Thoughts?

So, we went in for our post IVF convo a couple of weeks ago. We are now at the point where we have to make new embryos and that means a fresh round. Luckily, we have a fresh round left with Attain. Our RE wants us to do a PGD on the embryos, freeze them, wait the results, and then do a FET. This is a change from what she’d said would happen last time we talked. Originally she said we’d do another fresh round, then a frozen, then look to a carrier if I wasn’t pregnant after all of that (who we now have to find and raise $35,000+ to go through with surrogacy). I was disappointed with the new plan and asked if we could go ahead and take advantage of the fresh transfer since we have it paid for already, then send off for PGD during our TWW and freeze the rest, if negative, then do a FET. She said she’d go for it, but only transfer one for the fresh since she wanted as many embryos as possible to test. PGD gives us a 65% chance.

I’ve been reading a bit on forums and online (google damn you!) and have seen that since 2012 there seems to be data to support that FETs have become almost equal to that of fresh rounds in terms of success, or at least the difference isn’t as great as it once was. This has to do with the way they now freeze the embryos. Now, I’m wondering if maybe I should retrieve, send off, wait, and then FET. Some argue that gives the body a chance to rest and recover. Anyone out there done it this way or know of others who have? Suggestions?

My RE also wants us to get a second opinion on everything. She thinks it will only require contacting two clinics and sending them my records with my clinic’s plan for me. $$$.

She also wants us to move forward in the next four months. If only money really did grow on trees. But, she is offering us 1/2 price on the FET again (what perks for being frequent fliers, no?) and she may have some meds for stims for me (full out of pocket patients over here). This will help tremendously as the PGD is close to $4,000 (I think, A. says so anyway).

I have stopped acupuncture and know I need to restart. I need to workout-moderatley, but workout nonetheless. I also have stumbled across the Seed Fertility Program via another infertility blog. $299 will take me through an e-course that will help me to work through the mind-body-spirit connections of fertility and give me dietary advice. Cheaper than flying to LA to take it in person…Is it worth it? My RE said she wanted me to do some “voodoo medicine” with CoQ10 and antioxidants for A. Ha! I’ve been doing “voodoo” for years now. Part of me says, let’s throw everything at this and see what happens. Thoughts on the mind-body-spirit work? $300 seems steep right now, but $300 is also a drop in the bucket of what we’ve paid at this point.

Suggestions? Thoughts? Ideas on how to raise money short of selling off my plasma or extra organs?

Met My Limit

Sleeping has been tough lately.  My mind races with all kinds of thoughts, mostly wondering about how our appointments will go on the 20th and the post-IVF consult with my RE on Jan 2nd. I wish that we could get our pathology results back before Christmas, but my RE is going out of town and the 2nd was the first appointment we could get to see her. The practice is huge, so I’m sure that another doctor could meet with us but I want to see what she has to say. While we have decided to take a break for a few months from treatment, I feel like knowing something from this loss will help me to process all of this over winter break and move forward in the new year. My mind bounces back and forth between all of these thoughts and the hours waste away. Soon, 4:40 AM has arrived and I feel like I’ve gotten 20 minutes of sleep.

I’m a high school teacher. I have about 160 students this year with class sizes at the highest I’ve ever seen in my 11 year career.  Working while going through treatment has been extremely difficult.  To compound this, I am also at a new school this year. This was to simplify things, but in a lot of ways it has made life possibly more stressful than they were last year. I’ve also found myself making constant comparisons to my old school. I taught there for 10 years and if you’ve done the math, that was pretty much my entire career. Things weren’t always easy, but it was a well ran school. Where I am now, there are a lot of policies stated, implemented, and changed again sometimes within a matter of days. I’ve felt incompetent. I’ve felt like I am not being considered as a professional. I’ve felt like support staff find ways to make their lives easier and pass what they don’t want to deal with on to the faculty.  It has been a rough year professionally. Combine that with our personal struggles with fertility and I’ve met my limit.

Getting ready this morning, I could feel myself getting overwhelmed. We haven’t set our budget for the month. For teachers, January is the longest month.  We get paid at the end of November and then three weeks later prior to the break. The next pay check doesn’t come until the end of January. Being off for the break, buying gifts, seeing friends, traveling to see family-it all adds up and you can find yourself in a pickle come mid-January.  So, this morning I have fixated on the budget.  I have also been composing a response to a parent. I’ve been sifting through all the papers yet to be graded. I’ve been going over where my three preps are and where we need to be by the end of each period that day.  My heart rate is elevated and I feel a shortening of breath.

I tell my husband that I’m overwhelmed. He knows and understands. He is as well.  He’s also a teacher. He’s also facing all of what I am professionally, but with no planning period. He’s also felt the devastation of our loss.  As we get closer and closer to school, our car feels like a confined space filled with stale air. Deep breath. I tell myself to focus on one period at a time until the day is over.

My planning period arrives and I go in search of a form I need for a fund-raiser. I see three different offices and three different answers to where this form can be found. I arrive finally to the bookkeeper. I stand in her doorway and wait for acknowledgement since she was speaking with another secretary. Finally acknowledged, I ask for the form and I am told I have to look on the server. I explain that others have told me she has the form. Impatiently, she points to a crate and says that the form is there but it is also on the server.  It is all I can do to not scream as I take the forms I need, turn on my heel, and speed out of the office.

One rude person in the course of the day, typically not such a big deal.  Rude person thrown in the middle of my life that I feel is completely out of control, and I’m ready to write my resignation letter. It is just too much.

On the way home, my husband says that there is an article in the New York Times about stress.  Tonight, it was the first thing I read when I got some down time after dinner. While she’s mostly talking about small anxieties, she frames it in a larger picture, how those smaller stressors and our responses to them can make it more difficult to handle catastrophe when it happens. She talks about emotional capital and how we allow ourselves to put too much energy into what she calls “extraneous catastrophes”- those things that “don’t deserve much of our emotional capital.”

I can’t change the way the school is ran. I can’t change how that rude bookkeeper reacts to a question I have. I can’t change having 165 students and very little time to evaluate all of their work. I don’t have to let one really rough semester define the remainder of my year, or the 11 years I’ve taught. I don’t have to put more emotional capital in than I have in my reserves, and right now I’m almost on empty.

Perhaps if my professional career was all that was taxing me, those things would be worth being fairly upset about. Right now, my professional self will have to take a back burner to my personal battles. In the meantime, I can try to find possible ways to manage these things when they happen. I can seek the help of those whose counsel I trust. I can relish in the moments I have working with a pretty awesome group of young people. I can continue to try and be a positive person in their lives and create a space where they are comfortable to take the risks I hope they’ll take in learning.

I guess it is sort of like that prayer: “God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”

Here is the link to the article.

Acupuncturist or Therapist?

I kept my appointment with my acupuncturist today.  With the last miscarriage, I was so scattered that I totally forgot I had the appointment until I was leaving work at 5:30, well after they’d closed. I scrambled to make the apologetic phone call and she answered it with grace and understanding.

I’d seen her the week prior before the ultrasound where no heartbeat was seen.  She and the receptionist were happy to see me as I crossed the threshold into the office. Last week I shared that the morning sickness, or feeling like I was constantly carsick, was taking a toll on me. She was eager to hear how I was feeling and whether my symptoms were getting better.  I hadn’t planned to have the conversation in the middle of the waiting room, but no one else was there and I just couldn’t pretend until I got back to the treatment room to share what had taken place in just a short 7 days.

They were both devastated and sincerely concerned, which I appreciate.  She asked about where that left us and what the RE had shared. I explained that we’d get the pathology back in a few weeks, so until then it was sort of a waiting game.  I shared concerns about my thyroid and how I wanted to be sure to have them run blood work on it and she agreed.  Then we headed back to the exam room.

As she began to place needles in various symmetrical locations on my body, she asked how my husband was doing and if we were talking.  What I intended to be a short explanation of how immediately we hadn’t been able to really talk, but that we were talking and dealing with it together, turned into a long detour about my parents’ health.

Friday following my D&C I had plans to go home. I’d made these plans well before we knew about the lost pregnancy. My mother called and shared that my step-father had a scan for other medical concerns, but in the process they found nodules on his lungs.  He’s smoked since he was fifteen and even with all the pleading in the world and hypnosis, he’s not been able to quit. He’s now 72.  My mother has early signs of dementia.  She started forgetting her words about two years ago.  Her longterm memory is great, but short term and simple words are a struggle.  I went home to sit with my mother in the waiting room and to help with bringing my stepfather home from the procedure.  I talk and talk about their health problems and my concerns for a good 25 minutes with my acupuncturist.  She listens intently to how they have purchased a dream retirement home, but have not made headway to actually move into it and sell their other home. How they live in limbo and neither is a home, a place of refuge and protection, but rather a burden they struggle to maintain. How they spend hours driving between these homes and the effect this non-move has had on their lives and social connections. She listens as I share how I’ve pleaded with my mother to get a specialist to treat her instead of her regular doctor. How my stepfather acknowledges the issue, but his depression and drinking have him and my mother trapped in an eternal state of stagnation and have left me beating my head against a very stubborn wall.

As I dry up, I realize that I simply wanted to say that I had to go home Friday to help my mother with my stepfather’s surgery, so my husband and I had just been able to really talk on Sunday. I feel guilty for unloading all of this on her. She’s my acupuncturist after all, not my therapist.  I apologize and she says, “you haven’t unloaded anything on me and there is no need to be sorry.”

I am thankful I didn’t cancel the appointment. I am grateful for this woman who heals me not only with eastern medicine, but also with grace and understanding.

Almost a year later…

So here we are about a year later from my first and last post. I should have been writing all along. I should do a lot of things that I just don’t seem to get to every day. That’s just life. So where are we almost a year later?

We’ve moved on to IVF. We’ve completed one fresh round and one frozen. The good news is that we know we can make great embryos. The difficulty is getting those embryos to want to hang out of nine months in my uterus. They retrieved 18 eggs, nine were fertilized and eight seemed to viable options.  We’ve taken a conservative approach and have only transferred one embryo at a time.  We didn’t get positive results with the fresh round, but did get a positive pregnancy test on the frozen round. Then my numbers dropped and we were back to where we started.

Now it is the beginning of November and we are waiting to see how this last frozen transfer will turn out. We transferred on Halloween. Hopefully we’ll get a treat instead of a trick.  We chose to only transfer one again this time. Talk about being under pressure. Our RE encouraged us to transfer two and I thought that I would until it came time to sign the forms. The difficulty is that you want a family and I know that the ultimate goal of the RE’s office is to make that happen for us if they can.  We joked with our RE about being on-call for baby sitting and helping us care for two babies at once. We’ve always joked about having twins. My mother is a twin and my husband’s father is a twin.  We sort of went into this four years ago expecting that we’d have twins. But then those forms were there and I was agonizing over what to put on those blank lines. “Thaw _______ to transfer _________.” “Thaw enough to transfer ________.”

I got angry first. What if I only ever wanted one child? Not only has this process altered everything I pictured about making a family with my husband would be like, but now I was being emotionally battered by deciding how many children I might get at the end of all this.  Then I got worried.

We sat one night outside our favorite local pizza place. It has a huge patio and is a great place to people watch.  This couple sat next to us with two newly born twins. They were tiny and I saw what our life might become with twins.  This couple seemed to have it together, don’t get me wrong. I just couldn’t seem to see us as them. It may seem like I should have thought all of this through before I signed up for IVF, but I thought I had.  I thought I had come to terms with the idea that we could end up with multiples, but there is something completely different about getting them naturally or through an IUI and purposefully putting two embryos back. At least for me it was different. I felt like I wasn’t ready to face the  possibilities for difficulty and risks that come with twins. 30% of multiples pregnancies end up with health issues.  I couldn’t imagine going through this journey to only put lives at risk. I also knew that there was no way we could afford having one or both in NICU.  Weighing the risks, I didn’t feel like it was the choice I could make for this round. We talked about it for hours several times. After talking, crying, reading, and praying, I felt that there were too many things about putting back two that made me uncomfortable. We went forward with one and promised each other we’d only look forward without doubts.

I’ve also had a hysteroscopy between IVF round two and three.  Our RE felt like it might give us some answers about why we were having difficulty. I’ll post more on that day later, since technically I had two within 72 hours of each other.  With the procedure, they removed polyps (which came back begnin-thank God!).  We’re hoping that this will help the embryo that is in there now find a great spot to latch on to and hang out for the next nine months. Keeping all of that in mind, we felt like going with one was the right thing for us right now. Keeping a one day at a time mindset is about the only way to stay sane with this process.

The waiting is tough and I think what makes it more difficult is that I can’t exercise. I walk to help clear my head. I do yoga to help center my thoughts. I can’t do either right now and I’m finding I have a lot of pent up energy. Today I got to feeling anxious and normally I’d just hook the dogs up to their leashes and head out the door. I had to settle for running errands and they had to settle for taking a ride in the car.

We go in on Saturday for our beta test.  Seven more days.

Take me for a walk?