Posts Tagged ‘Choices’

Petri Dish Pregnant-ish?

PetriDishI remember after I’d gotten married, how many of us who were over the hurdle of wedding planning would jump into ANY conversation we overheard from other people who were planning their own.  We’d found our way through battles of chicken or fish, and we’d managed to find a safe seating chart where our divorced aunts and uncles weren’t forced to sit within each other’s eyeline.  We were vets basically, and could solve whatever little issue the newly fianceed would possibly face. (whether they wanted our advice or not)

Infertility feels like it should fit in that vein, but it is not one of those situations for me.

I don’t believe, outside of just continuing to encourage people, that I’ll feel like much of an expert after this.  It has moved so fast and so…seamlessly, that it freaks me out a bit.  Like I’ve said before, I’m so used to this NOT moving smoothly, that the idea that it has, is uncomfortable for me to say the least.  Every phone call, I’ve expected or at least prepared myself for bad or disappointing news.  Every visit, I’ve been expecting my blood pressure to be high, or my uterus to have decided suddenly that she’s had enough and would like a divorce.  Every time, they say, “Nope, everything looks great!” or they give me instructions for the next step.

I’m constantly wondering why then, if this is all so simple now, was it so horribly NOT simple before.  The only answer I can surmise is that it’s simple now, because now is the time.

So Thursday was our egg retrieval.  To prepare for that procedure, you have to take what is called an HCG Trigger shot about 36 hours before.  So remember when I said I had to take Ganirelix, the medicine that tells your ovaries to tighten their grip on those eggs?  Well, the HCG shot is what tells them, “It’s cool now, I got it, go ahead and let em go.”

The problem with the trigger shot?  It has to be taken at PRECISELY the time they tell you. And of course, on the day I receive mine, I’m scheduled to work until closing.  Because of course.

In a sheer stroke of ingenuity and spinning plates, I found myself asking someone to man my desk at work for ten minutes while I ran out to my car, had my husband drive us around to a side-street off the path and give me a shot from the front seat of the car while I sat in the back.  I am absolutely CERTAIN that anyone who just happened to have the misfortune of laying eyes on our ridiculous ordeal believed wholeheartedly that their friendly, neighborhood librarian was on the side of the alley shooting heroine.  I’m convinced there are rumors.  I’m certain I don’t care.

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The next day, nothing really felt much different, and I was convinced that we’d done it wrong and the whole cycle would be cancelled.  Because that’s how my brain deals with things not being chaotic.  My husband rolled his eyes at me, and proceeded to plan for the retrieval as though I was speaking gibberish.  He’s smart like that.

Thursday morning, we flew down the highway to office, and things moved really fast from there.  A really nice anesthesiologist gave me some really nice happy juice through an IV, and a really nice nurse came in to talk me through everything that was about to happen.  My doctor sat with me for a sec just to explain why the timeline had moved when it did.  My body, as predicted, had gotten seriously excited about the meds and was very close to hyperstimulating.  For my safety, and to save the cycle, it was best to move now.

Egg Retrieval Day

The face of someone who could use a nap, and is waiting for the IV to provide one.

So what is involved in egg retrieval?

The procedure involves using a needle to extract the eggs directly from the follicles.  Yes, ANOTHER needle.  Hence, the need for light anesthesia.  You aren’t completely asleep, or at least I wasn’t, but you’re out of it enough to not freak out about that.  Overall, I think most of mine was spent yammering on about whatever came to my brain. Nervous tick.

On the way out of the room, and back to recovery, my doc stopped my chair and showed me the lab techs already at work cleaning and counting the eggs.  I told her, “You do realize the blogger in me wants to take a picture of this whole situation, right?”  She said, “I know,…but no.” LOL

Back in recovery, or just across the hall, I was finally allowed to have something to eat and drink.  The most delicious saltine crackers and apple juice I may ever have, to be exact.  And then, I was allowed to just chill for a bit and get my bearings while the nurse came in to talk to me about what was going to happen next. Basically, once those eggs are extracted from the follicles, the follicles tend to fill back up with liquid.  This is what causes much of the discomfort people feel after retrieval.

While I don’t really make much of a fuss about discomfort or even pain sometimes, I have to admit that it isn’t the most comfortable of feelings to basically have saddlebags inside of your hips filling with fluid. And that’s generally what’s going on in there, I’ve decided.  Also, I’d suggest getting your hair done sometime before this.  You feel really yucky and hideous, but if you can look in the mirror and say, “Oh, but no, my hair is laid.”, it helps. I promise.

Once the techs have counted and cleaned the eggs, they immediately collect the sperm as well so as to move forward with fertilization.  It still amazes me, that people get pregnant unexpectedly, when I look at all of this really intense biological precision.

Anywhoo, our final egg count at the end of the day….TWENTY.  The average?  Eight.

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Come on, overachieving ovaries!

Now, after retrieval, most people are highly uncomfortable.  You should really go home and lie down if possible.  So of course I instead went to the Goodwill for a few minutes, and then went to look at an apartment that we’re interested in.  Because I’m hardheaded.

Fast forward to the next morning.

Do you ever get annoyed at your phone ringing because it isn’t who you’re expecting to call? That was my Friday.  It just kept on ringing, and none of the numbers belonged to my doctor OR her office.  I told you, I tend to expect the worst, (I’m working on it), so I was curious about whether any had fertilized at all, let alone if anything had gone wrong overnight.

Finally, a little after 2, my phone rang with the right numbers.

Call #1, was the lab, to process payment on that embryo storage fee.  They’re serious about that. Thank you to EVERYONE who has bought a shirt from our shop, or attended our fun-raisers. You helped pay them!

But call #2, was finally my doctor, to let me know how things were looking.

In the follow-up call, we talked a bit about just what has been the problem all these years, and it was explained in what I have to say is the best way I’ve ever had it explained.  Looking at the full picture now, she was able to see CLEARLY what had been our issues.

Basically, my PCOS and Hypothyroid have been BFF’s for years.  Together, they decided that they ain’t have no time for no stupid ovulation.  Add to that a pair of blocked tubes and what you have is great eggs, that have been all dressed up with nowhere to go, for decades. Then, on my husband’s side, you have diabetes and a childhood hernia surgery that made breaking through all my barriers basically impossible.  IVF was and is the only route to getting around our unique and numerous hurdles.  Through ICSI (Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection), the magicians of the lab were able to further get around the foolishness of our bodies by taking one individual sperm and implanting it directly into one individual egg.

So,  what’s the final count?

Of the 20 eggs collected, only about 13 of them were mature.  This is fine.  Again, remember the average is eight.  Of that 13, one presented with an extra set of DNA and was therefore abnormal.  Also fine and common.  Of those 12 left, NINE fertilized and were growing as of the next day.  She said, “everything looks PERFECT. IVF was the only way we were going to get around this stuff and it worked.”

So, those nine are being housed in what is called a MINC Incubator. Now, according to the manufacturer of the incubator’s website, (Yes, I looked it up, because I am a librarian and a thug), the MINC is described as such: “the MINC holds a constant temperature, provides rapid pH recovery and helps the embryo maintain homeostasis to reduce embryonic stress.” All of that to say, this thing is a pretty big deal and the BEST possible place for them to be.

In traditional IVF, this is where my doctor would let us know if she wanted to let them grow for 3 days or 5, and when the transfer would be.  However, a TON of research has suggested that a better route is to get to day 3 or 5 and then freeze the embryos.  Freezing them, allows for the woman’s body to take a little time to decompress from all those medications and stresses of the stim phase.  It will allow for my ovaries to calm down, and my body to get back to pre-meds status.  As my nurse described it, “it took two weeks to get up, now you take two weeks to get yourself back down”.  After that time has passed, then we’ll move to the transfer. (and then wait another painfully slow two weeks to see if any of this worked).

So we’re giving those little guys a five day, all expenses paid (by the sheer grace of God), vacation in the MINC.  On Tuesday, we’ll find out how many of the 9 have continued to grow and will be frozen.  Also on Tuesday, we’ll decide a transfer date.

And that, my friends, is how you work around a lazy Stork and get pregnant in 9 petri-dishes…kinda.

Next up…seeing if any of this works.

The Adoption Option: My Visit To The Cradle

Recently, I was invited to visit The Cradle’s “Gale and Ardythe Sayers Center for African American adoption”, on behalf of The Egg.  I had a really great time not only learning about the history of this great resource, but also just having a good “you get it” convo with Nijole (pronounced ni-lay), the organization’s Director of Resource and Community Development.

Cradle 1On a chilly Sunday afternoon, I met with my sorority sisters for lunch in Evanston and then headed over just in time to meet with Nijole at The Cradle’s headquarters.  She and her son Harrison, a proud “Cradle Baby”, met me with huge smiles, open arms, and an adorable puppet, in the parking lot.  Stopping in to take off our winter coats, one of the first things I saw was a Chicago Bears jersey of former player Gale Sayers, for whom the African American adoption center is named for.  IMAG4096

Throughout the main floor were walls and walls of photographs of children who’ve been placed through The Cradle.  There are photos just about everywhere, that make it very clear just how many lives have been changed here.  Along a south wall, was a photo of a woman with a warm smirk, and an adorable hat.  Nijole introduced her as Florence Walrath, founder of The Cradle. IMAG4098

The Cradle, was founded by Evanston, Illinois resident Florence Walrath in 1923.  Having a sister who’d experienced infertility, Florence’s chance encounter with a doctor who knew of a young woman who was pregnant with no hope, led to Florence uniting the two women. That one match led to 91 years of building families!

I was inspired by the story of Florence Walrath.  At the time she began her mission to find families for children, adoption was highly stigmatized.  Because of the stigma, it was also a very quiet and secretive endeavor.  One can imagine how much harder it had to be to face infertility during those days, and how heightened the guilt, shame and embarrassment must have been.  To provide this service for so many families, was a true mission.

Not only did she work to unite families, but eventually also to bring some dignity to the process, for all involved.  Her work in The Cradle also helped to address the high infant mortality rates that were of the time period.  I’d encourage anyone to learn more about this amazing woman!

Continuing our tour, I visited The Cradle Museum, a room with original images and materials from the organization’s history.

I also visited the “Living room”, where the staff says their goodbyes to new families going home.  Photo albums in The Cradle "Living Room".Last on the main floor, I visited the room where many birth-parents have their introduction meetings with potential adoptive parents.  IMAG4094

While standing in this room, a lot of thoughts flooded my head, and Nijole actually blessed me with the story of how she and her husband felt on the day they met their son’s birthmother in this very space.  What a hard conversation.  What a hard decision.

The more we talked, the more I felt that it is special people who are called to adoption. People who can accept the move past their original wants and desires, to accept that the primary goal is now to provide family for a child, and not to fill a void.  The mourning process, for those of us who have dealt with infertility, and the act of letting go of the things you thought would be, is heart-wrenching.  But also beautiful.

I applaud The Cradle for offering support and encouragement to those people.

IMAG4099Last on the tour, was a trip to visit the nursery.  The Cradle is the only adoption agency in the country with a 24 hour nursery to house infants who are in need of temporary care. Volunteers come in to provide contact and love for the infants, while nursing staff is also on hand.  Detailed notes are taken while infants are in their care, to monitor eating habits, personalities, and any other information that their parents may need when they head home.

 

Returning to Nijole’s office, we talked a bit more about what the Sayer’s Center program means for African American adoption.  At half the cost, the Sayer’s program seeks to make adoption more accessible, in the hopes of removing a barrier that could be behind the lack of potential African American adoptive parents.

More than anything, our conversation at its heart, was still just one of the warm and comfortable ones I’ve come to expect when speaking to someone else who has dealt with infertility.  Our wants are similar.  We both want to make people aware.  Aware of the resources available to them, and aware of how to empower themselves with the knowledge to change the conversation around family building. No one’s journey has to be identical to anyone else’s, but rather it’s the right of each of us to find the path that best suits us.

While adoption isn’t at the forefront of my husband and I’s journey right now, I have to admit to feeling sincerely grateful that there were other individuals like me, who were willing to be my support if it did become our next step.

The Cradle is not the only adoption agency.  Their way of doing things is not the only way. Their program is, I’m sure, not solely unique. And adoption is not the path for everyone. However, I thought it was important to share this experience, and tell someone who needs to hear it, that adoption is a viable option for some of us, and it is not as out of reach as one may think.

Thank you Nijole for the tour, and for just being a warm fellow advocate in this fight.

 

It’s So Loud Inside My Head

Loud copy

So, we’re stiiiiiiill waiting.

Since learning about our male factor issues, we’ve kind of been on hold.  The preliminary moves in the urology department have basically just included a repeat of all the tests that were required from the original visits to the fertility center.  The fertility center can’t move forward until we have clear answers from urology on the issues they determine, and the urologist can’t move forward until our insurance approves everything.  There is a lot of back and forth, (and copays), between primary care doctors, specialists, and test centers.

And I’m annoyed.  For a few reasons.

An Ass Out of U & ME

I’m irked that we fell for the okey doke and relied soo heavily on the issues we knew I had, rather than looking into the male factor issues sooner.  The sheer intensity of my PCOS and thyroid complications led us all, (doctors included), to assume that it just had to be only me at the root of this crap.  I’m annoyed at myself for not “going wit my first mind”, and being thorough.

My Timeline is Askew

I’m irritated that there really is nothing I can do right now but wait.  Again.  I’m non-essential personnel at the urologist.  If I want to know what step we’re on, I have to pry the information out of the spouse’s one-word answers.  LOL  Not that he’s being a jerk about anything, but I’ve been the captain of this ship for oh, about six, seven years now…so to not know our itinerary, is eating me alive.  Like for real, can I at LEAST be in charge of the drinks on the lido deck or something?

No, Really. My Timeline is Jacked Up.

It’s March, people.  MARCH.  aka Third month of the year.  aka, even if I do get pregnant this year, I still might don’t have a kid until 2015.  So in my mind, it’s March, and I’ve lost yet another year.  Go me.  Cue the band.

It’s Exhausting.

It is extremely tiring to go to work every day, or do assignments, or just “be”, when you really want to wrap yourself up in a warm blanket, grab a trashy novel and a glass of wine, and just stop being an adult for like 45 minutes.  I’m kind of over adulthood lately.  It is NOT keeping up its end of the bargain.  Or at least not from what I saw when I was watching television and reading books as a young girl.  I mean, we should be living in a hip urban brownstone, working freelance jobs at swanky companies, hosting dinner parties, and on our second “accidental” pregnancy right now, right?  I mean, at least that’s what Thursday night lineups of years gone by said.  It’s literally exhausting trying to keep the thoughts of your real mind, from seeping out.  I don’t want people to know how much of my day is in this mental place, but should the opportunity to speak my truth come about in everyday conversation, I can’t really lie and say I’d know how to stop myself.

So as usual, I’ve just decided to stay busy, busy, busy. All this noise and thought running rampant in my head, has to come out sometime, and hopefully it may benefit you. Stay tuned for more info, including some very special events/blog posts for National Infertility Awareness Week 2014!

In the meantime, check out this month’s Sister2Sister Magazine for an article on Egg Freezing, The Egg has a brief mention.  Thank you Shahida Muhammad for thinking of me!

March 2014 Sister 2 Sister

 

Featured image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Review: Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

When I discovered that I was a shocking 33 books behind on my Goodreads goal for the year, I went into a frenzy of book selections.  I have three e-books on my phone and Ipad, six graphic novels on my desk, two young adult novels in my bag, a playaway digital book in my car, and two audiobooks on my phone.

Don’t judge me.

Anyway, one of the audiobooks, was Nia Vardalos’ “Instant Mom”.

Instant Mom

While parts ring so very uncomfortably true that they bring tears to my eyes, another part of me knows that I will have to buy this book. In print, so that I can highlight parts, and extract quotes. I will then have to buy an extra copy so that I can wrap it in a note and give it to someone as oxygen.

I needed this book right now. I needed her hope, and her sorrow, and her success. I needed to hear my reflection. I’ve been stuffing myself so far down into my own chest that I have literally forgotten my feelings at times. I’ve hidden them under anger or fear, or completely blacked them out. I’ve treated the experience of our failed adoption this year the way I treat all mistakes in my life: as they that must not be named.

Do you know how when you’re writing longhand and you make a mistake in pen you can just draw a line through it and keep going?

Yeah. I don’t. Because I could never deal with just that line.  I, and more importantly, any other human, would still be able to see my error… and that cannot be.  I have to completely eviscerate the word or sentence. Like, to the point where the paper thins out where I’ve drug the pen across so hard.

That, is how much I hate making mistakes. How much I hate feeling or looking stupid. How much I hate failing. And this stupid journey(both the infertility and adoption) feels all the time like an error I can’t correct, white out, or even strike through. And I haaaaaaaate it.

I want to be past it already. To be on the other side. To be in the success story and look at me now portion.  And no matter what I do, I just can’t seem to. And it hurts fresh every time I realize it. Like waking up in a new place everyday and being reminded that I’m there because my house burned down.

So when I listened to Nia explain this exact frustration as she journeys backwards through letdown after letdown, I felt both invigorated and instantly saddened. Because I got it. I got it in a way that no fan or family member who read it without walking this road could.  I got her, because she got me.

She explained quite vulnerably, how her naturally upbeat personality made her wish, just as I have for so long, to just put this all behind her.  She hates discussing infertility, and wanted to focus on being a mom, and finally being happy, but fate has a way of making us share our stories when they can help others.  Nia soon found that the best way for her to feel truly “past” it all, was to tell the story of her journey, and help other hurting people find their children also.

This book examined not only the pain of infertility itself, but the struggle of enduring baby showers, failed IVF cycles, the pitfalls of shady adoption “professionals”, and even “the after”.  The hero of this story, however, was hope.  No matter how many walls Nia and her husband Ian Gomez hit, they maintained their ability to love one another, and love their dreams enough not to let them go.

The Vardalos-Gomez family found their daughter through the foster adoption system.  I appreciated a celebrity speaking out on behalf of the kids who are in the foster care system and eligible for adoption.  Nia took care to speak against the stigma that both adoption and foster care receive.  She expressed that she respects everyone’s choices in how they plan to build their families, but that she encourages people to investigate all the options available.

This voice was so very valuable.  Nia holds nothing back,…well, there is that first 80% of the book where she holds back her daughter’s name,…but other than that, she was exceptionally honest and real.  Her humor, as anyone who has watched her movies is familiar with, was very present in every chapter and she also includes an appendix that is full of adoption resources.

Now, as a librarian, I usually advise you to grab books from your local library, but Nia donates proceeds from the sales of this book to adoption charities, so I’m okay with you buying this one.  🙂

Darn straight, Nia.

Ps: I recommend listening to the audiobook, because she reads it herself, and all the emotion is present in her voice.

 

Dear Dawn Robinson…

I haven’t done one of these in a while, perhaps because everyone has been pretty darn quiet on the infertility front celeb-wise.  But Dawn Robinson deserves a nod.

Dawn

A few years back, I had the displeasure of sitting in a radiology waiting room with a 40 year old black woman who was being tested for fibroids.  She had no idea what fibroids were.  She was scared and alone, with a look on her face that said clearly how terrified she was about the x-ray itself, but also these tumors her doctor carelessly told her she may have.  My heart broke for her, and for the countless others who had probably sat in the same seats, thinking those same terrifying thoughts.

So tonight, for Dawn to openly discuss her removed fibroids as well as the endometriosis she’d also been diagnosed with, was huge.  But let’s not just stick with that.  No.  Dawn has done so very much in the past few weeks of R&B Divas L.A., with just her honesty and vulnerability, that I don’t know that I could have asked for a better spokesperson. (more…)

BrokenBrownBelle: “The other side of my infertility” Part 4

Apologies for the delay, but even a year later, this post seems to be RIGHT on time.
The final installment of BrokenBrownBelle’s journey to her daughter, Buttercup. (more…)

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