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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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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.

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Oh, the follies!

We are finally in Denver! It’s been a dramatic couple days and I have a lot of updating to do so there will be a flurry of posts over the next day or two. Bear with me!

Tuesday was a hellish day. It was my first monitoring appointment at my OB’s office and it just did not go the way I wanted it to. K drove me over to the clinic and promised to join me after he got some coffee to jumpstart his day. However, before he got there I was undressed and ready for the scan. The doc came in, liberally pumped lubricant on that vile ultrasound wand and started off. He was looking at my right ovary first and he nodded his head as he measured what I assumed (and hoped!) was a follicle.

How many, I asked nervously. I don’t think he heard me for he remained quiet for what seemed like an eternity. 12, he said, looking at me and smiling. Oh really, 12?? That’s simply wonderful, that’s possibly the best– … I cut the sentence off right here as I realized he did not mean the number of follicles but the size instead. Wait, there’s more there right?, I asked. Not really, he replied. There’s got to be some small ones you can’t measure right now, I insisted. He shook his head grimly saying that there was just the one and moved the wand over to point at the left ovary.

My stomach did that uncomfortable sinking thing it does whenever disappointment hits me. It’s a mixture of despair and deep, paralyzing fear I think that makes me head swim and makes me want to run, flee to the comfort of my bed so I can safely hide within the covers and keep all the demons at bay.

This is much better, he said as he scanned leftie. Better, to him, was 4 follies sized at 16, 14, 11 and 10 mm. This made me feel even worse for I knew that the 16mm one seemed too big for this early into the stimming process and I instantly started worrying that I would ovulate before time and my cycle would get canceled. The rest of the scan was a blur as I tried hard to control my lurching stomach and my woozy head. Doc looked back at me as he walked out urging me to have faith and to remember that it only takes one (if only I had a penny for every time someone says that to me!). I could barely look at him for I knew another sympathetic word would have me sobbing my heart out. I hurriedly scrambled into my clothes and walked out the clinic downstairs to get my blood drawn at the lab.

The lab assistant seemed to be having a good week as I found her once again in a rather cheerful mood. She whisked me in and had me out in under two minutes, promising me that she would send the bloods out soonest. I walked out to find K sitting in the lobby waiting for me. One look at my wan face and he knew something was wrong. I told him about my 5 follies, about my worry that I was responding too fast and yet, not enough and then I told him I did not want to talk about it at all. I felt sick to my heart, I wanted to crawl into a black hole and never come out, I wanted K to hold me and tuck me away in some corner of his shirt pocket. I was angry, I was sad, I was frustrated but most of all I was scared. Petrified, really.

The drive back home was a somber affair. I walked inside, ignoring my parents questioning looks. Shook my feet free of their shoe-d confines, drew the drapes tightly shut and crawled into my bed, covering my face with the blanket. I knew everyone was worried. I wanted to tell them I was okay even though I was far from okay. I did not know how to do it. Again and again my mind insisted, how could there be just 5 follies. From an AFC of 13, I get only 5 stinking follies? Even my first IVF I had 9 follies.

What made everything worse was that it was a special day for us–an Indian festival that celebrates marriage and married life. I really like celebrating this day with all its attendant rituals, especially dressing up in traditional clothes. Yet, here I was in my sweatpants and a ratty old sweatshirt, feeling numb and ignoring my rumbling stomach. K called many times to try soothe my fears but with each passing minute I grew more and more anguished. I cried for hours on end, my poor parents trying their best to get me to calm down. At one point I was so exhausted from all the crying and not eating that I dozed off. I woke up to realize it was late afternoon. CCRM still hadn’t called which meant they did not have the results with them yet.

The next couple hours were crazy stressful. CCRM was about to shut for the day and the nurse had called me to let me know she had neither the u/s report nor the labs. I called the doc’s office and had them re-fax the report. The labs seemed to take an eternity but a call to quest revealed they had been faxed early afternoon. I was at the edge of my patience. I was worried that I might ovulate too soon and wanted to start the cetrotide sooner but of course needed the nurse to confirm that with me. Furthermore, I wanted to know if the cycle was at risk of being canceled. Finally at 4.58 pm mountain time, my nurse called and told me they had everything but that Dr S had left so she would have Dr. Schoolcraft look over my reports and advise me on next steps. I waited by the phone and in about 20 minutes she called back to let me know that I had to start the cetrotide the next morning, keep all other doses the same and travel to Denver as planned. To my concern that things were looking bleak, she said it did seem that I was responding fast but then my follicles were of similar size and my estrogen level (at 209) was where they like to see it at this time.

It wasn’t quite the thumping vote of assurance but then, under the circumstances, this was the best that could have happened. At least there was no mention of canceling cycles. Moreover, she told me they preferred doing their own measurements and bloodwork as they did not trust results from other labs. With that in mind, I finally ate and tried to salvage what was left of the day. My adorable husband had already given me a wonderful gift–a beautiful down jacket to keep me warm in Denver–and he now helped me pack and get things in order for out trip the next day.

As I wrestled a nagging headache in bed at night, I prayed hard to God to carry me over this one.

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Moody tears with a mind of their own

Another month, another breakdown.

July was exhausting with DH and I barely stepping out from the haunting shadows of our first failed IVF. We tried naturally but our heart was just not in it. Every day we put our energies in healing, in moving on, in planning for the future. Slowly, agonizingly painfully, we started recovering what had so brutally been snatched from us–hope.

On July 30th I turned 36. Every year my birthday reminds me cruelly of my lack. This year was particularly tough. I had hoped so much to have my baby in my tummy on this day but, sadly, it was not to be. Once the day was over, though, I felt so much better. Strangely reinvigorated. And August was thumping proof! A happy, busy month with lots of social engagements, a ton of pre-IVF testing, DH’s birthday and in general a lot of stuff that kept me as sane & content as is possible to be in the circumstances. Some days I even laughed out loud and the sound was so harshly unfamiliar I almost winced!

Which brings us to September. September, that month when the leaves change color and the air whispers secret promises. This is an important month. We get to know the way forward with CCRM. An exciting month. Then why did I, now almost blase to the omnipresent spectacle of heavily pregnant women beaming beatifically in public places, break down last night at yet another Facebook sighting? Hadn’t DH already told me that our neighbor is knocked up?! What was so shocking at seeing her swollen tummy against a lush Hawaiian background that reduced me to a pathetic, slobbery mess? This is why I no longer have a FB account, my mind screamed. Why do I have to torture myself with visiting DH’s FB? It’s not like his friends are immune to pregnancy?!!

I raged at the unfairness of it all. Not why she is pregnant and why not me but more like everyone gets pregnant when will it be my time? Haven’t I suffered enough? What is ‘enough’? How many more tests, painful procedures, disappointments and heartbreaks do I have to endure before it is deemed that I am ready to don the maternal mantle? I silently yelled out at the universe. I let myself feel the primitive want that was crowding my senses. I sobbed hot, angry tears into my patiently accepting pillowcase. DH came to me so many times, hugging me, consoling me, loving me, soothing me in the way only he can. His concern, his love it broke me further. Why can I not make him a daddy? And then, even more sadness, as I see his face fall when he is unable to stop my crying.

I want to be happy, so happy. I want to shop for onesies and choose the best stroller out there. I want to get a pristine white crib from Pottery Barn. I want to smell baby powder and snuggle against oh-so-soft baby blankets. I want to select cute little shoes and take endless pictures. But most of all I want my arms to feel the blissful weight of my child. And for that, I will persevere.

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Tainted red

So this morning I got my period. I had the slightest bit of pink spotting last night when I wiped which actually had me feeling positive because I never spot and certainly not with white CM. However, the positivity was in vain. Had a terrible backache all night and morning pee revealed AF in all her scarlet glory.

And so we went over our monthly routine. The flood gates were lowered, the tear ducts called into action and a veritable arsenal of Kleenex stood on hand. My back hurts, my stomach hurts but most of all my bloody heart hurts. I scream silently to whoever should be listening. I rant in helpless frustration. I pour my grief out in shuddering sobs. It soaks my pillow, it takes home in my shirt sleeve and it crawls all over my face. Yet I am never quite done. Like an unsatiated demon, I find no tears worthy enough to express the rawness of my disappointment.

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Another missed date with fate!

So, early today morning at 14 dpo, I got the dreaded AF back in full flow. While I had promised myself that I would not go stark, raving obssessive over each and every symptom during my TWW, I must admit there were occasional lapses where my itchy fingers sought out http://www.twoweekwait.com/bfp-after-miscarriage and of course there were the random symptom searches (7 dpo–itchy eyes?, 10 dpo–crazy dreams?… btw what the %$#@ are ‘vivid’ dreams since everyone and her first cousin seems to be having them only to result in much coveted BFPs… what is it that they’re dreaming about that I can’t get my stupid brain cells to conjure up??!!).

Anyhow, so well… August was not to be. The ceremonial shedding of tears happened right on cue after a peeing trip at 7am revealed the enemy to be back! Poor spouse did much back-rubbing, whispering soothing assurances and trying his best to get me out of the post BFN funk I find myself in at the end of every month but the tears wouldn’t stop. The pity fest lasted for a mere 2 hours though, followed by a back-to-back appearance of Lady Rage. Much ranting and shaking of mutinous fists later, there was a lull. It was almost 11.15 am and I had refused to emerge from the shadowy confines of my bed. But there was the matter of a straining bladder and a grumbling stomach. Hubby had left for work, promising to be back soon to check on me. Thus it was that I dragged myself out somehow, my anger, hurt & despair trailing behind me and grudgingly got some breakfast together.

Onwards to the next cycle. We are thinking of doing an IUI this time provided we can get our vacationing RE to fit us into his crazy schedule (he’s booked till the end of September!). Fingers crossed!

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The saddest pee in the world…

Seeing a negative pregnancy test when you’re trying to conceive can be one of the most soul crushing moments of one’s life. There’s something infinitely lonely about peeing on a stick, heartbeat racing, and then waiting the dreaded three minutes for the lines to show. And then all you see is just one determined pink line, asserting its presence by the second as if to say—this is my domain, no one else can be here but me. Your eyes keep staring at the white space next to the line, almost willing another one to appear there but no dice. One line and one line alone. The heart flops down to basement level, waiting tears rush to spill out and the world seems a bleak, unforgiving place.
This was our first time trying after my myomectomy. I know that there is no magic formula involved here, but I was just hoping to conceive immediately now that the fibroid monster is out of my system. Something about making the move to this nice, almost-suburban place just made me feel that I might get lucky here. Real soon. And then there were the signs. Every darn show I saw on TV had something about pregnancy. For the first time in my life I am living in a street level apartment which makes me feel it’s the perfect place to fall preggers. And of course, I am surrounded by kids. This is a family oriented neighborhood and babies abound in this little complex which is heartwarming and heartbreaking both at the same time.
Oh well. April, my treacherous friend, it’s a firm goodbye to you I guess. May, it remains to be seen what your true colors will be like.