Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wheels spinning...

I am here.  I know it seems like I am not, but I have purposely avoided writing to avoid obsessing.  We are going nowhere fast, and it is driving me a bit insane.  Our precious donor went to see Dr. B in September as planned.  She was screened for std's and the like, and all came back good.  At that point Dr. B took her off of birth control pills.  Apparently she had been on them for quite some time.  Now, this is the old-fashioned girl coming out in me, but how long does one really need to be on BCP when one is only 23?  So I think back.  I started taking them in college.  I was madly in love with Bobby.  We were exclusive.  Maybe I was 19, I don't remember.  But 19 to 23 does not seem long, does it?  I don't know when Sweet Girl started taking the Pill, maybe she was 16, maybe I shouldn't know.  But she stated in her profile that she wasn't in a relationship, so I am confused, and yes, I guess a bit judgmental.

Anyway, no STD's but my girl has to go off her pills and have 2 periods before the party begins.  Period #1 happened October 15 and period #2 is MIA.  Dr. B says I will start Lupron approximately December 19, and our girl should be right behind me.  We still don't have an FSH test, but the big bucks have been sent to the agency.  I am working on losing weight, enjoying the holidays, and hopefully receiving a much earned promotion.  I am doing everything I can to keep my sanity.  My little boy is learning and growing every day.  He becoming such an amazing little step..big brother.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The night before the medical screening

Tomorrow is our donor's first appointment with Dr. B.  Possibly 2-3 weeks for all results.  More waiting....ugh!  I'm building character.  I'm getting stronger.  Insert your favorite "patience" cliche here. And now a little letter to a girl I will never know.

Thank you, sweet girl, for being our donor.  You have no idea how much this gift means to us.  Promise me you are healthy, fertile, and not partaking in drugs, excessive alcohol, or anything else that would render you unhealthy or infertile.  We are paying you a good chunk of change, so please hold up your end of the deal.  A little boy is counting on you to help us with a little brother or sister for him.  It means the world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hurry up and WAIT

My nerves are getting the best of me, or maybe it's just nasty PMS.  Dr. B has had our donor profiles for a week now, and we still don't know anything.  You may already know this about me, but I am really into signs, what stuff means, numbers, etc., and this delay is really sending me to Did We Make the Wrong Decision Land.  I hate doubting.  I want to be so confident about this, and I am sure we will laugh about this time in Dr. B's office, as he explains why he put us off for so long.  I feel certain that that will be the outcome, but for now I'm pissed.  And about to start.  Not a good combo.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

And then there were two...

I thought I was going to have a reprieve from tonight's elimination.  I did think the pretty, young girl had gone on vacation or lost her phone in South Padre.  An hour ago I checked my email one last time, and there it was.  She is available.  All three available and waiting to be my donor.  This morning I told Pierce before I left for work that if we found ourselves in this situation, then I was less in love with the proven donor.  I must be insane.  Proven seems like a golden ticket.  Proven is like knowing which one of the kids in class is the smartest and copying their work instead of possibly picking the kid who studied less than you.  I just know in my heart that one of the others will rise to the challenge.  I am trusting my gut....and Miller.  In five rounds of "Pick a Girl" not once did my son point to the proven donor.  He is fearless, and his mommy is following his lead.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pick a Girl

This is what we chanted as we held Miller up to the computer screen, displaying the images of our Top 3.  Unlike American Idol, I can't hear them sing.  I can't watch them try to win my vote.  All I can do is look at things like education, family health history, looks, hobbies, whether or not a tattoo (or five) seemed like a good idea (and they usually did), and contrived answers to questions like, "Why do you want to be a donor?"  "Would you prefer the process be open or closed?" and on, and on.  In all fairness, the website of the agency I have been using has been well-organized and very easy to use.  So why is this so stinkin' hard?  Why am I more concerned that the girl look like me than if she's had a baby before?  Why does it feel like this whole process is happening to someone else, and I am just watching, observing, and learning vicariously?

Tomorrow we will narrow our 3 to 2.  Someone will be kicked off.  Who will it be?

In the running we have

Donor A - 28 year old mom of 4 boys
Donor B - 23 year old college student (no kids)
Donor C - 27 year old proven donor

I love pieces of all of them.
This is not for the faint of heart.
Just sayin'

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Moving on

So here I am again...three months later.   I still miss Hope.  I think I always will.  I think I wish I had never known about the possibility of twins.  When I looked at the picture of her from 2009 before she was frozen and compared it to the picture after she was thawed a couple of months ago, I could see only one cellular mass.  Hope's id twin died in a test tube, of this I feel certain.

Pierce is going to call the RE tomorrow about a donor egg consult.  Our wish is that I be pregnant by Christmas.  I don't know if this is a reasonable wish in the world of donor matching, but it is time for us to move forward.  Last week I celebrated my 43rd birthday.  That morning I felt sadness that my birthdays don't seem special to me anymore.  I thought about the day that Miller was born and allowed myself to feel the intensity of that joy again.  Then I pictured my parents on the day I was born, and then my birthday felt amazing again.  It didn't matter what I got for presents or what I did with my day, I knew that 43 years ago I made two great peoples' dreams come true.  I pray with all my heart that I feel that amazing joy again.  I pray that I don't feel differently that the baby isn't biologically mine.  I pray that Miller knows a joy I have never known, what it is like to have a sibling.  I know that our odds  of this turning out well are better than anything we have done previously.  I am still completely terrified.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I have always been fascinated by pictures of embryos.  There is something amazing, surreal almost, and then a sense of something really special.  This is not a picture most parents ever see or have in a baby book.  I vacillate between feeling privileged to have these beautiful photos and bitter that I can't live the land of  "babies come from sex".  This picture is of our snowbaby, embryo c, AKA Hope.  After going through the emotional calisthenics of  'should we have our embryo tested?  should we proceed with this FET at our clinic or go to CCRM?  should we let her go and move on to donor eggs?...' after making peace with our original decision to pursue our FET, we felt that we were given a shot at a whole new miracle.  As I mentioned before we were given the responsibility of bringing our little one to the RE's facility in a nitrogen tank.  It was an emotional day to say the very least.  One minute I was carrying the tank into the ARTS facility where we had left Hope nearly 3 years ago.  A bit later I was starring into the tank at a cup.  The cup was holding a straw with my name, social, and a date on it.  The date was the day after Miller and Savannah were transferred, the day Hope was frozen.  Through tears I confirmed that, yes, it was me.  She was mine.  And with that, Pierce I strapped her in to the belt in the backseat of the Explorer.  I sat in the middle, one arm around her in the tank and the other, ironically, in Miller's car seat.  I cautioned Pierce to drive carefully and made nervous conversation the less than 10 miles nearly due north.
At the clinic we waited for the embryologist to come out and speak with us.  She had the report that showed all of the embryos that had been retrieved during our cycle.  She smiled, pointed to the paperwork, and said, "I did these."  Her smile was comforting, and she seemed genuinely thrilled to be reunited with an "old friend".  I remember thinking that she wasn't a typical science geek.  She had such a heart and spoke of my embryo as well...I'll get back to that thought.  Anyway, she asked to see the picture of our embryo.  I told her that I knew Dr. B had one in my file but that the hospital had not given us one when we picked her up.  She explained to us that in her notes from May 2009, she had graded our embryo with two letters, separated by a comma.  Yes, I had seen that on the report.  This means, she said, that this embryo is two babies.  She wanted to show us on the picture, but since we didn't have it I had to take her word for it.  She said that it was very rare for this situation to actually turn into the live birth of identical twins, but she felt obligated to let us know as they had recently transferred an embryo like ours, and the couple did in fact become pregnant with identical twins.  I dared to let my mind go there.  Pierce and I picked out names for two girls and then two boys.  I considered nursery logistics, maternity leave, potential bedrest issues and the ugly drama that would no doubt arise in the workplace.  I pictured Christmas morning with my gorgeous, nearly-three year-old and two little bundles in matching My First Christmas onesies, all with little blond heads and pale, curious eyes.  I dared to dream.  I believed that God had this miracle saved up just for our little family, that he would not allow my father's bloodline to end with Miller, that my shred of 39 year-old fertility had been carefully preserved to carry out this blessed mission.  And just like that, Hope and Grace were gone.

This is how it all went down.  March 16 was Cycle Day 1.  March 17 I started taking Estrace.  March 28 I had a lining check, and all was wonderful.  Lining measured 13, which is textbook I am told.  Apparently it is noted somewhere in my file, "Patient always makes good lining".  U/S tech did note that I had a few cysts, so I had to give blood to ensure that I had not ovulated through the Estrace.  If I had we would have scrapped the cycle and started over.  Dr. B discussed dates with us, and we all decided on April 3.  We ended the appointment with my first IM shot of progesterone.  All was going well.  The next day my bloodwork results showed that I had not ovulated, and all systems were go.  We continued the progesterone shots every night.  Pierce was actually quite good at them, despite the fact that I had started to develop bruises and hard knots on my hips.  The day before transfer I stressed all day that I would receive a call that she had not survived the thaw.  I couldn't focus on anything.  I found myself in silent prayer nearly all day.  Transfer day came, and after signing a bunch of releases and handing over our tax refund, I undressed and waited.  I had a full bladder, but I wasn't uncomfortable.  Even before the valium I had an odd sense of calm.  It was out of our hands.  Only God could determine the fate of our snowbaby now.  I watched the flickering light on the screen above my head as Dr. B guided her to the top of my uterus.  The embryologist checked the catheter to make sure that she had not gotten stuck and confirmed that yes, Hope, was back in her momma.  I felt such a sense of victory!  We had come so far.  39 year-olds never have embryos make it to freeze, and many embryos do not survive the thaw process.  Identical twins are extremely rare, and yet we made one of those rare embryos.  We, who can't make babies the old fashioned way, made a miraculous embryo at advanced maternal age, froze it, thawed it, and brought it back home. 

Eight days later I peed on a stick, no two sticks, BFN times 2.  Two days after that I went for my blood draw with a heavy heart.  The idiot that drew my blood asked me if I was nervous or if I thought I already knew.  I told her that I was pretty sure it would be negative.  She then proceeded to ask me if I was bleeding and I said no.  She then said, "Well that's a good sign."  I wanted to respond, "OK, you fucking moron.  I am on hormones that are preventing me from bleeding.  It doesn't matter how not knocked up I am, I will not bleed until my husband is instructed to stop stabbing me in the ass with large needles every night.  Now, shut up, and take my blood because clearly you know nothing else about what goes on around here", instead I said, "Sure, I guess so".  Pierce got the call around 3:00 that afternoon.  No surprises, no miracles, no numbers to analyze.  It's been over a week.  I miss Hope.  I feel some comfort in knowing that she made it home to me alive, but what was it about my body that couldn't sustain her?  What bigger purpose did God have for her to fulfill?  I knew going into this that this might not turn out well.  Somehow that knowledge doesn't make it easier.  Where does one turn when hope is gone?

Monday, February 27, 2012

FET consult..Take 2

Today I found myself, once again, at the intersection of Hope and Fear.  After dropping off Miller for more school adventures, I flew home to pick up Pierce for our RE appointment, all the while jamming out to Adele on the highway.  Pierce doesn't get it, or maybe he does but he doesn't show it.  I'm just not sure.  Anyway, just going to the RE puts me in a tizzy.  I don't remember feeling that way the first time around, which makes sense since I didn't know fear then.  Everything has changed.

When we went to see the RE a month ago, I knew exactly why I was going.  Plain and simple, we were there to discuss our FET.  An FET consult turned into a four-option discussion with a whole lot of not-saying-but-knowing that our RE didn't want to do the FET.  I analyzed that visit for three weeks, trying to figure out his angle.  Was he afraid of getting a reputation for making babies with Downs?  I was pissed.  Pierce and I set up a phone consult with an RE at a clinic two states away who was willing to test Hope for chromosome anomalies.  And by willing to I mean, he was willing to charge us nearly as much as our fresh IVF cycle, make us travel to Colorado twice and repeat lots of testing, all the while making no promises that Hope would be viable.  Even our RE said that that option was ridiculous.

After major soul searching I called to schedule the appointment I had thought we were going to have a month earlier.  Not willing to get side-tracked, I firmly said, "Let's do this!"  Dr. B talked us through the process which, by the way, is easy-peasy compared to IVF.  There are still lots of unknowns, but at least we have taken a step forward.  No regrets.  I have a mock transfer next week, and then we wait for AF.

One other project on my plate that nearly blindsided me is that Pierce and I have to go to the lab where Hope is cryopreserved with a liquid nitrogen tank and two notarized consent forms.  We will pick her up and transport her to the new lab at the RE's office where he does all of his transfers now.  This freaks me out.  I am afraid that something I do will jeopardize her.  What if we get in an accident?  Somehow I feel like she should be transported more sophisticatedly, like by armored car or ambulance, by people who are trained to handle precious cargo.  And then I remember that we are her parents, and therefore, we are precisely the ones who should take care of her.  No one else will acknowledge the importance of that package, the dreams that are tucked inside.  On my next day off, we will get the tank and drive to the lab.  We will pick up Embryo C and drive her to the RE's office, and she will be one step closer to coming home.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blissfully Unaware

I never intended to abandon this project.  I think of it often, and I feel guilty.  Guilty that I am not documenting my son's life and that I have somehow lost my creative outlet.  This isn't the first time.  All of my life I have turned to journaling or writing short stories to get me through the tough stuff, and it works for me.  However, it seems that when the fog has lifted all of my ability to express myself through writing goes right out the window.  This is why my dream of being a writer was never a practical one.  I only write when the spirit moves me, and usually the spirit is provoked by misery.  One of my dear blogger friends was faced with the same sporadic to no-posting phenomenon when she came to the conclusion that infertility had been her muse.  Her statement was a full-on Oprah AH- HA! Moment for me.  Miller was living proof that I had slain the infertility dragon, and through time, patience and self-reflection I have learned that having a child with Down syndrome has brought me so much more joy than the sorrow I once feared.

So here I am.  I have a beautiful two year-old.  He has speech delays.  Quite frankly, he jabbers on all of the time but doesn't actually say much of anything.  He does say "Dada" to Pierce, but he also says it to me, the cat, and his vast collection of stuffed animals.  He will say "Mama" if I force him to, but he still doesn't indicate that he knows that means me.  What does amaze me is his ability to learn and understand sign language.  My kid can't talk to me yet, but he understands what I say to him.  I know this because he responds appropriately in sign.  He knows at least 25 signs, and there are probably more that I don't realize he is doing.  Needless to say, preschool has become an education for everyone in this house.

I am still trying to piece my life back together after losing my job.  I am still bitter and wonder if that will ever go away.  A dear friend of mine, who I met through my old job, has been wonderful in helping find other work.  I am extremely grateful to him, despite that fact that a year and half after losing my good income I am making exactly half.  In fact I am making what I made in 1999.  I know that this will turn around.  I know that things will not always look so bleak, but it is so hard when, once again, we are looking in to the evil eyes of the infertility dragon.

I have put this off.  That is what I do when I fear failure:  I refuse to proceed in order to not fail.  It's not productive behavior by any means, but I am acutely aware of my own demons.  We have not used any birth control since Miller was born, and....surprise, surprise, no baby.  We are right back where we were in 2008, knowing that the creation of any future child of ours will involve a lot more people than just the two of us, but there is a difference.  When we were going through this before, we were blissfully unaware.  After two failed IUIs, we turned to IVF.  I responded well to stims.  We retrieved 11, 9 were mature, 7 fertilized normally, 3 were awesome on day 5.  Two beautiful embies came home on May 6, 2009 and 1 became a snowbaby.  I was told 39 year-olds never have embies make it to freeze.  We had exceeded everyone's expectations.  Then, it worked!  Ultrasound revealed twins, and we celebrated.  Within weeks we lost Baby B and shortly thereafter we were given 1:5 chances that Miller would have Downs.   We were blissfully unaware that just because IVF had worked that didn't mean that we would be bringing home healthy babies.

I don't mean to sound stupid.  I knew there were risks, but like so many others out there, I didn't believe it could happen to us.  It can and did happen.  And once I got through the hell that it was, I am now able to understand that it wasn't a bad thing at all.  He is an amazing and magical gift.  The scary thing is that if our RE had ever mentioned that maybe we should consider doing PGD on our embryos, we probably would have done the testing.  If we had done the testing the results would have revealed Miller's Ds, and the transfer would have never happened.  Our son's life would have been snuffed out in a hospital lab.  I try to not think about that, but now were are faced with the future of our snowbaby.

We want a second child.  Our frozen embryo seems like the best option, I mean, if 39 year-olds don't ever have frosties then tell me why this embryo made it to day 6.  Why didn't he/she fizzle out in the lab like the other 4 embies?  This baby is calling out to me, so much so that I no longer see her as a blastocyst, but rather as an entity named for infertility's more dangerous and sought after emotion: Hope. I have intense emotions when I think of her, but sadly, the strongest one has been fear.  Fear was never something I felt when I was blissfully unaware.  Fear is the product of my previous experience.  Fear that the embryo will not survive the thaw.  Fear that I will not get pregnant.  Fear that I will get pregnant and miscarry.  Fear that I will get pregnant, will not miscarry, and will find out via CVS that Hope has abnormalities.  Fear what those decisions will do to me and my family.  Fear that I will have wasted a whole lot of time worrying about this, putting it off 'cause that's what I do, and my embryo will take, I will be pregnant and deliver a completely healthy baby.  A fucking crystal ball would be helpful now.  Nothing about this is easy or straightforward.  I know that this is where I am supposed to rely on faith.  There is some comfort in that, but I would much prefer answers.  We have our next consult in one week.  The RE can offer no answers: His crystal ball is missing as well.

My son is sleeping.  I can hear his muffled snore, the product of his sixth sinus infection this season.  He is blissfully unaware of what Mommy and Daddy are planning.  We have asked him if he wants a brother or sister, and he answers with a big smile.  Somehow that smile gives me the strength to get through this.  My son doesn't know what fear is.  I wish I could return to the place where I didn't either.