Friday, September 26, 2008

The Head of the Year

This used to be my favorite time of the year. I love the fall. I always loved the start of a new school year. And, while the many hours of shul and prayer might make others cringe, I have always loved Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur signify the beginning of the Jewish year. In fact, Rosh Hashanah literally means "head of the year". While they are two separate holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are very connected. On Rosh Hashanah, and the following days, we pray to G-d for forgiveness for anything bad we've done in the past year and, we believe, G-d hears our prayers and inscribes, in the Book of Life, what our next year will look like - who shall live and who shall die, who shall be poor and who shall grow rich, who shall be healthy and who shall be afflicted, etc.... The specific prayer with this words is called the Unetanah Tokef and is said in every synagogue around the world during these, our High Holy Days. This Book of Life is sealed on Yom Kippur.

In the Christian world, the new year begins on January 1st. For many I know struggling with infertility, the Christmas/New Year holiday season is extremely difficult as it serves as the "marker" of another childless year passed. It's not that way for me. This time of year is my marker. Everything sort of feels new in the early fall - it's the jewish new year, school starts, the season changes, etc.... and, so, this is when I begin to count another year, another childless year.

This is when I go to shul and see people that I grew up with coming back with their children, while I still remain childless. Of course, my feelings about this time of year are exacerbated by the fact that IVF #1, two years ago, resulted in an ectopic right before Rosh Hashanah and IVF #4, last year, timed out with my egg retrieval right on Yom Kippur.

This might lead some to wonder if my sadness is just a timing issue or if, after all I've been through, I'm questioning my belief in G-d. I can answer that honestly. No, I have never questioned my belief in G-d. I still believe that everything that happens does so for a reason and those reasons are guided by G-d. This doesn't mean that I haven't struggled with my anger at him for facilitating the things that have happened to us, or, more accurately, not happened for us. I have considered thrusting a big middle finger at the sky and not participating in this year's Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, but, I realize that doing so would not be out of anger or disbelief, but, rather, out of defiance and that wouldn't be the right reason. And, as I said at the beginning of this post, I actually enjoy these holidays. So, who would I be hurting in the end if I chose not to participate?

I am, essentially, in the same place now as I was a year ago at this time, albeit more hardened about the process. I cannot be in this same place come Rosh Hashanah next year. I can't. I won't. As I embark on IVF #7, we understand that we are nearing the end. We're on the precipice of change and there will be some big ones in this coming year for us. I don't know which way things will swing, but, you can be sure, when it comes time to pray the Unetanah Tokef, I'll be praying extra strong for G-d to put us on the positive side of his decisions as well as for me to have the wisdom to see and accept those decisions.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Broken down...light the flares!

Dr. Expert left me a message on Monday that he wanted to try a new protocol and told me to call his nurse and she would explain it to me. That may sound really impersonal to some, but, I've been through this enough that I don't really need the crying WTF appointment anymore. So, this was fine. I called her and she didn't get back to me until Tuesday. She explained that he wanted to do a protocol called co-flare. As she reviewed the details, it sounded quite similar to the microflare protocol I did in IVF's #2 and 3 that failed miserably (although I think there are extenuating circumstances as to why both failed and not necessarily the protocols fault).

The thing is, I just feel too far along in this to, by my perception, take a step backwards and "try" things. So, I put in a call to Dr. Expert. I just wanted to hear from him that there is enough of a difference in this protocol to warrant trying it.

He called me back yesterday and explained the whole thing to me again. I told him my concern and he said that he realized I had done microflare (although he could only recall me having done it once, not the twice that I did it) but he does feel this is significantly different. There will be no pre-cycle suppressants at all. My best cycles have been with no suppressants. So, I'll start full strength lupron (as opposed to diluted like you do in microflare) on day 2, scaling back the dose on day 4. And, on day 3 I'll start, are you ready for this, 600 iu of Follistim a day!! Holy meds! Some people take that amount in total their whole cycle!

He said that if this doesn't work, there are other avenues (basically his way of saying this is probably the end of the line for my eggs) and he knows that we have explored donor egg, but, he felt that he wanted one more shot to get me to ER. He said that he thinks we might be able to get back to 4 eggs, my best cycle, but, that he knows me may eat those words in 6 weeks, something neither of us wants to happen! I like and appreciate his honesty.

So, this protocol starts on Day 2. Unfortunately, today is Day 4, so, I have to wait a whole month, but, he wanted me to wait anyway to give my body a chance to calm down. I don't know. My best cycle came right on the tails of a failed IUI cycle, but, it's a moot point because it's too late to start this protocol anyway. I know it's only a month, but, I still have to get through Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (I had my ER on Yom Kippur last year for the cycle that resulted in a pregnancy....) and the thought of getting through another holiday season is tough. The good news is that I should get started shortly after.

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's official

No great shock here, but, the result of IVF #6/IUI#3, or, whatever the heck we want to call this cycle this SNAFU of a cycle, is negative.

In a way, I feel relieved. I know there was always a chance, but, that chance was so low that the last two weeks have just felt like torture. But, a different kind of torture than a regular 2 week wait. This was the torture of, c'mon, let's just get it over with already so we can move on.

So, yeah, now that it's officially over, I'm actually relieved that I can look forward to IVF #7. I already have a call in to Dr. Expert, who I expect to hear from on Monday, and we'll decide where we go from here.

But, for now, honestly, I'm doing OK.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I have been a really bad emailer lately, so, I'm using this forum to thank all of you for your supportive comments over the last couple of weeks (well, really, over the last 6 months!)!! It's nice to know that people understand what I'm going through!

I've been down the last couple of weeks - that is undeniable. And, I'm not moving past those feelings too quickly. If you're a blogger, did you ever wonder, when you're in this kind of mood (and, we all are sometimes!) if people reading your blog roll their eyes and think "ugh, here she goes again, same old same old"?

And, that made me think about the person that we present via our blogs. A good friend sent me an email yesterday saying "I have been keeping up on your blog, but wanted to see how Lisa M. the Person was doing vs. Lisa M. the Blogger". It's an interesting question. I've always thought that I present the full me on here, but, in reality, we really only present snippets of our lives in our blogging.

Despite what's come across lately, I am really an upbeat, positive, almost jolly person who smiles a lot (c'mon, someone who knows me in real life, vouch for me!) and, while I wish things could be different, at the end of the day, I'm pretty proud of the person I am, the one who has withstood so much more than she ever thought she could and is still ticking, even if sadness oozes out of me now and then. And, when that happens, it's wonderful to know that so many people are out there to help!

You know, just typing all of that out has actally helped to lift my funk a little!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Dichotomy of Happiness and Sadness

Is it possible to be happy and sad at the same time? Does the presence of one diminish the magnitude of the other?

These questions have been swirling in my head for the last few days.

Like most infertiles, I used to hear of someone becoming pregnant easily and I would think "good for them, I wish I could get pregnant that easily." Interestingly, I don't think that way anymore. See, getting pregnant easily (or, even getting pregnant at all) is so far beyond my reality that I can't even consider it in the realm of my possibility any more. Those pregnancies fall into a category in my mind called "the way it's supposed to happen", but, not anything I can compare my situation to at all. It's like hearing someone completed a triathlon - wonderful for them, but, it's something I just can't relate to because I'm never going to do the same.

I find myself lately struggling with something different. Now, before I go any further, please, anyone reading this who falls into the group I'm about to talk about, please read the whole thing and I hope you can understand what I'm talking about.

I find myself struggling greatly now with my reaction to hearing about and knowing women who have dealt with infertility successfully getting pregnant and having babies. Please, re-read that sentence, please. I didn't say that my struggle is with those women. I do not want ANY of you reading this to think that I am anything less than so so so very happy for you. The fact that you were strong enough to endure the pain, continue moving forward, and find success is remarkable and my happiness for you is enormous.

My struggle is with how it makes me feel. I no longer think "I hope I can join them soon". My thoughts now are "why did it work for them and it won't work for me?" It's a reminder that these treatments can work....that they should work. So, why not me? I think I've tried hard enough. I think I've done everything I've been told. I think I've paid my dues. So, why not me?

I love the support groups and networks that I've been a part of throughout this struggle. The support and love I've received is truly overwhelming. I KNOW how many people are pulling for me. And, one of the things I said from the very beginning is that it is helpful for me to be able to help others. And, I hope I've done that. But, a difficulty with being part of these groups is the sheer number of women you get to know who have and continue to struggle. As a result, you get to see so many women succeed, more than you would ever know in your regular off-line life.

Anyone who has frequented The Nest's TTTC board for a long time will understand that it can be hard to see so many women get pregnant and leave the board (while, again, we are thrilled for them), while you still linger on and, for the 100th time, enter your name and diagnosis in a "Let's get to know one another" post because there are so many new posters. And, while I've always wanted to help, I find myself ignoring the "Has anyone ever used Follistim" or "I'm scared to do my first injection" posts because, frankly, I just don't have the energy anymore.

Do I sound bitter? I should, because that's where I am right now. I'll come out of it, but, I've accepted that this is what I'm feeling right now, and, that's OK. But, still, my bitterness is about my situation and not anyone else's. I am so very happy for anyone who "made it through the rain" (Barry Manilow fans...anyone...) and I hope they all know it. My happiness for them is, in no way, precluded by my sadness for me. I think I answered my own questions. Yes, it is possible to feel both and feel them equally.

In fact, I think it may even make each feeling stronger and more powerful by feeling them in conjunction with one another than when one occurs on its own....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Birth and Death - the Links that Bind

This past Sunday was my grandmother's unveiling. An unveiling is a traditional Jewish ceremony that is done within a year of death, during which a short service is conducted graveside and the stone is "unveiled" for the first time for all to see.

My grandmother lived to be 91. It is a miracle that she made it to my wedding. After that, all she wanted was to see me have a baby. In her last few years, I would go visit with her in the nursing home and, after recognizing me, she would fall back into the lack of lucidity state we'd become accustomed to. But, out of nowhere, and, I must add, loud and clear as can be, she would suddenly yell "I vant you should have a baby!" (imagine a polish Jewish accent, if you can), before going back to that far-away place again.

She passed away suddenly (albeit not unexpectedly) 3.5 weeks after my miscarriage last fall. We had not told her that I was pregnant as I was worried about it being so early. Subsequently, she didn't know that I'd miscarried. Or, did she?

After getting the call that she had passed, I was driving to my parents house and was pretty shaken. I was still dealing with the sadness of my miscarriage and D&C, and wondered why this had to happen now. Suddenly, I was overcome by a wave of peace. I realized that my grandmother wanted me to have a baby in this world so much and decided that, if she couldn't have that baby here, she was going to go where the baby was. I know that it sounds crazy, I really do. But, the thought that she was in heaven protecting the baby that I couldn't protect gave me such solace and helped me get through the next few weeks. It still helps.

So, Sunday was her unveiling. There we all were, on the cemetery, listening to the Rabbi's words and reading along with him when asked. And, I thought about this again, and it again brought peace to me. Until we read a prayer that referred to the adding to the chains of the generation started by my grandmother. And, I realized that, in the almost year since she passed away, I'm still no closer than I was then to add a link to the chain. So many people in my life have had babies in this time (a post for another day....) and I feel like I'm moving backwards, rather than making progress.

There really are no words to describe how I feel as I come to grips with the horror that I may never add a link to that chain that somehow persevered and survived the Holocaust and emigration to America. The chain may end with me....