6

Doing this…

Ignoring the half-dozen incomplete posts glowing in my drafts folder, I am going to jump straight to the present (with the promise of catching up on the older stuff very soon!).

Cue scratchy, ‘audiotape getting fast forwarded’ type of sound.

Today is day 7 of stims and my first day in Colorado. Broadly, things have been progressing reasonably well and it looks like my retrieval will happen on either Monday or latest on Tuesday. I had two local monitoring ultrasounds back home in SF and one in the morning today at CCRM. The follies are ripening and the estrogen is climbing and I’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed.

This cycle has been very different from the last one. There is the obvious difference of a new protocol; I took estrace for almost two weeks this time (the effects are quite like teasing yourself with a gun against your temple everyday!) and along with the jazzed-up hormonal cocktail that CCRM dished out to me last time, there’s also clomid (hello nausea and headaches!) making a special, 5-day appearance! Also, unlike last time this time I did not take cetrotide in the priming phase; it was only added to the mix mid-way into stimming.

Mentally, I’m in a very different place this time around. Riding the truckload of dread accompanying the realization that this was our last cycle at CCRM (unless of course I win the HGTV sweepstakes) and quite possibly the last one with my own eggs, fear terror & sadness (with a reluctant anger trailing behind) have come sailing in, entirely uninvited. The 2 months between my two cycles were days spent working hard on my teetering state of mind (more on that in a separate post). I went round in crazy circles, sinking to fathomless depths of despair & struggling to break the surface and then riding the buoyancy of self-administered hope and squeezing the future of its ability to provide the scantest reassurance. I would wake up crying in the middle of the night as an icy panic would creep up over me. Breathe, B-R-E-A-T-H-E my mind would urge my heart to pay heed. I forced myself to remember what is true today. I am well today, my life is full of love. Older (angrily discarded) platitudes would come rushing to my head —I’m a good person, I deserve to be a mother; God does well by his children…

I have battled with a crippling doubt, the kind of doubt that rips away every shred of innocence from your soul. I look back to the person I was and I marvel at how old I feel. I am proud of who I have become yet my heart aches with sadness at my inability to remember what ‘pure, unadulterated’ everyday living felt like. The joy of untainted expectation, the beauty of just living without the feeling that all of your life, everything that you believe in, everything you hold dear is being held ransom to this one event.

So what changed? Honestly? Nothing, really. I didn’t turn zen overnight and the panic attacks did not disappear. But I did not stop trying. Trying to live in the moment, trying to strengthen my faith (and this wonderful blog constantly inspires me to do so!), trying to be there for others… trying to be a better person (my only NY resolution this time!). Because it is only in this trying that I find solace.

And this is where I am today, sitting in my room in Littleton, Colorado typing out this blog post. In the next few days life could go in strangely unexpected places. I have no idea what will happen or how I will cope with whatever happens. All I am going to concentrate on is today and this moment, right now, when things are just fine.

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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.

0

Don’t peek!

I was doing pretty well till last evening. The weekend had been a good one and (despite the apprehensions) I was looking forward to our call tomorrow with Dr S. Around 10.30 at night, the spouse suggested stepping out for a walk and I readily agreed. These late night walks of ours soothe me like nothing else; often we just walk hand in hand and don’t really say much, each lost in a planet of their own making; but just the reassuring feel of my hand firmly ensconced in his makes me feel connected to him. Plus, our neighborhood is so pretty at night what with the moon beaming from its reflection on the lagoon waters and the quiet, leafy streets. It’s the perfect way to unwind from a long day.

So yesterday when we stepped out, I was not expecting to see what I did. As I mentioned in a previous post, I just found out that one of my neighbors is pregnant, heavily so. The couple had been out vacationing and as I passed by their apartment I was just not expecting them to be in there (or to have their blinds open for the world to peek in). I saw her sitting on the couch watching TV, gently rubbing her pregnant belly and I stood transfixed unable to move until K gently nudged me. It was like a well of sadness sprung up inside me. I felt a cold, wet sludge of envy mixed with fear settle in on my tummy. I wanted so bad to be her. To rub my pregnant belly while watching TV as my husband hovers around, preparing a cup of hot tea for me.

There were no tears, though, this time. We went on with our walk quietly as if nothing had happened. More sickening to me than the jealousy itself was the realization that slowly I am getting acclimatized to feeling like this.

0

Silent screams…

I think too much; I’ve always been told. I know it’s true but I know not how to change it. I know thinking has made me a better person in some ways but mostly it has made me a person who lives too much in her thoughts and not so much in the real world.

Right now is a tough time. A very tough time for the both of us. I hesitate to name it ‘the toughest time ever’ for who knows what else life has in store. Morbid much? Perhaps. The sheen of cheery optimism has been replaced with the recalcitrant grime of dull apprehension.

I see the world. I see an old couple sitting on a weathered bench, their wrinkly, gnarled hands knotted up in each others. I see a young mother wheel her baby in a stroller on a sunlit morning, as her little daughter skips along humming a nursery rhyme. I see the weary trudge of the grocery store attendant as he monotonously scans items and asks everyone if they need a bag today. I see my neighbor and her always-angry little dog walking in the afternoon, one emptied of spirit and the other unable to leash it within. I see always my husband’s face as he sleeps, early in the morning when the sun is yet to scream through the drapes and I notice his furrowed brow and his balled up fist.

I see it all yet I remain far removed. I try to touch it all but my hand hits empty, vacuous air.

0

This is getting crazy…

Either PMS has hit the roof or there is something genuinely amiss here. I haven’t felt this awful in a long while (of course the very definition of ‘long’ here is rather contentious!). All I can think of is how much I want to be pregnant and have my baby. I feel terrified at the thought of waiting and I feel terrified at the thought of being pregnant and worried to death. The miscarriage lingers around like an unwanted specter casting its ominous shadow on everything.

I don’t want to be like this. I want to go back to the way I have been in the past few weeks; hopeful, positive and staying cheerfully busy. No I haven’t exactly been feeling chipper but considering all things I think I was doing very well indeed. And now I’m in this sticky, quicksand-y place which I cannot seem to peel myself out of.

It’s like the whole world is getting pregnant but me. Anyone I talk to knows at least one person who is expecting a baby. If there are so many pregger women out there it should be simple right? I want it to be simple for me also. I want to be one of them. Gosh even reading what I have just typed makes me wonder as to how much more cuckoo I am going to get. But no censoring this. This is what I feel today and I hope that soon there will come a day when I will be able to look at this and laugh and feel eternally grateful to God for giving me the sunshine that is missing right now. Touchwood.