Thursday, December 29, 2005

I'd like to exchange this Swiss Cheese please.

This morning the RE himself did the wandmonkeying (and I had on little green socks with monkey faces on them for the occasion). He's a chatty man, and was blabbing on about his wife's fascination with her iPOD she got for Christmas during the scan, and I was trying not to focus on the fact that there was a foreign object in my vagina held there by a man who wasn't my husband.

Ovaries are miraculously free of large cysts this time - but there were close to 20 small cysts that were there. Definitely PCOS he said. Definitely - your ovaries look like swiss cheese.

I hate swiss cheese. Abhor even.

Oh - and a retroverted uterus. Seems all those hours spent with my butt propped up on pillows laying on my back when we were trying were apparently for naught. Why someone never told me about this before, I don't know... but it goes a long way to explaining the unbearable pain I have in my back with menstruation. Apparently my lovely ute is basically facing directly into my spine.

Given the overwhelming response last time - we're doing a bit of tinkering with the protocol to see if we can get fewer but better quality eggs.

I'll start dexamethasone tomorrow - .25mg a day. Not really sure what it does, other than the fact that it's a steroid and he said I'll stay on it through 20 weeks of pregnancy - every day. I'm also going in for a fasting insulin (thanks for the catch Jenn!) tomorrow to see if metformin is appropriate to add to the slew of other pills I'm taking. Hey, what's one more right?

Endometrium lining today at CD 3 was at 4.7. I'm waiting on the E2 levels.

He's slowed down the follistim quite a bit - 100 ius a day, whereas last month we were at 150 ius a day. He said he's still tinkering with what to do with the progesterone, given that I had a level of 33.9 and started bleeding the same day (7 days post IUI). Right now, he went ahead and prescribed prometrium again - only he changed it to 200 mg. in the morning, and 400 mg. at night. Hopefully that will help.

As he was leaving he patted my knee and said that 2006 will be better than '05.

I'm not sure I believe it, but I want to. I really want to.

**For those of you looking for information on PCOS - check out SoulCysters (and a special thank you to Tendaironi for the link) it is by far one of the most helpful and informative sources that I've found on the subject.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Date with the Dildo Cam

Ahh... how I've missed the wandmonkey. Appointment on Thursday a.m.

Apparently it was a good thing that I skipped out on the appointment this a.m. as the test would have been a colossal waste of money.

CD 1, and I'm actually sort of happy about it. Bizarre.

At least I'll get my medication and the first scan & bloodwork in by the end of the year, even if I don't get my full cycle in.


Monday, December 26, 2005

How much should I write the check for again?

My family is much more a potluck and chinet type when it comes to holidays. We usually have around 30-40 in attendance for holiday meals, and to be honest, no one wants the hassle of cleaning up the dishes from that many people eating. Oh sure, there's the odd anomaly - such as last Thanksgiving, when my grandmother's silver is brought out along with an extra two dining tables with full leaves in my Aunt's house, but for the most part - we're very casual when it comes to holidays.

Michael's family is much different. Dinners at his mom's house are dressed up affairs - the King Richard silver and one of at least five different china and crystal options are put on the table. So I was a bit shocked when she called and told us that "jeans were fine this year."

When it comes to gifts, they're also much different. My family doesn't typically do much giftwise - but what is given is showered with love. This Christmas though, his mom went waaaay over the top.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying using my new Calphalon contemporary nonstick 12 piece set of pots, and the sweet Cuisinart heavy duty stainless steel blender. I'll love using the new additions to my Waterford Aurora stemware collection, and the Waterford Colleen perfume bottle will look lovely on my vanity. And yes, the thick plush Lauren sweaters were beautiful, and the new cashmere gloves and funky muffler will be quite warm, and I even like the black spangly purse - even though it's not my usual style. And the Empress Swaorvski crystal keychain and business card holder, and the set of four beautifully colored Waterford paisely ornaments... and the pearl and diamond earrings are all lovely - as well as the rest of the rest of the gifts that she showered on me.

And Michael's gifts... good lord. It was really obscene how much she spent on us. O-B-S-C-E-N-E.

But you know - the entire time, I just felt like she was trying to buy our love.

And as much as I honestly do appreciate the gifts, it doesn't mean a single bit more to me than the much more reasonable gifts my family sent. Love shouldn't be a competition.

If she spent half as much time as she does money on us, it would mean so much more. I feel badly for bitching about receiving such wonderful gifts, but it's not what the holiday is about. I wish she understood that. And considering she grew up poor, you would think she would - but no. It's as if she is overcompensating now...

Now for what you want to know: Still no real news on anything else. Today is now day 37. A tiny brownish spot two days ago, but nothing else to speak of... no cramps, no spotting... and no - I haven't tested at home. I don't see the point in wasting the $$, but at the same time I'm starting to freak out and wonder if I should start my prometrium again (as I haven't).

This is now officially by far the longest cycle I've had while not pregnant, but then again - I'm not expecting anything. And now I'm freaking out because I was so sure that I wasn't that I *imbibed* through the last two weeks (not to great excess, mind you - but I was perhaps a bit more festive than I would have been otherwise). I don't honestly feel like I am, as there are no symptoms to speak of. I'm just pissed now because I won't be able to cycle now before the end of the year (and my insurance deductible is finally met - and of course turns over next Mon.)

So ho hum. Nothing to see here, move along...

Updated: I'm cancelling the appointment today - as I just can't handle the negative phone call right now. The bottom line is my body loves to screw with me - end of story.

Friday, December 23, 2005


I wish each of you a happy and joyous holiday season, whether you've already celebrated E'id, the Solstice or whether you're awaiting the beginning of Kwanzaa, Channukah, or Christmas, or even Festivus.

And even if you don't celebrate any particular holiday, I wish you happiness and love.

I hope your homes are full of warmth, love, laughter, health and good fortune and that you find peace in your heart.

As you know, I didn't cycle with medication this month because I was sidelined due to overstimulation after the IUI. I'm now onto day 34. Thirty-fucking-four. Considering that Michael was sick with a lung infection for the majority of this past month, we only had sex a handful of times, none of which were around the time of ovulation - if it occurred at all this cycle. I am desperately trying not to hold out hope for a Christmas miracle - as after all this time, I should know better. And to face the truth, the chances of me being knocked up are probably statistically somewhat less than the recurrence of immaculate conception. And let's be honest - immaculate conception is a *bit* doubtful in the first place (no offense to my devout Christian readers). And to say that is more credible than me being pregnant is well a bit telling, no?

I left a somewhat quizzical message on the R.E.'s answering service around thirty minutes ago about it being normal to be late the month after cycling with injectibles and the nurse called me back almost immediately. Our conversation went like this:

April: "Is it normal to be this late the month after cycling?
Nurse: "It's possible, but usually we see patients with a very short cycle after a failed medicated cycle. Have you used any form of birth control this month?"
April: "Well aside from our raging infertility, uh... no."
Nurse: "What day are you on?"
April: "At least day thirty-four - maybe up to day 36"
Nurse: "Don't you always spot before your period?"
April: "Yes, at least three to five days before. That's why I was on the progesterone supplementation"
Nurse: "Are you having any spotting or cramping?"
April: "No, to both."
Nurse: "Have you tested yet?"
April: "Two days before Christmas, are you crazy? No."
Nurse: "Are you taking progesterone?"
April: "No."
Nurse: "Test. And I'll schedule your HCG on Tues. a.m. so we can see where you are."
April: stunned silence
Nurse: "O.k. see you Tuesday morning at 10, and Merry Christmas!!!"

Now, I appreciate the excited enthusiasm of someone who is rooting for me. It feels good for someone to have hope when I find it so woefully excised from my own heart. But I'm a fairly intelligent woman and after nearly three years of trying, I'm not bitter, I'm realistic. I realize I'm probably late from my body being whacked out due to my hormones being a bit wonky still.

But there is still a very small part of me that keeps hoping I can put those little monkeyface booties under the tree this year.

And I hate myself for holding onto that sliver of hope. Hate - hate - hate it.

I hate waiting almost as badly.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

"Later on in Brittany, I realized that they had only been seagulls."

For me, they will always be glorious birds.

[and if you know what movie that's from without looking it up, I heart you.]
I am precariously balancing on the ledge of uncertainty. It's not exciting per se, it just is what it is. Today is CD 28, and I know that in the next few days, decisions will have to be made.

I woke early this morning, and while the rest of the house slumbered in our lofty bed, I crept downstairs in the dark, my socked feet skating on the cold hardwood floors

{note to self - when you're tired from working late hours, and suddenly have the urge to clean the hardwood floors upstairs - do not use the pledge spray wood polish to mop the floors with, because you're just too lazy to go downstairs to fetch the real wood floor cleaner. You will spend the next four months gliding across the floors hoping to save yourself from falling flat on your ass. Michelle Kwan you are not, and that trip dowstairs to fetch the real cleaner would have been a lot better idea in hindsight.}

- my fingers trailing along the railing of the stairs. I turned the tree lights on, pulled up the blinds, and watched dawn break over a world that was quickly becoming cloaked in white finality of winter.

When I lived by the beach, I often would walk down to the shore in the middle of the night and just sit and work out my problems as the water ebbed to and fro. The continuous motion of the waves was a constant reminder of the perpetual nature of life. Curled up with my knees at my chin, I would sit barefoot in the sand, letting the waves lap up against my toes. Never in my life have I felt so tiny, so insignificant as when faced with the vast expanse of ocean - the moonlight glimmering against the waves infinitely into the distance.

Others perhaps would have found such thoughts depressing, and admittedly - they were at times. But to me, the harsh reality of knowing that my problems were small in the grand scheme of the universe actually helped me face them. To parse them apart, to find solutions. I've never been one to discuss issues with another person - but it was in moments like these that I learned to let go, to forgive (myself, and others), and to move on. It helped me grapple with the ideas of lost dreams, of hope, of love, and the question of "what are you going to do with your life" (although, I must admit - I still have no bloody clue exactly how that one's going to pan out yet).

The beach may have been shared by thousands of others, but in the solitude of the night, with the wind rustling through the palm fronds - it felt as if it was a secret haven known only to me. It was my refuge.

After last cycle failed, I was desperate to get back to treatment, immediately. I didn't want to pause to mourn what might have been, I didn't even want to contemplate the possibility of the fact that it may never work. Instead - I just wanted to push... faster... faster... faster... until the goal had been reached, or I had expended my soul in trying. I was afraid to take a break, afraid that if I took the time to actually face the enormity of the physical and psychological hell that faced me with month after month of injections and heartbreak that I would be simply too tired- or worse - too afraid to go forward.

In some ways I think that I've gotten so wrapped up in finding a "cure" for our infertility that I've stopped thinking of myself as anything more than a patient... a cycle day on a chart... a diagnosis. I have let this become such a part of my life for so long that it's difficult to remember what else was there before.

I want to be the woman with the laugh that sounds like a bee when she giggles, I want to be the woman who loves to read (not medical studies - but books with dogeared pages), who dances, and sings (admittedly off-key), who paints, and bakes enormous chocolate cakes and concocts the best lasagna you'll ever have in your life. I want to be the woman who entertains, who laughs, who loves and lives.

I am tired of living solely for one thing that may never happen.

I want to live a life that brings joy and beauty to other's lives. I want to be a good wife, daughter, friend. I want to remember the faint happiness of life as more than just seagulls.

I want to hold those everyday moments in my heart as memories of glorious birds soaring against a brilliant sky.

I want to be me again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Morphine induced haze

Dad's surgery lasted a little longer than they thought because of some complications that they found once they actually opened him up that wasn't evident on the myriad of MRIs he's had. Apparently one of his discs was completely shattered, and they had to remove it and install a metal cage that connects the vertebrae above and below it. There's probably some technical term for it, but hell if I know.

He was in a considerable amount of pain after they finished, and they ended up giving him six shots of something in his IV, and then put him on a morphine pump. The nurse said she was amazed that he wasn't "knocked out" because she gave him enough pain killers to put out a horse.

My sister called to talk to me about the surgery, and he heard her talking to me and wanted to say hello. Of course, considering the amount of morphine he was on - it was pretty hilarious to try to decipher exactly what he was mumbling - but we chatted for a few minutes before he was too tired to talk anymore.

So all in all, thanks for the kind thoughts. He'll be in the hospital for a week or so ... and while I realize that there are far worse things that could happen, it was still scary to us - having never gone through anything like this before.

It's all relative I suppose.

Nonetheless, thanks.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A prayer for DGD

My father is a man of few words. No surprise really, with a wife and four daughters - he's lucky to ever get a word in edgewise. At 18 he married my mother, an interesting combination as they were so drastically different. Right before I was born around two years later, he started working for a factory in town, making military planes. They divorced when I was a few months, old - and I spent every other weekend, and two weeks in the summer at his house. He's now been on the same job nearly 26 years. He leaves for work every day at 4 a.m. and comes home tired, after fighting the hour long commute home (on a good day).

His mother died when he was eleven, and he was forced to become the sole caregiver to his two younger sisters, as his father picked up a second job (and rumor has it in the family a bottle) to ease the pain of his wife being gone. His father showed him little, if any affection - and my dad became less and less emotional with time. When I was a little girl, the only thing that mattered to me was making him happy. He was never emotionally giving, and he and I didn't see eye to eye in a lot of ways because I thought that it meant that he didn't love me.

My mother and he fought constantly over custody over me, to the point that I think the judges in the Family court knew me by sight. It was a horrible, ugly battle that now, looking back - made me realize that I would have been better off had I gone to live with him.

He missed out on my life from the time I was in sixth grade until I was seventeen (and already engaged at that point to my ex husband). Five years of my life he simply wasn't there. [I've found out later though, that he would attend my sporting events in high school - watching from the bleachers. I found a whole box of items he saved about me from the papers.] When I got into an early admissions program that allowed you to attend college full time at the beginning of your junior year in high school (yup - I called McConnell home too, Larisa), he said I wasn't ready. At sixteen, I thought I knew everything and thought that he resented the fact that I was starting college so early when he never had the opportunity. Besides, he hadn't been around so how would he know?

The summer after my first year in the program I got engaged, and he was livid - I wasn't in love with the man, and he knew it. I never told him what really happened between us, why I moved out and filed divorce.

When I decided to go to law school, he was concerned, I was leaving for another state, I was missing out on so much of my little sisters' lives. But we grew close, somehow despite what happened. We talk a lot now, long conversations that make my stepmother wonder what has gotten into him. We talk about politics, about love, about life. Things I imagined I would have talked to him about all this time that we lost if I had the opportunity.

When Michael and I eloped, Dad flipped out - not surprisingly considering that he's actually only around six or seven years older than my husband. But they too have established a relationship - largely built on sports, and fishing... and Dad calls to talk to him as much as he does to me.

A little over a year and a half ago, Daddy (I still call him that occasionally, although it's usually Dad) was in a bad car wreck and it messed up his back badly. He's fought the pain the last two years with a mix of prescription narcotics until he just simply couldn't go on any more. They're having surgery on his back tomorrow - it's going to last about five or six hours and I've never been so scared in my life. You see, my father has dealt with a lot in his lifetime, but he's never talked about it. He's never even acknowledged fear.

Night before last I asked him how he was feeling, and he said he was petrified. My father afraid? It would be as if admitting the world wasn't round, or the sky not blue. It was unspeakable.

And it made me love him more. It made me realize that this man I couldn't reach was beginning to open up little by little.

I can't be there tomorrow because of work obligations, and I'm afraid for him. Recovery will be anywhere up to six months long.

If you can, please say a prayer for our family or keep us in your thoughts.

Say a prayer for the man that I finally feel I'm getting to know.

For a little girl, who may be all grown up but is petrified of being unable to help her daddy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Giving the gift of hope.

While my mom was at the lowest point in her struggle with addiction, I went to live with my great-grandparents. My great grandfather ("Pa Paw") a mechanic, with a sixth grade education, owned a small mechanic's shop and gas station, and my great grandmother ("Granny") helped out there - her red hair and boisterous laugh greeting the customers from the neighborhood. They were poor, but they paid their bills on time... unfortunately there was just very little left over at the end of the month. They worked hard six days a week, often sixteen hour days or more. But they made room in their home for a cranky pre-teen, and gave me shelter, comfort and love.

[If you're wondering why I didn't live with my father - my dad was temporarily out of the picture here, but that's a story for a different day]

Late that summer, Pa Paw - a rather large man (probably 6'3" and close to 240 pounds) was walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night and fell. He called out for Granny and when she found him he was lying in a pool of blood in the narrow hallway.

When the ambulance reached the house he didn't have a pulse. Paramedics swarmed overhim with equipment and were finally able to revive him. During tests over the next few days, we found out that he had extremely advanced colon cancer and lymphoma. The doctor said that Pa Paw had to have known he was sick, but he distrusted doctors the same way he did bankers (years after he was gone we still found coffee cans full of money buried in the flower gardens).

They tried chemo, surgery... removing portions of his organs where the cancer had spread. He was swollen - his skin waxy and hard from fluid retention. He laughed, and said well, at least I still have my hair. As I was combing it for him that evening it fell out in silver clumps across the hospital pillow. He asked me how it looked and I whispered that I thought it was handsome.

I was in seventh grade and every day after school someone would drop me off at the hospital so I could tell him about my day. I ate out of vending machines and the hospital cafeteria most nights. The smell of the cancer ward permeated my clothes, filtered through my skin and became a part of me.

Every day he would ask how my grades were, if he was going to have to get a stick to keep the boys away... how my basketball practice was going.

He was always so proud of me... I left the hospital in his arms when I was born.

Days turned into weeks, then months - and to be honest I lost all track of time. On a Sunday, while watching a Dallas Cowboys game, he had a stroke. He struggled, fighting all afternoon- not wanting to give up. After many tears, Granny quietly whispered to him that she was strong enough, that if he needed to he could let go. He looked at her and smiled, and she held his hand as he departed.

After the funeral, we started trying to get on with our lives. Only, the finances were in much worse shape than we were aware. There were some outstanding liens on the shop, and he had let his life insurance lapse. The meager savings that the two of them had worked for their entire lives for was gone - as Pa Paw was forever forgiving of people who were on hard times and couldn't pay his bills. He had always done the books for the store, and there were outstanding taxes to be paid. Large ones. At twelve, I started my first negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service.

At first, people came by often - dropping off food and words of comfort. As their numbers slowly dwindled, so did the items in the pantry. A proud woman, Granny refused to go on to public assistance or to accept church handouts. So we made do with what we had - which meant a lot of red beans and cornbread. And then just pot after pot of plain red beans when the cornbread became too much of a luxury.

I found Granny crying in her bedroom, holding his picture and pulling out Christmas ornaments from the closet. She sighed and told me that we wouldn't have much of a Christmas that year, because there simply wasn't money to do so. She was worried because I had hit a growth spurt and desperately needed a new coat. I told her that I would wear one of hers. That we would get by, somehow. I didn't believe it, but I thought that if I said it enough it would be true.

That night, helping her to calculate the checkbook up, I realized we had only $157. The gas bill was late, the electricity needed to be paid, and the water department was threatening to shut off the water.

Friends at school were gossiping about what they hoped their parents would buy them, where they were going to vacation during winter break, and I was hoping that there would still be water on when I got home to shower with.

Someone from the neighborhood submitted our names to a charity organization, and right before Christmas two women showed up bearing bags of gifts and food. The brought me a beautiful new emerald green coat, clothes that hadn't been worn and handed down by someone else... and new tennis shoes. Someone even made me handbeaded earrings. Knowing my love for basketball, they brought a goal and a ball, I remember being so ecstatic that I had one. They brought in an enormous box of household items - feminine hygiene products, paper towels, toiletries, and food - canned goods, staples, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a turkey.

At first I was angry. I was twelve after all, and the thought of someone thinking that I was a charity case mortified me. But as I tentatively tried on the new clothes, I wept. People actually cared about someone who wasn't in their family. People actually cared about me. People actually cared... period.

Yes, I was grateful for the presents. Yes, I adored having clothes that didn't fit awkwardly, that hadn't been worn by someone else. Yes, I enjoyed the meal - and the many creative ways we had to make it stretch into many more.

But what I was most grateful for was the gift of hope. To know that there was good in the world.
Sitting next to the tree last night, Michael and I were talking about what we were going to buy each other for Christmas. He's notoriously difficult to buy for, and I was getting frustrated because he wasn't forthcoming with any ideas.

Finally he looked at me, and said - "Look, I have everything that I want within these walls. I have you, the cats. I have warm clothes to wear, food in the pantry, and I don't want for anything. This year... what I want most is to help someone else. Please buy gifts for someone else who needs it, instead of getting something for me. That would mean more to me."

So this year there may be little or nothing under the tree for each other, but our hearts are brimming over. If we could bring just one breath of hope to a child, that is all the gift we need.

As you begin your holiday preparations, please -if you can- take time to remember those that may not be as fortunate this year. You never know how profoundly the smallest gesture of good will may shape a young person's life.

It's not about how much you spend, to a kid who isn't going to get anything for Christmas, Channukah or Kwanzaa - or even just because - a dollar store toy means just as much as FAO Schwartz.

It's about the feeling that you're not just another statistic - not just another elephant in the living room that no one wants to acknowledge. It's about the feeling that you're an actual living, breathing person whose dreams and hopes could potentially be a reality. And at the very least it's feeling less like a stigma - a person who is less. It's about feeling as close to "normal" as you can, if even if for just a little while. It's not about lavish gifts. What it's about is hope.

[And a special thanks to Cricket - for giving me the courage to talk about what it's like on the receiving end].

Saturday, December 03, 2005

All the small things

- Being woken up by him whispering "hello, beautiful" and a kiss that curls your toes instead of the alarm clock.

- Cinnamon rolls and coffee cuddled under the warmth of the down comforter.

- Having the entire downstairs decorated in sparkling white lights and garland.

- Finding out that the one place in the house the tree will actually fit allows it to be seen from all angles outside, and that its reflection in the china cabinet makes it visible in the entire downstairs.

- Finding your box of special Waterford ornaments were miraculously not destroyed in the move (His mother buys me one every year as part of my Christnakkah presents).

- Sex so mind numbingly fantastic that the entire neighborhood knows what you did this morning without a single thought as to ovulation, follicles, and endometrial thickness.

- Finding that the OHSS swelling is finally down enough that you are able to fit back into your regular clothes.

- A husband that will not only go shopping with you - but when you're in the dressing room for the upteenth time, he is combing the racks looking for more clothes for you to try on, and for once actually isn't complaining about how long you're taking.

- The scent of laundry softener filtering up through the basement, and realizing you weren't the one who put the laundry in the wash.

- Finding out that the jeans you are trying on are a size smaller than you expected, and they're on sale, and they look good.

- Laughing so hard your sides hurt.

- A cashmere sweater and muffler.

- Snow flurries.

- Compliments on your cooking and event planning in a public forum by someone you respect.

- Finding that the first present under the tree is for you.

- Coming in from the cold and having the cat who absolutely never pays attention to you jump up in your lap and fall asleep purring.

- Curling up in one of his sweaters.

- Great Belgian ales- Delirium Noel and Dubbel in heavy crystal glasses.

- Knowing that tomorrow I'll wake up next to him all over again.