birth, donor sperm, family, fertility, gratitude, homebirth, IUI, IVF, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive

once around the sun

I’m increasingly nostalgic as E’s birthday approaches. Today, May 4, was my due date. I watched it come and go and then spent another two weeks living in the surreal state of waiting and getting huger.

At this time of year, the sun travels more directly overhead. It rises in the morning, centered above the neighboring rooftop and shining straight onto my bed, where I lay like a whale last year. It sets in the evening, slanting through the kitchen window to the living room, where I sat on the couch and ordered omelets from my dad. Every day we waited, every day no sign. It was a happy time, yet, like so many things, not what I expected.

Now the sun rises, centered above the neighboring rooftop, and there’s a little person laying next to me going, “Gaba gaba gaba.” The sun sets, and he’s standing below me, raising his hands to be picked up, an expression on his face that says, “PICK ME UP” as emphatically as possible without words.

Tonight he correctly did two signs in context: he requested to nurse when he was feeling a bit distressed (I actually had him on my lap while I was peeing in an effort to avoid a big protest–he missed his afternoon nap today) and then during dinner he requested more blueberries. And when I suggest he find his blue car, he finds his blue car. When he wants to communicate in the affirmative, he says, “Yah.” When it’s negative, as demonstrated tonight when I offered tofu, bok choy, quinoa, and strawberries, he shakes his head vigorously. More blueberries.

One whole trip around the sun.

I decided to go see Dr. Tran. I know this seems out of the blue, but it’s not. I’ve been shy about telling you. There’s something about having a baby that made me immediately thing about #2, pretty much on a daily basis. Will this be the first and last time I experience all of these milestones? Will everyone think I’m completely off-my-rocker bananas for considering this much less going ahead with it? What if I never gave those frozen embryos, full siblings to E, a shot?

Let me first say that I’m 1000% sure that I want to try. And I hope that where there’s a will there’s a way. But there are a few hurdles to overcome here, namely the financials. And getting pregnant again. Which, let me remind you, dear readers, was not so easy the first time around.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves–I decided to go talk to Dr. Tran because when E was born I “gave myself a year” before thinking seriously about it. But what I most needed to find out was–with frozen embryos, is there any rush?

I met up with Dr. T. last Thursday in the shiny, sparkling brand-new Marc Benioff-funded facilities of UCSF that just opened in Mission Bay. I hadn’t seen Dr. T. in almost two years. It was like old times. As always, he looked handsome in scrubs.

I remember distinctly his last comment to me at my last appointment at 9 or 10 weeks pregnant: “You have embryos, you’ll be back.” It’s been ringing in my head ever since.

Upon greeting me in his office, he said, “Well, I didn’t think you’d be back THIS soon!” And I explained, bashfully, that this was purely informational, I wasn’t in any hurry. Just needed the information from him rather than trusting the internet or anecdotes from friends.

Essentially, he said that there’s no rush on the frozen embies. My relative chances will be the same next year, or the following year, or the year after that. Which felt like a relief… I realized that the decision was starting to weigh on me, as I paid a hefty annual storage fee for the embies plus five vials of sperm. And now I feel like I can give myself another year or more and just enjoy and really not worry about it either way.

I got choked up when I thanked him… He’s the closest thing to a babydaddy that I have–in so many words, I said thanks so much for knocking me up and helping bring this beautiful boy. It’s been a thrill and a joy! (Now take me out for dinner already!)

Beyond the FET (frozen embryo transfer) of my two remaining, PGS-tested embies (one good, one not-so-good quality), an IUI or IVF attempt would have low success rates at my fast-accelerating decline in fertility. So, I think I’m letting that go.

Dr. T asked why I would want another baby. Which is an intriguing question, and was the first time around as well. He asked if it’s just been so wonderful in all respects that I can’t wait to do it again? I think it’s not exactly that; even if it kind of is that. It’s sort of about going through it again and it’s about a sibling for E and becoming more of a clan than a pair. But, in a way, it’s not really those things… Like the first time, it’s just an intangible desire. I think everyone who chooses to become a parent knows what I’m talking about.

He kept encouraging me to enjoy my “sure thing” which is a totally Reproductive Endocrinologist way of saying that I already have a baby–a 100% guaranteed baby on the right side of all the odds. I’m still pinching myself that he arrived one year ago plus 15 days.

I just re-watched the birth video the other night with, as always, complete awe. My vagina blows up into the size and shape of a standard balloon as E’s head makes it’s way down the canal, and then they start yelling, “K, reach down and get your baby!” and someone is yelling, “Baby! Baby! Baby! Baby!” and there is chaos and the camera view flips around and then he’s there on my chest and I’m exclaiming, “Oh my god oh my god oh my god [hyperventilating]…”

In two weeks, we’ll celebrate his birthday in the park with the community who supports us every day and I will only moderately stress about the number of cupcakes and the placement of the balloons–my boy is turning ONE! It’s too awesome in the breathtaking sense. He is the one I love the most on the planet.

Even though I love you guys A LOT.

xoxo

11 point 5 months

I

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family, fertility, gratitude, homebirth, IUI, IVF, meditation, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

wellness and gratitude

After I got back to SF, I went to see my regular doc’s NP on Thursday with my same barking cough and story of woe. How can one really recover while traveling on airplanes at this time of year? She agreed that the original antibiotic seemed to only be kind-of working; no more ‘junk’ in my lungs but still wheezy. No fever, blood pressure normal (so glad). I switched to a Z-pack, Mucinex, and an inhaler and took the next few days to rest at home. So much for minimizing meds, sorry babe. All the coughing had resulted in pain in my rib cage equivalent to getting stabbed, my first-ever hemmorhoid (eek!), and a deep commitment to do whatever necessary to get well.

After a lot of rest, Harry Potter, West Wing (I’m on the last season), More Business of Being Born (did you know they made an additional several hours of documentary?), all those meds, Vitamin C, fluids, I woke up today with clearer lungs–the cough is improving. My ribs feel slightly less painful. I’m concerned though about a new symptom that I discovered last night. I was watching The West Wing and I suddenly realized that the theme song was out of tune, like it was being played by an amateur symphony. I thought something was wrong with my iPad. Then I turned on my computer and the notification sounds also sounded tinny and off. I thought–uh oh, maybe it’s my ears. I booted up iTunes and put on an Arcade Fire song. It sounded like it was being played on an out-of-tune old bar piano. If I plugged one ear it sounded OK, and when I plugged the other it seemed to go down in pitch by a half-step.

This has continued today. It feels like one ear is slightly plugged which certainly should be cleared up by the meds I’m on, but wow how weird. Even the notification that I have a text on my cell phone sounds flat. Voices sound fine. Did a bacteria eat my ear drum?

I am going to get out of the house today, after canceling many plans yesterday and the day before–at a certain point, it’s the inactivity that causes the discomfort. I’ll see some SMC friends and then go on a (mild) walk in the Presidio (if not raining) with my friend S who guided me through Glacier National park 2.5 years ago and is in town!

I woke up this morning and was reading on my iPad in bed, ending up going back in my blog to the beginning of last year. I reviewed last year’s resolutions which could be the same again this year word for word (I had frankly forgotten about most of them)–undercommit, write every day, get out in nature once a week, be on time.  I did OK with undercommitting, shifting into a more fertility-friendly pace. I absolutely did not write every day and almost immediately forgot that resolution as soon as I wrote it down. I mostly got into nature once a week-ish. I moderately improved on punctuality. These are still a work in progress! (Of course I did get pregnant in August, so no complaints here!)

Just after the New Year in 2013, I was also reeling from my 3rd positive that went negative, and gearing up for two more (ultimately failed) IUIs before going ahead with IVF: Mt. Everest looming on the horizon. I got so into the moment, reading those posts, reconnecting with myself a year ago and how it felt to be in that stuck and frustrated place, and then the baby would start kicking and I’d be zoom-fast-forwarded to my new apartment and my soccer-ball belly. I hadn’t looked back in a while and it was the perfect thing to do while sick because it made me enormously grateful all over again to be here with bouncing baby boy on his way, remembering all the hard work and patience and faith and money and time it took to get here.

Tomorrow I will be 24 weeks and on the precipice of the third trimester. Amazing–people have urged me to get lots done in the 2nd trimester and so I guess that ship has sailed. I am reminded that pregnancy is really 10 months–I am at 6 months and have 4 months to go. So, really, the third trimester is the longest–especially for first-time moms who go past their due date. Email me if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

I feel peaceful about my birth plans–signed up for childbirth class w/ two friends, am just about to interview doulas, just need to rent the tub and order the birth kit. It’s everything else that needs a lot of work: rearranging my apartment (J and my parents and I came up with a new scheme in AZ–I’ll have a guest room, big bedroom for me and baby w/ heater, and dining room becomes living/dining), organizing my closets, finishing my registry, going through accumulated stacks of important papers, reading about babies (diaper system? sleep strategies? child care?), creating a living will, upgrading my laundry situation… etc. Swimming, yoga, meditation, walking, writing. But first: get well.

I know many of you are sick too. May you be well! May you be free from suffering! May you be grateful! Take good care of precious you.

xo

anxiety, Buddhism, family, IUI, IVF, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

sicker

I made a quick recovery from the stomach bug but the cough got worse. I steamed, drank a special concoction from my dad (hot water with honey, cider vinegar, and cayenne pepper), ate cough drops, drank lots of fluids, rested as much as I could. But it was time to go to the sales meeting and I depended the cough to neatly resolve itself which…it didn’t. During the first full day, I drank much hot water with honey and lemon, but I kept breaking into coughing fits and people were starting to give me that alarmed look like I should be quarantined. By full day 2, I lost my voice. I was hosting strategy breakfast and was almost unable to communicate in anything but a growl. Finally, I texted Em who wanted me to go to urgent care to have a doctor listen to my lungs.

Fortunately, the disruption to my team was minor because we were well-staffed. I waited 3 hours in urgent care to see the doctor because they only had one doctor on and there were many people waiting. When the doc finally listened to my lungs, I couldn’t take a full deep breath without lots of coughing and he stepped away and said, “You sound TERRIBLE.” He told me that if I don’t already have pneumonia I would soon, and that if I already wasn’t in such good shape I would be knocked out. No more sales meeting–rest, fluids, and a strong antibiotic.

Of course I wasn’t thrilled to have to take medicine, but triple-checked it with Em, Dr. B., and the doctor here confirmed it was a B-class drug for pregnancy, meaning the safest. And the alternative would be to get sicker, an obvious risk in itself. So I went to Walgreens and got the prescription, Emergen-C, Ricola drops, water. Then my phone died so I couldn’t call a cab and the nice people at Walgreens let me use their phone. The hotel sent a woman named Veronica in a black car to get me and I was noting how relatively luxurious it is to be sick on a work trip with an Am Ex corporate card.

My room is comfy (I’m in a JW Marriott) and I spent a while watching junky TV before landing on the season premiere of Downton Abbey. While I had missed the third season, I heard how it ended (thanks to facebook) and found this premiere to be really tepid with no compelling storylines. I hung in there hoping it would get better (it didn’t) before falling asleep for close to 10 hours.

A series of room service orders, naps, and baths later and I am in bed in my bathrobe listening to ambient spa music being piped outside my the open sliding door to the balcony. The antibiotic will take 24-48 hrs to kick in, so the deep wheezy cough is still there, but I don’t feel too miserable. In a few hours, I’ll put on my formal dress and heels and go down to the awards banquet for a little while–there’s lots to celebrate with my team and I want to at least make an appearance and exchange some hugs and high-fives. But not overdo it. And I definitely want to be sitting down the whole time.

At this meeting of nearly a thousand colleagues, there are many hugs and congratulations and everyone seems to already know my circumstances as I’m sure that part of the story travels like wildfire (since it’s unorthodox and therefore interesting). Only once was I asked if it was intentional, and only once was I asked if I’ll be coming back to work–aren’t these question off limits?? There was one colleague who very studiously was not acknowledging my news, and I realized he was waiting for me to tell him–good policy! Another friend told me over and over how proud she is of me for making it happen. Feels nice.

While here, I had two women tell me they’d be interested in knowing more about how I went about getting pregnant on my own because they may end up doing the same. I strive to be a good example to women like this–it helps to get serious about it when you know someone else’s story (for me, it was my friend C). I had another woman get teary and tell me how happy she was for me–and then confided that she’s been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for years and is in the process of trying to adopt. I always want to make it clear that this did not happen easily or quickly for me either–but, then again, what is easily or quickly? It’s all relative, everyone’s story and struggle is unique, and I remember looking at pregnant women on the ‘other side’ and wondering if I’d ever get there, almost disregarding how long her road had been. Does it matter how hard it was if you got there? (I recently told someone it took me “a long time” and she said, “Me too, ten years!” and I instantly felt like OMG–it didn’t take me long at all.) Rather than compare numbers of IUIs and IVF transfers, I can sincerely tell women that if you are totally committed to making it happen, it will happen, one way or another. Just keep trying.

Tomorrow, J and I will head back to my parents’ place for one more relaxing day, then fly back to SF. What a trip. I hope I can manage to stay healthy after this–extensive travel is not promoting good pregnancy health. Only one two-hour flight to go.

I had so much I wanted to say about the silent retreat but the experience got kind of blasted out of the water by all this illness–I never ‘transitioned out,’ I just barreled into survival mode. People have asked me how it went and I have a hard time putting it into words, and no one who hasn’t experienced it can really get it. In fact, I think most people think it sounds nuts to spend money on nothingness and silence. I’ll just say that while it’s happening, it’s intense, enlightening, intimidating, big–all stimulations and distractions are inside your own head. You face the stuff that stays buried underground most days but inevitably causes intermittent or unrelenting stress, anxiety, dread, etc–and it evolves and turns into an action-packed movie with rich visuals, a swirling sea of rising and falling emotions, and a series of surprising visitors, all punctuated by many, many moments of stillness and peace. All I can say is: give it a try.

My boy is growing and moving and I’m shifting into a new level of thinking and planning–it’s the new year, the year he will be born!

New Year’s resolution: clear time and space for new life!

xo

family, fertility, IUI, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait, Uncategorized

neg bomb

Our weekend was perfect–so fun and sweet to be living it up together in the big city. So grateful for the opportunity to celebrate our adorable mom.

Postponing testing was a brilliant idea–I let it all go for one more day.

I did some research and realized that progesterone delays your period, so I knew for sure that a late period didn’t mean anything promising (that and my total lack of symptoms). I was 90% sure I wasn’t pregnant.

This morning I woke at 6:30, got brave, and tested. I didn’t even let myself hope for a positive, so by default I rooted for a negative. And I got it.

All I wanted in that moment was to get some reassuring words from SMCs on the national forum but the server was down or something because I couldn’t get through. So I went back to bed. Sharing the news at breakfast brought on a big cry tidal wave that I couldn’t hold back (though I wanted to).

Now I’m on the way out of NYC on a Greyhound bus, the sky hazy. Negative thoughts are holding a drum circle in my brain.

Tired tired tired of this merry-go-round.

[insert hopeful conclusion here]

depression, family, fertility, IUI, IVF, meditation, outdoors, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait

groove

I just walked back to J’s from the office, stopping for two slices of pizza: one pepperoni and mushroom, one veggie. The pizza is always good here and rarely, if ever, gluten-free. Something was falling out of the sky that was right on the edge of rain/snow, probably hovering just above thirty-two degrees. Thousands of Knicks fans were streaming toward Madison Square Garden and I had to navigate carefully like a fish swimming upstream.

I’ve been in my most typical NYC groove–staying in J’s comfy and overheated one-bedroom, walking the 7 minutes to the office, traveling up to 175th Street to see E and E and their little genius L, eating at the Venezuelan restaurant in Chelsea, running the High Line. These are the rituals.

Now, I’m going to totally blast out of this routine and do everything completely differently: a touristy weekend with my family! It’s so exciting. NYC has no script for this, our family has no script for this. A true adventure. Can’t wait to blast out of this tiny corner of Manhattan and live some meaningful new family memories.

It’s been a good week although emotionally up and down. I started off so together, and then upon landing I got a call from a nurse through my insurance company to say she understands I’m pregnant and I was like…no, I’m not, and she got flustered and asked if I miscarried and then apologized and said “I hate this” and hurried to get off the phone. That was seven months ago, could they update their records?

Then a text that another friend got pregnant on the first try, and a careful heads up that I’d be getting an invitation to a baby shower. I believe I can be truly, unreservedly, wholeheartedly thrilled for friends’ good news and simultaneously punched in the gut–and it’s not a contradiction. The two emotions co-exist in me, and both are true. The punch is visceral…and then guilt over having a bad reaction to good news.

I called my sister for consoling words and she provided them. No, the universe is not ganging up on you. It went back to being a peaceful, sunny day, and I arrived in New York feeling great. Staying centered, getting sleep. Enjoying lovely, warm greetings from friends in the NY office throughout the day.

Then work stress knocked me down. I dragged myself through about 24 hours of a crisis in confidence (so many secondary and tertiary emotions–I’m mad that I’m sad that I’m frustrated etc), cried to J who gets nervous he’ll say the wrong thing, and sometimes does, but I love that he hangs in there and keeps trying. Eventually I am laughing.

I ran the High Line, where I looked for and found this art installation on the side of a building, something my friend S had told me about–breathtaking. I took my morning prenatal and twice-daily progesterone. I drank water, breathed, stayed present.

I felt pregnant-ish until yesterday when I really just didn’t, which added to my emotional distress. Signs of imminent menstruation.

But, since yesterday, I rounded the corner on most of it–dove back into work because the only way to go is forward. Decided that IUIs didn’t work and it’s time for IVF. Decided that I create my own destiny, and it’s a big world once you force yourself out of your groove. Decided I won’t take a month off because the last time I did, I landed in the ER. I have waited 18 weeks’ worth of two week waits. I’m done waiting where there’s a choice involved.

When I caught up with a friend recently, she sighed and said she didn’t think her life would turn out this way. Me neither. But why measure ourselves against an invisible and fictitious standard? Or other people? Or what other people think?

This is real life, how my life turned out, sitting on J’s couch in the quiet of his apartment (he’s at dinner), with rain/snow/sleet falling gently outside on a city about to be re-discovered; pizza in my belly; gratitude, frustration, love, and longing in my heart.

anxiety, donor sperm, fertility, IUI, IVF, meditation, outdoors, ovulation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait

high gear

This is going to be a fast post! Stream of consciousness! Bear with me, here–there’s a lot to update.

I had the IUI on Saturday. As I waited for the doctor, I was again facing the calendar. I counted out the days until the due date in 38 weeks and fixed my eyes on it for minutes in a row. Eventually, the doctor appeared, and she was a young black woman with long braids whom I’d never met before. She had a warm vibe and wished me good luck.  11 million, good motility, McP never disappoints with the numbers. While hanging out for 5-10 mins, I actually started fighting off negative thinking (a big NO), and then remembered that what you resist persists. Let the anxious thoughts flow… it’s OK, and understandable. I thought about babies. Afterward, I took a picture of the exam table so the eventual baby can see where he/she was conceived, ha!

At the front desk, I went out to see Maria who is my BFF. I asked her what she thought and she said she thought things were good, and I should focus on positive thinking. She says she’s somewhat psychic, and I believe her. I asked if I could give her a hug, and she said, “of course!” and I stepped around behind the front desk and she kissed my cheek and gave me a huge hug and wished me luck. I spent much of the weekend sleeping–still sleeping off the cold and the stress of the previous week. On Monday, I felt like a million bucks at my 7am training session.

The challenging nature of this process has required me to create some really good habits. I am more organized than usual, I go to bed earlier and get up earlier, I am cooking more. It’s not that hard to avoid certain foods/drinks (coffee, alcohol, gluten). I actually meditate in the morning, at one far end of my yellow couch, facing the sunrise out the bay window. I am more in love with my friends and my city and my family than ever. I’m happy to know that I can kick into this higher gear when it’s necessary. Self-care has finally become the thing I do, religiously, instead of avoid.

Yesterday morning, I had my IVF consult with Dr. Tran–Olga scheduled it since it can take 3 weeks to get an appt with him, so might as well get that show rolling while waiting for the result of this cycle. In a word, the conversation was fascinating. I’m still incredulous that this is even possible. And, yes C, I got a little excited.

The first thing he asked me after shutting the door was, “How are you feeling?” and I paused and said, “How do you want me to answer that question?” Because, as you know about me by now, I can share a great deal of info at long stretches if not given further guidelines. He said, smiling, “It’s an open-ended question.” I said this has been hard, but I’m doing OK, and feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff called IVF.

That comment got him started down an alternative path, where I would continue doing IUIs but on an injectible cycle if I wasn’t ready for IVF, meaning I’d give myself daily injections to stimulate production of more follicles (4-5). At first I thought, yes–I’m maybe not ready for IVF yet. But then we talked about IVF.

Ultimately, he says, IVF will get me pregnant the quickest and be the most cost-effective. And I know he is on the conservative side…doing injectible IUIs now seems like more time on the slow path. As he said in so many words, I’ve done my due diligence. When I asked his recommendation, he said, “It’s time.”

So, what is the protocol? I’ll try to summarize in a nutshell. First, he recommends taking a month off for my sanity. I have to consider this…it was so hard for me to take a month off in November. But I know that it would feel like a vacation.

Then, on the next cycle, I’d go on birth control for 14-21 days, and do Lupron injections 2 weeks in for 10 days. This will begin to disconnect my brain from my fertility cycle–I’d go on “manual” instead of “automatic.” After the next period, I’d have 2-3 injections per day for 4 days, blood test, ultrasound, HCG trigger, 36 hours later egg retrieval under sedation.

One thing I didn’t know is that every cycle, there are 10-20 eggs that begin to develop, but they all naturally peter out with the exception of one dominant. (And the body does not self-select for the good egg, darn.) The drugs help to keep all 10-20 in the running–so you’re not actually robbing from future cycles, just maximizing the potential you already have. He would expect to “rescue” 10-20, 70% will be bigger than 13mm (7-14), fertilization would occur in 60-70%, leaving 5-10 embryos. They’d put back 3-4 for a 30% success rate with chances of twins in the low teens. Another option is going to Day 5, allowing the embryos to get much bigger and therefore able to be genetically tested–how crazy that they can biopsy such a teensy thing and know virtually everything about it. The catch here is that you automatically lose 60% by letting them go that long. You don’t have to decide which day the transfer is until you know how many you got.

Dr. T. said my questions were “very insightful”–I admitted that I pulled many of them off the SMC national discussion board. I noticed his coffee sitting nearby, from Noah’s Bagels, wondering where he lived near a Noah’s (there isn’t one near UCSF). Also wondered how he took his coffee so I could bring him one next time.

He stood up and put his hand on my shoulder on the way out, wishing me a good day. I thanked him and shook his hand. He spent 45 minutes with me, at 7:30am. I realized upon leaving that I totally forgot during the conversation that I could be pregnant now.

So, this is a lot to process. Please correct me if I got any of these details radically wrong, IVF friends. I’m in the blissful bubble of no decisions, nothing more to do.

Have a great Thursday, team!

anxiety, donor sperm, fertility, IUI, meditation, outdoors, ovulation, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait, writing

swim, swimmers, swim

OK, I’m back. That was a long stretch of no writing, but I was so stressed that I actually felt as though writing about it would make the stress expand and devour all of us like The Blob. I needed to walk quietly through the steps of my week. And, miraculously, I made it through.

I went back for the second ultrasound last Saturday, hugely looking forward to learning the timing of the IUI because I had an important non-reschedulable Thurs/Fri business trip coming up.

Two male doctors this time, which in itself seemed foreboding–I’ve gotten so used to women managing this process. Sure enough, one follicle hadn’t progressed while the other only grew one millimeter: they were at 12 and 12. I thought, here’s something else I didn’t know I had to worry about: what if my follicles don’t even grow???

The doctors were nonplussed, said this can be random, no signs of a problem, come back on Tuesday. Which meant THREE MORE DAYS of waiting, holding off on buying my plane ticket, dreading the conversations I’d have to have about canceling. I came home feeling deflated and defeated and it was almost as bad as a BFN.

I spent the next three days living in uncertainty while being as absolutely kind and gentle to myself as I possibly could. Sleep, good food, friends, undercommitting, mani/pedi, candles, meditation, reading Pema. I was majoring in stress reduction. I took a long sunny walk with my sister. I took a long chilly and windy walk with my friend KC. I talked through every angle of every possibility: if Thursday, then if I can get an early appt I’ll jump on a plane. If Friday, I will have the dreaded conversations. If Saturday, I will be back. Tried not to pull my hair out but felt utterly and seriously stretched. I suddenly have more compassion for couples trying to time their tries around business trips and other commitments–all this uncertainty times two is enough to make anyone go mad.

I bought a Pema Chodron book called, “Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change.” She talks about how the ground is always shifting underneath our feet, that feeling anxious about it and clinging to what is known is totally understandable…yet, what if we practice being with the uncertainty, the discomfort of not knowing, and accept that this is part of being human? Stop resisting and be with it, sit with it, let it be what it is. This is REALLY HARD but all you can do is stay with it and realize that everyone has their own version of this, every day. No exaggeration.

On Tuesday, I went for my third ultrasound, feeling as though I had already been through a great battle and was pretty resigned to what the outcome would be. As mellow as I could be under the circumstances.  And, wouldn’t you know, the follies cooperated and gave me the best outcome:

One petered out, but the other was at 15mm, which meant I could go on the trip and come back for the IUI on Saturday. Today!

The nurse said that maybe my intense stress over the timing ironically actually slowed things down (that and having a cold). I had some painful bumps appear on my back last weekend which may be a mild case of shingles. I really turned myself inside out over this one.

Relief flowed like a happy river and I’ve been floating along it ever since. (It almost felt like a BFP and yet still nothing has really happened. The joys of being monitored!)

I packed my trigger shot and went on my overnight trip. While in the security line, it suddenly dawned on me that I had a syringe full of fluid in my purse and um how would I get security with that? Plus, I was with a co-worker already and not inclined to have a conversation about it in front of her. I texted B who traveled for IVF–what do I do? She said she was only asked for a doctor’s note 1 out of 8 times. A doctor’s note, of course I should have considered this… I could just see the whole trip going down in flames…and then it didn’t. They didn’t ask me about it! More gratitude.

From there, everything went smoothly. I triggered on Thursday. I flew home last night. I slept 9 hours, I called the sperm thaw hotline (YES I remembered), made a smoothie with banana, oranges, açai, almond butter, and mixed greens, and eggs with tomatoes, cheese, and basil. I’ll go on a run after this, which I’ve been missing desperately while sick and traveling. I have zero plans for the weekend other than relaxation. My head is finally clear and my cough is gone. I have an underground ovulation pimple on my chin. The sun is shining.

My friend B somehow thoughtfully and precisely tracks my fertility schedule even though she has a very busy life of her own–I get texts like, “happy triggering!” and just got “swim, swimmers, swim!” And to those texting me for updates–thanks for checking and sorry to leave you hanging during my epic week of stress management!

Time for the last IUI and, now that I think about it, the last two week wait (for IVF it’s a one week wait), the last of this phase of the process. It could work. I felt my left ovary twinging on the plane last night, hopefully preparing to blast out the good egg. Here come McPiercy’s millions!

Crazy how my hope keeps resetting–it’s back.

acupuncture, dating, fertility, IUI, ovulation, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

sacto

A Chinese herb from my acupuncturist is responsible for the quick turnaround on my sore throat. He says everyone should have it in their medicine cabinet: it’s called “Gan Mao.” Recommend!

I would be feeling great if I hadn’t just indulged in a beer that is instantly taking me south. My nose is running (on the left side only) and I am guiltily pounding waters to counteract the beer. I wasn’t quite better after all and will be going to sleep right after I finish this.

I checked in to my hotel in Sactramento with takeout Korean food and turned on the TV, which is always the most decadent and attractive when I am depleted of energy. I got sucked into an episode of What Not to Wear about a transgendered man to woman who ended up looking really pretty, and I was in tears at the end when she appeared with her new look in front of friends and family. (Better than being in tears over the plethora of romantic comedies also airing this evening.)

After Annie’s Occupy Valentine’s Day manifesto, I had intended to be more loving of myself and others today and found myself receiving way more than I gave. J emailed me, “Happy Valentine’s Day, my corazon!” The woman I met with today brought me a bag of lemons from her backyard. And sweet texts rolled in…

So, to catch up on some giving, I gave the guy working in the Korean restaurant a $20 and asked him to put it toward someone’s dinner tonight. He looked thoroughly confused. He actually glanced at the woman next to me who was looking at a menu and preparing to order takeout for one. But then I think he figured out that he should wait, which was a relief, as that could have been seriously awkward. Hopefully he didn’t pocket it, but either way, I gave him the opportunity to create some good karma and give someone a good V Day story.

It’s true: I am in a hotel room in Sacramento on Valentine’s Day with one Kleenex stuck into my left nostril. I’m on the extreme far right side of the king-sized bed, as if someone instructed me to not take up more than 1/8 the space. The bebimbap from the Korean restaurant was shockingly bad and cold, mostly dry white rice.

And thanks to my higher power and Gan Mao, I’m fine. I can remember a lot of Valentine’s Days in a relationship that were so-so at best. Some were unbearable. There were a couple of truly great ones. And this year I had a very low expectation of the evening, which is mostly being met, so no surprises here!

There are great loves somewhere on my horizon.

The suburbs of Sacramento are, oddly enough, feeling like a minor getaway even though I’m only 1.5 hrs from home. The sun is bigger here, the air a little warmer and sweeter, with errant tall and skinny palm trees silhouetted against the golden sky.

Fertility update: I went to UCSF this morning for a window into my follicle-growing process. As the nurse suspected, Day 9 was too early to tell exactly when my follies will reach their max (20mm), but right now I have a 12mm on the right and a 11mm on the left, so I’ll go back for another viewing on Saturday. They seem to be on track. Come on, follies!

My hope is like one of those little seedlings in a paper cup that we all planted in elementary school. Fragile and new. And mostly fragile.

Lights out from Sacto and love to all my loves.

 

 

 

anxiety, biological clock, dating, depression, fertility, IUI, meditation, outdoors, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

blue

I landed in SF last night and got into a cab driven by a surly Russian driver. The sun was setting over the city, casting a rosy glow. I experienced my first undistracted moments in over a week, and the tears came. Looking out across the bay, remembering how hopeful I was on departure. Feeling overwhelmed by the upcoming anniversary of my trying. Feeling overwhelmingly stuck in my current life circumstances. Just plain sad–the sad caught up with me (which, as I’m sure you know, it does each and every time you postpone it).

I believe that my grounded sense of peace of the last few weeks is still there, and that I am fundamentally OK, but my circumstances are getting seriously challenging. I’m still in some denial about the overall number of tries as I just keep plowing through them, ticking off days on the calendar and fiercely looking forward. The truth is, I have to be ready for this not to work out. I’ve started contemplating that possibility for the first time ever. One cannot do unlimited Clomid cycles and one also cannot afford unlimited IVF.

After a good night of sleep, I woke up feeling about the same. I knew I had to pull out every tool in my therapy toolbox. I checked everything off today: reading in bed, meditation, spa with my sister, sunny lunch, bought a new book by Pema Chodron, napped on the couch in the sun, went running at Lands End, bought groceries at Trader Joe’s, made myself a healthy dinner. Now I’m writing. I do feel a little better.

As with all the other disappointments, it really triggers the dating one. I feel so lost on this subject and realized this morning that I’m having a hard time even visualizing a great guy coming into my life. He’s done a really consistent job recently of not doing so, which is therefore much easier to imagine. Eckhard Tolle would say this is a problem. So, I’ll work on it. I am filtering for the negative right now, panning for sand and letting the gold through. I know I’m doing it. It’s chemical, it’s automatic. Eventually, I recognize the mental traps for what they are (negative thoughts), and move on, but it’s going to take a little time.

I’m letting you in on the dark side here, folks. I know I sometimes shield it from the blog because on some level I know that feeling sorry for myself is ludicrous, and boring, and will make me sink faster than quicksand. But it would be wrong to say I have a sunshiny outlook at this exact moment. I am trying like hell to get back to gratitude. Grateful just to be alive, to have the opportunity to experience exactly this.

If I had a zen master teacher, he or she would say at this point, “Now, things can get interesting.” I know it’s an opportunity. I know the journey is the point. I know the book will be more interesting if there’s an epic struggle.

So, what’s the big picture? Well, of course, I’m on Clomid, which makes some people crazy, so that is likely contributing to my shade of blue. One more night of that and it’s back to growing the follicles as big as possible, for which I simply try to rest and de-stress. My ultrasound is Friday. I can’t believe this is my last IUI.

In the meantime, I am taking to heart your outpouring of love and assurances and faith. Don’t stop believing.

acupuncture, donor sperm, fertility, IUI, meditation, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait

20.88 million

IUI#8 went fine.

I worked from home yesterday, which I do strategically to cloak my suspicious number of appointments. At 9:45am, while peeing on mute during a conference call, I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t called the sperm thaw hotline before 8:30am as instructed. Dropped off the conference call, called the sperm thaw hotline begging them to call me back with confirmation, called Olga hoping she’d put in a good word with the lab. Slight panic. Can you imagine how ridiculous it would be to miss a cycle because of forgetting this easy step? But, now that I’ve missed the deadline twice, I see that it’s ultimately negotiable and probably more of a guideline. A nice lady in the lab called me back within 5 minutes and called me “dear.” Olga also called back and said, You’re all good!

Phew. Sigh. Gratitude. Thank you.

Half an hour before my appointment, I put on a ring from each of my grandmothers and hopped in the car to drive over to UCSF in the rain. I was called in quickly and the procedure was much like every other time with Nurse Stephanie, although this time the number of sperm was roughly double the usual: 20.88 million. They considered doing a second wash to weed out more of the slow-movers (a luxury option due to the high number) but decided it might compromise the overall number. She said it’s great news because you always want more. She showed me the vial and I saw that he donated on April 22, 2010. Earth Day. This seemed significant and memorable.

I welcomed McPiercy’s 21 million sperm into my uterus and the nurse’s assistant kindly pulled my paper sheet over my legs and sort of tucked me in before they left the room. On her way out, Nurse Stephanie said, “I hope this one goes all the way!” (See, no one is wishing for me to get pregnant anymore. We are all fervently wishing for the whole nine yards.)

I meditated. I listened to the cars going by outside on the wet streets. I thought about those 20 million dudes off to the races. I hoped this egg was it. I felt not much else–no tears, no lightning bolts, no prayers. Just mostly peace. When I sat up, the first thing I saw was a calendar that said 2013 in big numbers and my eye went to October. Please. October please.

On the way out, I remembered the woman who caught me at the elevators last time and told me she was sure I’d get good news. I told her last week that she’d been correct, but that it didn’t stick, and she said she seemed to have a knack with reading people–including the gender of babies in utero. I told her I’d swing by her desk for a reading on my way out this time, ha ha.

In the moment, I was kind of hesitating (wouldn’t she be obligated to give a good outlook?!) but when I took a few steps backward to peer around the corner to her (empty) chair at the front desk, who appeared but Dr. Tran! I have never seen him outside of our set appointments. Viewing him in that moment felt like the ultimate sign of good luck. He said hi and asked if I’d already had the procedure or if I was just arriving, and I got flustered and said something awkward like, “I was just exiting,” and he wished me luck. I swooned as I exited.

And, just like that, I’m back in the wait. It is a more emotionally serene place than the previous few weeks. Meditation the other night did help to center me, tears spilling out the minute I sat down and saw H, our teacher. He talked about the three refuges: Buddha (our own Buddha nature–enlightenment), the dharma (truth), and sangha (community). I felt the dust settling around me, a pause in the chaos, a reprieve from the stress. Refuge. It was the most needed medicine.

I held lil baby F last night for a while, went to deeply relaxing acupuncture today, ate mint chocolate chip ice cream while writing this tonight. My dentist gave me a green toothbrush because she said it’s the most fertile color. Everything is humming along.

Going to bed early. Love to my sangha.