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Surrogacy Blogs:
Part of a Miracle
Bump Fairy
Our Surrogacy Adventure

Working on it:
Mad Hatter
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Stirrup Queen's List of Blogs
Delinquent Eggs
Life and Love in the Petrie Dish
Life in the Infertile Lane
Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Barren
Everyone Else But Me
It Takes a Village
Stella Part 2
Music Maker Momma

On other paths:
Fertile Soul
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Out, damned egg! Out I say!
Holding Pattern
Hummingbird Chronicles
Velvet Cage

Adventures in Baby Making
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Great Good Fortune
Healing Arts
Hopeful Mother
I Can't Whistle
IF & the City
It Only Takes One Egg
Waiting for Baby Orange
Jenny From the Infertility Block
She's Back!: Manana Banana
Smarshy Boy
Stella and/or Ben
Tinkering with the Works
Twisted Ovaries
Wishing For One

Other Good Reads:
Dr. Licciardi's Infertility Blog

Mc Gill Reproductive Centre - Montreal
Georgia Reproductive Specialists
Jinemed Hospital - Turkey

Cooper Center - NJ
Conceptions - Colorado
Red Rock Fertility - Dr. Eva Littman
Pacific Fertility Center
Zouves Fertility Center"
Nova IVF

IVF Meds - UK
Free Garage Sale
Flying Pharmacy (IVIg)

Blastocyst Grading Criteria
How much hCG is Left After Trigger?
POAS Ratings
More POAS Ratings
The Beta Base

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Limbo: The Madness Between Trigger & Retrieval

The scariest part of an IVF cycle, for me, is the time between trigger and embryo retrieval. There is something very unsettling about having given yourself a shot of HCG, which starts the process of maturing and releasing the eggs. Essentially, within about 38 to 40 hours each of my follicles will have gone **pop** if they aren't first surgically removed. Once this shot has been given, there's no turning back. A process is spun into place. And it's unstoppable. At no other time in an IVF cycle are we more out of control than we are now.

This is where the horror starts.

Let me share with you the madness that is currently mine:
What if Dr. Moustache gets into a car wreck and doesn't make it to the surgery center on time? Or at all?

What if we get into an accident, ourselves, on the way to the surgery center tomorrow morning?

Was I totally certain to do the shot at just the right time? Is today the 29th? Is the time correct? Did we remember to change all of the clocks in the house during the last time change?

What about those few drops of HCG that I wasn't able to get out of the vial? Damn. Did I really need them? (I sucked them out with a second needle. No worries.)

What if he goes in there and none of my eggs come out?

What if he gets my eggs out okay, but none are mature enough to fertilize?

How come I'm not feeling more fullness and pressure in my ovary region like I did last time?

I feel like I'm getting a cold. Is this going to kill my eggs?
It goes on and on. The list is endless. And in the 11th hour, we're also starting to question the soundness of doing ICSI. The CDC data shows a reduction in success of 20.3% when using ICSI for my age category (40-41) when there isn't male factor infertility, and a drop of 23.5% when there IS male factor infertility. [If you visit the CDC links, click the graphs to see the discussion on each of the two graphs.]

This doesn't make sense. Something has to be amiss with the data. ICSI is supposed to help people with male factor infertility get pregnant. Not hurt their chances. A 23.5% drop in success rate is, well, rather significant! I fired off a late night email to Dr. Moustache asking what to make of the data, and also, "What does your data look like?" Skipping ICSI not only might be a wise move in terms of increasing our chances for success, but it would save us something like $1800 on our tab.

I don't think I'd skip assisted hatching, as my eggs ARE 41 years old and the zonas are probably really THICK...but if there was ample data showing it, too, was questionable, I might skip it, too.


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Lupron: Day 10. Trigger Day

Warm, beautiful day out there. It started off with gray and while clouds looming over the hills of Los Gatos, and they still lingered as I returned from my 9AM acupuncture appointment. Little white pillows, dotting the sky, are all that remain. It is simply gorgeous out there.

On the way home from East/West Acupuncture, I noted a bunch of people on 85 with bikes in tow, heading for places to ride and spend the day....and an oodle of garage sales as well. It seems everyone is out "doing" things, but I haven't really figured out what to do.

There's a Cherry Blossom Festival going on over in Cupertino, chock full of Taiko drums, arts & crafts, and even a Koi Auction. Perhaps that is where we'll wind up. It sounds the most promising of what is available today.

Trigger shot is tonight at 9:30PM.


The white knuckle ride is just about ready to begin.

I'm getting nervous.


Friday, April 28, 2006

Lupron: Day 9. Stims: Day 7

U/S #2
Went to see Dr. Moustache for a second U/S this morning. Okay. So I had things a bit mixed up yesterday, as in which follicles were on which ovary.

Today's count:

Follicles: 15 (2 may be cysts)
Left: 9
Right: 6

E2: 2689 (Holy smokes! It was 1543 yesterday)

He said that each ovary has one follicle that is somewhat bigger than the others, and that sometimes these are just cysts, without eggs, and to ensure that we're not stopping meds too early, for the sake of mere cysts, he suggested we ride one more day on the Gonal F. I agreed - anything that increases the number of mature eggs is fine by me. One cyst is peculiar...it's a "follicle within a follicle". It looked a bit creepy on the U/S monitor. Like bubbles on my ovaries. Dr. Moustache said that the other follicle often doesn't have an egg in it, and that the inner one is usually the true follicle. I wonder what sort of weirdness cooks something up like that in my body?

I asked about embryo glue. He said he did 200 transfers with it, interspersed between regular ones. Not even a single percentage point difference. He said, "If it worked, we'd be jumping all over it in a second." It would cost $300 to $400 to order the elixer. I'm not afraid of the expense, if it works, but since he's done a bit of a study, I didn't press for it to be used.

Prolactin: they call this a stress hormone. I asked: "Why is my body producing so much of it this time? I don't feel particularly stressed out." He said: "You estrogen is higher this time around (1543 yesterday versus 900-something) and that can raise your prolactin levels." Okay. So that explains it. So it has literally nothing to do with my personal stress levels, per se, but it's a positive feedback loop. Pop half a Parlodel in the baby kitty and it's all better.

After the U/S I went off with a nice nurse to go over the instructions for the meds for the next few days as well as how to do the trigger. I noticed a "suggestion box" on the wall and while she was out I slipped in a suggestion: "The specimen room needs a DVD player with a working remote!" Hehehehe....can't tell you how many times J has had to wrestle with the remote while wrestling with....well....you know....

So tonight's my last shot of Gonal F. I'm bummed that I'm going to have to use up half of a pen for just the one shot. It seems like such a waste of medicine.

On the good side. A Monday

How to get the last bit of urofollitropin out of a Gonal F pen

It's frustrating to see how much Gonal F remains in a pen after you've used up the prescribed amount. I had 450iu pens for this cycle, but the box says that they have something like 568iu in each box. Hell. That's a waste of perfectly good Gonal F.

How to get it out of those blasted pens?

Well, you can't turn the knob to 125iu and get anything out. I tried that. I even tried, 75 and 37.5. Nothing. You simply can't pull the plunger out to load the syringe. At least I wasn't able to discern a way to do it.

What's a girl to do?

I had four "empty" pens sitting about. All I needed was 0.375CC of Gonal F to make my 225iu morning shot and I sure as hell didn't want to waste an entire pen for my last shot. Well here's what I did, and do note that this is against the advise of most medical personnel.

Take yourself a sterile 3cc syringe with 27.5g needle (something small). Wipe off ends of each of your pens with alcohol. Holding Gonal F pen upside down (plunger in air), stick insulin syringe into Gonal F pen, drawing out the leftover Gonal F. Miraculously, the plunger will down move to aide in evacuating the solution. Repeat with remainder of pens.

At this point I'd loaded slightly more Gonal F into the syringe than I needed for my morning shot. I emptied the entire syringe into an evacuated and sterile 0.9%NaCl container (same stuff you mix the dried variety with) and then using a sterile 0.5CC insulin needle, I drew out 0.375CC of Gonal F.

Swabbed off the injection area with alcohol and I was good to go.

Worked for me!


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lupron: Day 8. Stims: Day 6

My Date with the DildoCam

First monitoring U/S was moved from Friday to today after I sent off an email about how much my ovaries were aching.

Good thing I did.

I'm nearly ready to pop.

13 follicles
8 on the right
5 on the left

And there might be a few more lurking about, says he. 14? 15? I can only dream I'll get so many. I had a 50% follicle to transferred embie rate last time. So this mean that we may have 6 or 7 to transfer, and let me tell you this: they're all going in. I ain't freezing anything.

He saw one that was already at 19mm and a couple others were hovering in the 16 and 17 vicinity. All I know is that I'm wondering if this speed can be attributed to my switching from Bravell/Urofollitropin to Gonal F? I mean, that is the precise day the twinges started.

So I am going in for one more U/S tomorrow. He wants to do one more U/S, just to be sure, and especially since I am SO damned early, but he said he is 99.9% sure I'll be triggering TOMORROW. Which, of course, means a Sunday retrieval and a Wednesday transfer.

And John is working that day. [growl].

Other data I got today:

E2= 1543
Prolactin = 30

The prolactin should be below 30, as in 29 or lower, and because I'm just over that threshold, I now get to add Parlodel to the daily drug cocktail. (Directions: "Take 1/2 tablet at bedtime as directed". What it really ought to say is, "Crack tablet in half and stick it in your coochie".)

So I'm early folks. Those eggs were growing fast and all that aching and griping I was doing wasn't all in my head.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Lupron: Day 7. Stims: Day 5

It's a mixed bag of a day. It's gorgeous, warm, and it feels like spring, but after reading about Millie's ectopic pregnancy it feels like winter just settled back into our souls for a while longer.

How the hell does a transferred embryo get into a tube and then OUTSIDE of the uterus in the first place? I just don't get it. When I was afraid to move after my embryo transfer (IVF#1), Dr. Moustache said something like, "Think of the uterus as a peanut butter sandwich. It can't go anywhere. It's stuck."


Stuck my ass. Like I'm going to believe that anymore?

I think I'm having Dr. Moustache use embryo glue for the next transfer.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Lupron: Day 6. Stims: Day 4

Aching Ovaries
Yesterday it felt like my ovaries were two burning coals wedged low in my abdomen. I could distinctly feel each one of them, it was creepy, and definitely NOT a good thing.

At some point yesterday, I caught a sideshot of myself in the mirror. I looked 5 or 6 months pregnant. But being that I haven't been blessed with pregnancy, my reaction was more like, "Holy fuck, Batman!" It was clearly swelling or massive water retention, brought on by either the Lupron or the Gonal F, as there was no way I chowed that belly into existance.

About 10:30pm the ovary burning sensation didn't go away so I sent over an email to the in-cycle nurses at Dr. Moustache's. Today, this very morning in fact, I got a call, yes, a TELEPHONE CALL (!), from one of the nurses there. I was shocked. They are usually impossible to reach. I chalk it up to her being new and she hasn't yet been tainted by the bad attitude that permeates the rest of the staff. She said she conferred with Dr. Moustache and he thought I should come in a day early for my first U/S. So instead of Friday, I'll be there on Thursday. Whew. Because if this swelling returns as it did before, I'm sure to freak out (again).

Enough of my ovaries.

So my question today is what the hell is up with this unending shitty weather?

I have had it with bleak days, gray skies, and my PG&E bill being in the triple digits. I had so looked forward to doing this cycle in WARM weather...thinking the change in temperature would be good for my disposition...but it just doesn't seem that there is any end in sight. This constant gray sky BS is making me feel like I life in Portland or Seattle...where one would expect this sort of shit.

I swear. If this IVF cycle doesn't result in a positive beta, I'm heading to LA to sell my mom's house and I'm going to sit in the backyard naked and sun myself until I can't stand it anymore.

Folgard 2.2
Finally got the formula for Folgard 2.2 from my pharmacist. I only have a $10 copay for the stuff over at Costco, but seriously folks, they're just VITAMINS. A molecule is a molecule is a molecule, so the components in the prescription stuff can be hand for much less elsewhere. So here it is:

2.2 mg (2200mcg) of folic acid
25mg of B6
500mcg of B12

That extra B12 is good for me since I'm not a huge meater, but gosh...at these prices I can formulate my own from vitamins bought at TJ's or WF's.

If you've got two helpings of the mother fucker MTHFR gene you are probably going to be doing Folgard 4.4.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Lupron: Day 5. Stims: Day 3

Loving those Gonal F Pens

Broke out my first of eight Gonal F pens today, courtesy of an angel Crone that was selling off her unused stims after moving on down the road toward adoption. :-) I'm doing 450iu a day, and each pen has 450iu (and then a bit to spare), so I've got precisely 8 days left of stims.

I was a bit intimidated by this whole pen business. They're a bit intimidating with their dials and multiple pen tips. The instruction page that they come with is also daunting...so many instructions that if they're all that you have to go by, you are nearly sure to fuck it up.

But my Crone friend drew me out a nice little schematic and that, along with the cheat sheet from Dr. Moustache's nurse, made it damned easy. One thing that is disconcerting is that the medicine in the pen is CONCENTRATED: 450iu/0.75ml. I'm used to mixing 1ml (or 1cc) of diluent into 3 vials of FSH to make 225iu/1ml. So with the pen I'm only injecting something like 0.375 of an ml into myself at a time. It feels like a drop in the bucket as compared to what I'm used to.

So here is what I've surmised is the way to use these things, hopefully I've got it right (*see caveat below):
  1. Wash hands well.
  2. Remove large white pen cap from pen.
  3. Wipe threaded area with alcohol. Keep this area clean.
  4. Take out a needle tip. Peel off the back and carefully screw it onto pen tip until it's secure.
  5. "Prime" the pen (first use only):
    • Turn dial to 37.5
    • Pull plunger out till it's out as far as it'll go (you'll hear a click)
    • Holding pen upright, tap to get bubbles to tip (if there are any).
    • Depress plunger (into air). You'll hear a click and should see a drop of fluid at the needle tip. If no liquid comes out, reprime the pen till it does.
    • The pen is ready to be programmed for your dosage now.
  6. Turn dial to the number of IU's that you need. Line up number to black line. MAKE SURE THIS IS THE CORRECT DOSE!
  7. Pull plunger out as far as it will go. You will hear a series of clicks.
  8. Look at the plunger side. There are red numbers. This number should match your dosage. If it's smaller, that's all the medicine you have left in the pen. Two things you can do here: break injection into two so that you don't waste what's left in the first pen OR just get a new pen. If what is on the smaller dial (with red numbers) is MORE than you wanted this means that you dialed in too much the first time. Eject the entire amount into a sterile container and get a new pen. Key: You can dial in too little and get away with it, but if you dial in too much you've just wasted that entire dosage.
  9. Okay, you're ready to dispense.
  10. Swab the area where you're going to inject the medicine with alcohol. Let it dry so you don't get a sting when you inject yourself. Avoid the area close to your belly button, and areas directly below it. (There are acupuncture spots all around this area, so be careful where you're injecting. Talk to your acupuncturist about where the safe injection zones area).
  11. With clean fingers, grab a chunk of clean skin and make a tent (ie, upside down "V") with the skin.
  12. Inject needle at 90 degree angle (ie, perpendicular) to skin. (Helps to inject into the area inside the "V"). Don't jam the needle base into your skin.
  13. Depress plunger slowly. You'll hear a series of clicks.
  14. Hold needle in place for 5 seconds to makes sure medicine is all in there.
  15. Pull needle out carefully and dispose in safety box.
  16. Optional: Wipe injection area with alcohol pad and gently massage.

CYA Caveat: This isn't intended to replace the advise of a doctor - it's more for entertainment/blog value than anything. I'm not a doctor and take no responsibility for the instructions here. This is just what I did for my injections and although it worked for me, it might not work for you. Please refer to the instructions your Gonal F pen came with.

Now, the box says (on a 450iu pen) that each pen contains 568iu in order to deliver 450iu of medicine. So there's an extra 118iu of Gonal F (ie, recombinant urofollitropin) in each pen. Holy smokes. That's a shitload of extra medication in each and every pen. 118iu * 8 pens leaves me an extra 944iu of Gonal F leftover. That's two entire days dosages in those pens, and then some. Whoa. Very cool. Even though my nurse didn't recommend my doing this, I plan on extracting those last IUs into leftover sterile Bravelle vials and saving them for a rainy day. Why the hell not? It's valuable stuff. Liquid gold! Think of it this way. A single 75iu vial of Bravelle (brand name urine derived urofollitropin) costs $75 at the local Costco. Gonal F is even more expensive than is Bravelle or it's generic cousin because it's recombinantly formed from genetically engineered bacteria that pump out the isolated stuff in vats. Gonal F is purer than Bravelle or the generic urofollitripin (aka Follistim in the UK). Dr. Moustache said to me in January 2005 that the recombinant is just as good as the urine derived. But is it?

I found one paper that cites that, "recombinant FSH is more effective than urofollitropin for controlled ovarian stimulation in women undergoing ART". No references were given on that site. And yet another paper [pdf] says that,
"Recombinant human FSH has been shown to be more effective than urinary FSH in IVF/embryo transfer treatment. Compared with urinary FSH, a significantly lower total dose of recombinant FSH is required and for a shorter period. Furthermore, a significantly higher number of large follicles, oocytes, and embryos are obtained with recombinant humans FSH, which results in significantly more ongoing pregnancies."

This paper has references that I'm not going to recite here, but this gives me reason to pause. This time I've used urine derived FSH during the first two days (a crucial time when follicles are being recruited) and now that I'm onto day 3 I've switched to the Gonal F, the Big Guns. The order was at Dr. Moustache's direction (use the dried urine derived stuff first) and now I'm wondering if I should have gone for the better, recombinant, FSH first in order to get more follicles out and running.

It's always something. Isn't it?

The Lupron Speaketh

And lest you think that I'm truly impervious to this lupron crap, my ovaries just started to ache about an hour ago. Big time. As in, they both feel like they're on fire. I didn't have symptoms like this till I was near to retrieval last time. WTF? Is this the superior kick-ass Gonal F doing its work? Oh yeah, and I just bitched J out over lunch for being out of town on work next Wednesday because there's a chance, a very good chance I will add, that I might be doing my transfer that very day. You see, my first monitoring U/S is on Friday, and if I'm "good to go" on Friday, retrieval will be on Sunday and transfer on Wednesday. I'm totally peeved that he might not be here to:
  1. Drive me TO the transfer (J: "You can drive yourself to it, can't you?". Me: "Yeah? But how do I get home Einstein? Dr. Moustache said NO ACTIVITY whatsoever. Bedrest doesn't include driving."
  2. Drive me home (J: "Can't your mom drive you back?" Me: "She's 89. Are you insane? She'll get lost unless I'm guiding her the entire time...and I'm supposed to be prone."), and
  3. Keep my mom at bay while I'm recovering. She can't hear very well and having to speak LOUDLY to convey the most simple information stresses me out to no end. I can be talking loudly, not in anger, but just trying to convey information, but somehow my body perceives this as stress. My pulse rises, my blood pressure surges upwards, and I suddenly feel like I've flipped out. Just for having to speak loudly. Weird, but true.
But what is the probability that I'll be ready on my first U/S? Last cycle I was ready on the second U/S, but then I only used the urine derived urofollitropin. According to the second article I mentioned above, I should be ready earlier, hence, a Sunday retrieval and a Wednesday transfer. Grrr....... I wouldn't doubt it if I'm ready earlier anyways. I've responded quite differently this time 'round, so anything is possible.

And I thought that this cycle was going to be stress-free. I prayed it would be stress free and that J would be 100% THERE. There for any disaster or emergency that came my way. There in the OR when the embryos were being put in. But there are no guarantees with J. I think he's having a disconnect, a problem with priorities. That is all that there is that can explain this. I just don't understand how a man can blow $11,000 on a cycle and not want everything to be perfect. It's beyond me. It's just so far out there I cannot fathom it or comprehend where he is at today.

Yes, the lupron rose it's ugly head today and hurled out some miserable things. I thought I was going to be impervious...alas...no. I'm not.

This cycle is going to be a fucking white knuckle ride until it's over.



Sunday, April 23, 2006

Lurpron: Day 4. Stims: Day 2

It's a gray overcast Sunday. A cold morning with a bit of a breeze and a chill that makes me think we're in for another 40 days of rain. Ugh. So much for my morning jaunt to the farmer's market with my sunglasses, sandals, and shorts on. It'll be sweats and tennies, I won't fit in with the Los Gatos beautiful people. I never do actually. But who gives a damn?

Today is day 2 of my stims. I've been using up the old UK urofollitropin from IVF#1, some leftover Bravelle from my cycle buddy AP, and tomorrow I start using the Gonal F pens that I got from yet another friend. This cycle certainly has been patched together with a smorgasbord of drugs. I was so fearful in my first cycle of buying any drugs from infertile women selling their leftover stims online. I had to have everything perfect. New drugs that hadn't touched the hands of non-pharmacy staff. Everything had to be "just so". Even my injections were timed to the clock. Morning injections precisely at 9:00AM. Evening injections at 9:00PM. I doubt I was ever 15 minutes off in my first cycle. A lot of planning and precision. A lot of good it did me.

This cycle I notice that I am definitely feeling a bit more relaxed, less stressed, but maybe a bit more pessimistic (or is that realism knocking on my brain?). I'm sure much of this has to do with the fact that we're not in the throes of a move...that my mom has been moved out of house she was living in down in Los Angeles...that said house has basically been renovated and all that needs to be done is slap a "for sale" sign on it by yours truly. (That will be done as soon as our beta is in...no stressing over a house sale right now).

This time I'm also okay if my injections are a half hour or so off. It doesn't even register or raise my blood pressure even the tiniest bit. I bought and borrowed drugs from friends. I wasn't panicked by questions of, "Did you store these correctly the entire time you've had them?" or "Gosh, I wonder if it's okay to mix Follistim, Bravelle, and Gonal F?" I'm almost to the point where I might even do something so drastic as to lower my own dosage of FSH just to see if it would yield better quality eggs. But I did say ALMOST. I'm not there yet. But I AM close to it. What is also interesting is that I haven't yet encountered a night of hotflashes, sweating through my PJs, as I did in the first IVF. So far, this has been quite a different cycle, and I say this fearful of invoking the jinx...so far it has been much better.

Now what is paradoxical about having all of these feelings of "calm" is that I have been running around the house and yard Fung Shui-ing the high hell out of everything. How is it that on one level I can feel so calm and relaxed about this cycle, but on the other hand I've resorted to chopping down tree branches, removing shrubberies, relocating potted trees, rearranging furniture, etcetera, all in the effort to get that damned Qi ("Xi", as my acupuncturist spells it) to come into my house, and into my uterus. It doesn't make a shred of sense unless we agree that my feelings of calm having nothing to do with logic. It's an Alice in Wonderland sort of thing. But much of it is very tongue in cheek.

As I was telling Pamplemousse,
I was having great joy yesterday saying, in a very matter of fact voice: "You know dear. That branch on that tree is just going to have to go. It's blocking the good Qi that's trying to get into our house."

He cut it off and would say to me, "Can you feel it? The Qi? Can you feel it rushing in now?"

We had a great laugh at it and actually got the yard a bit cleaned up. Anything I wanted fixed around the house is now addressed as being "having bad Fung Shui".

"Sweetie, the book says sticky doors are bad Fung Shui. Can you please fix that?"

My friend over at A Velvet Cage said I should put in 8 red fish and a single black into the fountain...Supposedly the black one absorbs the negative energy or something. (Yeah, okay....) Very silly. But we need fish...so it'll be 8 red, and 1 black. And why not? They'll be a conversation piece when people say, "Oh, you have just one black fish..." and I'll have a witty story about Feng Shui ready for them - J will roll his eyes and run for cover.

Off to acupuncture...


Friday, April 21, 2006

Lupron: Day 2

The first two days are easy...just lupron, aspirin, and a handful of vitamins. It's not until we add in the FSH and medrol that things get really messy on the chemical level.

I don't feel like I'm wigging out from the ill effects of lupron just yet, although I did have a blow out with my mom yesterday...and I hand edited my registry after not being able to uninstall a bloated corporate version of Norton Anti-Virus...but honestly, 1 shot of lupron does not a lunatic make. I was a bit warmer than usual last night, but no full blown night sweats as of yet.

Feng Shui-ing the Courtyard

click to see the whole enchildadaI was at the local real estate board a few days ago and noticed some books on Feng Shui for buying and selling homes. I didn't want to blow $18 per book, so I headed over to the library to see if they had the same titles on hand. They didn't. But they had a couple of 1 hour videos on the subject, which I quickly snatched up along with a 5 hour docudrama on Charlemagne, and a few others.

So yesterday morning I settled into the Feng Shui videos with my decaf tea. They were really cheesy documentaries, poorly shot, obviously very low budget, but they were...well...Interesting. Something about it all got a bee in my bonnet to make a few changes. I started by rearranging the living room, put the couch adjacent to the fireplace instead of in front of it. I discovered that whomever it was that last moved the couch lifted it by one of the arms and tore out the fabric where the arm meets the body. Nearly unfixable. Grrr..... So much for Feng Shui making me FEEL better. I was pissed, but I was determined to Feng Shui the house. That being done, I set my sights on the courtyard entry.

The Feng Shui video said fountains are a good thing. Okay. No problem there. I have had the makings to build a fountain in our brick planter for quite some time now. But something about Lupron and the video gave me a kick in the ass to actually BUILD IT. And build it I did. I bought a fountain kit from Home Depot...it came with a 10'x12' liner that was just way too big for the planter...I cut it in half and then it fit pretty well. The hardest part was folding the liner so that it would fit perfectly into a 1-1/2' deep rectangular planter box - and it's not a perfect fit. I'll still have to fold the black PVC under to hide the excess, but that's a job for another day.

J came home for lunch around 1PM and found me in sweats, covered in dirt, water, and on the throes of filling up the fountain. I think he was slightly impressed that I was FINALLY getting around to this project. By the time he had to head back to work, the fountain was done. DONE! I was amazed at how easy a project this was to complete. (I've got a 6'x10' swatch of leftover PVC if any of you Crones want to make a fountain).

click to see my outdated electric stove and how you, too, can have a grease splattered mirror in  your kitchenThe last thing I did before showering off the soil and mud was, as the videos recommended, was to put a mirror behind our stove top (it faces a wall). Funny that it recommended this because I had done just this in our last apartment...thinking it would make the kitchen look a bit brighter. Okay, their reasoning here is something about increasing the number of burners (even if only in a reflection) will increase your luck and you wealth. Hell, I could use more money after that check to Dr. Moustache. So the mirror stays.

Anyways...after my much enjoyed shower, I sat down to check email and did a quick google query [feng shui ivf] and was taken aback, stunned?, to see one of Julianna's posts show up in sixth place on the first page. Damn that girl has done it all. Okay. So I'm not the only infertile to turn to turn to Chinese Mysticism in my quest to have a baby. I felt relieved.

Read a bit more about it last night and according to the Feng Shui folks, I should move the crape myrtle in front of the fountain out of the way as it's blocking the door, and hence the Qi to the front door. In fact, according to these people, I ought to have a clear line of vision from the front door to the street. Hmm...I guess that means that two or three wretched looking, and stunted, Italian cypruses are going to have to go. No problem there. They're butt ugly and look like rats would fester in them.

But what to tell the landlord? I mean, we're renting!

Well...they ARE in terrible condition, he's old, so maybe he won't mind too much so long as I put in something nicer (and shorter) in their stead. I can only imagine the conversation this might lead to on our move out day,
"Mr. Landlord, you've got to understand. I was pumped up on Lupron, FSH, and steroids when I did this. And besides, the bushes were blocking the path of Qi to my front door, so it might keep me from getting pregnant, so they really did have to go. There was no question about it. I hope you can see this."
So since we've basically cancelled the trip to Tahoe this weekend, maybe we'll have time to remove those old cyprus bushes and put something "nice" in their stead. I can only hope that he entirely forgets what was originally planted there.

But back to my Feng Shui extravaganza. I will not be distracted.

I made a 10:30PM dash to Walgreens last night. Despite 14 days of spotting, I had enough lining left for a visit from AF, and I was well into day 2 of it. Bleh. I had hoped it would be the last of it, alas no. So off I went to the drugstore...and ironically, right in the front door was an entire display of good luck bamboo planters. It was too coincidental. Here I was in full Feng Shui mode, and the local Los Gatos Walgreens has, for the first time ever, an entire bevy of bamboo.

What's a desperate consumer-driven infertile on Lupron to do?

Buy one, of course.

goodluck bamboo plant in a planter with a circle of frogs. feng shui made me do it.And I did. A cute planter with frogs circling the base. Okay, I would have probably bought one of these anyways one day as I've been coveting Dr. Moustache's collection of bamboo in his office...but I know that the real impetus is that the video told me to do it. Oh yes, and I'm a desperate woman. I want a baby. And if I have to rearrange furniture, make a fountain, chop down trees, and hang strange things from my ceiling, I'll do that, too. In a second. I'm a near to devout atheist, but if you told me rubbing the feet of some random Christian statue has been reported to get infertile women pregnant, I'd do it in a second and without much thought given to it.

I may be close to losing all reason.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Yakking it up at Yakko Sushi

J owed me a dinner "out" last night after I sold some lighting trusses that had been hanging in our garage for far too long. The buyer came and picked them up about 6PM...and was long gone by the time J came home from work. I kidded J that he should owe me a broker's fee since I'm selling his business gear for him. "30%!! That is what the other brokers get!" He kidded, "But you'd have to be a broker to get a commission". "What, do you forget so soon...I AM a broker, silly J!" In the end, I lost out on the commish but I won on the dinner.

Or so it would seem.

We drove to Mountain View to pick up yet another piece of J's business gear. It's frustrating that as soon as I sell one obscenely large item, he finds a new one to stuff into the garage. It never ends. And in this case, he was buying the new item within the hour.

We retrieved his item and headed downtown for dinner. We hemmed and hawed over our fav noodle house, Ryowa, but as we were parking I noticed a Japanese restaurant that I had heard tale of from a good friend. I suggested, "Let's try something new...why not? And besides, you owe me a nice dinner for having sold your crap!" :-)

So we moseyed across the street to Yakko.

Yakko Japanese Restaurant
975 W Dana St
Mountain View, CA

I am not one for writing restaurant reviews. I'll leave that to my friend FoodMuse as she does a spectacular job of such things (I have no patience for such things these days). But this place just wasn't immediately impressive. More of a "mom and pop" sort of sushi joint, tables sparsely populated, small sushi bar in the back. I hadn't yet noticed the line of tatami rooms on the way to the bathrooms, but there were quite a few. Now I have no prejudice against small "hole in the walls" as I've found many a great meal to be found in them. In fact, one of my favorite Japanese hole-in-the-walls, Mitsuru in Whittier, has been a favorite haunt since I was a teenager. But this wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. I wanted "nice", this was just average. We both wondered why my friend thought the restaurant was so good and tore into the menu.

We ordered from a Japanese boy who seemed like he might barely be 18 years old. He was polite, took our order, and disappeared for the next 15 or 20 minutes without making further eye contact. Everyone around us received their food before us. Not a good sign.

Finally our dinner arrives, and then our handrolls which I had hoped would be appetizer. No explanation for the lengthy wait ensured. We quickly set into our meal. Everything appeared to be in order, or so it seemed, except that the sukiyaki had an unusual aroma. J said it didn't smell quite right to him, but I noted that there were quite a few shiitakis in the broth and that they can sometimes lend an off smell to things, especially when they are of the dried variety. No matter, I dove in anyways, ignoring a tiny voice in my head that wondered if J was right.

Big mistake.

4 o'clock in the morning. I am suddenly wide awake. Very awake. And hot. I tear my night clothes off. My stomach is pissed off to high hell. I nudge J and say, "Hey, you awake?" He grunts. I feel like an idiot. Of course he's not awake. I say, "I think I'm going to barf...my stomach feels really bad." J jumps into action, rare for a man that sleeps through the loudest alarm known to mankind. I'm truly impressed by his swiftness. He dashes into the bathroom and returns with a trashcan and sits it next to the bed next to me. (Note: Our bathroom trashcan is a metal flower bucket...I cringe at the idea of yakking my innards into something so narrow. I envision quite a mess ensuing on the carpet).

So I get out of bed and head to the bathroom. It was one of those surreal moments where I turned on the light, looked at the toilet, and began to barf up my sukiyaki, all in one very fluid motion, which by the way was still rather undigested. I noticed that the smell of sesame oil was, well, uhmm....rather pervasive. I wondered if it was really the sukiyaki that had gotten to me, but maybe it was the side of stir fried bean sprouts, in sesame oil no less, that looked so innocent on the side of my plate. Whatever it was, it was gone, and quite vacated from my stomach.

The major cramps were gone, but I still didn't feel quite right. I went back to bed and stayed there even through J's awakening at 8:30AM, and on until 11:00AM when I got up only to IM my friend JS that I would NOT be making it to our lunch date today. Then it was back to bed for me. I felt like a total slacker sleeping the day away. My mom even commented that she was, well, kind of bored. I apologized and told her about the 4AM barfing episode. Her boredom turned to concern and she asked if she could do anything. I said now and headed back to bed where I stayed there till nearly 1pm, just getting up long enough to steam J a batch of tamales for lunch. And then back to bed until 5pm. Unfortunately I'd forgotten that I had to get up to take my mom to a diabetes management class at Kaiser at 5:45PM. My god. I had a difficult time staying awake during the class...and I'm only staying up long enough now to blog about this unfortunate incident and get right back to bed.

I am amazed at how totally fucked up I feel after what seemed like a rather innocent looking meal and as Pamplemousse mentioned...it really sucks to spend good money on a meal and then have to suffer for it. I think this is the first time that I've ever had food poisoning from a Japanese restaurant...and hopefully it will be the last.


Monday, April 17, 2006

smudgedy smudge

Today is the last day of my birth control pills...and I've spotted near continuously for the last fourteen or so days. (As Coloratura would say, if you're just tuning in, this IS an IVF blog, so reader beware!) It's never turned to a bright red sort of spotting, but has lingered in that disgusting smudge state, or should I say, sludge. I think that traditional chinese medicine would say that this sort of blood color is old blood...not a good thing. Dr. Moustache's office seems unconcerned about this at all. Modern medicine would say that this is lining. I'm disgusted at any rate. I wish it would turn into a flow, or something more definitive.

This prolonged thing with this spotting is raising the concern bar higher and higher in my head. I wish there was a data set out there that I could ping and ask the question, "How many women who get pregnant via IVF experienced quite a bit of spotting before their baseline U/S?" Researchers have looked at just about everything under the sun in terms of what works. From seasonality studies, to whether caffeine, alcohol, to whether licking the asses of endangered South American tree frogs might alter ones chance of success. So why not a study looking at symptoms experienced during the medication/stimulation portion of an IVF cycle? Why not, indeed.

Okay, so enough about my investment in panty liners and stain remover, I'm off to file my extension. I don't know why the IRS has us pay taxes in April. It's spring for chrissake! April is always so incredibly busy for me, and with this IVF cycle, I am not even going to stress myself out trying to navigate through last year's receipt pile. Not a chance. Maybe by August I'll be ready to comtemplate taxes and the huge assed check I'm going to have to cut them. Maybe.

How are your taxes coming along?


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Pondering childless lives

Something rather frightening dawned on me in the past few days. It has been sitting at the back of my mind, not really brought into full consciousness, but in the last two days it came out.

You see, two of my favorite pastimes are doing genealogical research on my and J's families, and collecting antiques (okay, wine is in the top 3 but since I can't drink right now, we'll just gloss right over that one). I have always envisioned that one of the reasons I spent months doing this research was so that I would have something substantial to leave to my children when I died. I am an adoptee and I spent years tracking down my birth father. I spent entire weekends in the library basement at UC Irvine, pouring over telephone books on microfiche, looking for anyone who might be my father. I swore throughout all of this that my children would know everything about their families that I could humanly give to them. I didn't want my child(ren) to even have to wonder where they came from.

But now that I'm at the point in my life where I don't know if I will ever be graced with a child of my own, now this is all suddenly thrown into question.

Why have I been doing this research?

If I adopt, the child won't care a hoot about mine or J's respective heritages.

Why have I been accumulating "things", like the car and my antiques, and attempting to accumulate wealth?

If we don't have children at all, the last thing we want are things that will hold us down and keep us from traveling and doing the things that we love.

It was an awakening moment. Realizing that some of the things that I love to do, I've done with this idea of leaving them for my children.

But what if there aren't any children?

What then?

I hadn't pondered this question until two days ago. And it cut through my psyche like a red hot knife slicing through fresh meringue. I remember stopping what I was doing. My jaw might have even dropped.

My collection of French antiques.
My silver.
My jewelry.
My bank accounts.
My old Mercedes.
The house.
The house in France that we're considering.


My next thought was,

"Well hell. If we don't have children, why the hell should we hold onto all of these things? Things hold us back. They need maintaining. They need to be moved when we move. Things will keep us from living if we're childless. If we got rid of all tangible things, our lives would be freer. Why should I work my ass off selling houses to save money for the future? What am I saving for anyways?"

These thoughts were coming out in a panic. I was looking at everything that was important to me and suddenly seeing my motivations a bit differently. I also noticed I'd quickly swung the pendulum from one side to the other - something I've always seen as psychologically unstable. From "accumulate" to "get rid of", in one quick thought. But then reason eventually started to kick in. We'd still need a house to live in. And even in old age we might do a reverse mortgage in order to live on should our retirements turn out as bad as we predict them to be.

But the idea of not having a son or a daughter to leave my life's collection of possessions was an eye opener.

I've read that infertile women who finally make the decision to not be parents, to live childless, often find that their lives change in profound and dramatic ways. They start new businesses, travel more, start painting, do things completely unforseen to others, and sometimes even to themselves. It is almost as if they've put off doing things until that time that they were parents and the decision to be childless is a pivotal anchor in shifting their life's direction. It's not to say that I think people put off living until that time that they've had their children, or maybe even until that time that their children leave the nest. But I think it's perhaps that they find newfound vigor for living after a deep disappointment of not being able to be parents. Are they filling the void with "things"? I don't know.

I wonder what J and I will do differently with our lives should we make the decision to be childless?


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Irate over Dr. T's Bill

It isn't enought that RE's are raking us over the coals for money. But today it would seem that my new OB/GYN, a-RE-wanna-be, Dr. T, is doing the same.

About two months ago I went to see Dr. T for a consultation. I was a bit tired of my old OB/GYN's office staff. Her office staff continually lost my labwork, didn't return calls in a timely manner, misquoted my surgery fees by thousands of dollars, etcetera ad nauseum. Although the doc herself is fab, a wonderful surgeon to boot, I just couldn't take it anymore and so I was seeking out a new OB who would also be an advocate for my reproductive immunological issues. (Previous OB wouldn't help me to coordinate IVIg when Dr. Moustache thought that I might need it). I met with Dr. T for about 30 to 40 minutes, gave him a copy of my entire gynecological history, as I have it, we discussed a bit of RE and RI, and left.

In February, after my IVF cycle failed, I again saw Dr. T for an U/S to count antral follicles and check on things. We also did a blood draw for a chlamydia test so I could have "closure" as to whether a nasty infection had caused my tubal scarring or not. While there, I provided him with the study out of Chicago on DHEA and asked him if he would please call or email the doctor who is doing the study to find out what sort of protocol they were finding was effective for increased follicle production.

Shortly thereafter it was discovered that Dr. T's office botched my chlamydia titre test - they didn't do the chlamydia test...but tested me, instead, for pneumonia. Also, the doctor never got back to me on the DHEA protocol. It would seem that I had left Dr. G's office, with the shitty office staff, for more of the same.

So today I received a bill from Dr. T's office. It was for my two office visits and although it looks like they pinged my insurance companies for these two visits, the total was still more than $400. Bills are fine and all. They're even expected. I don't expect services to be free, even with insurance, but this one really pissed me off.

First. Dr. T charged me for a mere consultation. Maybe some of you are fine by this, but for me consulations are about me checking out a doctor...seeing if we might "work together in the future". No advice is really given, no examinations are done. It's all about seeing if there is a fit. A meeting of the minds. I've had many consultations in my life and this is the firest I was charged for without knowing there would in facgt be a charge. Since 2000, I've met with maybe 5 or 6 plastic surgeons, and only one charged a consultation fee. However this doctor was very upfront about the fee BEFORE our appointment. Why Dr. T didn't come clean before the appointment is beyond me, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. When consultations are normally free, wouldn't one think that doctors that charge for them would feel obligated to say something upfront?

Second. Dr. T billed out my U/S for my antral count and it was coded as something that smacked of infertility. That is fine. I don't have infertility coverage with Blue Cross of California. Dr. G would always run my U/S, whatever the real reason we were looking in there for, as checking on my ovary (which required surgery last year). But since the office ran my insurance before I arrived wouldn't it be prudent of them to reaffirm with me before the appointment, "Love, we've checked with your insurance and by the way, this U/S won't be covered"? One thing that drives me a bit batty about disgnosis codes for "infertility" is that I'm not longer being diagnosed for infertility. We know I have blocked tubes - that is the reason I'm having trouble conceiving. So if you strip it down to brass tacks, we're no longer diagnosing, per se, when we do an U/S for antrals. We're not really treating either. We're just looking and collecting data. I understand that it's just a matter of semantics when doctors' offices do their coding and such, or it may also be the inability of insurance companies to come up with a better way of coding things. But I'm certainly not being diagnosed or treated, in the literal sense, for infertility when we do an antral count.

So I have a $400+ bill before me and a huge chunk of it is for a consultation, which really should have been comped, and an U/S, which I'll take the blame for. All the same, I'm going to ask Dr. T's office tor reduce my bill to what the insurance company would have made me responsible for had it been a covered expense. I've done this in the past when laboratory bills have caught me offguard and 9 times out of 10, the lab will allow you to pay a lesser amount. If Dr. T's office balks, it'll be my last visit to his office. I really want a doctor that is an advocate for me - not someone that is out to get every last dollar out of me.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Damn, It's About Time!

I was so happy to read over on Modern Millie's page that her beta doubled between Friday and Monday. The rash of women meeting with negative betas and chemicals as of late, me included, was making me feel hopeless and sad and very pessimistic about any chances of success with my current cycle. It was looking like an epidemic had erupted among us all.

Millie's beta feels like a turning...a change in the weather. And yes, the sun is out today.

Congrats Millie!!!


Monday, April 10, 2006

Drugs Ordered but I Have Embryologist Issues

I start my injectibles on the 20th which, according to my calendar, is coming up fast. But just today I decided to get off of my ass, which is still clad in pajamas at this late hour of the day, and order my meds from The Apothecary Shoppe in Arizona. I have to acknowledge the pajamas-at-nearly-5:00PM-thing though: J is home sick with a bad chest cold and we hung out on the couch all day drinking tea and watching movies. It's been lovely but now that he's moved on to channel surfing I think that is my calling to get dressed and head out to Ikea to return *stuff*. But, wasn't that a huge digression.....?

So I am not entirely certain why I waited until the last moment to order everything. Part of my procrastination is just my normal routine with unpleasantries: put everything off until a crisis is near to impending. Or maybe it's partly because I wasn't 100% sure if we were going to go through with this cycle or not. Or, on the other hand, it could also be that I'm feeling less panicked than my last cycle where I slipped into control freak mentality over every aspect of my cycle. On some level I realize that there is a chance that my stress levels might indeed be lower this time only because I know the routine. I know how many needle sticks this will entail, how many dildo cam violations I must endure, and that I will be freaking out on lupron in 10 days time. There is definitely some bit of comfort in knowing all of these things that are to come...and pass.

One part of this that feels worse this time is the increased fear of the cycle not working. In my last cycle I was more optimistic, but just a bit. I think Julianna made mention of this in a post, that every woman thinks she'll get pregnant the first time. I wasn't one of them...I wasn't overly optimistic, but I was actually a bit scared that it wouldn't work. My friends all told me to "just believe" and it will happen. The trouble is that I couldn't get myself to believe that. I knew the odds going into that first cycle. And they weren't on my side.

I still can't quite get myself to "just believe" that a cycle will or will not work. Why can't I simply visualize this? I realize that each cycle is essentially a statistically independent mathematical event. Like flipping a coin, this cycle does not depend on the success or failure of the previous cycle. My angst about this cycle not working is a bit more panicked (or is that realism I speak of?) because of this. Nothing that is humanly changeable has been changed. My protocol is the same: microdose flare protocol. My meds are the same (450iu FSH/day). So nothing on the science front has changed. This isn't to say that things haven't changed. It's Spring and the weather is warming and I'm happier by far when I'm warm and cozy. Dr. Z's office will be slower now than he was in January (his busiest month). And there is one other thing, on the downside, however: I am 3 months older. My eggs are that much older, too. One more step towards oblivion.

My rose colored glasses about the infallibility of Dr. Z's office is a bit less pink today. I worry quite a bit, too much (?), about his young embryologist and her credentials. Just how long has she been there? Does she blast huge holes in my embryos with her laser when she does AH? Is she diligent about putting my embies back into their incubators as soon as possible? Or does she sit there gagging while they assume room temperature? There are a few main players in my treatment: Dr. Z, the embryologist, and me. I trust that I'll do the best I can to do my part: eat healthy, try to destress, take my vitamins and drugs on time. I can even trust Dr. Z to remove my eggs and put the embies back in. But my major concern is with the embryologist. I really honestly feel that her role is the most crucial, and she is the one I feel the queasiest about. Part of this is because I don't really know her ("The Devil you know is better than the Devil you don't know"). I am going to address this at my baseline U/S next week and see if I can get a moment to meet her and gauge what my intuition tells me. I have spent many years working on a lab bench and I hope that my gut instinct is still good about these sorts of things.


Spotting Yet...

I noticed a few days ago that I was "smudging" or "spotting". It was accompanied by cramping on the left side, a sensation akin to typical ovulation pain or what you might feel from an ovarian cyst, and a bunch of fertile CM. I made note in an earlier post that if I didn't know better, that I'd think I was ovulating. Tonight I'm seeing that the spotting has increased quite a bit. It's a bit disturbing as this didn't happen in my last/first IVF cycle.

I googled this and most sources say that this can be natural for people starting out on BCPs, but I also found a bunch of references that say it can be from taking pills that aren't strong enough, or from missing a pill. I'm taking the exact same pill I took in the last cycle, so it's not that it's not strong enough for me...and I haven't missed a single pill...so I'm not sure what is up with my body. Wikipedia says that breakthrough bleeding can be from an excessively thick endometrium. That sounds like a positive thing to me. A thick lining is something I want for transfer, so a thicker lining means a better chance of implantation? Yeah, so it's a bit early for my lining to be thick *now*, but maybe my body is going to behave differently this cycle?

I have fired off an email to the "in cycle nurses" and hope they get back to me with an answer that is reassuring rather than stress producing. If any of you have any knowledge about this I would love to hear from you.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Gray Sunday

I hoped for yet another glorious day of sunshine for today, Sunday, but it's overcast and gray outside - I'm not sure if I can even dredge up the excitement to wander down to the local Farmer's Market and eyeball the oyster bar with any sort of real interest. The Slavic baker with the Russian Tea Cakes...now that MIGHT get me motivated, but I'm really supposed to be staying away from evil white sugar and flour. The sun keeps threatening to peak its head out, alas, nothing. It would have been nice for a warm cheery day especially since I am going to see Coloratura today, hoping to cheer her a bit after the ordeals she's been through and also because it's just nice to spend time hanging out with her in real life rather than virtually. So, instead of us strolling somewhere outside and basking up the rays, I reckon we'll instead hover over cups of herbal tea, and try to stay warm.

I stayed up late last night reading IF blog after IF blog. I'd find an amusing blogname listed on someone's sidebar and would go and investigate to see what they were up to, what their experience has been, and whether they've been successful, or not. I think I stayed up well past 1am and in it I found quite a few good reads that I've added to my sidebar, a mixture of IF and post IF stories.

Each time I find a new IF blog, I am taken aback by the sheer numbers of us who are in this boat together. And what really blows me away is the AGE of some of these women. I'm 41 and it's my own damned fault for having waiting this long (with blocked tubes to boot), but what about those lovely ladies who are in their mid to late 20's who have endured more IVFs than even some of the older veterans of IF? Us older women with IF often look wistfully at younger women and envy them for their heightened fertility, their perfect eggs, their flawless tubes and uterii. But what about when a younger woman doesn't even have the advantage of age on their side and they have just as much trouble as us older ladies? This is simply devastating, mind boggling. I think somehow, their shock may be more severe than ours, even if our desperation is more marked as we watch our last months and years of fertility slide out of grasp.

My heart really goes out to each and every woman out there experiencing IF and I am so so very grateful that there is this thing called blogging so that we can share our individual IF experiences with kindred spirits. I don't know what my state of mind would be right now if I hadn't met The Crones. I can barely imagine it, and I doubt I would be thinking clearly. Am I thinking clearly now? I'm not sure, it's hard to tell for certain, but I do know that I'm not panicked.

Thanks ladies. :X


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Whoa. The Sun is Out!

Oh my! The sun is shining! I am stunned and amazed.

Hell if I'm going to sit here and blog!

Peace out.


Praying for Sun

It's raining yet again here in the Bay Area. What...didn't we have something like 26 days of rain in March...? And April has already surpassed it's normal, or usual, inches of rainfall for the ENTIRE MONTH and we're just thru the first week. I normally love cold weather: bundling myself up in thick, wooley sweaters, donning jeans, boots, and fluffy scarves. Normally I can't get enough of it. But honestly, I've had enough. Really, I have.

The house feels cold again, too, but I just checked. It's only 67 degrees in here. Normally that's tolerable for me - just warm enough to stave off PG&E from giving me a $300+ heating bill, but not so bad that I'm shivering.

But this cold is ceaseless. It's creeping into my bones...my feet feel like icicles. But this is exactly what happened in our first IVF cycle: I was cold all of the time...nothing would warm me. I'd sleep in pajamas with two thick down comforters on me. Socks even. I am certain that the sight of me coming to bed with so many clothes on had to be a major turnoff for J. But what could I do? Then I'd wake in the middle of the night in a torrential sweat. Pajamas completely drenched and stuck to my every nook and cranny. I would be afraid to take them off because I knew that the moment I did, I'd freeze again.

I've been on the birth control pills for about two weeks now and I wonder if this might explain it all? I know that the lupron fucks with us all big time, and in many different ways, but are the BCPs enough to do it as well? I know I've been more snappy and bitchy than usual (J: bite your tongue!) and they might be to blame for that.

Another odd thing I noticed today is that I smudged just a bit along with some EW and I've been having left ovary pain all day long. (Sorry if that was too much information but there you have it). God, I'd think I was ovulating if I didn't know better. It feels a bit similar to an ovarian cyst...so perhaps I'll dash off for a quick U/S on Monday or Tuesday just to make sure that there's nothing amiss. It would be a drag to keep taking the BCPs up til my baseline U/S with Dr. Z and THEN to find out I've got a cyst and that my cycle is being cancelled.

But maybe being cancelled would be a blessing with all that I've got on my plate at the moment?


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Home at Last: 8 Days in Hell, Otherwise Known as LA

8 days in LA. 8 days in hell, to be accurate.

A trip that was supposed to last from Wednesday to Sunday lasted an extra four days. God help me. I am so exhausted.

Mom, AA, and I left for LA last Wednesday. AA's mom was at Hoag Hospital with lingering complications from esophageal cancer and so we dropped him off in Huntington Beach and headed to the house in Whittier (aka, Shittier).

J flew down the next night and we retrieved him from Ontario Airport. Our first real work day, Friday, we went to Home Depot and I blew about $1K on hardware, baseboards, sinks, faucets, mirrored closet doors, etc. Later that day, we set about working on the house with a contractor we hired off of CraigsList. Patrick (contractor) was fantastic, cheerful, a mortgage office by trade by doing odd jobs while between jobs... and he was a deal at $200/day. He had the entire house outfitted with baseboards on the first day and still had time left over to install lights and do some painting in the living room and halls. Let me tell you this was a deal. The lowest bid I got from my CraigsList ad just for the baseboard installation was $460. And I got it done for $200 WITH extras. I love a bargain.

Saturday, Patrick came back and helped J install closet doors, do more painting, etc.

Sunday, J left for the Bay Area and mom and I went back to the house and I worked on the house on my own. Patrick took the day off to be with his girlfriend. I reserved a plumber for Monday to remove/install our old kitchen and bathroom sinks, snake the tub, and remove/install a new shower arm.

Monday morning comes, and the plumbing office calls. Our plumber has food poisoning (I'm thinking: "Food poisoning my ass...probably a hangover"). But we move on without him. Patrick returned with a friend, Marc, who bills himself as being a professional painter. They painted the rest of the house for $400 total ($200 each) and while it looks good the one thing I'm peeved about is that I told them to brush the cabinets, and instead they rolled them. So the cabinets have a mottled look to them that I don't care for. It looks like a rush job and luckily I have two gallons of the cabinet paint left so I can touch them all up with a brush on the next trip. So much for professional painting and listening skills. But at $400 for a entire day..I will bite my tongue.

Tuesday rolls around. The plumber is still sick so his boss (the owner) shows up. He has a hell of a time getting the kitchen sink out even though J chiselled most of the surrounding tile out. In the end he resorted to some metal cutting device...I am impressed. He gets the old sink out without damaging the vintage tile. Whew. He moves onto the bathroom and starts ripping things out. At some point I went into my bedroom and there was water on a good portion of the floors. My NEWLY REFINISHED WOOD FLOORS! I freaked. Apparantly our 1953 hot water pipe had been installed poorly and gave way. I cleaned up the water. He fixed the pipe. We're still not sure if there will be water damage to the wood or not. Time will tell when we see how well it dries out. I wonder whose insurance would pay for this?

So the plumber tears a 7"x6" hole in the wall to fix the hot water pipe. He tells me, "Do you want to fix this?" I'm like, "Sure...but I don't have a repair kit with me." (I'm also thinking, "And I also don't want to pay you $85/hour to fix the wall when I can do it myself"). So he suggests that he comes back the next morning at 8am sharp to finish the job.

I'm exhausted. I procrastinate about going to Home Depot to buy the kit. I instead work on the house till about 5PM and I then drive to HD to do some shopping. It took me nearly an hour to gather my supplies and by that time I was starving. Exhausted and starving and bordering on bitchy. Instead of going home and at least getting a start on the work we went for....SUSHI!

Finally, about 8pm, I made it home and got to starting on installing the drywall patch. But I was out of spackle. At 9:30PM no less. Where the hell to get spackling in the middle of the night? Hell.

9:30pm: I make quick run to WalMart...hoping they carried spackling. I think I've set foot inside a WalMart maybe once in my entire life. It was a frightening journey, but I did it. What a zoo that place is. But they have everything but the "cheap variety" of everything on the planet. I envision everything I buy "failing me".

The patch itself was 8"x8"...hardly much overlap to cover a 7"x6" hole, but using my trusty scissors I made it fit. By midnight I had the patch in place with a second layer of spackle on it. I put a heatlamp on it throughout the night to get it to set up. I got up at 7am and put a 3rd layer of drywall compound on it, heat it til it dried, sanded it with my mask on (silica does nasty things to lung tissue), and I just finish painting as the clock strikes 8am. Just as I sat my paint roller down, the plumber showed up. I warned him of my procrastination, and that the paint was still wet. He looked at my work and says, "Wow, you did really good work". His partner walked in (the one with the alleged food poisoning), and echoed the same sentiment, "That looks really good!" I felt good that someone thought I was doing a a good job. Even my mother hadn't been supportive on this entire trip.

So after they left, I had one last task to do before we could cut out and head home: install the drapery panels. I didn't want to do this and even J thought it was a bad idea. J said: "The huge windows in this house are a main selling point. Why cover them up? Let the buyer put in what they want!". I concurred. I couldn't see covering up beautiful glass windows or drilling holes into the walls that I had painstakingly prepared, sanded, and painted.

But mom griped nonstop about the blinds: "You have to put them up. Someone might SEE into the house. I don't want people SEEING into the house."

Me: "But mom, the windows are in the backyard. How can anyone possibily SEE into the house unless they're in the backyard? Which is private. And if they're in the backyard, well, they're already up to no good, so what's the point?"

She persisted.

So I took J's trusty Ryobi cordless drill and I proceded to desecrate my beautiful, smooth wall. I hit a nail. I shifted the hole over less than 1 cm. But the bracket went in crooked and my screws were too long. Damn.

I moved to the second bracket. I hit nail after nail. I screamed. I shrieked. (I'm not exaggerating). I cursed like a sailor...I was enraged that I was desecrating my beatiful wall to put up fucking cheap assed Ikea curtain rods. It was clear that the 8 days had really taken its toll on me...my stress level had brimmed over. Tears were running down my face at this point and I told my mom, "I quit. I am not installing those damned drapes. I tried and all I did was screw up an otherwise perfect wall. For what? Now I have to spend a couple extra hours repairing the wall and repainting it. I want to go home. NOW. But no, I have to fix a wall."

But that wasn't it. There was more.

While I slaved away, I had asked my mother to pick oranges and lemons for AA's sickly mother...thinking they might cheer her. Mom came in with just oranges. I said, "Oh but I was hoping you'd pick some lemons for her, too." My mother slammed the door on the way out, she was fuming, peeved that I hadn't specified that I wanted both oranges AND lemons. Slammed the door? WTF?

8 days of my mother's pointing out each and every flaw in my work had taken it's toll on me. And this somehow was the last straw on the proverbial camel's back.

I said, "I can't believe that I ask you to do something so small for me and you have to go and slam the door on me. After everything I've done. You are so ungrateful. I can't believe how ungrateful you are. I've taken 8 days out of my personal time to be here, I've neglected my clients, and you complain about everything, going out of your way to find fault with all of the work we've done....walking around continually pointing out faults. "Linda I have to show you this." And she'll point out some small smear in the paint." WTF? The house was a veritable disaster zone when she lived in it. It was dirty, unkempt, and there where smears in the paint EVERYWHERE. Why did she find it in her to now suddenly decide that microscopic smears in the paint were now unacceptable?

I continued: "...And then you have the audacity to slam the door on me because I asked you to pick lemons!? You know what I think? I think that you should hire a real estate agent to sell your house for you. I don't want to do it. I quit You hire someone else and you pay them $30,000 to do it because that is what they're going to charge you. I was going to do this for free for you, but forget it. Find someone else to be mean to because I don't need it."

So I fixed the wall as best I could and we left for home.

I came home and popped open a Franciscan cabernet and drank my first full glass of wine in six months.

And then I slept 12 hours.

Sad note...

It's been a bad month. First Coloratura miscarried at 9 weeks and now two of my eFriends, Julianna and Statia both had failed cycles while I was out of town. This was Julianna's last try at IVF/FETs, and Statia's second (she's off to FET now). Julianna and Statia produce loads of beautiful embryos and I have to think that if they can't get pregnant, how the hell am I going to get pregnant? It utterly blows me away that with the beautiful embryos they're producing that they're not already mothers.

And then just today I read that Millie's cycle in South Africa isn't looking like it worked.

Why the hell aren't any of us getting pregnant? WTF?

I'll bet a couple thousand crack whores peed on sticks in the last 30 days and got knocked up.

Life is utterly unfair and unkind.


My Diagnosis

My Infertility History

My Usual Protocol for Diet, Herbs, & Supplements

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