Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bitter, party of one? Bitter?

This is my 17th cycle trying to get pregnant. This time, I took Femara (a breast cancer drug also thought to help with infertility) and had an IUI. Everything on the pre-IUI ultrasound looked fine, and my timing was good. If this try doesn't work, I'm going to IVF.

I always thought I'd do everything "perfectly" on my last try; I'd avoid sugar, I'd get lots of acupuncture, I'd stay relaxed, I'd eat my sweet potatoes and papaya and seaweed. Instead I'm baking like a maniac and my anxiety level is high. On Friday, in a tense meeting, I wrote the date in my notebook and thought, 'a year ago today I found out I was pregnant.' Later that day I attended yet another baby shower for someone who both conceived and will give birth after my pregnancy failed. My office just announced that Take Your Children to Work Day will take place in late April -- on the anniversary of my miscarriage. A close friend who also had trouble conceiving is now in her second trimester. I'm thrilled for her, and we've talked about it a lot, but it isn't easy (see Akeeyu's smart post about this).

There is so much riding on this try. If I don't conceive this time, I won't have a baby in 2007. I always thought that by starting at age 35, I wouldn't be an older mom. So much for that. And of course I'll be moving to a procedure that's incredibly invasive, time-consuming, and costly (even if I'm not paying for it -- thank you, magical insurance). Now, as I wait to find out if this the 17th try is the charm, it's hard to not scrutinize how I'm feeling each day -- what is my temperature doing, are my breasts more or less sore than last time, is my fragile emotional state meaningful or just the universe's way of offering me a gentle fuck-you?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Kinds of gratitude

I appreciated this post from Barren Mare, who's pregnant after years of struggling with infertility. (Her post about finding out she was pregnant during an IVF consultation is pretty priceless.)

Anyway, here's a bit of what Barren Mare had to say about being pregnant after all of her efforts:

Somebody said to me several weeks ago that one of the nicest things about being pregnant must be the great relief to know I'm not infertile after all. I've been thinking about this a lot since then. I suppose that, strictly speaking, it appears to be true, at least for the moment. But it's odd. It's odd to think that somehow getting pregnant can cancel out all the aggro and grief I felt during the years when we tried and tried and tried without success. During which we endured invasive testing and fertility treatment, without success or even answers as to what the problem might be. And even now, I have no idea why it suddenly happened. [...]

When something finally, miraculously occurs, it's undeniably lovely- but it's also kind of scary. Because if you don't know why or how it happened- luck? timing? an unusual planetary alignment?- then it's hard not to believe that this is your one and only chance. That lightning can't strike twice, so if something goes awry, you're cast out of the kingdom forever, with no way back. And having finally seen your way clear to safety on the horizon, it's impossible to fathom how you might ever recover from that.

So no, "relieved" is not really the word I would choose. I feel greatly, vastly fortunate, but also hugely wary. Much of the time I feel like this happiness is on loan to me, rather than a permanent keepsake. But that's one of the life-changing aspects of infertility- there is less inclination to take anything for granted.

I appreciate Barren Mare's realism and ability to recognize the universe's randomness. I wish her all the best. The same goes for Infertile Pediatrician, whose smart blog chronicles her experience trying to conceive "all the while working with those who are quite fertile and their offspring." IP is newly pregnant, and I'm crossing my fingers for her that this one sticks.

Friday, March 9, 2007


Today is the one-year anniversary of when I got pregnant. I am "celebrating" by getting my first mammogram. Ironic, as I could not get a mammogram if I was pregnant or breastfeeding (as I would be now if I'd stayed pregnant), and as I am considered high-risk for breast cancer because a) my grandmother had it late in life, and b) I am 36 and have not given birth.

I got pregnant on the fifth try, and as I miscarried, I comforted myself with the thought, hey, I got pregnant pretty quickly, so I shouldn't have trouble getting pregnant again. Eleven tries later, I'm getting a mammogram. This cycle is my last IUI before moving to IVF. (I have incredible insurance coverage for IVF, so the decision to take that path is much easier.)

I have a lot of hope for my 17th try -- despite being a very rational person I have a strange superstitious streak when it comes to this stuff. Seventeen is a lucky number for me, and I really don't want to do IVF. First, I know I can get pregnant without it, and second, I'm worried about scheduling all of the shots, appointments, egg retrieval around my very busy job, as my bosses and most colleages doesn't know about the bun project. Furthermore, many of my friends who've done IVF have ended up with twins; that's not my first choice. So here goes number 17: this time with Femara, acupuncture, and now, yoga.

As the months have passed my brief pregnancy has felt like a dream, a fluke. I'd give so much to know and harness whatever magic was in the air on March 9, 2006, when two different ovulation predictor kits couldn't agree on whether I was ovulating, when an ultrasound showed imminent ovulation, and when a single IUI, performed apparently at the exact right time, knocked me up.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

What I've tried

Here's a partial list of the things I've done to get pregnant:

- 12 non-medicated cycles of IUIs
- 1 cycle taking 100 mg of Clomid
- 1 cycle taking 100 mg of Clomid with an estrogen patch
- 1 cycle taking 50 mg of Clomid
- 1 cycle taking Femara
- 1 hysterosalpingogram. That's the delightful x-ray where you lie half-naked on a table in the hospital's radiology department, with your legs spread so far apart you have a whole new understanding of your hip flexors. Then it gets better: a radiologist squirts dye into your uterus, and everyone in the room watches the monitors to see if the dye behaves as it should and moves through the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. (It does.) The idea is that it both identifies any blockages in your tubes and also clears them out. I have (what turns out to be futile) faith in this procedure, as I was conceived after my mother had one.
- Several cycles with Acupuncturist #1 and three with Acupuncturist #2
- Used a mail-ordered speculum to monitor my cervical opening
- Tried three different sperm donors
- Rolled my body onto one side after an IUI when I knew which ovary had the golden egg
- Taken my temperature nearly every day for almost two years
- Tried to radically reduce the amount of sugar I eat, with limited success
- Taken Chinese herbs
- Taken up yoga
- Had tests to measure my FSH, LH, progesterone, and antral follicle levels (all fine).
- Avoided: hot tubs, wine, massage, running, abdominal work-outs, lifting heavy things.

It's funny how much more relaxed -- in a limited way -- I've gotten over time. It's 12 days after ovulation, and in the past I would have chastely turned down a margarita in the two-week wait. Lately, though, my attitude has been, I'll have the pinot noir. My alcohol tolerance is pathetic, so it's not as if I'm pounding shots. But I like wine, and I'm no longer interested in denying myself something that I don't believe will really make a difference. If I find out I'm pregnant, I'll stop drinking, and only then.

This cycle I didn't take any drugs and have been seeing Acupuncturist #1. I've decided I've got one more IUI cycle in me (next time with Femara again) before moving to IVF. Here's hoping I don't have to.