Thursday, February 28, 2013

one year, a retrospective, cycle 3, day 14

One year ago this week, C and I were on a romantic my-parents-are-in-a-bungalow-right-next-door-to-us getaway to St. Lucia. Even though we are still routinely mistaken for brother and sister when we travel with them[1]no, really, one queen bed will be fine we told the slightly-horrified-and-unable-to-hide-it Cambodian concierge – we’re not shy about accepting literally any freebie travel opportunity sent our way.

And because there’s just something about international travel that screams it’s-time-for-a-baby[2], we made a decision: we are going to start trying. I had just finished a pack of birth control and for the first time in more than ten years, I would forego a new pack. We even told my parents – which seems much stranger in retrospect than it did at the time.

Had I known then what I know now, would I have proceeded differently? Would I have ratcheted down my level of late teen/early twenty pregnancy terror by about eleventy billion degrees? Umm, YES. Honestly, I have no idea. On one hand, yes I would change everything. But on the other, bigger hand, what on earth would I have done? Besides never taking birth control and perhaps remaining completely sedentary, I’m not sure what realistically would have helped.

But hindsight is 20/20 so here are a few things I’ve learned in twelve months of seemingly futile trying.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

double the fun, cycle 3, day 12

On Saturday I had the pleasure of an early morning wanding and bloodletting at the far-away-weekend-fertility-bunker. Since we were en route to a wedding in New York, it was kind of like a road trip a real pain in the neck. It was only day 9 of my cycle but thankfully – despite an only modestly busy pelvis that had me all kinds of worried – there were four follicles to be found. But they weren’t mature and my estradiol was still only around 300. Ovulation would have to wait until another day.[1]

<Dramatic Pause.> And that day, is today. Yesterday I went in for a second round of early morning wand+blood.[2] And because I need more excitement in my life, I was subjected to perhaps the most painful transvaginal ultrasound ever experienced by anyone in the history of everdom that I have ever had[3]. The wand, suddenly a very blunt and inflexible instrument, was so far in it was basically digging into my neck. Apparently two follicles were “hiding” behind some other “organs “and the tech had to go “digging” for them up behind my eyeballs. At a certain point – when my ultra dramatic wincing became too much to bare – the tech finally stopped, muttering something about how she just can’t stand to cause me pain, etc., and put a note in my file about my hide and seek follicles.

By lunchtime, I heard back from the nurse: three “beautiful!” mature follicles and my estradiol levels were up past 700. I was given my marching orders – Ovidrel shot on Tuesday evening, then sex until Friday – and sent on my smug little way.

So what’s in store for tonight? Well, in one more showing of romance is not dead!, C will have the pleasure of grabbing my muffin top roll of belly fat and jamming it full of Chinese hamster ovary. And then we’ll have sex. Until Friday. Please, look away, I’m blushing.

[1] Which is totally fine because it’s not like we, oh, I don’t know, packed a cooler full of ice and Chinese hamster ovary and drove all over New York with it in the unlikely event that I would have to use it while away from home. No. We did not do that. Because we are not crazy people.

[2] I thought I had come up with yet another kind of badass name for a terrible metal band. But no. This is already (kind of) a thing. (Also, “Motherboar” basically just sends my free wheeling brain here.)

[3] Here’s the truth: transvaginal ultrasounds – in spite of their alarmingly graphic name – usually aren’t that painful. And while I realize the legitimate-rape-pro-mandatory-transvaginal-ultrasound-right-wing-goon-squad would have a field day with my saying so, I am nothing if not candid with you, dear interwebs. But my point is this, I’ve chosen my fate – cold plastic probe on the regular – and other women should be free to choose theirs.

Friday, February 22, 2013

infertility groove? cycle 3, day 8

You’d think there’d be nothing like a miscarriage to strip me of every last vestige of humor – an event so deeply traumatizing that there’d be nothing to do but mouth cry. But instead, I practically live blogged that shit. Every tormenting up and down of my record-breaking 72-hour pregnancy was sent out into the ether, hyperlinks and strikethroughs aplenty. I couldn’t help myself; basically hyperventilating at the keyboard in eagerly writer blogger anticipation. And by all appearances, wink wink, I’ve emerged relatively unscathed (justbarely).

But now, all of a sudden, weeks after the harrowing turn of events that left me rather, ahem, bloody-oh-my-god-there’s-so-much-blood[1] un-pregnant, I’m feeling stale and humorless.

Third Clomid cycle in – and almost at the one year mark of trying – and this infertility business has become something of a humdrum existence. Truth is, I’m in a bit of an infertility groove[2] – an almost (but not quite) comforting rhythm in the midst of this unpredictable madness that obscures the need for any modicum of thinking. It goes like this (sing along with me now!): birth control, bleed, Clomid, wanding/blood letting/sporadic fainting, Ovidrel, sex, sex, sex, wait, wait, wait, early miscarriage, rinse and repeat. It’s sort of soothing, almost ethereal – you know, like sniffing glue listening to a hair dryer.

So, having just gulped down the last two chalky tablets of Mother's-little-(fertility)-helper, I don’t feel much of anything. You know, except of course a burning desire to have a stranger insert a (sort of flexible but very cold) wand inside me at 7 am on a Saturday. Thankfully, I have less than 24 hours to wait for that...[3]

Ed. Note: the lovely lady at Lamenting the Lentil has said some crazy-nice things about Fallopian Groove – and I’m not even paying her. But she’s got a pretty great little blog going on herself – check her out: Lamenting the Lentil.

[1] Too much?
[2] Or dare I say, fallopiangroove? (Forgive me – it was so easy.)
[3] For those of you who are really paying attention, you may be counting on your fingers with a furrowed brow. Yes, today is only day 8 of my cycle and tomorrow is day 9. Apparently after being unable to ovulate on my own for so long, my body just can’t ovulate fast enough – I’m an early ovulator (that’s a thing, right?), often around day 10. But on this cycle’s day 10 I will be at a lovely wedding in New York, unable to oblige the wanding gods. So, premature wanding though this may be – and more likely, first of several wandings over the next several days – I am very ready to get moving.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

precautionary measures: cycle 3, day 6

Sunday night was my first night back on the bottle Clomid so as I popped those two round gems of hormonal promise, I gamely asked C what he had done to prepare for this, the third round of Clomid.

Very seriously, I deadpanned: What measures have you taken? What safeguards have you imposed?

He thought I was kidding (I was sort of kidding). Of course, I had my own precautions in mind – padding the corners of all tables/chests/dressers/beds, finally confronting the seriously low supply of chocolate in this house, removing sharp objects, etc. C of course, thought this was all very funny – in a laughing at me kind of way. While I panic about just what shape, form and frequency my ensuing Clomid-induced-terror will take; while I lose sleep over just how much of a bitch I’ll be this time, C doesn’t seem all that worried (which is suspicious given that he is typically the target of my unregulated emotion).

But bewildering or not, it was kind of a relief. Sure, he jokes about how there are days when I am prone to, ahem, antics, and he reminds me often of one day during my last cycle when I pointedly – but lovingly? – told him I was having a hard time liking him that very moment[1] (you know what, I am never going to live that down). But it was actually something of a relief to hear that he wasn’t anxious about the imminent BitchCon V preparing to descend on our home. So instead of seeing this as a challenge – I could try to be more bitchy? – I decided to embrace it and <seamless transition here> also to take the opportunity to make some vows for this, thirdtimesthecharm, cycle. Here goes:

(1) Post-coital headstands: I will continue them.
(Because, umm, I can’t prove it didn’t work. Actually, maybe I can. Over share, move right along: if the interwebs are right – don’t even get me started on that – then we conceived after having a quickie, sans headstand, at an out-of-town woodsy cottage before our friends arrived for the weekend. But anyway. Why not incorporate acrobatics?).

(2) Sex: I will have more of it. (please.cover.your.eyes.)
(Timed intercourse can be, umm, transactional. Sex on demand, sex on cue, sex multiple times a day – well, that just sounds like college – it can be tricky to fit in between two busy schedules, erratic working hours and sleep deprivation. But <breaks into song> We shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall over-c-o-o-m-e, etc. #firstworldproblems).

(3) Balance: I will try to find it?
(Sigh. It’s like I’m all in or I ain’t. Before this whole fertility bizness started in earnest, I was a bit of a slave to my work – even when not working, I agonized over things I could not control, clients whose needs were far beyond those I could fill and all kinds of other stuff, big and small. But the last couple months I have been perennially distracted. I work hard, sure, but not in the I’m-a-martyr-for-the-cause way I once did. Perhaps this is just growth, maturity and healthy balance. Perhaps I’m just so focused on whether or not I have birthing hips that I can’t exert all of my energy on legal theory. Either way, I’m going to try to be a bit more zen this time around. Less chin-deep in the infertility vortex and more dipping-my-toe-in when the weather is nice. Plus, you know, all the other good stuff: cookie binges and marathon reality-tv-watching, regular exercise, a (relatively) balanced diet, adequate sleep, time with C and friends, etc.)

And with that, I’m off to the (protracted, agonizing) races.

[1] Not long before this, a friend who is fighting her own fertility battle had nearly the same conversation with her husband. I think it’s safe to say we both like our husbands a hell of a lot. Sometimes our true feelings are just, um, cloaked in hormonal overdrive.

Monday, February 18, 2013

gratitude interlude: the awards show edition

You guys are too kind. No, really, all of you (especially you there, LONE READER IN MONGOLIA). A little while back the wonderful JustMe at Bits and Pieces nominated me for this little jam called a Liebster Award. I still don’t totally understand the internet and I was shy and got distracted and I’m a jerk so I never did what I was supposed to do let it slip through the cracks. Then the lovely Sadie over at Invincible Spring sent some more love my way and I caved. I can no longer avoid your surely-misdirected-praise. 

So, here’s the deal: the idea of the Liebster Award is to attract more readership to small blogs that we think are super rad (that’s the technical language). It’s part chain letter, part paying it forward. You answer some questions, you pose some questions, you nominate some new blogs, and then you start counting page views from Firefox users in the Ukraine. You’re supposed to do eleven of each (11 questions, 11 nominees, 11 things about yourself), but because I’m a jerk a non-conformist and 11 is a bridge too far into double-digit-land, I may not have followed each of these rules exactly…

So. Here are my nominees:[1]
4. Invincible Spring (I can return the favor, right?)
5. Bits and Pieces (ditto)

And here are some questions for these witty ladies (no pressure to play along here):
1. What’s one thing you wish you had known before starting this, ahem, adventure?
2. What’s your vice/guilty pleasure?
3. What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?
4. Chocolate or peanut butter?
5. Complete this sentence: When I grow up I want to be _______.
6. What non fertility-trying-to-conceive website should the rest of us be wasting time on right now?
7. What was your favorite childhood television show?
8. You are down to your last $20 - what do you buy?
9. And finally, because I have a tendency to succumb to peer pressure, please share a recipe?

Friday, February 15, 2013

infertility underachiever? cycle 3, day 1

What is there to say[1]? Not much apparently. The 10 days of birth control agony have come to an uneventful close and my early morning wake up calls, general bitchiness and intermittent nausea/monstrous hunger have subsided. I got my period as expected (I really feel like I should get a present or some sort of decadent cookie[2] for bleeding twice in 15 days but whatever). 

So. Here we are. Round three. Third time’s the time for a second miscarriage and complete emotional meltdown charm! Fertility hat trick. Fallopian triple threat – (singing, dancing and conceiving, ahem). Etc.

But if there isn’t much to say, why do I always have so much to say do I feel like an infertility underachiever? I’m not charting, I’m not taking my temperature, I’m not finding a cycle buddy (can we go for bike rides? I’m so confused), I’m not going to an acupuncturist/yoga-ist/spiritual-ist of any kind. I’m not even carefully evaluating my *cringe* cervical mucus. (And, honestly, if I’m not doing that, can I really be trusted with a child?).

That I haven’t spent this week elbows deep in interweb infertility obsession is probably a good sign for my next trial because umm, hello, full time employment you are really getting in the way of my blog habit healthy. But because I’m a glutton for punishment, I can’t help but question whether there isn’t more I should be doing.  I guess as I approach the one year mark <head spinning>, there’s a kind of creeping panic curiosity about what else is out there and what else might help me both get – and for the love of god – stay pregnant. It’s not that I necessarily have deep thoughts on the matter – and even if I did, there’s a mountain of inertia that might make any movement on these thoughts prohibitive. But, in the middle of a tense court hearing moments of daydream, some not-so-deep thoughts are bouncing around in my thick head: should I be eating differently? Should I be exercising differently? Should I be getting teeny tiny needles stuck in my ears? Should I chill-the-fuck[3]-out-already-and-not-venture-down-this-slippery-slope-of-crazy?

[1] I thought about ending the post right here. But then I realized you’d have to go back to “working” or “caring for your children” or “watching The Bachelor” and because my intention is nothing if not to enable your procrastination, I proceed.

[2] Not like C reads this – he’s too overwhelmed by my superior humor – but if he did he might correct me. So let me set the record straight: he did get me a luxurious box of very fancy had-to-order-them-in-the-mail-from-new-york! sea salt caramels which are probably even “artisanal” and “made from the fresh milk of organically-raised-free-range-phD-educated-remarkably-happy-cows.” But that, my friends, was for Valentine’s Day.

[3] In the words of the inimitable Julie over at A Little Pregnant, here’s what I have to say about swearing: you try having your uterus filled with glow-in-the-dark dye and then we’ll discuss what kind of language seems appropriate. No, seriously, you should try it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

round three of Clomid, I will seat you now

A few days ago I wrote about being my own worst advocate and made big promises about standing up for myself, feminism, changing the world through interpretive dance, etc.

Well, as long as I’m being candid with the interwebs: I failed. Literally 48 hours later I was given the opportunity to be a demanding bitch assertive, and I blinked. Sure, I fought the nurse a little bit; I offered my own personal “alternate treatment plan” that didn’t involve 10 horrid days of birth control prior to another cycle of Clomid. But at the first sign of resistance, I surrendered.

Last week I met with the reproductive endocrinologist and he basically called my bluff. Straight up, he told me that he figured he’d get a call back after he ordered that I take 10 days of the deceptively named "Apri". After the nurse made the call he "suddenly remembered" that I had a strong reaction to birth control[1] and anticipated an incensed Saturday phone call. But because I’m a total coward, he was left to enjoy his weekend undisturbed. You guys: by his own admission, he probably would have caved and let me skip the extra barrel of hormones if I had just effing stood up for myself.[2] *Palm to forehead, invective laden, self-deprecating tirade. *

Anyway, this most recent visit with the reproductive endocrinologist was our first since the early miscarriage and boy was I looking forward to rehashing those turbulent times. Naturally, I shed some unexpectedly heavy tears we had a lot of questions – which I had furtively typed out on my iphone during a particularly dull morning in court.

Friday, February 8, 2013

food > fertility, second edition

Welcome to today’s better-late-than-never edition of "what I cooked while trying oh-my-god-actually-getting-pregnant" closely followed by "oops-wait-never mind." As I’ve mentioned here, here and here, my ever changing hormones insist, no, command, that I feed them – and often. So, while a fertility blog doesn’t exactly scream "recipe share," I’ve never been one for conformity. Plus, with snowpocalypse-2013 fast approaching, what better way to spend your snow day than eating brownies and watching the Bachelor cooking and catching up on household chores. Without further adieu, the second edition of food > fertility (recipes and irreverent commentary after the jump):

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

Kale Market Salad

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

living dangerously

I’m approaching one full year of trying to conceive. One full year in which, for the most part, I’ve lived like a nun. No drinking, no needle drugs[1], plenty of exercise, vegetarian diet, sex on schedule. Well, it’s time to get real. I’ve been at this almost a year and if I’m honest with myself, I know it might take yet another year[2] to make this happen.

So today I am making a decision. I’m sick of living like a prohibitionist (aside: I must not be the only one engaging in this illogical behavior?). Because I’ve been a vegetarian for 10 years and exercise is therapy-on-the-cheap, those things won’t change. And fine, if I’m being honest, exclusively-scheduled-sex ended long ago – cannot celebrate enough the benefits of spontaneity.

But about the drinking: I’ve never been a heavy drinker but, it turns out (deep insight here), a social beverage now and again is actually pretty great. Wine with dinner? Cocktail after a tough day? An eye-opener first thing in the morning? A beer with the game (who am I kidding, I don’t watch any sort of “game”)?

I have no idea why I’ve been so incomprehensibly paranoid about drinking – even on days when I literally could not be pregnant, I still refrain. (The arm-chair psychologist who lives in the back of my head suggests that it’s my way of “taking control” in a situation where I basically have none. Whatever.).

The point is, I’m willing to cop to my irrational behavior because C has gotten into making some excellent, winter-citrus-inspired cocktails and damnit, I’ve had enough of being a teetotaler. Not to mention that every drink politely declined in mixed company – combined with the ohmygod-Clomid-bloating-weight – becomes further proof to my in-the-dark friends that I must be pregnant. Which, while kind of entertaining, is really just sad – boy will they be disappointed in 9 months.

There’s also this, helpfully pointed out by a very insightful friend: because I am *cough* brave and, ahem, strong, I remained (relatively) emotionally stable during a week in which I both recovered from a chemical pregnancy AND confronted the end of 30 Rock.[3] So I’m drinking. Because I earned it.

Without further adieu, the drink that makes drinking again much more worthwhile (after the jump).

Sunday, February 3, 2013

they must be joking, cycle 3, off to a slow start

When the nurse called with the news, even she laughed. The damage: I am still, effing, pregnant. My HCG is almost down to zero. But not quite. I clock in at a breathtakingly-so-close-to-being-un-pregnant 1.45 (down from a high of 69).

On one hand, I’m not surprised – my pelvis has felt oddly busy the last 48 hours. On the other hand, umm, really?

The nurse at my usual weekday-clinic had casually said I could start on Clomid prior to my appointment with the doctor on Tuesday. But Saturday-other-clinic-nurse was cheery and breezy as she informed me of what she thought I already knew – Clomid? Yeah, sure. But not before 10 days of re-regulation birth control, sucker!

Because I’m an assertive, strong-willed, stand-up-for-myself lady, I made a short, but impassioned, plea to skip the birth control, quickly rattling off a list of (made up and probably not medically sound) reasons why birth control was wildly unnecessary, even medically contraindicated (possibly throwing around medical jargon I heard C use). After politely hearing me out, she, ahem, declined to entertain my “alternative treatment plan.”

Friday, February 1, 2013

my own worst advocate, cycle 3?

Nearly a year into this whole (in)fertility adventure and fanatical passionate lawyer that I am, I’m apparently my own worst advocate when it comes to my own medical care.

I don’t get it. I’m the kind of law-talking-blog-lawyer who spends a not insignificant amount of time in court, fighting zealously on behalf of clients who aren’t exactly the most lovable on paper. But when it comes to asserting myself in the pursuit of the one thing I want the most, I gotta get it together.

Earlier this week, when I found out I was getting successfully less pregnant by the day, I let the nurse’s instructions run over me, not questioning a thing. At this point we need to make sure your HCG gets to zero, then you’ll meet with the doctor and make a plan for what’s next. Though I balked at how long I’d have to wait to see the doctor – 10 ever-loving days! – I did little else. But two rounds in, I know full well how the game is played – get your period, call the nurse, fill the Clomid prescription, order the GMO Chinese Hamster Ovary and have a sort of uncivilized dispute with insipid insurance trolls over covering it, give them your blood, perhaps several times, early morning wandings, carefully-timed-but-super-romantic sex and bam, chemical pregnancy pregnant!

So why, when I actually got my period, did I not call the nurse, demand Clomid and get on my merry way? Well, because she didn’t tell me I could. She told me to wait. And so I did. Dutifully (albeit somewhat fitfully). I waited (in pelvic agony). Until today. When I began to wonder what all this waiting was about. An absolutely riveting internal monologue followed:

Why are you waiting? Why do you apologize when you “bother” the nurse with a question that you, paying-out-your-ears-patient, is entitled to ask? Why don’t you stand up for yourself? Why have you eaten so many cookies today and don’t you know a scone is just an excuse to have cake before noon? You're a lousy feminist, etc. <End scene.>

Emboldened by my inner advocate, I asserted myself and, after apologizing to the nurse for god knows what, confidently inquired whether I might begin taking Clomid. After conferring with the doctor, she scheduled me for yet another blood draw to confirm that I’m totally, 100%, not even the littlest bit, pregnant. If I’m not – and I say this with all of the irony I can muster, please, please, please let me not be pregnant – then round three of Clomid begins tomorrow. It's going to be a wild Saturday night.