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!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: Don't Let The Door Hit You On The Ass On The Way Out

I have been thinking a lot about what to write as my last blog of 2010. My first inclination was to title this entry with, “Fuck Off 2010” but although I still strongly agree with the sentiment, it seemed a tad negative. Just a tad.

Then, I was thinking of reviewing all the reasons why this year sucked. The more I thought about that though, the more I realized that it wasn’t really necessary. Not only have many of you lovely, kind, patient people been reading all about my “Year of Suckage” regularly but to recapitulate all the things that went wrong in 2010 seemed too negative and useless.

It reminded me of a metaphor I heard years ago. I’m probably going to tell it wrong so bear with me… but it went like this: If you’re drowning and you have a weight strapped to your ankle keeping you under water, you don’t want to know how much it weighs, you just want to know how to get the damn thing off so you can come up for air. To me, that metaphor (even as badly as I just relayed it) is why I didn’t want to do a list of why I hate 2010. It was not a good year. We all know this. How is it going to help talking about it anymore than I already have? Also, maybe the old adage is true that if you ignore something, it’ll go away. I think I would like to spend the remaining hours of this unlucky year by ignoring it so that it will, in fact, truly fuck off once and for all.

So this leads me to what I do want to talk about. A few days before Christmas, I was doing what I usually do every morning: running to catch the subway. I’m always late to most everything. I was even born two weeks late. My mother said they were beginning to wonder if I was ever going to come out. I’m also not a morning person. If someone told me I was going to get the best oral sex of my life but it was scheduled for 6am, I’d tell them “No thanks” and I’d sleep in. That’s how much of a morning person I’m not.

As I was half asleep and running down the subway stairs, I was thinking of a million things: the end of the year, if I wrapped that present for my niece, why the homeless wait outside of ATM machines when clearly you don’t have change (otherwise why would you be at the ATM?) and how to fully enjoy the holidays without being able to eat cookies. That’s when suddenly, out of nowhere, I had a realization. I heard a voice in my head say as clear as a summer day, “You’re not the same person you were when you started this year.” It took my breath away. Well, running down the stairs didn’t help but you know what I mean.

Something about this realization made me sad. It was like after September 11th, 2001 when everyone kept saying, “Nothing is going to be the same anymore.” I HATED this statement. I knew they were right and I knew they didn’t necessarily mean things were going to be worse but that’s how it felt. As a New Yorker, I was perfectly happy with how everything was before September 11th and the thought of it being altered in any way deeply upset me. In reality, although things have changed, a new “normal” took its place. It’s not better or worse. It’s just different.

And I guess that’s how I am now. I’m not who I was at the start of the year but I’m not better or worse. I’m just different. There are parts that are improvements and there are parts that are… well, more damaged I guess. My level of hope (not to mention my bank account and sex life) have definitely taken some hits this year but on the positive, I learned how much I can rely on my sense of humor as a source of strength. I’ve also learned that there are people out there who sincerely are compassionate, understanding, supportive and generous in ways I’ve never thought possible (yes, I’m talking about you) and I’ve learned the importance of getting a second opinion as well as naming your uterine polyp simply because it CRACKED me up every time I referred to Jackson Polyp.

As much as I’ve gained (and lost), there are still a few lessons I struggle with like you can’t plan or worry about things months from now. I’m not always good at that one as I’m a very talented worrier but I do try to at least prioritize my worries now. Really – it’s come to that. I make a list of my worries and say, “Ok, I’ll worry about losing weight today and then tomorrow, I’ll worry about getting into a clinical trial for my next IVF!” Yes my friends; I’ve created a worrying schedule.

I’ve noticed I’m a little less social than I was at the beginning of the year (avoiding people, pregnancy talk or simply choosing to stay home and throw a pity party). I’m also less of a believer in “Things will work out somehow!” It’s not that I’ve lost hope. It’s just that instead of thinking, “Things will work out”, I think “I will find a way to deal with whatever happens.” I don’t know how things are going to work out. I REALLY know that now and they only way I can stay positive these days is not by having confidence in a happy ending, but by having confidence in me and my ability to get through it.

If someone put a gun to my head (and I hope that no one ever does) and yelled at me, “THINK OF THE MOST POSITIVE LESSON FROM THIS YEAR!” (which would be a weird thing for a gun man to say), it would be that even though I cried more this year than I can remember in recent history and even though the disappointments were impressively painful and numerous, I survived it. I’m 20 pounds heavier, thousands of dollars lighter, a bit more cynical and much less optimistic but dammit, I made it through. I’m like the runner who barely crosses the finish line an hour late, bullet ridden, looking like shit and panting like a dog – but I STILL finished the marathon that was 2010.

If we stick with the 2010 “Marathon Metaphor” one paragraph more -- All of you who have commented or follow me on Twitter or Facebook, have been the ones who have cheered me on and handed me cups of water along the way. I want to take this moment and thank you for that. Making fun of fertility issues by your self is one thing. Having people laugh at it along with you is entirely another. As an occasional comic, I can affirm that one person laughing at their own joke can look strange (especially if you’re walking down a street alone giggling) but a group of people laughing together makes the joke that much more funny.

So, in closing, I officially say “Fuck off 2010” and may 2011 NOT suck.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Twelve Days of Infertility (Sung to the “Twelve Days of Christmas”)

The Twelve Days of Infertility
(Sung to the “Twelve Days of Christmas”)


On the first day of Infertility,
My true love sent to me
A sperm count with great motility

On the second day of Infertility,
My true love sent to me
Two OPK’s,
And a sperm count with great motility

On the third day of Infertility,
My true love sent to me
Three Gonal Pens,
Two OPK’s,
And a sperm count with great motility

On the fourth day of Infertility,
My true love sent to me
Four Calling Doctors,
Three Gonal Pens,
Two OPK’s,
And a sperm count with great motility

On the fifth day of Infertility,
My true love sent to me
Five Clomid Pills,
Four Calling Doctors,
Three Gonal Pens,
Two OPK’s,
And a sperm count with great motility

On the sixth day of Infertility,
My true love sent to me
Six follicles a-growing,
Five Clomid Pills,
Four Calling Doctors,
Three Gonal Pens,
Two OPK’s,
And a sperm count with great motility

On the seventh day of Infertility,
My true love sent to me
Seven embryos a-frozen,
Six follicles a-growing,
Five Clomid Pills,
Four Calling Doctors,
Three Gonal Pens,
Two OPK’s,
And a sperm count with great motility

On the eighth day of Infertility,
My true love sent to me
Eight inseminations,
Seven embryos a-frozen,
Six follicles a-growing,
Five Clomid Pills,
Four Calling Doctors,
Three Gonal Pens,
Two OPK’s,
And a sperm count with great motility

On the ninth day of Infertility,
My true love sent to me
Nine egg donations,
Eight inseminations,
Seven embryos a-frozen,
Six follicles a-growing,
Five Clomid Pills,
Four Calling Doctors,
Three Gonal Pens,
Two OPK’s,
And a sperm count with great motility

On the tenth day of Infertility,
My true love sent to me
Ten hormone injections,
Nine egg donations,
Eight inseminations,
Seven embryos a-frozen,
Six follicles a-growing,
Five Clomid Pills,
Four Calling Doctors,
Three Gonal Pens,
Two OPK’s,
And a sperm count with great motility

On the eleventh day of Infertility,
My true love sent to me
Eleven tubes of preseed,
Ten hormone injections,
Nine egg donations,
Eight inseminations,
Seven embryos a-frozen,
Six follicles a-growing,
Five Clomid Pills,
Four Calling Doctors,
Three Gonal Pens,
Two OPK’s,
And a sperm count with great motility

On the twelfth day of Infertility,
My true love sent to me
Twelve thousand debt,
Eleven tubes of preseed,
Ten hormone injections,
Nine egg donations,
Eight inseminations,
Seven embryos a-frozen,
Six follicles a-growing,
Five Clomid Pills,
Four Calling Doctors,
Three Gonal Pens,
Two OPK’s,
And a sperm count with great motility

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And for the record, I WISH there were only twelve days of Infertility.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you and all of your family (past, present and future) a happy holiday. May the New Year bring us all great joy and happiness.

Best,

Jay

Friday, December 17, 2010

Patches

I never had a pet growing up. My mom was never a fan of cats or dogs so in turn; no one in my house was allowed to have one. The closest I ever came to any kind of pet was the goldfish I won at a Fireman’s fair when I was eight years old. The fish died a week later and I quickly moved on.

A few years ago, my landlord at the time was this lovely older woman named Mrs. Perez. She had a cat named Athena that had been with her through her divorce, the death of her nephew and her heart attack. Athena was a beautiful, friendly cat who I nicknamed “The Mayor” because she was often seen roaming the hallways checking in on the different tenants. Whenever I saw Athena in the hallway, she’d rub past my leg as her form of hello and I’d always smile, say hello back and then go about my business.

I had lived there for about four years when I ran into Mrs. Perez in the lobby one day. I asked her how she was and she quickly dissolved into tears. She could barely manage to tell me that Athena had to be put down. They couldn’t figure out what exactly had happened but out of nowhere, the cat stopped eating and was despondent. I felt terrible for Mrs. Perez and hugged her but I couldn’t help but she shocked that someone could get this upset over a cat. I remember vividly her saying to me, “Athena loved me no matter what. No matter what I looked like or what was going on… that cat loved me unconditionally."

When I got married, my husband and I moved out of Mrs. Perez’s building and into a bigger apartment in a family brownstone. It was around this time that we started trying to conceive and obviously, it was not going well. We entered the year 2010 trying inseminations and began planning for our first IVF.

Those who read my blog regularly know that 2010 in general has NOT been a kind year to us. We’ve had financial issues, doctor drama, fertility disappointments and insurance disasters. At one point this year, our house was even hit by lightning. The one bright spot however was our downstairs neighbor got a kitten named Patches. He was black and white and just had a happy, loving attitude about him. Despite the shelter saying that kittens need time to explore their surroundings to feel comfortable, Patches started coming up to our apartment within a month. We had no idea at the time that he’d become a part of our daily lives.

The neighbor downstairs have several dogs and cats so Sam and I often joked that whenever Patches felt like he needed to be the only pet, he’d come upstairs and hang out with us. What’s amazing to me is we never fed him. He didn’t come up for food. He solely came up to hang out with us, get some affection and very often, just take a nap without being hassled by the other animals.

In a year of so much stress, Patches was a desperately needed source of entertainment and distraction. He also always seemed to know the right time to visit. The afternoon in May that I found out my IVF failed, I was home alone. Patches came upstairs (you could always hear his tags outside our door whenever he arrived) and he ended up lying next to me for two hours. We even took a nap together.

Whenever my husband would come home after a hard day of work, he’d always go to our landing and go, “Patches! You around?” and Patches would come up the stairs running to see him. Really, if was Patches friend, Sam was Patches best friend for life. The two of them adored each other tremendously. There were even times if Patches saw Sam wasn’t home, he’d politely leave as if to say, “Love you but let me know when the big guy is back.”

A week ago, Patches came up and saw our Christmas tree. We had just put it up and Patches seemed to be in awe. Sam and I realized it was going to be his first Christmas. We were laughing at the way Patches was absolutely freaking out over how cool the ornaments were that hung on the lower branches. He would playfully bat them around and would look at us like, “Seriously! How cool is this???” For the next couple of days, he’d come by, play with some of the ornaments and then take a nap under the Christmas tree. As much as I’ve never been a pet person, I couldn’t help but find his holiday routine utterly adorable.

Last night, I was in my bedroom when I heard Sam talking to someone at the door. I assumed it was Patches but as I listed longer, I realized it was our downstairs neighbor. He had come to tell us that Patches passed away. No explanation other than they found him and he was gone. He wasn’t even a full year yet. He never even made it to his first Christmas.

Sam thanked our neighbor, shut the door, walked into the bedroom and looked at me. Neither of us said a word. We both began to cry. We continued to cry on and off for the rest of the night.

This year has sucked and a part of me feels like somehow, Patches became a causality of our bad luck. It’s like the universe somehow found out that there was something that really helped us this year and made sure to take it away. I know that’s a bit overdramatic and slightly paranoid but what can I say. I’m hurt that this has happened and I can’t make any sense of it.

In my more positive moments, I am sincerely grateful that we had him during a very challenging time. He truly came into our lives when we needed some “unconditional affection” as Mrs. Perez had put it earlier. We have nothing but positive memories of Patches and as sad as I am right now and as pissed at myself as I am for getting so attached, it can’t change how much we loved him.

In the middle of the night last night, I couldn’t sleep thinking about all this. I went to our living room, sat on the couch and cried. At one point, I happened to look up at the Christmas tree and for the first time ever in my life, I really got what Mrs. Perez felt about Athena. I really got why people are so heart broken when they lost a pet. Whether I looked like hell, whether I was infertile, whether I was down… no matter what was going on… that cat loved me. I’m going to miss him more than I can possibly say.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hope Sinks (Momentarily)

Recently, I came across a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche that read, “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of man.” My first reaction when reading this was, “Wow. That Nietzsche! What a bummer!

My second reaction was, “Ummmm. He does sort of have a point.

When struggling through any trying time, no matter the issue, hope is often what I cling to. I hope things work out exactly as I want them to and the promise of that happy ending keeps me going. Hope though, at least in my little fertility challenged brain, can often be confused with total belief and that is where things can get dangerous. I can hope things will work out but I have to remember that hope comes with no guarantees. Hope doesn’t even come with a warranty.

I mention this because I’ve never been an optimist. For me, the glass isn’t just half empty -- it’s also filled with the entirely wrong beverage. That’s not to say that I’m a totally negative person. I just tend to prepare for the worst and more often than not, the worst is exactly what I get.

However, despite the fact that I’ve been trying to accept the possibility that I may never have children, I recently came down with a bad case of optimism. The past cycle was an all around positive one. It was my birthday and Thanksgiving so I was relaxed, happy and well fed. Also, I don’t want to brag but our ‘trying to conceive timing’ was spot on. Even the face our Ovulation Prediction Kit was impressed. At least I think that's what the smile meant. Then, in the last week of my two week wait, I noticed I hadn’t had my usual PMS Symptoms. I started to wonder, “Wow. Could this be it? Am I finally pregnant?

Then, the cramps began. Then, the spotting. Optimism over. Blinding pessimism returned. I was actually mad at myself for even entertaining the thought of success. How could I have let myself get that hopeful when nothing ever seems to work? Damn you hope! Damn you straight to hell!

The day my period started, I had an all out meltdown. Pajamas, ice cream, any sappy Sandra Bullock movie I could get my hands on and a whole lot of hysterical crying. The next morning, I saw my reproductive endocrinologist and told him about my current state (minus the Sandra Bullock movies). I asked him why I should even bother spending my entire savings on a second IVF when nothing has worked so far. He listened to my whining, offered me some encouraging statistics and what he would do differently from my first IVF. As we started to discuss how much all this would cost me and how I would most likely have to sell an organ or two to pay for it, he stopped and said, “Oh wait. I think you may qualify for a clinical trial we’re doing.”

A clinical trial? What does that mean?” I asked.

It would mean a free IVF cycle.” He said while rummaging through the appropriate paper work.

I’m sorry, what?!? Free? FREE? My husband had to physically restrain me from jumping into the doctor’s lap and kissing him passionately. I’ve always loved free stuff, but free fertility stuff? That gets me hot.

Sam and I fit into everything the trial requires; age, health, what we’ve already tried, economics, etc. The ONLY thing I have to do in the next three weeks is lose two pounds in order to fit into the weight range they are looking for. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a big deal. Don't get me wrong. Losing weight in general is like trying to get blood from a stone for me but trying to lose two pounds over the holiday season in particular is rather a challenge. In the last week alone, a client sent me a huge box of cookies, an Uncle of mine gave me an entire tower of treats and at a holiday party this weekend, I had fruit for dessert while everyone else ate cupcakes.

Mmmmm. Cupcakes…

Still though, if it means I’ll save $15,000… I will eat my watermelon and I will like it.

After I lose the weight and after they do several tests on both Sam and I, we will find out if we will definitely be accepted into the clinical trial. Although I’m still nervous about the whole experience, having the financial strain removed would be a HUGE help. Plus, if I could lose a few pounds, then get pregnant with a free IVF AND save my end of the year bonus, I'd be happier than a bird with a French fry.

No really... have you ever seen a bird with a French fry? That's PRETTY damn happy.

So, I’m not sure how to feel. Should I let hope prolong my torment as Nietzsche said? Or do I give in to optimism and start believing that things may actually work out? My therapist says that I should stay positive, take one day at a time and accept whatever the outcome is knowing that I did my best. That's great advice but it’s easier said than done.

The only thing I know for sure is carrot sticks don’t taste nearly as good a chocolate chip cookies and Nietzsche is dead and of little use to me right now.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Trying to Conceive Proverbs – Part 3

Better the doctor you know than the doctor you don't

Blood is thicker than cervical mucus

Count your follicles

Don't look a uterine polyp in the mouth

Don't put all your eggs in one IVF

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, fertile and wise

Every infertile has her day

Every ovary has a silver lining

Flattery will get you free injectables

He who hesitates misses the ovulation window

If the sperm won't come to the ovary, then the ovary must go to the mountain

If you can't stand the hot flashes, stop taking hormones

Implantation begins at home

It takes two to procreate

It's never too late to get a BFP

Variety is the spice of your sex life

It's no use crying over spilt cervical mucus

It's the early bird that catches the egg

Keep your cervix up

Laugh and the world laughs with you, pee on a stick and you pee alone

And for those of you who missed TTC Proverbs Part 1 and 2, they can be found here: http://the2weekwait.blogspot.com/2010/09/trying-to-conceive-tailored-proverbs.html and here: http://the2weekwait.blogspot.com/2010/10/seize-egg-trying-to-conceive-proverbs.html.