April 29, 2008

Powerlessness revisited

Thanks everyone for being so encouraging and supportive to both me and Mr. Spicy. I think he did a pretty great job with his first blog post. Maybe I will finally convince him to start a blog of his own one day?

Well....bed rest was NOT what I had expected or hoped for.

I had imagined bed rest as this blissfully relaxing time of snuggling in bed with my husband, dreaming of our babies, visualizing the embryos implanting snuggly and safely in the warm, welcoming walls of my uterus. I imagined my body as a peaceful, fertile, serene home that the embryos would return to and quickly, rejoicing in their new accommodations, dig in and began growing. I saw myself knitting my first baby blanket and working my way through the stack of fluffy romantic comedies I had next to the TV. I was sure I would be the valedictorian of bed rest, lying on my back, barely moving, only getting up, very gingerly, to urinate and then returning to my horizontal position with the utmost grace and ease, never disturbing the process at work in my uterus.


Midway through the day on Sunday I began experiencing agonizing pain in my right shoulder. We tried icing it, we tried heat, I took Tylenol. Nothing seemed to help a whole lot. The pain was nerve pain and it radiated down my arm and up my neck. All the muscles in my neck and shoulder began seizing up in response. I could not get comfortable in any position. I was utterly miserable. In the evening the pain moved into my chest. My abdomen also felt full and tender. And I had a low-grade fever of 99.5.

The pain was intense, but the not-knowing why the pain was there was the worst. I knew that right shoulder pain could be a referred pain coming from something in my abdomen and I also knew that an embryo transfer should be relatively painless. All I could do was lie there in pain wondering what could be going wrong, and more importantly, if it was effecting the implantation of our embryos.

We called the clinic on Monday morning. At this point I was feeling tightness in my chest and nausea as well. They had us rush in for an ultrasound and bloodwork. I felt like a failure. I couldn't even make it through the whole 36 hours of bed rest properly. Mr. Spicy got me loaded into the car, reclined, and found a wheelchair at the hospital so I would be on my feet as little as possible. I felt like a complete dork as he wheeled me into our Dr.s office, un-showered, disheveled, and fully panicked.

The ultrasound showed a small amount of free fluid in my abdomen, and still very large ovaries. But, no obvious cause for my pain. And, of course, sitting upright for almost an hour had greatly decreased my pain, leaving me feeling like a big fat faker. So, I am sitting there, feeling like a fool as the Dr. tells me they can find no real reason for my pain: I am not experiencing OHSS as they had suspected but the small amount of blood and/or fluid in my abdomen could have migrated upward, while I was lying horizontally, and caused irritation of my diaphragm which in turn would cause the referred right shoulder pain....make sense? Yeah. So, great news that there was nothing wrong. But now I felt even more stupid for having to get out of bed and rush down there for nothing. As we were leaving a nurse said something about me possibly having a panic attack and I thought: "Great. Just great. They think I am some overly neurotic woman who just had a panic attack convincing herself something was wrong with her." This is especially discouraging because I have worked hard to be a positive and model patient up to this point. Oh well. With humility comes wisdom, right? I can only hope.

So we get home, and I prop myself up in bed having learned that sitting up pretty much eliminates most of the pain I had been plagued with for the past 24 hours. Duh. I am still uncomfortable and achy, but it is much more bearable. But then? Well, then - the painful, cramping, horrid, awful diarrhea begins. And I feel like my body is trying to rid itself of its entire internal contents. And I panic again because this? This does not seem any way conducive to the growth of new life in my belly.

Instead of a serene fertile garden, I feel like an active earthquake with sporadic lightning strikes.

So I spend the rest of the day thinking:

"There is no way this is going to work. My body is rejecting the embryos. My body sucks. My body doesn't want to be pregnant. This isn't how its supposed to be. This isn't how I planned it...."

and then:

" Stop thinking that! Stay positive! Women have become pregnant under far less than ideal circumstances. Everything will be fine! Think positive....imagine the embryos snug inside your uterus, safe and protected...visualize them.....breathe....."

Rinse. Repeat. Ad nauseum.

Until, about 10:30 last night I just lost it. Literally, I was on the floor sobbing so hard that my whole body was shaking. I just couldn't take it anymore. I felt completely worn down. Worn down by the pain. Worn down by the diarrhea. Worn down by hoping. Worn down by discouragement. Worn down by the "what ifs...?" and the "Whys....??". And mostly? Mostly worn down by powerlessness. How completely and utterly powerless I truly am in all of this. And how often I must continually be reminded of that fact.

I had done everything, everything I possibly could. And things had gone really well up until now. So....slowly I had begun to believe again that I might possibly have some teensy tiny ability to have a hand in how this all turns out. I believed that my positivity, my prayers, my will, my efforts might make some difference. I believed that if I could do bed rest "perfectly" it would guarantee that we would be pregnant. But instead, I barely made it through 24 hours of bed rest without having to get up and ride in a car and hop on an exam table, and then to top it all off my body began exploding. I felt like my body was rebelling. I felt like nothing was going the way I had imagined. And I had NO control. And there were NO guarantees.

Over and over in this process I have been confronted by my own powerlessness. This time it completely broke me down.

I lay on the floor sobbing and crying out about how desperately I want to be a mother, how desperately I want this to work, how hard it is to hope this much and have so little ability to control any of it, and how I felt like I had failed at this - this most important time of the whole cycle - the time when the embryos should have a quiet and peaceful place to implant and come home to. I just felt like a complete and utter failure.

I was thoroughly exhausted from holding all of this so carefully only to be reminded how small my hands truly are.


The good news is that today I am in a much better space. I was able to rest in bed most of the day without pain or explosive bodily functions. I was able to enjoy the resting and dream and even hope a little. (I even....gasp!....flipped through a pregnancy book.)

And I realized that the breakdown was good, even necessary. I needed to let go of the belief that if I do this perfectly I will somehow be able to will it to happen. I needed to let go of the panic and fear that I was trying so hard to keep bottled up so neatly. I needed to admit that I was afraid, that hoping this much, that wanting something this deeply - it is hard. It is really hard. I needed to reach out to Mr. Spicy, to admit I needed help with this. And to his credit, he rose to the occasion with a kindness and strength that did not surprise me, but reminded me again why I chose him. Today he asked how I was feeling and I said I was feeling better but still having trouble feeling hopeful after the last couple of days and he replied, "That's ok. I will be hopeful for both of us." And that's why I want to have his babies.

I know that my efforts do matter, my attitude does matters, my prayers do matter. But they do not mean I have power over any of this. And that is still a really hard pill to swallow.

All I can do is wait. And hope.

And that's a lot.

But just for good measure: Does anyone out there have a story of a craptastic bed rest that still resulted in a BFP, just to make me feel better? Hook a sister up!

p.s. just wanted you all to know that logging on this evening and seeing all your supportive, hopeful, kind, loving, and encouraging comments really did wonders for my heart. Thank you. It makes such a huge difference to be reminded that we are not alone. Thank you for holding hope for us.

April 27, 2008

On behalf of my spicy wife

Mrs. Spicy is on bed rest with 2 embryos for company for the next day and a half. She agreed to allow me, Mr. Spicy, to try my hand at posting my very first blog. Please bear with me.

It has been an amazing and crazy ride and she has diligently and creatively covered the pertinent details... She's a tough act to follow but I'll do my best to cover today's events in my own Spicy way. Before I get too far I want to say thanks to you - this amazing community that has followed our journey virtually and made a small place for us in your hearts.

Today began at 4am because we had a few things to do besides the normal shower. We prayed together silently becauses sometimes silence works a bit better. She also had me light this stick of marajuana smelling herb called "moxa", given to us by her accupuncturist, and then move it slowly over her belly. Ok, I never thought I'd be moving a burning stick of herbs over my wife's belly at 5am in the morning because I have, or she has, some small hope that it's going to contribute to getting her "aligned" and therefore increase our chances of pregnancy. I thought the nurses at the center would think we were a cute pothead couple until I got into the elevator after checking in and hit the cloud of moxa left by another couple. Who knows how many people in my past I've labeled as potheads when really they were just a couple trying to get pregnant?

They gave her a valium and after 15 minutes she thought it was the BEST idea. She remembered how wonderful I really am and started to tell me about it in detail. It was great.

Before they brought in the embryos they gave us the report. Two grade AA blastocysts - perfect. There were a few stragglers that would probably make it to the freezer as well. Then they wheeled in the embryos and let us see them on a flat screen. I'm staring at what could be our two babies in 9 mos on a 19 inch flat screen. The lights were dim and it was... holy. Mrs. Spicy blurted out, "They're beautiful!" and the doctor said, "You're saying that out of emotion but it's true." Hovering there illuminated, vulnerable with so much that could be, two little beginnings. It is impossible not to hope.

Everything went well and now Mrs. Spicy is next to me asking for juice with her feet up on pillows and a stack of videos next to her. She's feeling a bit uncomfortable because she's not one to lay in bed all day and she's sore.

Thanks for all your good thoughts, and for taking the time to be with us here.

April 25, 2008

Because they didn't have anything available at 3am....

So....a little while ago a nurse called. She told me that my transfer would be at 11:15 on Sunday. I would need to be there by 10:15. Great. Perfect. No problems. We scheduled my pregnancy test for May 6th and all was good.

Then she called back:

"We need to change your transfer time on Sunday. Your transfer will be at 7:30am. We need you to be here by 6:30am."

Um, ok.

We will leave our house at 5:30am. It will still be dark.

Of course now I am freaking out - why am I moved earlier? Is it bad luck to possibly be the FIRST transfer of the day? Will the doctor even be AWAKE at that hour?

Also - this means I will have to see my acupuncturist on Saturday instead of the morning of transfer. Because I very much doubt that she likes to see patients at o-dark-thirty in the morning. So now I am worried that will be a bad thing. I know she will tell me it doesn't matter, that the treatment will still *work*. But I can't help but wish it was happening differently.

Talk about having to let go of my control, right?

Ugh. I *know* this is so not a big deal. But still. Freaking out here.

Just because I can.

(I know, it will be fine. They are professionals. An early transfer isn't a bad thing. I know, I know. I will be fine. Just needed to spaz out a little. Sorry.)

Perfect Peppers

Well we got the call this morning.

Me: Hello...

Embryologist: Hi this is______ from Embryology, do you have a minute to talk?

Me: Sure.

* I had only been sitting there cradling the phone in my hands all morning waiting for you to call...but yeah, I think I can spare a few minutes to hear about our EMBRYOS.*

Anyway - here's the good news:

We are still on for a Sunday, 5-day transfer.

We have 7 pepper seeds (embryos) in the "perfect range" of 6-10 cells.

There are 4 others lagging behind: 1 at 5 cells, 2 at 4 cells, and 1 at 2 cells.

3 arrested and did not grow after fertilization.

So, 7 perfect little pepper seeds, great news right????

Except, I am always one to root for the underdog (seriously, if you know of any sports teams who have never won a game, let me know and I will get their name tattooed on my ass), so I find myself sad for the 3 who didn't make it and rooting for the others to catch up. It's hard for me to get into the mindset of of judging them on their performance, rooting for the winners.

Really, I stopped playing chess in my early 20s because I felt bad for the pawns. I saw them as the young troops being sent to the front lines with no regard for their safety. I hated deciding which parts of my "army" were expendable and which deserved protection. This isn't quite like that, the decision is not in our hands - but still.

A friend today helpfully reminded me that the process that is happening now is the same natural selection process that happens inside women's bodies all the time. Not every fertilization results in an embryo, not every embryo implants, etc.... And actually there are studies now that show (analyzing a chemical released during fertilization) that in cases where an egg becomes fertilized "naturally" within the body, as many as 43-80% of the times it does not result in implantation or pregnancy. So, there is a selection process that happens in nature as well. Ours is just happening out in the open where we can see it and comment on it.

And - really, when I think about it - all of these little peppers are underdogs. It took extraordinary measures just to get them here, and they are fighting against pretty big obstacles and odds to make it to the finish line: transfer, implantation, gestation, and birth. They are all survivors and I am proud of myself for my part in them, and proud of them for growing so well in such, well, unnatural conditions.

And I am also reminded that there is, as always, something much larger at work here. A mystery that brings this life, that helps it to grow, that shows up and works its magic. And I am grateful to that Mystery, to that magic, for how far we have come together.

For seven perfect little pepper seeds.

And for seven not-so perfect pepper seeds.

The magic is in them all.

April 23, 2008

Our Very Own Red Hot Chili Peppers.....

The fertilization report is in! 14 eggs fertilized!

They did 9 with ICSI and 8 with "regular" insemination. All 9 of the ICSI eggs fertilized. 5 of the other batch fertilized as well.

We will know more on Friday morning when the embryologist calls with the 3-day report, but for now all looks good and we are planning on a 5 day transfer on Sunday.

I still am in disbelief that we are here. That our embryos are fertilized and growing. That in a lab, across town, my eggs and Mr. Spicy's sperm have finally united and created 14 little unique and mysterious beings. This is the first time that we are aware of that this has ever happened. It feels completely magical.

Mr. Spicy and I talked on the phone earlier and he commented on how well every step of this has gone. We are amazed at how smoothly it has all transpired. But it does leave us with this nagging question: "Why didn't it just happen on its own?" Because we have unexplained infertility and have absolutely no clue as to why we haven't been able to conceive on our own, we thought surely the IVF process would shine light on a particular area that may have been holding us up. Maybe there wouldn't be enough eggs, or they wouldn't be the best quality, or they wouldn't fertilize well..... Don't get me wrong - we are so incredibly thankful that everything has gone so well - perfectly in fact. And at this point we are desperately hoping our great fortune continues. We know we aren't out of the woods yet, by far. But, it does leave us wondering and a little nervous that the part that has been preventing us from conceiving is still to be revealed....

Because my blog name, and my family's nickname for me is Spicy Sister, my middle sister came up with the brilliant idea that we refer to our embryos as peppers. She even provided me with a short list of pepper names I could use.

So, I am going back and forth between calling them our "Pepper Patch" and calling them our "Red Hot Chile Peppers" - I think I like the latter the best...it suits my rock-n-roll roots and makes me think of our future children as becoming spicy little peppers (just like their mama) - adding lots more flavor to the world every day. What do you think?

We are also still picking our pepper-related names for the two that we will transfer. Poblano and Serano are at the top of our list right now....any other suggestions?

Pepper picture borrowed from here.*** ***Day 1 Embryo picture borrowed from here***

Might as well stock up on the tie-dye now....

"You can arrest me later!" - Not words you would expect to come out of your husband's mouth to a police officer...and yet?

Yesterday, we left early to make our 1pm appt. Which is good, because the two of us together are chronically late and planning to arrive by 12:30 means we might actually make it there by 1pm. Well, all was going well until we hit a major traffic jam at our highway exit. Cars were barely moving and minutes were ticking by. We began to freak out about making it to our appt on time.

So, Mr. Spicy pulled onto the shoulder and began to navigate his way around all the other cars waiting in line. Personally, I felt torn - I HATE when people do this, it's pretty rude and it certainly violates the small "rule follower" inside of me - but on the other hand, we had a very important time-sensitive appointment to attend to. So I kind of crouched down in my seat, trying to avoid the scornful stares of those we were passing by.

Next thing I know, we are being pulled over. Mr. Spicy stops the car and jumps out - running back to the officer's car and yelling something to him about our appointment. I then hear something come out of Mr. Spicy's mouth that filled me with complete panic:

"You can arrest me later! We have an appointment to make."

I then realize that Mr. Spicy's brain is obviously not working properly at this moment, so I get out of the car to try to smooth things over. The officer directs us back to our car, takes Mr. Spicy's pertinent papers and tells us that we were being stupid, we could have caused an accident, etc...etc... All the while I am frantically relating how important it is that we make it there by 1, and that I am about to undergo ANESTHESIA!!!! Don't you understand, sir? ANESTHESIA!!!! Ok, so maybe I am a bit of a drama queen - just a bit.

Thankfully, he took pity on us, gave us one more stern warning and let us go with (I am not kidding here): "Go forth and sin no more."

As we drove away we began laughing hysterically and couldn't stop laughing until we were sitting in the 2nd floor waiting room awaiting our procedures. Literally, I was doubled over in the elevator laughing so hard I could barely breathe! I simply could not believe all of that had just happened! If you know Mr. Spicy, you are well aware how out of character it would be for him to do that. Except, here's the thing. Mr. Spicy can get crazy fierce if someone is interfering with the care of someone he loves. He's someone you want advocating for you if you are ever in a hospital, to be sure. But he is just not typically the high-strung or yelling type. So it just added to the complete bizarreness of the whole situation.

But, we made it. On time. With 5 minutes to spare. Whew!

And, who should be waiting for us in the parking lot but my wonderful and amazing counselor, Sharon, with a big bouquet of flowers for me and a giant hug. She lives close to the center and had come and waited in the parking lot to see us briefly before we went in. I felt badly for making her wait so long since we thought we would have been there 20 minutes prior, but it was soooo good to see her. I am still incredibly humbled and grateful that she reached out to us this way on our big day. She has a truly beautiful heart. Thank you Sharon.

And on that note, I am really humbled by and grateful for all the amazing support I have received over the last several days through emails, comments on my blog, phone calls, and a very sweet e-card. There have been so many moments in this journey that felt so lonely and isolating. But yesterday felt very far from that. Yesterday I felt held, and loved, and cheered on by all the words and blessings and prayers that so many of you gave to me, to us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Ok - so I won't make you read any further before I give you the news......we got 17 Eggs!!!!!!

Yep! 17!

We haven't gotten the fertilization report in yet because our retrieval was so late in the day (we were literally the last ones there....they were shutting all the lights off as we walked out). The embryologist said we should hear from them by noon or so.....

There was a scare yesterday when the nurse told us they were worried about me hyper-stimulating and they began to go over all the risks of hyper-stimulation with me, talked about the possibility of having to freeze all of the embryos if I was too hyper-stimulated to make it to transfer, and gave me IV meds to pull some of the fluid from my abdomen. I had been feeling pretty good and positive until that point, and then I just got very quiet and anxious. Mr. Spicy, who has become quite the optimist through all of this, just kept telling me, "Everything will be fine. You will be fine." and teased me about needing to be such an over-achiever all the time that I just produced so many follicles that they were a little worried.

And, Mr. Spicy was right. Again. I won't tell you what I owe him for this. But, after a night of eating super-salty foods (mmmmm, french fries... Doritos.... salted nuts....cheeseburger....), drinking my weight in Gatorade, waking up hourly to pee, and losing 5+ pounds between last night and this morning in fluid alone - I went in this morning bright and early for an ultrasound. And the ultrasound showed virtually no fluid in my abdomen. Yay!!! Plus, Carrie - my all time favorite ultrasonographer did the u/s and I got to meet with Amber, my nurse. It was really good to see them after spending most of the day yesterday with so many people I had never met before. Seeing Carrie and Amber feels like getting to see "my team".

So, good news. 17 follicles. No severe hyper-stimulation. And we are planning on a 5 day transfer on Sunday.

One more thing....

yesterday's conversation in the car (prior to the police incident):

Me: My eggs are being harvested on Earth Day, isn't that cool???

Mr. S: Yes, that's really cool.

(repeat x 3)

Me: But you know what???? What's really cool? Our babies are being conceived today! On Earth Day!!!!

Mr. S: Yep.

(repeat x 3)

Me: So, we'll always be able to tell them: "You were conceived on Earth Day". How cool is that?

Mr. S: There's no hope now. We are definitely having hippie babies. Might as well stock up on the tie-dye now.

April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. A fitting day for our egg retrieval and fertilization to occur on, no?

(1 hour till we leave)

In honor of Earth Day I wanted to share with you a post made recently on one of my favorite blogs, which also happens to be written by one of my favorite people in the world.

I will allow you to read about Alwen on her site, but I am always grateful when she writes about what is happening in her life, in her heart, in her mind. She is a wonderful person and a great writer who also happens to be a mother, a student, a wife, and a friend. She has a unique way of really inhabiting her life fully and taking into account her connection to and impact on the world around her and the people in it.

In a recent post of hers, entitled "Confessions of an Everyday, Ethical Mama" she writes:

I have accepted (or am trying to) that part of being human means that we are inextricably linked to one another and to this cosmos in a way that is both beautiful and troubling. It means that we are ethically bound to seek others' best as we also seek our own because everything we do inevitably affects the world around us.

What is powerful about this post is not only the truth of the above statement, but the process she has gone through to find a way to incorporate this truth into her mothering of her daughter and the way she identifies herself as a mom.

She is thinking not only about what will make her daughter thrive, but how choices she makes as a mother, as a human being, can allow others to thrive as well.

I often have a hard time with this concept. I am easily overwhelmed by the messages that there is so much wrong with this world and the ways that we treat one another . I often feel overwhelmed by this and become paralyzed, giving up my opportunity to create change or even lessen my own negative impact on humanity and the earth because it feels too big - too much. This is not to say I do nothing. But, it does mean that even when I do something good - I am not doing it with a sense of consciousness, awareness, and love.

One of the things that is so attractive to me about my friend's post and the way she lives is that I sense an invitation to living in a place of connectivity to one another, to the earth, to life. And invitation without judgment or condescention or condemnation. And that, can be a very rare thing.

At the end of her post she writes:

But I think this desire to be aware of my connection to the pain in the world and to actively do all I can to transform that through my everyday choices is at the base of how I understand myself as a mother. It is really, really important to me to help my child see how she is linked to others in the world in joyful and in painful ways. I want to model to her the ability to make choices about living with a deep consciousness and love born from this awareness.

In writing this, she is not only inviting her daughter to a life lived with awareness and consciousness born out of love for humanity - but, I feel, she invites us all to this place. This place of asking how the choices we make affect other human beings. How we can make changes, from subtle small ones, to large life-changing ones - changes that reflect our desire to make our impact on this world a little less negative and painful and a bit more hopeful and life-giving.

And, as a bonus - she has included a list of organizations and places to shop, that she utilizes. Go check out her post - add your own organizations and tips for living more ethically.

And on this Earth Day, may you be reminded of how truly connected we are and may you feel invited to live with a greater awareness and consciousness that comes from love and respect for others who share this world with us.

April 21, 2008

Letting Go....

Today I am preparing to let go again.

Throughout this long journey over the last two and a half years there has been an almost singularly consistent theme of letting go.

Letting go of my ideas, my expectations, my control (always letting go of my control). Letting go of the timing, of the methods, of my understanding..... Letting go, at times, of my faith, my hope, my happiness, my sense of security, my plans, my own strength..... Always, always, letting go.

And one of the worst things you could have said to me during this time was that I needed to "just let go". Because, sometimes, I think the person saying that has the idea that letting go will be this peaceful happy thing. You will just choose to let go and poof! just like that you will be free from whatever you were clinging to so tightly.

Anyone who has ever really been forced to let go knows it doesn't happen this way. It is often painful and there is a lot of struggling and grieving involved. We don't hold tightly to things that don't matter deeply to us.

Sure, growth comes through this pain. Sure, letting go of one thing often opens you up to so much more. Sure, it is a process that will almost surely bring deep rewards. But - it is not easy. And there is no such thing as "just letting go".

That being said, I realized last night that the egg retrieval will be, for me, another profound experience of letting go.

The last couple of weeks, as I endured and welcomed the hormones surging through my body, I have been focused intently on growing these many little follicles inside of me. I envision them as grapes, or sometimes as a pepper patch ripening in the garden. I visualize their growth. I tenderly and gently rub my belly where I could feel them becoming more full. As I walked in the sunshine, I imagine the follicles soaking up the sun, becoming ever more full and ripe. I think carefully about what I am eating, drinking, and what vitamins I am taking - I want to give them the best possible nutrients for growing. I am nurturing life inside of me that is growing in a way it never has before.

Truly, the closest I have ever been to nurturing a baby growing inside of me.

So, it is no wonder that having them removed from me tomorrow fills me with just a little sadness and trepidation. I am sending my eggs, a part of myself that I have lovingly nurtured and cared for, out into the world - to be counted, scored, poked, prodded, and fertilized. They will join with sperm and become the embryos that they were meant to become. They will grow in dishes. All outside of my body. Outside of my careful watch. Outside of my control. I am entrusting scientists I have never met (albeit very very talented and brilliant scientists) with the care of these precious little cells, until they are to be returned to me to care for once more. This is more than a little scary. Of course, there is no alternative - this is what must happen for them to become what they are growing to be, what they are destined to be. But still, it makes me a little sad to know that tomorrow they will all be gone. Outside of my body, outside of my care, outside of my hands.....

So, once again, I am practicing letting go. And I am much better at it than I was a year, or even six months ago. So that's at least something.

Today I wanted to prepare myself for this in the only way I know how, through ritual. So, I bathed. Yes, I do bathe daily - but this was a special bath.

First, I scrubbed myself all over with a sea salt scrub - washing away my anxiety, my fear, anything holding me back from this next step. Releasing. Then, I filled the tub with warm water and added rose petals from the roses that have been by my bed for the last week or so, and grapeseed and rose oil. I descended into the water, submerging myself in the warmth and comfort and aromas. I piled rose petals upon my belly and talked to my follicles and the precious eggs they contain. I told them what would happen tomorrow, and the next several days. I told them how excited I was for two of them to return to me at the end of the week. I told them how hopeful I was. And I that I hoped I had given them everything they would need to grow, to thrive, to succeed. I imagined the bath as a pool of love that I was washing them, and myself, in before sending them on.

I emerged from the bath comforted, warmed, softened, peaceful, and ready.

I am going to have to let go. I have done all I can. The rest is a mystery.

April 20, 2008

Pulling the Trigger

Quick update so I can get back out to my gardening.....

5-7 Follicles on the Left ranging from 1.3 - 2.1

10+ Follicles on the Right ranging from 1.6 - 2.1 (with one at 2.5)

Lining: still "about 13"

So, we got the call this afternoon:

We are doing the trigger shot at 3 a.m. tomorrow morning. We'll be setting a few alarms tonight for sure! (for those not versed in IVF - the trigger shot is a high dose of HCG that will cause final maturation of the eggs and ready them for "ovulation" - or retrieval in our case - in 36 hours.)

No more Gonal F tonight, no meds tomorrow at all. Which has me worried - I thought you usually do Lupron all the way to retrieval? I am just super paranoid at this point....everything has gone so well - I would hate for something to happen now like ovulating on my own before retrieval!

I will go in tomorrow to get blood work and I can't wait. I am definitely missing talking with my nurse, Amber. The nurses this weekend have been really kind and great - I am just used to communicating with Amber and will feel better when I can run everything past her.

SO - Retrieval will be......TUESDAY!!!! We have to be there at 1pm. Which means, I will have had no food or drink for 13 hours at that point? (no food or drink after midnight the night before) That doesn't seem right. I will have to ask Amber about that tomorrow.

But wow. TUESDAY!!! We are really really really gonna do this!!!!

Oh....found out my Estrogen was 2700 yesterday - forgot to ask the nurse today because well, she said "Retrieval" and my head pretty much exploded after that.

I am so excited for this next step!!!!

April 19, 2008

Stims: Day 8....everything looks great! (why do I feel so weird?)

Well, we made it to The Palace (as Denise appropriately refers to it) by 8:30am this morning, despite being up until 1:30am and having to drive nearly 40 minutes to get there. This is CCRM's main office - where all the magic happens, where I committed RE stalking not too long ago. It is quite impressive. Driving up to an entire building devoted to infertility - it's a little awe inspiring.

I got my first real peek behind the doors of this mansion of reproductive technology. Wow. I am used to going to the satellite office, which is just that, merely an office - well, a suite of rooms and offices really - that takes up roughly a corner of one floor of a building attached to a hospital. At any one time I may see a total of 3, maybe 4 nurses in the halls or rooms as I pass through. At the Palace, as we were ushered into the ultrasound room, I saw dozens of people coming in and out of rooms, waiting in chairs, walking down hallways. It felt like I had been brought into a secret underground world of the future - all the technology, the talk of blood work, drugs, follicles, etc....and the absence of men. Except for Mr. Spicy, that is. He came back to watch the ultrasound, sat with me during our consult with the nurse, and waited with me for my blood draw. And boy did he get an earful.

The biggest difference for me at the Palace was how talkative all the other patients were. As we waited for our blood draws, women would sit and share intimate details about their cycles, the side effects they may be experiencing, where they were from (if from out of town), etc. I kind of liked this instant intimacy and openness but it definitely caught me off guard. At my usual office there are rarely more than 2-3 people waiting in the waiting room at one time and all of us smile politely at eachother and read our magazines as we wait. At the Palace, women asked eachother about their retrieval dates, what meds they were taking, how injections were going - it was really wild. All that was missing was a little coffee.

And Mr. Spicy sat there, listening and engaging these women with interest and compassion. When I returned from my blood draw, I found him listening intently as a woman was relating details about something to do with her cycle to him. And I had to wait for her to finish her story before I could retrieve my husband and leave. It made me smile. On the way home, he related to me what each woman had shared and we both wished them all success with their cycles.

So....now for my numbers....

Follicles: 16-18

Size : 1.5 - 2.0

lining: "about 13"

No Gonal F shot tonight, and only 1 vial of Menopur in the morning again. Then we hit the Palace bright and early at 8:30am once more. woo hoo.

I missed the call from the nurse with my results and on her message she just told me my meds dosages but not my blood results. I know that knowing the exact numbers doesn't change anything - but I like to have them. Kinda bummed I didn't get them today. Actually, this is something I have noticed with several of the nurses who I have dealt with recently - they will tell me "everything looks good!" but I have to ask for specific numbers, measurements, results. It makes me wonder - am I the weird one here, or are they? It seems really normal for me to want as much information as possible, to be tracking this progress as closely as they are - to be educated at each step. But maybe that's unusual? Maybe I am just a complete control freak and most patients feel secure with a simple, "everything looks good..."? My usual nurse and ultrasonographer are really great about giving me as much info as possible without my having to ask - it's just the nurses who I don't usually deal with who do this. So maybe they just automatically take the "less is more" approach with info unless you ask? I will be asking. I'm just saying.


After my appointment, I headed out to meet with the Colobloggers. I have been excited for this meeting all month. There are quite a few of us in the midst of a cycle or preparing to start a cycle, or just getting closer in general. It is exciting and I am hoping for a very fruitful and fertile Spring for us all. I really enjoyed seeing everyone and getting to meet Jen for the very first time.

I felt weird though - socially awkward. And I can't discern whether I am just imagining this, whether the social awkwardness was all mine, or whether the meeting just had a different vibe than last time. I think it may be a combination of all three. I certainly was not at my best - sleep deprived, hormonal, spacey, and dealing with my social anxiety by becoming overly talkative and extroverted - I just felt so out of it.

It is especially hard when I know so many of these women read my blog, and I comment on theirs. And in the blogging world, I can sit with someone's words, I can ponder them, I can respond with thoughtfulness and compassion. I can also present my own ramblings through well thought-out posts and useful editing that help me to reveal my truest self. But when we meet up in person - well, there's no spell check, to put it mildly. And I fear that my real life personality will not live up to my blogging personality.

Honestly, lately I have had trouble connecting with everyone I have met with over the last week. I don't know if it is hormones, stress, or just a result of being immersed in my own world at the moment - but I just feel like I am not communicating well or connecting well with people. I find things coming out of my mouth that I didn't mean to say, as if I have no internal censor. I find myself having trouble relating and responding in the ways I would like to. Ugh. And then, then, I feel shameful about it all. Because I really want to connect, and I want to be better than this at hearing people, listening to them, and responding to them - I want to be able to be myself at my very best. To give to others from my very best.

I wasn't at my very best today. Sorry for that, ladies. Mostly, I hope I didn't step on anyone's toes, offend anyone, or stifle anyone else from expressing themselves. I could see how, at different points this morning, I might have. And that so was not my intention or desire. So, I am sorry.

But it was really good to see everyone. Really.

April 17, 2008

Day 4 of Stims...

Follicles: 15+ ....ranging from .8 - 1.3cm with most about 1.1-1.2cm

Lining: 12 !!! (can this get TOO big?)

Waiting on blood results and dosage instructions for tonight and tomorrow.

It's amazing how nerve-wracking this all is, even when it is all going so well!

I saw my wonderful counselor yesterday and one of the interesting thoughts I am taking away from my time with her is this:

What if we measured our personal growth with as much excitement and attention as we measure these follicles? We get excited over each millimeter in growth, the entire process depends on such minuscule measurements being just the right size at just the right time - what if we allowed ourselves to be that hopeful, to pay that much attention to the tiny bits of growth that happen in our hearts, in our lives, in our relationships from day to day?


Updated to add:

Estrogen: 1182

Progesterone: 0.4

LH: 3.9

- Updated protocol:
tonight - 150 Gonal F

tomorrow - 2 vials Menopur, 75 Gonal F

Sat. - 1 vial Menopur

No appt tomorrow. Next bw and u/s is Saturday - at the main center (the one I stalked a couple week ago).

It will be nice to have a legitimate reason to go check it out. :)

Had acupuncture today and met a good friend for a walk. I was feeling kinda funky this morning, but I think the acupuncture is helping - I feel a little better right now. But I am soooooooo tired!!!!

Yawn. Must nap. Now.

April 15, 2008

Fah-reaking out

So. I just realized when I went to do my shot tonight :

1. Today it got crazy warm in Denver, high of 82.

2. We do not have air conditioning.

3. I keep my meds in a cardboard box on the floor of our bedroom next to our bed.

4. Those meds all need to be kept under 77 degrees. At least that's what the boxes say.

5. I have NO way of knowing how warm it got in our bedroom today (it's on the second floor).

Did I ruin it? Are all our meds ruined? The Gonal F is in the fridge, so that's safe....but what about everything else? Shit. Shit. Shit.

I am going to try calling the pharmacy. And then maybe the nurse on call.

Yes, I am that freaked out.

Anyone have any experience or advice about this?


I spoke with the pharmacy AND the nurse on call. They were both really kind and didn't seem annoyed that I was calling them freaking out. Both thought it was probably not a big deal. The main drugs to worry about would be the Lupron and the Gonal-F. The Gonal-F was downstairs in the fridge - I just took one box out of the fridge this afternoon and put it on the counter (ironically to warm up). So, it was probably fine. They asked if the Lupron felt warm to the touch at all and it didn't so they thought it was probably fine. The pharmacy rep reminded me that these drugs are shipped all over the place, are left in warehouses overnight, etc. and she said she assumed that they probably weren't as fragile as we imagined. Probably. I guess I will have to live with probably for now.

Mr. Spicy thinks I am a total spazz right now. I am. I just am so scared that I could have ruined everything for us.

I suppose that getting scared won't help matters any....so I will just have to try to have faith that everything is going to be ok.

Everything is going to be ok. (If I repeat this enough, will I finally believe it?)

And we are on our way....

Day 4 of stims:

Went in for bloodwork, ultrasound, and pre-op physical today.

Iron: 15.4 (above 12 is good)

Follicles: 12 around the same size (.8-1.0 cm) and 4-5 smaller ones.

Uterine lining: 9.5

So far everything looks really really good! I will get the bloodwork results this afternoon. Originally I wasn't scheduled to go back until Thu, but Amber said I may need to come back tomorrow since everything is looking so good and I have responded so well so quickly.

We talked with Amber for awhile at the end of the appointment and she commented that each time I come in I seem more at peace and more calm and happy. It was good to hear this since I feel like I have been working pretty hard at taking good care of myself during this time, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. She talked us through the whole process again, always saying, "when you get your positive pregnancy test", "at your first ultrasound...", " the bloodwork will show that you are pregnant"....etc. I really appreciated this. The positivity, the absoluteness of "I will" be pregnant. I beamed at Mr. Spicy all the way home and kept repeating: "Twelve! Twelve honey! That's eleven more than I make on my own! That's such a good number!"

I feel really really happy with these results. I know the numbers are just that: numbers. But right now I feel so proud of my body for doing exactly what she is supposed to be doing and I am feeling so hopeful and excited I can barely stand it!!!

I'll update this when I get the bloodwork back this afternoon - I'll also add that salmon recipe too since so many of you asked about it.

Updated to add:

Blood work results:

Estrogen: 534
Progesterone: 0.2
LH: 3.0

I don't have a real clear idea what all these numbers mean but the nurse calling said they were all in the good range. Amber told us earlier today that today's bloodwork would not mean a whole lot since this is really just the beginning.

I am still to do 300u of Gonal F tonight, and 2 vials of Menopur in the morning, but tomorrow night I decrease the Gonal F dosage to 150. Then Thu morning we will do u/s and b/w again and see what's what. I am curious about the decreasing dosage tomorrow night? Maybe they are just slowing me down? I will have to ask more questions on Thu. Any thoughts on this?

and....I will get that salmon recipe up. But I have to go make dinner now (Spaghetti Bolognese) and I am really wiped out - I think I got 3 or 4 hours of sleep last night.

Thanks for all the good wishes and support! It is really encouraging - more than you could imagine.

April 14, 2008

Home making

Since deciding to leave my job, and then subsequently losing my job....I have been unemployed. There is only one other time, since I was 17, that I have been unemployed for such a stretch. It was the couple of months I took off after leaving my job of 4+ years as a certified veterinary technician while I prepared to go back to college at 29 and finish my bachelors degree.

That break I took before going back to college felt really different than this one. I was still struggling through the depression and angst brought on by the massive identity crisis I went through in the first year of my marriage and I was incredibly resistant to acting in any way like a "typical Betty Crocker house wife". So, even though my partner was working all day and supporting us both financially, I felt entitled to do very little in the way of "housekeeping" and instead spent days indulging in various comforting activities such as watching really bad soap operas and day time television. Because that isn't right out of some stereotypical housewife script, right? The truth is, I had a really hard time finding a way to be "me" in the context of marriage. I had, and have, an incredibly loving and supportive partner - but marriage just carried so much baggage for me. The word "wife" felt like a heavy and uncomfortable piece of clothing that I couldn't figure out how to make my own. While I did need some of that time to just veg out, convalesce, regroup - it was really hard on Mr. Spicy because not only was he carrying all the burden financially, but he would come home at night to a messy house, a depressed wife, and a "to do" list that just kept growing.

It's not a period I am entirely proud of.

So, when we contemplated my being unemployed while we went through IVF together - it took a lot of faith on the part of Mr. Spicy, and a lot of optimism on my part, that we would not be revisiting that time. I was, and am, very aware of the great luxury and good fortune that I am being afforded in being able to have this time off - in being able to just focus on IVF, and I did not, and do not, want to take that for granted for a minute. I promised him, and myself, that this time would be very different. I am a different person now. I no longer feel fear that I will somehow morph into some version of a cookie-cutter, 1950s housewife that I am not. I have claimed my role as his wife and partner and made it my own, and I love that role. I have found solace and pride in our home, in the first home that has ever truly been mine, and I have enjoyed bringing my creativity to it more and more every year. But still, I wondered how I would react to no longer counting my contribution to this household in part by hours worked or money earned but solely on what I could contribute to our home, our meals, our garden, our time together.... Would I be able to hold my own there? Or would I descend into procrastination and avoidance again?

So far, I am greatly pleased to find that I am able to hold my own. I am not the most efficient or quick house cleaner. I am not the most organized home keeper. But, I am accomplishing a lot and more importantly, I am enjoying it. I am enjoying cleaning out clutter, re-organizing and creating new spaces for us, and taking care of us during this time. I am also rediscovering things I really love, like throwing the doors open on a sunny day, cleaning something really well with hot and soapy water, planning our gardening, taking care of our dogs, grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking.

Today I was in the kitchen, sunlight streaming in the windows, Feist booming on the stereo, and I was chopping garlic and cilantro for the marinade I was preparing to plop some salmon filets in for dinner tonight. I was completely delighted and filled with joy down to my toes. The smell of the cilantro and garlic, the oil of the garlic coating my fingers, the green leafy-ness of the cilantro - it was intoxicating. I remembered that I love this experience. I love creating with food. I love the relationship with the food as I prepare it, feeling it, smelling it, tasting it, marveling at the colors and textures and beauty inherent in each ingredient. I love the alchemy at work in mixing these different pieces together, chopping, mixing, blending, squishing, stirring, kneading them together - to create something new that is decidedly greater than the sum of its parts. It's close to what I experience when I am painting. I especially love creating meals that I know will nourish and bring comfort to someone I love. Today I was preparing salmon for a Thai salmon dish that Mr. Spicy loves. It is a simple recipe, but it tastes so good and it brings him such joy that I couldn't help but smile as I prepared it, infusing it with my love for him - and my gratitude that his hard work and earning potential and incredible generosity are making it possible for me to have a moment like this, alone, in the kitchen, delighting in our home, delighting in creating, delighting in being a home maker.

I am a stay-at-home home maker.

Making a home for us.

And unexpectedly, loving it.

Road signs.....

Day 3 of stims:

Well, generally I try to think of all these hormones and drugs surging through my blood stream as helpful things, fertilizers, good things that will help me to get pregnant. I stay positive during the shots each morning and evening by believing that I am getting to help, doing something that will ultimately help me to become a mother. I try to stay focused on the dream of our family to come and know that every poke and every mood swing are just markers along the road to becoming that family. But, I think it's important to at least make note of some of the side effects of these fertilizers, some of the not so pleasant reminders that we are in the thick of IVF right now....

1. Memory loss - I am losing things left and right. Leaving my phone in the car, misplacing things over and over, and forgetting why I am standing in a room at any given second.

2. Sleep disruption - I am usually a very good and hard sleeper. Now? Not so much. Mostly, waking up in the middle of the night for hours at a time or unable to fall right to sleep when exhausted.

3. Exhaustion - can. not. make. it. through. the. day. without. a. nap. (or two)

4. Headaches - stop. poking. my. head. with. that. very. pointy. stick. please.

5. Alternating between being ravenous and being nauseous - "must eat NOW." followed by "can't eat - wanna puke."

6. Mood swings - I'm happy! I'm excited! I'm sad! I'm furious! I'm depressed! I'm hopeful! I'm anxious! I'm agitated! I want to crawl in a hole! I want to dance! Yay!

7. And the expected bloating, backaches, and lower abdominal pressure. - which I am interpreting as a good sign the follicles are growing.

So, I am not feeling my best. But it's ok. The sun is shining. And all these little road signs are telling me that my body is responding to the hormones and (hopefully) that my little precious grapes are growing full and round inside of me. I just need to slow down and be a little more gentle with myself right now.

I feel like wrapping myself up and stamping myself with a big sign that says "Handle With Care".

I wonder what Mr. Spicy would make of that when he got home?

April 12, 2008

A Beginning and a Burial.

Well, I started my stims this morning. I was up from 2am till 6am fretting about them. But all went smoothly. Now I will do 3 injections daily: 10u Lupron and 2 vials Menopur each morning, and 300u Gonal-F in the evening. I called them my "fertilizers" this morning and am visualizing them growing up healthy clusters of follicles like plump luscious grapes on a vine. This feels like the last big "beginning" - we are on our way to the retrieval now, officially. I am excited and very nervous at the same time. I have another ultrasound and more bloodwork on Tue to see how these fertilizers are working for me. All I can say is, wow. I still kind of can't believe this is here, this is us, we are really doing this. Wow.

Also today, we finally buried Mr. Jones.

Because I left town the night he died, and then Mr. Spicy was out of town, and then we had guests - this was the first weekend we had open to devote to this very important ceremony.

So, Mr. Spicy retrieved his body from the clinic. I picked out a pear tree (pears symbolize separation and immortality in some Asian cultures). I wrote a short ceremony for us to follow. It was appropriately cold and drizzly, as if the whole world was being quiet and sad with us, for us.

We poured water over his body to release him fully from this world and release him from any suffering or pain he experienced while he was here. We poured oils of grape seed, myrrh, cassia, and cinnamon over his body to anoint him with our love and honor his spirit and his connection to God. We wrapped his body in white cloth, the cloth that made the aisle at our wedding. We poured rose petals into his grave and laid him to rest upon them. Then, we each read our eulogies and we prayed, and cried, and said "Thank you" and "Good-bye".

Finally, really, good-bye.

I lit a candle.

We covered him with dirt and then planted the pear tree above his grave.

He is really gone.

I don't know how to feel. I feel really sad and I feel an emptiness. But I also feel peace. And I feel really good about finally letting him go, letting his body return to the earth. It seems appropriate to say good-bye to him today, to honor his life, on this day - the day when we begin the stage of IVF that most closely resembles Spring, growth, new life - the stage of taking of medications to cause my little seeds to grow and grow and grow inside of me, into what we hope will become our future child(ren). Throughout this entire process, loss and death have been so very closely tied to hope and new life, and beginnings. He died on the day that I began bleeding, began the entire process. His passing is entwined with every stage of this cycle. He is still reminding me, every day, every step of the way...to pay attention.

Pay attention. Right now.

April 10, 2008

Snow and Fire

It is snowing today. But it is supposed to be in the 60s this weekend. That's Denver for you. I am kind of thankful for the snow, gives me an excuse to hole up at home and it also helps me not feel like a slacker for not getting any planting done yet. The warm weather over the last few weeks had been making me feel a bit behind the ball as far as Spring planting goes. The snow makes me feel like I still have some time to get it all started.

Had my suppression check today: ultrasound and bloodwork. The ultrasound showed no cysts! I was really worried about that since I had a couple cysts back when we were doing IUIs. But all looked clear. And just to be sure, I chased the ultrasonographer down the hall after she placed me in a room to wait for my blood draw, and I asked her if she was "really really sure there were no cysts.....because you know, it was hard to see my ovaries with that part of my bowel in the way, and I did see some follicles - were those just antrals?" And she assured me that everything was fine, there was NO cyst - she would not have missed it, and the antral follicles were a GOOD sign. And then she wrote something in my chart - probably something like, "Difficult", or "High Maintenance", or "Crazy Bitch". I got the call this afternoon that my Estrogen was 47 (they want it under 50 to start stims) and my Progesterone was <.2 (they want it under 1 to start stims). So we are good to go!!! Stims start on Saturday!

But, if my Estrogen and Progesterone are so low - why am I acting like a total psycho? Ok, not a TOTAL psycho - it could definitely, definitely be worse. But, if my hormones are so low - why did I accuse my husband of deliberately choosing to brush his teeth last night while I was looking for my phone so that he could deliberately choose not to hear my cries from downstairs to help me look for it? I thought it was Estrogen that made me act that way? Is it just me? If so, please don't tell Mr. Spicy - the hormones excuse is the only reason he hasn't moved into the office, yet.

Ok - so I am half joking. Although the accusation I just described did in fact occur last night - for the most part I am doing much much better than I expected. I have these rages and they come and go - and that sucks. And I have been feeling off balance and that is hard, especially when I am trying so hard to stay grounded in all of this. But I know all of this could be so much worse. And frankly? Even if it were? I am not complaining. Not really complaining, anyway. Because I would go through so much more (this is not an invitation) - I would walk through fire - to become a mother, to have our baby.

And I know so many of you reading this would do the same.

Here's to walking through the fire....

April 08, 2008

Temporary Insanity

I started my period today (good thing).

I took the dogs for a walk (good thing).

I began to think, "Hey, maybe this Lupron stuff isn't so bad, maybe I will sail through without as many mood swings as others?" (foolish foolish thinking)


I was grumpy and pissy with two friends on the phone for no good reason (bad thing).

I felt like harming random people for no reason at all (very bad thing).

I began wondering if I follow through with imagined harm whether I could plead not-guilty due to temporary insanity?

Furious and sad?

That's the Lupron baby!

April 07, 2008

Brides, Birth Control Pills, Basket Stitch, and Butterflies

And...I'm back.

Mr. Spicy's sister and her boyfriend came to stay with us last Thu and just left yesterday. It was probably one of our best visits with her. We had a great time. We all went to a mutual friend's wedding on Friday (Congratulations Mrs. and Mr. Banana!) - I did the makeup for the bride which was more than a little intimidating, but no one made any clown jokes so I think it turned out OK. On Saturday we toured the area around Pikes Peak. We saw 7 Falls and Garden of the Gods, and ate an amazing meal in Manitou Springs. In fact, we ate quite a few great meals while they were here. I used their visit as an excuse to break two of my main dietary rules (no sugar and no dairy) and boy did I break them! I mean, if you are going to cheat, cheat big right??? We had Thai, Mexican, Italian, and most importantly my own homemade gluten-free banana cream pie. (Which elicited all sorts of inappropriate "pie" references - because we are all 12 years old) Mr. Spicy and I finished off the pie in bed last night (I convinced him that I needed to finish it before the week started so I could get back on my wagon on Monday) and it was delish! (If I do say so myself)

I did a lot of knitting this weekend too. I had part 2 of my Knitting 101 class on Sunday and I wanted to have a lot done on my sample swatch. Because, as Mr. Spicy is quick to point out, I must be the valedictorian of everything (unabashedly borrowing the term from Dooce) - literally - I was trying every stitch and stitch combination my little beginner brain could come up with: Garter, Stockinette, Rib, Seed, Basket... hmmm....those sound like terms related to fancy undergarments....where is my mind today? I was wanting to explore and challenge myself but also secretly hoping I would come to class and the teacher would marvel at my natural skill and pronounce me to be a knitting prodigy. The light would pour down upon me and she would realize that I was the chosen one, the one to which she should pass on her master skills , and also her pattern for the fancy lace shawl. Instead, however, I was 10 minutes late to class. And while the amount of knitting I had done did seem to impress them - there was no light, and no choir singing in the background. Which is just fine of course. I did start an actual project: a small little button-closure coin purse of sorts. I am doing it in this gorgeous pink yarn. I will try to post pics when it's finished. I am already planning projects (all for friends and family) after this one. I actually really enjoy knitting. The ability to just sit and be quiet and sort of zone-out, relax, and focus on something small and specific, letting go of everything else for a bit - while at the same time creating something beautiful - it's really quite amazing. I love just about anything where I can tap into my desire to create. And I can knit anywhere. I even find myself trying to arrive at appointments early so I can get a little knitting done. If knitting can reform my chronic lateness - that in and of itself will have almost been worth it! But getting to make beautiful things for people I love while doing something that helps me to stay calm and gives me some peace - that is really the ultimate payoff.

Took my last birth control pill on Saturday. Which meant I got to take them out of my purse finally and stop worrying that if someone saw them they might wonder why someone who is trying to get pregnant is taking the pill. I kept imagining someone seeing them and thinking maybe I was secretly sabotaging my efforts to get pregnant. Um, yeah. I think I have watched too many soap operas or Lifetime movies. But stopping the pill means I should get my period today or tomorrow....probably tomorrow. I am so anxious for this period! Once it comes - things really start kicking in to high gear....I will have an ultrasound and bloodwork to determine if I am adequately suppressed (no cysts, no dominant follicles, etc..) - and then the stims start. And the race begins....hopefully lots of strong little follicles will begin growing all together, like a pack of horses in a horse race. We want lots of strong horses, but no Sea Biscuit - no surprise horse that pulls way ahead of the others and ruins the race for everyone. This race will prove to be quite the nail biter, I am sure.

So far I have only had one or two more hot flashes on the Lupron, nothing too crazy. But my moods? Whooo boy! For the first part of the week I was manic - hyper, bouncing off the walls, saying whatever popped into my head - manic. But this weekend, the other side kicked in and I felt furious at Mr. Spicy about anything and everything. I sometimes could identify that I was over-reacting - but I simply could not help it. I was literally praying yesterday to remember that I loved him. Because in the moment? I felt completely justified in wanting to punch him in the face because he was trying to kiss me good-bye and I wanted him to WAIT 5 MINUTES. Yep. Also - that crazy-making anxiety and self-loathing began to kick in again this weekend. At the very slightest hint of criticism or of being told I might have done something wrong, or just not being rained upon with flowers and doves - I would decide I was worthless, horrible, terrible, broken, and bad - and as much as my logical mind would refute this...it would take many many hours to snap out of it.

The hard part of all of this is that when I feel these things they don't feel hormonally-induced. They feel like me. Like me, only crazy. So then I think - maybe it is just me. Maybe I am crazy. Maybe I just need to fix it or figure it out. And then I get so frustrated because I can't fix it and I can't figure it out and blaming it all on the hormones feels like a cop out. Because it doesn't feel like something foreign. It feels like me, only much much worse. But maybe that's what the hormones do? They don't make us into someone we are not - they just fan the flame of a part of us we normally are able to reign-in a little better, or keep better control over? Maybe hormones just let all the doors wide open - and all our little monsters can come out to play? That's a cheerful thought, isn't it?

My counselor had advised me (wisely so) to make a list several weeks ago (before the hormones kicked in) of what is really true about me. This way, when the monsters came out to play, I could look at this list and have something concrete to remind me that I am not just the monsters, even though it may feel that way right now. I am also the butterflies.

I really really wish I hadn't procrastinated. I really really wish that I had tried to be the valedictorian then. Having a long list of what's really true about me would be really helpful right now. Because, as hard as I have worked to really ground myself, to find myself, to pay attention, and to be fully myself at the beginning of all of this - right now I am feeling a little off balance and a bit worried I might not find my way back.

It's not unbearable - it's just that if I am going to come through this the way I would like to - well, then, the monsters simply can't be all there is.

I am going to need some butterflies too.

April 02, 2008

On the lam....

Just a quick update....

Well, they told me it was a good sign that the cytotec caused so much cramping last night - they said that meant it was working - doing the work for me of opening up my cervix so it wouldn't be so hard to place the laminaria. And it definitely did work. The lam placement was super quick - I have had paps that were longer and it went very smoothly - I didn't feel a thing! So, that was good.

On the way home I did begin to experience some discomfort, cramping and slight nausea - and now, about 3 hours post-lam I am really starting to feel it. At this point it feels like really bad menstrual cramps and gets worse the more I move around. I took more Ibuprofen (they said that was best to take for this and that it is ok to take for today) - and we'll just wait and see. They worst part for me is feeling the pain get worse and knowing it is because of this thing inside of me that I cannot remove till tomorrow. Feels like being held hostage.

Thanks so much for all the support ladies! I did imagine you holding my hand - and I think it really helped! Thanks for being such a great support to me!

Ok - back to laying down. I have so much to do today...but it just hurts too much to be too active. I keep thinking it could be so much worse though.... so I am ok. If this gets me one step closer to becoming a mama, I will take it!


At about 5pm the pain just went away! I could still feel some very minor cramping, and my back was a little achy - but suddenly I just felt much much better. I even got a lot of house cleaning and organizing done and even ran to Target.

This morning I was dreading the "removal" - but it wasn't too bad. (the squat position worked well for me Jen) - Gross - but not too bad at all.

One hurdle down, I feel like wonderwoman! Yay!

And it burns, burns, burns.....

It is 2am. I am awake. I am having my first official hot flash of the cycle. Jeez! I feel like I am personally responsible for global warming at this moment.

Also - I am having some serious cramping from the Cytotec I took (vaginally) to prepare for the laminaria. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

And I am feeling more than a little apprehensive about tomorrow's (today's really) appointment for the laminaria placement. I pride myself on having a pretty high pain tolerance - but when my Dr. had to crank open my cervix for my hysteroscopy I was in a good amount of pain for several days after. I have been warned (thanks to Jen and to my nurse, Amber) that this will be a lot worse.

Originally Mr. Spicy was supposed to come with me. But he just got back from a business trip and we have family coming into town on Thu so he really was feeling anxious about not dealing with some things at work since he's been away from the office and his team for over a week. And I was in a particularly giving and gracious mood (recognizing how much he has already been here for me in this, that he doesn't really need any added reason to stress right now, and since he is the only one working in this family at the moment - there ought to be some concessions for that) and I told him I would be fine without him. Even he was questioning me on this - but at the moment I was enjoying being all giving and strong and zen. So I assured him I would be ok without him there. What the hell? Who do I think I am? The truth is, I will probably be fine - I will have a local during the procedure, so the pain probably won't even kick in until hours later. But I am feeling a bit like a baby right now about it all and wishing I had someone to come hold my hand. Sigh. I should have thought about this sooner and called a friend. Too late now.

Ok. Well. I am going to go turn the heat off and go back to bed. Oh, the heat's not on? Nice.

Also, how do you put your head in the freezer if your freezer is on the bottom of your fridge instead of the top? Did anyone think about that when they designed those things? Ha! Probably not!

April 01, 2008

And the madness begins....

This morning I gave myself my first Lupron injection. It was pretty easy. I had a moment of panic before plunging the needle into my tummy - but then realized no one else was there to do it for me (Mr. Spicy was on an airplane at the time, on his way home from a week long business trip) and so I did it. And it was honestly so NOT a big deal that I then began to panic and wonder if I had done it correctly, given myself enough, etc. etc. Because the first injection of my IVF cycle just could not go that smoothly. Eh, I guess I was wrong.

My counselor today asked how I would commemorate my first day of injectable hormones - really the "start" of it all. It was hard to answer that because I feel like I have been in the beginning of the beginning since I had my period and 2 days later started BCPs. For me, that was really the start of it all. And I have been doing small things to commemorate that and acknowledge that ever since. But, this is the start of the next big step. And it is important.

So - I left my counselors office today and driving away I realized I was in the same 'hood as the big main office for CCRM - the palace of baby making if you will - where we will end up for any weekend ultrasounds and ultimately for the retrieval and transfer - the place where I will officially be "knocked up" and where our child(ren) will be conceived. Wow. So. I decided to go explore and find it. I drove around a bit and found it without too much trouble. I thought I would just take a peak inside, you know kind of say hello to the place. Well, walking in, I ran into a nurse wheeling a woman out in a wheelchair who looked dazed and weepy. The nurse helped the woman into the car that her husband (I assume?) had pulled up to the door for her and wished them luck. I wondered whether she had just had a retrieval or a transfer. I felt like I had peeked in on a private and sacred moment for the woman. I silently wished her luck as well. When I stepped in the doors, it didn't look at all like what I imagined. It was just the lobby - there were elevators, a welcome desk and a lot of cushy chairs. It was beautiful - and empty - so it was pretty obvious that I had just come in, windblown and all. I felt weird so I surveyed the room and quickly turned and left. I wondered if anyone had noticed - what they thought of some disheveled woman running in, hair a mess, only to look around and run out. I laughed when I got in the car, making up funny stories of who I could be - like a stalker of infertility clinics or something.

SO - that is what I did to commemorate this next big step - I stalked my fertility clinic. Yep. That's me. But you know? It did feel cool to actually see the building, to know that in a few short weeks I will be the woman in the wheel chair - I will be gingerly climbing into the car that Mr. Spicy has pulled up to the door. I will be riding home full of hope, anticipation, and a couple little passengers along for the ride.

I kind of can't wait.