Saturday, December 31, 2011

Oh God, are you there? It's me, Mrs. T

This seems like a fitting title for me today.

Young Margaret and I share some things in common. Ok, she is 14 and I am 34, but we are both desperately waiting for our periods, cycles, menses... Whatever you'd prefer to call them we are both enlisting in a higher power to summon them.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I did not have one.single.issue.ever. when it came to my gyn history.  I was dependable. Like clockwork.   But now, I have spent 2 weeks injecting myself with drugs that didn't work. What they did do, was wreck havoc on my cycle. Dr. Specialist told me that I would be back on track 6 days following the last injection of Lupron. Here it is 23 days later and I'm looking at another ultrasound and blood draw to see what's going on.

I called the nurse yesterday to figure out what to do next. She agreed it's time for that ultrasound and blood work. She said that I probably felt like I'm wasting time.

Seriously. Come on. FEEL like I'm wasting time. I AM wasting time.

What does this mean... well, the promise that "I'd look good for an egg retrieval and embryo(s) transfer mid-January" just went.right.out.the.friggin.window. It means that it's more likely February. It means that another month is going by. It means that we are still waiting.

So, 2011, it is time for you to leave. It is time for your empty promises, failed deadlines and craptastic doctor's appointments to be a thing of the past.

2012, I welcome you with open arms. Please, be kind to us.

Tonight we will ring in the New Year and I will pray for strength for tomorrow and continued happiness with what we do have today. I wish the same to all of you that have stopped by to read and leave a comment. They are wonderful to read and are very much appreciated.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What to do with my free time?

Why, potty train, of course!

I thought figuring out how to mix my million dollar very expensive, hormone cocktail was stressful. Boy, was I wrong.  Self-injecting super pricey meds for an unknown outcome was nothing compared to potty training.

Who knew?

There are approximately 876 different techniques of how to get your child our of diapers. I know this because I have scoured every resource on the world wide web. I have talked with friends. I have talked it over with Mr. T. I have consulted with both grandmothers. What I have realized is - everyone has their own best method. But the kick is, it's not only figuring out  WHAT method to use... it's figuring out WHEN to start.

I decided that today was the day. I decided that we were going cold turkey. No pull-ups.

So, I told Mr. T, today is the day. I turned the heat up in the house. I even dressed Big Elmo in some new knickers. I announced that today was the day and handed Toddler T his new big boy truck underwear. We spent the day playing with new Christmas toys. I in my jammies, Toddler T in a sweatshirt, underwear and socks... we both looked good! Things went great (for day 1). And then it was time to sleep.

Round 3 decisions... Are we night and day training at the same time? Will he wear a diaper? Rubber pants? Plain old truck underwear. I was panicked. I put a garbage bag under his fitted sheet. I tried rubber pants and he said "Off! These are scratchy." Off came the rubber pants. I guess I'm just diving on in. Toddler T was put to bed in the truck underwear.

For the record, I have changed the sheets once. I contemplated a diaper. I stood strong.

It is 9:15 he is still awake and is usually asleep by 7:45. I hear him singing little diddy's right now. I'm staying downstairs and will try not to research potty training to death on the Internet.

But, if anyone would like to throw a tip my way...... feel free.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Life Ain't All Hormones, There is Christmas too.

I am on an IVF Break.

It is funny the way your opinions change with a little distance.  When my first attempt at my first IVF cycle began to circle the drain, I couldn't imagine anything more awful. A king's ransom was just spent on drugs, I had injected myself in the stomach, in the bathroom, of three places that were not my home and I could not deal with the thought of ONE MORE FLIPPIN' DELAY.  I wanted, I needed to have this work. I felt owed a positive pregnancy test by Christmas morning. I was pretty sure I was on Santa's nice list and I asked him and every other higher power for it to come true. But no. It was not to be. My body did not want to cooperate. The decision was made. Suspend the cycle.

The nurse at the clinic tried to boost my morale (while gauging whether or not I was going completely mental).  She mentioned that at least I'd be able to enjoy the holidays without spending every other day getting bloodwork, panicking about the dreaded 2WW (two week wait) or just being immersed in a cycle. At the time, I contemplated kicking her in the shins.  I couldn't imagine a more flippant response to my situation. Putting a positive spin on this most recent setback? Was she already hitting the holiday punch? What I heard her say was "Oh relax, have some egg nog and eat a candy cane."  I left with a pit in my stomach and cried the whole way home. Yes, I even had those 'why me' thoughts. Not my finest moments.

Tonight, I'm sitting here with Mr. T. Toddler T is upstairs snuggled in with Elmo, warm jammies and a few pacifiers. (I'm aware he's getting to be on the old-ish side for the pacifiers, but I just can't face taking away his beloved BB's). I'm being reflective. We had a fantastic Christmas. Perfect mix of family time, food and holiday cheer. There were only 1 or 2 Toddler T meltdowns. And yes, I avoided one by allowing a nutritionally void Christmas dinner. Buttered rolls, m&m's and chocolate milk, is Toddler T dined on. That child did not have one nutritious thing to eat in 24 hours, and he is just fine.  We even had our prime rib leftovers on the carpet tonight. Toddler T just loves a "Picmic"

So, while I once dreaded the idea of not being involved in the IVF cycle over the holidays, I have since changed my tune. I think 2011 has been a mixed bag, to say the least. Maybe my Karma will be rejuvenated in 2012 and we be successful. I hope we are, because a 2 year old, is the best thing ever during the Holidays. Who can resist hearing "Mehwee Chwithmuth"?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Below the surface

Today was a day I've been waiting for for a long time. Before I became a mother, I knew what I wanted in life. I wanted to be married. I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to make cupcakes for school holiday parties. I wanted to come to recitals with my camera. I wanted to be able to stay at home with my child(ren) for as long as made sense. Today, I realized all of the big dreams and the small dreams were coming true.

I sat as, a mother, and watched my child in his first show. It was three songs. It was ridiculously adorable. He sang when no one else was and then was quiet when the other children were singing. He cracked me up and I took way too many pictures.

Today was good. Christmas is coming. Grocery list is complied.

So, why the sadness that is trying to peek through?

Because, our family is not yet complete. And right now there isn't a damn thing I can do to change it. We are in a waiting period before we can get back to IVF. Because, I'm less naive and know that IVF is not a guarantee.

I try not to go there, too often. But once in awhile, I hear... "What if?"

What if our 2nd attempt at IVF doesn't work? What if our family remains a family of 3? These questions don't deserve top billing in my brain, but they do creep to the surface.  I want them gone. I want to be past the uncertainty. I want to have a 20 second pity party and then move on.

And I will move on, because, today was a great day.

And Christmas is coming!

And I feel grateful for what I do have, with sprinkles on top.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Strep, No Nap and Flowers

I'll just bet that you thought that the first two words were related to Toddler T.


He did not nap today.
But I shouldn't complain, he took a 4.5 hour nap on Monday. The sad thing is, I was convinced that he was going to wake up any minute. Therefore, I would not start any large task.  You know, like cleaning the house from top to bottom to get prepared for Christmas, ironing napkins or cleaning out the fridge. Nope, nothing. Just a few loads of laundry and a whole lot of Internet time.
Looking back, perhaps I was a tad lazy that afternoon.

But back to the riddle at hand.

No Nap goes to Toddler T. Any guesses about the next two?


That's me. I have strep.
Right, like I'm 10 years old.
Like I haven't had my fill of doctors this past year.
But I don't mind entirely.
This doctor is fantastic, and he gave Toddler T a mock check up, too.
And anyone who is engaged with my child wins with me.


ME!!! Flowers, delivered to me.
From Mr. T. with a sweet sentiment about giving the boot to 2011.
Is there anything better than that?
Pretty flowers with my name on the card, just because.

I agree with Mr T, adios 2011.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Free Therapy

When I decided to start this blog, my initial reaction was to make it anonymous. Hence, the monikers.  But then I worried, what if no one reads it. I have things that I want to say and want validated, but struggle with saying them out loud. So I am feeling a little stuck. 

Do I, "Empower" myself  (Can't tell you how many times I've used the word empowered over the last 10 years. It actually makes me laugh a little.) and tell anyone who will listen that this is what I'm living with. Or.  Muddle through it.

It is the most ironic position for a former family therapist/social worker. Throughout my career as a well paid social worker,  I've talked with patients and their families about some pretty devastating things. Think telling a parent that their 20-something year old,  4.0 student who is a musical prodigy, just had a classic psychotic break and will never return to their former level of functioning or explaining to a mom that her haunch was correct and her child had been the victim of assault.  Then guide those parents in processing this diagnosis, situations, feelings. The stories I have are endless, but just imagine, this is what I did. Day in, Day out. Let's talk, let's communicate, let's remember to use "I" statements. 

But talk with the average peer/family member/mom at nursery school about this. Yeah, totally-tongue tied. Deerinheadlights when someone asks me when I'm giving Toddler T a sibling. (Um, when I get on the right protocol and say several Novena's to Saint Gerard)

I attribute this inability to communicate to a few factors. 

  1. People are generally uncomfortable talking about something that is typically a private affair between two parties. 
  2. People are soemthimes looking for an 'out' to this converation and quickly say "just relax, nature will take its course" or "oh course it will happen, enjoy what you have in the meantime." Because it is not a comfortable topic to discuss.
  3. People are very unsure about talking about miscarriage and what type of attachment you had. IE Fetus vs. Baby. 
  4. People like happy endings and thinking about a sad outcome is too much. (Face it, how badly did you want Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn's characters to get back together in The Break-Up?) 
  5. This list could go on and on. But please take note, my reasons for these conversations going awry are positive.
  6. OK- I can't resist, some people are just inconsiderate. (Wheezy - that's for you)
And you are thinking, how does this relate to the title of the post?  

As I mentioned, this was originally going to be anonymous, but I still craved some validation. So, I sent the link to some of the closest people in my circle and to a few that I thought would appreciate the view into what was going on in the T household. A friend wrote back some kind words and said that at the very least its 'free therapy'. Couldn't be more true. 

Before this was launched, I did my due-diligence. I researched acupuncture and mindfulness. Sure I could lose a few lbs (Christmas cookies, be damned) And I even once saw a counselor. But these were not what I needed.  I have Toddler T. How could, I justify spending more money and asking family members to babysit even more (not that they complained) so I could sit and have needles poked in me and someone coach me on relaxing. Just thinking about it made my stress level rise.  And for the record, the counselor meant well.  But I fought the urge to punch this gal in the throat when she asked me to tell her about losing my baby. She was talking the remnants of ectopic #1. I heard  'tell me about losing your baby' and only thought  of Toddler T.

As far as patient, counselor moments go.. that was pretty damn awkward. But, I completed my 3 free sessions with her through my then-employer's EAP plan. (If you are working and think you might want to explore the idea of counseling, check with your employer. You may just have access to FREE sessions.) And aside from our glitch, Counselor was very empathic and helped me process the previous medical drama in my life.

I guess I have three messages here:  

One, if you are dealing with something that seems bigger than you, get involved in something that eases that load, exercise, counseling, being more social, writing, meditating, acupuncture. You get the point. Try to keep it on the positive side, drinking, shopping and opening up multiple credit cards, avoiding people, avoiding food, will never get you anywhere good.  An evening watching A&E will teach you that.

Two, if someone attempts to share with you her or his (dad's are impacted too), experience with infertility, secondary infertility, miscarriage or infant loss,  listen and breathe. We are struggling just as much as you are to get through the conversation.

Three, listen some more. I told Counselor that I was not attached to the first pregnancy. I did not equate that loss with the loss of life, other than my own. Therefore, the her misguided but well-intentioned request to describe the loss of my baby was more than I can bear. Toddler T is alive and healthy and the center of the T world. He is my baby. End of story. This reaction is 100% situational. Anyone who has experienced miscarriage will have a different reaction and will process that loss differently. So again, listen.

For the record, I am finding this semi-anonymous blog a good way to feel both empowered and less muddled. And, our families are doing a pretty fantastic job of being amazingly supportive.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Toddlers, Sprinkles and 2IF

If there is one thing a curious 2 1/2 year old is good for, it is forcing you to live in the moment.

It is the Holiday Season and I have a child who is mesmerized by it. The lights. The songs. The cookies. The candy canes. The fact that Santa sent him a video on mommy's computer. The tacky, singing plush holiday bears. All of it, he loves it all.

And I love watching him take it all in. 

So sure, I can feel steamrolled by Secondary Infertility. Truth be told.. I often do. But today and this week it is all about Christmas. No Doctors, No blood draws, No feeling of dread.

Fa la la la la la la la la

So I have a house decorated, presents wrapped, Christmas cards mailed, Christmas Day menu planned. (Prime Rib if you are wondering) and cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. I love cookies.

Toddler T and I baked cookies together (togedder, as he would say). If you are getting cookies from me, don't panic. He washed his hands first and didn't double dip too much.

Let me say a word about baking with a toddler. PREP. Prep like you are Paula Deen with everything in a pretty clear glass bowl. (But make them plastic). Forget about a step stool, drag the toddler table into the middle of your kitchen and set aside your expectations of 'pretty' cookies. I used to pride myself on making beautiful sugar cookies that were perfectly iced. Well, this year it was all drop cookies with more sprinkles on the cookie sheet than the actual cookie. And I loved them just the same. 

This cloud of secondary infertility may be hanging over my head. But my feet remain firmly planted in the here and now of life with Toddler T, because Santa is coming and that is magical. If all that merriment and wonder wasn't enough, my kitchen looks like a spinkle bomb exploded and needs my attention.

As Clark Griswold so poignantly expressed it, " I am going to have the hap hap happiest Christmas this side of the nuthouse."  And I will. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Fix-it-Up Chappie

“My friends”, he announced in a voice clear and clean,
“My name is Sylvester McMonkey McBean. 
And I’ve heard of Your troubles. I’ve heard you’re unhappy. 
But I can fix that, I’m the Fix-It-Up Chappie. 

I’ve come here to help you.
I have what you need.
And my prices are low. And I work with great speed.
And my work is one hundred per cent guaranteed!”

Then, quickly, Sylvester McMonkey McBean
Put together a very peculiar machine.
And he said, “You want stars like a Star-Belly Sneetch?
My friends, you can have them for three dollars each!”

“Just pay me your money and hop right aboard!”
So they clambered inside. Then the big machine roared.
And it klonked. And it bonked. And it jerked. And it berked.
And it bopped them about. But the thing really worked!
When the Plain-Belly Sneetches popped out, they had stars!
They actually did. They had stars upon thars!

As the title goes, this is Toddlers and Test Tubes. So I may pull my materials from the world around me. This is a quote from one of Toddler T's favorite books, "The Sneetches" by Dr. Suess. We just read it tonight. As I type, he is currently as snug as a bug in a rug and Mr. T has headed out to a work Christmas Party. 

This story is meant to teach tolerance. Lately, it reminds me of the IVF process and my doctor,  Dr. Millionpicturesonthewall. 

Why, does this remind me of Dr. M? 

Because he is smooth. He is cocky very confidant. He really does have a million pictures and articles on his wall proclaiming that he is practically the Messiah of Reproductive Endocrinology.  Oh, and he told Mr. T that he has 'super-sperm' and me, that I'd be a "Slam-dunk".  He spoke confidantly of smooth process, embryo transfer mid-December and happy closure by Christmas. He stressed that my issues were tubal not hormonal and since IVF would bypass those pesky tubes, I'd be set.  He may just bill himself as the real-life 'Fix-it-Up Chappie."

Now, for the comparisons to  the process of IVF. IVF, in my experience and opinion is like a very peculiar machine. Where I found myself clambering inside, paying our money (I wish it was $3 each) and getting klonked, bonked, jerked and berked only to be popped outside on the other end. Except we aren't trying to pop out with Stars Upon Ours.. but rather a pregnancy.  I was so (and still am) willing to get in Sylvester McMonkey McBeans's machine because it holds the promise of what I want.  

Before I go too far with my posts and leave the majority of you all thinking that I am seeing this doctor against my will, let me clarify. I realize that my descriptions of him are less than becoming. I refer to him as Dr. Specialist, Dr. Millionpicturesonthewall or Dr. M for short. That is my emotional reaction to him.  Not my intellectual one. You see, I do not worship doctors. I have had the privilege of working beside some really, really smart ones. I respect doctors and see them as individuals who had the intelligence and tenacity to complete their training. I believe they should get the same respect as every other person on their team, from the receptionist, to the tech, to the embryologist to the housekeeper.  So when Dr. M patted me on the back with a bright smile and said that this would be fine... I was skeptical. I thought he was seeing us as a way to bolster his clinic success rates.  I did not care for the broad-brush statements, when so many doctors before him had been proven wrong. But you see, those were my emotions. My thoughts were clear. This man is brilliant and I'm not asking for him to be my tennis partner ( not that I play, but you get the comparison). I am asking him to help use have a safe and successful pregnancy. And judging by his education and proven track record, I think I've picked the right guy. 

It was this support of his intellect that proved to be incredibly challenging when we had our consultation following the cancellation of my IVF cycle. (Trying to keep my time line straight, go here.).  Going into the cycle, I knew my AMH was low and yet I went through 3 weeks of needles, several monitoring appointments and a boat load of money to be cancelled. CANCELLED, due to poor response. That consult was last week and it still stings. We will try to complete our IVF cycle in January. The meds will be stronger and the anxiety will be higher. It's like we are going into a bidding war over buying a house and our realtor has just told us to come back with our best and final offer. 

If that attempt fails, the following consult will definitely include the words, egg donation and or adoption. While there is nothing wrong with these two words. I keep feeling blindsided.

In-Vitro Fertilization and The Emotions

IVF, Test-Tube Babies, Octomom and Kate + 8.

These words and personas are such a part of our culture. Because of this, you think you understand what these moms must be going through. How they feel. The truth is, you can't. It's not because you don't want to. It's not because you are a cold-hearted person incapable of empathy. It's because you just can't.

(OK, honestly no one knows what the hell was going through Octomom's head or even Kate with that reverse mullet)

To be fair, I know what I am going through. I don't know what the girl, sitting in the next chair at the doctor's office, is going through. Even if we are both on the exact same 'cycle day' doing the exact same treatment. I don't know her pain and she doesn't know mine. IVF brings with it so many emotions like anger, sadness, frustration.  It also brings forward some really tricky ones like vulnerability, fragility and feelings of being powerless.  It will make you question everything you know about faith and religion. It doesn't matter what those beliefs are. When you trust that your body is capable in doing something and find out sort of the opposite your beliefs can go through the wringer.

With that said, I am not about to get on a soapbox about religion. Religion, your salary, your mortgage balance and what you wish for when you blow out your birthday candles are things better left unsaid. I will go so far as to say, I do believe in religion. I believe very strongly that people are put in your life to help you through low points.

Case in point, my good friend Wheezey. Clearly, not her real name. But one I heard her husband call her. She and I were social workers together and generally had a great time in each other's company. While I was living in the la-la land of being a newlywed. She was embarking on her journey with IVF. We parted ways and moved to different areas of the country. We kept each other updated on our lives through the occasional email or phone call. After ectopic #1. She was one of the first I called. She didn't understand exactly where I was, but she knew enough to speak kindly. Let it be noted that she has never once said, " Thank God, you have Toddler T. Imagine how much worse it would be if you didn't."

My path crossed Wheezey's because I was going to need her. And I do. It has been a breath of fresh air to hear someone tell it like it is, to normalize my emotions and fears and to tell me when it's time for a glass of wine.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How did I get here?

Well, if you've stumbled across my blog, you are here for a few reasons.

1. You made a mistake in your search.
2. You have a friend/sister/cousin/wife/partner dealing with infertility and aren't sure what to say.
3. You yourself are dealing with infertility or secondary infertility (as is my case).

In any event, welcome. Feel free to stay. Maybe you'll learn something. Maybe you'll laugh. Maybe you'll tear up. (I hope not, but you might).

Now, that's how you may have gotten here. How I ended up in the murky waters of secondary infertility is not a simple 1, 2 or 3.

When Toddler T was about 18 months old, Mr. T and I decided that it would be a good time to consider giving him a sibling. We attended our friends' wedding and figured we knew what the outcome would be.  Fast forward 3 months later and a positive pregnancy test. It was joyous, for about 12 hours and then something changed. A dark feeling came over me. I called the nurseline to schedule my 8 week appointment and to report that I was having trouble keeping my head out of the toilet bowl. She laughed, "Welcome to your second pregnancy, honey. I'll call in some Zofran."  The next two weeks were spent at the lab, giving vials of blood and on the Internet researching everything under the sun about miscarriage. I was spotting, I was not responding to the Zofran.  I was told "that things didn't look good","Sometimes, a pregnancy is just not meant to be." and the absolute best "We are practicing watchful waiting".

I refused to get attached to the pregnancy. I knew my beta levels weren't rising appropriately. I knew. I just did. Now would be a good time to mention that my mother is an ER nurse and a brilliant one. My mother in law is a midwife and my aunt is an ob/gyn. They knew. They knew something was up. They wondered why my doctor was not ordering an early ultrasound to confirm the location of the pregnancy. But they trusted my Dr/Patient relationship and let me make my own health care decisions. 

Well, that watchful waiting got me into the ER with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. Was I surprised? No. I knew all along something wasn't right. Did I know that I was going to pass out mid- ultrasound in front of Mr. T? God no. Did I know that  a ruptured ectopic is life threatening? No, I did not. 

Always one to be a little over the top. This story does not end with emergency surgery, a removed right tube and a pat on the back. No, 4 hours after discharge I was back in the ER needing a blood transfusion. I owe that trip to the diligent watch of my mom. She was already reeling from the past 24 hours and was on high alert as my mom/nurse. I was so furious, I tried to refuse to go the hospital. She took one look at me basically told me I didn't have a choice. 

I took a week off of work, collected myself. Returned to work, gave my notice and began my new life as stay at home mom to Toddler T.  I followed up with my doctor and got the all clear to commence with adding to our family. I was reassured that the ectopic was a fluke and was pleasantly surprised to feel like a normal pregnant girl in just a few months. I was feeling so appropriately nauseous that at my viability ultrasound, I began joking with the tech. Telling her that by this time with the last one, I was already a passed out. Did I speak too quickly?  Yes, Yes, I did.

The tech said "Have you gotten bloodwork done?" and "Have you had any spotting?" And once again, I knew. Just knew. Holy Hell.. something isn't right.  Off to the ER again. Beta was 9000, nothing could be seen on ultrasound.  A doctor from my group came to my beside and told me that she was 99% I miscarried and that a D&C was the way to go. Then I got a migraine. Then I got dilaudid and didn't really care what happened next. 

So, off to surgery I go. Guess what, the pregnancy was NOT where it should be. I hear the words ectopic again. I am crushed. The next doctor admits me to the hospital with the working theory that the ectopic pregnancy is in the stump of my right tube. She was 99% sure it wasn't in my left. (the only one remaining). I was not allowed to leave the hospital. Did I mention there was a hurricane blowing into town. So, off to the 2nd surgery in 24 hours.  Imagine Mr. T's surprise when the doctor leaves surgery to tell him that it was in my left tube and did he want her to save the tube or remove it. It should be noted that I am a former social worker. So, I talk things out a lot. Given my nature to talk, we had discussed such a scenario and agreed that the tube should be saved if possible. So, that's what was done. 

I awoke from surgery, groggy and with a picture of my Fallopian tube being held inches from my face. All I heard was the word "left". And once again, I knew. Baby # 2 was going to a bigger challenge than I ever thought. 

Does the story end here? No, remember, I have been known to be dramatic.  We leave the hospital and pack up for the family trip to the beach. I get a call. It's my doctor. She is calling personally. Lab results aren't good. Need to come home for a shot of methotrexate. My body is still showing signs of pregnancy. Mr. T and I say goodbye to Toddler T. ( We were with my parents) and head to the specialist. The reproductive endocrinologist. (RE for those in the know).  He is tan. He is cocky. He is obviously brilliant, given the number of framed pictures of himself on his wall. He tells me I'll be fine. And in comes the nurse with a large shot of a chemo drug and a list of recommendations to avoid alcohol, leafy greens and sun.  I guess she didn't realize I was in the middle of my vacation. I could ditch the salads, but the sun and the alcohol. Awesome.

Now, one would think that after two surgeries, one shot of methotrexate and a few (a lot) of tears. I would be able to move on. I asked my Dr. how I should go about creating baby # 2. She said "If you try it alone... pray. Otherwise, its time to start looking into IVF"

And here I am.