Tuesday, November 30, 2004

you say its your birthday . . .

It's my birthday too.

Tomorrow I turn 32. Yikes! Where did the years go. I could swear I should only be 27 or 28.

My husband and I got back from our Thanksgiving trip on Sunday night. It went better than I expected. The relatives were all respectfully supportive of our infertility issues and my cousin's baby wasn't annoyingly cute. Cute he was. But not in an overly annoying way. Though it did tug at my heart strings to watch my husband play with the baby. If anyone was meant to be a father, he is.

We got the results from my husband's chromosome testing back while we were home. All good news. No abnormalities, so we're still good to go with using his sperm if they're able to find any in March. That's quite a relief.

I'm sorry to have to admit that I'm still on the whole fantasy pregnancy kick. So much so that I bought an HPT yesterday afternoon and peed on a stick for the first time in months. It was negative, of course. And I expected it to be. My period is due on Thursday and I really hope she arrives on time so that this little fantasy isn't dragged out any longer than necessary. Still, how amazing a birthday present would a positive be? I know, I know, don't worry. I'm just dreaming.

I do have to say that even my mother-in-law jumped on the miracle pregnancy bandwagon when I started feeling lightheaded on Friday afternoon. I promise it was without any prompting from me. I tried to whisper to my husband that I was feeling dizzy and she overheard and said "Maybe you're pregnant." I nipped that right in the bud. It's one thing for me to live in a dreamworld- it's quite another to invite my in-laws along for the ride.

So as soon as the blood starts flowing later this week, I can call up the new RE and schedule my mock transfer in January. Am not looking forward to the procedure, but am definitely looking forward to moving along towards IVF.

In the meantime, I have a breakfast in bed to look forward to tomorrow (a tradition in our household) and a Norah Jones concert tomorrow night.

Happy Birthday to me.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

cousine, cousine

I'm nervous about Thanksgiving. It's my first time seeing my extended family since we were diagnosed with infertility. It's the first time I'll see my cousin's new baby. A 3 month old boy who was conceived when they weren't really trying.

My cousin and I have had a serious case of "sibling" ever since we were infants- born just 3 months apart, living on opposite coasts so we didn't see each other enough to know that the stories my grandmother told each of us about the other weren't exactly true. I believed her to be a star gymnast, a straight A student, popular and cool. She believed the same of me except that I rode horses and didn't know a parallel bar from a balance beam. It wasn't until we were both in college that we realized that we were actually quite similar, would probably have been good friends if my grandmother hadn't intervened. But of course, by then, it was too late. The damage had been done.

We're civil to each other, of course. More than civil even. And give us a bottle of wine or two and a pack of cigarettes and we're the best of friends. But we still don't see each other that often. Even when we were both living in New York, I only saw her once or twice a year at family gatherings far from the city.

So let's just say the fact that she has a baby and I don't is just a little hard for me to bear. I bought a present for the baby yesterday- a completely selfish act since I didn't want everyone to think that I'm bitter. Which, of course, I am. And I'm practicing my coos and aahs in front of the mirror every chance I get so that when I face the baby for real next Thursday no one will know that I'm really broken up inside.

Part of me is hoping that the baby is as sweet and cute as the reports I've gotten so that I really will fall in love with him and all my envy will disappear. But the rotten part of me hopes that he is colicky and cranky and ugly to boot so that when my baby (my sweet, good baby) is born everyone will like him or her more. Completely crazy and awful, I know. I know!

I had a dream the other night that my cousin and her husband and their kids (in my dream they also had a 5 year girl) bought a new house. And I had heard it was a tiny one bedroom in New York. But when I went to see it it was an actual house. A beautiful cool house with a grassy yard and huge oak trees in a great little suburban neighborhood. And I realized while they were giving me the grad tour that it was the exact house that my husband and I were planning to buy. Only they had somehow gotten to it first. (sound familiar?)

Later in the dream, I left my cousin's house to go to the baby shower that my mother was throwing for me. I wasn't pregnant. Still had infertility issues, but my mother thought that a baby shower would cheer me up. Thought that I could put away all the presents I got and save them for later. My cousin was at the shower and so was her mother and pretty much the whole cast of characters who will be at our real-life Thanksgiving celebration.I went into the bathroom and cried. Didn't want to come out. Didn't want to open my gifts or have the party at all, but no one seemed to understand why.

I have to say that dream did not help my anxiety about Thanksgiving any. I'm pretty sure it made it worse. But the plane tickets have been bought, the turkey has been ordered and there's no way I can't go. I just hold out hope that it won't be nearly as bad as I'm imagining it. And really- how could it be? No, don't answer that one.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

dangerous mind

I've gone and done a very stupid thing.

I've convinced myself that I am pregnant.

I know, I know. It's an impossibility and believe me I wish I could make myself be rational about this. You'd think after all of the semenalyses and blood hormone tests and ultrasounds and meeting with REs and urologists that I would know better than to let myself believe even for an instant that a miracle has occured. But I can't.

I think it all started when Guru mentioned to us that prior to sperm retrieval surgery 5% of his patients have sperm in their ejaculate and don't need the surgery at all. And then last Sunday morning- ovulation day- my husband and I made love. It was a full 6 hours or so before I felt the twinges in my ovaries that meant my egg was on her way down to my fallopian tubes. And then this morning? Seven days past ovulation? Cramping. Period like cramping. Even though my actual period isn't due until a couple of days after Thanksgiving.

Feel free to write in and burst my little 2ww bubble. I've thought I was pregnant before. Granted, it was prior to finding out that my husband had no sperm and so every symptom that I was quick to jot down had no bearing in the reality of my situation. Just like this time.

I'm perfectly aware that my cramps today might not be in my uterus at all, but in my stomach- a result of the cheap Thai food that I had last night for dinner. And it's been so long since I've actually timed intercourse that its quite possible that my equation for figuring out how long it takes for sperm to meet egg is all wrong.

And so- as not to jinx this misguided little premonition, I've continued to drink caffeinated coffee and drink my red wine with dinner. (Though I have to admit I started taking my pre-natal vitamins again. For my hair and nails! It's for my hair and nails! Really!)

I have to say I hate this. Will be both disappointed and relieved when my period arrives next cycle to burst my little fantasy. But as much as it sucks to be this disillusioned, its also a little bit nice to have this sense of hope that I haven't had since we got the results of that first semenalysis back in June.

Ugh. How am I supposed to last another week?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

a brief hello

Forgive me for not having written in a while. Work has been crazy busy. A friend from out of town was visiting, and I've just been exhausted from life in general. I'll have lots of time to write this weekend (since my husband is going out of town- again) and I plan on updating the blog with all the stuff that I've been thinking about. But for now, just wanted to pop in to say hello and let you all know that I'm alive and well, albeit very tired.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

i am very shallow

I've started the sperm donor search in earnest. And while there are a few guys out there who meet my criteria for physical attributes and educational background, who have written personal essays that I can live with, who don't have any serious medical problems in their histories, what I really want is a current photo.

I understand why they can't provide me with one, anonymity and all that. And they do have baby photos available for me to look at. But the thing is, all babies are cute, aren't they? Well, most of them are. But we all know that they can grow up to be quite funny looking. And forgive me for saying this, but I'd like to know that my future off-spring has the genes of a hunk.

My husband is a handsome man, if I do say so myself. And way before we discovered that his sperm might not be up to the task of getting me pregnant, we assumed, as most people do, that our child would ba a perfect blend of each of our best features. I can't tell you how many times perfect strangers (and assorted friends) have told us that we would make beautiful children together. And if it weren't for the lack of sperm in our lives, I have no doubt that that would be true.

I know this sounds awful. But the thing is there is no guarantee that the donor we pick will look anything like my husband. Even if he has the same eye color and hair color and hair texture and skin tone. Even if he's the same height and weight. Even if his baby pictures are identical to the ones in my mother-in-law's photo album.

When we first started discussing the possibility of using a donor a few months ago, trying to agree on what we wanted, my husband pointed out to me that a dear friend of his would look like a great donor on paper: he's tall, blonde, blue-eyed, a doctor. He's fathered a child. He's smart and has a dry sense of humor and I bet his personal essay would kick ass. I've seen pictures of this guy from childhood and he was a decent looking kid. But, and I hate to say this about one of our good friends, he's just not a very attractive man. Not my taste anyway. I know everyone has different things that they find attractive in a person, but this guy just doesn't do for me. And I can't help wondering about the donors that we're considering. Are they like this: looking great on paper, but in real-life couldn't hold a candle to my husband?

I know that beggars can't be choosers. And I know that it's way more important that my future offspring be healthy and kind and smart and fun than beautiful. And I also know that even if we are able to use my husband's sperm, it'll be somewhat of a crap shoot in terms of what our child gets from him and what s/he gets from me. But in that case, it's a gamble I'm comfortable with since I know and love my husband so well.

How do I choose between donor #7865 and donor #5763 without knowing anything about them other than what's in the profile I'll purchase from the cryobank? How does one pick the biological father of their child out of a hat?

It feels like an impossible task and I fear that I'll be second guessing myself constantly. If only they would give me a damn picture. One measly photograph would help me out here a lot.

Friday, November 05, 2004

here we go again

I promised myself that I wouldn't do this. Not yet, anyway. But there's something about having a real date (okay, it's really more like a vague date) on the calendar for starting IVF that has made me forget all my past disappointments and has gotten me planning again.

I know it's foolish. I know that we may not find sperm, that we may end up using a donor. I know that I might not respond well to the drugs, that my cycle could be canceled for any number of reasons, that I could go through the whole procedure and wind up with a chemical pregnancy or no pregnancy at all.

But yet. But yet I've returned to the websites that estimate your due date. I've entered all possible March dates and know that if (big IF) this works, I'd be due in December. I've started planning a nursery again, thinking about a maternity clothes, baby names. I'm not as crazed as I was a year ago. It's too early for that. But then, isn't it a bit premature to start thinking about this other stuff, too?

It hit me yesterday that I'll be 33 when my baby is born. At the youngest. And while I know that's not old in the grand scheme of things, it's definitely older than I thought I would be when I started building my family. Of course, it doesn't help matters any that I was 30 when I got married, but still. We never thought we'd have any trouble and I figured 31, 32 maybe. But 33? And that'll just be the first one.

I'm excited about having a plan. But worried about all the time that I have to work myself into a frenzy. I remember how crazy I got when we started trying a little more than a year ago. And this time it's different of course. No charting my temps every morning. No timed intercourse. My period comes and goes on schedule and it's not the heartwrenching ordeal that it once was. I've come to expect it. But I know that as March gets closer and the prospect of pregnancy becomes more and more a reality, I will once again walk that line between unbridled optimism and paralyzing pessimism. One day sure that it will work and the next day certain that I am doomed to be childless forever.

I expect the next few months to be a roller-coaster of emotions. And I know that as we start this process the ride will only become more wild. I predict many ups and downs, good days and bad. I hope that I can stay optimistic. Focus on the ultimate goal. Remember that somehow, someday I will be a mother. But I'm afraid to let myself get too hopeful because I do remember how awful the bad days were when trying to conceive only meant having sex around the time I was ovulating and didn't involve a team of doctors, nurses and technicians. Didn't cost thousands of dollars and involve international plane travel. I suppose that there's a happy medium somewhere in between the wishing and hoping and the dreading and disappointment. I hope I can find it. And stay there for awhile.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

where we are now

I'm back from New York.

It was a good trip overall. Great to be back in the City again. To visit my old haunts and visit with friends. And of course, it was great to meet our new doctors.

I "came out" to a couple of my friends while I was there. Everyone was extremely supportive and offered me everything from places to stay during my IVF stint to use of their own sperm. I was a little bit nervous about seeing the people who I wasn't planning on telling (and didn't tell), but there was only one tense moment when a friend asked me what was in the folder I was carrying (all of our records) and I got all flustered and replied "papers, lots of papers" and left it at that. Otherwise, those not in the know just assumed I was long overdue to a visit back "home" and were happy to talk about work and life and love.

My husband had his blood drawn for karyotyping and Y chromosome microdeletion testing on Monday afternoon. We won't get the results back for another 3 weeks or so, but Guru told us that there's only a 10% chance that there would be any abnormalities. We're holding out hope that we're in the 90% that comes back normal.

We met with the new RE on Tuesday morning and he was extremely nice. He told us that our chances of conceiving with IVF/ICSI are about 60-65%. Much higher numbers than the DC clinic gave us. He'd received my HSG films and had reviewed them prior to our appointment (one point for him!) and based on that review and my hormone levels, thinks we're good to go. We told him that we're open to using donor sperm as a back-up and he actually was willing to talk to us about cryobanks (another point for the new RE). He thinks California cryobank does the best job of preparing the sperm and so, we'll begin searching for a suitable donor in earnest as soon as my husband returns from his business trip.

We went straight to Guru's office from the RE and were told that barring any abnormalities on the chromosome test, we'll be good to go for IVF in March. He probably could have squeezed us in to the December calendar, but that would mean me starting drugs tomorrow or the next day and after thinking about it awhile (prior to the appointment) I realized that I do need a little more time to psychologically prepare myself for the ordeal we are about to undertake. But March is good. Only 5 months away, but plenty of time for us to talk more, to find a donor, to make plans.

So here's the plan: I'll go back to the new RE in January for my mock transfer. I'll start my meds in February. I'll spend 2-3 weeks in New York in March for my egg retrieval and embryo transfer. And my husband will fly up a couple of days before the ET to have his surgery. Guru thinks there's a 30-50% chance of finding sperm based on my husband's hormone levels. (Blecch only gave us a 5-15% chance.) And we'll skip the biopsy and go straight to the microdissection surgery- Guru's recommendation as he doesn't want to do unneccessary surgeries.

I was interested to learn that Guru gets lots of patients who have been to other urologists who were unable to find sperm and then show up with lots of scar tissue that just makes his job harder. And happy/relieved that we went with our guts when Blecch suggested a biopsy prior to a sperm retrieval. We've avoided scarring up my husband's testicles which makes our prognosis that much better.

I'm feeling extremely hopeful and know that we made the right choice in switching doctors. Even if these new guys are more expensive and there's no money-back guarantee. We're in the right place. And I feel confident that this will work- not necessarily the first time (I'm not that naive), but eventually.

We're on the right track to parenthood.