Return to Sender

I got an email from an old friend the other day on Facebook. It’s probably been 7 years since we last spoke, so the message caught me totally by surprise.

It actually feels strange to call her an old friend. She was my best friend. The kind of best friend who could anticipate my moves before I could. The kind I was comfortable spooning in the middle of the night on a camping trip because we were both freezing. She even went with Catch to pick out my engagement ring. She was a trouble maker, too—always managing to get us into the best kind of trouble.

We had a falling out years ago. I think partially we just grew apart. Our lives were taking very different directions. I was trying to settle down, and she was recently divorced and doing the exact opposite. I was likely judgmental and impatient—we all have our faults, and those tend to be mine. I don’t even remember exactly why it was that we stopped speaking to each other. It just sort of happened one day, and neither of us ever looked back.

Fast forward to the present. I am clearly not in the greatest place right now. My world basically consists of, “do everything you possibly can to get pregnant while not letting on that you are thinking about getting pregnant every second of every day.” Also, hide the hurt. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Over the past six months especially, I have been carefully winding myself into a cocoon. I am safe in here. I am allowed to be sad and hurt and hopeful. I am not forced to shrug my shoulders at a well-meaning friend who softly inquires about the results of my latest pregnancy test. I don’t have to hold myself together and pretend that I am not devastated and terrified. I don’t have to brace myself against baby photos on Facebook. This is my safe place, and I’m rather fond of it.

Probably, right now is not the best time to be forging new relationships—even if they are actually old relationships. I cannot possibly be a good friend right now. I have a hard enough time being a marginal wife and daughter. Friends, I’m afraid, have been getting the shortest possible end of the stick, lately. If you can even call it a stick. It’s more like a splinter.

I don’t want or need another person in my life to play pretend with. I am not in the mood to dole out the upbeat three paragraph summary of the last seven years of my life. Married! Happy! Lalala! If I were being honest, which I’m not, I would say that I am a giant ball of hormone-riddled anxiety, fear and frustration, and in a couple of weeks, all that is going to intensify times what? A gazillion? Let’s face it–life right now is a bit short on sunshine and rainbows.

Her seven year summary is fantastic. Tween daughter, happy marriage, and she’s a freaking doctor now. I am really, truly so happy for her.  She deserves every ounce of that happiness.  My seven year summary? Well, I got married, adopted another dog, took up running, and the only thing I have to show for the gamble we took with my life savings is the sharps container in my living room. Living the dream, I tell you.

I wish this was easier.

I’m going to have lunch with another friend right now, and I’m going to try to force myself to be a bit more real with her.  Gotta start somewhere, I guess.  All I know is that I really can’t handle the fake anymore.  I’m not okay right now… and everyone is going to have to be okay with that for a little while.  This too shall pass.

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All the things

Good morning, world. Can anyone tell me what happened to the weekend? I swear I just blinked my eyes and suddenly it’s Monday.

Although it flew by, we had a wonderful weekend. Our anniversary was absolutely perfect. We gave each other the same card. How funny is that? We tend to give each other both a silly card and a serious card on occasions like this. We were lounging in bed Saturday morning when we decided to exchange the silly cards. They look different, but the message is almost identical.

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Oh my gosh—we laughed until we cried. I think this was one of my favorite anniversaries ever. A lazy day, a wonderful dinner at a favorite restaurant, and some adult extracurricular activities that have left me with deliciously sore muscles as a reminder.

So… IVF. It’s official.The paperwork is signed. The bill is itemized. Traditional IVF, ICSI, anesthesia, embryo freezing… the list went on and on until the numbers stopped meaning anything to me and my hand was initialing boxes on autopilot.  If you’re considering IVF and would like to see all of the fees spelled out on paper, let me know.  I’ll happily share the specifics via email.

Shit got seriously real when our nurse emailed the IVF calendar on Friday. I’m honestly in shock. It’s a bit intimidating to see the next 6-8 weeks all mapped out with appointments and drugs and things like POSSIBLE EGG RETRIEVAL and POSSIBLE EMBRYO TRANSFER. Embryo transfer? What? Surely we are talking about someone else.

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I keep having to remind myself that this is real. We’re not just thinking about it anymore. We’re doing it.

I started taking birth control pills yesterday. The first birth control I have ever taken in my life. I find it ironic that I’ve never needed it to prevent pregnancy, and yet here I am TRYING to get pregnant and this is when they decide it’s time for me to start. If I close my eyes, I can see myself sitting with my teenage daughter someday explaining, “Well honey, the only time I’ve ever taken birth control pills is when I was trying to get pregnant with you… and here you are! Don’t forget to take your pill!”

I’ve had a headache and some stomach upset since yesterday. I’m not sure whether that’s the fault of the BCP or not. I hope it’ll pass in the next few days if it is.

I’m also going to start taking Metformin. Although my initial blood tests didn’t show that I really NEED it, my doctor decided that since I’ve got the whole polycystic ovary thing going on, it won’t hurt to take the Metformin, and it may actually help. I went for a quick blood glucose test on Saturday morning, and as soon as those results come in and I get the all clear from my RE, I’ll start popping those as well. I’m supposed to gradually increase my dose to 1500 mg over a period of 3 weeks. 1 pill a day for a week, then 2 pills a day for a week, and finally 3 pills a day from there forward.

It was really nice to pop by the Target pharmacy to pick up my free birth control pills and $6 Metformin. It’s the only thing my insurance has covered since we started all of this. Thank you, Blue Shield. But you are still assholes.

I’ll be doing the BCPs for 2 ½ weeks and then it’s back to the RE for another baseline, a mock embryo transfer and an endometrial activation. Gosh that sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

I am absolutely terrified.  Previously, there has been worry and hopelessness, but never this level of outright fear.  It all feels so weighted.  Like everything pales in comparison to these next 8 weeks.  I wish I could lock myself in some sort of protective wellness bubble until September. I’m working on getting my head into the right place, but I think I need a few more days to let reality settle in.

Speaking of wellness, my RE recommended Circle & Bloom. Have any of you used it? Is it worth it? Helpful? Calming? All that jazz? Will it help me focus on the big picture and stop obsessing over the little things?

I threw this together and set it as my desktop background today.  I took the photo on a camping trip in February of last year just a few days before we took our first steps toward starting a family.  The best is yet to come.  I’m actually starting to believe it. Maybe.

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Three Squared

Today is the 9 year anniversary of the day I met my wife. It’s also our 6 year wedding anniversary.

I don’t know what I’d do without my Catch. I don’t know who I’d be. I don’t even want to know.

It feels like we’ve grown up together over these past years. The difference between 24 and 33 is pretty significant. At 24, we were most concerned with who was bringing the vodka and how soon we could take each others clothes off. Actually, maybe that’s a bad example because we still worry about those things–although vodka is often replaced with wine, so surely that’s a sign of maturity, no?

Not a day goes by that I don’t thank the universe for this woman—my partner—my wife—my best friend. I would not trade the life we have together for anything in the world.

I framed this picture from our recent camping trip for her for our anniversary. We were up early that morning to go fishing at Donner Lake. I was wandering with my camera, and Catch was behind me, fishing pole in hand. The sun was rising, and the lake was quiet and still. It was in that moment that it occurred to me that no matter where this year leads us, we will be just fine. As long as I can share these moments with her, my life will be complete.

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Happy anniversary, my love.  There’s no one I’d rather be lost with.

Handle with Care

Over the past few days, I’ve convinced myself that I’m handling our latest BFN really well. I’ve moved on! We’re making plans for the next cycle! No big deal! Tra la la!

Today, it is pretty clear to me that I am full of it. I’m not exactly a disaster, but I’m sure not tra la la-ing. I feel pretty raw and fragile. There’s a bit too much going on, and my coping mechanisms are stretched a bit too thin.

Here’s what this week has thrown at me on top of another delay at motherhood:

  1. The IVF price tag. Obviously, I knew this in advance because we discussed it before our last cycle, but in order to proceed with IVF starting THIS cycle, we need to hand over a gazillion dollars and 10% of the future earnings from any children resulting from said IVF by CD 3. Today is CD 1. Since Saturday is not a regular business day, that means tomorrow. No big deal. Let’s just say that in order to make this happen, my mother has decided to finance 2/3 of her potential future grandchild herself. We are sitting here right now trying to coordinate getting such a large amount of money from her business checking account to her personal checking account to MY personal checking account in time for the check to clear. Also? The thought of GAMBLING (that’s really what it is, no?) with this amount of money is FREAKING ME OUT. I would not play this hand in Vegas. How can something be both rational and irrational simultaneously?
  2. I SCREWED UP THE FAMILY VACATION! Yay, me! We had plans to go camping next week with my parents and my brother. 5 adults & 3 dogs in the cool, shady woods by a lake and a river for 5 days. We’ve been planning it for over a month. Except guess who accidentally reserved an ADA accessible campsite that we are not allowed to occupy without a disabled person??? ME! In addition to the bank scrambling going on, I have also been scrambling all day to find us SOMEWHERE ANYWHERE PLEASE to go next week. It’s finally settled. The solution is not ideal, but at least it’s a place to go. If everyone is miserable, at least I will be off the hook for planning any future family vacations.
  3. Actually, I think that’s it. But I swear it’s a lot. Way too much uncertainty for one week. I am done. Screw you, drama. I cannot handle you anymore. The universe is driving and I am just along for the ride. Either we crash & burn or we don’t. If we ever do successfully bring a child into this world, it had better be the most well behaved baby on the planet because it has already given me its lifetime quota of grey hairs and I AM A REDHEAD, damnit.

Distractions

Since I’ve been a sullen, miserable human being in this space the last few days, I thought I’d share some snippets of daily life that help make all of this stress bearable.

1) My Garden

Everything is growing so beautifully.  Our carrots are small, but they are lovely. 

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I walked out to the back yard on Sunday evening and pulled all of this together.  Heirloom tomatoes, miniature red sweet peppers, kale, jalapenos, green onion, lemon cucumbers, chives, basil and thyme.  I made a salad dressing with the herbs, green onion and a jalapeno, and then made the kale, cucumber, peppers, tomatoes and the carrots above into a salad for my lunch at work.

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2) Friends

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On Saturday night, we went to the Hollywood Bowl with one of our best friends and my mom.  Jack Black was hosting Dreamworks’ 20th Anniversary, and the show was as fantastic as the company.  We packed a wonderful picnic and had such a great time.  It was a reminder that we need to do things like that more often.

3) My hound babies

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They don’t know why my emotions have been so freaking insane, but they sure recognize that something’s not quite right.  On Monday after the clinic confirmed our BFN and Catch had to leave for her softball game, this little guy sat with me outside like this for ages.  He was so sweet just lying on the grass with his chin resting on my lounge chair.  He didn’t know what was wrong, but he let me know that he was there and that he loves me. 

He was rewarded with chin scratches–his all time favorite.

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My uterus may be empty, but my life is full and I am grateful for every moment of it. 

 

Hail Mary

The plan was for Catch to drop me off at work this morning. From there, she’d spend the day at my mom’s pool with the dogs and then she’d pick me up later.

The plan changed when Catch squeezed my hand and I started crying again on the freeway. It was decided that a mental health day is in order. It’s not going to look good if I’m weepy at my desk all day.

My RE called a little while ago. She says that given my age and what we know of my health, she gives us a 56-60% success rate with IVF. She also suggested that considering my weight loss, we could try a couple of natural cycles if we’re not ready for IVF yet.

We had discussed our options for going forward last night over a couple of teary margaritas. To IVF or not to IVF? It’s not a decision to take lightly–both for financial reasons and for health reasons–physical and mental.

We decided that if we can pull together the financial end of things, we’re going to go for it. This is our Hail Mary attempt. If IVF fails, we move onto plan B. We don’t know what plan B really looks like right now. Maybe foster/adopt. Maybe I will make peace with the idea of Catch trying to get pregnant. Maybe it will just be the two of us and a couple of dogs for the rest of our lives. Regardless, this will be my last shot to make my dream of carrying our child come true.

I never imagined that getting pregnant would be easy, but like most of you, I also never imagined it would be this hard.

I’m so scared. Terrified, even. I feel so powerless. Yesterday knocked the air out of me, and I haven’t quite recovered. We’ve been at this for eighteen months. Planning. Donor choosing. Pre-conception doctor check ups. One failed attempt. One 30-day period. Endless anovulatory cycles. PCOS diagnosis. 47 pounds lost. Clomid. Needles. Legs spread for more strangers than I can count. Three more failed attempts. I thought we’d be done by now.

I am so tired. I know many of you have been through all of this and more, and frankly, you are all rock stars. All I want to do is scream, but I don’t even have the energy for that.

Thank you for the support yesterday and all of the days before that. It helps so much to have all of these other voices chiming in alongside my own.

White Space

My beta was this morning, but we have a few more hours to wait until they confirm what the half dozen negative HPTs said this morning: not pregnant.

I don’t have many words right now. Mostly, what I’m feeling can only be communicated in sobs and screams. I’m trying to hold it together until I leave work so I can fall apart in peace.

I’ll just leave it at that.

While these visions did appear…

Last night, a witch put a curse on my chocolate cake and I became enamored/obsessed with a frying pan as a result.

Also, my basset hound, whose legs are about —this— long, was in the front yard chasing cheetahs.

And finally, in the pièce de résistance, I was in Miami with a bunch of gay boys, and they took me to a food truck where I was introduced to and started making out with their male pot dealer.

WHAT IS THIS MADNESS???

The first words out of Catch’s mouth this morning were, “What were you dreaming about?” Apparently, I was making noises in my sleep. She just about choked when I mentioned being in love with a frying pan.

I’m actually grateful for these crazy dreams because they’re giving me something to laugh about at a time when I truly don’t much feel like laughing. I am putting on my brave face and plugging away at the days, but it feels like an act. Like the real me is curled up in a sad ball on the couch watching the fake me through a window.

Part of me wants it to be Monday NOW, and part of me would like to avoid Monday forever. I would much prefer to stay in this place of anxious hope than to become stuck inside the rain cloud of a negative beta. Fortunately, the choice is not mine to make. Time marches on. Monday will come, and the minutes will slowly tick by until we are frozen in place by the ring of a phone.

Now if you’ll excuse, me, I believe my frying pan is fraternizing with a colander and I need to go put that bitch colander in her place. No one messes with my frying pan.

ProgesterWTF

Once again, my alarm awakened me from a crazy dream at 6 am. This time it was a stress dream all about work. The company had fired my best friend (in a bathroom) and was so desperate for money that we were renting out space near my office for children’s birthday parties. I was so angry that I was running throughout the office until I found a consultant who’s been working with our accounting department. In dreamland, he was a little person. I screamed at him and pulled his hair, threw a couple of very weak punches at him, and then threatened to drop kick him over the freeway.

I threatened to drop kick a midget over the freeway.

Angry much?

The night before, I was at Sea World with Robin Williams, and the night before that, I was caught in that move “The Purge” even though I’ve never seen it.

Hello, progesterone. Is it you who is messing with my head? You’re like a bad acid trip that occurs only while I’m asleep. Not that I know anything about acid trips—good or bad. I’m just guessing.

Speaking of progesterone, my nurse from the fertility clinic called me yesterday afternoon to tell me that the results from my progesterone test were “really awesome,” and she followed it up by saying that “everything looks great.” This nurse has never once used the word awesome before, let alone really awesome. I was too dumbfounded by her positivity to ask what the actual number is, so I’m just going to assume it must be better than the progesterone tests in my previous cycles.

Does anyone have any experience with “really awesome” progesterone tests? What exactly makes them really awesome as opposed to just plain old good?

I will not google. I will not google. I will not google.

Nerves

We have 6 days until the big blood test. The last week has flown by gracefully, but yesterday, the doubts and obsessiveness started slowly creeping in, and it’s slightly worse today. I’m trying to keep it within reasonable limits, but I’m sure you all know how hard it is to control these thoughts once they begin to surface.

I woke up at 4 this morning and had a miserable time getting back to sleep. When my alarm went off at 6, I was finally in a deep sleep and was awakened from a dream about being at Sea World with Robin Williams. We were having so much fun together that we were talking about planning a trip to Disneyland, too. I’m not even going to begin to try to psychoanalyze that one. Let’s just blame the progesterone for crazy dreams and move on.

Today is baby shower day! Yay! Also: Please shoot me and put me out of my misery.

I did cut myself some slack on the shower front. Instead of having to spend the weekend knitting something for a baby that is (once again) not mine, I pulled something from my stash of already knitted baby hats. I didn’t think I had anything left in the pile that was suitable for a boy (or just neutral), but I had one left.

My latest photographic masterpiece.  I call it, "Baby Hat on Upside Down Mason Jar."  Classy.

My latest photographic masterpiece. I call it, “Baby Hat on Upside Down Mason Jar.” Classy.

Now people better start having some girls. I have three slightly more feminine hats ready to go.

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I’m feeling very blah. The progesterone fallout is kicking my ass, as usual. I’m exhausted and sort of crampy (very mild, but there), plus moody, overly sensitive, and highly emotional. Whee! It’s a roller coaster of FUN.

I’m trying to keep it all in perspective. We are so lucky to be sitting here in this two week wait. We are lucky to have this chance—however remote—that I could be pregnant. I don’t take that for granted. As easy as it is to get caught up in the misery of waiting, I have to remind myself that this comes with the territory. For us, there will never be a pregnancy without these two weeks of speculation. It’s a package deal. With 6 days remaining, I’d better embrace it.

———————-

UPDATE:

I feel like I deserve some kind of baby shower rock star award.  I just perused the baby section at Target ON PURPOSE, and I managed to survive the experience without completely falling apart.  I even picked out footie pajamas.  Giraffe footie pajamas.  And I did not fall over. 

#winningatbabyshowers

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Now I just have to get through the actual shower…