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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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Moving along…

It’s been more than a week since we got back from Colorado. Looking back, it all seems so distant… the stimming, the daily monitoring, the sky rocketing anxiety and the retrieval… and yet it also seems pretty darn crazy that I will be doing all these things AGAIN in a few weeks! Strangely though, perversely even, I want it to happen soon (crazy alert!!)… I don’t quite know how to explain this but it’s like as long as I’m stimming I feel there is hope… as long as I am pumping my body with generous dollops of the fertility cocktail, I feel I am DOING something to make my baby. And that’s probably why once I wake up, after the retrieval, I always feel an immense loss of control, a bottomless sinking feeling that there’s nothing I can do but wait from there on.

Sigh.

After a couple days of wallowing in the sadness of the low fertilization, I sat myself down and firmly chided myself for being such a mopey molly when I was technically only half-way through the task we had set out for ourselves. K and I had already given ourselves a few days to indulge in all the food items we regularly deny ourselves just to give us some reprieve from the shittiness of it all. For the first proper meal we had after we got back, his vice of choice was a stiff double scotch while I wolfed down sliders, washing them down with a formidable glass of cabernet, eating like its going out of fashion. Despite the dull sadness that had settled into the base of my stomach, I was so deliriously happy that night I could have passed out from sheer delight!

A little more planned debauchery later, I filled my pillbox, laced up my sneakers and set out for my walk by the bay (no yoga till I get my period) determined to get back to my pre-IVF routine. I made sure to eat well, to take my supplements on time and to get enough sleep. It’s been going well so far but the one thing that I have not been able to get a grip on is how angry I feel. Anger strikes me at the most unexpected times–the middle of the night, for instance–and takes my breath away with the intensity of its ferociousness. I find myself saying vicious, terrible things out aloud in my mind, I torture myself with visions of friends who have recently become pregnant or had babies, picturing their joy over and over till I am nauseous with envy. I clench my fists and rage at God for not even showing me my baby in my dreams. The most innocuous, the most asinine and the most non-obvious situations, comments, pictures, TV shows (you name it) set me off in a steaming, simmering whirlpool of anguished emotions that I struggle to contain. It’s exhausting observing your mind race off in a mindless abyss, careening out of control, taking you in directions you would be loathe to visit under normal circumstances.

I know that at least part of this is courtesy my good friend–PMS. Perhaps it’s the hormonal roller-coaster my body was on but this time, unlike the first time, I can still feel the after-effects. For one, my period is taking much longer to arrive (last time it started within five days of the retrieval. I was told that HCG takes much longer to exit the body as opposed to just Lupron which is what I triggered with last time) and in the process my body is doing weird, crazy shit. For the first few days after ER my lower back throbbed in pain which even 3 extra-strength tylenols would not relieve, my breasts feel like they are encased in wet cement and I keep getting strange twinges in my lower abdomen. Umm, I just realized this is exactly how I felt when I was pregnant. Beautiful.

The sucky thing about all this is that it ruined the festival season for me. The Indian festival season that is. Diwali, the one day I love was a hot mess of tears, angry words, cold silences rescued thankfully towards the evening when we all (my parents and brothers family) got together to pray in the evening. Each day after that, though, has been slightly better as both K and I immerse ourselves into the clatter and clamor of our daily routine, seeking some semblance of normalcy in this increasingly surreal journey.

My brother is just about a few weeks away from moving back to India with his family. We are all spending a lot more time together which is really nice except it is tinged with the sadness of knowing that they’ll be gone soon. My parents will be staying back with us a couple months though which should help with this transition. I love my parents (as everybody does) but as I see them age before my eyes, my heart breaks at the amount of pain they are going through on my account. I know that there is nothing I can do to control it, I know that I try everything I can to be ‘normal’ in front of them but it kills me to see how much this is affecting them as well. They’re at a stage in life where it should be all about spending quality time with the family, enjoying their grandchildren and being taken good care of. Yet they are, all too often, grieving with K & me, holding my hand when I sob uncontrollably, urging me on the phone to believe and to have faith and to never lose hope. When I see the unadulterated joy in their eyes as they talk to their grandson (my nephew) I feel so happy and so sad all at the same time. Happy that they get to spend this time with him and watch him grow (and that he will soon be back with them in India again) and sad because I have not been able to give them this joy yet.

Today all of us had lunch together and then went out to a mall to spend the evening. It was going so well and then out of nowhere there was a literal invasion of heavily pregnant women (I know I know what else would one expect on a Sunday evening!) and even though now relatively de-sensitized to the sight, today I found myself a blubbering mess in Anthropologie as I tried to reason myself out of a total breakdown and concentrate instead on a lovely set of colorful bowls to buy (retail therapy yay!). There is just something so wholesome about a pregnant woman, so serene especially in the way they cradle their bellies protectively that makes me feel like someone just slowly poured acid all over my heart. I feel incomplete, I feel like I am not worthy of being treated special. For what great achievement can I boast of when I cannot even make a baby? Something that seems to come easy to a vast majority of women.

I suspect the PMS was well at work at this point because I no longer cry when I see pregnant bellies. Feel sick, yes; look the other way, absolutely but no, I do not cry as in unabated-hot-tears-streaming-down-face manner. And certainly not in front of pretty much the whole world. Shocked at my own reaction, I walked out of Anthropologie as fast as my legs could carry me stopping only when I found an isolated bench to sit down on. I managed to pull myself together and the next half-hour went by uneventfully when yet another sighting at Z Gallerie just knocked me over the edge. I just don’t know what was wrong with me today but here I was, again, trying hard to keep the damn tears in my eyes even as they kept spilling over. I told my mom that we were going home, that I was tired. My parents looked searchingly at me as I hurriedly said my byes and walked off with K unable to face them for fear of completely breaking down. He held my hand tight and urged me to walk with him a bit before getting back into the car. He gently asked me what it was. That was my undoing. Through loud, choking sobs I told him I didn’t know what the heck was wrong with me but I was feeling terribly sad looking at all these pregnant women. My words were coming out in a rush and I don’t think I was making much sense but he kept holding my hand and looking at me in that way only he can with love radiating out of his every pore and soon I was quiet and feeling much better than I had all evening. He convinced me to go back and join everyone for dinner and I am so glad we did. We had a really nice dinner at a beautiful Italian place and I could see the relief in all their eyes as I laughed with my nephew, devoured my mussels and talked to everyone.

So, things are moving along in some fashion and what matters is that right now I look forward to tomorrow, to waking up, to going for my walk, to having my supplements, to working on my dissertation, to cooking healthy meals and to spending time with my best friend. And that’s a lot to be thankful for.

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Here we go!

Today is day 1 of our treatment cycle at CCRM. Today, K and I started our ten day course of twice-a-day Doxycycline. I got my period late last night and now have to wait for my LH surge to show up. Ten days after I get a positive OPK I start taking Estrace twice a day and from there on the ball starts rolling. My tentative date to start stimming is the 20th (although I think it will probably be the 18th, given my expected date of surge) and I have an estimated retrieval date of Oct 31st! Which means that we expect to fly out to CO sometime around the 22nd-24th of this month.

There’s many things different about this cycle -the estrogen priming, the cetrotide (I used ganirilex last time), the saizen and the dexamethasone. Also the stims are lower to begin with which is something I’m happy about. I am following a strict policy of singular faith in my doctor and no crazy, anxiety-inducing Dr Google searches! If I start thinking of just how many variables are at play here or how long the entire process is likely to be, I know I’ll just implode. So, one day at a time it’s going to be. Right now my focus is to make the most of each day with good food, moderate exercise, meditative visualization exercises and a special treat to just indulge in :).

It’s been a lazy Saturday so far. I woke up to the incessant chatter of rain and a palette of multi-hued green, always a beautiful sight! I’ve not had much by the way of PMS or aches/ pains but I’m taking it easy and generally staying away from household chores etc. Instead, I plan to make best friends with the couch & my favorite throw and get a little caught up on my dissertation related work (which I am lagging SO far behind on!). Hubby’s been an angel, getting me choice delights to tempt my recalcitrant tastebuds with… bless him!

In a way it’s all so fragile. I feel us beginning to hope again – the painfully tender, green & eager stalks of hope trembling their way into the world amidst a sea of concretized disappointment. I want to cover them up with my hands, cradle them, coo and soothe them to suppleness. I want them to ignore their loneliness and their habitat and forge forth towards the sun.

I realize that this could be the beginning of the most beautiful, the most coveted phase of my life or another stepping stone in what has already been a pretty enervative journey! Either way, my goal is to try stay in the moment and stay somewhat neutral especially since disappointment still hovers around in dark shadows and hope, teasingly, skips in and out of view. What matters right now is that I have this wonderful, blessed opportunity and I’m going to relish every bit of it. I’m going to dip into my faith and wrap it around me snug and tight.

Wish me luck!!