I know that like me, there are many of you out there who are hoping for miracles and BFPs and babies in 2009. I hope and pray for all of us. I hope 2009 is our year! 

Friday, December 26, 2008

Let the games begin!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! 

I had my baseline u/s and blood work this morning. If there's anything that responds the way it's supposed to, (knock on wood), it's my body on meds. Suppression check looked good. No cysts on the ovaries, AF came when she was supposed to, nothing weird going on. 

CCRM just called and gave me the go ahead on starting stims tomorrow. So I start with 75 iu Menopur in the morning, 150 iu Gonal F in the evening, reduce Lupron to 5 iu, and continue on the dexamethasone. 

I asked my local RE here about the lower doses, and he thinks it's fair to start low and see how I respond, and increase the dose if need be. Also he said that my ovaries are showing a decent number of antral follicles, and according to him, things are looking better than they did at my last couple of IVFs with him. 

I have my first follie u/s and blood work on Tuesday, and we are scheduled to fly to Denver on Wednesday! Wow - we just have 4 full days before we leave!  

2008 is drawing to a close as well. Actually I can't wait for the year to be over - 2008 brought with it many many trials and tribulations, and I'm ready to move on to the next chapter, the next calendar of events. Last year, after our m/c, we thought that nothing could be worse, and that 2008 would definitely be a better year. We know better now. Things COULD be worse, and they were. 

I'm looking forward to 2009 to bring us the change in the direction of the wind that we all so desperately need. 


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Booty Call????

Anyone else hear about this? Booty Call service by Baby.center? 

So last night we were watching the local news. They kept giving these teasers saying "Coming up..... the latest high tech method couples are using to help them get pregnant!! Stay tuned!!" We kept watching, waiting for that piece to come on. Finally, it did.

I couldn't believe what they were saying! Baby.center has a new service called "Booty Call" where they send you SMS messages during your "ovulation window" to "remind you to have sex"!!! And the woman they had profiled was "Trying for our 4th child, I have a part time job, there's ballet lessons, soccer practice, day care and so many things to do, that I'm so short of time!!" 

4th child??? Lady, shut up and get off my TV set!!!!! I mean, seriously! If you guys want to do a piece on "high tech methods couples are using to help them get pregnant", do a real life piece! Do a piece that involves real high tech methods! Send your reporters to our blogs, you'll find all your material yourself!! 

This is the silly crap they dish out to people, and that's what the normal public believes! The baby.center rep was talking about this service "We send you a text message once at the beginning of your ovulation window, once three days after that, and once right at the end of your ovulation window. Your husband gets the exact same text message. This way, you are both aware of the best time in your cycle to make you pregnant. We know that people have busy lives and don't have time to track their calendars."

How I wish our reason for not getting pregnant was just pure simple "Lack of time to have sex!!" Oh, I'm so busy running from ballet lessons to soccer practice to PTA meetings for my 3 children!!! Yeah, right!!!!

OK - rant over! :-) And by the way - I don't mean to sound rude to anyone who has children and is trying for a second, third or even fourth child. I mean, if you're "trying" and having trouble, I totally get you, and I fully support you. But if your "trouble" is that you have no time, then I'm a little peeved!

On another note - I'm over being angry about having to wait for FET. Yes, it will be 6 weeks longer, but what are we to do. I don't want to pressure CCRM into doing the biopsy earlier, or anything like that. I know they're doing what is best for us, and I know we'll be ok in the end. Thanks all of you for your support yesterday. DH was so cute - he cooked dinner for me, cleared up after dinner, took me out today, and basically helped me calm down. So I'm ok now :-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lord, how much longer!!!

I was wanting to write a post about all the nesting instincts I was having recently. I was counting the days in my mind, thinking of all the "clearing up" and "sorting out" I had to do before we leave for Denver, because "When we come back, I'll be in my 2ww, and then I'll be pregnant, and won't be able to do a lot of the stuff I want to do". 

And get this, I even started knitting!!!! If you're someone who knows me, you'll know how UNLIKE me that is! Knitting! I have nothing against it, and have a lot of respect for people who can create beautiful things out of yarn and needles. My mom knits, and I love the stuff she makes for us. But somehow, it's never been something I would pick up on my own to do. Yet, this weekend, I had this huge urge to knit. I went and got yarn, and needles, got on the internet, learnt how to cast stitches, and began to knit. It's not a very ambitious project, it's just a scarf, but hey, for me, that's the most "nestive" I've been!! 

And then today, we got a call from the genetic counselor at CCRM. Apparently they have decided we are going to do a freeze all cycle. So essentially, POOF!! There goes my visions of coming back from Denver during my 2ww, and getting a BFP after that. I need to re-adjust my vision to - come back from Denver after ER, and go back in 6 weeks AGAIN!!!!!!!!!! 

Let me explain what they are planning to do. See, because DH has a balanced translocation, our embryos need to go through PGD. The process of PGD requires a biopsy - where they remove one or more cells from the embryo, and then a FISH analysis, which is the process by which they do the actual testing. 

So far, the local clinic (and most other clinics in the nation) do the biopsy on day 3, get the PGD results back by day 5 for a transfer on day 5 itself. 

Dr Schoolcraft and CCRM's embryologist / geneticists suggested that we try a slightly different approach. They said they would biopsy the embryos on day 5, instead of day 3. This could be helpful in 3 ways:

1) On day 3, the cells are not yet divided into the inner cell mass and the trophoblast. (The inner cell mass is what forms the baby, and the trophoblast forms the placenta and membranes around the baby. The genetic material in all these cells is the same) So when they biopsy, they could be taking out a cell which would potentially have grown to form part of the inner cell mass, which forms the baby. (Note - there is no evidence that this harms the baby, but in the event that it COULD, the RE was wondering if we could avoid the biopsy on Day 3)

By day 5, the inner cell mass and trophoblast are defined, and the biopsy could be done such that cells are removed from the trophoblast only. 

2) Since by day 5, the blastocyst has 60-80 cells, we COULD take more than 1 for biopsy. This way we can reduce any error rates the lab may have. If they have a doubt, they can have a backup cell or two to repeat the tests.

3) By day 5, we will also know much more about the general health of the embryos. 

So they plan to do the biopsy on day 5. At first they told us we would do a day 6 transfer (which could be touch and go, because embryos MAY not survive in the lab culture beyond day 5). Even for a potential Day 6 transfer, we were going to have to really hope and pray and keep our fingers crossed that the results came back within the 24 hours between the biopsy and Day 6. 

Well, CCRM has decided to leave the guessing out of the game. They have decided they will biopsy on Day 5, and vitrify the embryos right then. It could take 24 to 48 hours for the results to come back, but they want us to come back maybe in 6 weeks for a FET. 

Advantages of FET under these circumstances:

1) We aren't going to be left wondering if the embryos will survive in the lab culture beyond Day 5. 

2) My body will have time to get rid of the effects of the stims that I will be on, and will have time to prime up my uterine lining for ET. 

We were worried that since we usually have only 1 or 2 normal embryos after PGD, and since the thawing process kills 30-40% of the embryos, what if the 1 or 2 good ones die? But they tell us that the new process of freezing that they use - flash freezing or vitrification - has ensured that they haven't lost any embryos to thaw related deaths. 

My first reaction when I got off the phone today - complete anger and frustration! How much longer must this whole thing drag out??? In the time that I have been waiting to get started since my ectopic pregnancy in June/July - people have almost their third trimesters of their pregnancies!!! 

CCRM had told me when they gave me the IVF calendar that we COULD freeze all, and that we would decide that after ER, depending on how the embryos are growing, and how things look then. So we could have received this news right at the nth hour. 

Somehow, even though we have advance notice of it, I'm still mad. I'm mad that this whole process is so much out of our control, and that there's nothing we can do to change that fact. I'm mad that I've put my whole life on hold - all of 2008 has gone in just waiting. 

I know I will have to accept this, and that it's probably for the best, and that the doctors are doing what they can to improve our chances, but I'm just feeling so impatient right now! I know I'll be more relaxed about it tomorrow. I know that I will take this too in my stride tomorrow - but right now, I feel like screaming. 

I'm honored and touched

Heavyheart from "Empty Hug" put me on such a pedestal today! Read this! I'm floored - totally floored! Thanks HH, I can't tell you how much your post meant to me today! Thanks for being there and helping lift my spirits when I've felt low and hopeless. Thanks for letting me be part of your blog and life, and I hope that soon our blogs turn to pregnancy and parenting blogs and we can continue to share each others' journeys.

Margelina also nominated me for a bloggy award - thanks Margelina! 



The rules for this award are to list your 5 addictions and to pass the award on to 5 people.

5 addictions?? Umm - let's see here......

1) Definitely the internet. I don't know how I survived before it came around. Blogs / email / google - they are like the fix I need to be able to face the day! 

2) My morning cup of chai (tea). I know I am supposed to cut out caffeine from my diet, and believe me, I try. But I can't. The thing is, I don't have tea or coffee or soda or anything all day long. I need that one cup in the morning. I have physical withdrawal symptoms if I don't have my cuppa tea in the morning! My head hurts till I give in. 

3) "Friends" - I was so sad when the show ended. I still watch the re-runs sometimes. 

4) "Health" magazine. I love it. I don't know why, but I love it. I subscribe to it, and religiously read it, cover to cover every month! 

5) Sadly - researching IF. This has become an addiction over the years. I can't read and know enough. I'm constantly researching topics, reading up on medications etc. 

I would like to give this to HeavyHeart, April, Lisa, Dora, and Nity

I do have a couple of things to talk about - will do so later today or tomorrow. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

9 days to go

We are scheduled to leave for Denver in 9 days, on 12/31. That is, provided all goes on schedule, and my body behaves itself. I have my baseline u/s and bloodwork scheduled for this Friday. So far (knock on wood), I've never had an issue with cysts or anything, and I'm hoping no surprises get sprung on me this time.

Assuming all goes well, I start stims on Saturday. So starting Saturday, I will be moving to 3 shots per day, as opposed to the one per day I'm on right now. So far, Lupron has not turned me into a lunatic. (DH may very promptly disagree here - yes, I've snapped at him for no apparent reason a couple of times recently - but hey, you take all these meds and shots, and then let's see!)

 The Dexamethasone induced insomnia seems to be adjusting as well. I guess my sleep is way too precious and overpowering for a tiny pill to be able to ward off for too long! I've been sleeping better for the last couple of days, compared to when I started the medicine last week.

Overall, I'm feeling calm. Very calm. It's strange, but I'm always very calm during my treatment cycles. I'm not feeling any "what if" panic attacks coming on. I'm not feeling "Yippeee - this is going to work and I know it!!". I'm just feeling "still" and calm.

I don't know the outcome of this IVF. I don't know what frame of mind I will be in, one month from now, 2 months from now, 1 year from now. I do know that I'm doing the best that I can, given the circumstances.

I have a little external panic situation going on though. I am FREAKING out at the thought of the weather in Denver! See, I'm a sorry combination of being an owner of a "It never snows in the Bay Area, CA" wardrobe, and "I'm from the tropical heat of India and I cannot IMAGINE temperatures like those!!"

We don't have any experience with scraping snow off our cars, nor do we have experience with driving in the snow. To make sure we weren't signing up for a sure shot disastrous trip (what with a rental car and everything), we checked if the hotel we're at has a shuttle service. Thank goodness they do! And thank goodness CCRM is as popular as it is, because the concierge on the phone even told us "Just tell us the timings of your appointments, and we will make sure the shuttle is available!" Sweet!!

My "to-do before leaving for Denver" and "to-do for Denver" lists are getting ready, and items getting crossed off already. The days are rolling by, and time draws near. 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

OK - it's official

I think it is the Dexa.methasone. I was awake many times last night too. So it's not total insomnia - as in, I do fall asleep, but I wake up ever so often!

Well then, we'll have to get used to it huh? I'm not complaining, maybe this is practice to wake up every hour AFTER the baby is here!! LOL!

Since I woke up so many times in the night, I'm not sure if what I am about to relate was a dream, or was it my mind drifting and imagining things while I was awake. But I had very vivid images in my mind when I finally woke up. I dreamt/visualized that DH and I are in a hospital. I have just had a baby - and may I tell you it is the CUTEST baby in the world! :-)

We create an email account for the baby, (and I even have enough details that it was a g.mail account hahaha). We attach a picture of the baby, and the baby sends out his own birth announcements individually to family and friends.

Now if I could just make that vision come true!!

On another note - everyone out there - if you are ordering a bunch of drugs for injectable cycles or IVF, and your shipment is delivered to you with all medications in it in bulk, ALWAYS make sure you double check.

Make sure you get a copy of the prescription from your doctors office (if they send it directly to the pharmacy), and make sure you check off what you've received.

During my last IVF, and this one, I have noticed medications that are missing. Last time it was Menopur and I had to buy it locally since the mail order pharmacy was out of stock. This time it's Folgard. I've been following up since last week, and after several false promises (It will be shipped out today, It will be shipped out tomorrow), today I found out that Folgard as a brand is being discontinued, and the pharmacy needs to check with my doctors office if they can send me an alternate. And of course, they somehow don't think it's important to inform the patient when they're out of stock, or when they aren't including part of your prescription in the shipment!

So ladies - don't assume you've got all your medication when your pharmacy sends it to you. CHECK the list!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Down

One Lupron shot and one pill of dexamethasone down. How many to go? Man - like, 30 more? Hopefully lesser than 30!

So I have a question for you guys. I've been on Lu.pron before, and usually I don't experience too many of it's bad side effects - the so called Lup.ron hell has not descended on me ever, yet. I hope I am not speaking too soon!

Dexa.methasone - I've never been on this drug before. I know some of you have, and possibly some haven't. I always like to research the side effects of any new medication that I am starting so I know what to expect and so I don't start to freak out when something starts happening to me.

Dexa.methasone's side effects listed a possibility of insomnia. That's on the one hand. On the other, they tell you to take it at bed time. If it causes insomnia, isn't it better to take the medicine during the day, like early in the morning?

And in any case, can one tiny pill cause sleeplessness? I ask because I couldn't sleep AT ALL all of last night! I fell asleep at my usual time, right after I took my medicines, and was WIDE AWKE one hour later, and thereafter woke up what felt like every 3 minutes.

I also decided I was feeling too warm for my own comfort. I made DH turn off the heating - mind you, the temperature outside was freezing last night. I stuck my feet out of the covers, and tossed and turned all night. My poor poor DH was almost frozen by the morning. His ears and nose tip were so cold!

Psychosomatic illness? Or has the hormonal, drug induced IVF alter ego made an early appearance? If she's already here, she's going to get really ugly this time! Or am I just imagining everything? I mean, I've been down this road so many times before, who gets side effects from ONE dose?

I guess I'm going to wait for tonight and see - let's see if I get to sleep, and if I can stay cool under the covers.

On another note, in 2 weeks from today, we will be arriving in Denver right about now (hopefully, if my follicles and my body don't mess with me). I am so excited that it's almost time!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Waiting

Father’s day 2008. I had POASed that morning, and seen 2 lines. This was from IVF #4, and we were to go for beta the next day.

Once my BFP was confirmed, we waited for the elusive u/s – 2 weeks after the second beta (by the way the betas had doubled – more than doubled NICELY!)

A little over a week after the second beta, I started getting a feeling that something wasn’t right. I don’t know – like a sixth sense. I had a little cramping. Not unusual. I had very very slight brown spotting. Not unusual again.

Then why did I feel something was wrong? I don’t know. I couldn’t wait another week for my u/s. So I called the doctor and requested to be seen earlier because of my “bad feeling”.

They agreed. Everything went south from there. No sac, or maybe a sac, come back in 2 days, let’s wait another week, no, we still don’t see anything, repeat your beta, come back in 2 days etc etc etc. Doesn’t look good, let’s do a D&C. HcG is still rising. Doesn’t look good, let’s give you methotrexate. HcG FINALLY begins to go down.

From then, I waited till almost the middle of August for my HcG levels to fall down to negative. My arms were sore from blood draws every 3 days. My heart was dead from what was going on. My brain was tired. Yet we waited.

Then we waited to regroup with the RE. Our RE suggested CCRM, and we discussed it, and I called for an appointment.

Then we waited for our phone consult with Dr. Schoolcraft.

Then we waited for AF to schedule our 1 day work up. (This was the only wait which was short).

Then, after the 1 day work up, we waited for AF to schedule my surgery.

Then we waited 6 weeks to go back for post op hysteroscopy.

Then we waited for 12/16 to arrive.

Today is exactly 6 months since the beta of my last IVF. I have been waiting 6 months to be able to move on.

Today I am waiting for the day to move on so it can be evening and I can do my injection and “officially” get started.

Everything about IF is all about waiting, is it not? We wait to get started, then we wait to find out the results – wait, wait, wait – always!

I wish I could look into a crystal ball or something and know what awaits us on the other side. It may make waiting unnecessary, or worth the while.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tags, awards, and the future


Kymberli had recently nominated me for the Brillante Weblog award! Kym - thank you so much! Coming from you, it's like receiving an Oscar! Ahem ahem - I'd like to thank....... ok never mind. 

My blog is like free therapy for me. Most of the time I feel so much lighter and relieved after I've spilled my guts out here! The relief and light feeling gets enhanced with each comment I receive on my blog. 

Some of the blogs I would like to nominate for this award are: Linda, Lisa, April, and Shelby.
I look forward to their posts with total OCD type intensity (LOL)

Now, on to my tag: 

April tagged me to list 7 random facts about myself. 

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about you.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end, and include links to their blogs.

I remember doing a similar tag game a few months ago, so I'm going to cheat.

1) My first random fact is my whole old list. It's here. OK it's not a fact, but whatever. :-)

2) I can't walk barefoot at all. My feet are so sensitive that I can feel even Simba's hair on the carpet. I HAVE to have socks or house slippers on all the time! Needless to say - I can never walk barefoot outdoors - the stones (or rocks as I call them) are too much for me.

3) I don't know how to put on make up. Never learnt, never put any on. My extent of getting made up is putting on lipstick and eye kohl. That's all I own and know how to use. 

4) I have a very addictive personality. It doesn't take me time to get hooked onto a certain activity (or website - in more recently relevant terms). I can be obsessively addicted to the extent that the particular activity can become an inherent part of my daily (or even hourly) routine!

5) I am the eldest of 3 children. I have a younger brother and sister. Both live in India. We are all very close and friendly with each other, and always end up poking fun at each other and sharing big laughs when we're together.

6) I have an MBA, but I'm convinced I'm in the wrong field. I should have done something in Biology - genetics or something. Reading on Biology is my passion and I just love it!

7) I love dogs - specially the huge breeds. I'm not a fan of small breeds because I have an image in my head of stepping on a little breed dog and hurting it. Ya, I'm not very graceful :-)

Phew - that's my list!! April - you made me really really think hard for that one! I wonder if I know 7 bloggers that have not been tagged before! But I'll try - I'm tagging Sharon, Lisa, Shelby, Lorraine, Margelina, Nity, Misty

Now - back to the future:

I am all set to begin my Lupron and Dexamethasone tomorrow. I'm excited to get started, but at the same time, can't help but feel a little nervous. So much has gone wrong before. Will it all be ok this time? So much is at stake. So much has been invested. May I please request some prayers / positive energy / good thoughts as DH and I begin this journey again? 

I will not mind any Lupron induced headaches, any Dexamethasone induced nausea, any stims induced discomfort and bloating, any progesterone induced pregnancy mimicking symptoms - I will not complain at all. I will gladly take all the pain, please God, please, please make this work. 

Can you tell I'm nervous? 

Friday, December 12, 2008

See it for yourself

Here is the before and after of my uterus. The picture on top was taken in September during my 1 day work up at CCRM. The picture on the bottom is from my post op appointment this Wednesday.

The pictures have been outlined to show the shape of the uterus. Somehow when I look at this, it only reminds me of an undergarment! :-)

Then, when you're done comparing (and I'm sorry for the grainy pictures - they look much clearer in reality), you can have a look at this - my goodie bag arrived yesterday. I am embarking on my 5th fresh IVF, and till date, I have never taken a picture of the medicines. This time I felt like I should, because hopefully I will never again have to see that box of medications!



By this time next month, almost all these medicines will have been injected / ingested / inserted into my body. By this time next month we will be getting ready for our PGD results and for embryo transfer. 

Bring it on, I say! 


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Successful remodel

Available for immediate accommodation!! New and improved!! Recently upgraded! Newly remodeled! The owner has recently hired a new “designer/ architect” to remove a 37 year old room divider and to “open out” the living space! No rent – accommodation free for one, maybe even 2 individuals. In fact, the owner is paying pots of money to get occupants – and wants occupants who stay!

I guess you can tell – my appointment yesterday went well. Very well indeed.

We first sat with the business office – the insurance mess had to be cleared up. The girl there said they would work with the new insurance and figure out the details. She also told me that I would probably need to follow up once I am an active member.

But – we ended up paying a huge sum of money so that our cycle would not get interrupted. They will bill the insurance and whatever gets covered will get reimbursed / adjusted and we should get some money back, but it’s a large large sum – almost $16K!

Dr Schoolcraft did my hysteroscopy, and he was actually all smiles. Now this is a big deal because Dr Sch is known to be straight faced, and serious types. But you could see the pride in his face when he got done with the hysteroscopy. He said everything looks great, and he also said “I must say I am very impressed with myself” ☺

He did mention that he had been a little worried that he would not be able to fix my uterus. Some women’s bodies scar, some don’t, some heal well, some don’t. So I told him I was terribly afraid too – because I’ve had several knee surgeries, and I know that my knee develops scar tissue. I was petrified that my uterus would do the same – why should it be different? But wonder of wonders – my uterus now looks like a normal uterus belonging to anyone else! It looks like the big girl uterus I wanted!!

Dr Schoolcraft sent me off to do a 3 d ultrasound just to compare images from last time, and get this – even I could tell the difference in the images myself! It was that clear!

I have had this silly grin plastered on my face since then, and DH has been spitting on me to ward off the evil eye (OK not spitting ON me, but pretending to). I don’t want to jinx anything, but – for once, I am feeling so excited and hopeful!

Divine intervention – for sure!

Thank you everyone for praying for us and for keeping us in your thoughts. I have no doubt in my mind that the positive energy from all of you did half the magic yesterday! Hugs to each one of you!!

(PS: I have pictures of before and after of my uterus – I will scan and put them up soon – you can see for yourself how huge the difference is!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Updates

We are headed out to Denver tomorrow for my post op appointment. I am scheduled for a diagnostic hysteroscopy so Dr. Schoolcraft can see if my uterine cavity looks any bigger now. 

While we are there, DH needs to give a sample which they will freeze as a backup sample for our IVF cycle. 

Also while we are there, we are meeting with the finance / insurance people in CCRM's business office. I am going to carry with me the benefits summary that my HR manager has sent me. If my HR manager can get any more information out to me today, I will take it all along as well. We just want to make sure that we talk everything out and know our options. We also need to know how much we will end up paying out of pocket if things don't fall in place with the insurance. 

After we are done with everything at CCRM, we plan to go to the hotel that we're booked at to see the size of the rooms, and to see what they provide in the kitchen etc. That way we can be prepared better when we go there at the end of this month. 

My goodie bag (IVF meds) will be shipped tomorrow, and I will receive it on Thursday. It's like a Christmas present for me - I'm that excited! :-)

It does finally seem like everything is getting set and put into place. My last IVF was in June 2008. I have been waiting 6 months to get started again. The last 6 months have been absolutely crazy! But the amazing part of the journey has been the knowledge we've gained. I know so much more now than I did even 6 months ago. And I definitely know SO much more than I did 6 years ago. Not just about the topic of infertility, but about life, about who we are as people, and about relationships. 

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow. Will you guys do the same please? 

Monday, December 8, 2008

One set of footprints

This whole past year, I have struggled with my faith. A lot. I have never been a very religious person, but I have always had a faith which was strong enough. 

This year, that faith faltered. I could not come to terms with the fact that God was putting me through so much. He knows I'm suffering. He knows I'm doing my best. He still chooses to test me. 

I prayed, I promised, I fasted, I cried. Then when things went wrong again, I sulked, I got angry. Finally I stopped knowing how to communicate with God, and my silence filled the house. 

Today, I have a strong feeling of God being with me. Today I feel like He is telling me to leave it to Him. I feel like He will take care of it all. 

I spoke with CCRM this morning. They said they would need written authorizations from the new insurance that my IVF will be covered. But they also said that the insurance company will not give them written authorizations until I am an active member. They wanted details of the benefits plans and any subscriber id or account number that I could get. They said if I followed up myself after 1/1 for the written approvals, we will probably get them quicker. If CCRM asks the insurance company, it could take weeks for the approvals to come. So of course, I will personally follow up with the insurance. 

CCRM also said that they do participate in BCBS programs, so they will figure out which one in particular my coverage will come through. 

My HR manager has sent me the summary of the benefits, and is working on getting the other information for me. 

I am currently waiting to hear back from the nurse at CCRM to see if they will help me increase my prescription or if they suggest that I pre-fill my refills. We shall see how that goes.

For the first time in this entire struggle, I feel like God will carry us on His shoulders through all this. He has thrown a hurdle in our way to make us look up and realize that he is, in fact watching out for us. 

I don't know how everything will pan out, but I feel like it will. Somehow. It will. 

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I have been tagged, and I also have a blog award to talk about. I will do that soon. I promise! In the meantime, I am also getting set to go to Denver on Wednesday for my post op hysteroscopy. Lots happening here!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Looking for the door He opened when He closed this one on us.....

I broke down yesterday. Threw my hands up in despair, cried, panicked and decided it was all over.

I wrote a pathetic email to my ex HR manager, telling her briefly what I had gone through in the months after quitting my job in Feb this year. I told her that I had a lot invested into this last IVF, and that I was at the end of my rope. I said that I understand that the company need not base its decisions on my needs, but I really need to know how to move forward now. I even said if I could not figure the insurance bit out fairly quickly within a few days, I was going to have to cancel my IVF because I can’t fight any more.

I couldn’t sleep till late into the night – I was so stressed with the mess that we were in.

I woke up this morning a little more calm. Some of my fighting spirit seemed to be back. Deep breath – ok, let’s figure this out. It’s a shock alright, but we’ve dealt with so much, we will deal with this too.

My HR manager (ex) called me this morning and was in tears. She said she did not realize how much I had gone through, and will personally do what it takes to help me through. She told me to proceed with the IVF – she will work with both the insurance companies and figure out and tell me the smoothest way to transition.

Tori – thanks for your suggestion about the continuity of care – you rock! I asked my HR lady. She said the new company had not offered it in their discussions so far, but she will talk to them personally on Monday morning and come back to me.

She said she wants me to talk to CCRM and see if they are under network for the new company. (CCRM’s website does not list their name, but their website lists Dr Schoolcraft’s name.) Once I find that out, I will tell her, and she will work with the new insurance company and make sure there is no lapse / problem in my treatment.

I am feeling a little more confident now. Like some of you suggested, I will talk to CCRM and see if we can order more medication now itself, or order refills asap.

For anything that is falling out of network, or cannot get pre-approved, we will probably pay ourselves and figure out getting re-imbursed later.

I am so fortunate to HAVE coverage in the first place. I should not let the inconvenience of administrative glitches throw me off track. I am re-grouping my thoughts, putting together my to-do list for Monday, putting all my questions in place to figure out how to work through this.

Possible blessing in disguise? Random thought here – what if with the new insurance, I get 4 more IVFs covered? When I joined my job, the insurance covered 4 fresh IVFs. I did one, and my company changed insurance carriers. My count automatically got re-set. I got 4 more. So far we had done 3 of those and the 4th one was coming up now.

DH and I are wondering if this is God’s way of saying “OK, you guys are fighters, and I know I’ve given you a tough road on this, so here are 4 more cycles.”

God, I hope I don’t need 4 more cycles, but it is a comforting thought that I may get the coverage. Wishful thinking perhaps, but hey, hoping is what has brought us so far, hasn’t it?

Now what do I do?

Every step forward we take in the TTC journey takes us back 2 steps. It’s like walking on a landmine. Every step forward sets one off! So many people in the world skip and hop along life smoothly. Why not us? Why must we have to fight fate at every step?

I’m tired. Exhausted. Out of steam. I don’t know what else to do now. I’ve kept my chin up through the entire last year, through every disappointment, through every piece of bad news. DH and I have held each other’s hand and plowed forward through every problem that arose.

Most of you know the hoops and loops we’ve gone through in the last year. We are finally at the stage where we are getting set to start our last and final IVF. I did not expect to find out what I found out today. And I’m devastated.

CCRM had called in my prescription to my insurance company’s specialty pharmacy (if I get my fertility medication from anywhere else, they do not cover it). I was calling today to check on the status of my medication, to make sure everything had got approved and we were all set, and to see when they were shipping the meds out. While I was on hold, I logged into their site to make sure I had all the information ready for them when they answered.

I was completely caught unawares by what I saw on the site – “Coverage end date: 12/31/08” WTH?????? I am on COBRA – I pay a hell of a lot of money every month to keep my insurance going so that I have IF coverage. I am eligible to be on COBRA for at least 8 more months. I don’t understand why my coverage is lapsing.

I contacted my ex-employer’s HR department, and found out they are changing insurance service providers wef 1/1/2009, and of course nobody thought it important to inform an ex employee who is on COBRA, and quite frankly, at this point, whose life depends on that COBRA coverage!!

I don’t know what to do now. If I roll on to the new coverage, it will not be effective till Jan 1. And if I am not a member till Jan 1, CCRM can’t even get pre-approvals etc for my IVF. I am supposed to start stims at the end of Dec and ER happens early Jan, ET mid Jan.

Not just is the treatment coverage at stake now, but also the prescriptions – the refills! Per my prescription, and my discussion with CCRM, I am sure I will need to get additional doses of Gonal F, and till I am a member I will not even know how the new insurance company covers fertility drugs. Also my prescription has already been sent to my current insurance. Sending a new prescription after Jan 1 will mean waiting for the entire approval process etc etc etc.

At this point, I cannot afford to pay out of pocket for this IVF either. I'm completely at wit's end about what I can do now.......

How on earth am I going to do this IVF? I feel like the wind just got knocked out of me – entirely deflated! I’m tired, and I really cannot fight any longer. I’m tired of crying, and I’m tired of figuring out how to fight fate any more.

I wanted to go into this IVF with a calm state of mind. How am I supposed to be calm now?

My whole bloody life works on Murphy’s Law : If something can go wrong, it will.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mr. Simba

I thought I would share with you guys some pictures of our little puppy Simba. He's really not very little any more, but he thinks he is. He doesn't realize he weighs about 90 lbs, and can easily knock either one of us down on our butts. 

Simba LOVES going to the beach. His sole purpose in life is to play fetch, and he knows he will get undivided "fetch" time at the beach. Every visit to the beach is complete excitement for him. He runs and plays till he is so exhausted that he can barely stand any more, but he's not one to give up and sit down. Oh the beach! Simba LOVES the beach!

At home, he thinks the whole world revolves around him. He has his own little cosmos going on in his head. You wear a jacket, he thinks it's time for him to go out. You pick up the car keys, he thinks he's getting to go on a drive. You look him in the eye when it IS time for him to go out, and he will be all over you in excitement. 

We tried pretty hard to teach him the "no climbing on furniture" rule. So guess what - he doesn't climb on the family room stuff, which is what we use most of the time. But the formal area - aah, whole different story! Nobody told him THAT furniture was off limits too! Here he is:


The poor baby used to be very car sick as a puppy. His stomach would churn each time he was in the car for over 10 minutes. He'd be sick all over the car, and would be miserable for hours afterwards. Now he's figured that if he acts restless in the backseat, we roll down the windows for him (to distract him - and it works! He hasn't thrown up in the car this entire year). He sticks his head out and enjoys the breeze (never mind that our ears are popping with the noise on the freeway at the time!). He's also figured that he can keep going from one window to the other on the backseat, and we will keep rolling the window down on whichever side he is. So it's a constant oscillation - left, right, left, right!! Drives me insane, but he loves it :-)

He's our completely goofy, lovable, VERY VERY COMMUNICATIVE little baby. He listens to Dad (DH), but he knows Dad listens to Mama (me) (hehehehe). So when he thinks it's time for him to be taken out to play, he whines in front of Dad a couple of times, and then comes and puts a paw on my lap, as if to say "OK Mom, time to do your magic. Dad needs to get up and take me out NOW".

And needless to say - he has been a complete lifesaver for us as well. Nothing takes away stress as does a dog wagging his tail at you, looking at you with those imploring, guilt inducing eyes. Gotta love it!! 


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Going with your gut...

Of late, a lot of my IFer friends – cyber, and IRL, are beginning to go with their gut on part of their treatments.

I have always been a very strong believer of believing in my gut. If I feel something is wrong, I believe the best thing is to find out if it is wrong. Specially with IF and other health related issues.

Nichole recently talked about taking the plunge and setting up an appointment with her doctor to see if she could possibly have the endo that she suspects she does.

Yesterday one of my friends IRL called and said she has decided she wants to request her RE for a laparoscopy because she is not convinced that “nothing is wrong”. She has been through several IUIs, 2 IVFs – all BFN. Her DH had varicocele surgery, and after that, her RE wanted them to do IUI for a few cycles before moving ahead with another IVF. My friend though has a feeling that the doctors are missing something. She plans to ask for a lap to see if her gut was right.

Another friend from one of the message boards did just that. She has had 4 losses, and with her pregnancies and losses, the doctors discovered that her tubes had got blocked. They recommended IVF to her. She did one IVF, got pregnant, and unfortunately lost that baby too. The RE said she could proceed with FET of her frozen embryos. Before that she decided to request a lap. Her RE did not think it would help, but she insisted. Guess what? They found stage 3 endometriosis, cysts, and endometrioma. They cleared all that up. They also managed to unblock both her tubes!!

Shelby recently is feeling let down by the NP at her clinic for handling her IUI cycle not as well as it could have been handled. She too says she will question and maybe cancel her next IUI if she feels her questions are not answered.

2 years ago, in Nov 2006, I remember re-grouping with my then RE. Our first IVF had failed in 2005, and to me, that was the end of the world. IVF was the mother of all treatments – how could it not work? And something about the “All your tests are fine, this is just pure bad luck that none of your treatment cycles are working out” reasoning that the doctors were giving us was not right. I “knew” there was something more, and beyond “Is there any other test we can do”, I did not know how to question the doctor’s judgment. During that regroup meeting, I did ask. I was furious from all my failures, and I wanted answers. DH was holding my hand under the table to calm me down, lest I get too aggressive with the RE. I finally asked the doctor “What if there is something in us on a more genetic level, and what if my eggs and his sperm are just making bad embryos?” He said “Well, there is one test, but nothing comes of it most of the time. Since you are insisting, let’s have you do this test.”

The test was a karyotype. A simple blood test – yes a little expensive, but in the grand scheme of things, considering how much we had spent by then, an additional $800 didn’t seem very large. DH’s result came back with a translocation. That RE all but dropped us like hot potatoes telling is to give up and go adopt.

I wonder today, if I had not asked that day, we may have not known what we know today. We would have continued with FET, maybe more IVFs with the same RE, not knowing how bad things could turn if I did get pregnant with a baby with an unbalanced translocation!

There are way too many patients (of IF and otherwise) who “feel” something is not right, but they don’t ask their doctors. All of us have the hesitation that stems from the feeling that the doctor is the medical professional, and he will know what is right and what is not. How can we, as patients, question a diagnosis or a treatment plan?

The thing is, we know our bodies so well. Specially us IFers. We are so in tune with every twinge in the body that we sometimes feel and know things that doctors cannot see. We have to step up and help our doctors diagnose and treat us well.

When in doubt, ask. When you feel you have been given too little medication, or too much, or when you feel you have a nagging feeling about something – ask. In the worst-case scenario, you will be wrong. That may not be that bad a scenario after all, right?

The author of “How Doctors Think” also says this in his book. He says we should help our medical professionals chart our treatment plans. Sometimes we may unwittingly hold back information, which, while seemingly unrelated, may change the entire treatment perspective!

So speak up my friends. Speak up if you think something is being overlooked, or if your gut tells you something isn't right.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Is it worth it...

Is it worth trying to save or salvage a relationship with a fertile friend? A friendship lost in an effort to protect myself from feeling let down in front of my friend’s lack of emotion. A lost friendship that I miss dearly.

I’m torn. On the one hand, I feel incensed that she doesn’t get it. And I have tried to explain, not once or twice, but several times. On the other hand, I miss the friendship.

So what should I do? Pretend I’m fine, and be “friends” with her? Or accept the fact that things aren’t fine, and if she doesn’t get it and doesn’t feel any emotion for my situation, and me then I should be willing to move on?

Why must an infertile always end up making the effort to pretend things are great, just to “fit in” in the world of fertiles? Why can they not see things from our perspective?

Is it that hard for a friend to say: “I’m sorry” ? And I am not one to expect it again and again. But is it wrong for me to expect a “I’m sorry” one time over the course of a year and 3 pregnancy losses?

I’ve told her in these words “The last year has been the most difficult one for us so far. (DH) is busy with (work) and I’m busy trying to keep myself sane.” (This was part of an email exchange last week). And it’s not like she does not know of my struggles or losses. She does. But doesn’t say anything because she says “I don’t know what to say”. Her response to this last email was “Whatever it takes to keep one happy – that should be our goal.”

This is a friend who decided to “go for baby no. 2” when I told her I was finally pregnant last year. This is the friend who had that second baby 3 months ago and has not even sent us a birth announcement.

After this email exchange she sent me a link with pictures – full of her 2 kids. I had to scroll through 60 pictures to even get the name of the new baby.

What am I expected to do? Say “Ooooh what a cute baby – congratulations?” Maybe I should also keep quiet and if asked, say “I don’t know what to say.”

What would you do? Why am I letting this get under my skin and make me so mad? Why is it so hard to just close this chapter and move on?

PS: Have I totally lost it? I recently had a dream that I took a very fertile friend to the pharmacy and bought her birth control pills. I haven’t seen this friend in over 4 years. Go figure…. ☺

Friday, November 28, 2008

One year to the day

My dearest baby Aditi,

My precious baby, my little miracle – you stayed with us only for a few weeks, but what a difference to made to our lives!!

Last year today we found out that you had left to go be with God. Your Dad and I did not want to believe or accept what the doctor was telling us. I often wondered in the days and weeks later, what I had done wrong, and if there was anything I could do to change the news we received on Nov 28, 2007.

I am sorry that my body was not more ready and comfortable for you, my child. I am sorry if I could have done something differently but didn’t. I would do anything – anything at all if I could change the outcome! I would readily give my life if I could save yours.

At the same time, I am honored that you did come into our lives. You made us Mommy and Daddy, even though we were never able to meet. We were about to give up, when you came into our lives. I can never describe to you the hope you brought for us. I can never describe to you the emotions that Daddy and Mommy felt.

Our arms are still empty, precious baby, but our hearts are full. The house is empty and silent, but if I close my eyes I can see you. Daddy tells me he too feels your presence and that you’ve been helping encourage him with his work project.

Seeing your presence in our lives has given us the courage and strength to go on and try again. We have met with some more challenges, but we know that you and your siblings are sending us the strength we need. I promise you my child - Mommy and Daddy will not let you down. We will not get weak and give up.

I love you forever,
Your Mom.


Nov 28, 2007

We went in for a regular u/s appointment. This was supposed to be our last appointment with the RE, and he was releasing me to a perinatologist after that.

No heartbeat.

D&C scheduled for Nov 30.

Texted my manager about what happened.

Couldn’t sit, couldn’t stand, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t imagine.

Decided to leave everything and go away to Los Angeles for a day and come back for D&C.

After driving in silence for 2 hours on Highway 5, we started feeling like we had been thrown in the middle of an ocean – trying to swim to the shore, but the shore was nowhere in sight. 

Running out of steam. 

Feeling like the wheels were turning but we were getting nowhere. 

Big rigs passing by on the freeway, and us feeling tiny and miserable and helpless and confused.

Then the realization that no matter how much we run, or drive, we will not be able to change what has happened. We turned around and drove back home.

I never imagined that I would last a day after hearing that news, yet here I am, one whole year later, 2 more losses later, still with the nerve to try again.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks....

Today, I wanted to make a list of things I am thankful for. But this morning, we heard about the terror attacks in Mumbai, India, and all our attention has been diverted since then.

I guess in my simple mind, I will never understand what anyone gets out of terrorizing a society, taking innocent lives and leaving widows / widowers and orphans. Terror breeds terror. Violence sparks revenge and more anger. When will this madness end?

The raw, exposed vulnerability of a society ravaged by terrorism cannot be the answer to what the terrorists want. A lot of violence across the world gets given the name of religion. No religion promotes violence. No religion says it is good to kill on the name of religion. I wish simple sensibility prevailed across the world. I wish…..


I will make my Thanksgiving list, and will start with being thankful for the lives that were spared. I am thankful for the Anti Terror Squad, and the police departments that have been fighting all night to bring the city, the country and the world some peace, while putting their lives at risk.

On matters of personal consequence to me today, I am thankful for:

1) My DH. I am lucky to be with him, and am grateful for him every single day. He has been my rock through all our struggles. He goes with me for EVERY appointment – even if it is a monitoring u/s, or a simple blood draw. He does it so I know he’s in it with me. He loves me through the dump I have become, and still says I look pretty on days when I can’t stand to see my reflection in the mirror. Yes, things have been tough, but there is no other person in the world I would rather face these challenges with. 

2) My pregnancies. I am eternally thankful for having had the blessing of being pregnant, even though for a short lived, fleeting length in time. I am grateful for having known our daughter Aditi, and her siblings who are now with her. We have known and loved them, though we never got the chance to meet them.

3) My parents. Their love and support mean the world to us. Their calm belief in our strength and perseverance keeps us going.

4) My siblings. My brother and his wife, my sister and her husband. They are so loving and caring, even though they don’t quite understand the depths of the darkness IF brings with it.

5) My IRL friends who call me every day to see if I’m ok. My IRL friends who have reached out to us despite the fact that we’ve become crazy people.

6) All you ladies – each and every one of the wonderful women I have “met” in cyberspace. You may not know how much your support and encouragement and comments have helped in moving us along. It’s like your hands hold mine and carry me along some days. I am so very grateful for each of you.

7) My body. Despite everything I have put it through, it bounces back each time, ready for the next haul. It’s here now, waiting for the next IVF to start.

8) I am thankful for Simba. He has literally licked away my tears many many times and has brought a smile on my face when I thought I could not go on any more. He hates to cuddle, but he comes and puts a forepaw in my lap every once in a while, and I know he’s there. ☺

9) Our home, our careers, our education and all material things that make life easy.

10) Technology and advances in medical science that will hopefully help us achieve our dream of having a baby. A few years ago, none of this may have been possible.

11) I am thankful for our spirit and determination. We’ve had a pretty freaky, loopy roller coaster ride so far, but are hanging on – hopefully for a happy ending.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hooked


Nity nominated me for this award the other day. Thank you so much Nity! I am always touched by the faith in your posts. I am always inspired by your unwavering belief. 

I am supposed to give this award to two blogs - blogs that have me hooked! There are so many that I'm hooked on! But since I have to choose 2, I'm going to pick Lorraine and April

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So for today's topic, I have an incident to relate. Yesterday, I had some stuff to mail out, and I had to go to the post office. Our post office is quite close by, so I decided to walk there. 

As I was walking out from the post office, I noticed a kid coming down the street on a skate-board. He must not have been more than - I'd guess 16-17 - dressed in t-shirt, long shorts, socks and sandals (Yes, YUCK!!) and a baseball cap. He crossed past me as I walked home. 

A few yards later, he came up from behind me again. I stepped aside on the sidewalk so he could pass by. He didn't want to pass by apparently! He wanted to make conversation. Huh? Conversation? With Me?? 

Him: Hi
Me: Hi
Him: What's your name?
Me: (While wondering where this came from) Why?
Him: Why?
Few steps in silence. 
Him: Did you go to the post office?
Me: (Thinking - Yes - you saw me coming out of there, so why are you asking?) Yes
Him: Do you live around here?
Me: Yes.

By this time we came to an intersection across which is a little dog park where DH was playing fetch with Simba. I cut across the park and joined DH. The skateboard kid circled around all the time we were at the park. 

The reason I'm relating this story here: IF has taken my sense of humor away also! I should have been amused / flattered even, that a kid was making conversation with me. The only thing I could think of was "You want to talk to me? I have a long long long sob story that you're not going to want to hear!" The other thought it my head was "Kid, I'm almost sure your mother is younger than I am, so quit acting funny and go away!"

Sad. I need to get my sense of humor back.....

** Update** I just realized that I didn't mention that I was creeped out by this little fella. Completely. I was so glad that this incident had happened pretty close to where DH and Simba were, and that DH is a big man, and Simba is a huge German Shepherd. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad

Today is my parents' 39th wedding anniversary. 39 years of life spent together, a family raised, many traditions set and shared, many laughs shared and many many moments strung into wonderful memories.

Mom and Dad are quite different from each other. Mom can't stop talking and chattering and laughing. Dad is quiet, mostly engrossed with his newspapers and his thoughts. But he listens to Mom. Well, she makes sure he listens. 

In my siblings and me, they have instilled a great family bond. My brother, sister and I are great friends. There aren't any unnecessary egos in our relationship, and that bond has come from the upbringing our parents gave us. 

Dad always wanted us to be completely independent. His logic was "We are not going to be with the children for their entire lives. We have to make sure they grow up sensible, to be able to make their decisions themselves." Mom would worry, Dad would calm her down. I went to college across the country, and my mom would be on edge from the time I left home, till the time I reached college and could be contacted on phone (there were no cell phones back then, so when you were out, you were really out). 

I grew up in India, and that's where my parents still live. In India, to a large extent, arranged marriages are still the norm. (A lot is changing now, but parents would still like to make the matches). When I decided I wanted to marry DH, and I told my parents, their reaction completely surprised me. Dad said he did not want to ~make~ me marry someone else, because then I would be unhappy, and would keep my husband unhappy. And that would make DH end up marrying someone else, and they would be unhappy too. My parents did not want to be responsible for 4 people being unhappy. Worked out well for us. :-)

My parents have recently learnt to use the internet, and I am so proud of them for doing that! My biggest surprise came when my dad pinged me and said he had got a webcam and a skype account and he wanted to video conference with us! When you live half the way across the world, that's a great blessing! 

In the 37 years that I have known my parents, I've never seen my dad angry. He is so calm in the face of so many ups and downs in life. I've never seen my mom stop supporting him. They have always laughed their way through anything that challenged them. There is tremendous amount of respect and love in their relationship, and even now, they share a spark which is so rare. 

This post is to wish my parents many many more years together. Many more laughs together, many more moments together. 

And I sincerely hope that one day I can give them their first grandchild (unless my brother or sister beat me to it - which wouldn't be too bad either), and with their help, I can instill the same sense of family and sensible, honest independence in my children. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Degrees of infertility

Of late I have been thinking quite a bit about infertility. I’m sure you’re surprised – why should I be thinking of infertility? I have such a full life, right? Yeah right! ☺

No but seriously – I’ve been thinking and I wonder if some infertiles have it worse than the others. The more I think, the more I feel like the answer is not that simple. IF is very subjective. And before I start – please, I am not making ANY judgments here.

What is infertility? This is what Wiki.pedia says about the topic. Most of us know most of what’s mentioned there, and most of us unfortunately are among the “1 in 7 couples” (I thought for some reason that it was 1 in 6 couples).

So a couple starts trying to conceive and 84 out of 100 couples will be pregnant within the first year. Now the catch is to know WHEN you can get pregnant. A surprisingly large number of women do not know their cycles, and their fertile times. Therefore, they are not getting pregnant purely because of lack of timing. After a few months of frantic research, or even panic attacks, most women figure their cycles out, and a large number will get pregnant. I actually know people that have panicked – and by panic I mean really panicked – gone and seen doctors and even spoken to doctors that they felt they needed to get started with ~ get this~ IVF. In one real life case, the sensible doctor took the couple through a detailed presentation of a typical IVF cycle – the shots, the ultrasounds, the retrieval, the fertilization, transfer etc. That freaked this couple out even more and caused a bigger panic attack. But that panic attack brought some sense into the couple. They were pregnant within the following 2 months – naturally. (Of course)

Then there is the group that needs medical intervention to the extent of clomid / femara, and that, along with timed BD, does the trick. Infertile? Perhaps not. Sub-fertile? Maybe.

The next group is given clomid/ femara and goes through IUI cycles.

The next group does injectables with IUIs. How many IUIs are enough? My RE had wanted to move us on from IUI to IVF after we had done 5 IUI cycles. I believe 6 IUI attempts is typically when either the doctor decides to ask the couple to decide for IVF or the couple decides and either proceeds with IVF, or other routes.

Financial strain plays a huge part in this decision-making. Only a limited number of insurance coverage actually covers infertility treatment, and not a lot of us have thousands of dollars lying around to bet on perhaps a 30% chance at conception.

Some are lucky to have good insurance coverage, and after 5 or 6 IUI attempts, their frustration and desperation pushes them to do something more aggressive. I know I moved onto my first IVF with 2 feelings. One was complete despair and frustration and therefore the feeling of “Bring on the big ones!”. The second was complete belief that IVF would work. I mean – that’s the mother of all treatments in infertility isn’t it?

Then there’s the group that ends up repeating IVF attempts again and again.

Then there’s the group, which conceives, but does not get to the happy ending of bringing baby home. Pregnancy losses takes you right back to the start line. You start all over again. I am unfortunately part of this group.

Some will achieve success and get to realize their dreams of having a baby, and life moves on. Some may not be so lucky.

My question is simple – Can these situations be compartmentalized into “degrees of infertility”?

To me, the answer is not as simple. While it would be easy to say yes – the first few groups are in the “easier stages of infertility” and the latter groups have a “rawer” deal in the whole thing, at the same time, these conclusions are drawn in retrospect. What happens WHILE the first few groups are still trying? Going into a treatment cycle, nobody knows if their first round of clomid will work, or if they will need to spend the next 5 years of their lives spread-eagled with their feet up in stirrups in a doctor’s office.

Infertility is one part diagnosis and treatment, and one part analysis and stress. The part of analysis and stress gets worse with time. But I think the acceptance and ease with which we are able to stick injections into our tummies becomes easier with time.

With each cycle there is hope. But with hope there is deep dark despair too. The stress that a person in each of the groups mentioned above is going through COULD be similar. Then there is the personal threshold too. I could be the types who panics at not getting pregnant after 3 months of “trying”, or I could be the types who is more calm and does not let the stress get to me so easily.

Repeated failures manifest themselves in so many ways. Stress in relationships, stress in social interactions, loss of confidence, the feeling of being let down by your body, the feeling of failing, feeling isolated and “on the outside”.

When is the point when you move from the hope / despair cycle to bitterness? Is that when you really have it bad?

Again, please, I am NOT trying to make any judgments here, I’m not saying one group has it easier than the other. It may appear so – but I feel the answer is very subjective. The pain, the loss and the despair are pretty unifying.

That is why a community of IFers “gets it”, and sometimes someone who has moved on from being an IFer to having a baby suddenly stops “getting it”. The community of IFers that gets it could be from any of the groups above - the stress they are all under could be so similar. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Think about it....

Every couple that is TTC imagines how it would be to get pregnant. They imagine the pregnancy, the glow, the swelling belly, waddling stride, the ultrasounds, the oohing and aahing of every milestone. Every couple hopes for a smooth, uneventful pregnancy, with no "alarm" situations. 

Heh! I try to put myself in that place. You know - positive thinking and all that. Here's what goes on it my head:

If I do get pregnant, and do reach the stage where I get released from my RE to a regular doctor, I'd probably have to go to a perinatologist (a high risk pregnancy OB). Why? There are several reasons why a pregnancy may be considered high risk. Some that come to mind to me are:

1) Previous miscarriage? Check.
2) Previous ectopic? Check.
3) Advanced Maternal Age? Check.
4) Uterine Anomaly? Check.
5) IVF with PGD? Check. 
6) High BP? Check. 

I wonder if one perinatologist will be sufficient for me! These are things that I KNOW are on my list. I hope this is where my list ends, and I hope it doesn't grow longer!! 

Oh well - que sera sera. Whatever will be will be. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Updates and grounding

We are getting prepared for our last IVF. Some things are falling in place, some are still up in the air. We still have over 5 weeks before we travel, so there is time on hand. 

First the updates:
  • After making me wait forever last month, my Aunt F decided to show 5 days early this time! And I almost missed noting CD 1, since I was bleeding from the surgery, and then that got converted to breakthrough bleeding because of the BCP. I took my last BCP, and 2 days after that I started bleeding again, so I was assuming I was ~still~ showing effects of the BCP. Thankfully I called CCRM because I was a little worried, since by then, I had been bleeding for almost 3 weeks straight! They figured AF had arrived early, and juggled my IVF calendar around accordingly.
(Yes, I realize that my poor body is crying for relief. I have promised my body that this is it. I will not subject it to any more torture)
  • My IVF meds prescription is to be sent to my mail order pharmacy today. I should get my meds in a couple of weeks - given the holidays next week etc. 
  • We booked our stay in Staybridge Suites in Denver. We heard good reviews from others who stayed there. They offer free breakfast every day and free dinner on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of every week. (The dinners are called "Evening Reception" but they told us on the phone that it only means they don't serve heavy 4 course meals!). They have free wireless internet, free laundry facilities and a fully functional kitchen in each suite. I think we'll be comfortable there. 
  • We booked our rental car as well. CCRM has discounted rates through a couple of car rental companies, and we got a good deal. 
  • Air tickets still remain to be done. We are going to finalize those this weekend. 
Before all this, we still have to go to Denver one more time for my post op appointment. I am desperately hoping my uterus looks more suitable to having a baby grow in there. My heart is being torn between absolute hope and absolute despair several times everyday. 

I'm reading blogs and posts from people who've just cycled at CCRM, and there are stories that range from disastrous to wonderful. Reading these stories is like a reality check / grounding exercise for me. I'm trying not to put all my eggs(pun unintended)  in one basket. I want desperately for CCRM to make magic and do a miracle for me. At the same time, I want to go into this cycle expecting the worst. I don't want to keep my hopes up so high, that the fall hurts too badly. 

I know I should think positive. I know I should not panic and bring bad energy into the cycle at any point. But I want to be realistic about my expectations. CCRM may be the best, but we all know in IF, there are no clinics or REs with 100% success rates. Even they can't make miracles where things are going wrong. There are so many things that could go wrong. Of course I hope and pray nothing does go wrong, but I will admit that more than once in the last few days, I have wondered if it would be more sensible to pull the plug here and say "Enough!" and not commit to spending thousands of dollars that we really cannot afford to at this point. 

I also know I've come so far and if I stop now, I will always wonder "What if....". So we are proceeding with the IVF. I don't know what the outcome will be. I hope for the best, but am preparing myself for the worst. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Her Own?

Here’s a little background on this incident.

I’ve been in touch with a couple of girls with whom I went to high school – all those many years ago. Let’s call them A and B.

"A" is a girl who I’ve mentioned here before. She got married, and after a couple of years, they discovered they weren’t getting pregnant. Her DH was against the idea of taking their private lives to doctors etc, so they decided to make their family by adopting. They first adopted a girl, and then later a little boy, and now they have a full family life. "A" has been in touch with me sometimes frequently, sometimes not so frequently. We haven’t met that often because we both live in different places now, and I don’t get to see her when I go home.

"B" is another girl who I’ve been in touch with off and on. She got married, had 2 kids, got immersed in being a stay at home mom, looking after her kids and hubby. Till very recently, she lived in the town where we grew up, so I got to see her every time I went home. She was never very connected online, so but for those visits home when I met her, there wasn’t much other interaction.

Recently, both "A" and "B" have connected with each other on a social networking site. The other day, "B" pinged me, and this was our conversation:

B: I see A with 2 children in many pictures. Who are they?
Me: They are her kids.
B: Her own? I thought she had issues. Good that things worked out for her.
Me: (Silence. I was trying to figure out how to answer that one. Yes, they are her own kids, but if I just say that, I don’t want B to say something insensitive to A. If I say they’re adopted – am I implying that they aren’t hers? I also had an under-current of anger in me. Why was it B’s business? Why does she need to know?
Finally I said: Yes, they are her own. She adopted them.
B: How sweet of her to adopt.

(And by the way – in all these years, "B" has NEVER asked me what’s going on with me – and I sort of appreciated that. But now I wonder if people talk like this behind my back. I guess they do – but like this?)

I was ruffled not just for A, but for myself and any other girl out there who is suffering from IF. Why is it the business of the world to ask and know and judge everything you do?

Tomorrow, if my IVF doesn’t work and I’m left with this raw wound gaping at me, and if at some point in the future, I do decide that I am ready to move forward with adoption, are people going to ask, “Are they her own?” or “How sweet of her to adopt”?

“Sweet”?? I think the sweet part would be the birth mother agreeing to trust us with her baby. The sweet part would be the baby embracing us as her own family. My action would be sweet if I were bringing home a bunny rabbit or a kitten! “How sweeeeet!!”

I know it shouldn’t bother me – the world will talk, and I can’t stop it from doing that, but it did bother me. It bothered me and made me defensive and “protective” of my friend "A". I know the pain she must have gone through before they healed their hearts with their adopted children.

I don’t know if I would have had the same sensitivity if I had not been dealing with IF myself. I shudder to think how I would have reacted – would I have said, “No they are not her own. They’re adopted.” ? God, I hope not.

IF has put so many things in perspective for me, made me so much more sensitive to other people’s situations, that in some ways, I am grateful for the challenges I’ve had to face.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shout it from the rooftops!

Shelby nominated me for the "I will not be silent about infertility award" - thank you Shelby. Yes, I'm at that "far along" stage of infertility where I'm beyond shame, and am one step away from roaming around with a sticky note on my forehead announcing "I'm infertile!"

The rules for posting this award are:

1. Link to this post so that others will read the original story behind the award
2. Nominate 4 others who have not been "silent about their infertility"
3. Enjoy speaking out and speaking up :D

And now my nominations:



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My bucket list

Heavyheart created a bucket list on her blog today, and tagged me to create one as well. Here is my bucket list - these are 10 things I would like to do before I die. 

1) Have a baby. Have a family which includes a few more human beings than it currently does.

2) Re-claim the person that I was before all this happened to me. I accept the fact that no matter where my journey ends, I will always carry these bruises. The badge of honor for being part of the IF world. I want to be able to re-claim my personality and try and find the old me. She was fun to be around! ☺

3) Travel. I want to visit all the continents and see the world. I’ve traveled a little, but there is so much more to see. I want to go to Australia, Africa, East Europe, South America…. All with DH of course!

4) I want to touch another person’s life enough to make a difference to that person – in a positive way. The ideal part of this would be if I could have a baby to nurture and help shape the personality of.

5) I want to have enough money to be able to run a fund that pay for IF treatments for those that cannot afford it. I know how much of a handicap money can be in the IF struggle, and I want to be able to make it easier for some people.

6) Rebuild some of the relationships I have lost over the last few years. I really miss some of my friends, and have great memories of fun times with them.

7) Be simply, positively, absolutely happy. Just be happy. Wake up happy. Look forward to the day. Go to bed happy.

8) Work out and make my injured leg strong enough so I can run and do things I could before the injuries – and if possible “forget” that it was ever injured!

9) I want to own a house on a beach. I want to wake up to views of the ocean, and go to bed hearing the waves.

10) I want to go on a cruise.

This is a nice way to put things in perspective. I am really not sure how many people to tag, so I will tag Nity, Nancy, April, Nichole, Lisa

What's on your bucket list? 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Out of the closet....

On her post yesterday, April talked about being open about infertility. She wrote really eloquently about the struggles to come out of the infertility closet. She wrote about how raw and exposed she felt talking about IF.

I have always been open about my feelings and more willing to talk than DH. He did not want to get our families involved, and he did not want them to know details of our personal life. So he didn’t tell his family, and I respected his wishes and didn’t tell mine.
He respected my “need” to talk to some of my closest friends, and so I was open with some friends right from the beginning.

After a while though, it became harder and harder to shield and answer questions from our families. At that point, we had been married over 6 years, and both sets of parents were keen on receiving “good news”. I got tired of lying to them, so I told DH that if he wanted to keep it from his family, he could. I was not going to keep my pain from my own parents any more. So I told my mom. It was so “relieving” to tell her, because now suddenly, I could talk to her without pretending that we weren’t ready yet, or that life was so cool and we hadn’t thought of having a baby yet.

DH saw the relief I felt, and the ease with which I was now able to converse with my folks, so he told his parents too. Informing them took a lot of pressure off of us. It made it so much easier to deal with things.

The support we received was incredible. The questions stopped – at least “those” questions stopped. Now the questions were more like “What does the doctor say?” or “What’s the next step now?”

Our IF was “unexplained” for the first 6 years. I think it was easier for us then to talk about it. “Doctors can’t say what’s wrong. All tests have always come back normal.” When DH’s balanced translocation was discovered, it added a layer of complexity to our situation.

I did not want to tell my family about his translocation, because I did not want any negative thoughts about him, ever, even subconsciously. DH told his family, and then we discovered cases among his mom’s siblings, which we now can attribute to the BT. His mom’s sister had 2 babies that died, and from the symptoms, they probably had an unbalanced translocation on the same chromosomes that DH’s BT is on.

We were suddenly dealing with chromosomes and percentages and genetics, and we did try to explain to some of our friends. I don’t think most of them got it. We were talking about doing a biopsy on the embryos (PGD), and most people did not understand what we were talking about. We were talking day 3 biopsy, vs. day 5 biopsy and the culture in the lab and FISH analysis etc. For even an average IFer, these are complex discussions. For a fertile friend for whom getting pregnant is only equated to intercourse, these were discussions that were Greek and Latin to them.

Then I got pregnant, and subsequently miscarried. After that, I completely shut off from the real world. I turned to online message boards, blogs and friends that live in my computer.

Since then, one chemical pregnancy and one ectopic pregnancy later, now, when I have the diagnosis of my T shaped uterus to add to the complexity of our case, I seem to have closed off from the real world even more. There are possibly 3-4 people in real life who know the entirety of our current situation.

I told my family about my uterus, and he didn’t tell his. I guess we do this out of protection of each other in front of our families. We told a couple of friends – the couple that are still friends enough to want to know.

However, I now find myself exhausted, and feeling very raw and exposed and vulnerable every time I go into a detailed discussion of all our issues. It’s one thing to say, “I’ve done 6 clomid cycles, 5 IUIs, 4 fresh IVFs so far” and leave it at that. It’s a whole different ballgame to get into chromosomal discussions, and uterine shape discussions and biopsy discussions!

So while I am definitely out of the closet, I’m tired. I am really tired of being infertile. I am tired and disgusted that I’ve let my IF become me. I’m tired at the length of my story on this topic. So tired that sometimes I have a hard time remembering how many clomid cycles we did or how many IUIs we did and whether the IUIs were with injectable drugs or with clomid!

I’m running out of steam, and I’m so ready to close this chapter. Come February, and whatever be our outcome, I am going to stop being infertile. I will either be pregnant, or I will be childless. ☹