PLEASE NOTE: If you are struggling with infertility or are currently trying to conceive and you DON'T want to read about my pregnancy (which I totally understand), I recommend starting at the beginning of the blog (March 2010) and reading from there. I find out I'm pregnant in June 2011 so there is a lot of trying to conceive posts in between that you might find funny, helpful or relatable. Wishing you all the luck in the world!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Progesterone, Poison and Picasso

Perhaps it’s my present homicidal state, but I’ve just purchased more things to kill a mouse than was probably necessary. I don’t just want the mouse to die; I want him to think about what he’s done.

I bought four glue traps, three mouse traps and eight packets of poison. I realize this sounds incredibly cruel but A) I have to at least try to get this mouse out of my home before my mother-in-law impending visit and B) Going through the IVF process and not getting pregnant is also cruel… so someone has to pay. Why not Mickey?

As I scattered the various forms of rodent destruction around my apartment, I thought about my mother-in-law’s impending seven day visit. Because I’m currently a bitter, hormonal and deeply sardonic person, I thought to myself, “What kind of trap would you set if you wanted to kill your mother-in-law? A Talbots Gift Card?”

But seriously, I don’t want to kill my mother-in-law. It’s not her or even her visit that’s upsetting me. It’s more the timing of her visit and that it’s going to last longer than my period typically does.

I went for my second blood test today (or “The Hail Mary Beta” as I like to call it) and both my doctor and his nurse told me that I looked like I was completely fried. That may be because I am. I also made no effort to look even remotely presentable. I threw my hair into a sloppy ponytail, put on a shirt I bought in Disney World (ironic given my war against mice), my crappy jeans, no make-up, and my beat up sneakers. I was the very essence of a “before” picture. Trouble is, there is no “after” picture planned.

My doctor said that although the chances were slim, he has seen people have one negative beta test and then get a positive. I hate that we’re even doing this as I feel like they are just toying with my emotions. It’s like that boyfriend in High School who told you that he “wanted to take a break” and like an idiot, you believe him. You think to yourself, “Ok, we’re not breaking up! I’ll give him two weeks and we’ll be back together!” Of course, while you’re biding your time, he’s already hooked up with your best friend. Please tell me I’m not the only this has happened to? Is this thing on?

So, tomorrow, I get to relieve yesterday’s event of calling the doctor’s office and being told, AGAIN, that the test is negative. Of all the moments I want to repeat, this is not one of them. My honeymoon? Yes. That one time I looked good in a bathing suit? Definitely. Being informed that I just wasted thousands of dollars on an unsuccessful IVF? Not so much.

As I left the doctor’s office, I walked past The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’ve walked by there a lot recently and every time, I noticed that they have a Picasso exhibit. On an impulse, I decided to just go to the damn museum and check it out. I can’t think of anything more appropriate then looking at Picasso’s Blue Period when I’m in one myself.

The exhibit was very worthwhile. There were different rooms such as “The Rose Period”, “Cubism” and the “Linoleum Cuts” room. As I dragged my unfashionable fried self from room to room, one painting caught my eye, “Head of a Woman”. I looked at it and it was exactly how I felt at that moment. It was like looking in a mirror. Well, if I had two different mouths and uneven eyes.

It may seem strange that this would make me feel better, but it did. The painting expressed an emotion deep inside me. It made me feel less alone. I felt validated. I felt confirmation that many others know the pain I currently feel and can capture it.

I also still felt the need to go home and kill that mouse.

In times like these, we must focus on the positive - I’m alive, I don’t have a terminal illness, I live in a city where I can see amazing art on a whim, I have a loving family, an adorable, affectionate, funny husband and truly wonderful friends. I also have the support of all of you, which means a lot. But I admit it, despite these blessings, I’m pretty f*cking pissed and upset right now. And for that reason alone, the mouse must die. Vengeance will be mine.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Funny But Not Fertile

I got the results of my first pregnancy test today and it was negative. So, as it stands now, for the first time ever, I’ve just spent over $15,000 to get my period. Apparently, IVF does NOT mean “I’m Very Fertile”. It may very well mean “I’m Very F*cked.”

Although we’re doing a second blood test tomorrow, the odds are slim that it will suddenly come up positive. If only these pregnancy tests were more like a magic 8 ball and you could keep shaking them until you get the outcome you wanted.

“Check back later.”

“Outlook hazy”

“You’re knocked up”

I did not have my hopes up, nor was I pessimistic. I was, as they say, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. However, I could tell as soon as I said my name to the nurse when I called today that we were not successful. Her tone gave my results away before she even said a word. I really don’t envy her job. She tells exceptionally hormonal women bad news on a daily basis. When you think about it, it’s amazing she hasn’t been murdered yet.

I had a phone session scheduled with my therapist at 2:30pm today but I just didn’t feel much like talking. I was ok. Well, I was deeply disappointed and beyond frustrated, but ok. I just wanted to go for a walk, listen to my mp3 player and not think about any of this for awhile. My therapist unfortunately was having none of it. In response to my text asking if we could reschedule, she wrote, “You need to feel comfortable talking to me even when you’re sad. What’s important is growing to be real and intimate with your therapist so that I can help.”

I read this and thought, “Great. On top of everything else, my therapist is now telling me we have intimacy issues.”

During my forced phone session with her, I was sitting on my couch when I saw a black mouse run across my living room floor and duck behind the book case. A mouse. Perfect. My luck just keeps on coming, doesn’t it? If you hear of either a stampede or a flood in a Brooklyn apartment that wiped out two freelance writers and one mouse, you’ll know it was me, my husband and my new, furry and unwelcomed rodent.

And here’s the best part: My mother-in-law is going to be visiting us for seven days next week. SEVEN. DAYS. She knows nothing of what we’ve been through (and continue to go through) so you can’t fault her too much on her timing, but still. Even under the best circumstances, should anyone you’re not having sex with stay at your house for more than a few days?

I can’t help but think it’s funny that should the second blood test confirm that I’m not pregnant, both my mother-in-law and Aunt Flo will be in town the same week. What’s even funnier than that is my mother-in-law will be sleeping in the living room with the mouse. Anytime she drops a hint that she wants more grandbabies, I may tuck a piece of cheese under her pillow just to amuse myself.

So, what to do? Even though we don't know for sure what the second blood test will bring, I’m not holding my breath. Things are simply not going my way these days and it’s best to just accept that. We’ll wait and see what the test results show on Saturday and then take it from there.

In the meantime and in the words of Elaine Stritch, “I’M STILL HERE!” I’ve lost thousands of dollars, a touch of my sanity, and the dream of being pregnant this month, but I still have my sense of humor. And who knows? IVF might actually stand for “I’m Very Funny”… so that’s something… at least for now.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Final Countdown and The Urine Cup

Today, I drank out of a sterile urine sample cup. Two years ago, this would have shocked me. Today, it’s pretty much on par with how my life is going.

Tomorrow, I will get the results of my first round of blood work. As you know, I’ve recently gone through the IVF (I’m Very Fertile) process and remarkably, my two-week wait will soon be coming to a close.

Throughout the past few weeks in particular, having a sense of humor has been key. Like drinking out of the urine cup this morning, for over a year, I’ve endured several humiliations and predicaments I did not know were possible.

Yes, there have been the standard pills, shots, blood tests, and those fun and fabulous medical procedures but there have also been other things such as having more conversations about sperm then I ever thought possible. The shape, the size, their sense of direction, how many of them there are and how they all look like they are abandoning a drowning ship under a microscope.

I’ve also had so many inter-vaginal sonograms that if I get one more, I get a free pap smear and an autographed headshot of Kathy Griffin.

In addition, I’ve peed on more items than ever before. For this, I can at least say that my aim has grown considerably. I’m looking forward to the coming winter as I could write my name in the snow, in script no less, with the best of them.

Plus, let’s not forget that more things have been going in and out of my hoo-ha than should be legally allowed. One of the highlights of my journey was at the egg transfer. I was lying down while Sam was sitting in a chair next to my head. From his perspective, he could see my legs up in stirrups with a sheet draped over me. When my doctor came in with a speculum, I thought Sam would pass out. He watched my doctor put the speculum in, put something else in to clean the area, and then he put the catheter in and took the speculum out. Sam looked as if he were watching some sort of magic trick and at any moment; the doctor was going to pull a rabbit out of my p*ssy.

And bless his heart, my dad and I have had conversations that I never thought possible. My father is a blunt, New York Italian and usually our talks consist of movies, television and his diabetes. To have him call me and ask questions like, “Have you been getting cramps?” or “Have you tried having sex every other day?” has helped my therapist buy a swimming pool for her home.

This morning, I woke up with one of the worst migraines in my migraine career. I tend to get them when I’m stressed, hormonal, hungry or the weather is changing. Today, it’s safe to say it was all of the above. I didn’t want to take my medication until I made sure it was ok with the doctor and since I was getting my blood work today, I figured I would just hang on till I saw him and got his approval. When I arrived at his office, I was in total agony. Believe it or not, I’m usually upbeat when I see my doctor so when I walked in looking like Nick Nolte’s mug shot, he immediately knew this was not good.

Mercifully, I was allowed to take my medication. That’s when the doctor found a sterile urine cup, handed it to me and told me to take my damn pill as I was scaring the other patients.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: No matter what the test results show, I’ll deal with it. I’ll keep writing, making jokes and finding a way to make this extremely long and difficult journey bearable. However, for the record, I am still desperately hoping for two things:

1. That this trying to conceive round of humiliation will end… and I can begin a whole new pregnancy humiliation going forward.

2. That I never use the sentences “I drank out of a sterile urine sample cup.” Or “No dad, I don’t think positions determine the sex of the baby.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays

It’s raining in New York today and its Monday. This automatically makes me think of the song, “Rainy Days and Mondays” by The Carpenters… for what should be obvious reasons. I admit it – I’m a fan of The Carpenters even though there’s something I find rather depressing about Karen Carpenter. She just sounds so melancholy. Even when she’s singing something upbeat, you can’t help but think, “Man, you sound bummed. Go eat a burger.”

I was sociology minor in college and I remember in one class, we learned that in states where Country Music was prevalent, the rates of suicide were higher. Aside from this being unintentionally funny, I remember wondering to myself what would have happened if Karen Carpenter ever sang country music? It would be a downright blood bath.

Now, let’s see if I can put this correctly: Today is the first day of my second week of my two week wait. Wow. That was like an SAT question, wasn’t it? My initial blood test will be Wednesday so hopefully by Thursday; I’ll know whether or not our IVF was successful. Last week, I managed to distract myself with RuPaul’s Drag Race, coloring books, movies and of course, writing about my experiences, but as I get closer to getting a verdict, it’s so hard to think positively and focus on other things. Plus, the fact that one of the most depressing songs ever, “Rainy Days and Mondays”, is stuck in my head is NOT helping whatsoever.

“Walking around, some kind of lonely clown… Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”

Bad weather and friendless clowns. Great. That’s a pick me up.

Look - This is not my first time at the rodeo buckaroos. I’ve been in this position several times before… days away from calling my doctor’s office to get test results which have, in the past, always been negative. And here I am again. This time though, I won’t allow myself to get either excited or depressed. It’s not going to help anything and the reality is that as much as it would suck MAJOR donkey balls for this not to work out again, I WILL deal with it. What other choice do I have? Yipee-k-y-jelly!

“No need to talk it out, We know what it's all about, Hanging around, nothing to do but frown, Rainy days and Mondays always get me down…”

Man, this song is KILLING ME…

That’s the thing about working towards having a child, you don’t have a choice in how easy it will be for you, but you do have a choice in how you choose to handle the journey. Typically, I choose to deal with it through laughter, chocolate, the gay channel, and the occasional indulgence of a Golden Girls marathon. That’s my plan people. I’m sticking to it.

One major comfort has definitely been this blog. All of you fabulous readers laughing along with me and understanding exactly where I’m coming from makes me feel less alone. And shockingly there is one lyric in “Rainy Days and Mondays” that does makes me think of all of you:

“Funny but it seems I always wind up here with you, Nice to know somebody loves me, Funny but it seems that it's the only thing to do…”

So I’ll keep writing because any which way, unlike Karen Carpenter, I will survive.

What? Too soon?

If I could JUST have a better song lodged in my head. If I wake up tomorrow, with the theme song from M*A*S*H or Kansas's "Dust in the Wind", I may need to perform a home lobotomy in my Brooklyn kitchen.

Anyone know of a song that’s called “Gorgeous Weather and Tuesdays”?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fertility Fight Club!

It should come as no shock to me that if you put a group of hormonally charged women in a room, the fur would fly, but it’s still with grade school excitement that I report to you that I just witnessed a fight on a Baby Chat Board!

Is it obvious I’m starved for entertainment right now?

Regular readers of my blog know that I’ve been avoiding baby chat boards due to my disdain of acronyms. However, when a friend told me that there was trouble a-brewing in an “Actively Trying” chat room, I had to check it out. It was either that, or sort my socks in alphabetical order for the eighth time this week… blue, polka dot, sport socks, yellow…

The “Actively Trying” room is for people who are, well, actively trying to get pregnant. That seems pretty obvious but they still have a little disclaimer on the top of the page clarifying the theme. It states that this board is specifically for women who have been actively trying to get pregnant for quite some time. You really can’t get any clearer than that, right?

However, this did not stop one woman in particular from posting the following:

“Hey! Haven’t been on here in awhile! I had my 3rd child 6 months ago and just found out that I’m pregnant again! So shocked as we weren’t even trying! Just wanted to share the news!” - Connie

Oh no, she di-n’t! When I read this, I knew there was going to be trouble. I immediately went to my music folder on my computer and cued up my West Side Story Soundtrack. TRACK #14 – THE RUMBLE!

At first, there were a series of responses that all said, “Congrats on your BFP!” (That’s “Big Fat Positive”) or “So happy for you! Hope your PG is H&H!” (PG = pregnancy and H&H = Happy and Healthy). Have I mentioned how much I freaking hate those acronyms?!?

Then, one brave soul responded with,

“Um, yay for you but this is an ACTIVELY TRYING board. Not an ‘Ooops, I got pregnant again without even trying’ board.”

After another person echoed the same sentiment, things got ugly. A whole heated exchange took place between approximately thirty women debating whether or not Connie had a right to even post on the Actively Trying page. Some said she could post her happy news anywhere she wanted while others felt it was extremely rude. Words like “cow” and “moron” were thrown around and in one colorful response, the term “F*ckstick” was utilized. Wow. I never knew I could pick up new vocabulary words on a Baby Chat Board! What would be the acronym of that? FKSTK? Here’s a fun sentence: “Congrats on your BFP FKSTK!” Ok. I hate to say it… but LOL!

What amazed me is more were defending Connie than were offended by Connie. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m happy for her but c’mon! Although I’m fairly certain Connie wasn’t trying to be a total ass, you can’t deny that it’s insensitive to post something like that on a board of people who have been through a series of medications, invasive procedures, and in some cases, years upon years of trying to conceive. Most on the board don’t have any kids let alone four like Miss Connie Conception over here. It would be as tacky as if I went to a speed dating evening and yelled to the single folk, “I'M HAPPILY MARRIED BITCHES! SUCK ON THAT!” and then, ran off laughing maniacally.

Hmmm, that sounds kinda fun actually. No, no… I’m not that person. I’m no F*ckstick.

I'll be honest. I’m jealous of Connie. It sucks that there are some women that get pregnant so quickly with little effort. I’m on Day 7 (I think? I’m beginning to lose track. Wait, am I wearing underwear?) of both my two week wait and my doctor suggested “light bed rest”. To read about someone getting pregnant with their FOURTH child without even trying brings out the evil in me. I don’t want to wish anyone ill will, I know this woman has done nothing to me personally, but I’m human and the human in me currently wants to smack Connie in her face for being so insensitive.

You have my word that when I announce my pregnancy (please, dear god let this happen soon!), I’m going to do it with sensitivity, and in a way that won’t hurt anyone’s feelings or that will start a battle of words. I’ll also be aware that even though I know there will be people who are happy for me, they might still be sad for themselves and their own struggles. Women who are in similar predicaments as me can never be ignorant to that fact.

And that’s why we, my fellow fertility challenged friends, will never, ever be f*cksticks.

Can I get a holla?!?!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ignoring the Pink (or Blue) Elephant in the Room

As insane as this may sound, I honestly believe that one of the main things you should do after having an IVF is to NOT to think about it whatsoever. Wondering if you’re pregnant, obsessing over all the possible details, analyzing every physical symptom you have all accomplish nothing other than driving you crazy. And for me, that’s not a very long drive.

The goal this week has been to stay relaxed, rest, take care of myself and NOT think about babies, pregnancy or anything along those lines. It's clear to say that the rest of the world did not get my memo however.

Yesterday, my big trip was to acupuncture. Luckily, I live right near a subway that practically goes into the lobby of my acupuncture’s building so it was a straight forward and easy ride. I also managed to snag a seat (after lovingly knocking a few people over of course), so it was ideal.

A few stops into the ride, an obviously pregnant woman got on the subway and despite New Yorkers having a reputation as assholes, several offered her their seat. To be clear - I was actually not one of them. I just got my egg transfer and she’s already pregnant. She’ll be fine but me and my recently fertilized eggs needed that seat.

Yes, I am the “Rosa Parks” of the trying to conceive community.

The pregnant woman declined everyone’s offer as she was “only taking the train a few stops.” The trouble is that she ended up holding the bar directly above my head and stood right in front of me. As I tried to think of anything else… like whether or not containment was the right response to the Vietnam War… the proximity of her huge belly literally felt like she was rubbing her pregnancy in my face.

Then, earlier this week, a good friend of mine gave birth to her first child. It was only the second day after my transfer, so I was lying in bed when I got a text from her that read exactly like this: “Baby’s here. 9 pounds. 2 ounces. Holy sh*t.

What’s interesting to me is that we live in such a technological world that birth announcements are now sent via text. At the same time though, if you insert the word “STOP” after each one of her statements, it reads just like one of those old fashioned telegrams. Well, except I don’t think any old fashioned telegram ever used the words “Holy Sh*t.” At least none that I know of...

Another friend of mine is pregnant with her second child and frankly, she talks of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE. Every conversation, every text, every email, every Facebook Status update, every Tweet is all about the pregnancy. Pregnancy can be very exciting (at least that’s what I freaking hear… SIGH) but respectively, this is her third pregnancy and there are so many other things to talk about in this world. There’s politics, music, gardening, Dancing with the Stars or the recent installment of Heidi Montag’s breasts. It can’t be that hard to pick some other topic to occasionally throw into your continuing “Pregnancy – Day 200” updates.

And yes, I realize that sounds bitchy but it’s my blog and I’ll bitch if I want to.

Lastly, and this is my favorite of the week, had to do with Facebook. I have an account with Facebook called, “TheTwo WeekWait” and someone; somehow, somewhere tagged me in a photo of their first sonogram. They are apparently having twins and in the picture, there’s a “Baby A” and a “Baby B”. This person tagged ME as “Baby B”. Again, you just can’t make this shit up.

So, there I am, innocently sitting at home distracting myself with "RuPaul's Drag Race" when I start to get a FLURRY of emails that say, “So-and-so commented on the photo you are tagged in!” and a “Congratulations!” or an “Oh my god, twins!” or a “I’m so happy for you!” type of statement would follow.

After the twentieth email, I was like, “Ok. What the hell is going on??” I finally logged on and figured out what had happened. Believe it or not, I thought this was pretty damn funny. Here I am trying to not think about whether or not I’m pregnant, and not only am I inadvertently getting congratulated on having twins, I AM actually one of the twins!

As hilarious as I thought this was however, I managed to remove my tag from the picture and get myself out of both this predicament and out of this strange woman’s uterus.

Needless to say, NOT thinking about pregnancy has been a challenge. However, I really am hanging in. It’s amazing how much having a sense of humor and a bitchy blog can help a hormonal gal out. :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Me, Myself & RuPaul

Today is Day three of both my current two week wait and resting after my IVF. Resting + Waiting = Feeling like I’m in the movie, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” (although my makeup looks way better than Bette Davis).

One of my greatest comforts and distractions in the past few days has been watching “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on the LOGO channel. In particular, RuPaul’s recurring catch phrase, “Good luck and don’t f*ck it up.” truly speaks to me. It pretty much says it, doesn’t it? We hope for luck and we strive to do our best.

There’s also something to be said for watching the gay channel during this time as, like it or not, there are no commercials for pregnancy tests, diapers or maxi pads. They do however have a lot of commercials for pet and plant care products. I’ve also learn more about “throwing shade” and what “tucking” than I ever thought possible. It’s all an incredible distraction and I love it.

While staying glued to RuPaul’s fabulous dresses and challenges such as “The Snatch Game”, I’ve been avoiding chat rooms all about trying to conceive. It’s not the people, or the postings or that I don’t adore the support... because I completely do. What I can’t stand are the acronyms. For those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to, here are a few straight forward examples:

TTC – Trying to Conceive
BFN – Big Fat Negative (meaning a negative pregnancy test result)
DH – Dear Husband
OPK – Ovulation Predication Kit
DPO – Days Past Ovulation

So, if it’s your first time checking out one of these chat rooms, you might see a sentence along the lines of: “DH and I have been TTC. We used an OPK but still, I was 10 DPO when I got my BFN.” The first time I read something like this, the acronym that came to my mind was “WTF!?!?

Then, there are also a few acronyms that seem either odd or unnecessary such as:

VBAC - vaginal birth after cesarean section
BM - This can either stand for breast milk, or bowel movement – a dangerous similarity, don’t you think?

And then the one that annoys me the most is when people use either “BD” – Baby Dance or “DTD” – Do The Deed.

Look, we’re not living in Victorian Times and we’re all grown-ups here. We all know where babies come from and how they are made. We can use the word “SEX”. Plus, sex is only three letters, so using either one of those acronyms only saves one letter at most. How much time then are you really saving???

I just can’t take the Trying to Conceive Alphabet Soup. I’m a writer and I’m hormonal. I need full sentences with structure that I can quickly decipher people.

I don’t mean to dismiss the benefit of chat rooms as it’s a huge comfort to know there are others that are going through this. So many of you who read my blog have either commented or emailed some of the most kind and encouraging sentiments. You’ve also shared some of your own experiences, which has been sincerely inspirational.

To those who read my blog and comment, to those who read the blog and chose not to comment, and to those who are currently in your two week waits as well, I’d like to take a moment to say thank you and again quote RuPaul when he/she said, “Doing what I do has never been easy. I've had to fight countless battles in this game that the public has no idea ever happened. But, I just pick myself up and carry on. I Carry On."

It was either that quote or, “We can expect a high-pressure system, followed by storms of ‘Hell no!’ ‘Oh no she didn’t!’ and ‘What you call me bitch?!’

You pick the one you find more inspirational.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Eagle Has Landed

Today was the first day of my two-week wait. Since I just had the transfer of eggs yesterday, it was mostly a bed rest day and I’ve got to tell you, I don’t have much to report other than my ceiling needs a new coat of white paint and daytime television pretty much sucks.

For some reason, while I laid there collecting dust, the thing I kept thinking about the most were all the friends and family that have gotten pregnant in the time Sam and I have been trying. I wasn’t thinking about them in a bitter way or even in a competitive way. It was more that I was impressed. There was one point in the past year that I began to think that if I even alluded to a friend that we were thinking of starting a family, that friend in particular would soon get knocked up. This is why I eventually only started telling menopausal women and gay men.

One particular case popped into my head today that I have to share with you. Awhile back, I was on the phone with my childhood friend, Julie. At the time, Julie had a two-year-old daughter and she was telling me that they were thinking of trying for a second child. I confided in her that we were thinking of trying as well. Enthusiastically, she exclaimed, "That’s great! Let’s get pregnant together!" This is so easier said than done.

It was exactly six months later when I received a seemingly chipper voice mail from Julie. I was dreading calling her back. I had no happy news to report and I was certain that she did. I felt like we made this pact, and I didn’t live up to my part. Still, I sucked it up and returned her call. She, of course, was pregnant. I gave her my congratulations, and asked the standard questions, "When are you due?", "How are you feeling?", "Do you know what you’re having?" and as soon as we were done, I tried quickly changing the topic to something desperately fascinating such as Astroturf, but I had no luck. She immediately asked, "Sooooo, what about you? Any babies? What’s the hold up?" I did my best to give her a quick answer and move on with the first thing I could think of. I responded with, "Nothing to report on this end. So, how are Matt’s hemorrhoids?"

Now Julie is a great person. She deserves every happiness and I have nothing but love and respect for her. She’s smart, kind, and she has always been a good friend. However, she didn’t seem to take my cue of not wanting to talk about it. Instead, she told me a story about how she recently went hiking with her husband and daughter the previous weekend. She described in great detail how she sat on top of a mountain with her family, and saw a bald eagle fly by. She said to be pregnant, filled with life, surrounded by nature with an incredible view and to see such a majestic bird was just so incredibly life affirming. Perhaps she should have just come over and kicked me.

I avoided sharing with her that on the very same weekend she was on the mountain with her family, I was in the basement of a Kmart by myself bleeding from my period surrounded by marked down clothes. I didn't see a bald eagle... but I saw a bald man wearing an Eagles shirt.

To be clear, I’m happy for anyone and everyone who has managed to get pregnant without hormone shots and boatload of cash. If the only thing you purchased to start a family was a bottle of tequila, than more power to you. Heck, you could even name your kid Jose Cuervo for all I care. I only ask that if you know your friend wants to have a baby too, and they are not yet knocked up, you may want to avoid sharing with them your life affirming, pregnant, bald eagle story. Save it for THE VIEW. From what I saw today, they could use a life affirming story.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

3 eggs, 2 Weeks & 1 Blog

As I said in my very first blog entry, I was always told that if you let a penis touch your leg, you’d get pregnant. This is the impression most 5th grade health teachers leave you with. If you were in a two-mile radius of sperm, you’d get knocked up, have no money and the baby daddy would end up working at a gas station. That was the deal.

After a little over a year of more unprotected sex than Ron Jeremy, three failed inseminations (including one involving a Starbucks bathroom), ovulation prediction kits, sperm friendly lubricants, Clomid, primrose oil, prayer, and desperation, I was still not pregnant and had thoughts of calling my 5th grade health teacher to tell her that she was full of crap. Fortunately for both of us, she died years ago.

Sam & I decided to try IVF. IVF officially stands for In Vitro Fertilization but in my mind, it stands for I’m Very Fertile. Go with me on this... you’re dealing with a hormonal woman and I don’t want to have to hurt you.

After thirteen days of seriously irritating hormone injections in my stomach (a.k.a. "the bagel") so I could produce more eggs and one fantastically large HCG shot in my ass to help remove the eggs, it was time for the retrieval this past Thursday. For those of you who don’t know, they retrieve the eggs by putting a needle in your vagina and extracting the eggs from the follicles formed on your ovaries. When my doctor initially explained this to me, the only thing I could think was that the words "needle" and "vagina" should NEVER be in the same sentence. NEVER.

The retrieval went well. We had five viable eggs and I felt quite like the belated Easter Bunny. Well, an Easter Bunny with a pedicure and a bikini wax. I may have been unconscious for the retrieval but that’s no reason to not look my best for the four doctors’ in the room.

To prepare for the return of my eggs (sounds like a horror movie, doesn’t it? THE RETURN OF THE FERTILIZED EGGS!), I was given FOUR different medications. I’m taking an antibiotic and a steroid twice daily, plus I’m wearing an additional source of a steroid in the form of a patch that needs to be changed every three days. The bad news is this means that I can never compete in the Olympics, but on a positive note, my batting average is going to sky rocket.

I am also taking progesterone, a hormone that helps with implantation, three times a day, both orally and vaginally. This, I should mention, will be the only thing going in my vagina for the next two weeks. It's doctor’s orders. Hormonal, bed ridden and frustrated does not look good at me but neither does horizontal stripes and I wear them anyway.

The antibiotic has to be taken on a full stomach and the progesterone has to be taken on an empty stomach. I’ve spent the last few days carefully timing my meals, determining how full my stomach was, laying around and taking a heck of a lot of pills. I feel like Judy Garland... the dying years.

Then, yesterday, we found out that three of the fertilized eggs were developing nicely so we would be transferring them back in Sunday, this morning, at 10am. Right before the transfer, the doctor handed us a photo of two of the eggs (the third egg was apparently camera shy). There they were, side by side, in black and white. I made a promise to myself that if this IVF were successful, I would put this in the photo album as our babies’ very first picture. I’ll even draw an arrow and put their names next to each egg. And before anyone asks, they look like me: Round and curvy.

As for the next week and a half, it’s bed rest, this blog, you and me. Tomorrow will be the beginning of the infamous "Two Week Wait" and I plan to not only write about it every day, but to make fun of it as much as possible. Please wish me luck, keep reading and please, most importantly, laugh with me. Laughter is way better medicine than the 40 million pills I’m currently taking.

Sending you my best... from the the Valley of the Dolls.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bikini Wax & Bruises

I spent twenty minutes today explaining what IVF is to the Russian woman giving me a bikini wax. I don’t usually have such conversations when getting the “hedges trimmed” but when I took off my pants and hopped up on the table, she noticed the bruising on my stomach and asked me what that was from. It started innocently enough when I told her that I’ve been getting shots. Not satisfied, she asked why I was getting shots. It’s a bold and somewhat personal question but let’s face it – if you’re waxing someone’s cha cha, formalities are a tad out the window.

I figured, screw it and admitted the shots were for IVF. Some of my closest friends know nothing about this but tonight, Ivana the wax girl was included in on my secret.

"IVF?", she asked as she got her equipment out.

"InVitro Fertilization." I thought the longer word would make something click. She still didn’t know what I was talking about.

And so it began. I explained to the basics of IVF while she gave me my bikini wax. It sounded something a little like this:

"The injections in my stomach help me produce extra eggs..."

RIP!

"They then remove the eggs and fertilize them outside of my body..."

ZIP!

"Then, they put them back in… oh, I’m sorry… do you need me to lift my leg?

POW!

"Ouch. And then hopefully, the fertilized eggs implant... that means attach to my uterus... and then I’ll be pregnant."

Last night, was the HCG shot. That was the final injection after thirteen consecutive days of various shots. If I had rabies, I apparently would have had injections for a similar amount of time. Remind me never to get rabies.

Sam, of course, was the one to give me the HCG shot and it really is the most important one. Understandably, he was nervous but he did a wonderful job. His two weeks of practicing on a grapefruit paid off. He also said, "It was much harder to give the shot to the grapefruit. Your ass was way easier." I sincerely took that as compliment. My ass is better than a grapefruit everybody! It makes no sense but I’ll take any positive feedback I can get right now.

Tomorrow is the retrieval, which is why I thought I should clean up my lower region. When you got guests coming over, you straighten up. So, at the end of my waxing, Ivana looked at me very seriously and said, "Next time you come back, you’ll be pregnant and I’ll make sure my waxing won’t hurt the baby." It’s an odd sentiment, but a very sweet one that was appreciated.

So, we’re in the home stretch. I called this blog "The 2 Week Wait" and in 3 to 5 days, my two week wait will begin. During that period, I plan to write every day. I hope you’ll be there reading, commenting, laughing and wishing me the best. I know I’m wishing all of you the best. I’m also wishing that your bikini waxes are painless and that all of YOUR asses are better than a grapefruit.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pharmaceutical Purgatory

As of yesterday morning, I still hadn't received my HCG shot from my mail order pharmacy. It seems like every time my doctor calls my them, they come up with something else that needs to be completed before giving me my medicine. It’s like they are holding my HCG shot hostage and won't ship it to me until all their needs are met. Their latest demand was a "State Medical RX Form", three goats and the broom of the wicked witch.

I'm seriously considering creating a board game and calling it, "TRY TO GET YOUR PRESCRIPTION FILLED!". One space could be, "Can’t find your insurance information – Go back to start!" The other could be, "A friend gives you her left over progesterone tablets – Move ahead four!" And if you make it through the game without killing any customer service representatives, you win! Yaaaay!

What I also don’t get is the HCG injection needs to be given in a timely manner. Don't they get that the maturation of my follicles are running the show? My future eggs don't know what unnecessary paperwork is. I don't know my eggs personally but I can say with great certainty that they could give a crap about a State Medical RX Form. They just want to get ovulated, fertilized and implanted.

Also slowing down the progress somewhat is whoever I happen to be speaking to at the mail order pharmacy always feels obligated to take a moment to be sad for me. They obviously know what all this is for and they usually throw in an empathetic "Good luck sweetie" or "Hope it works out" or a "Hang in there sad clown". The best is when they either give suggestions or share their own trying to conceive story. One rep recently said to me, "We tried for years and it wasn’t until I got drunk one night on rum till I got pregnant with my Kristin. Have you tried that? Have you tried getting drunk? Do you like rum?" Look, I appreciate that they are trying to be helpful but I don’t need to hear their sexual exploits nor do I need their pity. What I need is my effen’ prescription.

And to make matters worse right now, I currently have my period. It came later in the process than my doctor expected but really, this shouldn’t have surprised either of us. My body seems to have been engaged in it's own outside interests for the past few years. It’s entirely possible that my uterus has even broken up with me but I just didn’t get the message.

Due to Aunt Flo and her untimely visit, I don’t have as many follicles as my doctor would like. His solution is to increase my Gonal-F shots and to take it for more days that initially anticipated. This not only means more fun-filled injections of hormones in my stomach (or the bagel as I like to call it) but it also entails spending an extreme amount of additional money as I’ve already exceeded my “I-Can’t-Get-Pregnant-Like-A-Normal-Person-Deductible”. Over the years, my period has caused me cramps, the occasional stained bed sheet and at times, embarassment but this is the first time it's ever caused me to spend several thousand dollars.

I left the doctor’s office wondering how I was going to manage to chase down TWO prescriptions when I haven’t even been able to get the ONE sent to me. I also wondered if hooking might be the answer to covering all these expenses. By the time I arrived at home, I got a voice mail from my prescription company informing me that they again spoke to my doctor’s office and that everything was good to go. Actually, their exact message was, "We are now ready to commit to filling your prescription." Um, ok. So does that mean they can ship my medication or that they are emotionally ready to serve me as a patient? And why the word "commit"? Did I propose?

By the end of today, through some miracle, I did manage to get both the HCG shot and the additional Gonal-F injections. They are sitting on my desk now. Even though this means I won my little made up "TRY TO GET YOUR PRESCRIPTION FILLED!" game, I can’t help but feel like killing some customer service reps anyway. I’m just sayin’.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Green Eggs and Sam

Between eating egg white omelets almost every morning (they are low in fat and no cholesterol), Easter eggs and the hormone shots I’m taking to produce more eggs, I’m on egg overload. I’m also premenstrual. If I were Justin Timberlake, I’d be bringing crabby back.

This morning, at our favorite diner, our chipper waitress asked me how I wanted my eggs. Sunnyside up? Scrambled? It took all the strength not to answer with "Fertilized and implanted, thank you."

Even the mere existence of Cadbury Crème Eggs pissed me off today. I found them patronizing.

Also, in some weird irony, we got a voice mail around 5:15pm from a woman named Erin. She said, "Hey, I’m sorry but I think we left our diaper bag over there when we were at your daughter’s birthday party. If you could give me a call and let me know for sure, that would be great. And we had a great time and your daughter is adorable!"

After rolling my eyes, I decided I’d better call her back and tell her she had the wrong number. She answered the phone and I said, "Hello. I got your voice mail about a birthday party but um, well, I just wanted to let you know you have the wrong number."

"Are you sure?" she asked. "Is this Kate’s mom? Do you have my diaper bag?"

I responded, "Listen carefully Erin. I don’t have a diaper bag nor do I have a daughter named Kate. The only thing I have remotely close to either is a purse made by Kate Spade."

She apologized for bothering me and quickly hung up. My first thought was, "At least she didn’t say, 'Boy, I’m so embarrassed. There’s certainly egg on my face!'"

Eggs, eggs, eggs...

And in case you’re keeping track, today was day four of the Gonal-F Shots and the last few nights have been better than the first night (not that the first night was a disaster but still). Despite the improvement though, there's something I still find semi-traumatic about the whole thing. Sam sincerely does a great job and handles the whole sticking-his-wife-with-a-needle-thing very matter a fact (i.e. "This has to be done and by golly, I'm going to do it!") and I admire him for that. He even refers to himself as Doctor Sam these days, but despite the bravado, he always asks if I still love him about 20 minutes after the injection. Obviously, he’s in a tough spot and I do feel for him. However, I can only have so much compassion for someone who says every night at 7pm, "Time for me to shoot you!"

Tonight, my personal highlight was right after Sam "shot me", as the medication burned in my stomach (a.k.a. the bagel), he looked at me and said, "There. That wasn’t so bad, right?" He then proceeded to accidentally prick his finger with the needle and yelled, "Ouch! That hurt!" Really, Sam? Really? Does it?

Sam truly has been exceedingly patient, understanding, loving and encouraging without being dismissive of my feelings (if that makes sense). Even though I'm going through all the physical hell, I can't help but feel bad for him as he has to deal with ME on a daily basis. Heck, I often annoy myself.

I always have a hard time explaining Sam to people. He’s absolutely adorable to me and I thought so from the first second we met. He’s smart, funny, charming (when he’s in the mood to be charming mind you), and can be absolutely and incredibly sweet. Then, there’s this other side to him that can be stubborn, defensive, and occasionally forgetful. He also seems resistant to closing cabinet doors as well as unable to turn off light switches after leaving a room. Sometimes, you really don’t know which Sam you’re going to get. No matter though, I adore him and no one makes me laugh as much as he does. I’ll shut cabinet doors and turn lights off after he leaves a room any day of the week.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that Sam’s a terrific cook. He makes all our meals (I’m actually not allowed in the kitchen as I tend to burn liquids) and as much as it pains me to say this today of all days, he makes a killer omelet. *sigh*

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Benefit of the Bagel

I believe it was around the time I turned 15 that I noticed I developed some extra fat in my lower abdomen. It's almost like a pouch that I can’t store anything in. Even when I was only 105 pounds, I had this little extra something at the bottom of my stomach. Sit ups, diets, exercises... nothing seemed to get rid of it. Over time, I started referring to it as "my bagel".

I really and truly have always hated the bagel. It makes finding a right sized pair of pants almost impossible. My hips and waist are one size, but the bagel is entirely another. And don't get me started on bathing suits! I also have to be very careful with dresses and baby doll tops as I could easily look pregnant (amazing that I can look pregnant but I can't seem to get pregnant just yet).

Tonight, was my first Gonal-F shot. Something about getting an injection in my stomach upsets me. I’m not sure if I can explain why but I’ll give it a shot (Give it a shot!! Get it????)

WHY GETTING SHOTS IN MY STOMACH UPSET ME:

1. I have never gotten a shot in my stomach before in my life and I don’t like trying new things.

2. I do not like pain and can’t inflict it upon myself... even for the greater good. My older sister used to have to beg me to pull out my loose baby teeth as I would let them dangle there for weeks. I can’t even wax at home. Heck, I can’t even use Nair. That stuff stings.

3. I can’t help but feel that someone more qualified should be giving me this shot. Seriously, my husband is brilliant and he did a great job tonight giving me the injection (wouldn’t be the first time – hey oh!) but he got a B.A. in English. He’s not a doctor. I’M not a doctor. Shouldn’t a doctor be doing this?

4. The fact that it’s come to this, even if it’s not the most painful experience ever, just makes me sad. This is not how I pictured making a baby. I remember when I was a kid, when I asked my dad where I came from, he’d say in a joking manner, "Well, we said, 'Let’s go upstairs and make Jay'." In retrospect, I can’t believe my father put it that way as it’s a bit disgusting but at the time, it sounded so purposeful and easy. How wonderful it would be if we could all say, "Let’s start a family! Meet me upstairs in five minutes!"

I pictured a romantic evening. I pictured this whole 'trying to conceive' thing being fun, special and involving music, wine, and passion. I never imagined it would entail needles, schedules, rubbing alcohol and tears. I’m stunned that this is what it’s all turned in to: Playing doctor with my husband, but using actual props.

So, tonight, because of reasons 1 – 4 above, right after Sam gave me the shot, which really wasn’t too painful, I couldn’t help but cry. I guess it’s only natural. As I sat up, tears pouring down my face and Sam doing his best to comfort me, I realized something that made me feel better. This "bagel" that has always plagued me is actually good for something. I barely felt the needle. It’s like the perfect buffer to a Gonal-F shot. It’s like an air bag for hormone injections.

Things rarely go the way you expect them to and not only did I never expect in my wildest dreams that I’d be doing IVF, but I also never expected that the bagel would come in handy. Over the next 10 days of shots, I plan to focus less on the shots and more on the bagel. Now I can finally embrace Sam’s frequent response to my bagel reference, "If that’s your bagel, then get me some cream cheese!"