Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I've been bad

Here we are, knocking on April's door and a few weeks away from our upcoming FET and here I am sitting here at my computer drinking a cup of coffee. Not the decaf stuff I usually switch to a month or so before IVF, the regular kind that lures you out of your bed each morning and says, "hey, maybe today won't be so bad. At least you have me."
A friend once described coffee as her dark mistress, which I think is hilarious and true in a strange sort of way. My favorite line from the animated flick Open Season is when Elliott, the character voiced by Aston Kutcher, finds a cup of coffee in the dumpster. He takes a sip, "Yuck. Yuck. Yuck! It's terrible and wonderful at the same time! It's like freedom in a cup!" And, much to my husband's annoyance, I often quote this line after my first sip in the morning. He doesn't get it because he doesn't like coffee. But, whenever I roll that one out in front of a true coffee lover, they always laugh along with me. It's so true.
So, in other words, I do not want to live without my coffee, but I have given it up from time to time when doing IVF. Most of the time I wean myself off of the good stuff and slowly make the switch from half-caf to decaf.
But, this time, well I just haven't had the motivation -- yet. I have set April 1 as the date that I bid my dark mistress adieu.
My other confession: I've been drinking wine. Not lots of wine, mind you. Just a glass here or there after work or with dinner. And a couple of glasses at a friend's house during dinner over the weekend. It's a nice way to relax sometimes.
It's not that I don't care about this upcoming FET. I do. I mean, if it works, well, that would be a fabulous little miracle and I would not let an ounce of caffeine (or wine for that matter) pass my lips until said miracle is delivered. But this FET is different from IVF in that I'm not actively trying to produce a crapload of high-quality eggs. I'm merely trying to show up on transfer day with a nutrient rich uterine lining and most of my sanity in tact. Therefore, I haven't really been thinking a lot about this cycle. I've been more focused on these darn Praxis exams and formulating back up plans in my mind if this teaching thing doesn't work out.
And, maybe that's a good thing. Maybe because I haven't been dwelling on the pending cycle the pregnancy will be able to sneak up on me. ha ha. Maybe my self-sabotaging brain will take the bait and chase after this mid-life career change instead of chasing it's proverbial tail around and around my FET. And, maybe my body will just do what it's supposed to do -- under the influence of caffeine or not.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How do you feel about Turkey?

That was the question I posed to Greg today over lunch.
"The country or the bird?" he said.
"The country," I responded, knowing full well that he'd pick roast beef or ham over turkey any day of the week.
"I love it. Why?" he said, giving me one of those I-know-you-are-up-to-something-looks. I should explain here that dear husband has been to Turkey more times than I can count and even though he had a nasty bout of what is commonly known in the military as the Turkish Trots during his last visit (the doc had to make a house call to treat him) he holds no grudge. He loves Turkish food, Turkish architecture and apparently, before he met me of course, Turkish women, who he credits with teaching him the Texas two-step. Don't ask.
"Read this," I said, as I pushed the newest edition of Conceive magazine under his nose. I had picked it up at Dr. V's office, though sometimes I get mad when I read it because it seems to focus a lot on pregnancy and all the things that come after conception rather than what comes before, or maybe it's just me. Either way, it was better than reading Parenthood, which is the only other option in Dr. V's office other than a well-worn copy of Essence that I have already read twice. And, by the way, Essence, you could use a few good copy editors.
The story that caught my eye was about medical tourism, specifically for fertility treatments and it highlights a clinic in Istanbul that apparently offers a package of IVF with ICSI, 17 nights at a four-star hotel, medications, airport transfers, transportation to and from all appointments and concierge services for $5,800. Thank you, sweet Jesus, where do I sign up?
According to Conceive, the doctor at this clinic splits his time between Yale, where he is a professor and director of reproductive and endocrinology and infertility at the Yale University School of Medicine, and Anadolu Hospital in Istanbul where he runs another fertility center. The center reports success rates of 64 percent for women under the age of 35 in non-donor IVF cycles.
And, did I mention that the article says the hospital recently opened a wing that features efficiency apartments for couples undergoing treatment?
I'm no stranger to the idea of seeking treatment outside of the US. We met with an Italian RE when we first started this journey because we were living in Italy. But because of restrictive laws there and some other reasons that I won't go into here, we decided to travel back to the states for treatment. And, at one point, I consulted with a German doctor who probably would have had some good results if we had chosen to cycle with him, but logistically it would have been a nightmare with travel and lodging so we stayed put. One of my dear friends cycled in the Czech Republic and was happy with her doctors and the level of care she received, though it ended with a chemical pregnancy. So, for us, the idea of going to Turkey for another round of IVF doesn't seem to far fetched and for the cost, we could almost do two cycles there compared to what we would pay for one here.
I've been doing a little web investigating and it all looks great. So, who knows? If this frozen cycle doesn't work out, we might take a little vacation to Turkey.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Boy was my face red!

Being a military spouse has its privellages. For one, we don't pay anything for medications if we get them from the base pharmacy and since we spent the past four years living overseas, we rarely had a reason to go off base to a pharmacy for medications. So, I became very accustomed to walking up to the pharmacy window, showing my ID, picking up my little brown bag and leaving. No payment required. Since our IVF meds usually come in the mail, I haven't really had an occasion to pick up any medications from a civilian pharmacy in a while. So, today, after my ultrasound appointment, I went over to a special compounding pharmacy to pick up a prescription that my doctor had called in. The pharmacist came over to explain the shots to me -- dear Lord it's a big needle -- and when she was done, I took the bag, said thank you and walked out the door. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Without paying! They had to chase me down. Sad but true. Oh the brain of a poor infertile woman. It just doesn't work right sometimes!
Anyway, $67 later, I'm all set to start this frozen cycle. Nurse Cindy said everything was clear, my ovaries looked good, no cysts or anything. Today we begin Lupron injections.
Oh and I found out late last week that my husband will be going to a three-week long class in Texas at the end of the month, leaving a few days after our transfer. Not sure how I'll manage those progesterone shots without him? Have any of you self-injected those? Seems like it would be difficult. Anyway, the worst part is that he won't be here for the beta results (or his birthday or the day they announce whether he made his next rank). Hopefully, it will be all good news for us and we'll have plenty to celebrate when he gets home.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lil' box o' meds

Funny, that title reminds me of when I was a rookie reporter working on the crime beat of a small daily paper near my hometown. The newsroom had no computerized archives, only this archaic system of clipiings filed in the basement. So, if you needed to write a story about a murder trial and you wanted to read the original story from when the murder took place, you had to trudge down there and find the clippings. And, you had to deal with the lady in charge of said clippings -- known as "the evil librarian." It was a terrible headache so I bought a little plastic box and began to keep my own files on each new murder that took place in our fair city. I labled it "box o' murderers" and my co-workers thought it was hilarious.

Anyway. I digress. The point of this post is that I got my little box of medications yesterday. I say little because this box was only about a quarter of the size of our last box, as it only contained Lupron and my all time favorite IVF drug -- progesterone in oil, and of course all the needles and syringes needed to inject said drugs. Another med is being compounded at a local pharmacy to meet my doc's specialized request on the dosage.

So, we're all set. Our first ultrasound is scheduled for Monday morning and away we go. Nurse Cindy will be doing it because Dr. V will still be out of town, but I don't mind because it's not like she's going to be counting follies or anything. She's just taking a look to make sure all is quiet on the western front.

In the mean time, I'm working a lot and studying for the upcoming PRAXIS exam, which I'm not that worried about. I'm confident I can pass the reading and writing parts with no problems. It's the math that gives me trouble. So I'm going to study right now! Stupid fractions!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Oh bother!

Dear Rowan,
One day I will introduce you to my beloved Winnie the Pooh and you will know the significance of Oh Bother!
I preface this post by saying I just had a huge "discussion" with my dear husband who announced tonight after dinner that he doesn't think I should be pursuing a career change (trying to get into this alternative teacher certification program) while we're in the midst of our frozen cycle.
Geez. Here I am trying to do something positive and he's giving me lip. He thinks I'll be so stressed by the pending PRAXIS exams that it might have a negative impact on our cycle. I told him that maybe having something else to think about during a cycle -- other than the cycle -- would be a good thing.
Anyway. That's neither here nor there because I'm not going to back out of the cycle or the tests. I'll do them both and it will be just fine.
My parents left yesterday and I was so sad to see them leave, but they were happy to be going home. They really missed their grandchildren. Brody is a great little dog, but he can't compare to the seven grandchildren that they normally see several times a week.
The most significant event during my little leave of absence was that my RE's office called to say that he would be going out of town for a few weeks and would not be able to meet with us on the 22nd as planned for a cycle review. I nearly lost it! I really felt like I needed to talk with him about our failed January cycle before moving on to the frozen cycle. So, I called Nurse Cindy, who laughed and said the office ladies were nuts and that she'd work us in before Dr. V left town. And, she did. So, on Thursday before we left for New Orleans, we met with Dr. V.
First of all, he was very sympathetic concerning our failed cycle. "I know you're frustrated," he said. And, we are, but it's more than that at this point. We're just tired. We're exhausted.
Next, he told us that proceding with the frozen cycle is the next logical step for us, though he gave us the stats on frozen vs. fresh and how much better fresh is.
Then, he told us that if we do not conceive on this upcoming frozen cycle, that we will have moved from a diagnosis of male factor to the lovely diagnosis of "unexplaiend infertility." Great.
When we first met Dr. V, he told us he was willing to try an IVF cycle with us, but would caution us that if it didn't work, he probably wouldn't be willing to go for a fourth. But, he said that he saw so much improvement in egg quality and quantity that he would advise a fourth fresh cycle -- but before proceding he would require me to go through more extensive genetic testing to see if there is something in there that's causing the "unexplained" part of our infertility.
The good news is that our three frozen embryos -- which are one day older than the ones we transferred (6 day blasts) are good quality. One was even a higher quality than the two we transferred (which was not the case on the day of transfer, obviously, but the extra day allowed this one to progress to a better quality). So that is good news. And, Dr. V talked to us about how a uterus prepared for a frozen cycle can be much better than one prepared during a fresh, because of the high hormone levels and all that jazz. So, with my system all "quiet" and our top notch embryos, maybe this will be the cycle that finally gets us to you, Rowan.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gearing up

Dear Rowan,
I've been so busy with my parents here that I've not had time to write lately. But things are progressing nonetheless. I started my bc pills and antibiotics as the prelude to our upcoming frozen cycle.
Nurse Cindy guesses our transfer will be on or around April 19.
With IF treatments, the timing is never very convenient. I've been putting all my efforts into transforming my life -- applying for an alternative teacher certification program that would put me in the classroom in the fall as a first-year teacher -- and applying for a ton of jobs in case that doesn't work out. I told Greg that it will be just my luck to get accepted into the program and then find out I'm pregnant. Of course, I would not complain one bit!!
Anyway, we will probably be heading to New Orleans tomorrow, which is exciting.
I hope all you blog friends out there don't think I've forgotten about you!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dear Rowan,
I'm a little late on Show and Tell this week, I guess. But, I'll share anyway. Here's the link to Mel's Show and Tell if anyone out there would like to join the party. This is a picture of Brody when he was just a little pup with all his friends gathered in his bed.

This picture always makes me think of that song, "I get by with a little help from my friends." That certainly is true for me. Even though my friends are far flung and most of them I haven't seen in almost a year -- they still help me get through with their phone calls and e-mails.
And, now, I have several supportive "friends" that follow this blog and they have all been very kind to me.
So, I think Brody was on to something when he surrounded himself with all of his friends. Sometimes, we all need to lean on our friends and family.
My parents are here now. They arrived yesterday and it is so good to see them and have them here. I am so looking forward to coming home from work today because my house won't be empty! I'll have my mom, my dad and Brody here to welcome me. Such a great feeling!

Monday, March 1, 2010

On my mind

Dear Rowan,
I guess I'm starting to sound a little like Willie Nelson, but it's true that you are always on my mind. The idea of you sort of hangs like a backdrop on the stage of my life. Various scenes play out, some happy, some sad, some mundane, some thrilling and yet, always, there you are.
So, that's where I find myself today as I prepare for my parents to visit. It will be the first time they've visited us here in Louisiana. The trip they had planned in October was cancelled when my mother became very sick and ended up in the hospital.
We all made a last-minute decision for them to fly in on Thursday, after looking at the calendar and agreeing that this would be the best time for everyone. I am so looking forward to having them here.
When we left their house after our Christmas visit, I had high hopes that the next time I saw them, I'd be pregnant. But that was not to be and maybe that's one of the reasons I'm so elated to know that in a few short days (fingers crossed) my Mama and Daddy (yes, that's what I call them) will be here in our home, giving me all the support and love that a girl could ever need.
My parents are the greatest blessing in my life. They're a bright and shining light of love for my entire family. Each day, they show us what enduring love (almost 50 years of marriage!) looks like.
I'm always happiest when I'm surrounded by the people I love most. So, I expect to be very content during their two-week visit. But, you'll be there in the background, Rowan. And, I know I'll be wishing that you were a part of this happy time.
Your grandparents have endured every step along this IF journey with us and they grieve just as we grieve. They hope and they pray and they encourage me to keep the faith. I hope you get to meet them someday soon.