11 Months

Every day I drive to work across Flint River bridge
A hundred yards from the spot where me and grandpa fished
There’s a piece of his old fruit stand on the side of Sawmill Road
He’d be there peelin’ peaches if it was twenty years ago
And what I wouldn’t give
To ride around in that old truck with him


11 Months to the day and almost to the hour ago we were driving across this bridge listening to the Serial Podcast while heading home from the beach when my phone rang. I almost didn’t answer it when I saw it was my Dad. The Podcast was getting very interesting and we were seconds from heading into the tunnel taking us deep below the water that surrounded us.

I had literally just remarked to Paul that the water “looked angry”. White caps dotted the surface and visible waves crashed against the shoreline that just a week earlier had looked inviting.

“Mag, I’m so sorry. Your Mom, she’s gone.” to which I replied with the only thing that came to mind, “what?”

The tunnel that previous gave me such anxiety to enter was rapidly approaching and as always in a stressful or emergent situation, I went into hyper-planning mode. Who is there with you? Where is Tori (my sister)? I will call someone to come wait with you… and the signal disappeared as the whirlwind of grief settled in.

I’ve always been one to remember places, times, and dates. Where I was, who I was with, even what I was wearing when major events happened. This brings me both comfort and increased anxiety to see or do somethings now as an adult.

I knew that I would be crossing that same bridge today for the first time since my Mom passed away. I slept restlessly and had a bad dreams and as we passed the road sign that read “LAST EXIT BEFORE TUNNEL” I did my best to turn my head and try not to cry. As the radio signal returned as we resurfaced I recognized immediately the song that was playing. It is one that has brought me to tears dozens of times since that horrible day last September.

If heaven wasn’t so far away
I’d pack up the kids and go for the day
Introduce them to their grandpa
Watch ’em laugh at the way he talks
I’d find my long lost cousin John
The one we left back in Vietnam
Show him a picture of his daughter now
She’s a doctor and he’d be proud
Then tell him we’d be back in a couple of days
In the rear view mirror we’d all watch ’em wave
Yeah, and losing them wouldn’t be so hard to take
If heaven wasn’t so far away

I used to think to myself that it was ironic when something would remind me of my Mom at just the right moment, exactly when I needed it. But what if it is something more?

Maybe Heaven isn’t so far away, maybe we just need to listen more with our hearts.

 

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P4P Upcycle Tutorial

I’ve been wanting to see if upcycling some of the MANY t-shirts we have in this house into workout, lounge, sleep tanks was a real possibility. So, I finally tried. I had mixed results but I learned a few things and I see a lot of upcycling in my future!

I started with this size 2X tee shirt which was ready for Goodwill and the pattern for the P4P (Patterns for Pirates) Essential Tank.


I cut off the neck band, shoulder seam, and sleeves keeping the bottom hem and sides in tact.


I cut the sleeves open (for the next one I will cut the shorter seam)


I knew I needed more length so I sewed the sleeves to the shoulder seam (next time I will use one sleeve for this and one sleeve to extend the center back.


I then laid my pattern on the existing shirt, serged the currently open arm holes (which made it tight across the bust – another note for next time!), and sewed the shoulder seam.

VOILA!


I am not planning to finish the neck and arm holes but rather will let them roll on their own with washing. If I planned to wear this out for any real reason I would go ahead and finish them per the directions on the pattern.

Honestly, I’m impressed with myself. This is the second clothing item I’ve ever made. Next up are underoos for the little guy!

 

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I just can’t

Adobe Spark (17)

It’s been a week since we found out our third IVF cycle was very likely a failure. In those 7 days I’ve discovered I just can’t:

  • adequately put into words how disappointing failure is
  • hold on to the anger and disappointment
  • fathom the ultimate financial impact
  • regret that we tried
  • give up on our dreams

We had our follow up with Dr. Kiltz on Saturday and he clarified some of what went wrong with our cycle. We did in fact have one egg fertilize abnormally. It was what is known as a polyploid. Meaning there is some form of chromosomal issue with the fertilization but they normally watch those until blastocyst stage and if they become a blastocyst then they will transfer them (and have had success in doing so). Unfortunately, our polyploid arrested (stopped growing) by Monday morning. He was unable to explain why the rest of the eggs did not fertilize but suspects that the lack of motility made it difficult to determine which sperm are “healthy”. He still said that the outcome of our cycle is abnormal especially given our history and that he would like to make some changes before we try again.

He is going to prescribe both Clomid and HCG for Paul to hopefully increase his sperm count and motility. I have asked 5 doctors to do this (1st primary care, 1st urologist, 1st RE [Dr. Garde at Shady Grove], current primary, Dr. Grossman at our consult) and the only one open to it was our current primary care Dr. King but she wanted additional information on it because she is not well versed in male infertility. It was the first thing that Dr. Kiltz mentioned. He would also like Paul to switch to a ketogenic or Paleo diet. I objected because of his major gout issues but Dr. Kiltz said that a very large part of inflammation disorders like gout are caused by the American diet. After some research, Paul has agreed to try it when we get back from vacation.

As for me, he wants to change very little. He is encouraging a 30 day prime before we cycle – including both estrogen and HGH (human growth hormone). The hope with a priming cycle is to encourage more even follicular growth which will hopefully increase the number of mature eggs in cycle #4. He also wants me to go back on the Keto diet but expects to keep my dosages of everything else the same for the next cycle.

Adobe Spark (15)

I guess we are crazy, or stupid, or blinded by desire but we are going to try again. We need to give the meds 60-90 days to make a difference for Paul so we will likely try again in the December timeframe. This also gives us about 3 months to figure out the financials because we very quickly spent what we had saved up on IVF #3.

I just can’t give up.

 

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Can’t Focus

warning-offensive-language-t-shirt

I have to write this because it is a work day and I cannot focus. I have to put on paper how upset I am at the fact that insurance covers nothing and this was a ridiculous financial mistake. We spent so much money on HOPE it’s fucking ridiculous.

I just discovered what the monitoring cost us and I’m crushed again. I cannot even fathom how we could try again, ever. $3600 in ultrasounds… $600 a piece.

Here is the rough financial breakdown for this cycle:

  • $3900 to CNY for IVF procedure
  • $4000 in cycle meds
  • $3600 for ultrasounds
  • $240 in GYN co-pays
  • $90 in blood work
  • $100 Intralipid infusion
  • $640 in hotels
  • $150 in gas
  • $290 for flight for Paul

$13,000 and not a damn thing to show for it. I never should have let my desire for another child cloud my sensible judgment. I’m feeling like such an idiot right now I cannot even put it in words. I am so disappointed in myself… if I would have just given up and given in the money we spent could have paid for year of college for Deuce in 16 years. I’m so sorry, Son, your Mom wasted a year of college tuition on her own selfish desire. Trips to Disney for the next 4 years that we won’t be able take. I’m sure there will be a ripple effect in our household as I pay bills for the next several months and my anxiety and sadness rises again. I’m sorry I’m so sad Son, I just know you’d be the best big brother. I know how much you love babies and I wanted you to always have a playmate and best friend.

And as for you, infertility… a big fuck you. Fuck you for making me feel worthless, guilty, and ashamed. Fuck you for the physical and emotional pain. Fuck you for the time wasted hoping and planning when I should have been playing and enjoying life with our one miracle. Fuck you for leaving me in a heap of tears month after month. Fuck you for not letting us be one of the “lucky” ones who goes on to conceive after finding IVF success. Fuck you for even existing. Fuck you on behalf of millions of couples.

So much time and money wasted. I think I’ll go throw up now.

 

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Reflection on the last 24 hours

Written with talk to text
It is hard to describe how I’m feeling without crying. I know that I am blessed to have our son, and I think God for him every day. However, I really, really wanted to expand our family. When the opportunity to do so presented itself I thought that I was dreaming in a sense. To finally know that my dreams could come true again. Yesterday my husband called me an optimist. I don’t think of myself that way, but rather I’m not sure I have to opportunity to think negative about everything. 

I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. Both figuratively and literally. I’m still having some cramping from the procedure and I’m sore. Now I have to carry a significant amount of emotional weight. 

I never imagined that I would be leaving New York with an empty room. It never crossed my mind that we would not make it to transfer. I had prepared myself for the possibility that the cycle wouldn’t work or even worse but I would miscarry again. It literally took my breath away to think that we went through more than a month of preparation and thousands of dollars for nothing. Literally nothing.

There was no option to create life, there were no embryos to freeze, we never even got to the discussion of how many to transfer. I was anxious to make some decisions on my own, concerned that I might not pick what was best for us as a family. Now none of that matters.

The moment they told me something was wrong my heart sank I haven’t been able to pick it up. Even today my voice sounds hoarse and my eyes hurt. I’ve never felt so tired before.

I’m also back to constantly thinking about how unfair life can be. Yes, I am having a pity party for myself. I don’t plan to hold it for very long, but for now I need to go through the various stages of grief. I felt so confident that this cycle is going to work. I thought numerous times about my mom and how she asked me to continue to grow our family even after she was gone. I thought that she might be up there in heaven helping pick out the little one would become our second born. I thought that by the time the anniversary of her death rolled around, my family would be celebrating new life. 

I just really don’t know what to do. Nine hours alone, in the car, with just my thoughts have it made me feel any more optimistic about the future. I wish it weren’t so time, emotionally, and financially prohibitive to jump in and try again.

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Egg Retrieval Day I

Look. I wanted to write this great blog about our day and give you all the run down but I’m going to be honest, I’m really bummed out. I have tried to stay positive throughout this process but it fucking sucks sometimes. Why does it suck today?

Well, first, in case you didn’t read my post about the process I was put under anesthesia today while a doctor used an internal ultrasound and needle to go through my vaginal wall and aspirate the follicles I had. Yay – repeatedly jamming a rather large needle through the sides of my vagina and poking around swollen ovaries, it sounds like so much fun, right? I woke up groggy, bleeding, and cramping and have spent the majority of the day in our hotel bed with a heating pad across my abdomen, dozing off and on.


Second, we had some bad news before the procedure even started. Paul gave his sample and had 0 motility. Basically, although we use a process that injects a single sperm into a mature egg they want to see some sperm moving around.

He had none.

They sent him back to the hotel to try to collect again while I was given consent forms to freeze whatever eggs they were able to get… and told that only half typically survive the thaw. They said they will try to fertilize them with a second sample, but may just go straight to freeze.

Third, we got 6 eggs.

Yes… that sounds awesome if you’ve never done IVF… but it’s not. Usually about half are mature but of course I’ve never had half… usually more like 30%. So then we are down to 2 (assuming my IVF track record continues). About half will fertilize normally, and half of those will survive to day 3, and half of those make it to day 5.

Did you follow all that? 6 eggs, estimated 2-3 to be mature, 1-2 will fertilize normally, 0.5-1 make it to day 3, and 0.25-0.5 make it to day 5 (when they like to transfer)… then 35% of those result in pregnancy for someone my age.

I did all this for an 8.75-17.5% chance of pregnancy.

Hopefully tomorrow brings better news – but for now, if you want me… I’m pouting in a hotel room in Albany with a crampy uterus, an inability to poop, and a shitty attitude. Probably crying in the shower because I don’t want my husband to know how much this all sucks and because he has been so good to me today.

oh, and please don’t tell me “you just need 1” or “8% is better than your 0% chances on your own”. Even at a cheaper clinic this process is still expensive as hell, crazy time consuming, emotionally draining, and isolating… yes, isolating. I have tons of friends that are thinking of us and wishing us the best but I feel like no one can understand what it feels like to be this disappointed after having so much hope.

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Selective Memory

I’m uncomfortable.

I try not to complain but it is obvious as I sit in the recliner for 2 hours with a heating pad on my stomach. It feels like a bad period except it is constant. A continual ache in my lower abdomen and a fullness that causes periodic waves of nausea.

It wasn’t like this before, was it?

I don’t say anything about the discomfort until bedtime. I’m blindly rooting around in the bottom drawer of the nightstand for the industrial sized bottle of Tylenol. Then I head for the medicine cabinet and take an Ambien.

“This is the part you don’t remember” Paul says.

He’s not angry, just honest… and right. I don’t remember this part. I remember the injections, and the fear, and all the numbers of the two cycles before… but 4 years have passed and I’ve got IVF Amnesia. I tried to convince him that he could leave immediately after retrieval to head home and that I would drive home a couple days later once our baby was safely deposited within my womb.

“I want to be there for you” he tells me, “I don’t want you driving home alone”.

I want him there too – that is a major downside to doing IVF far enough away that he can’t just come up for the day, but not too far away to require us to make it a vacation. I forgot about the emotional roller coaster that the last few days of stims are. It is tough to be excited, positive, and patient all at the same time when you constantly feel like you have to poop badly and someone is sitting on your stomach.

It’s almost time, I know that… and I don’t want to rush it because I want the eggs to be perfectly ripe and plentiful. I have my own internal tortoise and hare going on, my mind is rushing forward like the hare but my ovaries are moving tortoise speed.

Good things come to those who wait. Patience Grasshopper.

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