acupuncture, anxiety, fertility, IVF, meditation, outdoors, ovulation, parenthood, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait

tomorrow

Tomorrow is my transfer day, at 12:15pm! Good vibes, prayers, and love sent in the direction of Sutter and Divisadero, SF, CA, USA are  welcomed and appreciated! Thanks so much for the love, hugs, texts, emails, and calls already flowing in.

The weekend was a slow and steady build toward the big day. On Friday night, I had my two-hour clairvoyant reading. The five readers sat across from me with their eyes closed as they took turns reading my energy. They checked all my chakras, cleaned out the old pictures, told me about some of my past lives (I was a contented Eskimo mom as well as a famous actress in the 1910’s), and generally validated my commitment to having a child. No major blockage toward reaching my goal. After the intensity of the reading, I felt emotionally delicate. I walked to Dolores Park and sat on a bench overlooking the twinkling city, and cried. It was cleansing. If that’s what it means to get your chakras cleaned out, I’m for it.

On Saturday morning, I ran to the top of Twin Peaks, remembering with every uphill that it would be my last challenging run for a while–I savored it. I don’t normally go to the tippy-top, but this time I did.

In the afternoon, I went for Maya abdominal massage. At first, we talked about diet. She gave me some foods to target: avocado (superfood), cilantro (cooling), cinnamon (anti-inflammatory), chia seeds (another superfood w/ omega 3s, she wants me to eat them throughout the day), have a smoothie soon after waking up (to maintain blood sugar), avoid grains in the evening (to not spike blood sugar then crash overnight), drink cranberry leaf tea (to support healthy lining), etc. She has a really soothing manner. We both spoke softly.

Then, we prepared for the vagina steaming, which was very simple: she had been simmering some herbs in a regular pot which she put under what I think was a birthing stool, with the lid at an angle to let the steam rise up. she had me sit on the stool and then she wrapped me in a thick red blanket, leaving me to meditate for ten minutes. It felt odd but nice, not too hot. Every herb in there had a specific purpose, the end result ostensibly being an irresistibly sticky womb.

Afterward, I got on the massage table and she said she was going to feel around for my uterus. Did you know this was possible? I did not. I would have thought it was too far in the middle of the body. The uterus is, in fact, impossible for me to visualize, unless it’s a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, or a pancake. In the 3D environment of my body, I am clueless.

She found it with her fingers, pressing gently. She exclaimed, “She’s pretty anterior!” and then gradually guided “her” back to center. It felt a little strange to have someone pawing at my belly, but not as uncomfortable as I imagined it could be.

She finished with a full body massage, my first in years–so amazing. I was jello after that. I had no choice but to go home and take a nap. The rest of the weekend I spent holding babies at parties and celebrating my sister’s graduation.

Today, I went around feeling like I swallowed a canary. At the end of the day, I stopped to pick up groceries for an uber-healthy, delicious dinner, and ended up spending $15 on a wild salmon filet that turned out to be maybe the best salmon I’ve ever had, simply prepared with lemon and garlic in foil. Also, broccoli. And chips with homemade guacamole w/ cilantro. Now I’ll drink some cranberry leaf tea and take a bath before bed.

My evening protocol right now has me decreasing the estrogen patches on my belly while I increase the dosage of intramuscular progesterone injections. This is mimicking what happens after ovulation, but without the ovulation, getting my uterus right where a Day 6 blast would want and expect it to be. The progesterone shots are gnarly–1.5″ needle and a funky angle to do on yourself. They’re not so painful at the time, but I have a little painful knot developing behind each hip. I massage them a lot. I’ll continue these for several if not many weeks–and it should be noted that the side effects are identical to those of pregnancy (including delaying AF!).

Tomorrow is a dream day: therapy at 7:30, personal trainer at 9:30, go home and take a Valium, my sister picks me up at 11:30, meet embie #1 soon after 12:15, then acupuncture at 3pm.

How do I feel? I feel like I’ve done a really good job. I have done everything in the world I could reasonably do. I feel really hopeful and a little anxious, also grounded, centered, uterus-centered, nourished, peaceful. I feel like all that I’ve learned and practiced around self-care these past weeks are gifts already received from the baby to be.

What a process. Grateful for you and all of the above and the chance to get pregnant tomorrow.

xo

dating, fertility, IVF, ovulation, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, trying to conceive, ttc

ducks: in a row

Sitting on the couch with the windows wide open (it was 90 degrees today!) and my too-hot laptop on my lap. I can hear heels clicking by on the street below, I can see headlights flash from the top of Twin Peaks in the dark. I was supposed to be on a long drive tonight but decided to do it in the morning, early, rather than risk it feeling sleepy and with only one working headlight. So, 6:30am departure it is. I’ve got to get to bed, but first:

My ducks are finally all in a row, as of today. FET calendar is set! I really had no idea that this part was as complicated as it is…I guess for most people it merges with stimming so it doesn’t get separated out. Here is my protocol:

Started bc pills last night. In about 10 days I’ll start Lupron injections again. Then stop bc pills at around day 18, then AF. It’s a short cycle, but according to Dr. Tran, or “Nam,” as Olga called him today before correcting herself (is he dating Olga??), we have to turn my brain off again. Then I start the transfer cycle, crazy numbers of estrogen patches on my belly, continued Lupron, and then a lining check to determine when I’ll start Medrol and progesterone injections which determines my actual transfer date. Which will be the week of 6/10. And that’s the week Dr. Tran is working, so he will do my transfer, yay!

He is the most conservative doc in the practice and he gives me a 40-50% chance of conceiving.

I know, it sounds like a long wait. But it’s really not. I have some time to rest and relax and line my uterus with silk pillows. I’m planning to sign up for a race to get in maximum shape before I start half-assing my runs again. Also planning a getaway weekend, possibly to Palm Springs, with J over Memorial Day, if one of us can actually get it together to plan it (I give us a 50/50 chance).

After my call with Olga today, she sent a follow-up email to remind me that while on bc pills and Lupron (which shuts off ovulation), I need to be using condoms if I have intercourse because getting prego on Lupron is bad. It is just so ironic–here I am, trying to get pregnant for over a year and, should any action come my way, I’m looking at three forms of birth control. IVF is hilarious.

Speaking of action coming my way, Dr. Hawaii is on a plane right now heading toward SF. He’s so perfectly terribly great. He pushes all my buttons at once. His texts make me pull my hair out–maddening, yet adorable. He’s laid back and inconsistent, super-casual Hawaii dude, but I forgive him because of that one good night kiss in the moonlight. What can I say? Years of therapy have not lessened my affection for the unavailable guy.

Unclear when or if I’ll see him since so far we haven’t found a time that works for both… He’s here to see his family and may stay a day later to hang out with me. I have him penciled in around existing plans.

Meanwhile, I have not one but two SMC baby showers this weekend: one for B and one for C. We’re expecting a girl AND a boy and it’s just about the happiest thing ever. B did a fertility marathon of 1.5 yrs and C got prego on the first try… and here we are! This road is so unpredictable. These will be joyful celebrations.

And I am joyfully celebrating just knowing that my fab five are nestled in their cozy dishes, gently put on pause, frozen in a single moment of human potential.

Today’s thanks go to the scientists.

good night

 

anxiety, fertility, IVF, ovulation, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait

the science

It’s a quiet Tuesday evening at home. The light is beginning to wane, and the fog is so thick that I can’t even see the hills. Big puffs of fog roll intermittently down my street. I’m getting used to this phase of not doing much… Just talked myself out of doing work tonight since it can all just simmer down and wait until tomorrow. I also decided not to start my taxes (again). We can’t be driven by the to-do list every hour of every day. Am I right?

Last night was IVF orientation class at UCSF. I got to meet my Patient Navigator, the woman I eventually need to talk to about the financials. Maria from the front desk was there and gave me a hug. The auditorium was full of around 80 people considering or beginning IVF treatment, all roughly my age, all likely having been through the ringer on this already. I walked in and took a seat in front so I wouldn’t be too tempted to peoplewatch and make up stories about what each couple was going through. A woman my age sat next to me–I eyed her wedding ring. Why wouldn’t her husband be here? I felt solidarity with her, and annoyed that he felt he had something better to do.

Dr. Cedars, who I believe had the longest wait when I first called UCSF, got us started with a PowerPoint slide of all the physicians on staff, including, yep, Dr. Tran. I gazed at his photo fondly. She went through all their background info and areas of research (they really seem like a bunch of pals), and then we covered the basics: pre-conception testing, various protocols, the retrieval process, the transfer process, success rates. I knew a lot of it already (it’s amazing how much medical knowledge you can retain when it’s about you), but it was good to hear it from start to finish. I learned that the uterus is actually “potential space” and when it’s empty it’s flat like a pancake with the sides touching. Also, the ovaries aren’t really hanging way out on the sides like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting; they are usually hanging next to the vagina, just millimeters away. Closer to the opening, making the retrieval process not as terribly invasive as one might initially think.

Dr. Cedars says she is more conservative than her younger colleagues who recommend that the only thing you should not do between transfer and pregnancy test is skydive. She no longer recommends bed rest but forbids anything bouncy (which actually brought tears to my eyes as I considered abstaining from running at such a stressful time). She doesn’t want the uterus to contract for any reason–the Valium for transfer day is a muscle relaxer to prevent cramping when the catheter is inserted. She also forbids fish oil (which I’m currently taking) and herbal treatments because they can supposedly cause your blood to not clot well. She said to stop the fish oil when starting stims.

Then we moved on to Dr. Rosen, the lab director, for a bunch of amazing photos and videos from the embryology lab. We got a virtual tour of the lab, with its super-pure air (pushed through 5 filtration systems), incubators with each shelf dedicated to one patient at a time, and these futuristic-looking machines were the operator sits holding a joystick in each hand–ostensibly to guide the needle into the egg and inject the sperm.

The ICSI needle is 1/10 the diameter of a human hair, and the egg is about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. (Probably smaller, actually.) This video game requires some serious precision. About 75% of their IVF patients do ICSI.

I was just reading about how they dehydrate the embryos so they don’t burst while frozen, and apply antifreeze (cryoprotectorant) so they don’t shrivel. It sounds so sad! Don’t tell my kid. Assisted hatching is something they do for women older than 38, since their eggs’ shells can be too hard. The methylprednisolone, whose purpose eluded me when my meds box arrived, is a steroid hormone with immunosuppressive potency, potentially helping the hatched embryo survive in the new environment of the uterus. For some reason not explained in my handout, it helps them implant better. (Did I sound like a med student until that last sentence?)

Suddenly, regular conception or even IUIs  seem practically irresponsible for how much they leave up to chance!

The last slide was a photo of a newborn with an extremely scrunched-up face, and the caption said, “A Healthy Singleton.” Which is the goal. And, honestly, all of the above science doesn’t necessarily feel all that connected to actual pregnancy and birth. I guess that’s why you get nine months.

It occurs to me just how action-packed this blog is going to get in the coming weeks. First, the baseline ultrasound. Then the play by play on stimming–watching for how many follies grow with ultrasounds every other day. I am already anxious about the successful injection of the HCG trigger 36 hours before retrieval–the timing has to be exact. Then: retrieval, the daily fertilization reports until Day 5, the two-week wait for the genetic test results, and then gearing up for the transfer cycle (I don’t even have that calendar yet).

We won’t know anything definitive for two months but MAN will we be busy. And by we I mean me.

 

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.

 

 

 

dating, depression, donor sperm, fertility, IUI, outdoors, ovulation, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

patience child

Good morning, friends! We’ve made it out of a prolonged cold snap and now I’m sitting on my couch with the window open, sweet morning air and warm sunshine flowing in. I love this time of year when the sun rises further south and stays lower all day long, beaming its warm light into my apartment throughout the day.

Sunshine improves my mood measurably. I’m a Leo, ruled by the sun, and have always sensed my connection to my master planet since I was a child in Michigan fantasizing about flying above the seemingly ever-present clouds. On cloudy and especially rainy days, I wanted all the lights on in the house. In the Bay Area, I finally bought a car so I could blast out of the fog into summertime sun just 20 minutes away. I track the angles of the sun from hopeful morning beginnings to nostalgic late afternoons, revering the golden light of California glowing in the redwoods and the eucalyptus trees, noting how it represents both the passage of time and the timelessness of nature. I think about this a lot, every day.

As the world turns, so does my cycle #8 forge onward. I had my Day 10 ultrasound on Friday and found myself feeling disconnected at the appointment, barely listening or asking questions. I gather that there is one dominant follicle this time, measuring 14mm, with two slightly smaller ones that could catch up, measuring 10mm and 11mm. Or 11 and 12, I didn’t write it down. She said I’m about a day behind where I was last cycle at this time, which makes sense because I started the Clomid one day later, on Day 3. My lining is fine. So, trigger Monday and IUI Wednesday.

I also transported my third batch of guys over to UCSF last week, extremely awkwardly trying to juggle phone meetings with driving, picking up, parking, interfacing with office people, driving, parking, picking up, etc. I basically pulled it off but did at one point find myself illegally parked, having to pee, and waiting for the nurse to come take the box while managing a work phone call (again). Here they are:

kkc

Why “Dry Wall Shipper,” I have no idea. I also still have no clue why the box is so huge for three tiny sperm vials, but I will also likely never see inside the box to understand its inner workings.

While at PRS, I learned that McPiercy only has 5 vials remaining, forever. I’ve been sitting on this for a few days… I now own 3, but should I have more as backup, in the event that either this takes much longer than expected or I want vials in storage for a possible sibling? I’m not sure yet, but am hoping that on some subconscious level, the procrastinator in me will realize that we’re getting down to the true last minute and kick into gear: my 40th birthday is approaching and it’s time for this to work!

I have a cycle buddy in England whom I’ve gotten to know via her blog–it looks like we’ll both go in on the same day next week. Here is her blog: Single Motherhood by Choice. You must scroll through and check out her posts from Ovarian HQ–a photoshop of her ultrasounds with follicles as the main characters. I especially love the cheerleading squad, it makes me LOL.

Lately I’m having a hard time expressing how I’m doing when friends check in. It’s such a messy stew of emotions, it’s hard to say, I’m doing fine! or I’m depressed! or I want to give up! or I’m optimistic! even though I may feel all of these things at one time or another. I’m not sure if I’ve really processed chemical pregnancy #3 or if I need to. My frustration spills over into frustration with dating because these two life categories come together into one frustration snowball when they’re not working. If my heart isn’t totally in it this time, I think that’s fair. Pink has a new song called “Try” and it’s very repetitive and kind of brainwashed me yesterday while driving across the Bay Bridge. You’ve gotta get up and try, try, try. Over and over. It’s the only way it’s going to work.

Report on New Year’s Resolutions thus far: I am doing awesome. I’m undercommitting like a pro (I realized I already was). I’m getting outside and exploring new hiking spots. I’m writing almost every day. And I’m really close to being on time: I’ve narrowed my typical lateness window from 10 minutes to 2. Next: be early.

Last week, after my 2.5 hr run with R, I texted him to see why he hadn’t yet posted the photos he took of me along the run. He texted back “patience child.”

A good reminder for me. Patience…

Try, try, try.

 

biological clock, fertility, IUI, meditation, ovulation, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait

the plan

After my last post, I dove into work headfirst. I made the rounds to my few work friends to let them know that my good news from the night before was reversed. They were ready to prop me up if I needed it. All the comments on the blog and texts made for bittersweet reading, everyone so incredulous…we thought that was the one, didn’t we? It took a matter of hours for the news to sink in, a process of syncing my conscious brain with what my body already knows, a process I have now gone through three times.

In the most painful moments of absorbing bad news, it is tempting to stop hoping, to lose faith, to really want to give up. It makes sense; if you burn yourself on a hot pan, you reflexively pull your hand and probably your whole self away from the source of the pain. How could I be so phenomenally unlucky…maybe this wasn’t meant to be. Maybe I will land, against all odds, on the wrong side of the odds, every time. Maybe the doctors will observe me as a medical mystery, not able to sustain a pregnancy and no one knows why. Maybe this is not my path.

When these voices get going, it is so reassuring to hear friends counteract them: “Don’t lose hope.” “Thinking of you.” “Sorry the process is so difficult.” “Just know that you are inspiring.”

I am proud that I didn’t fall apart or even halfass the conference–I did my job, I smiled, I stepped outside for five minutes of fresh air. I went on a group run the morning after I got the news. I had oatmeal from Starbucks and a glass of wine each evening. I got through it and found a way to thrive even as a sad song played in the distant background.

So, I haven’t really “processed” last week’s news yet with all the distractions of the past week. Occasionally a tear leaks out. But my chin is up.

I’m looking ahead: this afternoon, I met with Dr. Tran.

At this point, it may seem to an outside observer like I’m experiencing recurring pregnancy loss which must point to a “problem” that should be “fixed.” However, the most likely scenario is that I’ve been conceiving with eggs that had chromosomal abnormalities, something that is correlated to age. I happened to get three out of the last five. I am sure this is my issue and that it’s just (still) a matter of getting the Good Match. Here are some more things I learned about options:

  • I could do the full panel of tests for recurring pregnancy loss now (or: in 4-5 weeks because you have to wait that long after being pregnant). However, Dr. T. feels it’s overkill right now. He’s not worried about the fibroid in my uterus or clotting syndromes or a septum (whatever that is) or immune responses or all the serious and rare conditions that can stand in the way of pregnancy. These aren’t conditions that cause chemical pregnancies per se; they cause miscarriages at later stages. And he is worried that if we do the tests and get one of these results, the interventions will be extreme and possibly fruitless. He really doesn’t want to go down rabbit holes prematurely (and neither do I).
  • I could do the saline test of my uterus to see if the surfaces are ready for an embryo. (They would do this one before IVF.)
  • I could do a karotype to see if I have any abnormal chromosomes in my DNA. Not sure what I would do with this info until IVF. At that point, embryos can be genetically screened, it just costs more and may not be covered.
  • I could do progesterone suppositories, which is what a lot of women swear by on the boards. He said there is no harm in doing it so if it makes me feel better I should do it. But he didn’t seem to think it would make any difference.
  • I could change donors. But he doesn’t think this has anything to do with it–the donor is clear. He has established pregnancies and births. I’m sticking with McPiercy.

I have certainly gotten some medical details incorrect as I am recapping this from memory, but that’s the gist. I trust my doctor and he’s telling me that I am one of the lucky ones: I get pregnant easily. I have high ovarian reserve. I just have to hang in a little longer. And I have a plan.

The Plan:

  • Olga just called to say that this morning’s blood test was negative so I am cleared to try again this cycle.
  • Today is Day 1. I’ll start on Clomid tomorrow or the next day. Ultrasound Day 10. Trigger shot.
  • Two more medicated cycles, then IVF. The main impetus for IVF is my waning emotional stamina and my age–my eggs are in decline. Let’s get this show on the road. He says my IVF prospects would be high.
  • Pray, meditate, run. Rest. Get outside. Love.

 

donor sperm, family, fertility, IUI, ovulation, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait

the year in review

A year ago, I drove to the Grand Canyon to shake hands with the universe. An excerpt from my journal:

12/30/11: Here I am–end of the year, solo roadtrip, contemplating the New Year.

Once I arrived last night, I thought, Wow, OK, it’s really time to make a decision about having a baby. A little voice said, “I’ve already decided.” It’s true. It feels true and right and it’s my destiny. It doesn’t mean I won’t be fearful or stressed or lonely at times. But the decision has always been made, since I was born with my finite set of eggs. One (at least one) will become my child.

…So, My Baby, if you’re reading this one day, I made the decision tonight to bring you into the world. You who could be so many different people but who somehow is destined to be one and only one you. I’ve worked so hard to get here, and I feel proud and relieved and and scared. But tonight, peace.”

The decision was so clear. In truth, the decision was made implicitly as I extricated myself from my last relationship: if not x, then y. It took a couple of months to make it official.

It’s amazing how much time it takes to really get the process rolling, which is something I always want to point out to women contemplating this path–each step takes time, longer than you think. Do not delay!

Once the decision was made (after years of contemplation and several months of research), I was charting my cycles, did my paperwork at the sperm bank, had an intake appointment. I chose my donor, McPiercy, at the end of February (this was a whole process in and of itself that I will describe once McPiercy knocks me up for keeps). I missed my ovulation window in early March, unsure and hesitant about how to interpret a positive ovulation kit. Finally, on April 3, my dad’s birthday, I went for IUI#1. And I started this blog!

My blog is one of the best outcomes of 2012. Thanks to all of you who read it and encourage me in a million ways.

#1 didn’t take and the first BFN was rough. #2, same deal. In retrospect, it was so DIY with the sperm bank that I’m sure I had the timing off. IUI#3 in June was a hit! The poppy seed! But three days later I started bleeding just as the official blood test results came in: negative. There is nothing like the first BFP and telling everyone for the first time. I will use revisionist history to tack those first shares on to the pregnancy that yields the birth of my baby. 🙂

The chemical pregnancy was devastating and bewildering, but I had only 3 days of believing I was prego–I reverted fairly quickly back to trying mode. And it was good news that my body is able to do its thing.

I barreled into IUI#4 two weeks later, spending much of the two week wait on summer vacation with my family, blissed out by the lake, knowing intuitively the whole time that I was pregnant and that this would be it. I tested the day before I left: BFP. Happy and calm. I knew this time it would work because I had already paid my dues the month before.

Wrong. The 6.5 week ultrasound showed no fetal pole. It was inconclusive and they wanted me to come back in a week. Work travel prevented me from having another ultrasound until nearly two weeks later. It was a bad scene. I was stoic.

The moment I saw the ultrasound screen upon return to SF, I could tell the lentil hadn’t progressed. The nurse said, “I’m so sorry.” Numb. Discussion of next steps to remove the “products of conception.” Cried in the courtyard with A.

Fortunately, I didn’t go off the deep end about it. It was hard when I was in the middle of it, really hard. And then gradually I moved on.

That was four months ago. I went to Brazil and totally forgot everything for ten days–brilliant timing and a wonderful trip.

IUI #5 in the beginning of October, IUI#6 at the end of October, both BFNs. Emotionally disconnected and fatigued as I approached the end of the year. Took November off.

Which brings us to lucky #7. If I wait the full 14 days, I’ll test on New Year’s Day, 3 days from now. I am emotionally reconnected. I am present, alert to every twinge and tenderness, nothing to distract me while I”m staycationing. I am sleeping well, eating ridiculously well–today I had eggs w/ spinach and a smoothie of banana, frozen mango, frozen açai, blueberries, kale, coconut milk, and ginger. For lunch: a sandwich of leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry. For dinner: salmon and quinoa with spinach. C’mon, that’s ridiculously healthy, right? (as I head to the kitchen for chocolate peanut butter ice cream…)

I also did a massive purge of my closet today–10 bags of clothes, cosmetics, shoes ready to give away! Pow!

2012 was quite a ride, and yet I have never wavered on the decision made one year ago. I wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you, 2012, for teaching me so much and for getting me to where I am now. Babies, are you in there?

2013: let’s get it on!

 

 

anxiety, dating, donor sperm, fertility, IUI, ovulation, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

the reports

It’s so good to be home. I was in NYC for a week of work meetings, friends, shopping, parties, dinners…  A packed schedule–barely enough time for sleep, meeting prep, one solitary morning run on the Highline, and no blogging. I dearly love my friends there. Especially J, whose fourth Chelsea apartment in five years is an adorable one-bedroom and therefore the height of luxury compared to previous studios in which we had to choreograph our every movement. On this visit he was snoring so loudly and consistently that I was happy to shut the bedroom door and go down the hall to the couch. Deluxe!

I started taking Clomid on Day 2 and didn’t notice much of anything except higher anxiety levels. Then my Thanksgiving rash came back in force and I couldn’t sleep. Then I bought an expensive pair of black boots, had buyer’s remorse, and returned them the next day. This all may be run of the mill stuff and nothing to do with the Clomid. Sometimes I felt my ovaries getting riper.

When I finally made it to the holiday party it was like a finish line, and I was thrilled to land the next morning at SFO, even in the chilly rain. Upon landing, I learned the awful news from Connecticut and spent the rest of the day tearing up and taking deep breaths and avoiding the news. It’s a good time to hug our people and tell them how much we love them.

The Yoda Report: My friend M called me with the Yoda Report on what to do about Dr. Hawaii’s invitation to Hawaii–I could have sworn I heard her shuffling papers as she announced, “I have the Yoda Report.” I pictured her with glasses on her nose and a pencil behind her ear. Yoda suggested telling Dr. Hawaii that my Hawaii trip is postponed indefinitely, and since he’ll be in Portland for 10 days over the holidays, why not propose meeting up halfway between Portland and SF instead? I loved this solution: can you meet me halfway?

So I proposed it. And, because he’ll still have family in town and won’t have a car, he responded, “How about a weekend in Portland?”

Coincidentally, I am totally overdue a trip to Portland–I used to visit my friends L and A there every spring and now it’s suddenly been like 3 years without a visit. I still haven’t met A’s 2-year-old. With dear friends to see (and stay with), I have multiple reasons to go. Yoda basically said yes: one or both of you are going to have to travel to make this work, so go and see how it is.

I’d love to see him again. I’d love to spend the weekend in Portland. That’s why this is tricky: I STILL feel like he’s not driving the bus. Sure, maybe he sucks at email and text communication but he also hasn’t picked up the phone. And “How about a weekend in Portland,” feels like a halfhearted invitation. I can’t shake this sense that I’d be conspicuously hanging around on the sidelines of his family vacation waiting for him to be free. And, let’s be honest: the best case scenario is that we have a long distance relationship, is this my goal?

No. My goal is to get pregnant. And to spend time with someone who’s excited about me, who shows up for me, who gives me full-hearted invitations. I’ll give this one more email round to try to get a read on how this would theoretically go. I’m leaning toward not going (L and A: I will totally come soon though). After that, I must insist that if he can’t meet me halfway, the only thing left is for him to come all the way. Here. With his free ticket.

Meanwhile, I’m heading back online for another batch. Of locals!

The Follie Report: This morning, I had my Day 10 ultrasound and the news is GOOD: I have 2 dominant follicles on the left and “things are quiet” on the right. The two follies measure 15mm and 16mm and my lining is at 6 something: right on target. We wanted two and got two! No more, no less. I’ll trigger on Monday night and go for IUI on Wednesday. I’ll test just after the New Year. Baby project is giving me a strong sense of purpose again.

Meanwhile, I’ll stock up on more McPiercy vials. I recently got an email from PRS with the subject line “Notification,” and my heart almost stopped because I assumed they were going to tell me McPiercy was out of stock! Thankfully, they were just warning me that their prices are going up in the New Year.