Wednesday, November 29, 2017

NBC News

I'm not shy about my enthusiasm of NBC news shows, specifically TODAY and Nightly News. My jaw literally dropped when I heard the news about Matt Lauer this morning. It was 7:10 am and, while I'm usually watching at that time, today I happened to be in my car at that time and I heard the news on the radio. Like many people I was shocked. I also thought back to the 2012 Ann Curry debacle and couldn't help but think of that karma coming back around.

It's interesting that every Matt Lauer story is followed by a Meghan Markle story and her upcoming marriage to Prince Harry. What a weird transition. Then again they can't control the headlines.

I love Savanna Guthrie and she was such a class act announcing the news this morning, obviously while still processing it herself. I'm fascinated by all things TODAY to the point that I sort of want to get a job there just to be on the inside when these crazy stories break. I know I'll be following this story closely waiting to hear details.

And yikes about these sexual harassment accusations. How the mighty have fallen. I've always known women will take over the world, but I didn't think it would be because all the men were fired for being pigs. Who will be accused next??

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Anatomy of an IVF cycle

Presented in a simple flow chart from my point of view.


Anxiety > fight with insurance > coordinate finances > wait for period > worry > figure out timeline > wait > order medication > pay a lot of money

During cycle:

Relief that you're finally doing something > regret that you have to do it > Worry about all the things that could go wrong > inject > wait > bloodwork and ultrasound > wait --> repeat x12sh days > trigger > retrieval > recovery/anxiety


Results day 2 > recovery/anxiety continues > day 4 report > recovery/anxiety continues > day 5/6/7 blast report > breathe a slight sign of relief and/or crumple in disappointment at results > continue recovery and, if any blasts were sent for testing, worry daily about report > receive PGD results > rejoice at success or weep at failure

Monday, November 27, 2017

IVF 7: Baseline

It felt like things were going so slow this morning - they couldn't get anything done the first time around. When I checked in I planned to make my payment as usual. They couldn't figure out if the number I was paying included the credit I'm owed or not. I assumed it did already since it was the number I was quoted by the financial counselor but if they wanted to double check, who am I to argue. So I sat down without having that taken care of.

Then came bloodwork. They stuck me twice, no success. I reminded them they need to take my weight. They nearly forgot about it, and after I worked so hard getting rid of every ounce (currently 16.8 lbs away from my goal; 7.2 lbs away from clinic max)! Since they were having no luck with my vein they sent me for ultrasound and said they'll try again after. So didn't get that done either.

Thankfully, there was no issue with the ultrasound. After that I got stuck again in my arm but they weren't able to get blood, so they moved to my hand instead. It hurts SO much to get blood drawn from the hand.  Less so during, but so much after and then throughout the day. Both my arm and hand have nasty bruises. I hope this isn't any indication of what the cycle is going to be like or we're in for a bumpy ride. 

After blood draw I went back to the front desk to make my payment so that it doesn't hold anything up. They still couldn't figure out the credit situation so they said to make my payment less the credit and if there's any issue I'll get a call from the financial counselor. No complaints here: I got a 20% discount - maybe it's a Cyber Monday miracle!

I got the call this afternoon that bloodwork results are in and we're cleared to start. Shots start Thursday.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving weekend flew by in a whirlwind of food, family, beautiful weather, new experiences, tv, lots of politics talk, and more food. We kept it low key, taking the time to remember the loss this time last year but trying not to get caught up in it. Sometimes we get bogged down with the things we're still waiting for, the unanswered (as-of-yet) prayers, so it's nice to have an opportunity to remember to look around and see the blessings around us.

Tonight is the last night of our break, with baseline scheduled for first thing tomorrow morning. We had a great run and a much-needed rest from treatment. I feel ready to tackle this next cycle head on and hope it goes by quickly, smoothly, and successfully.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


As baseline for IVF 7 approaches I've been getting a strong desire to do a transfer instead of a retrieval. I've got baby fever and just want to be pregnant and get the show on the road toward 9 h&h months and be over recovery and just enjoy my baby.

But I know it doesn't work that way. Not in my world. Transfer doesn't necessarily equal pregnancy and so we have to make decisions for the long run.

There are good reasons to wait for a transfer:

  • First, if we do another retrieval then we potentially have more embryos. It's better age-wise and recovery-wise. Before winter break is the best time to do a retrieval so that I have time to recover physically and emotionally from the hormones.
  • Second, I'm doing well on my diet and really want to give it a chance to get to my goal weight (now 19.6 lbs away). I've been yo-yoing back and forth for years and I want to hunker down and get it done. I know my weight will jump back up after retrieval when I don't have the energy to exercise any self-control -- especially since it will be right around Chanukah -- but I know I can do it if I focus, and what better way than using a healthy preg as motivation. I'm far enough removed from the last loss to let myself believe it's an actual possibility, not just an irrational fantasy.
  • Third, I'd really like to give a chance to see the endocrinologist before a transfer if possible. Our appointment is scheduled for end of January. Originally that timeline was perfect when it included a Jan trip. Now that the trip may not be happening there's no need to wait until Feb to do a transfer.

Those reasons are what's keeping me from pushing for an immediate transfer. My husband believes retrieving now is better but would support a transfer instead, especially if I said I can't handle another retrieval now. I don't want to be the reason the retrieval is canceled so as much as I hate the process I'd rather not think about it too much and just get it over with. Sometimes knowing what to expect is good and bad. In this case I know it will suck, I know it will hurt, I know I will be miserable and emotional... but I also know that it will pass and that even though it will suck for a while, it won't be forever.

Monday, November 20, 2017


Over the weekend I went to a memorial for a high school classmate that passed away due to an accidental overdose. You hear about the "opioid epidemic" on the news but then a person you know falls victim and it hits home. I had not seen this classmate, or several of the other memorial attendees, since our high school graduation over a decade ago.

The memorial was held because the family wants to keep things quiet. They are sitting shiva but they did not want it announced or some people to attend. Over the course of the memorial it was made clear that the family doesn't want several friends of the deceased to show up at shiva because there are ill feelings of why the friends didn't do more to save the person. It's difficult to be friends with an addict and while I can't imagine the family's grief, I also think they're placing blame where it doesn't belong. I also disagree with their decision to sweep it under the rug but I can't judge them for grieving the way they believe is right.

I knew it would be a mini-reunion with everyone talking about their family and kids. I managed to not talk about myself and only winced a little when one person mentioned, "We're all parents..." Even though I haven't seen this person in nearly 15 years, I went because it was a tragic loss of life worth remembering and worth mourning. It's not always about me and at that time and place it was about remembering a light that was extinguished far too soon.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


I finally crossed "buy meds" off my list. Of course there was multiple hold times with Freedom and the person had to call me back. It's never simple with them. It is what it is.... bye-bye thousands of dollars.

I went back to read my blog from this time last year. It's so sad. I can't even think of anything I want to do less than go through that again. Yet here we are... starting another cycle.

I had a mini-career crisis today. It feels like I'm stuck in a position where they see me in a certain way and I have nowhere to grow. I do look around at other open positions and occasionally apply and interview, but it's not like I'm getting comparable offers left and right. There are also so many good things about my job that I don't want to lose if I leave.

After venting to a friend who used to work there and knows the dynamics of the place, I felt better. I realized I want to figure out a way to get ahead at my current place rather than give up and try somewhere else. A decade ago I was so ambitious but these days it feels like all my energy is spent on gearing up and recovering from cycles. Being aware of that makes me want to try to rediscover some of that ambition and try new things.

In diet news I'm exactly the same weight as baseline from IVF 6. That means I'm just under the limit but want to get more of a cushion. I've been at this weight for about two years +/- five pounds. My newest goal is to get to a certain number by transfer day, whenever that happens to be. Right now I'm 21.4 lbs away from that number. I have a little time until baseline but Thanksgiving is right in between so I'll have to be careful not to overdo it that day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Does it feel like November is zooming by for anyone else? I feel like baseline is coming up faster and faster, and with it the end of our break.

I haven't ordered meds yet for IVF 7. No reason, just haven't. It sickens me to have to spend $5,000 on medication on a cycle that may or may not work.

I'm part of a support group on facebook and every time someone asks for tips about IVF or a transfer it sends shivers up my spine about what's ahead.  Someone just posted about a beta of 37 and it made me relive all the awful parts of a transfer and 2ww.

My sister wants to do gender-reveal cookies at Thanksgiving and asked me if that would be ok. What am I supposed to say? It's not like she can hide her pregnancy. I appreciate that she wants to be sensitive even though nothing helps the kick in the gut. Just because I'm being robbed of all the cutesy pregnancy-related milestones doesn't mean she has to be also. I told her it's fine but to not take it personally if I or my husband don't participate.

I'm worried and scared. Maybe it wouldn't be as bad if we knew it was going to work eventually, but I've lost that blind belief. At this point it's just faith and hope getting us through each day.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Stress, Endo, ENT

It's been a hectic week. My brother was out of town for work and I helped his wife with the kids over the week, which included a hospital visit for my nephew. I'm the default person in emergencies because I don't have kids at home so it's assumed I can drop everything and come, when in reality it's just my personality and I do that anyway even if I have a thousand other things going on.

It got so stressful at one point that I broke down on the phone when my husband called to check in. After spending the majority of the night in the ER with my sister-in-law and nephew, then running home to take a quick nap and shower to get ready for work, I was exhausted and stressed when I said that I was worried my lot in life is to just be an addendum to someone else's life helping everyone else. Long story short, my nephew was in the hospital for two days and we all chipped in to the best of our ability to take care of the other kids.

I also had a work event the same night, and tickets to see my favorite comedian, and guests for shabbat. I didn't know how I would get everything done, but when my husband asked, "Do you really have to be at work today?" on Thursday, the truth was that I didn't really. I could have taken the day off, my supervisor would have been super understanding, and I would have been able to cancel my guests and skip the show. But then what was left? I felt the need to purposely prioritize my own life so that I don't become just a supporting character in other people's lives. It may or may not be ridiculous thinking but in the moment that's how it felt.

Our next cycle starts the week after Thanksgiving so I'm back on my pre-IVF diet. I had some regrets about agreeing to do another cycle because I just don't wanna with the meds and the side effects and the retrieval ughhhh. But after discussion with my husband we're back on the same page that it's what we want. Plus "I don't wanna" isn't a legit enough reason to not do it. I don't think we're still as gung ho about an expensive trip in January, though. We've reconsidered the cost and just can't justify dropping so much money on a 10-day trip. As much as we want to go, we're terrified we'll need the money in the future and regret not having it.

In other news, I got an appointment with an endocrinologist. When I went for a second opinion in the summer, something in my thyroid got flagged in my mind enough to make me want to double check. Last week I searched on my insurance website for local endocrinologists that take my insurance. I then cross referenced the ones I picked with reviews online and on fb groups. After narrowing it down to top three, I started calling for an appointment. The first call I made took me on an automated loop ride for like 5 minutes before I got asked by a human if I can hold. I held for two minutes and hung up - can't deal with that. Second office I called directed me to a voicemail that instructed me, as a new patient, to leave a message and someone will get back to me within two business days. I left a message a day later I got a call back from the second office.

The provider I asked for is currently booking new patients in January. I could see someone else in the practice "as early as"  December. I asked if I can get on a wait list to get seen earlier if there's a last minute cancellation and she said she'd have to register me, book the appointment, and then she can add me to the waitlist. I agreed and she asked for my info. Then she asked what I'd like to come in to be seen for and I said thyroid checking. She said technically they don't take new patients that have not been diagnosed with anything. It needs to come from the pcp or a referral from another doctor who thinks there's an issue.

I said that I'm trying to get pregnant and that my doctors don't seem to think there's a problem because my numbers are ok for regular people but not necessarily for pregnancy. She suggested I try seeing an RE, to which I replied that I have one, and been tested multiple times but the number comes back different every time. While they don't see an issue I want to double check and before going through another transfer I want to get an opinion from a specialist. Her suggestion was to have my records transferred and have the endocrinologist review them before deciding whether I need an appointment. I said fine. She wasn't arguing with me but it was weird to have to justify the call. Just book the appointment. You'll get paid for a consultation whether I need treatment or not so what do you care? I can't get treatment without a diagnosis, but I can't get an answer about a possible diagnosis before I see a specialist. Ridiculous.

I was planning to follow up tomorrow, which would have been a week, especially since I didn't get any kind of form to sign that it's ok for my docs to release my records. I know I could be completely barking up the wrong tree and there really is no thyroid problem at all. But before transferring any more embryos I want to make sure I'm giving them the absolute best chance possible. I've got time before a potential FET so I may as well make the most of it. I got a call back from the endocrinologist's office saying that they got my records, the doctor reviewed them, and has approved booking an appointment. So on one hand, yippee - progress! The office staff person did what she said she would do and even had the doc review the notes and even called me back. I'm officially on the schedule for end of January, with the promise of being added to the waitlist if there are any cancellations. Even though I'm happy I got the appointment I'm now worried that the doctor saw something in my files that she thinks needs to be addressed. Or maybe she didn't want to just dismiss me offhandedly. I don't know. Hope I can get in sooner than January. Hope if she did see an issue that it's easily fixable.

In the meantime, I also wanted to get an opinion from an ENT. In the summer I went to see my pcp because I wasn't feeling well. I had been crying a lot after the d&c so the symptoms of a sinus infection were masked and it took too long to get it checked out. Lately I've been having similar symptoms. Even though they're way more mild I wanted to nip this in the bud before they get worse. In contrast to the endo, I called the ENT Wednesday and got an appointment for Thursday with the PA. She checked my ears, nose, and throat. Apparently I have lots of inflammation in my nose but ears are clear and she saw no signs of infection. Her best estimate was that it's "probably environmental." Allergies maybe? I couldn't go through my medical history without mentioning the fertility stuff, and she suggested that if I'm still upset often it may be a factor as well. I am, and it is. Since she didn't see signs of infection she didn't want to prescribe antibiotics, which is fine - I'd rather not take any if I don't have to. She made a few otc recommendations and sent me on my way. The hypochondriac in me is satisfied and I feel like it was an hour well spent.

In addition to all this there has been more crime in our neighborhood: break-ins to homes and cars, carjackings, muggings, etc. It's stressful to have this on top of everything else. The community watch-groups are trying to ramp up surveillance but it's scary.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Lazy Sunday thoughts

We've been on break since the last retrieval back on 9/10 and it's been amazing. Without the hormones or doctor visits or extra bills or spontaneous tears we can just pretend we're back to our pre-treatment days before we were even trying.

It's working so well that I even found myself being hopeful about the next cycle, even the next transfer. Like, it has to work, right? It's gotta finally be the one. Then I overthink it and bum myself out: It didn't work before, why should it work this time? Why would time time be any different? Then I start calculating how old I'll be if this next transfer works when my kid is born or at age 13 or 18 or getting married. Eventually it gets too depressing to keep the thought going and I try to distract myself with something else.

I try not to let our emotional baggage follow into every cycle. I consistently remind myself that every cycle has its own chance at success regardless of statistics or what happened in the past. I can't let previous failures weigh me down. But since there's so much more to failure than just a busted cycle, it's hard keep the negative thoughts from leaking over to future treatment.

My husband and I started including "v'et zaareinu" (translated as: "and our seed") during the section in bentching asking Him to bless us, our family, our home, etc. Most people use it to refer to their offspring, but we use it in reference to our embryos currently chilling on ice. We know they're not yet children but they're still important. They're potential life, our prospective family, our possible future. We can't hold them or see them but we love them already. It kills us every time a transfer doesn't make it, so yeah I think they deserve an honorable mention. 

Reading that back is heartbreaking. How sad are we that we're grasping at straws to find ways to include prayer for our unborn babies at every turn. It just goes to show how much it's on our mind literally all day, every day. I don't know if I'll ever stop waking up from the bad dream that we're back in the doc's office and they're telling us there's no heartbeat, or answer another phone call telling us beta numbers went down instead of up. I recoil at the thought of putting ourselves through it again. Maybe in some way this reasoning subconsciously makes its way into our pros and cons list when we opt for retrievals instead of transfers. 

Despite all that, I can't help but be optimistic. I have to believe it's going to work. I have these two conflicting mottos in my mind: "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result"; and "a winner is just a lose who tried one more time."

While I don't want to be one of those people who becomes obsessed with making this happen and keeps trying failure after failure, I can understand it when someone looks at our history objectively and says two chemical pregnancies and one blighted ovum aren't a reason to stop trying. The little negative voice says, "but they were five transfers from five tested embryos!! Why didn't they work??!"  I don't have an answer. Even the doctor says there's no reason to believe it shouldn't work. We've been on the wrong side of statistics and the only thing getting in our way of success is to stop trying. Even when we went to get a second opinion that doc said there's nothing medically to keep us from being successful that they can pinpoint. So the plan is to keep trying. As hard and emotionally challenging as it is, we take it one day at a time and hope for the best.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Emotional side effects

I recently had a tiff (via text because we're millennials ;P) with someone close who tries to be sensitive but misses every so often. My resentment started out leaking through my words via text over time and then escalated to near hostility. It was time to air things out and we had a discussion.  While I said a lot of things I've been holding back for a long time, I don't think she totally got what it is that bothers me. Part of the resentment is that she's currently expecting #2. Through no fault of hers, I've been comparing our lives since her first pregnancy announcement coincided with our first failed treatment. It's not her fault this is so hard for me. But it's hard to put into words what repeated compromise and resentment can do to relationships.

I'm not sure anyone who hasn't been in this situation completely understands. At the same time I'm fully aware that I'm hyper sensitive, and this is really hard. I realize that I'm expecting a lot from people and that when expectations are set so high I'm setting myself up for disappointment. It's impossible to expect people to read my mind and know what words or actions can help or hurt. When people talk about "infertility" as a general concept they have absolutely no idea how difficult it is from all aspects.

I feel like my options are to (1) distance myself and have no interactions so as to avoid hurt, (2) tell someone what bothers me, repeatedly as it happens, and risk resentment on their part and lack of action to change anything because they just don't get it, or (3) continue as is and not say anything while lowering expectations significantly. Until now it's been option 3 but with too high expectations.

I don't know what the right response is. I don't know how to correctly handle it. Is there a right way to deal with this kind of social interaction? It scares me to think how much longer we'll be in this chapter of our lives, dealing with the nasty side effects of an already awful situation.

There's a Bonei Olam event next week. It's a fundraiser for a non-profit organization that offers grants toward fertility treatment to couples who meet the criteria, with the program promising to be a "beautiful evening of inspiration and success stories" of couples who have been able to build their families. While we've never received financial assistance from this organization, I still think it's an important organization to support. I would also love to meet other couples like us who are still in the pre-Success stage and still going through it, and goodness knows we can all use a little inspiration. The problem is that I'm worried the "inspiration" will backfire and I might fall apart in a room full of people. My husband isn't interested in going and my friend whom I'd normally drag to these things has a calendar conflict. I don't want to go alone; I don't even know if I want to go at all.


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