Thursday, October 30, 2014

progress report.

I'm almost at the end of Week 3 of the EZ Diet, and I have lost a sum total of (drum roll, please!) 6.2 pounds.

Yep. That's less than I'd lost by the start of Day 7. I've actually gone up.

Well, that's not entirely true. I've gone up a little, down a little, up a little, down a little. Staying almost entirely in the same two-pound range. For WEEKS.

It's maddening.

The worst part (for me) is that I have honestly been following the eating plan to a T. Usually, when I'm on a new plan, I'll still indulge in a little chocolate here, some potato chips there, the occasional soft pretzel (my Achilles heel). 

I have done none of this.

I am still not losing weight at an Agony-acceptable pace.

(Fuel to the fire: Mr. Hope has lost something like 13 lbs. on the same plan. We hate Mr. Hope and his freakish ability to drop weight just by thinking he might start a diet.)

I am still working out nearly every day, though, and Mr. Hope is not. Could that have something to do with it? Yesterday I did 27 modified push ups. Not all in a row, mind you. I did 15 in Round 1 and 12 in Round 2, with about a minute thirty in between. This is still huge. When I started working out in earnest, almost a month ago, I could barely do three

So there's that.

I know that muscle weighs more than fat, and that it could be that I'm burning fat and building muscle. More likely, I am starting to build muscle and that's making me retain water (as has happened in the past when I am strength training).

But but but


I think this because historically, post-O, I start dropping weight like crazy. My body loves progesterone. Seriously, LOVES it.

Right now, I feel like my body hates me. And it supersucks to be at odds with your own body, like, constantly.

So, I don't know. There's a lot going on in my brain right now that has nothing to do with my Pillsbury Doughboy bod, either. Work is insane. My schedule is insane. I am insane.

But I'll power through. I'll keep exercising, keep eating according to plan. Minimizing the insulin spikes to hopefully turn myself into a healthy, welcoming vessel for the embryos I hope to be transferring before Christmas.

Which reminds me: Today is Kindred's transfer date! I am so so so excited for her. We had dinner last night (a little pre-celebration) and she was glowing already. Thinking positive, sticky thoughts for her and hoping that today is the start of her rainbow baby!

Friday, October 24, 2014

the mind fuck that is my body.

Went to Posh Clinic today for blood work and scan (a.k.a. the transvag probe we infertiles get to know so so well). I think I've mentioned before that the clinic is a good 45-minute drive without traffic, so I usually book my appointments for about 10 a.m. That way, I'm driving up after the morning rush hour but will be on my way home before the afternoon one. Even so, every time I go up for a blood draw and probe, it's roughly a 2.5- to 3-hour time commitment.

One of my favorite nurses was the one doing the scan. At Posh Clinic, the nurse hands you a piece of paper and a pen has you write the numbers down. First thing she says is, "You've got a lot going on here." I have no response for that, beyond basic curiosity.

She tells me my lining is at 6, which seems thin for CD8, but maybe I'm wrong? Then she starts reading off the numbers of the follicles:


Come again?

I say, "Uh, that's better than when I stim."

She says, "I was thinking the same thing."

But we have to wait for blood work, of course, because they could be leftover follies, or empty ones. So I drive the 45 minutes home and wait for the phone to ring.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

Finally, at 3:15, I get the call. My estrogen is elevated, but not enough to support the five follies. My LH is low, so it's not like I'm about to ovulate. Results = inconclusive. Dr. Smiles wants me back in a week to repeat the bloods and scan.

I start doing the math in my head. If I ovulate between now and next Friday, then I can start my estrogen priming ASAP. That would put me at baseline around November 21st, stimming until roughly December 5th, and doing the retrieval and then transfer shortly after. Meaning, I'd squeak in just before Christmas.

But if I don't ovulate between now and next Friday, or I have unresolved follies, I'll most likely go on hiatus until after Christmas.


I just want to get going already.

Haven't I waited long enough?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


The scale has stopped moving.

I was down 7.2 lbs. Then, yesterday, I went up .4 lbs. Today, back down .2 lbs. Meanwhile, I have been following the EZ Diet perfectly - in fact, I haven't even had any trace sugar in the past three days. My meals are appropriately sized, I'm working out every day, and I'm drinking tons of water. Plus, I'm only on CD5, so it's way too early to be putting on ovulation bloat.

And yes, I know this is why they tell people NOT to look at the scale more than once a week when dieting/exercising. Because it's crazy-making. Clearly.

But but but

I'm working hard, and I want to see results. Like, REAL results. 

Yesterday I felt like crap. I had a massive headache that wouldn't quit. I was tired, I was achy, I was unmotivated. I had an intake appointment with the infertility therapist, and her office turned out to be close to my house so I went home afterward to finish up my work day from there. But it was slow going. 

Then, when I logged off for the night, there were literally a dozen things that I should have been doing. Only, I couldn't make myself do anything. 

I turned into a vegetable.

Here's where I confess: Sunday, I quit caffeine. Cold turkey, because honestly, I had one Keurig pod a day. I didn't think that itty bitty amount would have affected me so much. On Sunday, I didn't even notice the caffeine was missing! 

But yesterday? Oh dear god, YESTERDAY.

Today I'm still achy, but I think that has more to do with the workout I did on Monday. It was Plyo Fix, based on plyometrics (jumping), only I had to follow the chunky modifier lady on the DVD, who didn't jump so much as squat and raise up on her toes. I love Kat; she's in every 21 Day Fix DVD and I often have to follow her modifications. And even though I called her "chunky" she's really only chunky in relation to other size 0 women in the DVDs; I would actually kill to be Kat's size.

Even so, I got up this morning, and did my Upper Fix DVD, and now I will drag my weary, detoxing ass into the office for a full day of work. And then tonight, after work, I will be a saint-type person and go have hot, caffeine-free beverage with someone I barely know, because she just moved back to the area and is lonely and I'm too nice to say I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME FOR THE FRIENDS I HAVE, WHY WOULD I ACTIVELY MAKE NEW ONES? (Okay, so maybe I am NOT a saint-type person. Maybe I'm just a sucker with no boundaries.)

Tomorrow Mr. Hope and I go to the infertility therapist together, for our donor embryo counseling session. Once that's completed I will have all of my pre-reqs done for the cycle (Mr. Hope and I spent literally hours on Saturday running to different labs to get all of our blood work done). So, there's that.


Would it hurt the scale to go down just a little? I mean, really.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


I've always been a very deadline-driven person. Once Mr. Hope and I made the decision to go into this cycle, I knew there was a clock running on how long we had to get certain things in order. Like our house.


We have a 3BR, 1BA (yes, ONE) rancher that I purchased prior to even meeting Mr. Hope. It was supposed to be my 3- to 5-year "starter" home, but I read this article years ago about a family who didn't buy up, they just put their money into upgrading the small home they already had. Theirs was paid off when friends who had bigger houses were drowning in debt. Mr. Hope and I were like YES, THIS IS WHAT WE WANT, TOO.

But guys, come ON. One bathroom? ONE? And it's a teeny-tiny one at that.

So now the tentative plan is to sell in (you guessed it!) three to five years. But first, we need to put some serious elbow grease into the place.

We've been purging crap for years. Literally, years. I come from a line of borderline hoarders. So does Mr. Hope. Together, our crap proliferated. Now, during our third year of purging (fourth year?) we are almost - ALMOST - there.

Last week I got an estimate on fixing the walls in two rooms of our house. The elevator version is that the original owners of this house put wallpaper on bare drywall, and subsequent owners painted over it, and when some of the paper started bubbling up I peeled to see what was underneath. So there are two rooms that have patchy walls that need to be fixed and I am NOT paying someone to remove the paper. It would be cheaper to replace the drywall!

But I digress.

Yesterday Mr. Hope and I spent a lot of time in the third bedroom. The room that started off as my office, became his office, and will at some point become a bedroom for Future Baby. (We still don't call it a nursery, because I can be superstitious like that.) The plan is to paint it a rich navy, which is gender-neutral but also works as an office color. Before we can get to painting, though, we need to clear it out so we can hire the men that will make the walls suitable for painting in the first place.

The scarier clock is on the furniture. When I first bought this house, I purchased two vintage pieces from the 1940s that are the perfect size for Future Baby (including a dresser that is the ideal height for a changing table). The problem is that the people who owned the set before me painted the pieces avocado green. They painted the vintage hardware a cheap gold. And they didn't paint ANY of it very well. Plus, it was at one time this gorgeous maple.

So Mr. Hope and I are testing an eco-friendly paint stripper to see what's underneath. And if it's worth stripping everything, or if we want to just want to repaint it all.

(Here I must confess that I have already decorated the nursery room in my mind. It is navy and coral and aqua with burnished gold accents. And if Future Baby turns out to be a boy instead, it is navy and kelly green and butter yellow. And if we get really lucky, and end up with Twin Future Babies, then the whole plan is shot to shit because the room is way too small for multiples. On the upside, my office is Tiffany blue, which could make for a very nice nursery bedroom regardless.

EZ Diet update: As of this morning, I'm down 7.2 lbs. In less than a week. Tomorrow will be the official one-week mark so YAY for that and YAY for it not being nearly as hard as I thought it would be.

Friday, October 17, 2014

and so it begins (I hope).

When I stepped on the scale this morning, I was bummed to see I'd only shed another .6 lbs. Which is better than yesterday, when I was actually up .2 lbs. That's just under 5 lbs. in four days, which is nothing to sneeze at, but the BFF has dropped EIGHT. (Yes, I am jealous. No, I won't apologize for that.)

Anyway, I've been following the EZ Diet pretty strictly, with precious few exceptions. Like, I had pumpkin polenta with dinner on Wednesday night, but couldn't figure out if course cornmeal was on the So-So List or the Bad List. Since polenta has a low glycemic load I'm thinking it's So-So, which I am allowed to have one to two times a week. Then yesterday I was at a work thing and got served a salad that was fine but dressing that had some sugar in it. I did the dipped-fork thing to limit how much I had - maybe a tablespoon of dressing total? - but you know, it's still got traces of sugar, which is definitely on the Bad List.

And I've been exercising at least five times a week, the kind that leaves me with sore muscles and, like today, dripping with sweat and red-faced for 30+ minutes afterward. I've also been getting enough sleep and drinking boatloads of water, so I was really, really hoping the slow-down was the result of an impending period. If I counted the thing that Dr. Smiles said wasn't a true period as my last one, I'd be due on Sunday.

Then something happened with work this morning that almost reduced me to tears, which was an odd (and oddly disproportionate) reaction. Was this PMS? Again, I was hoping.

Finally, about fifteen minutes ago, I went to the bathroom and saw it. Bright red spotting. The kind that says HELLO, YOUR PERIOD IS ABOUT TO ARRIVE.

So yay for that, and yay for getting blood work done this weekend, and for meeting with the infertility counselor on Monday, and getting this mo fo show on the road.

EDITED TO ADD: In less than an hour, the spotting turned to full-on flow. So, I'm officially in my priming cycle!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

a different kind of two week wait.

The last time I saw Dr. Smiles, he prescribed a 10-day course of Provera to bring on a full period. According to him, my lining was too thick for me to have had a true period on CD18, as I'd believed. This was news to me, because I'd never had a three-day bleed that I didn't consider a period, even when I had an abnormally light one.

One of the nurses told me that with Provera, I could get a period anywhere from two days after starting it to up to two weeks after I finished it. Well, it's been almost a full week since I finished the Provera and nothing. Nada. I've felt some pressure, and a little cramping, but nothing that screams YOUR PERIOD IS COMING.

And of course, I want it to come, because I can't do anything until it does. Basically, the plan is that I get my period and then, after ovulation has been confirmed, I'll take estrogen for roughly 21 days to prime me for the cycle. And then I'll have to get another period before I can start stims.

My fear, of course, is that if things don't start picking up, I won't get a cycle in before Thanksgiving. And Posh Clinic shuts down for a while around the holidays. So if my body fails me (yet again), I might be looking at a January start date. NOT COOL, BODY. NOT COOL AT ALL.

In other news: Did you know that pre-shredded cheese is coated in potato starch? Yeah, so there goes that convenience on my new diet. On the upside, I'm finding it fairly easy to stick to the new diet (potato starch-coated cheese notwithstanding). This is what Mr. Hope and I have have been eating for breakfast: Egg & Chorizo Muffins. Super convenient and very tasty. The recipe says one is a serving, but we are not pixie people and have a hearty two each AM. (Think of it this way: there are only eight eggs used in 12 muffins, so one muffin doesn't even equal a full egg!)

P.S. As of this morning, I'm already down 4 lbs. And I know I'm not losing muscle, because I've been working out like a boss!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

the new regime.

Yesterday, I announced that I am renewing my commitment to a healthier lifestyle. So, what does that mean?

Last week, I started working out again. Thirty minutes a day, in the mornings. Currently, I'm working my way through the 21 Day Fix DVDs again. I'd tried the eating plan in May but didn't like it, for a variety of reasons. Like, the plan considered all fruit the same (except for bananas). But there's a huge difference between a cup of strawberries and a cup of grapes. The strawberries are around 50 calories, with around 13 grams of carbs (less than 8 of which are considered sugar). Whereas the grapes have twice the calories and 29 grams of carbs, 25 of which are considered sugar.

But the workouts are great. I like that they're about 30 minutes long and use free weights to build muscle. The first three days were absolutely brutal (my leg muscles were so sore I couldn't really sit on a toilet so much as fall onto it). Now the squats don't make me cry out in pain, and I can already see a difference in my flexibility.

I've also started taking the dog for longer walks once a day. They run about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on how many things he wants to sniff along the way. It's not going to increase my cardio stamina or anything, but I feel like any extra movement is a good thing.

This week, I'm tackling the eating thing. I recently discovered the EZ Diet, named after it's inventor, Dr. Ernest J. Zeringue. Dr. Z is an RE at the Davis Fertility Center, and he prescribes this "dietary modification plan" to infertiles like me who are carrying extra weight. The name also refers to the easy rules of the diet, which are basically this:

Bad List

NO sugar (including hidden sugars, like fructose in salad dressing, OJ, etc.)
NO breads/baked goods and flour
NO potatoes
NO yogurt
NO beer
NO white wine
NO bananas

So-So List 


Good List


No, really. Everything else is on the Good List. This includes dairy and peanut butter and every other fruit and vegetable imaginable. You can even drink red wine in moderation.

And, I love this part: There is no need to limit portion size (except for things on the So-So List - you're supposed to keep them to a tennis ball-sized serving).

Now. It's not like I want to go shove my face into a jar of peanut butter. But I really, really love that I don't have to weigh/measure my food. Or count calories. Or calculate the percentage of calories coming from protein vs. those coming from carbs.


Planning meals for this diet isn't as easy as it sounds. Well, maybe it is, if you're the kind of person who likes to grill up a piece of chicken and serve it next to some steamed broccoli. Mr. Hope and I are not those kind of people. We like to cook. We like to eat. We like food, period.

So coming up with a week's worth of menus of EZ Diet-friendly food that also tastes good and keeps us interested in eating healthfully was a bit of a challenge. But you know me - I love a good challenge.

Day 1 wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Although I'll be honest: I wasn't entirely able to omit hidden sugar, as I had a business lunch at a restaurant with a sales rep. I ordered a salad that had a slab of pickled beet on it and I ate about half before thinking, "Maybe there was sugar in that pickle." I also had a mustard vinaigrette salad dressing that could have had sugar or honey or whatever.

But other than that, I did great. For dinner, Mr. Hope and I made Mustard Balsamic Baked Chicken, which we paired with Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Acorn Squash. Since I was making these together, I traded out the apple cider vinegar in the veg recipe for the same balsamic I used in the chicken and subbed in olive oil over coconut. Our house smelled like Thanksgiving and it was scrumptious.

I do have a bunch of questions about the EZ Diet that have gone unanswered. Like, it says no flour - is that ANY kind of flour? Or just traditional flour? Because I'm thinking that eventually I can use coconut flour to thicken stuff that normally calls for AP. Also: are sweet potatoes the same as potatoes? I'm not sure, so I'm erring on the side of caution and not indulging in them just yet. And while I know pasta and rice are on the So-So List, where does quinoa fit in? Do I treat it like a So-So? This is what I'm assuming.

So Phase I is "restrictive" and lasts for four weeks. During this time, you can have 1-2 servings a week from the So-So List. Later, when you're in the maintenance phase, you can have 2-3 servings each week from the Bad List (so, you don't actually give up chocolate FOREVER). You also get 3-4 servings each week from the So-So List, and a Cheat Day one time per week. (Although I can't tell if the Cheat Day is for one meal or the whole day - I'll likely just give myself a meal to start and see how my body responds.)

Anyway, that's it. I did get hangry once in the afternoon, but a small green apple and some peanut butter helped cure me of that. And later, after dinner, I was a little hungry, too, but I had a hot cup of tea and a handful of nuts and that seemed to be enough.

Hoping I see some movement on the scale soon. It's hard with the 21 Day Fix plan, because it starts building crazy muscle right away. The last time I did the full 21 days, I didn't lose more than a couple of pounds but I lost a bunch of inches. Inches are good, but a girl still likes to see that number on the scale going down!

Monday, October 13, 2014

the biggest thing I didn't do to get pregnant.

I tried a lot of crazy things to try to get pregnant. (For evidence of this, go here, here, and here.) But the one thing I should have done above all other - the one thing I continue to fail at - is losing all of my excess weight. 

Don't get me wrong: I did lose weight. More than 50 pounds, though I hovered closer to 42 pounds lost most of the time. Then last fall someone very close to me died. I emotionally ate my way through my grief, and ended up putting about 10 of the lost poundage back on. During my first IVF cycle last February, Dr. Smiles had me taking estrogen post-transfer, and I put on another 11 lbs. during that cycle alone. When I did the second IVF with no break in between, I packed on 14 more pounds. 

I'll do the math for you: that's 35 pounds of the 42 pound loss I'd maintained through most of this process, in just under five months. 

But even if that hadn't happened - even if I'd stayed at -42 pounds - I still had a lot more to lose. Anywhere from another 40 pounds (my personal goal) to almost 90 pounds (according to at least one height/weight chart).

Mr. Hope and I knew in January 2011 that we wanted to have a baby. If I'd truly cleaned up my act then, and stuck to it, I could have been at my goal weight by 2013. Hell, I'd have hit the height/weight target by now. 

But I didn't.

At times I ate better than others. I'd be super-strict for four months, then suffer some kind of setback in my life (another failed cycle, stress at work, family drama) and I'd fall off the wagon for a bit. And then I'd get back on it, and go strict again, until the next thing threw me into a food tailspin. 

In March 2013, for one glorious week, I was only two pounds from the weight listed on my driver's license. And then I blew it.


I could beat myself up about this forever, but it won't change anything and I'm fairly certain it's not interesting to read. So let me skip ahead to the part where I say this:

I'm determined to change these self-defeating patterns of behavior. I have to. Not just because I want to have a baby, but because I don't want to raise a child plagued by obesity and the health issues that accompany it. I see women in the grocery store who are almost twice my size, dragging along kids with triple chins, their carts filled to the brim with processed garbage, and I am disgusted.

But then I think: You're no better. You're still ordering pizza once a week, chomping on chips, eating obscene amounts of chocolate on a regular basis. You're still feeding your feelings. 

Normally when I start a new diet or exercise plan, I keep it mostly quiet. Mr. Hope knows, because I kind of force him into eating the way I'm eating (I do the meal planning and make the grocery lists). And the BFF knows, because usually we're entering into whatever new diet or exercise plan together.

But I'm also stating it here, in hopes that making this public declaration will keep me accountable. I'll do progress reports at least once a week, and I will be brutally honest about every single fuck up. 

After all, it's time I start being brutally honest with myself, so why not you, too?

Friday, October 10, 2014

things I did to try to get pregnant, part 3.

We're almost at the end of the list! I've saved two of the craziest things I've done to try to get pregnant for last, so let me start with something more sensible.

Switched to fragrance-free body wash and lotion. This was one of Dr. God Complex's newer rules, as the chemicals in fragrance are both a) toxic and b) known endocrine disruptors. Sometimes I miss my scrumptious-smelling Bath & Body Works stuff, but honestly this was one of the easier changes I made. Now I use Aveeno's Skin Relief body wash and Skin Relief 24HR moisturizing lotion (or, if I can't find a deal on those, sometimes I'll opt for a store brand knock-off version).

Ate a lot of pineapple. After my first IUI, I tried the ol' eating pineapple core to encourage implantation thing. Basically, pineapple (particularly the core) is rife with bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory that also can help thin blood. This, supposedly, encourages implantation. Basically, you take a pineapple, peel it, and then cut it crosswise into five chunks with the core intact. Then you eat a piece every day for five days.

Here's what they don't tell you: the pineapple burns, man. My entire tongue hurt from all of the acid. When it didn't work the first time, I didn't repeat the experiment. I did, however, try pomegranate juice and tart cherry juice (the former is good for your lining, the later is another anti-inflammatory). Recently I've been hearing more about eating raspberries, but I never did try that one.

Used raw (pasteurized) egg whites as lube. Those of you who aren't fertility-challenged may be unfamiliar with egg white cervical mucus (EWCM). It's pretty much what it sounds like - cervical mucus the texture of egg whites. When you get it, you know that you're at your most fertile. Basically, the stuff helps keep sperm alive long enough for your egg to drop and magic to happen. At some point in history, women eager to get knocked up decided to help nature along.

Before you judge, please know that I am not the only woman ever to do this.

But I did do it. Maybe three or four times? I was always worried about injecting bacteria into my lady business. Plus, let's be honest: it's kind of gross. First you have to bring the egg to room temp. Then you have to separate out the yolk. Finally, you load the whites into a syringe (like a needle one without the needle tip) and inject them inside of you. You have to put a towel down on the bed to protect from spillage, and because everything's so wet and slippery, the ensuing sex isn't so hot for either of you.

Dabbled in Mayan fertility massage. I have three words for you:

Alien. Spirit. Babies.

We've been telling the punchline to this story for so long, sometimes I forget that the Mayan fertility masseuse never actually uttered the words "alien spirit babies." But. She did talk a lot about babies being spirits who choose their parents. This was in reference to me being a stress monkey. Stress was weighty, she told me. If a spirit baby felt that weight it would choose to be born to someone else. I needed more levity in my life, as levity attracted spirit babies. I should go play with toys! I should go color!

Have you ever met a Type A overachiever for whom coloring was NOT stressful? When I was a little kid, I wouldn't buy a coloring book that told a story, because if I messed a picture up too badly I wanted to be able to rip it out and not ruin the flow of the book. (True story.)

I spent a lot of time with Kooky. I got my period the day of my first scheduled session with her. This was the start of my first attempt at IVF, and I was throwing everything at the wall to see what would stick. Turns out you can't do Mayan fertility massage when you're on your period. So, instead, she and I had a long talk about why I was seeking fertility massage in the first place. This ended up being a 25-minute impromptu therapy session in which my uterus was personified as a temperamental woman. (This is also when I was told to color and invite more levity in my life.)

My actual massage took place a few days later, after my period had gone away but before I'd been on stim meds too terribly long. The whole session lasted about two and a half hours and was nothing like what I expected.

So the thing about Mayan fertility massage is that it's supposed to help break up adhesions, increase blood flow to the pelvis, and help correct prolapsed, fallen, or tilted uteruses (uterii?). I learned early on that my uterus was flopped on top of itself, but Kooky didn't seem to think this was a big deal. She spent a lot of time wedging her hand under a roll of belly flub, just above my pubic area. And then tried to have conversations with me about visualizing my womb as a beautifully decorated home, so as to be more enticing to the spirit babies.

Part of the session required me to imagine a giant tube coming from the center of the universe and into my head, pulling in positive energy. Then I had to imagine all of the stuff I don't need shooting out of my belly button like a whale spout...all while I made these deeply gutteral noises. (No, I am not making this up.)

But even though there was a part of my brain going, "Am I really doing this?" I found Kooky's soothing voice and gentle hands incredibly comforting.

There was more impromptu therapy. Kooky got me talking about my fears with (in)fertility, which led to me crying on the table. But then she'd, like, blow away negative energy (literally blowing, in short, sharp puffs). And she kept spraying tourmaline all around me and talking about flower essences and clapping her hands. Honestly, it was like something you'd see on TV or in a movie.

There was massage mixed in, but it wasn't like a two-and-a-half-hour-long spa massage. And yet I did leave feeling calm and centered and hopeful. I did not, however, get pregnant as a result.

So that's it. Everything I've tried over the past few years, in all of its embarrassing glory. Can you tell how badly I wanted to put a bun in my oven?

Read Part 1 of this series here.
Read Part 2 of this series here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

things I did to try to get pregnant, part 2.

Changed my diet. Yesterday, in part 1 of this series of posts, I said that supplements were my first line of defense against infertility. That's not entirely true. I changed my diet even before I technically knew I was infertile. Dr. God Complex was a proponent of a protein-heavy diet. So months before we discovered the dermoid cyst, I was cutting down on or eliminating sugar, simple carbs, and high-glycemic foods. I measured everything and counted calories to make sure that 25 percent or more of my daily calories came from protein, and less than 40 percent of my daily calories came from complex carbs. It was really effective for weight loss; I dropped 30 lbs. in a short amount of time just by following this plan.

There were long stretches of time where I'd be really strict about these things. And then there'd be stretches where I'd fall clean off the wagon. Like when I lost my left ovary. After the surgery my hormones went completely cray cray and I was nauseated nonstop. For about two weeks, the only things I could eat without feeling sick were saltines, graham crackers, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh, and some soup. But really, that was about it.

I'm also an emotional eater. Right before we discovered the dermoid, a good friend of mine died unexpectedly. I actually had a painful dermoid attack the day of her funeral that I managed to get under control long enough to attend. Then, the attack returned toward the end and I had to go straight home, where I sweated, puked, and writhed in pain for hours. Point being: during this time, I put back on some of the weight I'd taken off.

After my infertility diagnosis, I got super-strict about everything. I switched to decaf, stayed away from all alcohol (I even stopped cooking with it!), traded Splenda for 100% pure stevia, and avoided most soy (I still used soy sauce on occasion). More weight came off. Not all of it, but enough that I needed to go down a couple of sizes in my bras and pants.

I went on and off this eating plan for the better part of two years. But I haven't actually tracked calories since last fall. A little over a year ago, I let myself indulge in alcohol on occasion. And I also started drinking regular coffee again this past spring, when I was off my antidepressants and exhausted all of the time.

Changed my decaf. I'd been drinking decaf for a long time when I discovered that most decaf becomes that way by using the same chemicals used in paint thinner. Coffee that is decaffeinated through the Swiss Water Method is the safest, as it is chemical-free. So I switched to Tim Horton's decaf K-cups, which are really, really tasty.

Here's a funny side note: I started using K-cups last December, when I got Mr. Hope a Keurig. But it wasn't until two months ago that I realized K-cups are in plastic, and that boiling water washes over them, releasing all kinds of fun plastic-y chemicals into my coffee. This literally years after I switched almost all of our food storage containers over to glass, and not letting Mr. Hope put anything plastic in the dishwasher.

Yeah, I can be dense sometimes.

Detoxed my body seven ways from Sunday. At some point in this process, I became convinced that the overall rise in infertility was due to poisonous environmental factors (including those pesky plastic chemicals). So I went on this detox kick: I drank hot lemon water every morning (still do, actually - it helps with bloat), brewed detox tea, ate detoxifying foods (this Lemony Toasted Quinoa and Cabbage Salad is still a fave), and took detox baths. None of it was noxious, but I also didn't see any evidence that it aided in my fertility, either.

Meditated. I'll confess: I never bought the full Circle + Bloom set. But I did try listening to the freebie track while taking my detox baths. Me + dulcet tones + visualization = sleep, not fertility.

Let a nerdy white guy stick needles in me. Many IVF clinics work with acupuncturists, as it has been shown to aid in conception, especially when paired with assisted reproductive technologies. Research touts acupuncture's stress-relieving properties, as well as its ability to increase blood flow to reproductive organs. I can't speak to the latter, but when it comes to the former, I have to say: I never felt all that relaxed.

My first session came free as part of the program fee I paid to Dr. God Complex's clinic. Then I purchased Groupons to get additional sessions with the same guy, only at his normal place of business. He was like a martial arts cowboy and I really liked him. I tried doing acupuncture at the start of cycles, around the time of the trigger shot (when I did IUIs), before and after transfer (with the IVF). Nada.

Think I'm done? Nope. More craziness to come in Part 3.

Read Part 1 of this series here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

things I did to try to get pregnant, part 1.

Swallowed a fuck ton of vitamins and supplements. In my dogged pursuit of increased fertility, this was my first line of defense. Reconstructing what I've taken - and which did exactly nothing to make me more fertile - is going to take a while. Eventually, I'll write an entire post on just this. If I'm feeling really masochistic, I may even try to add up how much I've actually spent.

Read a book. When you're infertile due to diminished ovarian reserve, and you're Googling ways to overcome this condition, you invariably land on someone talking about raving about Julia Indichova's Inconceivable. Julia, for those of you who don't know, suffered from secondary infertility (meaning, she had one kid no probs before wanting a second and then having major probs). Julia found out her FSH was the same as her age (42) - so high that doctors wouldn't even let her attempt IVF. So plucky, determined Julia set out to lower her FSH enough that she could do IVF, only to find out that she - after just eight months of lifestyle changes - got pregnant naturally. Now she runs a small empire for the ovarian-challenged, advising them to drink wheat grass daily, take Chinese herbs, try acupuncture, and even get colonics (in a chapter titled "Spring Cleaning," no less).

I'm not going to lie; when I read Inconceivable, I got totally fired up. It's an inspiring memoir. Now I sort of think of it as a fairy tale for infertiles. For one thing, I'm not entirely convinced that it wasn't pure luck that gave Jules her second baby. For another, you always hear crazy stories about women who were told they'd never conceive naturally, but then, after getting drunk on a yacht during a Harvest Moon, discover they magically have a bun in the oven. 

Bodies are unpredictable. I know it doesn't hurt to clean up your diet and practice healthy behaviors. But expecting those actions to make miracles? That's a little foolish, if you ask me.

Drank a shot of wheat grass daily. Even before I read Inconceivable, I learned that wheat grass was purported to be the best way to lower FSH naturally. I don't live near a juice bar, and I didn't want to order frozen shots of the green stuff, so I opted for Amazing Grass Organic Wheat Grass powder. I would mix a large scoop of it into two ounces of Trader Joe's Organic Unfiltered Apple Juice and down it first thing in the morning.

At first I took it every day, but then read that too much Vitamin K (which the stuff was rich in) could make the blood too thick (bad for fertility). So then I would stop it during my luteal phase and start it over on Day 1 of the next period. Eventually, I cut it out totally, as I read that for some women, wheat grass could actually increase FSH.

Drank two cups of "preconception" tea daily. Despite its overly precious name, FertiliTea actually tasted pretty good. The only reason I stopped drinking it was because Dr. God Complex freaked out over the lead follie during my first attempt at IVF. Even though I'd been faithfully delivering updated lists of all of my supplements (including this tea) for months, he never bothered to look at them until Cycle #1 started to go south. Then he gave me shit about it and told me that drinking the tea could be the reason his protocol wasn't working. (We don't call him Dr. God Complex for nothing!)

Practiced fertility yoga three times a week. I'd done some yoga prior to purchasing Restoring Fertility: Yoga for Optimal Fertility, so adding this into my mornings wasn't so tough. There are four separate routines, each one corresponding to a different phase in your cycle: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory and luteal. The instructions are to do these routines daily, but I couldn't ever force myself into that. For one thing, my luteal phase was typically 12-14 days. Doing the same thing for two solid weeks is just plain boring. But I'd read that three yoga sessions a week were enough to aid in fertility, so that's what I did. Sometimes, if I knew I was ovulating, I might add in an extra session just so I could get a boost from that particular routine. 

I gave up on the fertility yoga around the time that I had my last failed IUI under Dr. Complex. Three failed IUIs will do that to a girl.

Monday, October 6, 2014


My anxiety level has been through the roof the past couple of days, but this morning - OH MY GOD, this morning. All I wanted was for the UnproRepro to confirm that the embies we'd selected were officially ours. I started checking my email at 7 a.m. sharp, and placed the first phone call at 7:20. No answer. Left a voice mail.

I tried to call again right before I left for work. This time, I didn't leave a message. Hit refresh on my email a few dozen times. Then I tried emailing again, this time to make sure she had both my work and cell phone numbers. This was around 9:30 a.m. Again, no answer.

Around this time, Mr. Hope and I are starting to exchange worried emails with each other. Why wasn't the UnproRepro getting back to us? Had she given our embies away? Was she waiting to reply as payback for what went down on Friday?

I hit refresh on my email again and again and again. Every time a new message popped up I got really excited and then, when I realized it was just Mr. Hope, I deflated all over again.

At 11:30-ish, I called and left a second voice mail. Mr. Hope said he was going to call, too, but I asked him to wait until at least 1. I felt kind of awful and stalkery. And of course, jittery. Shaky. I couldn't focus on anything, my heart was racing, and I actually broke down and took half a tablet of anti-anxiety meds. I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to do that at work. Ever.

Around noon, one of my favorite co-workers, Patience, came by to go out to lunch. I was grateful for the distraction. We went to our favorite bagel shop, the one with the good soup. As we sat down to eat, I checked my email on my phone.

And there it was. Her reply.


With questions answered, I quickly forwarded her the signed, scanned acceptance form I'd emailed to myself earlier that morning. 

Eight minutes later, she wrote back: "Received, thank you!"


Just like that, the four embryos were ours. 

At that moment, every fiber in my body relaxed. My heart rate returned to normal. In fact, after the yummy cup of roasted red pepper bisque and toasted pumpkin bagel, I felt downright sleepy.

It's crazy to me that just 72 hours ago, I was actually disappointed that the UnproRepro hadn't sent me more profiles to review, or that even 48 hours ago I was still trying to figure out the whole How do you know? thing. 

This morning, I knew. I don't know why, exactly; I just did.

Our embryos.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

decisions, decisions.

Woke up at 4:44 a.m. (literally, 4:44) and have been unable to get back to sleep. So, figured I'd use the time to write. Of course, as soon as I got that sentence out I yawned so big my jaw ached.

Most Saturdays, Mr. Hope and I see Chance. He was our couples counselor before he was my individual therapist, and I'm not exaggerating when I say he pretty much saved our relationship (post-engagement, pre-wedding, pre-infertility diagnosis). We used to have a standing biweekly appointment, but bumped that up to weekly a couple of months back. This would be about the time that I was bottoming out after getting off my antidepressants, so we can blame me for the increase in frequency.

I'd finished yesterday's post about twenty minutes before Mr. Hope and I had to leave for our appointment, and I was still pretty fired up over what I'd written. Mostly about how the UnproRepro was the end of the line for infertile couples and how she really needed a different approach to her job. There were a lot of expletives flying from my mouth (I told you I was fired up!) but I'll leave those to your imagination.

On the ride to Chance's office, I told Mr. Hope that we had some decisions to make. One, were we going to accept the second profile (the one with the younger mom)? And two, if we passed on it, would we wait to see what else came in or would we go with another clinic? 

We walked Chance through the events that had transpired between my individual appointment with him on Wednesday and all of the stuff that went down on Friday. I pulled the profile we were considering up on my phone and started reading through it. As I did I was reminded of all the things we liked about it in the first place. Our only concern had been the slight potential that this kid could end up looking like Mr. Hope's Babymama. 

Chance had a few not-so-helpful things to say about that, citing his sister's experience with IVF. Sometimes he does that - goes off on rants that leave us thinking "huh"? But in this case it worked out for us. Because when Chance suggested we write the UnproRepro back, thank her profusely for helping us, and ask to see a couple more profiles of people outside of our original parameters - just for comparison's sake - I found myself squirming on the couch. I was thinking, "But I don't want to do that, why would I do that?" and not because I didn't want to thank the UnproRepro (even though I didn't). 

I said, "I think I've already made up my mind to accept these embryos," and filled him and Mr. Hope in on my internal monologue. Mr. Hope had already said he wanted to go forward with them, so with my proclamation, it was decided. 

Just like that.

Later that afternoon, I sat down to fill out the donor embryo acceptance form but couldn't. Not because I'd changed my mind but because I had to stipulate that all of my questions had been answered (they hadn't). 

So in the end, I needed to thank the UnproRepro anyway. Twice. Once in the beginning of the email, right after I told her we wanted these embryos, and once in the end, after I'd spelled out my four remaining questions: one about the fee, three about the embryos themselves. And as I was typing this all out I actually got annoyed again, because I felt like some of my questions should've been answered without me needing to ask them. 

Such as: Have these embryos been thawed previously?

Or: How many frozen embryos are there per each straw?

But I'm over it. As my good friend Mercy said when I filled her in on everything Friday night, "You don't know what's going on with that woman. She could be frustrated over being underpaid, or she could have a relative with cancer." Basically, she was saying that how the UnproRepro treated me had everything to do with her own shiz and likely very little to do with mine. 

I'm still writing Dr. Smiles a letter, though. Because OH MY GOD, all that stuff she said about my two previous IVF cycles disturbs me. Especially the part about my Day 2 transfers happening because they didn't think my embryos would survive. Like, was there an actual note on my file telling her that? And if that was indeed the case, why did Dr. Smiles transfer them at all? And why did he act like I had an actual shot at getting pregnant from them?

[Side note: I just Googled "Day 2 transfer IVF success rates" and landed on this study, which I remember reading the first time I had a Day 2 transfer. Basically, it says that there's no observed difference in success rates between Day 2 and Day 3 transfers, although the overall quality of the embryo decreased by Day 3. This lends more credence to what Dr. Smiles had told me initially, which was that when they end up with fewer embryos, they often choose to transfer earlier because the mother's body is preferable over lab culture.]

Okay, so maybe I'm not over it. Yet. But I will be.

Mr. Hope and I spent the rest of our Saturday running errands and making plans, particularly about the third bedroom in our house. Initially it was my office. Then, I relocated my stuff to the second bedroom so that Mr. Hope could have an office. At the time, we figured it was a temporary move because of course that room would become the nursery. And we used to call it that, back before we got my infertility diagnosis.

But after our first failed attempt at IVF - the first time we were converted down to IUI - we stopped calling it that. It felt like we were jinxing ourselves. 

Yesterday, we started calling it the nursery again. And started making plans to paint the walls a gender-neutral color I picked out a while ago that also makes a great office color. And also making plans to refinish some of our bedroom furniture that once upon a time we'd intended to become Future Baby's. 

I'm not going to lie; I'm still burdened by fears. Especially regarding my weight and how much impact it will have on this next cycle. My primary and I discussed it the last time I saw her and she said she didn't think there'd be an issue since even though I'm overweight I don't have any of the usual health problems associated with being overweight. Besides, you know, extra weight. She also pointed out that I have a lot of solid muscle and loose skin from all the weight I've already lost. So there's that.

But also: I wonder if the studies about overweight women and lower IVF success rates, even with donor eggs/embryos, take into account what those women are eating. It's a proven fact that sugar is a major player when it comes to infertility. It's a known hormone disruptor, it creates insulin resistance, and can even lower your immunity. Things like white flour and other high glycemic index foods can have a similar impact on the body. 

So, like, if I'm NOT eating white flour and sugar and trans fats and all of the things that can mess you up, will my being overweight be as big of a sabotage as I fear? 

More on that another day. For now, I'm happy to continue nesting (such as it is) - and focusing, for a change, on the happy, hopeful feelings running through my normally fatalistic veins.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

the truth about 'the list.'

You know how sometimes you think things are a certain way and then they end up being something entirely different?

I really hate when that happens.

Hitting bumps on the donor embryo road and we haven't even been on it all that long. Well, actually, it's just one enormous bump in the form of the third-party reproduction coordinator, a.k.a. TPRC, who will henceforth be known as the UnproRepro (as in: unprofessional reproduction coordinator). Because she totally is. Horribly, horribly so.

Remember when I said that I was told I was getting around seven profiles of potential embryo donors? Well, I didn't. In fact, I didn't get ANY within the 48 hours I was originally supposed to, because the UnproRepro was trying to find profiles with certain features my husband and I don't even have (because she doesn't listen. Or take good notes. Or whatever). I ended up sending her a picture yesterday morning, to make sure she had a visual reference for what we actually looked like/were looking for.

Almost immediately after that, she sent us two profiles. Mr. Hope, who hadn't gone to work yet, and I were ecstatic. We opened up the first one to discover that the mom of said embryos was 39-years-old (as in: older than me) and that there was history of debilitating diseases on both sides (mom's and dad's, including dad's brother). So that was a nonstarter.

The second profile looked really promising. Mom was significantly younger (30 vs. 39, though still slightly older than I had expected, Dad shared some of our interests, both had great education). But then we got to a line about the dad having a couple of physical characteristics reminiscent of Mr. Hope's Babymama, and my heart sank a little. My brain played it out: Babymama already had a kid that looked exactly like Mr. Hope, and we'd end up with a kid that looked like it belonged to her, and I still wouldn't look like any part of this family.

Keep in mind that I'm reading/reacting to these with zero solid food in my stomach for nearly 24 hours (prepping for the colonoscopy) and a wicked sinus headache. And also, that I'd been expecting seven profiles, not two, as well as mothers in their 20s (based on Dr. Smiles telling me that I should have no problems provided I used much younger genetic material). Also that I did not, as you will soon discover, have a clear concept of how this program worked, seeing as I got one version from Dr. Smiles and something different from the UnproRepro. In hindsight, I probably should've pushed for more info when I met with her on Tuesday, instead of letting her sweep me out of the exam room where I was getting my breakneck-speed overview. But per usual, hindsight is mos def 20/20.

So I emailed her a couple of questions, such as:

Q. Can you please tell me what 2PN means?
A. 2PN means that the embryos were frozen the day after they were retrieved, once fertilization occurred.

Q. Also we were hoping for blastocysts - are they all blastocysts? [asked before I got the answer about what 2PN meant]
A. No, blastocysts are very rare because most embryos die off before they become blastocysts. If we had any blasts, we'd likely only have one. [Italics added here by me.]

Q. Is there a reason why there are so few matches? We were really hoping to find some embryos from younger women considering my advanced maternal age.
A. One thing that you will need to understand is that donor embryos come from a couple trying to have their own child, not an egg donor. The average age is 30-39.

Q. Do we know what births resulted from the same embryo batch?
A. We only accept embryos from cycles that have produced a child.

[Uh, that's great, but this is the first time I've heard this information.]

Please note that nearly all of the above was taken directly from our email exchanges, though I did copyedit her responses because I am like that.

At some point during this exchange I told the UnproRepro that I was confused about how things worked and was available by phone if she'd prefer to talk, so she called me.

The conversation was emotionally charged from the start, so I may be messing up the order of how this all went down. But these are the highlights:

I mentioned our concern over the 39-year-old mother and how that's older than I am. "Not everyone has your problems," she snapped. I told her I understood, but that statistics showed the older the egg, the more likely the genetic abnormalities. She told me the other set of embryos not only had a birth initially but already provided another couple seeking donor embryo with one. Good information to have, lady. Feel free to share these things at any time.

I asked her again about the Day 2 embryo thing, because this is what I had with both of my failed transfers.

"No, you didn't," she told me.

"Yes, I did," I assured her.

And then we literally exchanged several more no, you didn'ts and yes, I dids, before she says, "No doctor in the country does Day 2 transfers!"

"That's funny," I said. "Because mind did. Twice."

"But they're not even ready to be transferred then!"

This went on for a few more minutes before she shouted at someone to get my file.

I moved on.

I asked about seeing more profiles, and she said, "That's all we've got. Most people only get to see one profile. You got two - you should feel lucky!"

Except, I swear to god she told me she'd be sending around seven. I remember this because I thought, "Okay, good, that gives us lots to think about." Since then I've been trying to figure out if I could've misheard her, but even if she said, "I'll be sending you some," some is one syllable vs. seven's two.

Then she told me that the selection was extremely limited - that she'd sent me the only two donors with brown hair. I questioned this, because isn't brown hair fairly common? She told me she had some African-American embryos, some East Indian embryos, and about seven blond-haired, blue-eyed embryos, but no more brunettes. Period.

I think the UnproRepro uttered the phrase, "You're gonna have to understand" about half a dozen times during our short phone call. She also pushed the donor egg thing hard, when I've told her repeatedly that we aren't interested in that.

At one point, I told her I felt like she was being kind of hostile toward me. She said, "No, I'm not, and I'm sorry you feel that way..." and then proceeded to come at me with, "I really think you'd be much happier with donor eggs." Again.

There's some other stuff that was said, but this was the gist of it.

After the phone call, I sent this email:

I'm sorry that I apparently misunderstood how your program worked. When I met with Dr. Smiles, he said, "These are our patients. We know them well," and that you try to match couples with embryos that look like they could conceivably come from the recipients. He said, "We have a huge operation here," and made it sound like there were an abundance of embryos waiting to be implanted. He also stressed to me the importance of using young eggs (in relation to donor embryo, not donor egg) to ensure success. 

This is a huge decision for a couple to make. When I spoke with you on Tuesday I thought I'd be getting more information than I actually did. I can't be the first person to have a ton of questions about how your donor embryo program works, can I?

Also, I have told Dr. Smiles from the start that I do not want to pursue the donor egg route. I would really appreciate it if you would not present that to me as my only option. Or, if it is, please let me know and I can look outside Posh Clinic.

Lastly, I have to say that I feel very disconcerted that you would tell me that no doctor in the country would transfer Day 2 embryos - that they're not even ready at Day 2 - when *both* of my transfers were done on Day 2. I will follow up with Dr. Smiles on that.

Thank you.

Her response was almost total CYA and did not make me feel the least bit better:

As far as donor embryo programs go, we do have a “huge operation.” That does not mean, however that the amount of embryos available are not limited.  We do, however, do our best to meet the criteria a patient has in mind.

We do know our patients well, and that is why we feel very comfortable accepting the embryos.  And as I’ve said, we only accept embryos from cohorts that have produced pregnancy. You are certainly not the first patient to have questions about how a donor embryo program works. I was under the impression that I answered all your questions satisfactorily when we met on Tuesday. I made the time to see you, and would have been happy to continue the conversation had I known that you were not comfortable with the information presented to you.

We are by no means saying that donor egg/donor sperm is your only option. It was simply a suggestion since it would be easier to meet your criteria that way since what we have to offer you at this time is not satisfactory.

Lastly, I never said that no doctor in the country would transfer on day 2. What I said that there are only 2 days that doctors plan a transfer and that is day 3 or day 5. On some occasions, a day 6 transfer is indicated. That is a nationwide protocol.

I do apologize that in your case, I was incorrect and you were transferred on day 2. There was an exception made in your case as the feeling was that the embryo would not survive until the normal transfer day. I am sorry that I was unaware that such an exception was made in your case. [Again, emphasis here is mine.]

We will, of course, continue to to do our best to match you. The next set that comes along that meets your criteria will be e-mailed to you. 

To which I immediately responded:

I didn't turn down both sets. Just the second one with the 39-year-old mother. You said I had until Monday to let you know about the other set. 

No response.

This last exchange took place while I was in the waiting room before getting my colonoscopy (which was clean, by the way - yay!). And even though I'd put a call into Dr. Smiles before leaving to get said colonoscopy, I wasn't home by the time he returned it. So, no talking to him before Monday.

What I did do is put some queries out to my secret Facebook support group. I found out that other clinic-based programs follow the one-profile-at-a-time rule. One woman said that with hers, if you passed on a profile, you got dropped to the bottom of the list.

Other women working with other clinics, like NEDC or FIRM, have had different experiences (one woman got to review 40 profiles before making her selection!). I haven't looked too closely at either NEDC or FIRM, honestly, because until yesterday I felt good about working with Posh Clinic. I do know that NEDC requires a home study, which we were trying to avoid (due to cost, time it takes to complete one, etc.).

And as I told the UnproRepro, Mr. Hope and I hadn't ruled out the other profile. The one that looked really great except for the "might possibly turn out looking like Babymama" thing. (I even wrote to her, "We're not ruling out that one but I really do not want to have a child that looks like his ex. I'm sure you can understand why." This, I was trying to explain, is why I'd asked about reviewing other profiles. So that I could make the most informed decision possible.)

Look, it usually takes me a long time to make big decisions. A long time. Typically, I like to research all of the options. I discuss these options with multiple people. I ponder things. I write about the things I ponder in order to process them. Hell, it took me over a year and a half to purchase our TV. And no, I am NOT comparing a child to a television set. But, like, do you know how many models I had to look at  and how many reviews I had to read before I finally pulled out the wallet? How can I possibly make a decision on our future baby after looking at just two profiles?

I guess the larger question is: How do you know which one is the right one?

The answer is this: You can't, actually. You have to go on gut. Or faith. Or both.

And when I realized that - that my anxiety was being fueled by the unknown factors and not having enough information (or not having the right kinds of information) - I started to get really pissed off at the UnproRepro. This is your job, lady. To work with distraught couples who come to you because they don't have any other choice. They don't have what they need to make a baby, so they come to you. They come to you to get an egg or sperm or both in the form of an embryo. You, lady, are the end of the line - the last chance they have to produce a pregnancy. Have some fucking compassion, will you? Get some fucking bedside manner here.

One of the women on the Facebook group told me she'd worked with Posh Clinic on her fresh donor egg cycle and had a horrific experience with the UnproRepro (who, by the way, I hadn't even named in my posting). She told me they almost backed out before the cycle because the UnproRepro was so unprofessional and because she had been treated so poorly. The whole experience, she said, was so terrible she'd never go back there again.

So I know I'm not alone here, and that's validating. I am going to write Dr. Smiles a letter about the whole situation, because I feel like he needs to know how the UnproRepro is representing his practice.

Now Mr. Hope and I have to decide whether we want to take the other set of embryos or not. The fact that they've produced babies for two couples makes me lean toward yes, as really, that's what I want here: a baby. To be a mom. Sooner, rather than later.

But I do still have concerns over the Day 2 vs. blastocyst thing. Will Posh Clinic grow the embryos out after the thaw? And, if so, do they wait until they reach blast to transfer or do they do it on Day 3?

These are things I feel like I should've known already but I don't. I didn't prepare enough for my meeting with the UnproRepro because I thought she was going to give me a comprehensive overview. That's on me. My bad.

Clock's a ticking, Mr. Hope's still sleeping, and I'm so deep inside my brain right now I don't know if I'll ever find a way out.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

things that start with the letter p.


As in: the thing I did not get. The thing I need to get to move forward in this journey.

Thinking back, I've had a handful of cycles this past year that were really, really light. I am guessing that they were actually anovulatory.

As in: without ovulation.

And then I started wondering if that period I got the previous cycle, the one that I thought came nine days late and was also fairly light and which also did not require many tampons - was that even a true period?


As in: what I am. Or think I am. To be honest, nobody's used the "p" word in regards to me except me. But if it looks like a duck and talks like a duck...


As in: the 10 mg pill that I am now taking to induce a true period. One a day for the next ten days.

Downside: new drug.

Upside: every time they give me progesterone, I start dropping weight like crazy. So maybe this will help me start to take off some of the estrogen poundage?


As in: a virtue skill I do not have. I hate that I'm back in the waiting game. I could get my period while on the Provera, immediately after I finish the Provera, or up to two weeks after that.

So now, after literally years of dreading the arrival of each fresh bleed, I want the bitch to hurry up and come.



As in: what I try to make. Always.

Last night my therapist, whom we will call Chance, and I discussed my rapidly encroaching menopause (Me: "I have the reproductive parts of a 50-year-old woman, and I'm not even forty!"). He asked me how I felt about that (way to be a cliché, Chance!) and I said, "I mean, I've been expecting it. My mom went through it in her early 40s."

Then I told him, "Actually, if I'd had a biological daughter, for her 21st birthday I planned on paying for her to get her eggs frozen, just to buy her some extra time."

And Chance was like, "You really never stop thinking, do you? At least, you haven't in the time I've known you."

That's just how my brain works: I am always playing out scenarios, trying to get my head around all of the possibilities at once.


As in: what I am confident I will one day be.

Actually, that's a total lie. I am not the least bit confident about that. In fact, I'm scared as hell that I will never know what it's like to grow a tiny human inside of me. Ever.


As in: the things that should be coming today from the clinic. Roughly seven of them. Our potential matches.

Will one of those embryos become our baby?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

funny how fast things move.

I've been reading and rereading what's below about a dozen times, afraid to hit "publish" because I know I've written some things that may offend one or more people who read it. But I don't want to edit anything out, because it's honestly what I'm thinking/feeling/doing. And I'm quite certain I'm not the only one thinking/feeling/doing these things. But just know that I know that you may think I'm complete and utter fucktwit, and that I'm okay with that. Or at least, I will be.

Yesterday I went to talk to Dr. Smiles about next steps. I'd spent the morning feeling fluttery and anxious, and the solo drive to the clinic was tense. It didn't help that I kept getting stuck behind old people, people on their phones (illegally), and people just generally not paying attention.

After a stay in the waiting room (this clinic has for serious four different waiting rooms, and I spent time in three of them yesterday), I met with his PA and gave her a quick overview of why I was there. Since my cycles have been so screwy, she had me go in for a scan. The ultrasound tech noted that I had a couple of small, fluid-filled cysts (as opposed to the hairy dermoid variety of days past) - they looked exactly like follies to me, so I asked her how she could tell the difference and she gave me a semi-snarky answer about her years of training. Thanks for the education, lady.

Next was Dr. Smiles, who made a joke about me wanting to turn more of his hair gray. (I didn't really get it.) We talked about doing one more cycle with my egg and Mr. Hope's sperm. (And in typing this I realized I kept saying my "egg," as in singular, because we've never gotten more than one egg out of me, no matter how hard we try.) But I also told him I was worried that my insurance gravy train would run out before I'd built my family. He asked me about a donor egg backup and I said no, but would he be open to transferring my embryo and a donor embryo at the same time?

He said yes.

Total game-changer right there. It was something Mr. Hope and I had discussed but didn't think was possible. 

Dr. Smiles said, "The thing is, if you get pregnant, you won't know which embryo took." To which I replied, "Am I really going to care?" He said, "I don't think so. I think you'll be happy you're pregnant." Which is exactly what I was thinking. Well, that and that if I did get pregnant, I'd likely assume it was the donor embryo anyway just because I haven't had such luck with my own genetic material thus far.

He asked me about getting started before Thanksgiving. I asked about the average wait for embryos. None, he tells me, despite the scary paperwork that indicated otherwise. "We have a huge operation here," he explained. 

It's a tony clinic, too, situated in the heart of richville. Like, there was some construction, and the GPS ended up taking me through a residential section on the way home. It was OH MY GOD, RICH PEOPLE land. I drove by mansions. Literally, mansions. The kind that look like they need their own staff just for bare-bones upkeep.

I managed to get out a few more questions before Smiles ushered me off to talk to the third-party reproduction coordinator (TPRC) about how this all works. I like Dr. Smiles, but meetings in his office tend to end rather quickly and without you even realizing it. One minute we're talking Lovenox and prednisone; the next I'm in yet another waiting room, checking work email before the TPRC shows up.

She took me to an exam room. I gave her my completed application and wrote out the $100 check while she explained how the process worked. Basically, she'd record any preferences or criteria that Mr. Hope and I had, and then she'd look to see what they had in stock. In about 48 hours, she said, she'd be forwarding me profiles to review. If we liked one, we had our match. If we didn't, she'd either look for more or we'd have to wait for new embies to come in.

This, to me, is the scariest part of using donor embryos. The fact that someone else is doing the pre-selection for us. In embryo adoptions, you can look at pictures of kids born as a result of those embryos from the same set, or kids born from a previous one. With the completely anonymous donor thing, you don't get any pictures. Not a single one. You basically go in on blind faith, hoping that the clinic will match you with embryos that will produce a child that looks at least a little like you.

I'd asked Dr. Smiles about this, and about whether or not the staff remembers what the embryos' bio parents looked like. He said, "These are our patients. We know them well." I felt a little better after that, but not as much as I would've liked.

And yes, I know that some people don't give two figs about the baby looking anything like them. I am not one of those people. (Clearly.)

The TPRC and I went over our criteria, which really, were more like preferences. Since Mr. Hope and I do want a kid that looks like it could conceivably be ours (see what I did there?), I ran down things like hair color and eye color. Then we went over some stickier stuff.




The interests part isn't so difficult, because in a lot of ways Mr. Hope and I are complementary opposites. Pretty much the only thing we'd feel clueless about is if we had a baby of the sporty spice variety. As in: we are not jocks. We wouldn't know what to do with a jock. We'd have to learn a whole new language. But as I told TPRC, "That's not, like, a deal breaker or anything." She wrote: "Athletic not required."

I told her I was more interested in education level. There's no way to say this without sounding like a complete asshole, so I won't even try: I'm way more afraid of having an unintelligent child than having an ugly and/or unfit one.

Hear me out: Mr. Hope and I are really flipping smart. And not just book smart, even though we have Mensa-level IQs and multiple degrees. More like we have an excessive amount of intellectual curiosity. We ask a lot of questions. We formulate a lot of opinions. We never stop learning. That's partially what drew us to one another to begin with. I fell in love with his mind before I fell in love with his face. (Granted, it's a really lovely face. Especially the eyes. And the lips. And all of it, really. But to me, a pretty boy without a brain is utterly useless.)

While I am confident that we'll be the kind of parents who nurture intellectual curiosity, I can't imagine that nature doesn't play a hefty role in what you've got to work with in the first place. And really, does wanting a smart kid make me that horrible a person? 

So then the TPRC gave me this whole speech about how smart people can make a less-smart baby, and less-smart people can birth a genius. I told her I knew that, but if we could stack the deck in our favor, why wouldn't we try?

I didn't think to ask to see a sample profile, but the TPRC said she had way more info on each of the donating couples than I'd just given her. She seemed confident that we'd have enough to make an informed decision. 

In another 36-48 hours, I should have the first round of possible matches. And, depending on the results of my blood work, Mr. Hope and I could potentially be pregnant before Christmas. 

I mean.

Come on.


Surely you must be joking.

The one thing standing in our way of hurtling toward this mixed cycle (I don't know if that's an actual term or what, but this is what I'm calling it) is my body (shocker!). According to Dr. Smiles, I did not get my period when I bled late last week. My lining, he says, is too thick for that.

Say what now?

I won't get my blood work back until later today, because they drew it too late yesterday. But I'm hoping that will give us some answers as to where I am and what happens next.