Thursday, January 31, 2013

on the up and up

Things are looking up. Not only am I now caught up on both Girls and the Bachelor (yeah, I’m a sophisticated lawyer who watches the Bachelor, what of it?) is Congress making moves toward immigration reform and gun control, but check this out: the smart, witty, feminist ladies over at A Practical Wedding/Reclaiming Wife (because “reclaiming marriage” just sounds homophobic), have kindly posted one of my sassy musings ramblings on trying to conceive. 

And, notwithstanding the morbidity of my last posts (really, I’m okay guys, no need to remove the sharp objects), I’m ready for another go at all of this. I still need the green light from the reproductive endocrinologist next week, but here’s hoping that lucky-number-round-three of Clomid is right around the corner. Honestly, I have never been so physically and emotionally ready for hot flashes and, you know, being kind of a bitch (nostalgia is, apparently, a very distorting force).

Hope you’ll join me for the next installment of this wild ride[1].

[1] Seriously though, how effing deep is Clueless? So deep, you guys. Cher’s use of metaphor? Boy, getting off the freeway makes you realize how important love is. Mind blowing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

still a little bit pregnant

Welp. I’m getting less pregnant by the day. As ever-more insightful people have said before me, it turns out that you can, in fact, be a little bit pregnant. And I am. Just the tiniest little bit. In fact, in a cruel twist of waning pregnancy symptoms, my boobs and lower back are prepared to deliver twins. But the rest of me is quickly losing interest. From a not-so-high-high of 69 point something on Friday, my HCG levels have dropped to a respectably-less-pregnant 22.

In some ways, it creates an oddly liberating sense of relief – it means this particular cycle of hell is almost over. And it also (probably) means I don’t have a dangerous ectopic pregnancy moments away from rupturing, landing me in the intensive care unit in need of an emergency blood transfusion[1]. Not that I spent the entire weekend transfixed by bulletin board trolls and web “doctors” who suggested my death by ectopic was imminent. Because umm, I was plastered to the couch, paralyzed by panic I didn’t?[2]

Saturday, January 26, 2013

my body is a deceitful bastard, part 2 or here today, gone tomorrow

Let’s just cut to the chase: it’s over[1]. I played with fire and I got burned. On Friday I went in for my second blood draw, to see whether the pregnancy was progressing normally. The hope was that my HCG level would have doubled (or, because I’m an overachiever, tripled), signifying that it was viable (at least for now).

On Wednesday, my number was a moderate, but perfectly respectable, 65.8. By Friday? 69. To say it wasn’t living up to it’s potential would be one way of interpreting things.

The nurse broke the news kindly: I’m sorry. This is what we call a biochemical pregnancy. An early loss. A miscarriage.[2]

Then I cried through my mouth said some things amidst the tears – which must have been nonsense because she offered to call me back after I took a minute to, ahem, get my act together. But, bless her heart, I made her suffer, asking, essentially, the same question in eleventy bazillion different ways: isn’t there any way this could be a viable pregnancy?

‘Fraid not. But she did have one exciting alternative: I could have an ectopic pregnancy. Because I’m a sadist they need to make sure I don’t, I get to return on Monday for another blood draw (my veins, and patience, are wearing thin).

my body is a deceitful bastard, part 1

I wrote this on Friday morning. I didn’t post because terror, JINX, etc. But now, here you are.

For those playing along at home, you may be wondering whether I had any symptoms that would foretell this dramatic turn of events (I’m just guessing, seeing as I google “symptoms of pregnancy” about 30 times a day).

The answer is yes – but I didn’t know it. As exquisitely described in this hilarious post, the net effect of infertility is that you lose all trust in your own body. Your body is a deceitful bastard, sending up phantom pregnancy symptoms on the regular. A subtle twinge anywhere near your pelvis/abdomen/ovaries/breasts/eyeballs – start painting the nursery!

Putting aside the most striking of symptoms – i’m. not. menstruating. – I actually did have other signs. While the hot flashes were probably just the Clomid talking (REMEMBER ME, said the Clomid), I was also suffering from excruciating gas pains. Yes strangers and friends, I was, in a word, gassy. But it did not occur to me that this could be explained by anything other than totally plausible non-pregnancy reasons – my period was about to arrive, I have a diagnosed gastrointestinal auto-immune disorder, I just ate a bunch of red onions, etc.

Thankfully, I had asked a good friend (and veteran pregnant lady) what her earliest symptoms were. Her only answer? Gassy. Well, well, well. False sense of confidence in tow, I started noticing other (kind of real, but probably just psychosomatic) signs – I was really tired, I was craving citrus, I felt a kick!

For a second, for just a very quick, blink and you’ll miss it, second, I allowed myself to believe that I might in fact be carrying a ball of fingers[1] smaller-than-one-millimeter gaggle of cells[2] that could one day turn into a living, breathing, baby who grows up to spend her teenage years resenting me. But anyway, because I was still living in utter terror, I let that moment pass.

And today? Well. Gas pain. I think. Or something else. That’s the problem; I still don’t trust anything my body does. While my pelvis is calculating the due date and picking out cribs, my mind is spinning with doubt. Any pain in any place between my neck and my ankles feels certain to portend some horrible fate previously unknown – Ectopic pregnancy? Early miscarriage? Appendicitis? IMMINENT DEATH. You know, reasonable things.

Is Xanax compatible with pregnancy?

[1] You will pay The New Yorker to break through this pay wall. Because Tina, Jeff, Alice and ball of fingers are WORTH IT, goddamit. (Or you will coerce your richer, more sophisticated friend into giving you her New Yorker password. Either way, really.)
[2] Murder of cells? Flock of cells? Quiver, pack, school, herd? Really, I have no idea.

Friday, January 25, 2013

euphoria tempered by utter terror: a retrospective

I wrote this on Wednesday evening. I was living in a state of euphoria tempered by utter terror. Because of the overwhelming feeling that was the latter, I couldn’t post in real time. But, after the fact, when things are different, here you are. I wrote something this morning, too. That’s up next. Then we’ll be back to real time.

Well hello big, bad interwebs. There’s something I’ve been keeping from you. The last week has been, in a word: surreal. 

On Friday evening, anxious and being the reckless dolt that I am poorly attuned to timing and, um, math, I took a pregnancy test. It came back negative. C and I went out for sushi and frozen yogurt to commiserate.

I promised myself that I would wait until my blood test on Wednesday and not act rashly – that I would not go out to the store and buy another three pack of pregnancy tests so that I could take one each and every day until then. Of course, this being reality, I could not keep such promises. After all, I already had one extra pregnancy test stashed in a bathroom cabinet and I began deviously plotting when I would take it – secretly, under cover of night, etc.

As it turns out… at (approximately) 4:22 am on Tuesday morning, I awoke with a start.  (I didn’t tell the doctor this next part because it makes me sound unhinged sounds made up. But since the interweb audience is primed for my candor…) Where was I. I awoke with a start and sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. I had just had the most vivid pregnancy dream. In the dream, I took a pregnancy test and it came back positive (forget the part where I was 19 and living at my parents’ house – that’s obviously irrelevant). I stayed in bed until 4:35 when I decided I just had to do it already. Calmly and quietly, I got out of bed and I peed on that stick. <Anticipation builds to a virtual crescendo. >

You guys: I got a faint positive. A positive so faint I googled so many iterations of “faint positive and clear blue pregnancy test” that by the end, I was sure I was giving birth to twin leopards, breech (thanks Yahoo Answers!). Oh, also – of course I woke up C. I had to. Only his (incredibly sleepy, bewildered and confused) doctor eyes could confirm whether this was, in fact, a faint positive or merely a middle of the night, dream induced aberration of my pregnancy-hungry eyes. He confirmed the former, though not without pausing meaningfully to consider the latter. Even the dog came to take a look – at which point C patted the dog on the head and said dreamily, and I quote “Oh Luna, you’re gonna be a papa.” (Luna is a girl dog and we’re pretty sure C is the father. It was early.).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fertility Jinx, cycle 2, day 28

Before we begin, let’s get a few things straight: We <motions to the vast, illusive blog-o-sphere> are strong, intelligent, educated women. We are not merely emotional beings whose undulating moods are predetermined by the waning and waxing of the moon; we are rational, clear thinking, logical women not easily swayed by myth and superstition. Got it? Got it!

And yet. And yet! When it comes to our fertility, we are completely, utterly, all-consumingly paralyzed by the power of elementary school reasoning – we are paralyzed by the power of jinx[1].

Jinx is why you don’t tell your family that you’re “trying.” Jinx is the reason you don’t tell your friends you’re pregnant until after your 12 week check up despite the fact that you are green in the face with nausea and have cancelled “going out for a drink” for three weeks running. Jinx is why you didn’t tell your husband your period was late even if you were certain you were pregnant because you were terrified of jinxing what, by that point, was already a medical reality.

Since deciding to write a blog about my own <I kind of want to say fertility journey, but it just sounds like a booth at the Lilith Fair > I have often been confronted with this phenomenon – don’t I worry that my reckless candor will forever ruin my chances of actually accomplishing the thing I have set out to do? That even if I do (somehow, some way) get pregnant, that by announcing it to all you kind strangers on the internet, plus my mom the world, I’m essentially asking for miscarriage and mayhem (in that order)?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Babies! (not mine), cycle 2, day 26

I should have seen it coming. I should have known. I should have emotionally prepared myself for *gulp* the baby shower. Dun, Dun, Dun!

I mean it when I say I’m totally thrilled for this soon-to-be-mama – I loved picking out baby books for her new arrival and celebrating with oh-dear-god-why-do-i-insist-on-being-sober-I’m-so-not-pregnant (virgin) bellinis. What I didn’t expect is that, duh, baby showers tend to also be full of the-already-born-variety of baby.

There. Were. Babies. Everywhere. A 17 month old dancing in circles like a drunken sailor, chanting “car, car, CARRRR!”; a two and a half year old covered in cupcake frosting; a three week old so tiny it did not appear to be able to open it’s eyes. And those were just the ones I saw. (In addition to the one who permanently attached herself to me and gnawed on my fingers for about two hours, every minute of which was kind of like heaven.)

To say I was green with envy isn’t entirely accurate – I don’t begrudge them their adorable snotty babbling babes or resent their fertility (because, um, that would be clinically insane and it’s also entirely possible that I was in the midst of babies-conceived-with-Clomid, a reality far more prevalent than I ever knew.). It’s more that I just, like, want one. Like, yesterday <naturally talk of babies lapses into, like, talking like a valley girl. That’s a thing, right? >.

We’ve always known we wanted kids – secret shame: C and I had a baby girl’s name picked out by our junior year in college – but I never really knew quite how much. There’s something totally intangible about this feeling – and lest you think I’m going down some ultra-weird-maternal-biological-impulse road, C has it too. We both get emotional thinking about how bad we want this – how bad I too want to suffer through nine months of unceasing nausea, how bad C wants to suffer through nine months of I’m-too-nauseous to look at you let alone have sex with you treatment. We’re just dying to sleep three hours a night, in 8-minute increments, and find that all of our clothes are covered in spit-up, snot or both (that’s basically parenthood in a nutshell, right?).

Anyway. One emotional rollercoaster of a baby shower later and here I am, at home. Mindlessly perusing pictures of baby rooms on Apartment Therapy ("Emerson's Vintage Nursery"; "Juniper's Whimsical Abode" - seriously, I could not make this stuff up) because, err, it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Okay fine, so I probably need better distractions – this, this and rigorous house cleaning (why yes, I will vacuum the baseboards!) should suffice, for now. Only *cough* 72 hours until we find out whether this cycle worked… 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes: cycle 2, day 23

Three signs that I am probably not pregnant:

(1) Missing in action
For the mathematically inclined at home, yes, I know, I’m only 10 days post ovulation. So, technically, my period’s not missed, just missing. Last cycle, gifted and talented ovulator that I am, my period arrived basically 30 minutes after I ovulated. (If you’re wondering - those 29 minutes of I-could-totally-be-pregnant were, in a word, bliss).

Anyway. I’m ten days post ovulation (10dpo if you will – and you will not, because we do not use jargon here) and nothing. Nothing with a big, fat, YET attached to it.

What I think this means: ohmygod I’m pregnant.

What this actually means: Well. Actually. According to numerous reputable online sources – which I had to check because, duh, I still have basically no idea how my body works – Aunt Flo usually doesn’t arrive until 14-16 days post ovulation which means I am… so not pregnant. On a related note, I’m also sick of carrying tampons in every bag and pocket I own. *dramatic sigh.*

(2) Premature menopause hot flashes
As in, several times a day. In particular, when I’m oh, I don’t know, breathing. Or breathing in the close vicinity of another human being. Or possibly walking. Or possibly sitting at my desk trying not to breathe and holding my limbs as still as possible. ProTip: when planning to sweat through your fancy work clothes, best to wear dark colors.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

on the increased chance of twins while on Clomid: cycle 2, day 21

With Clomid comes an increased chance,
Of twins, each time we baby dance <cringe>.
With Clomid, extra hormones flow,
To help the eggs mature and grow.
With more than one egg released at ovulation,
So does grow the expectation,
That both will fertilize and then, oh my!
We’ll have two, but it’s not enough, C cries.
His ears perk up, an increased risk of twins?
He's now intrigued, eyes a-spin,
A challenge afoot, this more than one.
Why only two? Why only double the fun?
Alas, he declares, “If we just had twins, we’d be quitters!”
He won’t be happy until we have, in his words, “a litter.”[1] 
[1] This is totally a joke. A terrible, only-funny-to-the-trying-to-conceive-set joke. It's also an astute reminder of C’s primary role in our relationship: unrestrained proposer of harebrained hijinks. We’re not from the land of the medically-reckless, greedy-baby-freaks hoping for anything more than one healthy, gender-non-specific, set of lungs and a diaper. In truth, the thought of multiples paralyzes me with fear. Fear and months of bed-rest.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Redux: cycle 2, lost-count-of-the-days

Another cycle, another “two week wait.” Another 14 (or so) days during which time I am carefree, relaxed and happily enjoying other pursuits that don’t involve scheduled sex wondering if every last twinge, itch, and strange dream is surely the earliest sign of pregnancy.

Helpful as always, C has already taken to teasing me about my upcoming role as insufferable-patient-with-pseudocyesis[1]. Truthfully, it will be a dazzling role reprisal as my one loyal reader (hi mom!) may remember my previous forays into I’m-so-tired-with-shades-of-nausea-that-i-must-be-pregnant-even-though-i-haven’t-ovulated-in-six-months bat-shit crazy reasoning. What can I say – I’m a lawyer, I think logically.

Anyway, I’m trying my best to maintain some semblance of sanity. It certainly helps that my bitchiness has all but disappeared – shock: it was totally correlated to Clomid-taking! – and the crippling ovary pain (it arrived!) has since faded.

If you’re keeping score at home, here’s the low down on the next steps: In the next two weeks, I’ll meet with the reproductive endocrinologist and put a plan[2] in place should my subsequent pregnancy test reveal that I’m not of the knocked-up variety. Then, a few days later, faint-fest a blood draw confirms whether or not I won the golden ticket. Until then, I’ll probably have to be physically restrained from taking seventy-bajillion home pregnancy tests whose inscrutable test-reading-windows leave me certain that I’m the rare pregnant lady for whom a home pregnancy test always provides a false negative.

For now, please excuse me while I pick out baby names pace the halls.

Forthcoming: the second installment of the ever-popular recipe-post, things-I-cooked-while-trying. This time with slightly less chocolate <jumps back on treadmill>.

[1] What, you don’t… live with a doctor yet obtain all of your substantive medical advice from webmd?
[2] Which will go something like… take more birth control, then take more Clomid, maybe a round of OVIDREL as an aperitif. For full effect, this plan will be implemented without even the slightest hint of irony.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

what passes for romance: cycle 2, day 13

6:45 am, Monday morning: 
Reprising his role as doctor-husband, and in most un-sexy fashion, C grabs hold of Sarah's belly fat[1]. (There is really no delicate way to say that.)

6:46 am, Monday morning:
Without even so much as a warning, C jams a giant syringe full of Chinese hamster ovary right into it[2]. Sarah, determined to cry dramatically and on cue (so that C will walk the dog take pity on her), realizes it doesn't actually hurt that much and can't quite muster the focus necessary for such theatrics.

6:47 am, Monday morning:
Wait, we're supposed to have sex now?

[1] Third person is kind of weird fun, no?
[2] I swear I tried to learn how to do it myself, but this French manicure was just too hideously distracting.

Monday, January 7, 2013

dubious accolades: cycle 2, day 10

Another day, another early morning in stirrups while wearing half of a business suit. It’s a precarious existence I inhabit.

In any case. There I was. In half a lawyer-suit on top and birthday suit on bottom with a new nurse wanding me. This nurse has a lot of personality. A lot of distinctly Massachusetts South Shore personality. She is candid. And feisty. And apparently, full of compliments for me and my hardworking ovaries.

“Oh yeah! Super (pronounced soo-puh), look at this one <excitedly turns screen in my direction so I can see what look like pulsing amoebas bouncing around inside my pelvis>”
“Yeah, you did a wicked good job, right here (pronounced heee-uh), look at this!”
“Very, very good!” (All New England Rs)

I may have blushed. I may have been secretly flattered by her unceasing praise. I may have been so negative going in to this morning’s wanding that I had psychologically prepared myself for no follicles and a failed cycle. After all, absent the crippling ovary pain I experienced in my first cycle, I had (completely rationally) convinced myself that this cycle was unsuccessful. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

bitches get stuff done: cycle 2, day 9

It’s possible that I was a little bit of a bitch[1] this week. There. I said it. And I’m just going to own it blame it all on the hormones coursing through my body. I was basically just a bitch sort of snappy when I could have been patient; a bit judgmental when I should have been loving. I saw it and yet, I was completely powerless to stop it. It’s an eerie out of body experience – especially given that I am usually such a bright, cheery, kind and generous person.[2]

If I were being thoughtful about this, if I wasn’t using such foul language[3], I think I would say that it’s more of a “second-cycle-funk” (that’s a thing, right?).

It’s not that I feel angry or resentful at not being with child. As much as I adore that phrase, and as much as I planned to relentlessly deny embrace those feelings, they’re just not here. I’m still decidedly not at the point where the fertility clinic waiting room sign – The presence of children may make other patients uncomfortable. Please make arrangements for them before coming.[4] – applies to me (and dear-omnipotent-presence-if-you-do-exist-in-whatever-form, let me never get to that place and in the meantime, let me be kind to those who have). In fact – shock of the interwebs – I’m still genuinely happy to receive baby announcements. It’s just that I don’t know what the future holds[5] and this leaves me feeling astonishingly, breathtakingly, staggeringly ANXIOUS. Which, in turn, leads me to express my apprehension in negative ways be a bitch.

So, I’m working on it. I think it’s in check now – much more so when I feed it cookies and let it watch Portlandia. In the meantime, I’m embracing my hormonal instability. Because, you guys: bitches get stuff done.

[1] <Insert post-modern feminist argument about the social harms of the word “bitch”, then something about “reclaiming” the word bitch and probably something else about heteronormativity and hegemony. > Or else, probably just what Murray said in Clueless.
[2] Sarcasm is difficult to convey in writing. Deadpan.
[3] Did I mention that my parents are now reading this. <Walks off tall building.>
[4] Seriously.
[5] I promised this blog would deliver on deep thoughts, didn’t I?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

it's all about the benjamins: cycle 2, day 8

This is what I need to be doing to cover the ballooning cost of not being able to ovulate on my own[1]. Yes, I know what you’re thinking – I’m not even in IVF-proper land. Heck, I’m still in the junior-miss department of infertility. I’m still on clomid. Just clomid. It’s like romper room over here. Just wait, you’re thinking, just wait until you make it into the major leagues – IVF and all the other acronyms. Then you’ll know what’s what.

Point taken <briefly daydreaming about what I have to look forward to, it’s just like this, right?> But where was I. Yes. Even in the dilettante-department-of-just-Clomid-taking, infertility ain’t free. The total cost of my treatment thus far, excluding co-pays ($25 for each office visit) has been a cool $4,957[2]. Thankfully, insurance has paid for the majority of this. I have had to write several checks (the most recent for $183.38) for expenses that our insurance didn’t cover but I am FULLY aware that I am exceedingly lucky in this regard – that most spend far more; that one measly cycle of IVF can cost double this. But guys, I've barely been at this two months.

I’m a lawyer, (I know, it comes as a shock to me, too), but I make less than an ice-cream store manager; less than a (unionized) tollbooth collector (a career I am now actively exploring). C is a medical resident, a title only bestowed after accumulating approximately 100,000 dollars of student loan debt. I’m clearly complaining not complaining; we are very fortunate to have the chance to try and we’re doing okay (so far). But what if this thing drags on past, oh, I don’t know, tomorrow?