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

runway

Over this weekend, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I want to spend the next five weeks before my transfer. I’ve been kind of back and forth on this. At first, as I wrote in my last post, I thought–wow, this is a long period of being “off the clock,” an opportunity to run, travel, date, drink, all the things I’ve been more or less avoiding to focus my energy on being healthy, rested, and positive.

After that post, new mom A recommended starting to live as though I’m pregnant now (which frankly sounded boring although I heard an echo of wisdom in it). Then my dad suggested that maybe running a race could leave my body depleted of energy just when I need it to be ready to perform a major feat. Uh, good point. Another friend C raised a virtual eyebrow today when I mentioned maybe putting my online dating profile back up, you know, as a fun distraction.

There were two baby showers this weekend, so I spent both afternoons with my SMC friends. After knowing them for over a year, I love each of them individually and would be friends with all of them outside of having this big thing in common. And having this big thing in common is so powerful and bonding. As I talked through the above considerations, more eyebrows raised, including eventually my own, and I started really thinking about what my goals are for this window of time.

It turns out that giving myself a holiday, easing the reigns and letting go of limits, is really not aligned with my bigger goal here. The few drinks I’ve had in the past week have made me feel foggy and exacerbated my allergies. None of the races I looked at are lined up on weekends that work and the distances made me anxious given how little time I’d have to train. I’ve stayed up past midnight the past two nights and still woke up early. And Dr. Hawaii threw me for a loop this weekend.

It should have been no big deal, let’s meet up for a drink. Still, a pleasant prospect of seeing him again, maybe despite all the poor communication he’d turn out to be great in person again, right? Well, after not hearing from him all weekend he texted me tonight, already back in Hawaii after “a whirlwind trip,” with no acknowledgement that he’d left me hanging on tentative plans (which, of course, were his idea). He concluded by asking whether I have any plans to come to Hawaii. Wow.

We are obviously from different planets. I didn’t expect much from him, and he delivered even less. He doesn’t matter–truly–and I am not heartbroken. I just feel the reminder that opening up means you can get slammed back down, and does it really make sense to take the risk at this critical time? Not that lovely moments can’t pop up at the most random times, and not that I don’t crave companionship, but am I really in a position to go seeking it? Shouldn’t my precious positive energy be directed at the basics that keep me afloat: physical, mental, and spiritual health?

I sense now that there is no spring break from this process and embryo #1 is counting on me to enter into my transfer as ready as I can be, with reduced clutter, minimal interference, a fine-tuned landing pad. Sound body and mind. Inner calm. Focus. Now I’ll develop my five-week curriculum around that.

I suppose it makes sense that when I realized that what looked like a longer-than-usual ‘hiatus,’ I would try to get ‘back to ‘normal.’ I think what I’m realizing now is that it’s not a hiatus, it’s actually a runway.

And this is the new normal.

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

trigger!

At this morning’s appointment, I learned that my biggest follies had jumped from 15-16mm to 20-22mm and my estrogen jumped from 2900 to 3500. Which is a lot. The docs say that’s why they check every day at this point, and I’m “ready to go.” I watched my giant follies on the screen, exponentially bigger than when we started, and all snuggled up together. Hi, girls!

Of course, I can’t tell you how many, because I was pointedly not counting. I’d say there are “plenty.” I told my mom today that I think my total letting go of obsessively tracking data was purely a survival strategy for staying sane. It’s working.

I told Dr. Fujimoto, “Long time, no see!” and he said, “We’ve got to stop meeting like this!” I’ve seen him the last 4 days. He will do my retrieval, because Dr. Tran has a conflicting appointment. I requested Dr. T. just because he said he would try to be there if he could, but I feel fine about Dr. F. Everyone says I’m in good hands, and I believe it.

Afterward, I drank some ginger tea with two nurses in the hallway, Nurse Stephanie came in and said hi as she walked by, and Maria gave me two hugs and wished me luck because she’s taking Thursday off. I seriously feel like I work there.

Next, I went through all the trigger and surgery paperwork with another nurse, Jackie. Different protocol for tonight: Lupron between 6-7pm (check) and at 10:15pm, exactly 36 hours before my retrieval, I’ll do my HCG shot with Follistim co-trigger.

Hard to believe that tomorrow I have neither a morning appointment nor any injections. And I get to see Annie and Sam Lamott on retrieval eve with my friend C! So perfect! (PS no one took me up on the free ticket giveaway, so I invited C who secretly wanted to go!)

Thursday, my sister will come with me for my 10:15am appointment. After that, rest. And really no running for a little while. My ovaries will take a while to go back down to normal size. Fert report: Friday.

I bought some bright pink tulips that were all closed up the other day, a visual reminder of my blooming ovaries. They are also looking just about “ready to go.”

I feel proud to have made it to this point. “Homestretch,” says B.

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

numbers

I think I’ve been avoiding writing, just like I sometimes avoid meditating–with anxiety following me around like a shadow, not wanting it to catch up.

What you need to know is that everything is going fine.

What’s going on behind the scenes is that I’m getting information every other day, and now every day, on my estrogen level and number and measurements of my growing follicles. And I’ve had to consciously back down from a) trying to be an overachiever, b) interpreting, c) doing math, and d) obsessing about the numbers as if it will help me control the final outcome. It won’t. You also need to understand that the numbers at this point are almost irrelevant–you can have dozens of follicles and only a few mature eggs. You could also have only a few follicles but one mature egg that results in a healthy singleton. And everything in between.

At the first appointment, I didn’t know what to expect. This is a vulnerable place.  I felt like the doctors had grim expressions and were disappointed in my number of follicles, which was around 13. It should be noted that they didn’t say anything (at all) to this effect, but when I walked out I felt like a failure and spent the day on the edge of tears. I texted B that I was spiraling and she said, “Don’t interpret. It’s too early to do that and trust your doctors–let them do the work.”

I went to acupuncture the following night and emerged so deeply drained. I asked him if he’d done anything differently than usual, and he said that when you’re that stressed, it’s a long journey to get back to your baseline.

For the second appointment, I brought my sister, who kept me plugged into the irrelevance of the numbers in the short term. Bringing my sis got the docs’ attention and suddenly Dr. Rosen seemed to realize that I was stuck on the anxiety channel and needed strong reassurances–and he gave them to me throughout the appointment. Everything looks really good, you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do, see here on the monitor? Everything is growing, that’s what we want. Don’t worry, you’re doing great, it looks really good. I wanted to celebrate, but my helpful sister reminded me that just like we wouldn’t get destroyed by numbers now, we’re also not going to celebrate. But I did feel way better. My acupuncturist confirmed that my pulse conveyed a much lower stress level the following night (another zapping session, though–afterward, I went home, ate pizza, and fell asleep at 7pm).

At the third appointment, on Saturday, I went alone. Different docs this time, and I didn’t even try to track the measurement of every follicle or do math in my head. I let go, just letting them take over, maybe finally realizing that, no matter what, it will be what it will be. There’s nothing to adjust, except my dosage of meds, which is totally up to Dr. Tran and he hasn’t changed anything since I started. I’m doing everything right, according to Dr. Rosen. All we can do is see how this cycle turns out and have faith that my baby is in there.

I did a pretty good job of letting go on Saturday but I also just happened to be in a terrible mood. I felt like crying about everything, couldn’t bring myself to do the dishes from Tuesday, etc. Still, I managed to finish my taxes AND do laundry, so why I didn’t feel my afternoon was a record-breaking success should be blamed on the hormones. I felt sad and lonely and stuck.

At around 4:45pm, I threw on my running clothes and drove out to Ocean Beach. As I sat in my car getting ready to run, a hurricane-like wind threatened to lift my car into the air. I opened the door and it swung open so hard I thought it may have been damaged. Stepping out into the gale force, I thought YES THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED and began my run along the boardwalk.

I almost couldn’t run straight it was so windy. Specks of sand blasted onto my bare skin, stinging. PERFECT. Despite its ponytail anchor, my hat flew off. Then my hat flew off again. Then it flew off AGAIN. I found myself screaming into the wind FUCK YOU, MOTHERFUCKER and suddenly woke up to my storm-like emotions. I actually started laughing.

Holding my hat in my hand, I continued up the boardwalk with my hair whipping around my face, forming a frenetic, lion-like frizz. I ran up the hill, past the Cliff House, and turning inland into Lands End, where the wind became a mild breeze, the golden afternoon sunlight at an angle that melts my heart.

I needed that. I kept thinking, “This is my natural Paxil.”

Today, after 9 hours of sleep, I woke up better. A gloriously clear day. I picked up my friend C who graciously offered to come with me to my appointment, which are now every day because we’re getting close. It was lovely to have her along although I feel sufficiently detached now, not even particularly asking questions. They’ll tell me if there’s something I need to know or decide.

My likely retrieval day is this Thursday, to be confirmed at tomorrow’s appointment. Then we’ll have real numbers to contemplate: number of eggs retrieved and then the number fertilized. My letting-go skills are getting honed.

My sister has me focused on what it will feel like to have a baby. I’m skipping all these steps in my mind and visualizing the final outcome–the only thing that matters.

Yesterday, my estrogen level was 2,014 (aka my baby’s birth year).

All it takes is one.

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

stims

So far, so good. On Thursday, I had my baseline and essentially combined four appointments in one. First, I went to PRS when they opened to pick up McPiercy’s five remaining vials. I realized it was likely my last time going to PRS, perhaps ever, and I’ve lost count of how many vial transports I’ve done but this is at least three. Hilariously, when I got outside with the box, I posed it next to a silver Prius that is not mine but was parked a few spots down from mine! This is not my car, but these are my guys:

mcpiercy3

 

After parking at UCSF, I remember standing at the corner of Sutter and Divisadero waiting for the light to change, having this distinct sense that my child is coming together now, literally–half is in me, half is in one of the millions of sperm, frozen in time, in this box.

I checked in and the receptionist said kindly, “I see here we need to collect a large sum of money from you today.” Indeed. I took out my checkbook (and later regretted not using a fancy credit card with points–it’s been on my list of things to do forever now…) Olga came out to have me sign the ICSI forms. I dragged the box around with me while I gave blood (to check my estrogen level) and went in for an ultrasound. During the ultrasound, Nurse Jennifer asked if I was a runner and for a second I thought she saw something in my uterus that betrayed this fact about me–but when I said yes, she said, “I saw you running at Lands End. I never know if people want me to say hi.” I laughed and said, “OH, yes, I want you to say hi!” She said she was with her yellow lab so I told her I’ll watch for yellow labs next time.

She kept saying “great, perfect, excellent.” All was quiet on the ovarian front, which is what you want for the baseline. She said they’d call in the afternoon with the blood results to give me the green light on beginning stims.

Next, I went to the lab to drop off the box which only took a few minutes. Then I went to see Lili, my genetic counselor, to sign some more forms and give a cheek swab sample. Yep, that’s all they need to get your genetic makeup. Lili is my new BFF. She kept telling me I’m fabulous and that my chances are amazing and at one point she raised both arms in the air and said, “I LOVE MY SINGLE LADIES!” On my way out, she grabbed my jacket and said, “OH my God, is this from REI? This is the exact jacket I want,” and quizzed me about it. I am verging on asking her on a friend date although I’d probably want to talk shop the whole time which would be boring for her!

All that AND I made it back home in time for a meeting. That afternoon, I got the call that my estrogen was at 57, go ahead and start the stims on Friday night.

On Friday night, I got home a little later than intended and hadn’t walked myself through the whole process by reading through the materials and watching the videos, etc. So I felt a little anxious and also exhausted, not the picture of IVF serenity that I had hoped. Lupron was no prob–just decreased the dose by half. Follistim is pretty foolproof–it’s a pen and you just dial up the dose. When I got to the Menopur, which requires drawing up sodium cloride, injecting it into the Menopur vial, swishing it so the powder dissolves into the fluid, drawing it back up, injecting it into a second vial, swishing it around, and drawing it back up again, I freaked out because a) there was a ton of air and b) there wasn’t nearly as much fluid as I started with. I have a bad habit of trying to destroy the evidence of my mistakes and plowing ahead with a fresh start as if nothing happened (cooking is another good example)–so I found myself dumping the fluid with one vial of powder into the sink and starting over. It was dumb (and expensive). But if that’s the price of my learning, so be it. The second attempt was successful, although I went to bed nervous because I had used the same syringe and if there were traces of a third vial maybe I just overdosed myself…

Yesterday, I got some advice on the boards and talked to Dr. B. and last night went much better. I wish you could see how many steps it is, how freaking long it takes, how much there is to dispose, recycle, and drop into the sharps container for just one evening’s worth. But, I’m getting it. And my belly is hanging in there.

I slept fitfully–sweating, waking up disoriented, dreaming. Woke up and went directly on a six-mile run–a gift to me. The countdown is on if I’m going to stop running on day 5 of stims. Came home to make delicious almond butter pancakes and a smoothie. Took a bath. Meditated. Took a 2-hour nap. Went w/ Dr. B. for a foot massage. I basically nailed Saturday.

Slept great last night. I have an appt in 25 minutes for a blood draw at UCSF, so I best be getting out of my pajamas. The first ultrasound will be Tuesday and then we’ll be off to the races! Here’s hoping for a 20-way tie!

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.

 

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.

family, meditation, outdoors, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait, writing

focus

It’s the night before a 12-day business trip and I’m absolutely stunned by my level of organization. This seriously hasn’t happened in all my years of crazy work travel.

The evidence: I’m totally packed, including 2 pregnancy tests. My clothes for tomorrow are laying out, the cereal box is out next to an empty bowl, two vitamins sitting beside it. There’s a list on an index card of what I need to remember to pack in the morning. I have a bowl of quinoa and black beans cooling next to me. I’m calling for the morning taxi. And it’s 8:16pm.

Normally, I kick into packing mode around 10pm, regardless of pick-up time (which, tomorrow, is 4:30am). My last post about being in high gear was no joke–I’m so focused right now, I don’t recognize myself. I’m even getting picky (like J) about how I’m folding my clothes and setting things out either parallel or perpendicular. Let’s not get crazy now!

So what is a 12-day business trip about, you ask? Basically, it’s a series of smaller trips strung together for my convenience, involving office days, meetings, visits to colleagues, four nights at J’s place, a work event, and mucho family time in between.

For my Mom’s (milestone!) birthday, my sisters and I are treating her to a decadent weekend in NYC, with all three of us and my Dad! How deluxe and special that we get to share this time together. Then we’re going down to Baltimore where we’ll hang out with my two nieces! This part I just put together this morning and am feeling very gratified that I get to see them and cut out two cross-country flights.

Today, after a glorious hike at Mt. Tam with sweet C, I was at my sister’s house and she asked me if I wanted to pull a Goddess card. I pulled  one that now I can’t remember the name…Nematoma? It was about creating and preserving a sacred space–within yourself, within your home, wherever you go. I took it to be a reminder to keep my commitment to treat myself kindly on the road, to take time to prepare and rest and stay grounded, no matter how much activity is swirling around me. This means going to bed early, running on the chilly Highline, getting up ten minutes earlier to meditate, and blogging. (Undercommitting is approximately 80% harder in NYC.)

And, with that, it’s 9pm. Time for bed, xo

 

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.

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.