Tag Archives: infertility

The other side

4 Mar

As of Tuesday, I will be 24 weeks pregnant. That’s six months. I am now at a point that I didn’t even allow myself to dream about at the beginning of this pregnancy. My milestones included getting from the first ultrasound to hearing the heartbeat and 12 weeks, and then to the 19 week anatomy scan, and then to when I would finally feel fetal movements. And now all of those things have happened and I appear to be having a totally textbook, uncomplicated, normal pregnancy. It’s actually been quite enjoyable. I feel like I am on an extended vacation. I eat and sleep when I want to. I socialize with friends, but generally in small groups over a good meal. I have been reading novels and daydreaming — generally enjoying this precious quiet time before our lives change forever.

I feel my libido starting to creep back. I am happy about this and hope it continues. It took a good, long time to get over the trauma of constant medical poking and prodding when we were trying to get me pregnant. I thought it was all fine at the time, but now I realize that I wasn’t okay. I was keeping it together, moving from disappointment to disappointment. I hinged my hope on the next attempt and even started to believe that I may have been somehow broken. Who knows what combination of science, fate and circumstance made this pregnancy possible? But right now I am really grateful and feeling more content than I have in years.

At two points this week, it occurred to me that I am now on the other side of that struggle. Of course, I won’t count my blessings till we are holding a healthy baby in our arms, but I am definitely out of the rabbit hole of infertility.

Earlier this week, a co-worker in her late 40s complained that everyone around her seems to be pregnant these days. She had wanted to be a mother desperately, but decided to stop short of IVF a few years ago. It was a painful and difficult decision and one she still struggles with. At first, I found myself irritated and a little offended by her pronouncement. And then I remembered that I felt exactly the same way last summer. It’s hard to see so many fertile people around you when you are struggling so hard with regret and loss.

Yesterday, we spent some time with a newly pregnant friend and her partner. She had been three weeks ahead of me in pregnancy, but found out at her 12-week scan in the fall that the fetus didn’t have a heartbeat. She is now cautiously re-entering pregnancy, having suffered a devastating loss. She is torn between optimism and fear. She is treating early pregnancy much like I did. I remember saying to myself, “Wow, I am pregnant. This may actually lead to a baby.” It seems like a ridiculous sentiment, because generally pregnancy does lead to a baby. But I had been poisoned by so much disappointment and had read too many sad stories to believe that it was actually going to turn out okay. It was a lovely experience to console her yesterday, because my compassion came from a visceral place. If I can take anything from the journey that we began in August 2010, it’s an embodied knowledge of how hard it can be to face multiple losses.

Feeling little kicks and murmurs gives me daily re-assurance that this is a healthy, thriving pregnancy. It’s still cold outside, but the light is beautiful and the days are getting longer. I am filled with optimism for the first time in a long while. It’s delightful to watch Caitlyn get excited about scouting out deals on kid gear, purging our basement and framing art work for the nursery. We still have a ways to go, but we are starting to think of ourselves as future parents. Totally mind-blowing. I feel so very lucky.

Maybe we’ll get a baby at the end of this

14 Nov

I know that the sentiment expressed in the title of this post may seem a bit hilarious, given that I am eight weeks pregnant. It’s just that I still don’t quite believe that this is happening. And the worrywart part of my brain keeps thinking, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

It’s hard not to think that imminent disaster is inevitable when you spend too much time perusing infertility websites. It’s a bad habit, I know. But reading other people’s blogs over the past year really gave me a window into the realities of tying to conceive. Some women experience loss after loss and it’s hard not to feel like this might be the norm. It’s the myopic world of infertility warping my brain. And while I don’t really have any confirmation that I actually have a problem with my fertility, it sure took a long time to get pregnant. There were dozens and dozens of appointments involved — multiple doctors, more needles than I want to think about and enough internal ultrasounds to last me this lifetime and the next.

And here I am now. There’s absolutely no indication that anything is wrong. An ultrasound on Thursday confirmed that there is a microscopic little heart beating inside me. But it all still seems like such a remote reality.

One of my closest friends gave birth less than two weeks ago. When I held her daughter in my arms, it donned on me that it’s very possible that my wife and I will be doing the same thing in June. It’s so crazy and wondrous. I am starting to believe that this may actually happen for us. But I’m not quite there yet.

The wait, part 1

5 Oct

Egg retrieval was yesterday. It went as well as could be expected. They got eight eggs — less than I had hoped for, but exactly the number of big follicles that were showing on the ultrasound earlier this week. The doctor made a good call to allow me to stimulate for one extra day. I hope this means that all (or the majority of) the eggs are mature.

We solved one mystery yesterday. It appears that I do in fact produce eggs out of my right ovary. We got two from the right. But it was also excruciatingly painful. The doctor seems to think that there may be some scar tissue. He said it was “tough” to penetrate. This helps explain things a little. But wow, did it ever hurt. My clinic doesn’t do general anesthetic for egg retrievals, so I had to make do with an extra dose of a painkiller narcotic.

Right now I am in the midst of the first unbearable wait. I am waiting for someone from the clinic to call and let me know how many eggs were mature and how many fertilized. Last time only one fertilized. We are hoping for much better results this time. The ideal scenario would be if five or more fertilized — then the clinic would let them go for five days (to develop into the blastocyst stage) before putting one or two back into my uterus. The super duper ideal scenario would be if we had a couple to transfer and at least two to freeze.

I am trying to think positive and stay calm, while I wait at home for the phone to ring.

EDIT: Amazing news! Five eggs fertilized. I am tentatively booked for a 5-day transfer on Sunday. But if anything changes overnight, then they will slot me in for a 3-day on Friday. I am happy, hopeful and so, so relieved!

Quick update

27 Sep

For the 10 or so of you who are actually reading …

We are well into IVF with ICSI #2. Today is day six of stims. Egg retrieval will likely be on Sunday. I am feeling okay overall. I am managing to get more exercise, am paying more attention to what I eat and am generally trying to chill out a bit more. I ditched the acupuncture this time — it was a tremendous time/money suck, caused me anxiety and didn’t actually help me get pregnant last time. So this time I will be indulging myself the ways that I know work for me — yoga, massage, maybe a pedicure this afternoon. And sleep, lots of sleep.

Overall, I seem to be less stressed out about this round that my wife is. Maybe it’s because she knows that this is it for now — that if this doesn’t work, we are going to have to switch gears and try other options. I am feeling reasonably optimistic, with healthy does of realism. I am super curious to see what happens this time, with a different protocol and medication combination. I will be waiting with baited breath to find out if I do in fact produce eggs out of my right ovary (oh, the mystery). It will also help me understand if I have a serious egg quality problem, or if last time was a fluke.

Another $8,000 is a lot of money to spend on a fact-finding mission, but that’s how I am trying to think of this IVF cycle. It may result in one or more baby. Or it may not. I want to try and stay positive, without clinging to false hope.

More bad news, I’m afraid

10 Aug

Met with a couple of doctors from the fertility clinic today. It seems that they are just as shocked by our first disastrous IVF attempt as we were. None of the tests leading up to retrieval day indicated that anything was going wrong.

A couple of bizarre things happened. First of all, they only retrieved eggs from my left side. It appears that all of the follicles on my right were empty. So it’s possible that my right ovary just doesn’t produce eggs. The other shocking thing — get this — is that my eggs did something strange that the embryologists have NEVER SEEN BEFORE. And they have handled thousands of eggs. Apparently the liquid inside was “sticky” when they tried to fertilize. I can’t possibly use the proper scientific terms to explain what they found, but apparently my eggs were unresponsive in a way that HAS NEVER BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT IN SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE.

(Okay, enough with the screaming capital letters, sorry.)

They said we had two options — try another drug protocol or attempt a “natural” cycle” where they wouldn’t stimulate me, they would just retrieve the one egg that I produce in a given month. A natural cycle is said to lead to improved egg quality. But the odds are much worse overall. We decided to try one more stimulated IVF/ICSI cycle with a new drug protocol. The hope its that the more eggs we get, the higher chance that at least one will be a keeper. If we encounter the same egg problem after our second cycle, we will likely throw in the towel on IVF for a while. We’ll move to investigating public adoption and approaching a known donor about “contributing” on a monthly basis. It’s possible that my body just hates all of this poking and prodding.

It’s also entirely possible that I have poor egg quality and will not be able to get pregnant. Period. Unless we consider an egg donor, which seems like an insane process to navigate.

So that’s what we know. We try again next month. This all feels a little too heavy to handle right now.



4 Aug

I have spent the last day wallowing in a mild state of anxiety and fear. I keep thinking: what if my eggs are no good? What if I really am infertile? What if I can’t carry a pregnancy to term?

Then my thoughts turn to: what if I will need to find an egg donor? How would I even begin to ask this of someone? Who could I ask? What would it feel like to carry a baby that isn’t biologically related to me? What if it was an anonymous donor? Could I handle that?

And then I start panicking over finances — how many thousands of dollars is this going to cost us? How much debt can we carry without becoming overburdened? Will we end up majorly in the hole with no baby to show for it? How far are we willing to go and for how long?

Then I wonder if our desperation will lead us to take medical risks. What happens if I get pregnant with twins? Triplets? Will I be on bed rest for weeks? Will we end up with premature babies with health problems who will have to spend weeks in the NICU?

I am trying to take each day as it comes, but it’s hard not to get caught in this stressful spiral.

Embodied healing

26 Jul

After leaving a damaging relationship in my 20s, I learned that healing takes time and needs space to both take you over and dissipate. The crying still comes in waves, but they are smaller waves. More like weeping than sobbing. A feeling of sadness and regret lingers now that I’ve moved past the anxiety and intense grief.

One of the hardest parts about this process so far is the constant feeling of being a patient and a subject, rather than an autonomous and powerful person. IVF forces you to put a lot of faith in doctors, scientists, alternative health care practitioners and other so-called experts. Sometimes they give you contradictory advice. I got a lot of ambiguous information about how much I was allowed to exercise throughout this process. I erred on the side of caution and it made me miserable. I sunk into a low-level depression as I became more and more sedentary. I stopped trusting my ability to judge my own limits. I trusted doctors instead of listening to my body.

The real mourning process began for me last week, much before a blood test confirmed the worst. I knew that the somewhat ambiguous cramps I was experiencing had moved into menstrual territory. I could feel when my hormones shifted. I knew that everything wasn’t okay. My sense of dread and panic was palpable and it was prescient.

I went to the gym for the first time in weeks last night and it was a revelation. I certainly felt like I was out of shape when I was running on the treadmill — like jogging through gelatin. But it felt good to lift heavy weights and challenge my body to do something productive, rather than just lying there, monitoring symptoms and fearing the worst.

I need to reclaim my body as beautiful, strong, physically capable and valuable. I have spent too long hating it for what it isn’t doing for me. If the journey toward parenthood is going to be a long one, I need to transform my relationship with my body into a functional partnership. We’ve been in conflict for too long and it’s cramping my style.