4

Why?

I had my egg retrieval yesterday. Of 11 eggs that they retrieved, only 6 were mature and 5 of those six fertilized with ICSI and were frozen. The embryologist who called us today morning also informed us that 3 additional eggs matured overnight in the lab and that they would try to fertilize them today. I frankly do not have any hopes of those 3 even if they were to fertilize having scoured the web’s rather dismal statistics which predict very poor odds of these Day 2 ICSI’s making it to blast even, let alone turn out to be normal.

I don’t quite know how to describe what I am feeling right now. It’s almost as if there is a deluge of emotions knocking on my heart’s door but I have slammed the door shut on their collective faces. I feel like I am sinking, sinking deep down below into an abyss no one will ever be able to rescue me from. This cycle gave us so many heartaches, false alarms and yet despite all the catching up that my body did (with 14 follicles at last count) and despite the 11 eggs retrieved I am back to where I was with my first IVF with only 5 fertilized embryos. Which gives me a pretty darn good indication of what my chances of getting a chromosomally normal embryo would be like.

Yesterday, right after retrieval, when the embryologist came over to let us know our count, he also insisted we tell him right there and then whether or not we planned to go in for egg banking. K and I had spoken extensively about this and we were more or less decided that whatever the numbers we would bank just to give us the best odds possible. For, if these two cycles at CCRM do not give me a take home baby I have low hopes it will ever happen with my own eggs. Still, we were told we would have to take that call when we got the fertilization report from the embryologist the day after retrieval. Not like 20 minutes after coming out of anesthesia. That’s what we had been led to believe and the plan was that we would take Thursday evening to flesh out the issue and have a definite answer for when the call came on Friday. This pissed me off. What pissed me off further is when the embryologist (a really nice man) told me that with 11 eggs Dr Schoolcraft recommends egg banking. Which I found a ridiculous notion. If 11 implies egg banking then at what stage should one just proceed with the one cycle?? When you make like 20 eggs? 30? Isn’t that typically a PCOS thing and does not that typically imply poor egg quality? Where the heck were these numbers coming from? Dr S (Surrey) had told us that anything below 5 and he would strongly recommend banking. But of course he was talking about fertilized embryos. How were we to know that even with 11 bloody eggs we would only make 5 embryos!!! What. the. f—k.

As soon as K hung up with the embryologist, I felt the familiar mist of panic envelop me, pulling me down faster than I could escape it. I was choking, sobbing, heaving all at the same time. He tried to reassure me telling me that there were three more that could potentially fertilize by tomorrow but to my mind those were probably not good quality considering they did not come out mature from my body.

So, after 40+ injections, 7 blood tests, 9 ultrasounds, 1 egg retrieval, many sleepless nights and countless hours spent stressing what do we have to show for our big gamble on CCRM? The same results we got from our local clinic. And way more heartache.

I’m sitting at the airport right now, waiting to check in for our late night flight. We got here way early because we had to drop the car off. K is as crushed as I am and he is coping the only way he knows to –dissolving himself in his work. As for me, I look around the hordes of people here with little babies, toddlers, strollers and the odd pregnant belly and I want to set the world on fire. I am so angry. So furious.

I spoke with my mom earlier today. She was sad to hear what happened but tried her best to assure me things will work out. I am afraid I could not believe her words today. I was despondent, angry and immensely frustrated. I feel God keeps abandoning me in my time of need. I call out to him day upon day, beg him to give me this one thing, keep accepting all the trials that mark this journey with as much stoicism as I can muster. But does he listen? Does he give me any reprieve? No.

I don’t know where to go from here. I know I have to do this again and I also know that next time around this could go either way. My body keeps tricking me into believing that it will do great yet falters in the end each time. I know I will somehow have to brush off the dust and get myself up and going again. But right now that seems to painful to even envision, let alone execute. I know there are others like me, some in positions worse than mine who do not let this heartless disease sap them of their spirits. I admire them wholeheartedly. But I admit I am not so strong. Or perhaps I do not want to be anymore.

This is just so difficult.

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0

CCRM days 1 & 2 (contd.)

… which brings us to today i.e. day 2 @ CCRM (CD 7)

I woke up feeling somewhat refreshed and hopeful. Our only appointment today was a regroup with Dr S. K and I had already been through the questions we wanted to ask him, of topmost priority being his opinion of how I was responding and how he sees this cycle shaping up. We also wanted to discuss embryo banking with him. If you remember, we had brought up this question in our initial consult and in our post OWDU regroup and both times he had suggested we wait on the day of ER for if we make anything above 6 he would not think we need to bank. We wanted to know if his opinion had changed since then.

Owing to a time crunch, lunch today also was at the food court. I had a plate of falafel, tabouli and chicken shawarma from the mediterranean grill while K had some chinese. We checked into CCRM for our appointment and prepared to wait in the lobby. We were called in soon after and seated in a consulting room. That’s when I started feeling really nervous. We had not spoken with the doctor ever since we started this cycle which, if you count the pre-priming and the priming part was over a month long already. I was anxious to hear what he had to say about my chances. I didn’t have to wait for long though; he walked in soon enough and after exchanging some pleasantries it was down to business.

Well, he said, there is good news and bad news. My stomach lurched uncomfortably as my mind got stuck on the ‘bad news’ bit. He said he was happy that the follicles were all a similar size but yes, he was surprised by how little he saw. He did not hold out major hopes for the 9 and the 7 to catch up so, in his estimation, we would be looking at 5 eggs at retrieval. My heart clenched at those words. 5 eggs retrieved would mean at best, if we were ridiculously lucky, 5 mature and 5 fertilized. This was worse than my first cycle where we had 7 retrieved.

We discussed embryo banking which now he was wholeheartedly recommending. He emphasized the financial implications of banking but even though K & I had already discussed it before, all I could think in my heart was I would not be pregnant this year either. Another effin’ year gone by and I am still not pregnant. I tried hard to ignore my mounting frustration and pay attention to what Dr S was saying. He suggested a regroup after retrieval to discuss our next steps esp. what protocol I should be following for the next round. He said we could add in clomid to the cocktail I am taking right now to try kickstart my recalcitrant ovaries into action. If all went well, I would be back here in early January for my second retrieval. Wonderful.

It all seems so damn ambiguous, even this IVF thing. We thought we were covering our bases by going to the best -CCRM. But there is no guarantee ever, is there? Even with some really good test results and a consistent AFC of 13, I seem to be a poor responder and that makes me very angry. I am trying hard not to resent my body for all this but its tough. I see pregnant women everywhere and its hard not to let my bitchy self get the better of me and think ‘oh all you probably needed was some red wine and some mood lighting’. I want so badly to have my own bump, to feel my belly swelling, to hold a tiny little person in my aching arms and to complain of sleepless nights…

Ever since we got back from the appointment I have been quiet as my mind churns in anguish. My darling love, my husband, my best friend is doing such a great job taking care of me yet letting me be. We had planned to go somewhere today, a short trip somewhere close by. But after the meeting, I felt so glum I did not feel like appreciating the natural beauty that surrounds me (and there is SO much of that here in Colorado!). I hate feeling like this. I hate this sadness, this uncertainty getting the better of me to an extent that I am unable to function normally and all I can do is stare into space, trying to calm the noisy chatter in my mind and quell the rising despair in my heart.

I want so badly to believe that there is a happy ending after all this. I want to have faith and I want to feel happy and light with the knowledge that my baby is on its way to me. But I feel immensely tired and sad and just plain bleak. Let’s see what tomorrow’s monitoring brings.

3

I don’t want to be like this.

I have been trying to work since morning. I made a commitment to myself this weekend that I will pay far more attention to my dissertation than I have so far. I intend to stick by that commitment. It’s hard, though. I sit at home and work and it gets lonely. I know I have the option of going to a library/ coffee shop but I stay home so that I can eat fresh, home cooked food and also because the library is overrun with little kids and babies and the coffee shops usually have nothing that I should be eating/ drinking.

It’s been an okay morning so far. I have been making some sort of progress. But now, right this very moment I am unable to go on. I feel frozen. I feel annoyed. Angry, actually. My head hurts. I am pissed off. I was going through an online forum and it just struck me how story after story expresses pervasive hurt, anguish, lament and a debilitating frustration at not being able to conceive. It hurts me. It shakes me up. I read this everyday so why now? I have been dealing with this for almost 2.5 years so what’s new? I don’t have an answer. All I know is that it fills me up with a white-hot rage even as it drains me of vitality and so I find myself in that no-man’s land between a scream and a tear, between protest and despair.

I am angry at those who bear kids so easily and then spend all their lives complaining what a hassle parenting is. I am angry at those who are careless enough to let their children suffer while they pursue selfish paths. I am angry at those who think infertility is a passing phase and that I should just snap out of it! And I am particularly angry with those whom I love the most, the ones that surround me, the ones I call family and friends. Close friends. They anger me most because while I know they care (and that they care big), I am unable to accept their concern, their love. The relentless snark inside me keeps saying it’s easy for you to say, you haven’t been down this road. Their affection rankles, their sympathies infuriate me most.

I really don’t want to be like this.

0

Baby steps

It’s been almost two months since I lost my first pregnancy. Someone very rightly told me that the sorrow does not just go away. It seems to recede only to strike you on days when you start feeling complacent about having finally moved on. The sinking feeling that accompanies the realization of losing your baby even while he/she is still a part of your body cannot be described in linguistic terms. So many times I have tried to write about it but even as I start to poke around my feelings, the pain rises with such force that a swift abandonment of the subject becomes the only recourse.

While all this was happening, I wrote a lot. I wrote letters to my unborn child, I wrote to my husband what I could not tell him even though he was around me, taking care of me 24/7, I wrote about what was happening to my mind. And even now when I look back at all those writings, I feel a hurt so savage it makes me want to tear the world up into a million pieces.

Life moves on though. Day and night follow each other like clockwork, never pausing to check if those who experience them are experiencing them any differently than before. You want the world to mourn with you, you want people to bear appropriately somber expressions and you want to wipe the smile off of every person you see, for is someone loves company it is good old misery. Yet, once you dig yourself out of the emotional abyss you realize that somewhere this very continuity of life and nature is what probably saved you in the first place.

I thought I would never be able to look at a child again, let alone hold one, yet a mere 3 days after my miscarriage I was requesting my upstairs neighbor to get her daughter along when she insisted on coming to see me. I was able to laugh at her delightful antics, to breathe deeply her angelic baby smell… all this while my shattered heart refused to acknowledge any adult attempt at sympathy or concern.

The weeks following the miscarriage were expectedly tough but having my parents over (my wonderful mom and dad who dropped their lives and came running to me all the way from India as soon as they heard about this) helped me regain my sanity, one day at a time. I would feel strangely okay and insist on all of us going out but half an hour at a neighborhood carnival or a busy mall would turn me into a raging, seething mass of frustration as I would see women upon women cradling their swollen bellies or wheeling their infant children… how the %#@$@%$ could they be pregnant when here I was carrying nothing but a huge hole inside of me, literally and metaphorically.

Weekends were especially bad. Perhaps because it was a weekend when all hell broke loose but somehow every Saturday would find me curled up in the fetal position (ironic much?!) sobbing my guts out. Seriously, each time I cried for hours a semi-practical part of me would reason ‘okay you are done; after that there is no way your body can even produce tears for another 3 months’, but no… come the next weekend the whole drill would start again.

And then there was the bitch mode. So my marriage is still pretty young; we will complete two years this Christmas (yay!)… I love my husband to death but we have had our share of growing pains. However, what this man tolerated from me in those crazy weeks when anything and everything would set me off into shrieking, banshee mode, requires nothing short of a superhuman devotion. So nasty were my outbursts, I almost sent my parents back home to India thankfully realizing in time the enormity of my mistake and apologizing profusely to them.

Cleaning is always therapeutic for me. This time, it became a frenzied motivation. I felt that if my surroundings were clean then I could somehow manage to clean up my disheveled life too, perhaps my mind even. So I would mop and dust, wash and scour everything to an inch of its existence, oblivious to my parents and husbands worried faces. I needed to clean. On the upside, the apartment shone for a few weeks. Martha Stewart would have been proud.

It was like I could not stand to see anyone be normal around me. How could they be normal, especially they, my family? How could they be normal when here I was, a thousand pieces of me, precariously stitched together into something resembling a human being yet dangling by delicate threads, in danger of disintegrating any moment.

Yet somehow through all of this, something propelled me to keep moving forward, one day a time. First came the making peace with God. The dream box was brought out again. The first day I held it up to the spouse for us to pray together the way we used to, his eyes misted over. He hugged me so hard I could not breathe, so thankful was he for getting his wife back from the unhinged monster who had temporarily possessed her.

I started my diet again, resumed the exercising and the acupuncture. And slowly, very slowly, just like that I taught myself to hope again.