Monday, September 29, 2008

Just like a real Mom

De Mommy has a post about celebrities in their 40's having babies and the likelihood that they are using Donor Eggs. I share her frustration that these women, while under no obligation to talk openly about something so private, give the wrong impression to women (and society) that one can be fertile well into their 40's not as a statistical anomaly but as a matter of fact. All you need is a few rounds of IVF and you, too, can have babies right up to the dawn of menopause. Nevermind that fertility for women starts to decline at about 25 and then a more rapid decline at 35.

It got me thinking about the pull if feel between privacy and using my experience to broaden understanding of infertility. While I don't think celebrities are obligated to tell I HATE that it that they don't. It has a negative effect on women because they think they can wait. They think science has not only extended but defeated the biological clock. Additionally, those of us who have trouble conceiving (at any age) are bombarded with these "outliers" as proof that we be able to do the same. If I had a nickle for everyone who told me, "look at so and so...they had twins at 40", I could have afforded a few more tries at IVF with my own eggs.

Now I will be one of them (hopefully) and have babies at 40-ish after a few failed IVF's. I'll just let people think that eventually IVF works for everyone. I realize that I will be contributing to what I HATE...I will be part of the problem. I can live with that because I don't want my personal mission to use my experience to build empathy in the world (or my little-infertile corner of it) to overshadow my children's need for normalcy and privacy.

I'm not publicly disclosing that I did DE not because I am ashamed but because I think my future children deserve some privacy...I will tell them and they can decide who/if they tell. I probably know people who have convinced from donor sperm/eggs. I just don't know it. And why should I? It's none of my business. However, if I had known it might have made my decision to do DE easier. Even now I feel alone with my decision which makes me feel the slightest bit unsure. I wish I knew other women IRL who have done/are doing this. This may sound shallow but I felt a-lot better about doing DE when I came to the realization that all those Hollywood actresses probably did it.

Knowing of other families who used third-party reproduction makes me feel less alone. Less of a failure. Like we will be just as ligitimate as other families.

Going public would open up my children and our family to a lot of disapproval. IVF seems to be generally accepted (if misunderstood) but I am learning that third-party rerpoduction is look on, at best, as an unfortunate and pitiable extreme and at worst some Frankenstein-violation of nautre, God and my marital vows.

I understand why Hollywood actresses don't tell. I'm not telling either. Not my mom, dad, in-laws, friends, priest, community, co-workers, brothers. I have 2 IRL friends who know, my two sisters, and I guess I will have to tell my OB/GYN. I think that might be it for a while. (Other than you, my dear internets.)

If I know someone who is struggling with infertility I will tell them so they know the facts....not naively believing some fantasy. I don't want other people to feel alone like I do. I wish I knew someone who had done it. Who understood. Who I wouldn't feel judged by. Someone who would not be prone to describe some other woman as the "real" mother of my children. Someone who would not make them feel like a lesser part of the family than Piccolina.

So while am a transparent person, no secrets, no lies, I will have a secret and will lie if I have to. While I live to clear up erroneous assumptions and set folks straight on all things infertility I will have to simmer down, bite my tongue and let people assume that I am the genetic mother of my children. I can't see doing it any other way and still protect my family.

I'm not even pregnant. They don't even exist yet but I am fiercely protective. Hmm Just like a "real" mom.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Think I Will Close My Office Door Today

Nadine: I better be having twins because I can't take this anymore. My husband said to me last night, "I didn't think is would effect you this badly".

Keep in mind that she is about 7 weeks pregnant and is not suffering from any morning sickness. Um, yea.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An Annoying Thing About Secondary Infertility: The Stuff

Advisory: For those of you dealing with primary infertility be advised that this post is about how I have so much baby-junk cluttering up my home in hopes of baby #2. So if you are having a bad day and don't want to hear about how I trip over the high-chair in the garage every time I pick my daughter up out of her car-seat...skip it.

Man to I have a lot of stuff! I walk into my closet and it's FULL to the rafters with neatly folded and stored maternity clothes waiting to be worn. I walk into my garage and it's full of retired baby stuff that was lovingly stored with the expectation that it would be used in the not-so-distant-future. Piccolina's closet is also full of itty-bitty clothes just waiting to adorn a sibling.

When I bought, used, cleaned and stored this stuff I didn't know that getting #2 would be even harder (and take almost as long) as getting number 1. I just trusted that if I did it once I could do it again. But I couldn't. I couldn't do it again. And boy did I try. 18 months, 1 m/c, 4 high-dose injects/iui, 2 IVFs on max meds and nothing to show for it but a whiped-out savings account and lots of waiting "stuff". Impossibly-small baby shoes, bella-bands, my beautiful maternity coat from Pea in the Pod (a splurge!), some of the cutest sun dresses I have ever seen (maternity or not), the life-saving baby swing, beautiful baby clothes that she barley wore because she grew so incredibly fast, my breast pump. I want to unzip them from their hiding places and greet each one like a long lost friend. But I'm too busy to spend the time and probably too emotionally fragile to risk instigating a crying jag. I remember them all so well and wish to revisit life with this stuff in use instead of cluttering up the corners of my home and the corners of my memory.

Sometimes I want to purge them. Clean house, face facts, move on and reclaim my closet, garage, life. As if the act of "Spring Cleaning" would give me a fresh perspective, free me from this unrelenting desire have a baby, magically make me grateful for what I do have instead of always being in the state of "wanting".

The wanting is constant. The wanting makes me jealous, makes me small, cold, narrow, resentful. The wanting makes me empty.

My closets are full. I am empty. It's the exact opposite of the type of person I want to be: a thoughtful, open, warm, grateful person who lives each day with meaning. Instead I have materialism.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Push-up test

On my first push-up "test" I did 8. The test is when you do as may as you can (Max out). After weeks 2 (which took me more like 18 days) I did 25! And I think I might have cheated a bit because if I did 26 I would have had to moved up a level and work even harder. I think that is amazing. In a little bit of time I was able to more than double how many I could do.

I just found a few bloggers on facebook. Yea. I love the facebook. If anyone else is on facebook let me know so we can be friends.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Co-worker Pregnant

Not all pregnancies bother me anymore. As I have moved though the various stages of infertility I have found what bothers me is a moving target. When I was going through primary infertility all pregnancies bothered me. When I first started experiencing secondary infertility it was pregnant women with closely spaced children. Now that I have been doing this for what seems like forever I am less likely to be jealous of what other people have. My focus has been on how to build my family and not how to compete with other people. I used to feel like I was falling behind. It made me feel panicked, anxious, jealous. I rarely feel that way anymore. I'm not sure if I am growing or that I am so far behind I don't care anymore but other peoples' families don't cause me the pain they used to. Being competitive in nature this is a really nice change of pace.

We all have "those people" whose pregnancies bother us. It could be a competitive SIL, that pesky friend who "only had sex once that month", that coworker who just peed on a stick yesterday and it telling everyone. With my new-found equanimity regarding other peoples fertility I am less and less bothered by "those people".

As the title of this posts suggests I find myself dealing with a very familiar infertile scenario. In trying to be more reflective and less reactive I am marveling at the evolution of what sets me off and how I deal with it.

This co-worker is relatively young...not 19 young...she's married, early 20' responsible and intelligent...this is not the type of pregnancy where it is more of a tragedy than a celebratory occasion. They are a nice married couple who tried to get pregnant and viola...they got pregnant. Truly a joyous event for them. Let's call her Nadine.

I guess it's not WHO gets pregnant but HOW they are pregnant that peeves me.

Off the top of my head Nadine::

1) Has never expressed an interest in children. In fact, goes out of her way to tell people they are not sure they even want children.
2) "I just went of the pill in July."
3) Peed on a stick on Sunday...started telling people on Monday.
4) Often talks about pregnancy, plans for maternity leave, decorating nursery.
5) Often complains about her symptoms and discomforts/anticipated discomforts
5) Is convinced she's having twins because "it runs is the family" (OK, j-lo, whatever)
6) Is only 6 weeks pregnant and is demanding an u/s

I should say that nothing is out of order or over the's just really grating. So confident, so optimistic, so un-cautious. Of course, that is perfectly normal for someone in her situation. It's just not how I experience TTC and pregnancy. It's just not how I would act.

The other women in the office are older. I have had a baby recently so early-on I became Nadine's confidant. She told me the same week IVF #2 failed so yes, she is as pregnant as I would have been if IVF #2 had been a success. This was all happening while I was sorting though trying to find a donor-loosing donor #1-waiting to hear from donor #2 so timing was bad.

I had three options:
1) Suck it up and listen even though it's killing me.
Pros: I don't have to have an uncomfortable conversation in which I might look small and petty. Unless, you have been there you can't understand. Nadine ain't going to understand no matter how diplomatic I am.
Cons: Have to listen to Nadine. Risk crying at work.

2)Be honest and tell her I can't listen because of all my issues.
Pros: Don't have to listen. Take care of myself.
Cons: May be perceived as small and petty. Risk crying at work.

3) The rarely thought of option in which I become so obnoxious with my advice and opinions that she never wants to talk to me again!
Pros: Fun and solves the problem. No risk of crying at work as I amuse myself.
Cons: Are there any?

Whichever did I choose? Well, none because someone beat me to the punch.

One of my co-workers knows all of my struggles. She had a still-born labor and delivery about 30 years ago. She totally "gets-it". Let's call her "Mary".

So I was telling Mary it was hard for me. She was very kind and philosophical. In an effort to be helpful she told Nadine. Geeze. So all of the sudden Nadine stops taking to me. I suspected that Mary tried to do me a favor. I'm not happy with that. It's my business and my responsibility and nobody else's. I asked another co-worker (Lisa, our boss) who confirmed my suspicions.

I could be mad but I'm going to just roll with it. There are days when I am happy to talk to Nadine about all things pregnancy. There are days I don't want to hear it. If I should clam up I think she'll get the hint that today is not a good day. Plus, I still get to needle her with all my advice and opinions.

I'm feeling really optimistic that I will have some good news to share about 6 weeks from now. Perhaps hope is the true source of my newly acquired sanguine disposition. I wait

Doing lots of things to get ready for the DE cycle.

Pap-waiver- check!
My STD tests- check (and I passed BTW)
Sign medical release form to go from my OB to clinic - check!
Meet with DR. Clinic - check!
Meet with Donor coordinator- check! (and we are now BFF's)
Signed muchos forms - check!
Paid- $3,500 - check!
applied and got $25,000 line of credit from Capitol one - check!
Mr. Peeveme must sign all docs and get them notarized- not yet!

Just waiting for Donor to get her period. Then we both start BCP. I cheated a bit. I really can't take BCP. I go coo coo crazy. Not a little hormonal but true rage on the verge of violence. No kidding. It's like watching a movie of a crazy person. I know I'm being unreasonable but I don't care. Plus the other physical symptoms (most notably sever dry-eye to the point of not being able to drive, read etc) are debilitating. I need to limit the amount of time I am on them. I was supposed to get AF this week. But I continued my progesterone support so I could extend my luteal phase. My Dr. said it was fine. Other wise I might be on BCP for an extra week. Once she gets AF I go off progesterone and go on the BCP on CD2.

So it's been a whirlwind of activity and now I wait. We could be doing ER/ET towards the end of Oct. If all goes well. I think this is the calm before the storm of Donor -cycle #1.

Now for the stats. Dr. Clinic said that when 2 blasts are transferred they have 70-80% success rates. However, half of those are twins. If we felt strongly that we did not want twins we could opt for a single transfer. Those rates are about 40% success. He said that 2/3 of the time there are embryos to freeze.

Music to my ears.

In the "not music to my ears" category, I have day 2 of week 2 of the Push-Up Challenge tonight. Actually, I feel pretty good. Not experiencing too much soreness. In fact, I have so little soreness I am worried I am not working hard enough. It's amazing how much strength I have gained in just a 2 weeks.

Also, I am getting confirmed. You know, as in the Catholic Church sacrament? Yea, that. I never got confirmed. When I was a teenager they kept raising the number of years you had to go to the classes. My mom got fed-up and pulled us out. So in addition to all my pre-DE running around I have also obtained my Baptismal Certificate and met with the Deacon.

I have always felt like it was a loose end so I'm wrapping it up. I don't feel some urgent, faith-based need. Perhaps I shall feel more spiritual about it as I go. However, I don't think it's a coincidence that my sudden need to wrap this up just happens to coincide with a really hard year for me and my being on the verge of a DE cycle (Which the Catholic Church is against...I imagine I will have more to say about that later)

There are 10 classes-2 hours each. That seems like a lot to me. Not sure I will be able to attend them all. I work, have a toddler, and my DH travels so we'll see if they kick me out for excessive absences.

Also, sorry for my lack of commenting. I am trying to step up my game at work so my time for commenting is limited since I am actually, you know, working at work.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I got an e-mail from the clinic today!

Good news, I heard from 3358A this morning! She is very interested in doing a cycle with you. She is expecting a period in the next week or 2. She will get her blood work updates done and start birth control pills. If you are ready to proceed with 3358A, please complete the match agreement, call with credit card number or mail money order, sorry no personal checks. You only need a couple requirements which you already know about--pap waiver, sign recipient consents and do the urine culture. YOu should have birth control pills, so please call me with the first day of your period and start them on day 2.

I burst into tears of joy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Don't tell me Donor #2 may be out?!

The clinic has been calling/e-mailing the donor since Tuesday and has not heard back. In my mind that means she is not interested. Really? This is so emotionally hard why does it also have to be logistically hard? Time to start trolling donor banks. It makes me feel kind-of dirty. Like shopping for a mail-order bride or something. It's like shopping on e-bay for a kidney.

It's a weird and uncomfortable mind-set. I keep picturing what the offspring of my husband and random women walking down the street would look like. Creepy right? Have other people doing 3rd party reproduction done that?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

100 push-ups

A blog I read is doing the 100 push-up challenge. It sounded fun so I got Mr. Peevme to do it with me.

I used to be a body builder. Lifted weights 6 days a week. Ran once to twice a day. I was in grad school. Working-out and studying was all I did all day long. I was amazingly strong and lean. That was ten years ago. I have been able to coast off all that work I did in my 20's well into my 30's. After one baby and a million ART cycles I need to get into shape again! Not like I was before. I have a life now. I'm pretty thin just flabby and pathetically weak. I thought this wold be a good way to get back into things.

In this program you do push-ups 3-days a week in ever-increasing amounts for 6 weeks.

My week 1 looks like this:

Day 1: Do a set of 7 then rest 60 seconds, another set of 7 rest, 5, 4, max out (minimum 5)

Day 2: 90 seconds rest in between sets- 9,8,6,5,max out (minimum 7)

Day 3: 120 seconds rest between sets- 10,8,8,5 max out (minimum 10)

Each week looks the same but with a few more each set.

I'm only on day 2 of week 1. Very sore. I have to do Day 3 tomorrow. I'm sure I'll still be sore by then.

Once I get the hang of the pus-ups I want to start doing some squats (for my gluts) and some cardio even if it's just going for a brisk walk with Mr. Peeveme and Piccolina.

I'll let you know how I do. I don't see myself doing 100 push-ups. I just want to get stronger and start some type of routine that I can stick with.

On the DE front I finished my test cycle. After 16 days of oral estrace tabs my lining was 8.0 which is on the thin side. During my real cycle I'll probably be on 4 tabs a day. I am now doing 1 estrace tab and 1 progesterone tab a day for 7 days. Then no meds and wait for AF. I am to call them the CD1.

I met with the DE coordinator on Tuesday. She said she would call the donor and get back to me. I'm still waiting. I know it's only been 1.5 days but I'm really anxious to know if she is willing and when she'd be ready. The DE coordinator seemed to think I could start BCP on my CD1 and we could start to synch-up our cycles. I hope so. I am not any good at waiting.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Problems with Donor #1

Looking at how uncertain this DE thing can be I was uncomfortable that I only had one potential donor. Last week I started to consider the donor pool that my clinic has. It can take some time before my mind opens to other possibilities. I tend to decide something and have a hard time seeing any other path. I found one that I thought might be good for us. As time wore on she began to appeal to me more and more.

Based upon the events of last week I am so glad I did. Otherwise I'd be an emotional mess right now.

It started last week when I got an e-mail from the Donor Bank telling me that the donor would not be available until Nov/Dec. I started to freak out but then decided to breath and take stock of the situation. I could wait for her and then get no guarantee that she would be ready then either. I could ask my clinic about the in-house donor. After a day or two I decided that I would move forward with the in-house donor (if possible...again....everything is uncertain no matter what I decide I want). I could still wait until Nov but I wanted to feel like I had another option.

And then I got this e-mail on Saturday:

She's open to a donation at a later date (in Nov or December).

I was waiting for some of her past donor cycle sheets and received them today. I've been informed that her next donation will be her 7th egg donation (which we didn't know about since she works with other clinics/agencies). We typically stop working with a donor around this time. I would suggest speaking with your clinic to see if they will work with a donor that's is going on her 7th egg donation.

After hearing that, I was strongly leaning towards not going with her for a few reasons. 1) it seems unhealthy/unethical to do that many cycles. 2) that's a-lot of potential siblings out there. 3) I begin to question the mental stability of someone who does that many donations with multiple agencies(I realize that is unfair, unfounded and potentially hypocritical but it's what I think).

So my 2nd alternative just became my first. Actually, my sister likes the in-house donor more than the Egg Bank donor and as I have had a few days to look over her profile I have also cottoned to her.

This morning I get this e-mail from the Egg Bank:

It looks like the donor would not be ready to start anything until December, with an egg retrieval in January or February 2009. She has also told me she has received higher compensation from her last donations 5th and 6th. I've explained that our highest donor compensation is $7,000, but that I can ask the recipients if they would be okay with paying more.

While our agencies policy is to keep within the guidelines of the Ethics Committee for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, many other agencies do not follow these guidelines and offer donors higher compensation. We feel it's fair to keep the costs down for compensation. I understand if you feel the same way we do and would prefer to stay with a donor compensation of $7,000 or less.

This is just not feeling right. I completely believe in compensation but this woman seems to be running a business out of her ovaries. I realize this is sensitive and I don't mean to be offensive and dismissive of egg donors. I have the utmost respect for this case I'm thinking the donor does not respect herself.

So, no freak out. Just listening to my gut and breathing and trying to be flexible. I'm just hoping the in-house donor works out.