Remember how I bumped into a lady that I met on an online forum at the clinic a little while ago? We finally met up for real and had a very good time chatting over ramen on Friday. We exchanged notes on where we were at during our cycle, and shared a lot about our history. Her fertility journey is shorter than mine as she’s been trying for a bit over a year. She went off the pills at 38 and had the foresight to check her hormonal levels before she even started trying to conceive. Her FSH was elevated, and she has done three IUIs. She’s currently pursuing her first IVF cycle at my clinic before she turns 40 in a month but things aren’t going as smoothly as she has hoped. At one point during dinner, she expressed how things are getting so tough, that she questions why she has to go down this path, and that she gets jealous at her fertile friends. She started tearing up and continued to talk while wiping her tears away. Looking at her, my heart was full of compassion. I reached out my hand and held hers. I saw my 38-year-old self in her and could totally identify with her feelings. How many times can you actually look into someone’s eye and say “I know how you feel; I know exactly what you are going through”? Her current experience reminds me of my own sadness, jealousy, doubt, suffering, pains, sense of a loss of justice, fear, worry, loneliness, disappointment, impatience, and confusion the first year and a half of my fertility journey. I really do know exactly how she’s feeling. I can’t guarantee anything, but I am a good example that many of those feelings can and will pass. I am in a much better emotional place right now than two to three years ago. I know that she wants to try with her own eggs and it’s very hard for her to think about donor eggs. I just shared with her my own thoughts. I went from only trying naturally, to IVF, to many rounds of IVF and not considering donor eggs, to seriously considering donor eggs, in a matter of two years. As these invisible hands push us through our path, I see it more and more clearly what I desire and come to a place of determination to resolve this infertility debacle by trying third-party reproduction. This all takes time. I of course do not wish that she’ll come to this fork in the road in her pursuit of a baby. And if she ever gets to that point, she may well come to a conclusion that living child-free would be the path for her. It’s a very personal decision and it’s okay to make it whichever way that suits her and her partner. But I hope that my experience and my current emotional wellbeing will help her see that there is light at the end of the tunnel, although my circumstances are still the same as three years ago. I am glad I can offer support to her, letting her know that I’ve been there, and there are good days amidst those bad ones. Being able to help someone in a similar situation makes it a bit less painful to be on this journey. That’s one of the purposes of having a community, right?
Since I have a lot of vacation time, I am taking this whole Thanksgiving week off. I feel that I am busier than when I go to work. It’s a good kind of busy though. Let me tell you what I did.
Yesterday was a fun day. It started out with my scan early in the morning. We again got there late (wink wink Mr. Bob) for our 8:15 appointment. And the nurse didn’t call me in until after 9. I wasn’t very nervous about the delay because I was off from work, although poor Bob actually had to start heading back to work. I was expecting the usual nurse practitioner but in walked Dr. No Nonsense to the exam room. I was so surprised because out of the ten plus times that we had done monitoring ultrasound, I had not seen Dr. No Nonsense. It was good to see him, although he didn’t do the ultrasound himself. The nurse measured my lining which was 7.7mm. Hmm… a bit thinner than two days ago. And it wasn’t trilaminar. On the right side, she measured the smaller follicles first. The 13mmer had become 14mm. The bigger follicle was now at 18mm. Dr. NN said in a very cheerful voice, “Let’s trigger tonight and get that one egg!” I am sure he’s saying one egg to cover his behind. I know we’re all secretly hoping for two eggs. He also said, “See you at retrieval”. Wow, I get my own RE to do my retrieval this time? Maybe this is a lucky cycle. So I stayed behind to wait for one of the nurses to go over trigger instruction with me while Bob left to go to work. It’s interesting how every single time I am presented with the pre-anesthesia questionnaire even though I have already told them multiple times that I won’t be using anesthesia. Every time I have to explain to a new nurse why I don’t need to fill it out. I was instructed that I’d get a phone call between three and six for the exact time of retrieval. I confirmed that it is indeed going to be Dr. NN who will do my retrieval. I inquired about Ganir.elix since I was worried that I’d ovulate prematurely. The nurse explained that with this protocol they don’t usually do Ganir.elix even though I had used them in the last two cycles. Since this cycle I wasn’t using any drugs at all, I wouldn’t be using my Ganir.elix. She said she’d confirm with Dr. NN.
After that, I walked into Starbu.cks to get a nice hot drink for myself. The sun was shining outside and I was feeling good about being on vacation. I ordered myself a chestnut and praline latte, which was actually quite tasty. I was excited because I was going to head over to the other side of the bay for an important date. What’s better than spending the first day of your staycation with the one and only lovely Jane Allen? Her office is five minutes away from my chiropractor. So I suggested having lunch with her before my appointment. Jane looked wonderful. Our Japanese meal was excellent. The conversation was great. The lunch hour went by very quickly. Thanks so much for meeting with me and for treating!
My chiropractic visit was as good as usual. My 78-year-old practitioner asked about our fertility treatment and then expressed his dissatisfaction about his six children because none of them have any kids. I guess it is tough to be have no grandchildren when you have so many kids yourself.
After the chiro visit, I drove locally to visit with my friend who just had triplets. Remember the one who got pregnant with triplets after having multiple early losses? I walked into her house and she was nursing one of the triplets in the living room. I chatted with her there while she nursed. Then we went into the family room where the other two babies were sleeping on the couch. She has to hire full-time help because there is no way for her to take care of all three babies while her husband goes to work. Since it was 45 minutes before the babies’ meal time, my friend and I had the time to chat for a little bit. She is exhausted. She gets at most three hours of sleep. Her husband has to get up early in the morning to leave at around 6am for work, but he doesn’t sleep well either. She nurses all of the babies and supplements them with formula. Imagine nursing three babies multiple times a day, plus pumping as well. I don’t know when she finds time to do anything else. I was holding the one who just nursed for about thirty minutes. He is the singleton. That’s why he’s the biggest and healthiest one. The twins are a bit smaller. One of the twins is barely six pounds. Considering that he was only 1.5 pounds when he was born at 29 weeks, I would say six pounds is pretty good. My friend also told me about the C-section, how the first two babies cried loudly but the third one was taken away from her to be rushed to the NICU without crying, how she needed two blood transfusions, and how she needed emergency surgeries due to her bowel displacement and hernia. We also discussed about having multiples and the whole issue regarding selective reduction. I didn’t know that but selective reduction wouldn’t be done until 16-week gestation and it would only be done to the identical twins because they were more high risk. My friend decided to keep all the babies. Although it is beyond hectic right now, she does not regret her decision. She kept on saying, It’s so worth it. Then our conversation got interrupted because the other two babies started waking up and crying. So everybody was busy changing diapers, feeding the babies, and making more formula. I can only imagine if she doesn’t have help. After this visit and having a glimpse of the crazy life of a mom with three babies, I really just want one healthy singleton pregnancy and one child at a time.
It was wonderful to be holding a little baby for thirty minutes though. 🙂 He smelled so good!
My confirmation phone call with the nurse informed me that the retrieval would be on Wednesday at 9am, and the trigger shot should be done at 11pm, 34 hours before retrieval. And yes. No Ganir.elix. Let’s hope that I won’t ovulate on my own……
Today was a great second day of my staycation. I met up with my high school best friend for coffee. He came to visit from Chicago. We sat at a coffee place in downtown for almost two hours, chatting about everything. I told him all the details about mini-IVF and the ups and downs of all the cycles. He actually understood what I was talking about. Then we talked about his life, his work, and his one and only daughter. I know that he and his wife have been trying for number two for the last couple of years. He’s not worried though. He and his wife haven’t really discussed the next steps, i.e. whether to go see a doctor or not. I feel like because he already has a child, he is not as anxious as I am to get pregnant. It was just very nice to get together with a long time friend. After we said good-bye, I walked to the entrance of Bob’s building and sent him a text. He was very pleasantly surprised to find me downstairs. I had never been to his office so I wanted to see. It was so nice to see his work place, meet his coworkers, and watch him do his twice-daily burpees before I left.
I love being in downtown because of the stores and all the shopping I can do. I had ordered a v-neck cashmere cardigan from this store that would arrive in the mail today. I wanted to go the physical store to try on a crew-neck one just to see. I was pleasantly surprised to find a promotion on those sweaters and got a $10 off. When I got home, I also found the box of sweater that had arrived. I will look like a Christmas tree as the sweaters are red and green. When I went to pick up my Val.ium for tomorrow, I went next door to shop for shoes. Bob had promised to buy me a pair of long boots for Christmas. And I found a pair! I remember having a $20 off coupon at home. So I placed the boots on hold and went back after dinner with Bob to buy them with the $20 off. Now my big box of boots is sitting on the living room floor where a Christmas tree will stand. I said to Bob, “We got a Christmas present before we have a Christmas tree!” to which Bob responded, “You bought a Christmas present before Thanksgiving!”
That’s very true. Happy staycation, happy Thanksgiving, and happy early Christmas!
Oh and happy retrieval tomorrow!
Friday was cycle day 17. We had our fourth scan for this cycle. The three follicles that were visible on cycle day 8 and cycle day 12 were no longer there. Instead, the nurse practitioner saw two antral follicles on the right side and not much on the left side. We discussed about whether my FSH for this cycle was too high, hence my body did not get the signal that my ovaries needed to take action. And the lining was not thick at all, which means that I will not have breakthrough bleeding any time soon. Basically, my body has not gotten the message that, hey let’s grow a follicle. It’s still waiting for that cue.
I wasn’t surprised at all, nor was I upset. I expected this to be the outcome. Anything can happen at this point. My body may eventually get the message that we need to start growing a follicle, or my body just wants to shed the lining and start all over. My NP and I discussed about the need to test my FSH. I used to test my FSH level every single cycle when I was with Dr. E. Ever since we switched to UCSF, the protocol doesn’t include testing of any of the hormones. So I will have to pay extra out of pocket if we test the FSH level. The NP would discuss with Dr. No Nonsense about the findings of my scan and let me know around lunch time.
It was so nice that Bob was there with me. About half way through the scan, he extended his hand so I could hold it for the rest of my scan. I love the silent support that he gave me during that time.
We arrived about ten minutes late as we should’ve left home at least five minutes earlier. Parking was challenging and took another five minutes. We checked in and just sat there for a long time while all the ladies in the waiting room got called in one by one. I was getting a little impatient of the wait. I was supposed to be seen at 8:15. We checked in at 8:25. I was still sitting there at 8:50. My 9am client was supposed to be waiting for me at work three blocks away from the clinic. Good thing I knew that my 9am client’s mom would be okay with me being a little late, but it was still tough for me to sit there and wait. I called my work and let them know that I would run a little late. It was at that moment when I saw a lady walk in the clinic. She was Chinese with long black hair. I saw her face and I recognized her. There was a lady that I met on an online forum who also cycles at UCSF. We emailed each other several times and we almost met up once. Her gmail messages included her little picture so I kind of knew what she looked like. I quickly looked her up online on my phone and showed her picture to Bob. Bob wasn’t really sure if it was her. So I watched her every move trying to figure out if this was really her. It seemed like she had bumped into someone at the clinic unexpectedly and was excitedly catching up. Then she checked in and sat down. At 8:55, I walked to the counter and asked the check-in lady if my scan would be coming up soon since I had to be at work in five minutes. The check-in lady consulted with the nurse and told me that I’d be seen in five minutes. I walked past the Chinese lady and gathered up enough courage to go up to her and asked if she was so and so. And she was! I am so glad that I had enough guts to go up to a complete stranger and say Hi. The worst that could happen would be that it wasn’t her. No biggie. But it was so much fun that it was her! We quickly exchanged notes on where we were in our cycles and what she was doing there. It was so nice to bump into her. That was when she got called in (even before I did!). Later I found that there was a chart mix-up as the nurses didn’t get my chart after I was checked in, so they didn’t know that I was sitting there waiting. Had they seen me at a normal time, I would never have bumped into this online friend. What a nice coincidence!
Anyhow, I was twenty minutes late for my first client of the day. But it was okay. When I got back to my office after my first therapy session, I saw that I had a missed call. It was my nurse who called to let me know that Dr. No Nonsense wanted to schedule a scan for me next Friday. I emailed her back and confirmed the time as well as to ask her about my conversation with the NP about checking my FSH. My nurse responded saying that Dr. NN didn’t want me to do the FSH. Just come in for a scan. At lunch time, the NP called me as promised and repeated what Dr. NN said. This time she explained in more details. Basically my FSH is most likely high at this point so we’re just waiting for my body to rebound. There is no need to check my FSH. Hopefully somehow my body will get the message that it’s about time to grow a follicle and pop an egg. The NP said that women with high FSH sometimes do not respond to Cl.omid but somehow would grow a couple of follicles on their in the later part of the cycle. She said she just saw a patient like that earlier on that day. I was thinking, hey she was talking about my online friend who I had bumped into! She was trying to do an IUI after taking Cl.omid but it took a really long time for her to grow those follicles. Now she was at 17mm and 9mm and was waiting for the instruction to trigger. I hope that my ovaries do the same thing as hers and grow some juicy follicles.
I’m not going to lie. The wait is tough at times. I remember right before this cycle started, my fear was that we would have a cyst or AF would delay which would further delay my plan to retrieve in November and do a fresh transfer cycle in December. I dismissed my fear at that time calling myself silly for worrying about something that had not even happened. The good thing is, although it is sometimes difficult to wait, I am not depressed, down, or upset. I am feeling at peace most of the time. I carry on with my life daily without feeling anxious that things aren’t going my way. This is truly a blessing to not to be constantly anxious or nervous. This blessing can only come from God. So I am thankful for that. I sometimes think about my plan of transferring in December and I can’t help but think that it’s probably not going to happen. That will mark the end of the third year of our TTC years. And when the transfer actually happens, it’ll most likely be some time in January or February, which marks one year since our last transfer. When I think about that, sometimes the thoughts are depressing. Then I have to remind myself of my motto: “Take it one day at a time” and not go too far ahead of myself. Hopefully my body will solve this mystery very soon.
Emotionally, that is.
I like that place. I really do.
Ever since my chemical pregnancy, I definitely had a setback with my quest to feel peace, love, and joy for other people’s pregnancies and newborn babies. Their sight bugged me. I hated how I felt and reacted. I know it is typical and common for us to feel this way at times. It’s for self preservation. But… I missed that period of time before my pregnancy that I was feeling good for other people.
Recently, I arrived at that good place again.
Let’s start with all the ladies that had recently given birth or were about to give birth. They are mostly people I know from church.
I talked about some of them here. About two weeks ago, I saw one of them sitting somewhere not too far from me, looking nice and slim from behind. She was the one who tried for many years and somehow became pregnant right before she signed the papers for the adoption agency. Somehow something clicked in my heart and urged me to go talk to her after service. And I did. I immediately went up to her, tapped on her shoulder, and told her that she did not look pregnant from behind. But in fact, she was about to give birth in two weeks. We chatted about her pregnancy, her scheduled C-section because of the baby’s breech position, and how she had to arrange her work schedule for maternity. I was sitting there listening to her and did not feel any jealousy at all. I wasn’t even thinking about how I was feeling. I was genuinely engrossed in that conversation with her. Afterwards, I realized that I stood next to her, talked with her, without feeling bad or repulsed. Such a liberating feeling!
The following week, I was a greeter and again saw a number of women who just gave birth or who were about to. The girl that I chatted with the previous week walked by uncomfortably. I hugged her and checked in with her. My heart again was fine. When I went around the church to take attendance (part of the duty of a greeter), I walked into the family room and saw that one of the ladies was nursing her newborn. She was the one who gave birth at 43 to her third child after struggling to get pregnant for a while. I had avoided her in the past many months. When I walked in and saw her, my first reaction was not to flee. I actually knelt down, took a good look at the baby for the first time, and asked her some questions. I walked out of that room feeling fine.
That’s such an improvement for me! I am loving the grace and mercy that God has shown me and allowed me to have as I am spared of the usual jealousy that crept back into my life after my own pregnancy loss. Even Bob commented on how good of a job I was doing when I “liked” the picture of my church friend’s newborn baby after her C-section last Wednesday.
This has extended to my feelings for my friends in the blogging community. Recently, there is a surge in the BFPs for many of my blog friends after their own struggles for years and years. And there is a discussion of survivor guilt and what to do with one’s blog after one finally becomes pregnant. By the grace of God, I have been able to feel joy and excitement for all of you girls. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? It’s not my own strength or doing. All of this comes from the Lord for answering my daily prayers and plea to be full of love and free of jealousy. Thank you Lord for answering my prayers.
I would love to continue feeling this way, celebrating others’ pregnancies and newborns without feeling jealous. I know that it won’t be accomplished without daily prayers to the Lord for Him to sustain me. I love being in this good place. I hope this will be my permanent destiny… although I know that I may slip back in the future some time, I am confident that I will eventually come back here, with God’s help.
For those who are finally pregnant, congratulations! Can’t be happier for you ladies. I hope that you’ll all have the most uneventful, textbook perfect pregnancies ever. 🙂
First off, my heart is aching for two blog friends who received devastating news with their beta test results. If you have a moment, and haven’t already done so, please go give Aramis and Wilhc121 some comfort and hugs. 😦
I guess the 14.5er on Monday caught up? We have two eggs.
I was feeling very calm all day. It showed in my blood pressure. Unlike the last two times, it was back to normal today. I woke up feeling at peace, calm, and happy. When I put on those Wonder Woman socks, I thought about the love and support this community has given me. It totally warmed my heart at 6:45 am.
Bob and I left an hour and 15 minutes before the appointment. I constantly checked Google Maps for the different routes that we could take. We finally decided on a new route that was recommended by the Maps because of the back up that was shown in two usual routes. It was on a back road that was quite pleasant to travel on in the morning. We got there in exactly an hour. The nurse who took care of me was the same nurse the last two times. We all knew the drill, except that I totally forgot to take off my underwear. When the nurse came back to see if I had any sores or bruises, I showed her my tiny little bruises on my tummy. She then said, Honey your undergarment has to come off. Cued embarrassing smile. Imagine going in the OR and Dr. E had to take off my underpants first.
I swear that I wasn’t totally out during the whole procedure. Everybody was noticing and complimenting on my lucky socks. So we started talking about how Wonder Woman still looked good, what her real name was, and things like that. Then I felt like I was out but then I could hear people talking. Maybe I was hallucinating. I was awake when they wheeled me out of the OR. At the door, I think I saw Dr. E and she told me that we got two eggs. And I was saying in my groggy state that I could hear “everything” they were saying. And then I said, Oh that’s good. One more than what we had expected.
Every single time I was in recovery, there would be another woman next to my bed, separated from me by a curtain, and was told by their RE that they had an amazing amount of follicles or eggs. This time was no different. When I was still trying to get over my grogginess, the lady next door was told by her doctor that her response was excellent and they expected to see many eggs. The last two times I was super bugged by that. This time not so much so. Somehow I feel that I have my own journey, I have accepted that I won’t get too many eggs, and I will mind my own business. That really helps with putting my heart in the right place.
Another difference is that I didn’t recover right away like the last two times. I had to sip liquid slowly so that I didn’t have the nauseating feeling. Yesterday I had a slight headache going into work. The headache was getting progressively worse. At 3:50pm, I quickly went and got the Cetrotide and all the other supplies and locked myself in my therapy room to do the shot. Finally did the shot at 4:01pm. All of a sudden, my head was exploding and I started feeling nauseous. I rested for five minutes and went and got my therapy kid. The mom saw how I looked and insisted on leaving me alone and canceling the session. She said, Go home and rest. So they left, and I went on to become violently ill for about an hour. I felt like something was stuck in my stomach and had to go puke (sorry TMI) in the bathroom three times. I couldn’t even open my eyes or look at the computer screen as my head was hurting so much. One hour later, I was feeling much better. In fact, when I arrived at my acupuncture appointment, my pulse showed that my qi was flowing, which indicated that there was no pain inside me. What a weird experience. The whole time, my thought was, Oh No don’t let me get sick the day before egg retrieval. Praise the Lord that I was fine and dandy the rest of the evening and today. Somehow today at recovery, it took me quite some time to feel back to normal. It could have something to do with the sudden illness yesterday.
My acupuncturist also taped three dots on three points on my right ear that represent the Uterus, the Life Gate, and the Kidney. She told me to press on them once in a while to help with the retrieval and eventually the transfer.
I didn’t get to see Dr. E afterward. Bob came back from giving his contribution. He grinned and said that the educational materials have been renewed. HAHAHA.
I just took a very long nap. My dreams were full of images of the eggs fertilizing and then the eggs not fertilizing.
On Monday in my Bible Study discussion group, I opened up and finally shared about our fertility journey and our current treatment after hearing one of the ladies sharing about her struggles with a surprise pregnancy out of wedlock five years ago. She said she cried every single day until two days before she gave birth, not understanding the purpose of it. And now she can see what a blessing her little daughter is. Seeing how she was willing to be vulnerable, I shared about the opposite end of a heartache, the heartaches of not being able to get pregnant and not having embryos that would survive in our IVF cycles. Yesterday I received an email from one of the group ladies that is my age and is currently about 6 months pregnant. She wrote:
“Thank you for sharing your personal struggle with the group yesterday. God has really placed you on my heart recently and now I know why. My husband and I also struggled with infertility with no real diagnosis, “unexplained infertility”. And after our second cycle of IVF, God has blessed us with this pregnancy. As I shared with my close friends and last year’s Bible Study group, it was the most painful waiting period of my life. This process completely stretched my faith and patience as I went through all the emotions, from being angry and feeling unloved by God to complete surrender and humility and like you, peace. Looking back now, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness and just the feeling of joy because I am able to appreciate this gift so much more and I am blessed to be able to connect with other women who are going through this. No one really knows all the emotions and physical pain you go through unless you’ve been through it. I kept reminding myself to just continue to trust in the One who creates all life and His perfect timing because nothing is impossible with God. So, I will be praying for you this Wednesday for an appropriate response to the meds and for a successful retrieval and transfer! You’re a pro by now, but remember to get lots of rest and, for me, after the second transfer, I ate pineapple core and brazil nuts for the bromelain, which supposedly helps with implantation.”
I am so grateful that she reached out. Because of her and her pregnancy, I started to pray for an open heart and peace. I didn’t want my jealousy to take over and consume me. And here I am, in a pretty good place emotionally. It shows you that you can never judge a book by its cover. You just won’t know who had struggled with infertility or not just by looking at their belly. I am really happy for her that she’s on the other side now.
First fertilization report tomorrow. Gulp.