Friday, May 30, 2008

Playing dumb

I had to report to the hospital at the g-d-awful hour of 6:00 am this morning for my scheduled hysteroscopy with Dr. Expert.

Well, there were no polyps, no scar tissue, and no fibroids other than the two we knew about which aren't a problem (they are in the wall of the uterus and don't protrude into the uterine cavity).

But....and you gotta hate the but......there was something that he referred to as "abnormal" and "shouldn't have been there", but also said "could be nothing". Great. It was in my endometrial lining at the back of my uterus (where, interestingly, he said that 2/3 of all embryos implant, so, getting rid of it was a good thing). He removed it, sent it off to pathology, and we'll have the results next Thursday. He used the words "we need to make sure it's benign" which, of course, is a scary statement. But, I'm not going to freak myself out until I know more. I googled some things (he mentioned endometritis and we'd have to deal with it if that's what it is...) and then I stopped.

Dr. Expert acted as if he wasn't too concerned. I don't know if he was just trying to keep me calm, but, just this once, I'm going to accept what's been told to me, play dumb, and not research until my fingers cramp and smoke comes out of my computer. We'll deal with whatever it is when we know more.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Who am I?

I was tagged by the lovely Megan to do a pretty interesting meme (to see pictures of Megan's beautiful girls and read her meme thought process, click here)....

The Meme originated over an idea that was prompted by the book written by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser, Not Quite What I was Planning: Six Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. It's a compilation based on the story that Hemingway once bet ten dollars that he could sum up his life in six words. His words were- For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Here are the rules:
  1. Write your own six word memoir.
  2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
  3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.
  4. Tag five more blogs with links.
  5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!
OK, so what is my six word memoir? Of course, my mind starts spinning out thoughts of I'm a mother with no baby (I know, so cliche), or Still waiting for my turn, or Trying so hard, gotta keep trying but, you know what, I'm not going to use those, or any of the other 20 or so floating around my brain.

I AM MORE THAN AN INFERTILE! Yes, that is a big part of my life, but, that is not, that WILL NOT be what defines me.

What do I want my 6 word memoir to say about me? A better question is probably "Who am I?".

I am a woman, wife, daughter, niece, sister, aunt, friend, American, jew, professional, volunteer, reader, Giants and Mets fan, singer, conservative, traditionalist, procrastinator, homebody, New Jerseyan, bagel-snob, chocoholic, blogger, organizer, family spokesperson, needlepointer, game lover, gadget geek, nestie, and infertile.

So, how do I sum all of that up into 6 words? I think this will do:

Guided by love, hope, and faith

So, now I have the honor of tagging five women and finding out how they will write their memoirs!

Michelle at Tales of an Infertile Woman
Ariella at Wishing for my Miracle
Sasha at IVF do you?
Christi at Our Journey
Amy at Make It Grand

Have fun, ladies!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Ugly, The Bad, and The Good

Yes, I reversed the order of that famous phrase because I want to end on something good!

The Ugly
These diseases that Glenn and I have. I don't understand, but, we just cannot kick them. I'm not hacking anymore, so, it appears as if the bronchitis is gone, but, 6 days into a 7 day course of strong antibiotics and I can still feel fluid in my lungs with every breath I take, I still wheeze when I'm laying down, and I still have a nasty sinus infection. Glenn's lungs appear to be clear, but, he has a terrible cough and cold and was even running a fever last night. We're staying home on this absolutely beautiful Memorial Day because we just really need to rest, but, I've got all of the windows open and I'm washing all of our bedding - anything else I can do to try to get rid of these diseases for good??

The Bad
Are all dads as stubborn as mine? Apparently, my dad has been having chest pains for weeks but didn't say anything because he wanted to get through Memorial Day (he's a parade organizer in my hometown)! Well, they got to be too much Saturday night, so, off to the hospital we all went. I think the North Jersey hospital system is going to start rolling out a red carpet for us as we seem to be frequenting them at a ridiculously high rate. The good news is that all tests came back showing that he didn't have a heart attack (my dad had triple bypass 26 years ago and had a couple of stents put in 2 years ago) but they want to do an angiogram to look for more blockages. Because of the holiday, they won't do it until tomorrow and he really is feeling OK and under the right care, but, jeez, another scare for our family. And, Glenn and I can't even go see him because of the aforementioned diseases.

The Good
Yes, I have good news - no, wonderful news to report! My mother has been approved to be placed on the kidney transplant list! She's been doing dialysis 3x a week for the last year and a half and had to meet some milestones before being allowed onto the list, but, she has done that and, as of Friday, is officially on the list! I'm not sure where we're going from here, in terms of testing family members, but, the important thing is that she is on the list and we can move forward from here!

Friday, May 23, 2008

False Expectations

I've been thinking a lot about the expectations we have for ourselves and how, in dealing with infertility, we sometimes (and, for some of us, more than sometimes) have to re-evaluate and alter those expectations. But, we'll deal with that another time.

I want to talk about the expectations that other people give to you and, really, how unfair that is. I remember someone telling me recently that she went for her first RE appointment and the doctor told her "it's not IF you will have a baby, it's WHEN you will have a baby". Now she was probably 10 years younger than me, but, still, the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up, my stomach flip-flopped, and I entered "protection" mode.

I hate to hear things like that. The doctor is not G-d. The doctor, despite his or her best efforts, may not help that person succeed in having a baby. I'm not trying to be overly negative here and take hope away from anyone. Honestly, you cannot go through all that we infertiles go through and not have hope. Sitting here, on the brink of IVF #6, I still have hope. Sometimes I wonder if it's not hope, but, stupidity, but, that's a whole other story.

But, hope is quite different from false expectations. I have hope. I no longer have expectations. Did I at the onset of our first IVF? I'm sure that I did, but, it's so long ago it's hard to remember. Am I jaded? I don't know, I'd like to think that maybe I'm just more realistic. Nobody.....NOBODY going through infertility treatments can know for sure that it's going to work and to set those false expectations, to me, just seems wrong.

Similarly, I struggle every time someone who has dealt with infertility and, by the grace of G-d, successfully gotten pregnant, comes out and says something like "hey, if it happened for me, it will happen for you!". Usually statements like these are not said to me individually, but, posted on an infertility message board as "Girls, I can't believe it worked and I'm finally pregnant! I swear, if it worked for me, it will work for all of you! Just hang in there!!". Please don't take my comments here to mean that I'm not thrilled for them. I truly am. But, honestly, just because it worked for you - after 2 months on clomid, 1 IUI, or 4 IVF's - doesn't mean that it's going to work for me or anyone else. I know that these women are excited, and rightfully so! Maybe I've just reached a real bitter stage, but, statements like that actually feel more like a slap in the face now because I can no longer include myself in that group who "expects" this to work.

"Girls, I can't believe it worked and I'm finally pregnant! I swear, if it worked for me, it will work for all of, maybe not all of you....possibly not you, Lisa......but, everyone else, I swear, this will work for you!!!!"

And, the likelihood is that, yes, it will work for a lot of those women. I guess it's hard being in the hearty and tested and eternally hopeful group who may never succeed.

Interestingly, though, it was nothing online that set off this thought process today. It was actually another person (yes, there have been more than a few) in my real life who like to tell me "it took us 2 (or 3 or 4) years so, hang in there, it will happen". That's what sent me down this long and winding path.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Now I have pneumonia!

Yep, that's right. Back to the doctor today. Acute bronchitis with a touch of pneumonia.

For those of you with a good memory, yes Glenn was diagnosed with pneumonia last Monday. You might conclude from this, therefore, that Glenn gave me pneumonia. But, you'd be wrong. At least, that's what he wants you to believe. I blame myself for 3 years of infertility, but, he doesn't want anyone to think that he, maybe, just maybe, unknowingly and unplanned gave me a touch of pneumonia.

We'll just let him believe that nobody is thinking that. Deal?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Balloons....everywhere you look

Someone posted this on an infertility board today:

"At times other people's pregnancies really bother me, especially if they're totally unexpected. My husband doesn't get it, and I can't really explain it to him. I'm trying to think of a good analogy...?"

So, it got me thinking, is it really other people's pregnancies that bother me? I don't think so. Seeing pregnant women has never been all that difficult for me. It's seeing the babies that result from those pregnancies, knowing how hard we've tried for one, that makes me want to crawl into a hole and never see the light of day again.

My analogy. Ready for this? It's like wanting a balloon. You go to the park and see others carrying beautifully colored balloons, all colors of the rainbow, and decide you want one yourself. For whatever reason, you can't walk up to the balloon vendor and get one. He's giving them out to others, but looks at you and shakes his head. So, you say to yourself, OK, I'll find another way to get that coveted balloon. I'll go to the store and pay someone lots of money to give me all the components necessary to help make my balloon. But, certainly, I'm young and healthy and don't need to be too extreme. So, I'll just take the piece of latex and a foot pump. Then, you pump and you pump and you pump and, nothing, the balloon won't blow up.

Here's a decision point. Do you try something more aggressive to blow up the balloon? Or do you give up your dream of the balloon and look at a kite or a pinwheel instead? They are just as much fun, but, not exactly the balloon you've been thinking about your whole life. Meanwhile, you can't help but notice all of the new balloon owners that have cropped up while you've had your head down pumping away, walking around so happily, showing off their beautiful new balloons.

So, you decide to try something more aggressive and, instead of the foot pump, you get a helium tank. Certainly this has to work! Because of the amount of time you've spent in that park, you've come to know so many other people who have struggled with getting their balloons, but, the helium tank was the perfect solution for them and now they are happily and proudly walking around with their beautiful balloons. It has to work for you!

At first, the helium tank seems to be working! It's producing more air than your foot pump ever did. Your hopes grow. But, sadly, in the end, that balloon just didn't want to be blown up. Hmm, let's try another balloon. It may take several attempts, but, lo and behold, the balloon is inflating! Yea!! You begin to picture yourself with the balloon. You figure out timing of when that balloon will be fully blown up. You maybe even tell some people that your balloon is finally inflating and, in just a short time, you will be able to proudly walk around the park with yours, too!

And, then, suddenly, your balloon bursts (pun intended) and that balloon will never be again.

Decision point, yet again. Same questions - try another balloon? Look for a different toy? Or, maybe for the first time, you start to think about what it would be like to not have any balloons or toys at all and only be able to admire them from afar, never meant to have one in your hands.

And, still, more and more balloons seem to be appearing in the park. You notice that some people are even carrying two or three. You long to be one of the balloon bearers, but, despite everything you've done, you're still sitting on the park bench with nothing more than a depleted helium tank and a burst balloon.

This is the life of an infertile.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


The beautiful Emily at What to expect when you're NOT expecting has tagged me, so, here goes!

4 Things I did 10 Years Ago - 1998
  1. At the end of 1997, I left NJ and moved to the DC area, so, 1998 was a year for me to explore my new home and learn to love DC even more than I already did.

  2. I worked on a consulting project where the housing allowance was quite generous and I lived in a corporate apartment that cost half of what I was given. In 10 months I banked a lot off that project!

  3. I had my one and only gym membership, because my company paid for it - and actually went every day!

  4. Got stuck on an airplane on the tarmac for 13.5 hours on a flight that NEVER took off. The flight was supposed to be 50 minutes, from Newark to DC, so there was no food on the plane.

4 Things I did 5 Years Ago - 2003

  1. New Year's Eve '03/'04 - decided I was done with the guy I'd been dating on and off for the previous year and a half. (ps - I met Glenn 3 weeks later!)

  2. Decided to leave consulting, which required 100% travel, and took a local job. Best decision I made, except that I went to a lousy company (which I was only at for a little over a year, thank goodness).

  3. Took a vacation after not taking one for years. I rented an ocean front beach house on Long Beach Island. It rained the entire week!

  4. Decided to become a Big Sister. Went through the screening and was matched with a 12 year old girl. We still have a relationship today.

4 Things I did Yesterday

  1. Woke to Glenn having breathing difficulty and rushed him to the ER

  2. Spent 7 hours in the hospital to, thankfully, get a diagnosis of pneumonia

  3. Made a kick-ass pot of chicken soup with matzah balls AND noodles!

  4. Went to chorus rehearsal in the city and sang, almost nonstop, for 3 hours (we have a concert this Sunday, so it was an intense rehearsal).

4 TV Shows I Love to Watch

  1. Lost

  2. The Mets!

  3. Jeopardy

  4. All home improvement/selling your house shows!
4 Things I Love to Do

  1. Sing

  2. Read

  3. Research and Plan (parties, vacations, holidays, day trips, etc....)

  4. Spend time on the internet!
Now, I tag: Michelle, at Tales of an Infertile Woman, Melissa, at notes from the (formerly) infertile belly, Dagny, at Who is John Galt?, Bee Cee, at Definition of Insanity, and Maryann, at The Infertile Mommy.

Monday, May 12, 2008

That poor camel

I'm having a really rough day.

Glenn has pneumonia. Thankfully it was caught early and thankfully it didn't turn out to be something worse (not that pneumonia is anything to sneeze at). In reality, with all the stuff that keeps happening to us, this is really just a little blip, but, somehow, it caused me to spiral into a pit of self-pity today.

I don't even think it's the actual pneumonia. It was the scare again this morning, the seeing Glenn scared, the not knowing what it might be, the ride to the ER, the running through his medical history and the list of all of the meds he takes with yet another doctor, the EKG's and other tests, etc....

I think I was OK until they told us there was no congestive heart failure, only pneumonia, and told us we could go home, after IV antibiotics, a prescription, and a warning of what to watch out for. I'm struggling between being grateful that it wasn't something worse and falling deeper into this abyss of self-pity. I really do try to look for the positive, but, really, I have to ask, why does this stuff keep happening to us? I'm just tired - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I feel like I have nothing left in me to give to anyone else. And, constantly waiting for that next shoe to drop certainly doesn't help, especially when you have some fears already about what the next shoe might possibly be.

I haven't talked about this yet, but, in addition to the infertility stuff, I have another medical thing of my own going on. I have to see a specialist and have some tests and, once I know more, I'll fill you all in.

So, I guess the pneumonia was the proverbial straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. That poor camel has carried a lot of weight for us the last few years (here's a rundown, if you're new to reading here). He needs a break. I think we both do.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Back from Atlantic City

Wow, I haven't posted since Tuesday. That's the longest break I've taken in a very long time and, you know what, I really needed it. Not only did I take a break from work, I think I took a bit of a break from infertility. Well, not really, because there were a ton of kids there and I couldn't help but be a little sad. But, for the first time in, well, probably in years, I didn't fire up a computer or check email for 3 whole days - and that included blogs and my infertility boards!!

I did miss the blogs I keep up on but, thanks to the beauty of Google Reader, I caught up on a ton of posts last night.

So, sorry things have been quiet from here, but, I was on a much-needed break and now I'm back! Oh, and I'm back a winner - even better!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

No place is safe, and that's OK....sorta

For those who don't know, I sing with a Yiddish chorus in NYC.

Shameless plug - our annual concert is coming up on Sunday, June 1st at Symphony Space in the city. If anyone local is interested in experiencing a culturally different music event than you've probably ever experienced before, let me know! Click here to check out our website!

Anyway, as you might expect, the chorus is composed of people of all ages, but, trends towards the "kids are already out of the house" generation (although we have had a resurgence of 20 somethings!). We rehearse on Monday evenings (so, last night) and, given the population, you would expect to not see many young kids at rehearsal.

Before I go on, I have to say that I absolutely love being around kids. Even though it sometimes feels like my heart is going to stop because the ache is so bad and I can't control the welling of the tears, I'm still drawn to the under-10 crowd and, interestingly, they are usually drawn to me. Ask my family - the adults will sit around the table talking while I'm usually on the floor playing with the kids, after being dragged from the table by one or two of them.

So, you can see where this is going. One of our members brought his daughter to rehearsal last night. Although it's hard for me, I actually love when there are unexpected kids at what otherwise should be a safe place - like when someone brings their child to work. Boy, am I a contradiction - I love it, even though it makes me sad. Maybe "glutton for punishment" is a better description.

She was around 4. She was in a pretty little dress and had ponytails. She was absolutely adorable. She sat right next to me. We "flirted" throughout rehearsal. She drew me a picture of a flower.

And then I cried on my way home because I realized that the only really safe place is home, the one place I want to see kids more than any other.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Today marks the two year anniversary of our first RE appointment. Yes, we tried on our own for 11 months before that, but, I really look at the start of treatments as our real chance. Unlike many people who use OPK's and timed intercourse, then build up to clomid, then try clomid IUI's, then injectible IUI's, and, finally, IVF, we didn't take that route. We went right to IVF. Let's just say, it's been two long years of invasive, hopeful-only-to-have-your-heart-ripped-out-of-your-chest treatments BUT I believe I'm a stronger person for it because here I am, still standing on the other side of that two years!

Oh, and, yes, today is also my 39th birthday! Thus starts the countdown to 40!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

All About Me......No, It's Not

I'll admit it. I have made all of this infertility stuff all about me. Sure, I know Glenn is involved and our families hurt that there are no new grandchildren (none at all on my side) and hurt for all that we've been through, but, still, in my mind, I've just let it be more about me. I think that changed a little yesterday.

We went to my friends' son's first birthday party and it was really a lovely party. I know, for some people, events like that are just too painful to attend. While they aren't a picnic for me, I've still been able to go to birthday parties and showers and bris', etc...

We walked in and the first thing I noticed was how many babies and toddlers there were. It was like a punch in my gut, but, I focused on my friends who were there and on their babies, who were adorable. I teared up a couple of times, but, my friends were wonderful! While I held their babies, they soothed me and said they understood how difficult this had to be and asked questions about our upcoming cycle with Dr. Expert.

Oh, I should say, before going on, that the mother of the birthday boy and my other friends there are all women I've met because of infertility, all women who have dealt with it themselves. I will always be grateful to this struggle because of the wonderful women I now get to call my friend.

Anyway, how did I realize it wasn't all about me? At one point, I looked around and saw five or so dads holding their beautiful babies, and then I saw Glenn and could sense his pain and his discomfort and my heart broke for him. He didn't know where to look or what to do, and my heart ached for him.....and for us.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Clinic C + Dr. Expert = One More Chance?

It was a good appointment. Since we've been through so much already, he had a lot of data and history to look at! First of all, I really liked and appreciated his honesty. He, like Dr. Hope, talked about donor being a very viable option and one that would greatly increase our chances. He also realized that, if we decided to cycle, we are probably looking at one more chance before going to donor. I just really appreciated that he didn't try to tell us that there are multiple things we should try and we should do them there blah blah blah.

But, he did say that they have a protocol that he does think can be successful. They have seen women in exactly my position - normal FSH, low ovarian reserve, several failed IVF's - who have had success. He thinks they can get to a minimum of 4-5 eggs, but is not counting out 7 or 8. But, what's really different is that he is looking at a two-pronged approach - more eggs AND increased embryo quality.

The protocol is called estrogen priming. I'll write more about it another day, but, basically, it involves using estrogen and ganirelix before the cycle begins to try to get more follicles, and, therefore, hopefully, more eggs. For simulation, he recommends 450 of Follistim PLUS 150 Menopur. I've always done the 450 Follistim, so, this adds even more drug to the mix! And, he said that this is a long, slow protocol. That's going to be a lot of needles!

As for improving quality, he recommends a process called co-culture. Basically, they do an endometrial biopsy, take some of your lining, and then, when they have fertilized embryos, rather than putting them just in a dish to develop, they lay them on this blanket of your lining. I'll write more about this after I do some reseach. It makes perfect sense to me - put the embryos in an environment closest to in the uterus and they will be happier than in a plastic dish. Their studies have shown it to improve embryo quality (mine have all had 20-30% fragmentation). In fact, their patients who have the greatest success with it are 38 and have 3.1 failed IVF's. OK, I'll be 39 on Monday, but, still, that's pretty darn close to describing me!!

Finally, he knows I've had 2 saline sonograms and the results of those were fine, but, given that I've now had 2 pregnancy losses, he wants to look a little closer and just make sure there's nothing else going on in my uterus that might be impeding a successful pregnancy (small fibroids, polyps, scar tissue - things that can't be seen in a saline sonogram). So, I'm scheduled for a hysteroscopy at the end of this month.

All in all, I'm encouraged! Of course, I would have loved to hear that he thinks he can get 15 eggs, but, I knew that wouldn't be the case and, frankly, I'd have been very suspect if he had said that. I think he's being very realistic - he thinks this new protocol can really work for me, as it has for many other women in my situation - but he was also very open about if we had to make the decision to convert to IUI he would do it and not take us to retrieval.

Basically, in his words, if this protocol doesn't work for me, work being defined as getting a decent number of eggs/embryos, he doesn't think anything will work and would then advise us to move to donor eggs, although he does really believe this can be successful.

So, some hope. I have a lot to take in and I'm sure I'll have a more "feelings-based" post coming soon, after this more clinical one. I'm off to research!