This is a post I've been mulling over for a while, and I think I'm finally ready to write it out.

In May 2002 I received my PhD in mathematics from the University of Arizona, and subsequently accepted a tenure track position in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. That was about as good a job as I could have possibly hoped to get coming out of grad school, and the future seemed wide open. We had always planned to start trying to have a baby as soon as I graduated, with the idea that we would have two kids early in my tenure years, leaving me the last few years (when those kids were pre-school aged) to push hard for tenure. I imagined myself as a tenured professor, a successful researcher in my field and providing a example of a strong career woman to my children, who would be enrolled in the best preschool around.

But as most of us know, plans don't always work out the way you expect them to. )
You know that car commercial campaign Brooke Shields has been doing lately, in which the joke is that people are getting pregnant JUST so they can buy minivans? That commercial pissed me off the first time I saw it. Why?

Because Brooke Shields struggled with infertility for years, just like I did. She needed IVF to get pregnant, and had at least one miscarriage. She even wrote in her book about how horrible it was to deal with the insensitivity of others when struggling with infertility. So why is she trivializing and making a joke of TTC now?

This person said it better than I can.
Someone in the [livejournal.com profile] pregnant community linked this very interesting article about the prevalence of C-sections from the LA Times. It's an opinion piece written by Jennifer Block, an investigative journalist who's recently written a book called Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care (which I have purchased and am looking forward to reading).

Some excerpts. )

This is something I've been hearing about and thinking about for years, and now that I'm pregnant, it's a huge blip on my radar. I want to educate myself as much as possible about what my options for giving birth are, and how to make sure I'm not pushed into doing something that isn't medically necessary. (Fortunately, my doctor seems to be on the same track.)

This is partly my personality manifesting in anticipation of a new experience: I tend to be the sort of person who wants as much information as possible at any given time. I'm also skeptical by nature and tend to want evidence and to be convinced of something before I accept it. After my five-year-long trek on the road of infertility, I'm extremely skeptical about the medical profession's views of reproduction. I've seen good and bad doctors at work, and I've been well-informed and patronized, respectively, as a patient. I learned the hard way the importance of pushing doctors to meet my needs, asking hard questions, and challenging medical staff when I think there is a problem that they are overlooking. I suppose I've grown a bit cynical, but it sure is easy when you take a look at the "childbirth industry". :-P
Bad news first: I got a call this morning from Austin IVF to let me know that none of our embryos were able to be frozen. Six of them just stopped growing on day 3, and the three that actually grew into blastocysts were too weak and would not have survived the freezing process. So of course, that makes me wonder how the two that were transferred are doing. What are the odds that two out of the original eleven would survive? I suppose they're in their "natural" environment, which makes a big difference, but still... It was a good dose of reality, which I needed.

I'm managing to hold all of this at arm's length, which I think is a good thing. It seems very abstract right now, so much that if it does work, I think it'll take it a while to sink in. I know that the odds are 50/50 at best, and I kind of expect it not to work. I don't ever again want to be as devastated as I was last year when the last IUI didn't work. So unlike I did with every IUI, I'm not really thinking about this much. I'm not lingering over baby stuff, or thinking of names. And I'm trying to keep in mind that we may have to do this all again, maybe more than once. That would be okay. It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I could do it again.

Now some good news: I have been trying to figure out who can give me my shots when Doug is out of town (as he will be for most of the next month), and for a while I thought I would have to go to a clinic that's about 15 miles away. But I found one about 4 miles away this afternoon that said they would do it, which is awesome. They're even open 7 days and until 10:00 at night, yay! It will cost $12 a shot, but it's worth it.

I realized last night that if I am pregnant, I'll continue to have this nightly shot in the ass for possibly another month. That makes seven solid weeks of at least one shot a day. :-P Normal people just get to be all happy when they get pregnant, don't they? </bitter>

IVF update

Jul. 1st, 2007 01:54 pm
It turns out that 15 of the 17 eggs were mature, and ICSI was performed on all of those. 11 of them fertilized, so we currently have 11 embryos, dividing in petri dishes down at the clinic! We'll get an update tomorrow, I think.

Tomorrow I start hatching meds (about 7 pills a day for five days), and I also start my progesterone shots tomorrow evening. The embryo transfer will be Tuesday or Thursday, and I have no idea when we'll find out which day it will be. It could be as late as Tuesday morning!

IVF: CD 10

Jun. 26th, 2007 03:02 pm
My apologies to anyone who's getting sick of seeing these posts!

Update here. Good news! )

IVF: CD 6

Jun. 21st, 2007 09:54 am
Details here )

It's funny, but I'm completely separating this process from its goal, and I think that's a good thing for me. I don't expect it to work. I really, truly, don't. I just can't get my hopes up like that again, because I think it would devastate me on a level I haven't yet experienced to be disappointed from this. In the past when I've been on a cycle, I start lingering on the baby aisle at the grocery store or thinking about how to decorate the nursery. I've done none of that this time. That might change after the transfer, but at this point I'm really living my life as if it isn't going to work. I have a trip to England planned at the end of July, which I'll cancel if I have to, but I'm kind of expecting to go at this point. I'm weaning myself off caffeine with the idea that it will only be a few weeks before I can drink coffee again. Et cetera.

I can imagine there are people reading this who would like to tell me I should be positive and keep my chin up. And I'm usually a hyper-positive person, but in this case I just can't be. It's hard to explain, but it would really do me no good to expect this to work. It will either work or it won't, and I have no control over it. When I give myself my shots, I don't think about what it's for. When I go to my appointments, I don't have any expectations about what I'll hear from the doctor. It's just something I have to do, and that's it.

My defense mechanisms are so weird. Maybe I should have gone to counseling last year after all. :-P
We had a great weekend at home together, the first weekend we've spent together at home in a long time. It might even have been late March or early April since we had a weekend just to hang out at home and do nothing all day.

Of course, the weekend before that was amazing -- we went to New York to go on a theatre binge and to go to the Tonys! We had a great time and saw Curtains (which our old friend John Bolton was in, and starred David Hyde Pierce), Company (for the third time, as it's Doug's favorite), and the night after the Tonys we saw Spring Awakening for the second time. Seeing a show the night after it won eight Tonys (including Best Musical) was incredible fun. The cast was so excited and the crowd cheered in stretches of three minutes throughout the show, effectively stopping it. It was amazing!

Monday afternoon I finally recorded my session with Seth Rudetsky of the Broadway's Best channel on Sirius, which was a lot of fun! (That was my birthday present from Doug last year -- I talked about it down at the bottom of this post.) We were told that it would air on Wednesday afternoon and we were ready to record it, but it didn't air that day. We think it may have actually aired on Tuesday, when we were flying. :-( We'll see if we can get them to re-air it. If not, I have the raw audio that I can post, which is also kind of fun.

It was a great weekend, and the last traveling I'll be doing for at least a month, depending on how the IVF goes. IVF update here. )
Yikes, I haven't updated this in a while. I've been traveling for basically the last two months, and it just kept slipping my mind. I have a lot of vacation photos to put up, but for now I'll start with this.

I went in for a sonogram this morning to make sure there weren't any cysts on my ovaries, and it was all clear, which means we can go forward with this IVF cycle! I came home and gave myself my first Lupron injection. I'll do those every morning for pretty much the next three weeks. I have another sonogram next Friday and if that one shows it's all looking good, I'll start Gonal-F injections in the evenings. Those will go at least ten days, which puts the earliest date for the egg retrieval around June 28 and so embryo transfer will probably be the first week of July.

So wow, it's really going to happen! :-D

Update

Feb. 22nd, 2007 10:45 am
Yesterday I had a sonogram to make everything was set to go for starting the IVF cycle, and it really hadn't occurred to me that there would be a problem. But of course, there was -- I have a cyst on my right ovary, which means I can't start on the drugs just yet. They want me to come back in a week for another sono, but the fact is that it usually takes several weeks for cysts to go away.

And of course, we don't have several weeks. )

Surgery!

Feb. 6th, 2007 04:38 pm
As we go through this first IVF cycle, I'm going to try to record the details as much as I can, mostly for my own record-keeping. I'll cut them, so feel free to skip stuff.

Hysteroscopy today )

In other news, it looks like my grandfather's surgery will go forward. He has to have two valves replaced, but his prognosis is good. That should happen around the first of March. I'm going to see if I can fly out to be with my family then.

Onward!

Oh, one more thing: I'm always suspicious of these things, but it can't hurt. Sign the online petition to encourage congress to require insurance companies to cover infertility treatments. Most couples have to finance this on their own, though their infertility is no fault of their own. We're lucky that we don't have to take out a second mortgage to do it, but many people have to take such drastic steps, just to have what most people get for free.

Tomorrow.

Feb. 5th, 2007 10:41 pm
Surgery is tomorrow morning, bright and early. Oddly enough, I'm not the slightest bit anxious. I think that's because I've been through this before and know it's not a big deal.

I'm actually much more anxious about the fact that my grandfather will be at the doctor for an evaluation of his heart condition at the same time. After this, they'll decide how to proceed. Open heart surgery seems to be on the horizon, which is a heck of a lot scarier than a wee hysteroscopy.

*worries*
Last weekend was the start of five consecutive weekends of traveling for me. :-P

This weekend, we went to Phoenix to go to a retirement party for a lawyer Doug has worked with. I haven't been to Phoenix in nearly two years, and it's such a lovely place in February: 70 degrees, clear blue skies... The party was in a fantastic little bistro that's attached to one of the best wine stores in Phoenix, a place we used to go to a lot when we lived in Arizona. I mean seriously, we used to drive 100 miles up from Tucson to shop there! Surprisingly, there aren't any wine shops in Austin that come close to the ones in Phoenix. :-(

Being back in Phoenix was interesting, because I forget how different Arizona is from other places. For example, the average age in Phoenix is a lot higher than it is in Austin. Senior citizens are everywhere you look in Phoenix, and it's interesting that I didn't notice that when I lived there. People are very casual too. I was overdressed for that dinner -- and if you know me, you know what a funny statement that is. Austin is casual too, but more stylish, somehow.

It was fun though, and several of the people there reminded us that we'd been thinking of turning our annual wine party into a charity event. We'd been thinking of it because it felt so decadent to serve all of this wonderful and really expensive wine to people, but also because (quite frankly) the people who come could afford it. I mean, people fly in from New York and California (and France, once) to attend, so it's not a stretch. I need to get to work on that, actually. I need to decide on a charity and contact them, get the ball rolling.

In IVF news, I started on the pill on Friday, and Doug and I started taking our antibiotics. In a few short weeks, I'll be giving myself injections again! I'm oddly excited about it, heh. I read a book about IVF on the plane this weekend, and it was interesting. I didn't learn anything new (our clinic's orientation meeting was very comprehensive), but it was valuable to read about other people's experiences. It struck me while reading that I am in a really good mental place right now. I mean, I knew that, but reading about the emotional rollercoaster people face when approaching IVF was stark in that I don't feel that stressed about it. Six months ago, I absolutely would have. Interesting. :-)
It's time! The next six weeks will be very interesting, because it will be our first IVF cycle. I'm excited and really quite optimistic. I'm feeling better about my chances of getting pregnant than I have in years, actually. I've accepted the fact that this is just what it's going to take for me to get pregnant, and I'm not bitter any more. It's a good feeling. :-)

So, here's what's going to happen next. (Cut for TMI.) )
I had another appointment with the doctor this morning, for a sonogram of my uterus. And as usual, everything looks fine, completely normal. Except for, you know, the fact that I can't get pregnant.

After my appointment last week, he told me he wanted me to have an HSG, which I was really dreading because I've heard they're really crampy. And me + crampy is so not a good thing. But after today's sonogram, he said there was nothing obviously wrong, and that it would be better to go ahead and do a hysteroscopy instead, because if they found something during the HSG, they'd have to then do a hysteroscopy anyway. I've had a hysteroscopy before, which was when they found the fibroid and the polyp. But best of all, this is something they knock you out for, so yay! I can handle that. :-P

So the big news is that we're basically going to go right to IVF. It's a two-month cycle, and we could do it as early as February! I'm actually pretty excited about this. I'm really hopeful that IVF will work for us, and wow -- February or March is not so far away.

With any luck, I might finally be a parent this time next year. :-D
After six months off, I'm ready to jump back in. I've thought about it a lot in the last few months, and really questioned whether or not I wanted to have a baby. There are pros and cons on both sides, and Doug and I have talked about them extensively over the last month. I think we would both be happy either way, really. I can see a happy life for myself without children -- in some ways, it is more appealing than having a family.

But I don't have a heck of a lot of time left to think about it. I went off the pill FIVE YEARS ago. In another five years, I'll be pushing it healthwise. But on top of that, five years is a long time to have been trying to conceive with no success. Even during the time when I wasn't being treated, we were still actively trying -- I kept track of cycles and everything. So after five years of failure, both on our own and with two solid years of medical assistance, it's pretty clear that this isn't going to happen without some serious struggle and cost.

And I've finally gotten myself to a point where I can accept that. I'm not bitter any more, and I'm not a basketcase when the subject comes up (like I was for a while). I finally feel mentally healthy enough to consider moving forward with infertility treatments again.

And so I have an appointment tomorrow morning with the new doctor, and the idea is to move towards IVF. I know a couple who have been struggling as long as we have who just got pregnant with this same doctor, and so I'm hopeful. I'm almost excited, actually!

Wish me luck. :-)

Hmmm.

Jul. 11th, 2006 11:41 am
I need to get over my bitterness about this whole infertility thing. It's really difficult for me to talk about it or even think about it without getting upset. I've spent the last couple of months pretending like I don't want to have children and not thinking about it at all, and I've been happier than I can remember being for a while. That says something, I think.

I had a moment during the vacation where I started thinking about the IVF thing, and I got so upset that I had to to change my mental subject. The unfairness of it all is something I just can't seem to let go of. I keep thinking that I must have traded in my fertility for one of the other many wonderful things in my life. There's a sense in which infertility almost feels karmic. I feel like I've led a charmed life in many ways, and I've always been waiting for The Bad Thing to happen to balance it all out. I expected the Bad Thing to be losing a loved one too soon or being diagnosed with cancer, so I suppose if this is really my Bad Thing, I should consider myself lucky. Not that this line of reasoning helps, of course.

I'm not posting this for sympathy comments, btw, so don't feel obligated to respond. And I'm not looking for advice, either. (I know I ought to seek counseling, but I'm barely home these days and I really don't want to talk about it any more than I have to.) Mostly, I just needed to say it. Sometimes it help to put your thoughts in writing.

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