family, fertility, IVF, outdoors, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

sunset

Hi, people. I’m sitting in the living room after dinner–my sister and mom are chatting and my dad is doing the dishes. The pink sun just dropped from behind the clouds and is descending brightly over the lake. Bill Evans plays gorgeous jazz piano in the background.

My birthday was wonderful. Run followed by hike followed by nap followed by (just as predicted) duck, champagne, and profiteroles. The birthday love rolled in throughout the day and my heart was filled with love and gratitude. It felt so momentous that when I woke up on Monday, I felt like I was 41.

Yesterday, I went on an adventure drive with my dad, a tradition left over from childhood and my Father’s Day experiential gift. Have you tried this recently? It’s so refreshing to get in the car and not know yet where you’re going  A metaphor for life and letting go and being open and curious and expecting great and beautiful things.

Sometimes we had a gut feeling about which way to turn and sometimes we flipped a coin. We ended up south of town on a remote seasonal road that looked like we might get stuck–which kept it suspenseful. We stopped to walk around a totally remote old family cemetery. We stopped again to take pictures of a butterfly and a beautiful red and black bird. The further we went, the more we wondered where (or if) we would pop out–this was a two-track with no signs of civilization. Eventually, we popped out at Pearl Lake in a fancy development! Then we passed someone’s yard that had a sign: “Come on in and set awhile,” so we walked around and met a giant metallic grasshopper and appreciated the flowers and vegetable garden (and, by the house, a sign with a rifle that said “We don’t call 911”). Then we cut over to Lake Ann for soft-serve ice cream on a totally deserted beach, and visited a summer camp, my Dad’s horse Lily, and three other lakes I’ve never seen before as the late afternoon sun intensified, casting longer shadows. Meaningful time with my dad.

Today was the first day of the film festival in Traverse City. I put on two estrogen patches this morning which likely contributed to my weepiness during the first film and afterward–it was a Korean film called Dancing Queen (highly recommend), about a guy who runs for mayor of Seoul and his wife whose dream is to be a pop singer/dancer–the theme was following your dreams: and never giving up. Every time someone almost gave up on their dream, they got propped up by those around them who knew just how important the dream was, and I thought of how you all prop me up during the setbacks. It made me feel like I just know we’re going to do this thing. My mom held my hand as we walked down the street together afterward and I cried it out.

Tomorrow I will log back in to work email after nearly two weeks away. I am rested, sun kissed, wind blown, reset by chilly Lake Michigan. Bracing myself for 700 messages (that’s just an estimate) but also intrigued to see how things are going for my team and my projects. I had a good break.

It’s almost time to westward ho! Toward my dream apartment and a birthday bash with my SF family and giving embryos #2 and #3 my best shot.

Meanwhile, enjoying my last days of Pure Michigan. We all just gathered on the balcony to watch the last of a fuschia popsicle sun melt into the horizon. See you on the other side.

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family, fertility, IVF, meditation, outdoors, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

40 eve

It’s the first time I’ve been home alone since arriving one week ago! In such a constantly boisterous  household with my little nieces around, I’ve been on the family channel with almost constant activity every day, including reading The Phantom Tollbooth with newly-5-year-old E (we got almost 200 pages in) and bouncing in chilly Lake Michigan with almost-2-year-old S (she loves splashing). Given my limited time with the girls in particular, who call me K.K., I didn’t really want to tear myself away for regular grown-up vacation activities like a book or a phone call or…writing. So, I didn’t. I just rolled with the days, inventing inside jokes, playing hide-and-go-seek, and going out for activities like seeing my dad’s horse.

Today, we did the whole unbearable scene of the family waving from the parking lot as the adorables drive away waving their little hands from the back seat. I felt flooded with despair for about ten minutes and then got on with a quieter day. I cleaned, did laundry, did yoga, read the New Yorker, napped, did a couple of online errands, meditated, and now it’s time to write. This is a big preamble, just trying to set the stage here.

I kicked off birthday celebrations on Thursday night with a family dinner, dance party, and jam session. It was the best party ever. As always, my mom masterfully pulled together a delicious meal over at the river house, including a made-from-scratch chocolate cake with pink frosting (my niece E perfected the shade of pink), with a little picture on top for each birthday celebrant: 40 for me, a heart for my sister, Wonder Woman for E, Fallout Shelter for my teenage cousin M, and Charlie Brown for my uncle P. The W family showed up with four bottles of Veuve Cliquot (my favorite) and we ate and drank and danced and then broke out the violin, guitar, and ukelele and played and sang and improvised hysterical blues verses, broke two glasses and spilled another, and it was a glorious evening of love and connection and music. What could be better?? I LOVED it. Party #1 rocked.

Yesterday, I got my birthday wish from my sisters: a financial consultation. (they are both financial wizards). I can now admit that I tried to get pregnant for over a year without really having a clue about how a child would (or would not) work with my finances. We sat down to start crunching the numbers and I realized that my fear was that they would look at me and shake their heads and say there was no way to make it work in San Francisco. But they didn’t–we created an action plan with several steps which will allow me to start saving now for child care.  This is my favorite kind of gift–the whole scenario feels more possible and my vision of the future is more clear.  I started taking the action plan steps today. Thanks, D & B!

Then, D’s husband took us out for a fancy (bday!) dinner and then left us to make room for girls’ night out, which included time in the bookstore followed by a huge monster sundae and hilariously ended before 10pm when there was still some light in the sky.

Tonight is the eve of my 40th birthday. I elected to stay home–B and my mom are in Traverse at the opening film of the TC Film Festival and my dad is playing tennis. After a day of chilly rain, the sun is bursting out over the sparkling water of Lake Michigan. It’s peaceful here. My bro-in-law just texted a photo of the girls at baggage claim in Baltimore saying they miss us already–it’s mutual!

What does my birthday mean to me? Well, first of all, I’m a Leo so I have always pushed the celebration factor to the extreme. Recently someone said to me that I seemed to have a good attitude about this milestone birthday. While I grant you that there are downsides to aging (and at 40, for me, it is primarily about how hard it’s been to get pregnant), I feel it is truly obnoxious to complain when there are so many people we’ve known and loved who haven’t been fortunate enough to make it this far. When we think of the only other possible alternative, we realize that all we can do and should do is celebrate.

Not to mention just how much learning and experience and love and craziness has led up to this day. As a cumulative number, 40 adequately represents it. 39 was just bananas and it got me to 40, to this moment, which is a good one. Now let’s look ahead.

As I turn 40, I am moving into a big, new apartment! I am moving into a new office! I am throwing myself a big party! AND I am gearing up to transfer two healthy embryos in about 2.5 weeks! My good friend T reminded me that I’m entering my fifth decade (thanks for that! 😉 ) –and I’d say I’m entering with extraordinarily positive momentum. It’s easy to say in hindsight that the babe wasn’t meant to be until now. The way the universe is throwing good mojo in my direction it feels like we’re finally almost there, maybe.

(Speaking of the apartment: I received the lease, went back and forth with questions, received the revised lease, and will sign it in person with the landlord in one week when I’m home–and the current tenant is leaving all kinds of great furniture for me! More details when I have the signed doc in hand!)

Tomorrow will be a mellow day. I’d like to be outside as much as possible. Then I’m putting on my party dress and my red heels which are totally over the top for this rural area, and we’re going to our favorite French restaurant where my parents are legitimately great friends with the French owner, and I will hopefully have something like duck and profiteroles and some champagne and we’ll toast the day.

On the occasion of my birthday, I want to tell you how much you mean to me, my dear readers, family, and friends!!!!! Whatever my 40s bring, I’m grateful that you are my companions on this journey. ❤ xoxoxo

 

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decompressing

I’m sitting on the balcony at dusk, looking out at a calm Lake Michigan. The sky is a darkening gray with the exception of a dramatic streak of hot magenta across the horizon where the sun finished setting a little while ago. I’m in a tank top and cargo pants, barefoot. The breezes are warm in a way they never are in SF. Somewhere a ukalele is playing, faraway voices drift up from the beach, waves lap the shore.

I arrived two days ago and I’m still transitioning to vacation mode. Carving out nearly two weeks’ vacation requires quite a lot lot lot of preparation, especially when you intend to draw a hard line and really disconnect during the days off. I worked late, got in early, delegated like mad, finished my last important to-do item on the plane. I arrived exhausted and grateful for the time and space I managed to clear.

My mom and sisters are playing Bananagrams on the dining room table inside behind me. Through the window next to me I can see the TV on a financial channel and my dad’s feet. My nieces are finally sleeping upstairs.

Feeling gratitude. Still decompressing. How does one find the time and space to meditate on a family vacation? I intend to find out.

Tomorrow, a bunch of us are running in the Running Bear 5K. Speed is not my forte but it seemed like a great local event and a much harder/better version of my regular morning workout. (Speaking of which, have you guys heard of the 7 minute workout? I did it with my sister this morning and it was kind of amazing in its brevity and efficiency.)

Beyond spending time with family, I want to: sleep, write, read, run, hike, meditate, and do yoga. And nap. I envision more regular blogging.

My fertility journey feels like it’s out of the spotlight, even as I prepare for FET#2. Earlier this month, I pictured coming home feeling defeated, but it hasn’t even really come up. Maybe a couple of welcome hugs lasted a few seconds longer than usual, but that’s it. In the bigger picture, I’m still on track.

Just moved inside away from the mosquitoes, which means I will soon be sucked into this game of Bananagrams. Now everyone at the table is afraid that I will call them out on their made-up words, such as “bah” and “groovies.”

Still thrilled beyond belief about the new apartment, and still waiting for the actual lease which was supposed to arrive today over email. Landlord assures me the place is mine and the current tenant assures me that she didn’t sign a lease until she was already painting the place. Let’s just wait patiently with our fingers crossed for the legal documentation to follow the verbal agreement. The day I sign the lease I will unleash the details and begin planning dinner parties, chamber music nights, and SMC meetings.

AF arrived today, kicking off the cycle in which I will transfer. So, we’re getting closer.

Meanwhile, relaxing and expanding like one of those skinny little orange stick sponges from Trader Joe’s in a bucket of water. Forgive my sleepy metaphor as I jump in to take my mom’s place in Bananagrams.

 

 

fertility, IVF, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

change!

Things are shifting and moving and changing and all is well in the universe. I wish I were slightly less tired so I could tell this better but here goes.

Biggest news is: today I got the keys to my new two-bedroom apartment!!! In San Francisco!!!! I have paid the money and received the keys, and I will write you the full story of the place once I sign the lease (coming this week) and get some rest. I spent the weekend working with a team of friends and family to strategize and negotiate this deal and in the end got a price way (way) under market rate. Why? Because the landlord is a single dad and thinks it’s awesome that I’m trying to have a baby on my own. Thank goodness my friend who referred me, who lives in the building, had the sense to tell him about my SMC plans because I never would have. She had an instinct that it would work in my favor, and it totally did. I will describe the place to you in excrutiating detail once the lease is locked and loaded, I promise. It is beautiful and spacious and bright and perfect for my next chapter. It fell out of the sky and into my life, with the help of a few new friends who pushed hard for me to get it. Wow, thank you!!

Meanwhile, my office is also  moving at the end of this month, about five blocks away from the current location downtown. A welcome change.

Here is the CRAZY COINCIDENCE: both moves are happening at the end of July. AND: both moves take me to Sacramento Street. You heard me: starting in August, I will both live and work on Sacramento Street, connected by a 3.3 mile commute on the 1 California bus–practically door to door express service! This is after 8 years in one office and 7 years in one apartment. CHANGE IS IN THE AIR, PEOPLE.

What else is happening at the end of July? Oh yeah: I TURN FORTY. Massive celebrations are forecast on several coasts.

Vacation, birthday, move, move, transfer. On that note, I’m going to bed. Gratitude and more gratitude. It’s going to be a good decade. xo

 

 

 

anxiety, fertility, IVF, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

consultation

Good news: Tara Brach’s talk on hope is posted to her website as a video! I hope you watch her beautiful self and appreciate her guidance on how to live in possibility:

I’m at home on the 4th of July feeling very sleepy after taking a long run earlier today–I’ll be in bed soon. Meanwhile, my neighborhood sounds like a war zone with all the fireworks going off nearby and all over the city. Hope you had a nice 4th.

I met with Dr. T. yesterday. I pulled up and parked, having just wrapped up my work day before the long weekend. As I walked into the building for the first time since the transfer, my muscle memory took over and I felt heavy. I sat in the waiting room just intensely waiting, not reading or looking at my phone. I was looking forward to the discussion and looking ahead to FET#2, mixed with some amount of dread about rehashing what may or may not have gone wrong with #1.

He called me in to a tiny conference room. He first acknowledged that he was sorry this time didn’t work out despite everything looking promising at the beginning. He said he got the news while on vacation in Vietnam and felt really disappointed, took it personally (which made me want to launch into his arms and cry but I held it together). Then he asked me how I was feeling. I opened my mouth and nothing came out. He took this to be a hesitation but it was really me trying to articulate a rush of complicated feelings. I told him I was devastated, that the cumulative weight of all the tries was making this one the hardest.

What he said next is the best thing anyone can say to me right now: that it’s understandable that I would be so upset about it. That it is truly disappointing and an extremely difficult thing to go through. I am reminded that this is probably almost always true when someone is in crisis or having a rough time–they don’t necessarily need someone to problem-solve or find a positive spin. They need to feel validated and heard and understood.

He also said that while it is understandable and appropriate and reasonable for me to be struggling with the outcome, he remains optimistic about my case from an objective medical vantage point. Everything is still fine, I have four normal embryos remaining, and there’s no evidence that anything caused embie #1 not to implant. Sometimes they just don’t. Age can be a factor here although sometimes it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint an actual reason.

As with other cycles, Dr. T. discouraged me from going down the road of hunting for one anyway. In the absence of actual evidence, some people go into “hand-waving” mode (his term)–doing any and all tests trying to find something/anything that can be fixed. For example, I have a large fibroid. It’s on the outside of my uterus and I had a test done to confirm it’s not inside the uterine cavity. However, there’s a small chance that it is impeding blood flow to the very spot where the embryos are implanting. Super unlikely, but there’s a chance. What would it take to get it out? Surgery, followed by 6 months of bench time waiting to try again, and a very real chance that vaginal delivery would be impossible. And, in the end, the fibroid may have had nothing to do with anything. So I’m fine with skipping all that and having some faith in Dr. T’s opinion and the battery of tests I did at the outset.

He asked me what I was thinking about next steps. I told him that I am ready to try again (or I will be by the time I get there), and this time I want to put two. He readily agreed. I was prepared to argue with him on this, but he respects my decision–he says that, given everything I’ve been through, it’s “not unreasonable.” As long as I understand that if I get pregnant, there is a 20-30% chance it will be twins. He said that if insurance paid everything and there was no emotional cost, he would have me keep doing one at a time. But the reality is that time, money, and emotional stamina are running out. I’m ready to double my chances and pray for one. And if it’s two, it will be a blessing and we’ll figure it out (and by we I mean me and all of you).

The only change to my protocol is to add a endometrial biopsy (or “womb scratch”)–Dr. T. was surprised I hadn’t heard of it. It involves taking a biopsy of the uterine lining, thereby causing an injury that needs to be healed. The healing process releases chemicals that are thought to help promote implantation and the research is mixed but there’s some evidence that it works. I’ll go with my doc on this one.

Our plan is to put embies #2 and #3–my two best. Waiting on my calendar from Olga.

It’s both a relief and a terror to look ahead at trying again. Meanwhile, I take my bc pills, take good care of myself, and put my hand on my heart and say, “It’s going to be OK, sweetheart.”