Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Taking care of the girls

I don't remember my breasts ever getting so big in a pregnancy. I'm six weeks today, and they feel like they're taking over the planet.

After losing a lot of weight years ago, I went to the Town Shop while in New York and had the bra queen measure me. After telling me that my current brassiere was a disaster, she got quite friendly and then declared me a 34D. For perspective: A few years earlier I'd worn a 42C -- perhaps misguidedly -- and arrived in the store wearing a 36C. And while I may normally be a 34D, I don't look particularly stacked.

With my bras feeling a little tight -- last week, a sports bra that closes with a zipper literally burst open while I was taking a walk, which was delightful -- last night I hauled out the measuring tape and pulled up a few Web sites to find out what I should be wearing. At Victoria's Secret, I'm a 38A; at, I'm a 34DDD.

WTF? Do I have to go back to the Upper West Side to get the real story?

PS If you've carried a pregnancy to term -- or even if you've had a pregnancy last longer than 8 weeks -- did your breasts ever stop being so sore?

Monday, October 29, 2007


Last night I dreamt a (nonexistent) co-worker found out I had done IVF and was gossiping about it with other colleagues. In the dream I ripped into her, asking her why it was her business to disclose my medical condition to others. I was really pissed off.

I have a complicated relationship with information. As I've mentioned in the past, I'm an information junkie. At the same time, I'm quite private about this whole TTC thing -- there are two people in my large, close-knit office who know about the bun project and IVF, and one knows I'm pregnant. I like to assume that the many, many others have no idea.

As IVF began to take over my life (and, more importantly, my brain) recently, I told a few friends about it. At a bris for a friend's newborns the night of my egg retrieval, I told a few friends not normally in the loop what I'd been doing earlier that day. (I partly felt I needed to explain why I didn't want to spend a lot of time standing up.)

Two weeks later, to the day, one of them emailed to "see how I was doing." Of course she wanted to know if IVF had worked. Since this friend and her partner tried for years to get pregnant, eventually succeeding with IVF, I was surprised she even went there, but she did. I ignored the email.

Another close male friend has called several times lately to check in, and asked how IVF was going. Since we've exchanged voicemail and email for the past week or two, it's been easy to ignore this as well. But finally, this morning, freshly awake from my screaming-at-the-co-worker dream, I wrote him an email and said, among other things, "Thanks for asking about IVF. I don't have any news to report, but if I do, I'll let you know."

I know: I can't have it both ways. If I opt to open up to people, I'm allowing for the possibility that two weeks later, they'll ask a question and expect an honest answer. But for me, two miscarriages and three embryos down and no children in tow, "no news to report" is an honest answer. It may be months before I have any news. I'm the publicity director of this project, and I'll schedule my press conference when I'm good and ready.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Small steps

It's a cliche that you can't be a little pregnant. But, as Julie has written eloquently, actually being "a little pregnant" is totally realistic. I'm in my third pregnancy and have no children. At least five embryos have seen the inside of my uterus; at least four have implanted. If I'd stayed pregnant the first time, my kid would be 10 months old; if I'd stayed pregnant the second time, I'd be something like 34 weeks along with identical twin boys.

Some women, upon seeing two pink lines on a stick, immediately head to the babies emporium and stock up on maternity wear. They send out mass emails announcing that their baby is due eight months later. They tell their bosses. At the risk of sounding like a complete asshole, when I hear about those people, I sigh and think, good God, they have no idea. I've never bought myself anything baby-related. I refused to go to a prenatal yoga class last time, wanting to wait until I saw a good heartbeat. (I never did.) I go to the dentist while pregnant and hope it doesn't come up.

I am treating this pregnancy as if I were unemployed and saw an ad for my dream job. I've submitted my resume, and secured a first interview, but I'm miles away from getting an offer and signing up for benefits and putting my feet up on my new desk.

The big interview is Monday, November 5. My third seven-week viability check. Sure would be nice if they invite me back this time around.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Second beta is back

The first was 828, at 16 days past retrieval.

Today, at 19 days past retrieval, it was 3,079.

The nurse said that's in the range for twins.

Say it with me: "holy crap!"

Friday, October 19, 2007

First beta is back

It's 828.

That seems high and great and everything, but last time I was pregnant, it was 520 at 16 days past ovulation, and it tripled in two days, and I still miscarried.

Next test is on Monday.

On the plus side, I definitely feel pregnant.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


So I succumbed to temptation

and took the test. (It's 2:30 am. I said the Serenity Prayer first.)

Two pink lines.

Please, please, PLEASE let whatever's in there last for the next 9 months.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Oy, the temptation, part 2

Six and a half months ago, another two week wait was ending. On the Monday morning my period was due to arrive, I woke up at 2 am needing to pee. I had been on edge all weekend, cranky as hell. In the middle of the night, as I looked at the clock, I thought: am I ready to take a test? Because, I said to myself, if it is negative, that means you are going to do IVF. Are you ready for that information?

I was ready to end the suspense, so did my duty. And saw two pink lines.

Today I'm in the same situation. My blood test isn't until Friday, which, I learned today, is quite a bit later than it would be at some other clinics (one popular one in town has patients get their blood tests two weeks after the retrieval; mine does it two weeks after the transfer, which adds three entire days).

At this point, a test should be pretty accurate. Last week I took one to ensure the trigger shot was out of my system. A positive last week wouldn't have meant a positive; it might have meant the trigger was still hanging around. A negative meant that a future positive would be meaningful. It was negative, so a test now would be the real deal.

Not knowing is driving me nuts. Last night I woke up, needing to pee, and considered taking a test. But I didn't have the nerve. And now I'm pondering taking one tomorrow. The question is, what's weighing on me more? My desire to know, regardless of the answer, or my desire to not have my hopes for my first IVF cycle be quashed?

I am an information junkie. I am overly cerebral and logical and analytical. I am so Type A. So it's pretty uncharacteristic that I would fear information, but that's kind of what it is: I'm nervous about it, but I want to do it. If someone could do the test for me, without me knowing, and only tell me if it was positive, I'd be in heaven.

Wednesday is my birthday, and I don't want to get a negative test then. So either I take a test tomorrow morning, or I wait until Thursday. What would you do?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Oy, the temptation: a dialogue

Aspiring Baker: "I can't figure out when to test, but I don't think I'm going to last that long."
AB's smart partner: "What about Wednesday?"
AB: "I don't want to get a negative on my birthday."
ABSP: "What about Thursday?"
AB: "I'm not sure I can wait that long."
ABSP: "Well, if you test sooner, isn't it possible you'll get a false negative?"
AB: "Yes, but then I'll know."
ABSP: "Well, if you get a negative, you'll just be on an emotional rollercoaster that you don't need."
AB, contritely: "True."
ABSP: "What about testing Thursday?"
AB: "Yeah, that might be a good idea."

[Background: Blood test is Friday, which will be 13 days past transfer and 16 days past retrieval. Tomorrow I'll be 9 days past the 3 day transfer. Symptoms: impossible to distinguish among the effects of the progesterone, estrogen, and usual two-week wait paranoia.]

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Open letter to Pope Benedict

Dear Pope Benedict,

Thanks for your recent comments that embryos should not be used for stem cell research, because doing so "violates the sanctity of human life."

Now, I realize you don't speak for me -- I'm a Jew, and we believe human life begins at birth. Still: On Saturday I made the decision of what to do with 11 embryos created in a lab with my eggs and a stranger's sperm. Those embryos were of varying qualities. Two went into my uterus, and remaining nine stayed in the petri dish. Why? Because despite your beliefs to the contrary, these embryos were not, really, human life. They wouldn't have survived in my uterus, and they never would have become children.

But they're not without potential. You see, Pope Benedict, I am participating in a stem cell research study, and my remaining embryos have been donated to science. I could not be more convinced that this is the right thing to do -- particularly because someone I love dearly has Parkinson's Disease, an illness that could someday be cured with therapies developed from embryonic stem cells.

If I'd transferred those embryos to my uterus, they would have died. I could have had the lab toss them in the trash. But instead I think they're doing more for human life in their current capacity than they could have in any other circumstance.

The embryos that had the potential for human life (note: potential) are dear to me; I am crossing my fingers that I get to meet one or both of them some day. I wish more of the others had more baby-making potential. But they didn't, and I am thrilled to be participating in the stem cell study.

The practice of doing research on stem cells was severely curtailed in the US by President Bush in 2001, when he banned the use of Federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. This, despite widespread public support for the practice. Pope, I can only hope that my incompetent, lame-duck government doesn't try to implement your religious viewpoints any more than it already has.

I pray for the embryos in my uterus and for the ones in petri dishes everywhere, in the hopes that all of them can make dreams of all varieties come true.

Aspiring Baker

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Now with 200 percent more embryos!

Had the transfer today. Of the 23 eggs that retrieved, 11 fertilized, and only 2 produced embryos worth transferring. That's quite disappointing, given that everyone seemed certain we'd have something to freeze. The remaining 9 embryos were pretty poor quality, and the clinic didn't think it was worth it to try to grow them some more and freeze them. (She seemed to think that while my ovaries are producing large quantities of eggs, apparently the quality is not so good.)

That left us with two embryos. The clinic grades them on a scale from 1 to 6, 1 being the best and 6 being the worst. It's rare to have a grade-1 embryo, but we had one, and the other one was rated a 2. The doctor felt these were very good and recommended transferring both. She thought the pregnancy rate might be 50 percent with two, and that we'd have a 25 percent chance of getting pregnant with twins (or: 50 percent chance if I got pregnant). The rate for transferring one, of course, was lower. We agonized, given our fear of twins, but in the end decided that two was the best choice. It wouldn't have been worth it to freeze the grade-2 embryo, and I couldn't see going through that whole process to end up with just one embryo.

So, cross your fingers that this whole adventure ends in a healthy pregnancy -- preferably a singleton pregnancy. We'll know if it worked in about two weeks.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

48 percent

That's the portion of my 23 eggs that fertilized. That's 11 embryos, for the kids in the back of the class. Of the 23 eggs retrieved, 10 were not mature, and 2 fertilized abnormally, leaving just less than half of those puppies left to divide in the comfort of a warm petri dish across town.

The transfer is scheduled for Saturday. If you're reading this, please cross your fingers that some of those 11 embryos are still in good shape then.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The eggs have left the building

Had my egg retrieval today. All seemed fine -- they got 23 eggs. I'll find out tomorrow how many fertilized and what they're looking like. The transfer should be this weekend.