Everything can wait.

So our train is still stopped…next stop TBD.

After speaking with our physician that Friday he told me test results should be in by 3/16 (I was shocked because last cycle PGD took 6 weeks, but he assured me in the past 12 months science and testing has really advanced…the nurse in me is impressed and fascinated by the rapid development, the infertile IVF patient in me just wants my results). The 16th came and went without any phone call…so I left my nurse at the center a voicemail early Friday morning (the 17th) as Dan and I drove to the airport for a weekend out of town visiting family…I told her we would be flying until noon, but if she had results to please leave a voicemail. No sooner had we landed and I turned my phone off airplane mode (I was still buckled) did my phone start buzzing and my stomach dropped…this was too punctual. My nurse (who either really likes me or is convinced I’m teetering on totally losing my mind) exclaimed she had been watching her clock ready to call me at noon so I wasn’t spending a moment of my vacation being stressed…there were no results yet and there wouldn’t be any until at least Tuesday 3/21. She told me to enjoy my time away and we’d talk as soon as she had more information for me.

So Dan and I tried to enjoy our weekend in Virginia. We spent four days visiting with his brother and sister-in-law and their two children (ages 2 and 2 months) and if anything could distract us from our infertility it’s our niece and nephew. It used to bother me, being around children when we could not have any (and yes spending our Saturday afternoon at a children’s museum did make my heart ache a little), but like everything lately…I felt different. I was able to compartmentalize a little better: yes it sucks I do not have a child, if we hadn’t miscarried, our Warrior would be 2 months older than our niece- the pain in that is not lost on me, and it probably never will be. (I doubt there will be a time when I look at her and don’t think about the child I could have). But there is no Warrior…there is a beautiful, healthy, happy niece. I can rock her in my arms, I can buy her adorable jumpers, I can feel overwhelming gratitude her parents asked Dan and I to be her godparents…and I can feel happy. I can feel happy that she exists while also feeling sad that our Warrior doesn’t…and one of those emotions doesn’t belittle the other. It’s okay to be both. It’s possible to spend my evenings falling more in love with Dan as he does bath time with our nephew, while spending my nights wide awake wondering what will become of our 3 embryos and their tiny DNA. There’s room in my heart and my head for all of it. Our 4 days away was exactly what Dan and I needed…a chance to just be Uncle Dan and Aunt Meghan (occasionally called Aunt Bacon…which I hope is because he loves me as much as he loves bacon and not because he thinks of me as a pig) and not infertile, childless SMA-carriers.

I’ll be honest though, I never really relaxed during our 4 days away. Every time my phone buzzed I felt my heart rate speed up. Any moment of downtime I started thinking about how insane it all feels…here I am sitting on a bench in Mount Vernon with my husband, while our embryos sit frozen in Connecticut and their future is being decided by a lab tech analyzing their DNA in New Jersey… It’s almost morbid to think those little cells may someday turn into little babies who sit on my lap on the same bench in Mount Vernon…or they may just be little cells that end up in a medical waste bin…and I have no control over that. (Okay that last comment wasn’t almost morbid, it was morbid…but as I said to Dan multiple times over the past 2 weeks when I’ve broken down in tears…I keep falling down the rabbit hole of what could be…and Wonderland is not all singing flowers and tea parties).

Anyway, I went back to work Tuesday and left my cell phone sitting on my computer waiting for a phone call…it never came. I repeated the same cycle on Wednesday. Finally, Thursday I called our fertility center and left my nurse a voicemail which she promptly returned  apologizing but saying the lab actually needed more time because of our ‘single gene mutation’ testing (also known as that little monster SMA)…long story short: we’re  still waiting.

So now, like I said, we keep the train stopped and we wait. The good thing is we have destinations in mind….we either have a healthy embryo, meet with our physician April 10th, schedule a hysteroscopy, and attempt a transfer…or we don’t have a healthy embryo, meet with our physician April 10th and prepare for Cycle 3. (Dan and I both agreed we’ll do a 3rd cycle of IVF if necessary, neither of us are ready to jump trains altogether). Until then, I’m doing everything in my power to keep myself busy these next couple of weeks. I’ve packed my schedule with overtime at work, lunch with friends, phone dates with my older sister where we spend an hour discussing our favorite TV shows and date nights with Dan. I have a closet of art supplies and a Pinterest page of DIY projects waiting for me. I’m book swapping with a girlfriend (because we’re both living our best nerd lives these days) so I’ll have 3 new books to occupy me. I’m not naïve enough to believe any of these things will prevent me from stressing about our results, but they’ll give me momentary reprieves and that is all I can really ask for these days. I don’t know how to describe how I’m feeling lately…I’m not as overwhelmingly sad and disappointed as I was last week, but I’m nowhere near as positive and optimistic as I was 3 weeks ago. My aunt e-mailed me last week after reading my blog and encouraged me to take a step back (her words: wait for a heartbeat before throwing yourself wholeheartedly into baby planning…everything can wait). And she’s right…everything can wait….so we’ll wait…I’ll let you know when the train starts moving again.

WordsWednesday

“Let’s not look for silver linings, or send our wishes to the stars.

For there is danger in our pining, and we are safer where we are.” –L. Leav

 

Update: still waiting on the results of our 3 embryos. Had a 45 minute phone conversation with our physician last Friday…as always, there are more questions than answers. Our fertility center is associated with a school of medicine and my chart is currently being reviewed by their head of embryology to see if they have any insight as to why so many failed. If any of our embryos are healthy my physician told me he is not comfortable transferring until I have a hysteroscopy…so I have that to look forward to… OR…if we do not have any healthy embryos my physician wants to change our stim cycle protocol (these past 2 cycles we’ve trigger with Lupron, he would switch to an HCG trigger)…I try to focus on being thankful that we have options, (no one is saying give up, no one is saying we cannot have a baby) but these past couple of days have been difficult. One upside, the author of the quote above is someone I follow on Instagram and she posted this particular poem this morning…it’s always encouraging when I read something that speaks to my soul, as if I’m not the only person in the world who feels the way I feel right now. I’ll take the tiny wins these days my friends.

3.

I hate to stop the train before we’ve reached our destination, but this positivity train I’m on is taking a route I didn’t want to travel and I’m not sure I feel like riding it to the end of the tracks…I’m starting to think this train is traveling somewhere I do not want to visit.

Translation: things are not going the way I had hoped for.

See, yesterday I was at work chatting happily with a co-worker who goes to the same fertility center as me. She is currently pregnant after her second attempt with IUI and though our roads to fertility treatments have been very different she’s been a real ally through this process. When she told me she was pregnant there wasn’t even an ounce of jealousy on my end (you know that little green monster who pops up every time you find out someone is pregnant when you’re still not…) I was just genuinely happy for her. So yesterday, she was basically keeping me entertained (and my mind occupied) as I waited for the phone call from our center telling me how many samples would be sent for PGS/PGD testing. My phone was on the computer in front of me when I realized I had a missed call from our center “shit!” I yelled and we both hurried into the back room to listen to the voicemail. I listened once and then looked at her and said “this can’t be right…let me listen again…” but I had heard correctly…embryo count: three. Three samples being sent for PGD/PGS testing… if you’re keeping track that’s 3 out of 19…that’s 16 lost…16 that failed to develop. I looked at my kind, thoughtful, pregnant friend with tears in my eyes (and hers too) and just felt this overwhelming sense that my positivity train had been hijacked.

Ever since the miscarriage I’ve taken to describing myself as an optimistic realist. The miscarriage did not take away my hope, but it forced me to recognize that nothing is guaranteed. I still trusted in the science of IVF and PGD, I still respected the medical expertise of our physician, I still believed Dan and I would be parents, I still hoped that child would be genetically ours…but I understood science and medical expertise and beliefs…they don’t give you a baby. So I’ve been cautious. I’ve imagined life with a baby, but haven’t allowed myself to become fully invested in planning for that life. I built a safety net around myself. Optimistic…but realistic. It’s worked for me.

But then last week we heard 19…19 was more than we could have imagined. 19 was a phenomenal number. First cycle we had 13 and 9 failed to develop (which they said was a pretty high number) so naively Dan and I assumed if this cycle we had 19, worst case scenario is 9 fail to develop…that’s TEN for PGD/PGS testing. 10 is an amazing number. 10, well, 10 basically promised healthy embryos.

So I allowed myself to not just dream…I allowed myself to plan. I went back to my ever optimistic old habits. Dan and I discussed names…plural. I started looking at strollers and cribs again. I planned a pregnancy announcement. I even came up with a way to surprise Dan with the number of healthy embryos I imagined they would call with after PGD/PGS…I actually was telling my kind work friend said plan yesterday…probably while our center was leaving the message about 3. I discussed with my sister how to ensure our children we’re best friends even though we live states apart. I saw our future…a future with babies…and I believed in it. I trusted in it. I felt, for the first time in a long time, this happy, child filled future was promised.

And I really wish someone had reminded me to be realistic. I really wish someone had reminded me I’m not the conductor of this train. I really wish I had remembered that nothing is ever promised.

So now we wait. The nurse told me yesterday our physician had written a note in my chart that he planned on calling me today to discuss how we should proceed. I’m not sure what that means. I do not know if he has a scientific explanation for why so many failed to develop. I do not know if he is concerned about the quality of these remaining 3 embryos. I do not know if he also remembers that last time we had 4 embryos and 3 were not healthy. I don’t know why he’s calling…but I’ll find out soon enough.

And then we’ll wait some more. We’ll wait for PGD/PGS to be completed. We’ll wait to see if any of these 3 embryos are healthy. We’ll wait to see if in a month we can attempt a transfer.

But I won’t dream or plan while we wait. I won’t think about babies…or being pregnant…or even having an embryo to transfer. I won’t be hopeful or optimistic or positive. I’ll just wait. I think the safest thing I can do for my heart and my mind is to just stop the train. We don’t know where we’re going anymore. And I think instead of packing and planning for a place we might never get to…we’ll just wait in the place we’re in right now. We’re safe here…so I think it’s best if we don’t move.

WordsWednesday

“I want it, too, the impossible lighter-side book. I will always be a woman whose first child died, and I won’t give up either that grievance or the bad jokes of everyday life. I will hold on to both forever. I want a book that acknowledges that life goes on but that death goes on, too, that a person who is dead is a long, long story. You move on from it, but the death will never disappear from view.” –E. McCracken

*Finished reading the incredible memoir this quote is from (An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination). It was so profoundly moving I cannot even find the words to describe it. All I can say is: read it, read it, read it.

 

*Update: Of my 23 eggs, 19 fertilized (sign from universe: the handsome husband and I shared our first kiss on my 19th birthday). We should know by tomorrow how many of the 19 developed far enough for DNA extraction for PGD/PGS. Positivity train still chugging along… CHOO CHOOOOO.

 

 

23.

Well we’re officially done with stimming cycle 2. It was definitely easier this time around, which is surprising because I was on a much more aggressive medication plan and my body responded significantly better (higher follicle count), but I felt better. The first time around I was so scared, every ache or pain felt as if something was wrong, I questioned every result. This time I just kind of gave in to the process (okay, not completely I did question my doctors decision to trigger me a day earlier than I wanted), but for the most part…I let it be. I kept saying to Dan “It will either work well, or it won’t. There is not much more we can do.” I guess like most things IVF is something you become better at if you have to do it more than once.

So yesterday I went in for my egg retrieval. At my ultrasound on Tuesday there were 16 measurable follicles in the right ovary and 13 in the left ovary so we were optimistic about a good number of mature eggs. When I woke up from anesthesia (quite poorly might I add, I was crying for some unknown reason) the nurse informed me they had retrieved 23 mature eggs. 23…do I have any connection to the number 23 I wondered and in my anesthesia haze I turned to Dan and said “I always liked the Jimmy Eat World song 23” he laughed at me and replied something along the lines of “good sign”-Dan’s used to me making connections like this- it’s kind of m.o. I’m always looking for signs from the universe. So a connection to a song I’ve liked since I was a teenager and watched too much One Tree Hill (I was more team Brooke, but Peyton did have excellent taste in music)…positive sign.

We’ll be happy with 23, we’ll be thankful for 23, we’ll even celebrate 23. Of course, we’re realistic, we know 23 eggs does not mean multiple (or any embryos). We know that yesterday’s number was just the first number we received. Today they will call with the number of eggs that fertilized. Next week they will call with the number of embryos that make it to day 5 for DNA extraction.6 weeks from now they’ll call to tell us how many of those embryos are healthy. 23 is just the start….but it’s a damn good start. And we’ll take it.

WordsWednesday

 

“I want to say somewhere: I’ve tried to be forgiving. And yet. There were times in my life, whole years, when anger got the better of me. Ugliness turned me inside out. There was a certain satisfaction in bitterness. I courted it. It was standing outside, and I invited it in. I scowled at the world. And the whole world scowled back. We were locked in a state of mutual disgust….And then one day I realized I was on my way to being the sort of schmuck who poisons pigeons. People crossed the street to avoid me. I was a human cancer. And to be honest: I wasn’t really angry. Not anymore. I had left my anger somewhere long ago. Put it down on a park bench and walked away. And yet. It had been so long, I didn’t know any other way of being. One day I woke up and said to myself: it’s not too late.” –N. Krauss

Note: currently reading ‘The History of Love’ that this quote is from and it’s amazing. I’m only about 50 pages in, but last night after I finished reading page 13 I looked up at my husband and announced “This book is going to devastate me.” I ordered a few books from Amazon for our cycle-I find the time waiting for blood work, ultrasounds and phone calls goes a lot faster if I’m reading. I started with this book and I also have ‘An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination’ by E. McCracken and ‘the curious incident of the dog in the night-time’ by M. Haddon (both books that have been on my ‘want to read’ list for months now). If anyone has any suggestions I’d gladly take them!

IVF Round 2

Well…it’s official: I’ve stepped into the ring for IVF round 2…(prepare yourself for a post littered with boxing references…I’m not proud)

I got my monthly monster Saturday evening, so per our fertility centers protocol I knew I would be going in for baseline testing on Monday morning. When I told Dan this we both danced around the kitchen (first time I’ve ever celebrated my period)-there was just this sense of excitement between the two of us. The fact is, it’s been a long time coming…and we’re ready.

Sunday, we hosted brunch for 8 of our closest friends. We sat outside on an unseasonably warm February day in New England and toasted to our second cycle of IVF. Talk about growth…here I was clinking my champagne flute filled with seltzer with people who last cycle did not even know we were doing IVF. I hoarded and hid our IVF last time, it was my ugly little secret, my disappointing, lazy uterus. And it made me bitter, sad, angry and resentful. This time, I’m owning it. I’m sharing it. And let me tell you, sitting outside on Sunday surrounded by people who will support and love us over the next few months, I felt a powerful sense of hope and peace. It’s really amazing to be in the ring, knowing you have this remarkable, supportive cheering section in your corner…ready and willing to pick me up when I inevitability get knocked down and celebrate any (and every) victory.

But, of course, I’m human and Sunday night as I lay in bed reading my new Book  of the Month book I couldn’t completely silence the negative/scared voices in my head. The voices reminding me we’ve been here before…reminding me of the failures of science, hormones and my own body…the absence of a heartbeat and our Warrior. So I decided to own the sadness…I stopped the positivity train…I cried…I gave in to the temptation of remembering the promises of the past and the losses…and then I climbed back on the train and forced myself to move on. I cannot carry what wasn’t into the ring with me. I don’t have the space…in my arms, in my mind or in my heart.

Monday morning I smiled walking into our fertility center. I laughed with my favorite receptionist at the front desk who let out a little “wahoo!” when she realized we had a credit on our account from first cycle after previously telling me “everyone owes money at baseline.” I chatted casually with the phlebotomist about how much easier the new way of doing blood draws is (they separate those having ultrasounds and those just having blood work…its way more time effective). I joked with one of the nurses who I met a few times last cycle about IVF being my 30th birthday gift and she responded “I’m taking my fiancé to visit a friend in Syracuse for his 30th birthday, baby making seems like a way better birthday gift” and we laughed in the way I think you can only laugh when this isn’t your first fight. When you’ve been knocked out and woken up to realize the pain subsides and you’re strong enough to try again.

So yesterday evening when I got the phone call that my blood work was fine and I could start hormones, I felt ready. I’m more prepared for this fight than I was 15 months ago. At 8pm I turned on Hamilton ‘My Shot’, I mixed my Menopur, I dialed up my Follistim pen to 450…and I officially started cycle 2 with a smile and a few curse words (because holy smokes Menopur stings!!) …this time, I’m not just a fighter…I’m a Warrior…and I am not throwing away my shot. (yeah, I did that…feel free to judge me accordingly)

WordsWednesday

“Whatever you are physically: male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy- all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. Whatever the color, the shape, the design of the shade that conceals it, the flame inside the lamp remains the same. You are the flame.” –C. Clare

Just a little FYI…you are the flame…might be a few of my favorite words ever written.

Thirty.

So last week was my 30th birthday…now if you remember from last year I’m not one for birthdays, never have been, never will be. They’re just another day. However, this being my 30th (which everyone kept telling me was a BIG one) I opted to do something special for myself…I tried acupuncture. See, I’ve been considering acupuncture for a long time, I get a monthly e-mail from our fertility center inviting me to the acupuncture information session, a lot of the bloggers I follow praise acupuncture-I just could never quite justify spending money on something I wasn’t that sure about (when we have so many other IVF related expenses). BUT I went ahead and booked a session and HOLY SMOKES what an amazing experience! I have never felt more relaxed while also energized in my life. It was like an energy detox…goodbye all that sad/dark/ugly energy…hello happy/bright/hopeful energy. I enjoyed it so much I went back this week…and I have an appointment to go back next week. I may very well become an acupuncture junkie!

The rest of my 30th was pretty uneventful, spoke to some friends and family on the phone, went out to dinner with the husband and visited my brother and his wife in Boston this weekend to celebrate. A relaxed, but happy birthday…exactly how I’d like my 30’s to be.

Of course, thirty did strike a nerve for me…because up until I actually was 30, it seemed like a very crucial year for me. Three (jeez THREE) years ago when the husband and I started trying to have a baby I clearly remember saying to him “Honestly, if we don’t have at least one child by 30 I’ll die.” That’s how naïve, selfish, dramatic and ignorant I was…I genuinely believed not having a child would be, literally, the end of the world for me. But…here I am…3 years later…thirty years old…childless…and my life is not over, my world hasn’t collapsed around me (though at times it seemed as if it would)…I did not die. In a way, it almost makes me sad…to think of the person I was and the way I behaved. I did not just want certain things from life, I expected them. I approached life with a very entitled attitude. I kept a running list of things I thought I did right…and expected the universe to reward me for them. But, let’s be real here: the universe does not give a damn that I’ve never been pulled over or that I always remember my parents wedding anniversary (my insurance company does and my parents do), but the universe…not so much. I cannot spend my time or my energy being mad at the universe when things do not go the way I expect (or want) them to. The fact is this…you can be the greatest person in the world and bad things will still happen to you OR you can be the most horrible monster and good things will still come your way…and that’s life. It’s ridiculous and hard to justify and sometimes unbearable, but it’s all we get.

So my goal for my 30’s is to stop. To stop being angry. To stop feeling resentment for the life I did not get. To stop keeping score. To stop looking for meaning in things that are meaningless or for answers when there aren’t any. And to start. To start embracing the life I have (right now). To start celebrating the victories (and mourning the failures when they come my way). To start living my life by my standards (and not because I think the universe will reward me for being a good person by giving me good things). And to never, ever, ever think that not having something I want is going to kill me…if I learned anything from my 20’s it is that I am so much stronger than anything the universe throws my way.

…and to quote my older sisters Instagram collage for me on my birthday “He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.” (Also I’ll give a little credit to Confucius…for you know, for saying it first). Now that I’ve conquered myself I am all for conquering IVF round 2 and any (and every)thing the universe wants to try.