and then there was one

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embryo transfer day. magician sits us down to deliver the bad news. we lost another one. the 4-cell hadn’t grown in 24 hours. and the 2-cell had grown to 6-cell. still a grade 3. he offered to NOT transfer it if we so wished, the pros of that being they could observe it in the lab and if it arrested (stopped growing) before day 5 we wouldn’t have to go through 2 weeks of progesterone ass shots and emotional upheaval (read: con). and then in the same breath he said it’s worth a shot to put it back in the uterus, as the uterus often is more hospitable than a lab. he freely admitted the he has seen “ugly” embryos (aka MINE) turn out to be beautiful babies. but those cases are few and far between.

we decided to go through with the transfer. after everything we’d been through, we just couldn’t quit now. we’d given everything we could give to this cycle, so stopping now just didn’t feel right. the transfer went well, no issues. and i sat there for 10 minutes afterwards, a torrential downpour of tears from my eyes.  my heart has already quit. self-protection. my head knows logically this isn’t going to work. i want to jump off a pier and be swallowed up in cool water… my body weightless, floating aimlessly away from this nightmare. this can’t be happening. this is not real.

i know there is always a chance. but it is hard to remember why you started in the first place when you already feel like you’ve already lost.

peaks and valleys

life is full of them. they surprise you with their arrival and departure, usually at the most inopportune time. and this journey is no different. i’m no stranger to the highs and lows… the ebbs and flows of this infertility tide. but just because i’m used to them sadly does not mean i’m prepared to bear that weight again.

magician called me this morning for day 2 embryo report. he got right down to the nitty gritty. there is 1 4-cell embryo. Oh okay, this is good! and there is 1 2-cell. hmm that’s just meh at this point. the third embryo has not continued to divide today. shit. 

there’s more. the 2 embryos that are growing are very fragmented, a term used to describe abnormal breaking off of cell parts, or fragments. research shows that highly-fragmented embryos are not successful. out of a grade of 1 to 4, 4 being the worst, they scored a 3.

can’t. breathe.  the tide is running out and carrying me with it. 

magician says we have to transfer tomorrow morning, to give them the best shot. he said they’re struggling. he hopes we HAVE something to transfer. oh my god. we may have nothing to transfer. all the work. sacrifice. pain. tears. 

this is not how this was supposed to go. there are no words to describe this feeling in my racing heart. i am hanging on a cliff, knuckles bleeding, gasping for air with nothing below me to catch me. just the gaping valley below. 

barely breathing

 i’m holding my breath. 

can’t exhale. if i do, everything will crumble.

i had egg retrieval yesterday. see above happy face just prior to the procedure. see how excited i was? So dumb. i was supposed to get at minimum four, hopefully five eggs. last IVF cycle we ended up with 9 eggs from 7 follicles. 

this time not so lucky. we got three. there are no words. 

taking no chances we had ICSI performed on them (read: sperm injected into egg).

and i sobbed. for a long, long time. three is practically none. i had 9 last time and ended up with empty arms so three is that much more devastating… because, odds. 

so i held my breath for the update call this morning. i slept like sh*t. stomach in knots. couldn’t even make words. they’re gonna tell me nothing fertilized, watch…

and yet they didn’t say that. 1 egg was mature on retrieval, and fertilized   after ICSI. the other 2 matured later that afternoon in the lab, were ICSI’d at that point, and also have fertilized. 

so we still have 3. we live to see another day. 

small victories. i could use all the good juju in the world right now. i’m barely breathing, and i’ll be damned if I exhale. 

no regrets

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no regrets people. none. i refuse to have any. life is too short.

when a girlfriend of mine said she was moving across the country to nowheresville and all she wanted in the whole wide world was to have a going away stripper pole workout with us girls from work (and guy who is pretty and girly), did i hesitate? you bet your sweet ass i did. nothing about stripper + pole + workout screams “me! me! me!” to me. did i question my sanity the entire 2 HOURS i was there? hell yes. but do i regret it? not. one. bit. 

let me be clear, this may sound like a naughty class. don’t be fooled. nothing about the class was remotely close to “stripper.” i’m considering filing suit for false advertising. every single one of the 120 minutes spent inside that dimly-lit ballroom was dedicated to working out. i was SWEATING buckets within the first 5 minutes. pushups. stretching. lunges. more stretching. leg lifts. ab crunches. wait a minute, i thought this was supposed to be fun.  well, it was actually. eventually. the last 30 minutes, really. when we got to the “pole maneuvers” (read: fling yourself around the pole and try not to knock yourself unconscious). before i knew it we were laughing hysterically at each other and ourselves, and having a seriously good time. a large portion of the fun was a direct result of no mirrors + thumping hip hop tracks + a hefty dose of no shame. and if we’re being completely honest, booze. booze always helps. (although i could not partake, womp womp)

i owned that pole. nailed it. no regrets people.

which brings me to today’s discussion. and i will preface it with “this is a really really obnoxiously long post, but it covers a week’s worth of events so if you read it all i owe you a drink.” if you want to scroll to the end, by all means…

monday started off my week with a certifiably craptastic ultrasound that nearly cancelled my IVF cycle. because, monday, duh, nothing good ever comes from monday. horses had pretty much stopped running. halted. paralyzed. 1 horse was right on track and clearly was the winner since the rest of the pack laid down to die or something. i wish i could make this sh*t up. magician had no answers. no reason why it was happening. here i was supposed to be at the tail end of stimulation medications and my follicles were still small, as if i had only been stimming for 5 days, not 9. i also lost some more horses. that’s it. we’re done. i’m out. i’ve got the towel in hand, ready to throw it in the ring. but magician and amazing husband convinced me to give it 2 more days. pump me with more hormones and “let’s see when wednesday brings. we’ll know more wednesday.” grrrr.

wednesday flipped it upside down. somehow the whole pack got back on the racetrack and were speeding, actually running faster than ever before. and the horse in 1st place was slowing it’s pace. they group was getting tighter. the perfect turnaround to what was inevitable disaster. but i never get good news! i started to get encouraged. this might actually work, i might get to see this cycle through. blood work showed things were progressing nicely. magician said i needed daily monitoring now, as the lead horse was close to being ovulated (read: getting too big) while we waited for the pack to catch up.

no regrets i said.

thursday i went in thinking good thoughts. well that was my first problem. on ultrasound horses looked good, all growing well. yessssss. except i lost another, out of nowhere. ugh. and then the blood work came back. hormone levels had DROPPED. and here it is, the rug under my feet... yup. magician said no more pushing it, no more stalling to let the pack catch up. take the trigger shot that night and i want to see you in the morning. i cried. the wheels were falling off. i see the regrets looming on the horizon. 

and so this morning i had my final ultrasound. and i did some serious soul-searching prior to it. i admitted to myself that NOTHING about this cycle was even CLOSE to perfect. pretty much the antithesis of perfection. it was a universe away from how i envisioned it would go. how many follicles i thought i would grow. you name it, it definitely did NOT resemble that plan at all. and sure as shit, on ultrasound i had only 4 mature follies. and *maybe* 1 more by tomorrow. :::audible sigh:::

it is impossible to ever feel comfortable moving forward with doing egg retrieval. but especially now, knowing it is my last cycle, and how fucked up challenging it has been, i was, and am, a tremulous ball of nerves. but my inner voice kept screaming “what if this is as good as it gets?” i wanted to have 10 follicles, or 12, or 20. 50 even. of course i wanted more. but what if 4 is actually the very best i can do now? i’m 35 this year. gasp. we all know that at 35 your ovaries and uterus basically self-destruct like some kind of james bond gadget. and since mine are actually already like 39, they might as well be turning 90. the other thought i had was that what if the low number of follicles actually was a good thing… maybe it meant better quality? rather than the higher quantity (and crappy quality) i got last time. i simply couldn’t shake those thoughts.

so here i am. i’m all in. let’s do this. i need ten thousand cheerleaders. a miracle, really. tomorrow morning i’m going in for those suckers. the fantastic four. i have to. because, no regrets people. 

female sperm

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getting your blood drawn is considerably less painful if one is holding a squishy sperm. with pink lips on it. and eyelashes for daaaaaays. this is the truth people. i left magician’s office this morning laughing my ass off. where have they been hiding this gem? i’ve had about ten thousand needle sticks here, and not once have i had the good fortune of holding this sperm. i want to come get my blood drawn tomorrow. and the next day. because a ginormous smiling female spermie cradled in your hand completely distracts you from a giant needle in your arm. it does. scout’s honor.

luckily i left laughing. because the appointment was not so hot. dildo cam ready to go… and set… wait for it… magician drew his lips together and sighed. damnit. he was quiet. more than normal. he asked assistant “how many follicles did we see on the right last time?” … flipping through my chart she says “1.” he sighed again. sh*t. right ovary has completely left the race. not a GD horse to be found. deep breaths, seriously ovary??? you have ONE job. not that you remember, but my 1st IVF cycle righty might as well have sent all the horses to the glue factory. i think it made 1 or 2 by the time of retrieval? so maybe i shouldn’t be surprised. lefty, always my strong side (thank god), has continued to let the race run. i have *maybe* 8 horses on the left, all growing slowly but steadily. but 1-2 of them are so tiny they may have no chance in hell of winning. which means we are looking at 6-7 horses that stand a chance. ugh. i was hoping for more. more horses= more chances that i might actually get a GOOD embryo.

apparently i want it all? is that so much to ask? magician told me he is optimistic. sure, it’s easy to see the glass half full when you aren’t on the other end of the dildo cam. something about “you blossom late”. um, awkward. i’m sure he was making some nerdy science-y reference about my ovaries or something, but all i could think about was puberty and getting my period and all the uncomfortableness of that. thanks magician.

so that’s where we’re at. i think i’ll be injecting stims forever at this rate. i might cry. my belly could use a break. i’m a nurse. i’ve probably given, i don’t know, 91,722,312,849 subQ shots. and yet this week i have managed to give myself not one, but THREE hematomas. wearing pants hurts. sweats are back in style, right? so dumb.

if only i had a squishy sperm of my own, maybe it would take the sting away.

round 2

that’s right, i lasted the full 3 minutes. no KO this time. *happy dance*  i took that ultrasound like a champ, face punched it a few times, showed it who’s boss and *ding ding ding*… here we come round two.

thank you sweet baby jesus.

sometimes i think this tiny little plastic baby jesus may actually contain good luck juju in that rigid and misshapen little body of his. and for your viewing pleasure, here he is making his encore appearance. because blessing the dildo cam can only bring good news.

jesus

magician said things looked “okay.” wait, what happened to “amazing”??  left ovary had some good activity, 2 of the 4 horses (follicles) were growing well, the other 2 were being stragglers of a sort but not too far behind in the race. righty, who started out with 4 horses, now had one solitary horse in the race. somewhere along the track we lost 3 horses. like, they exited the track altogether. WITF, can they DO that? damn.

had my blood drawn to check hormone level (estrogen). it came back pretty low (58.6) but that’s mostly because i have a crappy small number of horses in the race right now. magician said not to worry too much, it’s still very early in the race and more horses can join the group in the next couple of days. please please please.

i’m trying not to focus too much on the negative. trying is the operative word there. there are definitely positives here: i’m still in this race. we are still a GO and i need to keep my eye on the finish line. next ultrasound is friday, so until then i’m rubbing baby jesus’s little bald head like crazy, praying we see more horses and that the group is running in a solid pack, no stragglers, and no lead ones.

the first rule about fight club

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is you don’t talk about it. duh. but let’s talk about it.

i watched the fight on saturday. what i saw was, well… a lot of dancing. and not as much face-punching as i would’ve liked. and the end, well… disappointing. maybe some filipino karaoke would’ve left a better taste in my mouth? maybe i needed to see more jimmy kimmel channeling Run DMC. but seeing these two men try to beat the snot out of each other really made me think of edward norton and brad pitt in that dark and distorted but can’t-keep-your-eyes-off-it movie Fight Club. oh brad. oh dear. seriously the hottest he has ever looked, amiright. but i digress. there was more legit face punching in that movie than what i saw this weekend.

i feel like i am in a face-punching battle extraordinaire. i am edward norton, fighting myself. my own body. i have my ultrasound tomorrow. it is at THIS exact ultrasound i have repeatedly been cancelled because my body can’t follow the simple rules of this fight club. rule #1: do not make dominant follicles. i’ve been KO’d twice in this round already. no pressure. how am i holding up you ask? pssh. on the outside i am totally cool, calm, and collected. i got this. and on the inside i am a supernova of nerves. i am a black hole of anxiety.

i am jack’s cold sweat.

i haven’t forgotten that this cycle has started out looking REALLY good. i came out swinging. but the stakes are high, and i have my gloves up, ready for the next blow. by now you see i’m all about self-preservation. i expect the worst. that way if it doesn’t actually happen, i am pleasantly surprised. but let’s be honest.

i am jack’s complete lack of surprise.

oh and mother’s day is coming up. 6 days. i can’t even. can we just skip that day. bittersweet doesn’t come close to explaining the dichotomy of emotion, all the feels that will come out on sunday. don’t get me wrong. i’m all about celebrating mothers and motherhood, in all its beautiful and broken shapes and sizes. they are the most selfless people on this world, and deserve to be lavished with love and appreciated. but the feels. they are just too much. face punch.

i am jack’s broken heart.

i just want this to happen. i want it so bad i can taste it. it has to be my turn one of these days. i mean, odds, right? after losing five babies, i get to finally take one home, right? all this hard work, the blood, the sweat and tears,… will be worth it. it will, right?

it’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we can do anything. thanks brad, i think i’ll make this my new mantra.