MicroblogMondays: Turning 42

Microblog_Mondays

This is nothing new.  I make a wish for a baby on every single one of my birthday in the last few years.  Every single time the outcome is the same: another year has passed without a baby.  People often tell me that I am one step closer to our baby, but new challenges and unforeseen circumstances often make me feel like we are farther and farther away from achieving that.

I turned 42 yesterday.  I have never imagined myself not being a mother with a baby/child in my arms on my 42nd birthday.  This is my reality and I have accepted it.  Bob had planned a nice and low key day for me.  Church, massage, and a nice dinner.  When I was still at church, Dr. E emailed me with this information: our donor is available to donate to us until September 6th.  After that, she won’t be available anymore.  So there is a deadline for us to figure out the other part of the equation: the sperm.  We have an appointment with a urologist on Thursday.  We will figure out at that time if we could proceed with a cycle end of August.  I won’t go into details about the discussion with Bob at his request. But let me just say that depending on the results of the consultation on Thursday, we may have to delay our cycle until the end of the year because of certain treatment.  If that’s the case, then we won’t be able to work with this donor unless we want to freeze her eggs instead of fertilizing them right away.

It sucks that every single step we take is a roadblock.  First my eggs.  Then my uterus.  After that, the sperm. And now the donor’s availability has a deadline.

Despite getting discouraging news on my birthday, I am proud of us for being able to get over the disappointment of having one more thing to worry about.  I was determined to not let it get me down.  So our day went as planned: special lunch that my mother-in-law made for me and a relaxing massage followed by a stellar dinner.  Everything at dinner was perfect.  My time with Bob, our conversation, the attentive service of our server, the selection, the wine, the apple bacon beignet, the perfect pork chop, the steak, the mushrooms, the dark chocolate bread pudding, and the salted caramel ice cream in our dessert.

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There is no guarantee that I won’t go crazy and get very stressed and anxious about our situation tomorrow.  But right now, I feel blessed that we have the ability to enjoy each other’s company despite our less than desirable circumstances.

We still believe that God has a plan for us.  His plan is not always the easiest.  But we know that it is always the best.  I just want our head knowledge to align with our hearts’ response.  We are trying our best to be okay with the unknown.  And things could still turn out fine.  We could still have a baby in a year.

And we have each other.  That’s the most important thing.  And it is comforting to hold onto this truth on my 42nd birthday.

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The Big 4-0

I am a 40-year-old woman.

Wow.  Looking at the above statement.  I still can’t believe that it describes me.  I always thought that it was going to take a long time for me to get to forty.  The time has come.

In terms of fertility, I never imagined myself to be 40, not pregnant, and childless.  I always thought that I would have at least one child by now, and would be pregnant with number two (since we started trying when I was 37 1/2).  How naive were those thoughts.

I was more demanding this year when it came to my birthday.  I usually let Bob plan whatever he wants to do for me.  This year, as if wanting to compensate for what I don’t have, I requested a few things.  I didn’t want a party as I have never been a party person.  I wanted a massage, a particular place for dinner on my actual birthday, and flowers to be sent to my work.

Bob is usually very agreeable with what I want.  He booked the restaurant of my choice for my birthday.  He secretly enlisted the help of one of my best friends to find a good massage therapist.  He was also planning other festivities on Saturday, two days after my birthday.  He truly wanted to make my 40th birthday memorable for me.

Bob usually gives me flowers in person.  He gave me roses last year on my birthday, the day of our first IVF egg retrieval.  He is willing to buy me flowers but thinks that flower delivery is a big waste of money.  I had been nagging him about ordering flowers to be delivered to my work on my birthday.  He had been resistant.  But being me, I continued asking every other day.  I know it’s something that I should not be doing… but I did.  I don’t know.  I was just so anxious to want to make my birthday memorable this year that I started to be a bit unreasonable.  I was thinking, if he could make me happy by just clicking on a few websites and paying a little bit of money, why not?

The day before my birthday, Bob came home and asked me what website he should go on to get me flowers.  I was annoyed at his questions since I thought that he should have done his research and better yet, should’ve already ordered the flowers.  I told him a website and he was muttering something, making comments about how it was a waste of money.  I wasn’t happy about his attitude so I fought back.  One thing led to another.  We got into a huge fight about money.  That was the last thing I wanted to do right before my birthday.  I wanted everything to be “perfect”.  There is no such thing as perfect.  We reconciled by the end of the night and realized that the fight was more than just about flowers.

In my mind, I was not feeling good about turning 40 and being childless, so I wanted to make things nice and happy by requesting things I thought could make me happy.  I thought that my husband should just fulfill my wishes since I was a bit depressed about turning a big milestone.  In his mind, he had already planned an actual birthday dinner, another activity on Saturday, a massage, and a pricey dinner for Saturday.  Everything added up to quite a big amount of money.  He just started working again and we agreed that we have to save up a lot of money for donor egg cycles.  He thought that he had already planned enough for my birthday.  He couldn’t see why he couldn’t just buy me flowers and hand them to me rather than ordering a floral arrangements that would double the cost.  I thought he should indulge me.  He didn’t see the value of flower delivery to work when we have to save up so much money for future cycles.  You see the differences in our views?

My argument is that ordering me flower delivery is not going to prevent us from doing a donor egg cycle.  The amount of money is so insignificant in comparison to the tens of thousands of dollars that will come out of our pocket.  After all, we should not let infertility rob us of our joy in life right?  But Bob thought that it was an unnecessary waste.  We just think very differently in regards to flowers.  He was willing to do it, just not without making comments about it.  That made me mad.  He eventually did order the flowers and I ended up loving them.  But I didn’t feel nearly as happy as I thought I would, under these circumstances.

The fight was just not worth it.  But it did expose the stress and pressure that infertility has brought on in our marriage.  Imagine not having the burden of needing to save many tens of thousands of dollars in order to fund our donor egg cycles?  Imagine what we could actually do with that money?  We could replace our car.  We could pay off the house faster.  We could put more into our retirement account.  We could save up for our kids’ college now.  I know Bob is feeling the pressure.  He wants to provide for me.  He wants to fulfill my wishes of pursuing as many mini-IVF cycles as I want before we embark on the egg donation journey.  In his mind, spending money on floral delivery just does not make sense when we have such a huge goal to reach.

My birthday day.  With puffy eyes, I went into work and had a great birthday celebration.  A bouquet of flowers, a card, and a box filled with homemade blueberry scones were on my desk when I arrived at work.  An hour later, the same coworkers brought a birthday cake with four candles into my office so I got to make a wish.  At lunch time, my closest coworkers took me out to lunch and surprised me with a spa certificate.  We usually don’t give birthday presents to one another but I guess this year is the exception.

Here are the flowers from Bob:

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Bob and I had a wonderful dinner.  We had this:

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The crab was perfect.  The garlic noodles were yummy.  The mango salad had shrimp and scallop and this wonderful dressing.  The shrimp toast was nice.  I also had a pear martini.  That dinner was perfect.

The next morning, I went into work and was surprised by one of my best coworkers who put 40 post-it notes all over the four walls in my office.  This is one of the walls:

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These notes were filled with wisdom, humor, and historical facts about my birth date.  Things like, “It’s not old if you’re a tree” and “7/10/1913 Highest temperature recorded in USA Death Valley 134 degrees! Pass the iced coffee”.  I had a busy morning so I finally read all the notes by lunch time.  She is crazy and I feel very loved.

Friday night was my birthday dinner with my brother and sister-in-law.  We had German food.  I had the best beef stroganoff ever:

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Saturday was a big celebration.  Bob did a great job.  We first visited the zoo.  We live like five minutes away from the zoo but had never visited it together.  I got to see giraffes, my favorite animal, and some very cute gorillas.  I also bumped into my ex-boyfriend’s mom who volunteers there.  Bob and I had so much fun walking around seeing every single animal.

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I hope that this stork would help bring me a baby:

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The zoo was also filled with pregnant women who were apparently carrying their number two, number three, or number four.  They walked around pushing strollers or holding their kids’ hands.  I was okay with them though.  I didn’t feel like I had to hide from or avoid them.

The massage in the afternoon was heavenly.  It was 90 minutes of bliss, thanks to my husband for arranging for such a long massage.  The spa was tranquil and calm, and smelled very good.  Bob waited for me for the whole 90 minutes out in the waiting area.

Finally, he surprised me with this meal. He told me the location but I thought it was another restaurant.  When he walked me over to the restaurant and I saw the sign, I was very surprised.  It was a French bistro for which we had to cancel our reservation a few years ago.  I had always wanted to try it but never had a chance.  I was pleasantly surprised that he remembered I wanted to try it.   The ambience was lively, the service was great, and the food was excellent.  I didn’t know it at the time but one of the owners actually served us throughout the dinner.  I ordered the chef menu that included filet mignon with bone marrow.  She told me that the bone marrow was not available for this menu but was available for the prime rib meal.  I didn’t want prime rib so I was okay with not having the bone marrow, although it was disappointing.  The server lady actually asked for the bone marrow and included it for me in my plate!  That was so nice of her.  Here are the pictures:

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This fish just melted in my mouth.

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The beauty of the bone marrow with the filet mignon:

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My lava cake.  I made a wish that I will be holding my baby on my birthday next year.

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That was such a memorable birthday celebration.  Whatever fight we had the previous week, this had made up for it all.

Finally, one of my best friend took me out to lunch and we had dessert before the main course, french toast bread pudding and sticky bun.

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My husband placed a birthday card on my side of the bed on Sunday.  I opened it and started tearing up.  The card says “Wishing you a year that soars with possibilities”.  He wrote: “Possibilities is one word that I want you to keep in mind as you start a ‘new’ year.  Looking forward to walking with you as we encounter new possibilities.”

Yes.  The possibilities are endless.  I really look forward to what possibilities my year 40 may bring.

Tearful

I have been feeling tearful today.  The trigger?  My last phone consultation with an RE.

I had scheduled this phone consultation a month ago.  It was scheduled for July 8th at 1:45pm.  In anticipation of it, I called the 2pm client’s mom and scheduled them for 2:15pm.

Yesterday I scheduled an phone conversation with the precycle coordinator at UCSF to go over the checklist of things that I need to get done.  It was to take place  today at 10am.  I figured that I could do one phone call in the morning and one phone call in the afternoon.  No problem.

A little later in the afternoon, I stared at the appointment reminder email for the phone consultation and realized that the time of the phone call was supposed to be 1:45 pm, but EASTERN TIME.  The RE is in New York so of course the phone call is 1:45 pm his time, which translated to 10:45 am my time.  DUH.

Good thing I caught this mental mistake the day before the appointment.  I was confident that I could finish the UCSF phone call by the time I call the New York RE.

Fast forward to today.  The phone call with UCSF was 40 minutes.  My head was spinning writing down all the previous lab work and procedure that I have to check and all the new lab work that will be ordered.  When the phone call ended, I quickly went and got ready for my 11am client.  At 10:45 am, I called the clinic of the New York RE.

Very nice guy on the phone.  Very obviously did not read my history that I took a lot of time to fill out.  He asked me a few pertinent questions.  Then his conclusion:

1) There are usually three causes of high FSH: familial, autoimmune problems, and endometriosis.  It looks like mine could be endometriosis (a small patch of endometriosis was removed during my surgery to remove fibroids back in 2011).

2) He suggests doing an immune testing panel with him, which will cost $3000.

3) He suggests doing laparoscopy to remove all the endometriosis that exists inside me.  Usually he will have to accurately diagnose it.  But since endometriosis has already been discovered in my system, we can skip that part.  He predicts that since the surgery was three years ago, the endo may have worsened at this point.  He recommended going to a doctor that specializes in stripping away the endometriosis rather than just lasering it away.

4) I should go see him for a workup and he can talk about the next steps.  He can work with local doctors if we decide not to do IVF again.  If we do IVF, we have to do it there.  He thinks that for my age, I should continue to pursue IVF because I don’t have a lot of time to waste.

5) He thinks that my high FSH, poor responses to stimulation, and egg quality all have to do with endometriosis.  After treatment, my response should be better.

All this information was gathered in a 10-minute phone conversation.

I was feeling very overwhelmed.  This is a brand new suggestion.  I have asked Dr. E, my previous RE, and Dr. No Nonsense about the cause of my high FSH.  They both said that it is difficult to know the cause.  I asked Dr. E if it could be because of immune issues, and she said that it could well be, but there is no treatment for it.  Dr. Y from Southern California is the only doctor who has ever said that my endometriosis is a factor in my response to stimulation.  However, he never suggested a surgery to remove it.

My head felt overstuffed with ten thousand pieces of information.  Where do I go?  Do I do a surgery?  Do I just go with the local doctor and try a few more cycles?  Do I try to remove the endometriosis to see if my response is better?  Am I not trying my best if I don’t do what this doctor suggested?  Am I not giving it my all if I don’t go the difficult route of traveling out of town for treatment?

I am going to turn 40 in two days.  A year ago, we started our first IVF cycle and had the retrieval on my birthday.  I played in my mind many scenarios last year.  Will I be pregnant in a year?  Will we already have a baby by then?  What will the next year bring?  Will my 40th be a happy occasion, celebrating with a new baby or one growing inside me?  Or will it be the same as last year, only a little grimmer, a little less hopeful, a little more fear-filled?

I am usually pretty good at being hopeful.  But today, I allow this fear to set in.  In a year, will I be still in the same situation?  At a crossroad?  No baby?  No pregnancy?  No clue what to do?

I know it’s hard to predict what is going to happen around the corner.  But when we first embarked on this journey, I really didn’t anticipate myself in this situation: 40 years old.  No baby.  No pregnancy.  I never thought that I will still be childless at this point.

I have been holding back tears all afternoon long.  I had kids I had to work with.  I had coworkers around me and I couldn’t show this weakness on my face.  Deep down I feel like hiding under the cover and having a good cry.  But I had to put on a happy front for my clients.

This huge sense of unfairness came upon me today.  Why in the world do some of us have to make such difficult decisions all the time?  Why can’t we have a break?  Why do we have to wait so long and have to do so much just to have a baby?  Why do some people have it so easily?

Of course there will not be an answer to any of my questions.  They are rhetorical.  But I have to ask them anyways.

In order to make myself feel better, I made a detour on my way home and got this:

hot chocolate

 

It is making me feel a little better.  We’ll see how I do on my actual birthday.  I may just break down and cry like a baby.  Stay tuned.

The best case scenario so far

Although my hubby has to hide his thumb when he does his high fives.

We got four eggs! 

To me, this is a very good outcome.  We arrived at the clinic 15 minutes earlier than our designated time and did our paperwork.  I changed into a gown, put socks on, got my IV going, and walked into the operating room.  I have no recollection of what happened and boomed, I woke up a little loopy.  Hubby had already made a contribution in a very comfy and well-equipped room (wink wink).  So we’ll see how my eggies do.  Will learn more tomorrow.  I have been feeling very good.  No soreness and am feeling back to normal.  Best of all, Dr. E approved of our plan of Japanese dinner! Bob made a reservation and I have no clue where we’re going.  I can’t wait to have me some sushi and sashimi tonight!  I rarely take time off for my birthday so having Bob here with me at home is a great present.  Thanks all for your good thoughts and prayers!  I feel very loved today.  🙂

Thank you Lord.

 

When the stars align

Egg retrieval does happen on one’s birthday!  On the day I turn 39, Bob and I will find out the fate of our follicles.  I have been eerily calm.  Not being too hopeful could be a defense mechanism to protect myself from major disappointment.    Although when tomorrow rolls around, I may not be as zen as I think I am.  We shall see.  Yesterday we did the mother of all injections: mixing Menopur, Omnitrope, Ganirelix, and HCG into the same vial for the trigger shot.  Tomorrow morning, we have to arrive at the clinic 45 minutes before the procedure that will take place at 8:15am.  I am grateful for getting this far and getting to retrieval.  I am grateful for my responses so far to the protocol.  I hope and pray that this trend continues.  Any good thoughts, prayers, and good vibes would be greatly appreciated!