Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thank you. And an update.

First of all, thank you for bearing with me, for holding me up, for offering insight, for reading and listening and hoping and helping.

If I thought infertility was a roller coaster...well, let me just say that having a parent with poor health is..The Texas Cyclone.

The neurologist confirmed my suspicions--my Dad had just fallen victim to a bad reaction to a new medication added two weeks ago. Fairly easy fix was to increase his anti-seizure medication and then discontinue the offending med. That med had been given for depression and honestly I think just being home will do more for his depression than anything else. As it is, he's already on another anti-depressant.

So I woke up with hope in my heart again...Dad was going to be better...we'd get him back home....

Until my phone rang this morning. His two caregivers quit. Freaked out when they saw him have a seizure, and just quit.

Leaving my mom with no choice but to readmit him to the nursing home. And now he'll have a roommate because his bed was already filled.

It just keeps getting worse.

My sister thinks he needs to be at the nursing home for good. We disagree. She thinks it's too hard on my Mom to try to have him at home. I think we need to give it a fair shake. After all, he only got six precious hours back at home before the shit hit the fan two nights ago. My mom is worn out from going back and forth to the nursing home, so everyone's simple solution to that is: don't go so much.

Excuse me? They've been married 42 years. You just don't turn that off, even when everything changes.

And maybe I'm being selfish here: but the thought of my Dad languishing in a nursing home all by himself for hours on end every day makes me sick to my stomach. Sick to my stomach.

The thing is: there are no easy solutions. I feel as though I am choosing between my two parents. My sister is there today--she arrived yesterday afternoon. I just got off the phone with my mom who told me my sister is leaving at noon today...not even twenty-four hours later. WTF? Oh right--apparently because her husband only has so many days off a year to take with his family my sister doesn't want to miss any more of those. She told that to my mom, who sobbed that to me. (Gawd I hope my sister doesn't read this blog).

Yeah, I know I don't have kids so I can't fully comprehend this. But you know what? Her husband is a freaking workaholic and he chooses to live that way. So if he only gets so much time with his family, well, that's his choice ultimately. And life isn't always convenient, so I'm sorry that you miss a few days of vacation with your family.

Needless to say, if my sister is leaving at noon, I'm heading out as soon as I get off of work.

Did Mr. LC and I have plans? Of course we did. Do I need some time to recover from all the other crap in my life? Of course I do.

But as I said, life doesn't wait on stuff like that.

I'm exhaling and trying to think rationally. In a perfect world (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) this nursing home readmission will be temporary. He will continue to improve as the medication works its way out of his system. We will find new caregivers that are not afraid of a potential seizure, even though I don't think that is going to be a lingering issue.

And my Dad can be home. With his dog. In his own living room. Watching his own TV. Trying to reclaim some part of a life that has been decimated by stroke. My mom can be home with him, doing her own thing, not driving back and forth back and forth all day long. She will not be back in that place.

When we left the nursing home this past Christmas, Mr. LC looked at me and said "Whew, we won't be going back there anymore."

My other option? Quit my job and move home and take care of my Dad. I am a nurse after all. I did dream that I was carrying him around in an infant carrier.

Will someone please wake me up?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The thing with depression

Is that it waits for no one or no situation.

I would like to be able to just curl up in a ball and lie under my new heated throw blanket (perfect Christmas present!) and watch thirtysomething dvds and read good memoirs and NOT study for my lipid boards and not deal with patients and read blogs and be sad about our infertility and not try to figure out next steps and just be sad for a while and come out when I feel like it.

But I can't.

My Dad is in the ICU with seizures again. He cannot catch a break. My mother is sobbing into the phone with me and I can barely understand her. My sister is en route and I will likely go tomorrow after work unless things take a turn for the worse. Right now we wait on the neurologist to tell us what is going on. I suspect it is a new medication they tried and it has backfired horribly, but what do I know anymore?

I am learning and learning that the precious time in our lives when things are good--when we can coast--are sometimes very very short. Twenty four hours of bliss with a positive HPT...several hours yesterday when my Dad actually was moved home and things were going really really well until they turned horribly, horribly bad.

Do you ever feel like you are literally going to break into two?

Monday, December 28, 2009

This is my therapy

First up: a comment I received from anonymous 1. I know I am not alone, never said in the post that I was the only one feeling pain from infertility. But thanks, from a fellow IFer, for telling me not to feel so sorry for myself. I'm cured! I know that a lot of people have gone through what I have, and worse. And although you couched your comment with "I am not trying to be harsh" it felt a little harsh. We've been through a lot. Five failed cycles, 80K in medical expenses, and I've dealt with a lot of other issues lately that made this holiday particularly difficult. So yeah, I'm going to write about what hurts.

As for anonymous 2: Undue hostilityand hatred towards our little brother? You're misreading that. Seven years of love love love is what we gave through some pretty crappy stuff, and we still care about him. I don't know many others who have mentored a kid/stayed that committed that long. We poured our hearts and souls into him and unfortunately it wasn't enough to keep him from making some very poor life choices. When we ended the relationship it was for many reasons, but mostly because he had kind of outgrown the relationship and we couldn't support the choices he was making. And yes, he knows about our situation (not specifics of IVF because that wouldn't have been appropriate and obviously not the last two because of the timing, but he knows that we've tried very hard and long to have children) because we've always been open and honest with him. Does he have the capacity to know that his text would be hurtful? Probably not, as he's just a teenager. But guess what? It still hurt and I'm going to write that it did. But please, do not criticize my seven years of volunteering to help this kid. It's a personal failure that really hurts--the fact that everything we did (the very aim of the program) couldn't help him avoid teenage parenthood twice. The criticism-- that really stings.
EDITED TO ADD: Teenage parenthood isn't the worst thing--but right now it's the thing that hurts the most. R went on to be involved in drugs, crime, etc. etc. Things are better now, but you can bet that hurt us a lot too. And we're not even his parents!

And now on to what I originally wanted to post about (which will probably draw some criticism in some way from someone as well...sigh).

I post a lot when I am in emotional pain.

My blog is dark right now and I would do anything in my power to make it light again.

This post is dedicated to my father.

While we were home this weekend, we brought my Dad home to the house for the day. It was nice, but there's no getting around the profound changes that have occurred. My mother is mourning the loss of her spouse, I am mourning the loss of my father. He is alive, yes. He is alive. I am grateful. But it is horrific to see him the way he is. He is slipping cognitively. His response time is so long we wonder if he hears us at all. I cannot even believe that it was just a couple of months ago that he sang gospel songs while Mr. LC played on the guitar. I read the words he had my mom transcribe into my birthday card in August and cannot fathom him coming up with those words today. I do not know what lies ahead.

While at the nursing home, carolers came by. My Dad looked so small and helpless in his bed. He is down to 140 pounds or so. As the carolers came in and sang "Silent Night" in harmony, I started to cry. It was just a few years ago that my Dad sang in those groups, singing in that very nursing home. He had probably sung in that very room before.

We stayed in my parents' bedroom at my mother's insistence. I don't think she really likes to sleep in there alone.

It was dark outside and our last night at home. Mr. LC was outside packing the car. My mom was up at the nursing home with my Dad. My job was to check and make sure we hadn't left anything behind.

I walked up to the doorway of their bedroom, which was dark. Light from the living room cast light on the carpet.

Exactly the way it would have looked just over six months ago when my Mom found him there in the early morning darkness.

I immediately had the urge to lay on the carpet, and I did.

I positioned myself as my mom described finding my dad, crumpled on the floor.

I sobbed into the carpet. I wondered how long he had laid there, if he had been frightened, if he tried to call out and could not find his voice, if he had tried to move, if he knew what was happening to him.

I felt connected to him in some strange way in that moment.

I sobbed into that carpet for all that he has lost, for the unfairness of it all.

AND PS: IF YOU'RE GOING TO COMMENT, PLEASE REFRAIN FROM USING IDENTIFYING NAMES. THIS IS SOMETHING I ASKED FOR POLITELY WHEN I STARTED THE BLOG.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

You wanted it?

Here it is. That post to which I've been referring...

We went home the weekend before Christmas to celebrate with my family, since my Dad can no longer travel (they usually all come here, and then together we trek to my sister's house) and my sister doesn't travel away from home on the actual holiday because of her kids. Understandable.

Of course, recalling that my parents know nothing about our last failure...so there's always that little secret that serves to make everything a little bit more interesting. And also, in case you yourself haven't experienced it, let me let you in on another little secret: an IVF failure is a devastating, horrific, life-shattering event to the person experiencing it, but to most other people it is fairly forgettable after a month or so, especially amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays. And I'll admit that Mr. LC and I did a pretty good job of 'moving on' on the outside, so I guess that creates the illusion that we aren't still completely shattered. But many days, we're just tip-toeing along, our facade of being 'ok' held together by a thread.

Saturday morning I woke up and got ready, determined to have a good day. We were going to bring Dad home for the day. We were going to have our big family meal, we were going to open presents, we were going to play outside with my nephews, we were going to have fun, dammit! It was Christmas, after all.

(side note: I'm not phone technology savvy. I don't text. I can read texts but I can't text back easily. I didn't even know you could get pictures in a text. Foreshadowing.)

As we were about to head out to go get my Dad, I picked up my purse and looked down at my phone. My parents live in the country on acreage and cell reception is fairly pitiful there. But I could see a little icon in the corner of my phone that I thought meant I had received a message. I innocently clicked it.

A perfectly clear beautiful ultrasound picture popped up with the text words "It's a girl!" written on it.

I literally dropped my phone on the table like it was infected.

I shook my head...surely I had not just seen what I had seen.

I picked it up again, my heart pounding.

Yup, a beautiful ultrasound photo. The words "It's a girl!" mocking me.

My hands were trembling at this point. Alone, in the kitchen, I felt dizzy. My thoughts started racing.

"Who is sending me this?"
"Who would do this to me?"
"Is it a cruel joke?"
"Who do I know that is pregnant that would be finding out gender right now?"


and again: "Who would do this to me?"

Mr. LC walked into the room. So did my Mom.

I pulled him aside. Hands still shaking, I showed him the phone.

The color drained from his face. "Who sent it?"

"I don't know," I said, tears welling up in my eyes, my throat tightening. I felt like I was having a mild panic attack.

"Well look at the number!"

It wasn't a familiar number, but it had a familiar area code. Maybe it was a mistake? A mis-call, and I had just been the unfortunate recipient of someone's errant number punching.

Except it wasn't.

Mr. LC soon recognized the number, as coming from R.

Those of you who know our full story, know that R was our 'Little Brother' through Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Our little brother that we loved and mentored for seven years.

Seven years.

Through the cancer death of his real big brother.
Through elementary school and then junior high.
Through his trouble with the authorities.
Through this trouble with teachers.
Through trouble with his mother.
Countless hours of homework.
Countless hours of trips, movies, dinners out, art projects, music projects...just hanging out.
Then through his brief incarceration.
Through his first pregnancy scare with his girlfriend.

We had practically ended the relationship when he turned seventeen, dropped out of high school, and his girlfriend was really pregnant. We made that painful trip to the hospital to visit his new perfect baby girl during the midst of one of our IVF cycle failures.

And now.

Now they are expecting again and I guess he wanted to share their little miracle with us.

Another girl.

Born to a teenage couple, neither of whom has graduated from high school. I'm sorry--I'm just going to say it: they're not ready. They cannot have the capacity to be great parents. They're struggling financially. But yet.

Two baby girls. The life of my dreams.

See?

Not only did we ourselves fail biologically at having children, we apparently failed as mentors.

And then having to fight back sobs--all day long--when that picture popped into my mind's eye. Having to keep up appearances, a happy face, because after all, it had been a whole month (to those present who knew about the cycle). And having to hold it together completely for my poor Mom, trying her best to make as normal a holiday as possible when everything in her world is not at all normal. Thanks, R, for fucking up my Christmas more than it was already fucked up.

The gut punches...they just keep on coming don't they?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Do you believe in ghosts or Christmas miracles?

Before I get into the post--anonymous in Europe--send me an email if you ever want to talk more. It seems we DO have a lot in common--and I'm really sorry about your fifth IVF failure. It's a select group we've found ourselves in, isn't it? (lastchanceivf at gmaildotcom)

And now onto the post:

You've heard me speak of my invisible children. You've also seen (on my old blog) pics of our house with our enormous floor to ceiling windows. When I posted those pictures I got many a comment about seeing invisible hand prints that would one day turn into real hand prints when our children became visible.

A few days ago, in preparation for some family visiting, I was cleaning those floor to ceiling windows with Mr. LC. It isn't an easy job but the reward is worth it. I was outside and suddenly I saw it--a teeny tiny handprint.

Made from the inside.

From a baby.

Only, there haven't been any babies in our house in over a year (that I can remember). And I've certainly cleaned the windows many times in the past year.

At first I thought it was some type of critter (a raccoon perhaps?) and that the print was on the outside. I showed Mr. LC.

"Well how would a raccoon get that far up the window?" True, the print was about six feet up. Also, it was quickly obvious that it was on the inside. We spent a few minutes trying to figure out how it could have possible gotten there, and we were stumped.

I went inside and studied it.

It gave me chills. It was there.

And made me think it was a sign (and no, I don't really believe in signs, not anymore anyway). Our Christmas miracle was coming for sure...I mean, last month we had the faintest of positives. Maybe my body would now famously "know what to do"...maybe the effects of the biopsies was still lingering. I ovulated like clockwork on day 14. I won't get into details about any other stuff but suffice it to say things timed out very, very well. I had distinct uterine cramping 8 days past ovulation. Of course, it had to be implantation cramping. I used my progesterone supplements as instructed. We were due for a miracle. I wouldn't have even minded being one of those "see you stopped trying so hard and look what happened!"

And today my period started. Sigh.

So I don't know what to make of that handprint. And no, I don't believe in Christmas miracles. Today, while most everyone I know (but certainly not all) either watched their kiddos delight in presents under the tree, or are busily making plans for upcoming transfers of perfect embryos, or are rubbing their growing bellies--Mr. LC and I put together shelving from IKEA and ate homemade biscuits and soy sausage. I called my parents and my Dad didn't even remember we were just there a few days ago, celebrating. Yesterday we ate our tofurkey and went to twirl under the famous Zilker Christmas tree but were the only ones without little ones. The only place we felt somewhat normal was at our 11:00 pm Christmas service because the only people out that late were the ones not at home struggling to put together Santa gifts.

Sigh. I know I will receive comments about the handprint--that our child is out there and we just haven't found him/her yet. I know because I've made those comments myself to others. But let's face it: we don't have anything in the freezer, we don't have any plans for more cycles, we don't have any plans period. When people have been asking lately if I have kids I have been trying this answer on for size: "No, we can't have children." It hurts me to say it each and every time but it is my reality and I have to learn how to live with it.

This is one bummer of a Christmas day post, eh?

OK, we're heading out to the homeless shelter. I know if I waited until we returned to post this I wouldn't do it, because I'd realize that my problems are minor compared to so many.

OK, I already realize that, and I'm sorry to be such a whiner.

I wish a had a river I could sail away on.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Meme, a few days late...

I've been seeing this little diddy floating around and although blogland is kind of quiet this time of year, I figured, why not?

I promise, those other posts will make it out. There's no way I can keep them in. But seeing as it's Christmas Eve Eve, I'll stick to this holiday thingy.

OH YEAH: Penny--my recipe is the oreo truffle balls! (one package of oreos processed in food processor, mixed with one package of cream cheese, shaped into whatever, then dipped! Pretty easy overall).

And now on with the show:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate all the way. Right now my favorite is the Peppermint Hot Chocolate from Star.bucks. I don't drink coffee, but this is worth a visit to Starbucks. And this is where working in medicine is nice...the reps bring me all the Star.bucks I want. Nice, eh?

2. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping all the way. I love to embellish with little add ons, and I always do festive tulle for bows.

3. Real tree or artificial?
Growing up with horrid allergies, it was always artificial trees. I don't mind them. In fact, this year we purchased a second one, a silver tinsel mega-artificial tree.

4. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White lights, and tons and tons of them!

5. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
See pic below.

6. Do you hang mistletoe?
No...although we used to.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Of course. I love my nativity. Every year Mr. LC sneaks Yoda into it, because even Yoda has to worship the Baby Jesus and he's wearing a robe and is just the right size.

8. Mail or email Christmas cards?
I don't do Christmas cards. Remember that post I wrote a few posts back about what I'd love to say? Ha.

9. What is your favorite holiday dish?
We're all about the sides since we don't do meat--and I adore sweet potatoes. Tomorrow we'll be trying a tofurkey, so I'll let you know how it goes.

10. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
Driving around looking at lights on Christmas Eve.

11. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I was only six when a big mouthed neighbor ruined things for me. Of course, I still tried very hard to believe for a few more years.

12. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
We open all wrapped gifts on Christmas Eve and Santa left gifts on Christmas morning.

13. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
I love the idea of snow, but we don't really get it here.

14. Have you ever recycled a gift?
Most definitely!

15. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
That suspended reality that usually happens...everyone seems to be nicer around the holidays. And of course, hanging out with my family and also my friends who are just like family to me.

16. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Yesterday I made a wicked pumpkin gingerbread cheesecake that is pretty high up. However, I have this tradition of always eating thin mints on Christmas morning....

17. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
It used to be listening to my Dad read the Christmas story from Luke. I'm so sad he can't do that anymore.

18. What tops your tree?
A crazy retro star.

19. Favorite Christmas Show?
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, bar none. The original, NOT that crappy Jim Carrey remake.

20. Saddest Christmas Song?
Joni Mitchell "River"

21. What is your favorite Christmas Holiday Song?
I love almost all Christmas songs. We bust out the holiday CDs in late November and play them constantly (we have at least 30-40) through December. Brave Combo's "Must Be Santa" is fabulous.

So, here is the pic of our tree--it's kind of eclectic, and I do the non-traditional colors on it to match our mod green couches I guess.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Distractions...with Baking!

So... my last post--mention church and you get crickets :)

I have three or four posts rattling around in my brain. They are so depressing I am going to spare you...for now. This weekend I had a moment that could only be described as a solid kick in the gut followed by a kidney punch that took me to my knees. Don't worry, I'll fill you in eventually.

But it's the holidays. And I'm trying. Once again I find myself trying so hard to just be. To enjoy the days, the frenzied activities of Christmas, and also to find the peace in Christmas. To not dwell on the obvious--my broken heart.

So I bake.

I made a ton of cake balls. Red, green, and dark chocolate with peppermint. Here's a pic of the sugared red oreo cake balls:

And this idea I shamelessly stole from Bea...once she mentioned it I couldn't wait to try it. It's obviously most appropriate for kids, so thankfully I have a niece and nephew coming over tomorrow so I made them for them. I give you Santa Hat Oreo Truffles:

It's what I do. I don't drink, I don't smoke...I bake.

Oh yeah, and shop. Egads.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Not your parent's church!

This is a much needed post that takes a break from infertility. Enjoy!

Churches these days...many of them get a lot of flack. And it's not necessarily without cause...so many things you read about and hear about make you just shake your head and wonder what's going on.

Mr. LC and I are members of the United Methodist Church. I'm proud to say it's one of the most liberal, open minded churches I've ever seen. We signed up last spring to be a part of a new pilot campaign called "Imagine.No.Malaria"--the broader church's efforts to coordinate Methodist churches everywhere to join together to wipe out malaria in Sierra Leone. We weren't sure how we could help but knew it was something we were interested in so away we went. Our goal was to raise $60,000. I'm elated to say we raised $114,000! Some of you may have heard of Nothing.But.Nets, which is a part of the campaign that's been around for a while. If you know anything about malaria you know that mosquitoes carry this deadly but highly preventable disease, and a mosquito net used properly is often literally a lifesaver. In Sierra Leone, a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds. The Imagine.No.Malaria campaign is broader than just nets now, and I truly believe we have a shot at eradicating this disease.

Anyway, Mr. LC decided he would write a song for the campaign, to be performed at our church. I helped him a little bit. Someone else performed it and it went over well. So well, that the larger church wanted a recorded version of it to share--possibly all over the country and to be used in promotional videos.

I think it's beautiful. I know I'm biased, but the African feel, the music, the theme...I love it all. And yes, Mr. LC convinced me to sing with him.

To me, churches should be outside of their walls, out there doing the real work. Feeding the hungry, taking care of the sick, loving everyone.

Enjoy the song. And Imagine.No.Malaria.

Click HERE.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reindeer dust and Christmas miracles!

Reindeer dust! Cookies for Santa! Christmas miracles!
If you came to my blog looking for that, well, sorry to disappoint.

Remember my doc friend who ended up being my cycle buddy? And remember their beautiful HCG numbers?

Well, Monday he announced it's twins.

Yeah. I knew it all along. Somehow, they get twice what we'll ever get on their first try. And yes, I understand they still have miles to go--I have witnessed too much heartbreak and tragedy firsthand to know they're 'safe'--but at this point, they are miles and miles ahead of us.

When I went home and told Mr. LC that they saw heartbeats--that if ours had been successful we'd be seeing a heartbeat by now and he got the most heartbroken look on his face and said "We'd be seeing heartbeats now?" He then just shook his head.

He doesn't really read this blog unless I ask him to check out a post, and I'm not sure he minds when I mention him (he's never said) so I'm going to go ahead and talk about him. This loss/failure has hit him in a different way. On the one hand, he's always maintained that as much as he'd love a child, the loss of pregnancy is something he cannot understand because of that Y chromosome. So he feels like this whole process hurts me more. He has also developed some wicked coping skills after our first failure--meditation, keeping a loose idea of unattachment, etc. Plus he has always tried to be strong for me, knowing full well (and being spot on correct) that I pretty much fall to pieces when we fail.

So following our latest epic fail, he was sad. But not blown apart. More "well, what else can we expect" kind of sad.

But more recently, it's hitting him--and hitting him hard. Last night he said "But we've never been in this position--with no treatment or prospects ahead." Yesterday he sent me an email with the following:

"Y'know what strikes me? Especially on FB, many people with kids that post family snapshots want to show everyone Just How Happy They Can Be(!). Look at our joy!! My, how happy are we!
I'm sure kids are the light of their lives, but the s**t eating grins are truly shmackable. I know that even if we had one, it'd still seem like people are trying to out-happy each other, because folks are dying to win. Best of all, we get to watch from the sidelines.

go team."


I HATE TO SEE HIM HURTING. I feel so responsible for all of this. For all of this pain. For his pain. It's a burden that I have to bear, no one can bear it for me. Yes we have male factor, but it's not severe. I have often wondered how many beautiful little Mr. LC's would be running around right now if he had just picked someone else. Someone with healthier eggs, without endometriosis ravaging their ovaries, without a fluffy/hyperplasic lining. Someone else, someone not me.

We are going to be alone for the holidays this year (not because of IF, but more because of my Dad not being able to travel). So for the first time in forever, on Christmas Eve it will just the two of us, a tofurkey, and our pets. We won't be cooing over our first ultrasound photos like we were supposed to. We won't be sitting out cookies for Santa. I guess we won't be completely alone, as we'll be at the ARCH serving homeless men on Christmas Day. That's a good thing--I will need that perspective.

But we'll miss out on the magic of Christmas that is reserved specifically for children. Instead, it's just the two of us. Like it is starting to feel like it will always be.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Random

This post is going to be all over the place. My thoughts are just so scattered lately.

I work in medicine. I always take a look at my patient's 'social history' in their chart. It tells me their occupation, marital/partner status, and information about children. I seem to hone in on those that say 'children: none'. If they're older I am dying to ask them how their lives worked out that way, if they have any regrets, etc. Of course I don't--that's not my job nor my place. If they're younger or in that zone of 30-early 40s, I wonder if they might be like me.

This morning when I got to work I wanted to read my own pathology report. So of course I opened my chart (we're all electronic charts, nothing paper to go hunt down). And then I saw it:


Age: 35.
Marital status: married.
Children: none.


And it took my breath away.


I mean, it's not like I don't know I'm married (15 years!). It's not like I don't know my age (though I hate that I've crossed into advanced maternal age land). And DUH, it's not like I don't know my pathetic status of no children. But seeing it in black and white, as part of my medical record, well that just plain sucked.

I also realized that we're about to be into 2010, which means we're coming up on 5 years of TTC. I am not completely sure how we got here some days. When I used to read someone's profile or blog info and see TTC for 5+ years I would feel somewhat shocked. As in, who can go through this crap without some resolution for so many years?

But yet here we are, up to our necks and nearly drowning in this crap.

And then there was a piece in the New York Times about A.R.T. and it was a sad story of a very complicated situation and I read it, and then read some of the comments. Take home point: the world is so judgmental of us. Those of us who are not lucky enough to have sex and have a baby...we're apparently freaks of nature. And others are so judgmental it hurts. There were numerous comments about infertiles needing to take the hint from 'nature' or God that some people just aren't meant to be parents.

And even though I know these comments are ridiculous, and I can counter that argument with a million examples of nature getting it dead wrong, it still hurts. It hurts to know so many people do not understand my pain and frankly, never will. They'll just sit with their biological babies and judge judge judge.

And then there is Mich.elle Dug.gar. I can barely muster the energy to write anything about this. I wonder if this will end her quest to just keep having more babies.

As for the commenters who made such generous suggestions about helping us out with finances, I'll tell you, it's tempting. But it's so, so complicated. I think I would feel tremendously guilty accepting any help from anyone, because we feel like--as irrational as it is--this is our bed and we have to lie in it. As in, somehow we have to finance our dreams. But you never know, one day I might just change my mind :) --clearly I've been known to do just that.

Finally: distractions. I'm grateful for them right now. Yesterday I did some holiday baking. We had two parties over the weekend plus we worked at the shelter. We also completed our holiday shopping and ended last night with a wrapping party while watching Christmas Vacation. If I can keep my mind and my body super occupied I forget to hurt, and that is such a nice relief.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A post revisited.

First of all, my biopsy was basically benign! Hooray! Unfortunately there weren't a lot of cells to test (which just happens sometimes, even though I know I had the best doctor doing the biopsy), but there were colloid cells (a good sign) and he was pleased. Now we'll just watch it. So no surgery for me :)

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On my old blog, I once wrote a post about invisible children. I had written the post after reading another blogger's post on her invisible children. She had suffered a tragic loss, the birth of a full term infant who died only days later. She wrote about her invisible child that no one else could--or wanted--to see.

My invisible children, are, of course, different. I've never seen them on ultrasound, or felt the weight of them in my arms.

They have only been visible in my mind's eye.

Every day I think about the children we would have had by now, had we not been infertile. We'd have a three year old and a one year old right now. If I start thinking about all the treatments and where those children would be had ANY of them worked, it is mind boggling.

Oh how I want to know those children. How I want to see who they look like, if they favor Mr. LC's talents, or mine. I know that children are their own entities, complete with their own personalities. And I've even been advised (assviced?) by others that once you have children you don't care from whence they came.

Maybe.

But that doesn't take away my longing to know my biological children. To see them. To hold them in my arms, to let them fall asleep on my chest. To watch them grow. To look across the dinner table at Mr. LC and say "Oh look! Little LC is just like her father!"

But they remain invisible. Only a figment in my imagination.

I've been told that if we adopted it would be OK because "we wouldn't know what we were missing."

I will not even touch that statement because it offends me on so many levels. I'll just let it hang there in the blogosphere.

I guess I am grateful for my imagination. This Christmas I will imagine taking them to see Santa, I will imagine the look of wonder on their little faces as we look at holiday lights, I will imagine their sleepy eyes on Christmas morning seeing gifts under the tree and half eaten cookies on the hearth. I will imagine their beautiful sweet little baby voices singing "Silent Night." I will imagine Mr. LC reading them "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and then carrying their sock-footed PJed little bodies to bed, asleep on his shoulder.

I just miss them. So, so very much.

EDIT to add: After reading a couple of comments, I just wanted to say that Mr. LC and I had always said we would adopt one day. We had the "have one then adopt one" kind of mentality. I think adoption can be wonderful. I wish more people did it instead of cranking out 3, 4 and 5 bio kids personally. And the comment someone made to me about not knowing what we'd me missing that I referenced in the post--I think that is offensive to adoption in general--making it seem somehow 'less than.' I honestly don't know which way we'll end up going--I've learned to quit trying to guess. I just know that I do miss my biological children--that much I most definitely know.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tomatoes, my eggs, and a ANOTHER biopsy

Two posts in one day. Bear with me.

One of today's Yahoo health headlines said something like "seven foods top nutritionists would never eat." And the FIRST one was canned tomatoes.

Ok.

I eat canned tomatoes. A LOT of them. I have never minded that taste, and I lazily use them on homemade pizzas, on top of spaghetti squash, etc. etc. Probably I eat them twice per week, at least. So imagine my horror when the article said that the BPA is found in high amounts in canned tomatoes. "Studies show that the BPA in most people's body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals." Maybe I'm an idiot but I didn't know this. I swear I didn't know! All the things I've done to protect my health, and this I didn't know.

I didn't eat anything else on the list. We only do organic milk, we don't eat any meat (mostly for humane purposes but also because of those scary hormones they feed factory farm animals) but who knew canned tomatoes could be crapping out the chromosomes on my eggs?

Sigh.

And today I had to have a biopsy of my thyroid, which managed to grow a single solitary suspicious nodule. When I had it ultrasounded two weeks ago I took the ultrasound report to my boss, a wonderful endocrinologist with whom I would trust my life. I covered up my name on the report and asked if he would think it needed to be biopsied. He immediately said yes.

When I said, "Waah, it's me, and I don't want a needle stuck into my neck" he told me I could survey all the endos at our practice and go with the consensus, but that was his opinion. So everyone I surveyed said to biopsy for sure.

I kept avoiding scheduling it and then today he called me and said "I want to biopsy that thing today. No more waiting."

So today on my lunch break I had my neck numbed up while my favorite doctor/boss punctured my little nodule with a needle in three different locations. Yowza.

The odds of cancer are low. But since thyroid cancer runs in my family and my nodule was suspicious, well, you just have to be careful. Thyroid cancer is highly treatable but dude, I don't really want it.

Damn those tomatoes and damn that thyroid nodule.
This post was inspired by this blog...and yes, I know I'm going to come off sounding bitter and jaded. But just indulge me. It's that time of year. And as I said to Mr. LC last night--I probably won't have too many readers anymore. After all, the train has already wrecked.

Holiday letters: I'll admit, we used to send one. You know, where you highlight all the high points (usually) of your year, brag about your kids (or dogs), and put in a picture (that's probably been Photoshopped). We stopped sending them after our second (or was it third?) IVF failed. Everyone knew that was what was going on, and writing about all the other superficial stuff and dancing around our own pain just felt, well, superficial. So here's the one we would send out this year, if we were being honest and keeping in the true holiday letter- overuse- of- exclamation- point-spirit!


Dear Friends and Family!

It's that time of year again--wow, we can hardly believe a whole year has passed by! I mean, we've been busy busy busy but essentially we're in exactly the same place as we were four years ago!

Let's see...on the heels of our spectacular crash and burn IVF cycle last November, we decided to scrape ourselves off the floor and pay another $20,000 to CC.R.M. to try again. Boy do we feel blessed for the privilege!

First off, I went to six months of acupuncture (secretly hoping it was the special cure and we wouldn't really need the big shot clinic again...but waaah waaah, every month my period showed up right on time, so clearly that wasn't enough either). I just loved laying there having little tiny needles poked into various parts of my body! I choked down herbs and more herbs--sometimes gagging on the teas. I then decided to give up all sugar, which really was just a delight. I also choked down gallons of protein shakes--yum yum! And lest you think Mr. LC was left out of the fun--every night he lined up his massive supplement doses just like a good little junkie and took them right down.


I started off by taking four shots every day. Mr. LC is really good at giving them to me right in my stomach. And the bruises were just lovely!

So we went out there in August and let me tell you it was spectacularly fun! Every morning I'd wake up early and go have an ultrasound wand shoved up my hoo ha to see how many follicles my ovaries could grow on massive doses of synthetic hormones. Then I'd get my blood drawn to see if my estrogen was going up high enough, or maybe too high to risk my life with a hyperstimulation syndrome. It was really a great vacation!

To get ready for picking up our little embryos I went and had my uterus punctured not once, but twice. Sure, I nearly passed out from the pain but hey--who am I to complain? I felt blessed to have the opportunity to improve my chances for getting what most people get from drinking a little too much wine.

We went back out in November to pick up those little embryos and boy were we full of hope and excitement! Another spectacular getaway! We came home with four potential babies on board. Crazy? Probably so. But don't judge until you've been there.

It turns out we did, in fact, get pregnant. We had that special knowledge for a whole 24 hours! Then it got yanked out from under us the next day. But boy am I grateful for those 24 hours...they were truly divine and certainly made everything we'd been through completely and totally worth it.

So here we are, at the close of 2009, a lot poorer and our hearts are basically a mangled mess. It's a good day if I don't break down and cry, so that's what we're grateful for. Most days we just get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, look at each other in disbelief that we're here, discuss options, throw our hands up, and go to bed again.

Hope you and yours had a great year of birthdays, and special 'firsts' and trips to Disneyland, and baking cupcakes and cuddling and snuggling and sweet baby smells and little tiny kisses and footed pajamas and just absolute bliss.

See you at the end of 2010!

Much love--

Mr. and Mrs. LC and their three spectacular furchildren

Monday, December 7, 2009

The follow up.

I did, in fact, have a good weekend. Shopping was frenzied but managed to remain fairly fun. We literally shopped until we dropped and managed to accomplish a lot. I despise shopping just to 'get it done' or picking a gift just to cross them off your list--I like looking for the right gift. We then went home and wrapped up everything in a flurry of tissue paper and tape and ribbon. I love making packages look special. Yesterday we finally finished Madmen. It rocks. The only thing I didn't do: bake. Boo.

It turns out my Dad was actually septic. I know. The poor man. It seems that neither of us can catch a break. I tell you, if I follow in his footsteps genetically well, oh boy. Marathon runner, non-smoker, never overweight, etc.--wound up with quadruple bypass and a stroke. So um, why am I fighting to pass these genetics on? At any rate, his current infection is steadily improving.


So...Thursday night I had a little diddy known as the WTF call. Well, I wouldn't really call ours that anymore. I've been through too many of these 'after the IVF BFN' calls to feel like they're truly WTF? I did want to speak with my doctor and get her medical opinion on things. Of course she knew it was our last try and kept saying over and over how sad it was to get a chemical pregnancy. Tell me something I don't know! She said at least we knew at least one embryo made it to blast, differentiated, hatched, and implanted. My uterine lining was receptive to implantation. All good things, but all not enough, obviously. She was neutral on any future recommendations other than to definitely NOT go out and get a uterine ablation...just in case. I cried on the phone, which I didn't want to do. But when your doctor says things like "It's just not fair and I just don't understand why this is happening to you and Mr. LC" and shows some real human compassion well, it's hard not to just start blubbering. And then in the freakiest moment, she asked if I'd ever considered writing my story because she thinks it could serve as something meaningful to a lot of people. Maybe they found me?

I also used that time to heartily complain about some of the nursing issues they have.

Here's a confession: I always thought that if I was successful with ART I'd think about a field change into reproductive endocrinology. I've been through it, and I just feel like I could connect with patients in a way that would be meaningful. But not anymore. While I could be empathetic, who would want a provider who'd had five failed IVFs? That would freak most anyone out.

Not to mention I'd probably be envious of someone just starting out their journey. For example, one of my coworkers is 38, just starting TTC, and is only on the clomid phase. While I'm not envious of her age (and I am NOT saying 38 is old--in many many ways age is not the biggest factor regarding success or not) or the fact that she's possibly introducing IF into a very young marriage, I'm strangely jealous of the fact that she has the whole world of ART stretched out before her, just waiting to swoop in and fix her.

So here I am. Still hurting. Not going to change careers. At the end of the road of ART.

Right now, it's just enough to make s'mores with good friends, hold hands with Mr. LC, and cuddle up with a good book and furbaby.

It's enough because it has to be enough.

Friday, December 4, 2009

This weekend.

This weekend we are consciously choosing to rejoin the living.

My Dad is doing much better. Apparently, he was this.close to sepsis with a fast moving kidney infection. But several rounds of IV antibiotics have made him much better. He doesn't remember any of yesterday--he was simply too sick--but I had a decent conversation with him on the phone today. So I didn't go home. Instead, I just called obsessively all day long.

But I think it was a good choice.

Mr. LC and I need a weekend. We're going Christmas shopping, which we both oddly enjoy. I like the crowds and the hustle and bustle--to a certain extent. We will restrain ourselves from singing our special "Triple A" song...have I ever taught you the Triple A song? No? Well, it stands for "anyone, absolutely anyone" which Mr. LC put to a groovy little tune and he sings it when he sees someone pregnant and smoking or some other example of the fact that anyone, absolutely anyone can get pregnant but me. In fact, now all he does is hum the tune and we know what it means. Regardless, we're going to ban it tomorrow.

Tomorrow--we're going to shop, eat out, stroll, shop, eat dessert, and have a good time. We're going to watch the rest of Season 2 of 30 Rock and then on Sunday we're committed to finishing Madmen. We're going to volunteer at the ARCH soon and that's always good for perspective and I'm going to do some baking which is always good for...well, not much expect stress eating.

If there's one thing we've learned, it's that we have to keep moving forward.

So onward we'll go. Wish us luck!

PS. Cameron--thanks for the comment. We are eerily similar and I'm sorry for all you've been through. I wish you had a blog--shoot me an email at lastchanceivf@gmail.com if you ever want to chat.

PPS My guilt blog--I just wanted to remind people that I promise I'm not saying anyone who goes to extreme measures to have a child is in the wrong. How in the world could I say that, after swearing we'd never do ONE IVF and doing FIVE? One thing I've learned throughout this journey--it is intensely personal and no one ever really knows what they'll do until they get through the next phase. I can only laugh when I think about Mr. LC and I--after going to a required informational session on IVF--we came out of there shaking our heads saying "well that's not for us! No way, no how." If those kids could see us now...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Next stop: guiltytown.

Warning: this is obviously my blog. So duh, I put my opinions here. I think this post might be a bit heavy in the opinion arena, and it might rub some folks the wrong way, and I'm sorry for that. My intention is not to judge anyone's path (hello? Five IVFs here) but as I keep saying, I'm writing to stay sane. Now on with the post!

I feel guilty.

Guilty that I've spent as much money as I have on this pursuit when children languish in orphanages around the world. Guilty because that's the attitude we IFers often get from fertiles when they say something like "but there are so many needy kids out there!" and it makes us want to claw our eyeballs out. But the truth is: it's the truth. Guilty because Mr. LC and I always said we'd 'have one adopt one' and truthfully, adopting goes more with our liberal/moral philosophy on life--because let's face it--taking care of a child that already exists is much better for the world in nearly every single way. Guilty because this makes perfect sense to me but I can't get my heart to agree completely to that point.

So I feel guilty because of my biological urge.

Guilty that I have made my fertile friends suffer from the condition of 'fertile guilt. That I screwed up the whole chance to have playdates and Mom's brunches and just be normal.

Guilty that I can't move on.

Guilty that four and half years of supposedly the best time of my life have had an undercurrent of profound sadness because of IF and I know that's made me a shitty friend sometimes, and a less than gracious person, and bitter, and jealous, and sometimes I've acted like a spoiled child stamping my feet saying "I want I want I want."

Guilty that I still don't want to give up.

Guilty that I'm so selfish to want my own child that I would have gone to such ridiculous lengths to do it.

Guilty that I spent so much time and energy on this. Imagine if I had channeled that elsewhere? I can say this: I would've taken and passed my NLA boards by now, I would have written my book (though what would the ending be?), I could have accomplished so much with that energy.

Guilty that I'm a crappy godmother. A crappy aunt.

Guilty that I didn't support Phoebe properly during her cycle because I was too mired in my own grief.

Guilty that I am jealous jealous jealous--not only now of my friends with kids, but of people with two healthy parents, too! Guilty because I'm jealous of former infertiles with pregnancies--I hate being jealous of them because they worked hard to get where they are and all I wanted was to join them.

Guilty that I feel like someone else shouldn't have success on their first IVF cycle because I haven't had success after five. Damn that sounds horrible.

Guilty that I'm scared of the next pregnancy announcement, from a fertile or infertile. They all hurt these days. Guilty that I'm mostly scared of being the only one left because it's ticking down--in real life and in online life.

Guilty guilty guilty.

And now guilty because my Mom just called to tell me that my Dad is in the ER with probable pyelonephritis and he's miserable. Guilty because he called out "Mrs. LC! I'm watching for you to come in the door any minute now!" Guilty because I just wanted this weekend to be with Mr. LC, we have plans to try to re-join the living, but instead I probably should be driving 3.5 hour towards the hospital right now. Guilty because if I could just move on to adoption my Mom would have something wonderful to focus on and it would lift her low spirits so much.

There, I purged.

Guilty as charged.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

People and their word choices.

First of all, before I get into the meat of the post, I have to say thanks for all the comments with good ideas.

HP-Oprah would likely filet me for not helping out a needy kid via adoption. She's done a couple of stories on infertility and frankly, got it wrong. Now I'd love to be the poster child for correcting some misperceptions, but I just don't think she's interested.

Sky-That would indeed be quite a story!

Anonymous 1-I have heard of that mythical blogger who worked at Kinkos to finance IVF treatment. In fact, I walk with her nearly every Friday where we bitch and moan about infertility. Kind of funny!

Anonymous 2-Oh please know a producer! Even if someone didn't want to follow my story, I think Discovery Health owes the infertiles a show or two, rather than just all these ridiculous "I didn't know I was pregnant" or "pregnant and ______". Years ago they did The Baby Lab but seriously? It is so out of date now it's silly. It's time to correct the notion that infertile women pursuing IVF 1) always succeed or 2) are Octomom.

Meg-I'll take a music video producer. We actually have our own little IVF music video already made. The thing is: we shot the ending on the positive HPT day. So, um...yeah. Right now we're figuring out what to do with it, and someone the song we chose is no longer quite right.

Now, on to my post title.

I have a friend in real life that I've known since I was a wee little one. I don't see her much anymore, but we used to be really close. She was on a vacation when we got our news, and truthfully she didn't even know about the cycle. So when I got an email from her just asking how things were, I decided to give her the full update.

Here's the response I got:
"I'm sorry about your pregnancy......disappointment. I hope you guys can figure out a way to move past this."

Disappointment?

Disappointment?

Disappointment is going to the movies to find your showtime is sold out. Or not finding some shoes in the right size. Or maybe ordering something new on the menu to find out that it doesn't taste as good as it sounded.

Disappointment is not four and half years of heartache culminating in a fake-out pregnancy.

Of course, said email came from someone who's two adorable children both came as "surprises" because she just couldn't tolerate the Pill (headaches) and...well, I'll just leave it at that.

Sigh.

I guess I'm not handling my disappointment very well. But golly gee, I hope I can move past it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Eating my own words.

When we were in the throes of the fresh part of this lastchance cycle, I remember looking at Mr. LC and saying: "Boy am I glad this is the last time to go to a retrieval."

When we nervously pressed play on our answering machine to hear our fertilization report, my hands were shaking. I said to him again: "Who does this to themselves? This is awful...all this waiting, all this nervousness. Never, ever again."

When we woke up the morning of the transfer and my phone rang with the familiar C.C.R.M. area code I freaked out and said to Mr. LC: "Never again. Who can put themselves through this kind of agony, this kind of waiting for the possible bad news?"

And now I'm eating my words.

I've been starving for four years and I finally had a taste of success. The tiniest sliver of nourishment, of sustenance, was offered to me and I greedily gobbled it right down.

And now I think, how do I get more of that? That tasted so incredibly good. That morsel made me the happiest I've been in my entire life. I've now been made even more aware of just how hungry I really really was, all those years.

Please, sir, can I have a little more?

But this was it. Our last chance. And so I have to think about those words, and try to capture the way I felt when I said them. I have to try to get to that place mentally--when I felt like I would soon be free from all of this ART nightmare.

Of course the inherent danger with saying anything grandiose is that you never can anticipate how you'll feel when you get to the next step. When you fail the next cycle.

And really, there isn't an option. I haven't suddenly gotten a raise and Mr. LC hasn't gotten discovered. Despite numerous national awards we're still in the hole on that venture. He doesn't even want to do it anymore, and who can blame him? I took a second job but it's to help pay off the lastchance IVF. I literally looked on the Discovery Health website to see how to pitch my story--because hey, who doesn't like to watch a train wreck? But apparently you have to have a producer pitch the story.

Any producers out there reading?
Two responsible, mature grown ups, sans any addictions (except maybe to cycling??) want desperately to be parents. The mister is a children's musician on the side (ironic!) and the missus can bake like the best of them. They've failed five in vitro cycles--wouldn't you like to follow them on a few more?

Oh wait--we'd just open ourselves up for all the abuse--how selfish! why not just adopt! there are so many needy kids out there so why spend resources to create your own! why do you want to be like octomom!

I'm just writing to stay alive.

PS We did not book our now MUCH NEEDED trip to NYC. It just got too expensive. Oh how hindsight is 20/20.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ugly

I am warning any readers, I am not in a pretty place right now.

I did have many things to be thankful for, but I'm sorry, right now the bad overshadows the good. My heart is raw.

Sleep is now my enemy. When I can fall asleep, I have dreams about two f'ing lines on a home pregnancy test. I'm so blissful in those dreams, until the lines evaporate in front of me and I'm told they're just that--evaporation lines. I woke up yesterday after dreaming about two pink lines and the pain was so real again I went into the shower to sob.

Because, see, I had to keep it together for my Mom, who knew nothing of this. Who is in such a bad place herself right now dealing with my Dad that I was literally holding her up. Being strong for her. When all I really wanted to do was curl into a ball in her lap and bawl my eyes out and tell her how horrible I feel.

Instead, I changed my Dad's diapers.

Instead, we sat around crying trying to figure out the next steps for his care.

Instead, I cried onto my Dad's shoulder while he tried to comfort me--my tears for his pain and anguish and my own.

Instead, I pushed him around his property while he talked aloud about how he can't wait to get to work on his pine tree farm again.

My Dad's fight is like our fight.

After his stroke, I just knew that if anyone had a chance, it was him. He was strong, he was a fighter. He was going to defy the odds and surprise everyone.

We were too.

And now I just feel like we make quite the pair: both broken, unfixable, our families and loved ones circling around us trying to do little things to make us feel better, hoping we'll just accept our plight and make the best of it. My Dad still thinks he's going to get better--he cannot face his new reality. I can't either.

I feel like an MRI of my reproductive future would look as grim as my Dad's brain MRI. Shocking, even.

Today while driving home we talked about one week ago today. One week ago today our world looked bright and happy. One week ago today, as foolish as it was, I was making plans. Imagining hanging a tiny third stocking next to our two big ones. Today, I have the physical reminder of my failure, I bleed and bleed and bleed, and we will hang two stockings yet again. If we even bother to put up Christmas decorations.

If we had a million dollars we 'd keep trying.

But we don't.

I've appreciated the new readers/commenters. I appreciate any ideas.

I'm just so lost.

Edit to add: I'm so lost I'm just sitting here staring at the TV. Dangerous. I saw an ad for a new series on Discovery Health called: "I'm pregnant and I'm __________" and they filled in the blank with things like: bipolar, homeless, addicted to meth, etc. etc. etc.

Because that's what we need to see. Why don't they do a special on me and pay for me to do IVF time and time again until it works because I'm NOT homeless, addicted to meth, bipolar or anything other than READY to be a mother.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The power of the test line.

One emotion I have felt this go around that is new is surprised.

As in, surprised at how incredibly awful I feel right now.

Most people would wonder how someone who has failed miserably at four IVFs could be surprised at the feelings of another failure...after all, we've been here before.

But it's like seeing that test line come up positive stripped away all my previous armour that I had built up from surviving other negatives. I was suddenly reduced to my bare, raw self, fully exposed. It was like the past four years just faded into oblivion--suddenly they didn't matter. All that mattered was seeing a positive.

We spent the day running errands. We kept grabbing onto each others hands and looking at each other and just smiling. Mr. LC said he was finally, finally feeling content.

So yeah, I wasn't prepared for this. I am surprised. I thought it would either be an epic fail or a resounding success. And whether this makes me a fool or not, I deep down honestly thought, despite our low chance of success, that we would beat it.

For a short while I was a hospice nurse. I remember one time giving this woman a shot and as I reached down to put the bandaid on, she reached up and grabbed my hand in a panic. She was emaciated, cancer having destroyed her body, but her grip was surprisingly strong. She had thin wisps of hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, because she had fought with chemo up until the bitter end. Her skin was like paper. When her hand grabbed my arm she said "Wait! I'm allergic to latex! Those aren't latex are they?"

Because even while dying in a hospice, she was fighting to live.

I think if I had asked her, she still thought she was going to surprise everyone and beat her disease.

Because even while knowing the odds were against us, we were fighting to succeed.

And yeah, if you asked me, I thought we were going to beat infertility.

But we didn't. We lost. And I still wake up in the night and can't quite wrap my brain around that. I don't know what that says about me. Am I stupid? A fighter? In complete and total denial?

We feel completely and totally lost about where to go next. When I've previously mentioned Plan A, well, suddenly that just isn't as black and white either.

Does anyone have a map they can loan me?

And PS: Happy Thanksgiving. It breaks my heart all over again when I think about the news I am not going to be giving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sadness

I guess today I'm in the sadness stage.

Profound sadness.

I think it started last night, considering I sat in the middle of my kitchen on the floor and sobbed for an hour or so.

My heart is hurting so much and that doesn't describe it.

I went for my final insult blood draw this morning. I threw away those positive HPTs because I could no longer stand to see them.

I talked to my sister last night. She reminded me, quite matter of factly, that because of past experience I know that time will help. Yeah, she's right. But she's also fertile and has absolutely no fucking idea of the pain I am in. She never will; it's simply impossible for her. She takes her kids to soccer and does homework with them and bakes cookies with them and is already doing Santa Claus shopping for them and she carried them in her uterus for nine months and felt them kick and felt them grow and laid on her bed at night in awe and wonder watching her belly move with their movements and said to her husband "look at this! feel this!" and he did and she went through labor and birthed them and saw them come screaming into the world and then she nursed them at her breast and she knew that when they cried someone would pick them up and she knew that she gave them the best chance in life because she took excellent care of herself and she watched them sleeping in their crib at night in amazement that they were hers.

And I will get none of that. And I'm sorry, no amount of time heals that wound completely.

PS I didn't go out to dinner on Saturday with my doc friend. Their beta yesterday was 255. Because it was their first IVF. Because they cycled with us, so that naturally meant we would lose and they would win. Because that's the way it feels right now.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh the places we WON'T go.

*First of all, I so appreciate all of the comments and support. It means the world to me. Secondly, I'll probably be writing a LOT here, because I write to process. That doesn't mean you have to keep reading and/or commenting. I know my story gets tired and old. Believe me, I know.



I'm in the anger stage. Full on, bonafide PISSED.

At everyone.

One thing is painfully clear, there are now a whole list of places I won't be going. And yes, I'm staying on the meds and rechecking, but let's be real. My Saturday day HPT was positive. One of my Sunday HPTs was positive--the same brand as Saturday's. That was the Target knock off FRER, which has been known to detect Hcg as low as 12.5, but now I'm thinking 9 as well. So what was it picking up on Saturday? Likely a slightly higher Hcg, which was then caught on its way down on Sunday. Plus, the only symptom I was having at all--vague light-headedness--has disappeared.

So here's a quick list: (I'm too tired to write it Seussian style)

An OB/GYN's for an actual OB appointment. Just gyn for me.

A maternity clothes store.

An ultrasound visit.

A baby store to register for newborn things.

A tour of a labor and delivery unit with nervous anticipation.

A parking space in one of those fucking "expectant mom's" spots. Nope, not me.

The list could go on and on and on...



Mr. LC is, predictably, my rock. He has not fallen apart yet, maybe he won't. All I know is that somehow yesterday our laundry was done and put away, the kitchen was cleaned, I was fed, my lab coat was ironed, and I had a lunch made this morning. And all I remember doing was bawling my brains out yesterday, leaning into him so tightly I could scarcely breathe. And now the irrational fears that something will happen to him are starting...if I lose him, I lose myself.

I looked at him yesterday and said "As long as it's just you and me here in the house, I can survive."

But the world--out there, hell, even here--is a scary place. There are fertiles and former-infertiles-with success everywhere. The percentage of people like us--who have failed and failed and failed and failed and failed--is low. We are not normal, and we are very much alone in most ways. With every failure at a biological child, our sense of separateness from the majority of the world grows. We do not feel like waves in the ocean with our fellow humans, we feel like freaks who cannot attain the most natural of goals.

I am sick of it. I want to run away, but can anyone tell me where to go? I want to quit my job, sell our house, and move far away where no one knows us. Where we aren't pitied. Where people don't secretly thank God they aren't us. Because I know it's true. I know my friends look at their beautiful children and thank their lucky stars they aren't us. Who could blame them?

I am pissed. I did everything right. I was healthy. My body has utterly betrayed me yet again. And today I sit, seeing patient after patient, my hollow urgings to get them to take better care of themselves, and they aren't even willing to lift a finger. I'm on autopilot today.

This morning I looked at my dogs. They're perplexed right now. Why so many tears? Why so much sadness in our house? They don't understand. What happened to the happy-happy-joy-joy that was all day Saturday?

They want it back. I do too. I want to reverse time and stare at that positive HPT--to feel content and joyous like that--for the rest of my life. I can't even bear to throw them away, my little reminders of something that will never be mine.

Three surgeries.

Two months of induced menopause.

Hundreds of shots.

Nearly $80,000.

More vaginal ultrasounds than anyone should endure.

Two endometrial biopsies.

Three months of no sugar and gag-inducing protein shakes.

Six months of acupuncture.

Two trips out of state.

Five in vitro cycles.



The final result: 9.



Universe: You win.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

When a line isn't a line.

Short story: it's over.

Long story: yesterday was total bliss. I POAS and got two lines. A second line that was easy to see, even for Mr. LC. Even for the camera. We photographed it. I emailed it to my sister--Yes! Yes! She saw it too.

This morning I repeated. The same test showed a positive. Two other tests not so much. So we knew were headed towards a not good place.

I went to the lab, keeping myself together. I wasn't even crying. Relief as I saw no other infertiles with their Sunday stat lab orders to have to contend with...until. Until there was a woman in the actual lab draw chair asking how long stat orders took. I looked at Mr. LC and mouthed "Newbie." Then the lab tech asked her if her home test was positive and she exclaimed "Yes! So I can't wait to hear my number."

At which point I broke down.

Full on bawling.

My heart shattered into a million pieces right there on the lab floor.

That was supposed to be me, you see. Me. Not her. I don't care who she is--I doubt she has worked as hard as me. I don't care if that makes me a selfish bitch. I'm not. It's just rare you find someone else who has gone through five in vitro cycles.

I was shaking so hard I could hardly roll my sleeve up for the final insulting lab draw.

Fast forward to several hours later when we still haven't heard from C.C.RM. so I have to page them. And then my horrible, awful, unfeeling nurse from my last cycle picks up.

"Why yes, I do have your beta. It's really low. It's a 9."

As in, single digits NINE. How does a f'ing HPT even pick that up?

Then she has the gall to say to me "Well you've been down this road before."

Um, excuse me, no I have not. I've only ever had stark white negatives, beta=0. To which she actually replied "Oh well, this is a positive. You should retest on Tuesday but it is really low."

I think I hung up on her.

And to think: yesterday I had a heart full of happiness and hope and goodness. Today I feel like crawling into a cave and never coming out.

Your support has been wonderful. Amazing. Beyond what anyone could expect or hope for. I have felt you all through each step.

I don't know what to do now.

I'm out of energy for anything right now. I guess we'll always be in the 1.25%.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oh the places you'll go!

Our SS class did a study on Dr. Seuss. Last week we read "Oh The Places You'll Go" which mostly makes me think of high school graduation.

But reading it again, as a full on grown up, who's been a few 'places' certain passages just jumped out and grabbed my heart.


You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.


Is this what we've been doing these past four and half years? Racing down long wiggled roads, grinding on for miles across a weirdish wild space? Always in the most useless place--the waiting place? We have tried tried tried to live our lives, to keep on going, to not be deterred. But truthfully, when you're trying to make HAVING KIDS happen it's kind of a turning point, no? Our lives haven't been on hold 100%, but seriously, everything has been delayed.

And now suddenly, the wait becomes two days. From four and half years to two days to finally KNOW.

This next part also grabbed us both:

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

I wish I could say it was the "Kid you'll move mountains!" part. Well, that made me tear up. But that 98 3/4 percent guaranteed--we both looked at each other and mouthed "We're in the 1.25% other percent."

Because there are no guarantees. I've seen women transfer perfect embryos and not have them stick around and then there are the ones where less than ideal embryos decide to become perfect babies and make their parents' dreams come true.

It could go either way.

Oh the places we've been...

Oh the places we'll go.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What dreams may come.

Oh the dreams!

Last night was the most vivid two-line HPT dream I've ever had. Mr. LC and I were in a hotel for some reason (maybe because so much of this process has been spent in hotels) and I was taking a test. We decided it was defective because some little message popped up. So we took another one. Mr. LC looked at it and said "I think it's negative." Then I looked at it and saw that it was, in fact, quite positive and this Mr. LC was whacko. Then both tests were remarkably positive.

We whooped it up all over the hotel room.

Suddenly my Mom was coming (!) and I said "Mr. LC we have to hide these tests because I want to tell her at Thanksgiving!"

So I frantically grabbed them up and stuffed them in my purse for safekeeping.

Then I woke up.

Once again, for those milliseconds of time when dreams and reality are blurred I had a smug satisfaction in my heart that it had worked. Then I opened my eyes and adjusted to the fact that it was 5:30 AM and I had to get cracking but I let the happiness from that dream carry me into the shower and beyond.

I'm going to sleep every night listening to a hyponofertility CD that the gracious Phoebe gave to me. I definitely think I'm having more peaceful sleep, and I'm glad for that.

Yesterday the doc I work with who is going through IVF popped into my office and asked if we could all go to dinner this Saturday night.

Gulp.

Saturday night. The night before beta.

Likely we will test Saturday at some point. We can't be blindsided. They won't know until Monday and have decided not to take a home test. This being their first IVF, the fact that they had stellar fertilization rates, the fact that they had beautiful blasts to transfer, the fact that the only reason they're doing IVF is because she exercises so much she doesn't ovulate (seriously) means that it will work for them.

I told him that depending on our test results we may or may not be the best company.

Please please please let my dream from last night play out in real life (well, not the hotel part).

Kramer! Elaine! Jerry! George! One of you--make me a mother. Make Mr. LC a father.

Please.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The highs and the lows...

The highs:
  • Coming home to fresh flowers from our pet sitter. She always sits for us for all our Colorado escapades and she--like many people--really want this for us. We always come home to fresh flowers.
  • Coming home to a handmade card from Stacey, one of my IRL bestest friends. She is a writer and her words are beautiful. I'm not sure I have lived up to/can live up to everything she wrote in there, but I try :)
  • Coming home to furbabies. Need I say more?
  • Being PUPO X4. I know it doesn't quadruple our chances, but still...
  • Receiving a beautiful "Hope on a String" bracelet from P. It is delicate and beautiful--just like the hope I feel.
The lows:
  • Doubt creeping in. Why would this time be any different? True, we did a lot of different things--FET, biopsies, transferring four...but will they lead to a different outcome?
  • Did I mention doubt?
  • Did I?
  • Don't feel a thing-you know, I so hoped I could feel some little twinge here or there to let me know someone had stuck around.
We are halfway through the 2WW already. That's definitely something. We keep reminding ourselves that this is Plan B. We do, in fact, have a Plan A that is fairly well executed already. But right now the focus is all on Plan B.

I really want this to work.

Did I mention that?

I find myself reading blogs and posts about positive day 3 transfers and going--nearly each and every time--"Huh! They can work!"

I hate the 2 WW.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Leaving the Mile High City

I'm sitting in the Denver Airport right now. Free wifi--yay!

Bedrest was good, but it does get old. Phoebe came and visited me on Wednesday night and we had an Indian food picnic on the bed. I'd post a picture but all that stuff is packed away.

Mr. LC and I were perusing some of our old pictures and videos--and much to my dismay I realized I wore the same knee-socks to several of my past unsuccessful transfers. Ruh-roh. I brought them because 1) they're knee socks and my legs get cold in those stupid gowns and 2) I have a toe thing. As in, I don't want anyone seeing my toes. I noticed about half an hour before the transfer that there was a big old hole in the bottom of one. Classy, eh? I wanted to joke with Dr. S that I had to wear holey socks because we'd spent all our money on IVF but then again, I didn't want to be a downer in there.

So back to the socks....and the pajamas. I realized I also wore my fave flannel sock monkey PJs on bedrest for most of my transfers. Oh well--I don't really believe in that kind of stuff, but I DO believe in all the good luck charms you guys sent and that I held tightly to. Those suckers are bound to work.

The way I figure it, those little embies are turning into blasts today, right this very minute. That's what I'm choosing to believe.

By the way, we named them: Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer.

I post journals on another IF site and I got some pretty funny comments when I named my embies over there. One woman said to watch out that one doesn't split and I wind up with a Newman on board, too! Yikes. The other said to watch out for the Elaine embie to do her 'little kicks' dancing the whole nine months :)

Come Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer! One of you has GOT to stick, right??

Question: Does anyone buy into the pineapple thing? If so, tell me all about it. I'm not a fan but you know I'll do anything at this point.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Valium is my friend...

We're back. Actually we've been back for a while (in the hotel) but the Valium induced sleep got the best of me!

I'll keep it brief...we showed up, had blood drawn, then went in for acupuncture. That was all fine and good and very relaxing. I had been semi-freaking out with regular intervals that the embryos wouldn't thaw properly or they'd all arrest right in front of their eyes, etc. So the acupuncture was nice in terms of getting me to calm the heck down.

Dr. S came in and had a big smile on his face. He said "well, we've got five very good embryos here, so we're going to transfer four of them. Two 8-cells, one 7-cell and one 6-cell." Then he read off something about another 7 cell but I wasn't following. You know, 'cuz of the Valium. They'll culture the rest just in case any of them turn into anything further, but embryology said we likely won't even get a call until Monday because day 6 would be on Saturday. If anything that's left turns into a blast I'll be blown away, but you never know, right?

There was a lot of waiting before Dr. S came in and Mr. LC had his laptop in the room. We started listening to some of our favorite tunes. In fact, we started listening to the THE SONG that we've been saving and saving to make our long-awaited BFP video. So when the actual transfer took place, it was playing! It was awesome to see that little blip on the ultrasound screen while hearing my special song going, and seeing all those smiling faces around me.

Everyone was so encouraging and warm and friendly. The mood was so nice. I felt happy.

Whoa.

I felt happy at a transfer.

I think previously I only felt happy at transfers 1 and 2. Transfers 3 and 4 I bawled at. So it was so nice to get that feeling back.

I had all of your stuff with me! See the picture:


Thank you to everyone--it was so nice to have all of the good luck charms and the photos and the written well wishes to hold on to and look at and think about. Support is essential--and I definitely felt supported! And now: WE WAIT.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

The last 150 yards.

I am home again. But only for a few days--eek!

Yesterday I spent the bulk of the day sitting by my Dad's side. He is tired on Saturdays. Five days in a row of therapy make him want to sleep a lot on Saturdays. So I just sat by his bed and read, and watched him sleep. Some stretches he was like a little kid--calling out my name every five minutes or so just to make sure I was still right there while he was dozing. I was.

Later in the day Mr. LastChance brought his dog up to see him. Imagine an 80-lb boxer traipsing through the halls of the nursing home (to get to the courtyard) and then imagine this: my heart breaking when my Dad said the following (he always calls his dog 'Boy'):

"Boy, when I get home we can wrestle again in the grass like always. You'd like that wouldn't you? And then you can go running next to me when I ride my bike. Just like always. Remember how we always sprinted in the last 150 yards?"

Before we left my Dad got to telling stories about his high school days--and dates! It was fun. He even laughed--his face twisted into a beautiful half smile that to anyone else would probably look like a painful grimace--but to us, it was pure heaven to see.

We drove home late last night, as always, emotionally spent and physically tired.

I walked into the kitchen and there is was: my package!

I tore right into it. I was practically bawling. You ladies are the best. There really are no words. I love love love how I have pictures of some of you to take with me-I already knew you were beautiful, but now I have confirmation. And the charms, and bracelets, and good luck talismans--awesome.

So the lovely Brenda put all these photos and good luck charms and well-wishes together on a giant ring so I can keep them all together with me. I love the magic wand from KayJay (and getting to see her sweet face!), I love the pic of Jill, and Brenda herself, and Lorraine, and Lisa, and B&D didn't send a pic but sent pics of her most treasured good luck charms (thanks for not sending the well-used running shorts :)). I love it ALL!


Sarah sent me a beautiful handmade charm bracelet with a lovely description of each charm and it's significance...thank you.


Ms. Meg sent me a package too--in the last days right before her spectacular wedding (I feel so honored that she took the time to do this for me at such an incredibly hectic time for her). The picture of her head on a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader body cheering me on--priceless, plus I love the pin for keeping "cool as a cucumber" and the rings and the stones.



And I can't forget my two IRL friends Bea and Megan. They've been here through it all. They've offered to help in physical ways that are beyond selfless. They also know me pretty well in terms of my chocolate addiction. So allow me to introduce my personalized M&Ms.... (they have pics of Mr. LC and I on them!!!...there were also ones that were personalized with our last name, but I couldn't post those, now could I?). This is just a small sampling by the way, there are many, many more of these delectable milk chocolate bites!



And Gail, sent me an adorable teddy bear by way of her little Katie, already five months old. Katie sends it with lots and lots of luck.


I'm in the last 150 yards guys, of what many would deem an ultra-marathon. I feel you all around me. Maybe we're sprinting, I'm not sure. But we're heading towards a finish line of sorts and whether we win or lose, I'm better for the journey and I've had some incredible company.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Whew!

Ok, so Mr. LC decided to travel with me, so he couldn't post for me. And I am just now 1) at a computer with internet and 2) away from my mother.

The quick and dirty:
We're on for transfer!

The drawn out saga:

1) Went to my u/s this morning. Immediately saw that the triple stripe wasn't nearly as prominent as last week. We (Mr. LC and I) could see the stripe, but we were both like "why is it hazy?" I think it's fairly hilarious that Mr. LC is so good at reading uterine ultrasounds. Otherwise, it was 12.3 mm, so it didn't thicken a whole lot more.
2) My local doc took about twelve different pictures of the uterus and they said they would email them to CC.R.M.
3) I waited on pins and needles for them to analyze them and deem my uterus worthy or unworthy.
4) In the meantime, I had marked my own lab stat call and listed my cell phone so I could get the results. It was hilarious when the lab called my cell, I answered "Hello?" and the lab person goes "Hello doctor? We have the results on your patient so and so." and then proceeded to tell me my estrogen went DOWN to 84 and my P4 was o.5. WTF?? Why did my E2 go down?
5) I called my nurse back, frantically, to tell her my numbers. She still hadn't received the u/s images. She told me "we're not as concerned about the numbers as we are about the ultrasound."
6) I called my local doc back (again, frantic) and asked that they please email the images STAT.
7) Just as I was walking into the facility where my Dad is CC.R.M. calls back to say my ultrasound images look wonderful, no worries at all. And just to add some oral estrace in a very low dose (because Dr. M doesn't want my lining growing anymore) get repeat bloodwork on Monday (though that won't hold up the transfer, it's just to see how to dose me) and of course start my progesterone on Sunday.
8) And oh yeah, we'll see you on Wednesday for your transfer.

SIGH OF RELIEF.

So once again, it was a roller coaster day.

And can I say, I am so grateful I came to see my Dad! e've had one of the best days today, despite all my own personal uterine drama.

And when I get home, I cannot wait to start posting some of the awesome things I have received as good luck... I will give you a hint: personalized M&Ms and a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. That's all I'm sayin'...but I can't wait to give you the detes.

Now I'm off to bed. This drama is draining.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ramping up

I guess it's common, but I definitely start to feel this 'writy writy' thing start to happen when a cycle is gearing up/picking up steam. Posts swirl around and around in my brain all the time.

So here I am.

Last night I dreamed that I showed up at CC.R.M. and everyone was glum, because they knew my estrogen wasn't high enough. Dr. M showed up and said she needed to do a little uterine fluffing and pulled out this big ol catheter (like the one from the biopsy!) and I started telling her how painful the biopsies were and she was super sympathetic..then rooted around in my uterus and told me everything looked beautiful! There were nurses suddenly everywhere and they all cheered.

Okkkkkkkkkaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

The dreams have commenced!

On another note, I read a lot of blogs. On my old place I recently linked to a bunch of new ones. What frequently happens is I start following new ones and then they have success and then I feel sad and then I find new ones to follow that are still struggling. It's a neverending cycle, kind of like IF. It's not that I don't want anyone else to have success--duh!--but I also need to know I'm not alone.

But here's the thing: if I click on a new blog and see that someone is still in the throes of Clomid cycles, or just starting an injectible IUI...well, I'm less likely to want to follow. Does that make me a bad person? I know, I know, I know this is not a pain olympics. I know that when I was facing my first BFN from our first Clomid IUI I thought the world was coming to an end. Hell, when I first started taking Clomid period I thought the world was coming to an end.

The point is: where you are in your infertility struggle right that very moment is the worst it's been. I have to constantly remind myself of that.

On another note, I have always felt very alone in my 'real life' regarding infertility. That dreadful '1 in 6' statistic just has not applied in my real world existence to my friends and family.

But I think I may have infected my workplace.

I have recently learned of three others struggling. Out of 60+ employees we still don't quite make the stats, but it was like "Eureka! I'm not a freaka." And I've sorta become the resident IF expert.

But man, men are different. One of my coworkers is male and he and his wife are dealing with IF. So one day he just plops down in my office and says "So you did all the infertility stuff, right?" Just like that. No sensitivity at all. Typical male--he was gathering information. It was ok. He's a doctor. He wants the facts. He wasn't even daunted by our failures. He'd read the same New England Journal of Medicine article that I had that said it is reasonable to do six IVFs to have success.

So success or no, at least I can be a resource.

It's something, right?