Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cheers

With my sparkling cider, I toast you all on this last day of 2009. This year made us laugh, made us cry, then made us cry some more; I am ready for it to end. Welcome, 2010. I hope you bring good news.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Winter of Our Discontent

Here's my unpregnant bullet point list:
  • Current cravings: to both get pregnant and to have a baby (do you hear that, universe? BOTH of those things!)
  • Appetite: commensurate with period cramps
  • Weight: 10 lbs IF blubber lost
  • Energy: none
I just want to get cycle #3 over with. I can already see potential conflicts with the tentative retrieval date and a bunch of work meetings I have scheduled, which stresses me out (rescheduling with made-up excuses is fun with a capital "FU"). If this cycle fails we have to borrow $30K to use a donor egg shared risk program, if only because at least a failure of three shared risk cycles and all available FETs (which could take a year or more to complete) results in a refund so we can then start the 2-year-plus process of adopting. And FYI, Michigan has horrible domestic adoption laws. I'm just not having one of those see-the-bright-side kind of days.

Speaking of the universe's unholy torrent of shit, here's the rest:
  • My father-in-law has stage IV colon cancer
  • My mother-in-law is stressed out and calling me by my husband's ex-wife's name by accident
  • My sister-in-law is being dodgy about half-assed-not-really-inviting us to a New Year's Eve party, so we have no plans and will probably be lazy assholes and go to bed early
  • My mother (who is batshit crazy and abusive) sent me a letter explaining how she's not batshit crazy and I should totally be her friend because she's all kinds of the awesome and I should be in awe of her awesomeness
  • My sister gave me a "gag" Christmas gift: a lullaby CD; she thought it was funny because it has U2 songs rewritten for babies (she doesn't know we're "trying" so -- what the fuck?)
  • At our family Christmas party, my husband's very fertile cousins took turns making hilarious cracks about how having kids in our lovely house is a great, no the GREATEST, form of birth control -- I wanted to pull out an 18-gauge needle from the secret IVF drawer and stab someone in the eye
  • I have to make up an excuse to cancel lunch this week with a very pregnant friend because seeing her very pregnant belly will result in some combo of crying and sneering
  • I have two birthday parties to attend while on stims in January and will have to pretend to drink or make up a lame excuse so no one gets that retarded look in their eye and thinks that I'm with child (as I am very much without)
  • We can't plan any kind of vacation for any sort of reprieve as we don't have any idea what the fuck we'll be doing for the next 3 months or if we'll have any money left whatsoever
Ah, vacation.

I'm very seriously considering being 100% "out" with the whole trying to conceive and IF business this year. I am very tired, exhausted really, of making excuses, dodging stupid remarks, and having to be the better person when careless and hurtful things get said. Just over it. And the best defense is a good offense, right?

As for what's left of the winter of 2009: Miss Pundelina said it best.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dear Santa...

This'll go great with the prostate exam I got KB for Christmas:



Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Picture is Worth $5000

For the last time, this is what $5000 looks like -- and as a sign that the universe is either willing to cooperate or taunting me ('cause it's hard to tell), two shipments arrived this time with new and improved needles -- increases in both QUANTITY and QUALITY. Heh.

One pharmacy included an informational CD for patients with their shipment. Look, assclowns, that's really nice, but this ain't my first rodeo. So, thanks for the coaster.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Penis Envy

Well, fuck a duck.

Female ducks can thank evolution for avoiding becoming impregnated by undesirable but aggressive males endowed with large corkscrew-shaped penises: vaginas with clockwise spirals that thwart oppositely spiraled males. That's right, males are literally screwed.

The research on this evolutionary 'battle of the sexes' at the genitalia level were described in the Dec 23 issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

"In species where forced copulation is common, males have evolved longer penises, but females have coevolved convoluted vaginas with dead-end cul-de-sacs and spirals in the opposite direction of the male penis*," said Patricia L.R. Brennan, lead author of the paper and postdoctoral researcher in the Yale Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. "This coevolution results from conflict between the sexes over who is going to control fertilization."**

The research builds upon a 2007 Yale study that first described the strange morphology of a duck's sexual organs. While most birds have no phalluses, ducks turn out to have relatively large, flexible penises—up to 20 cm***—tucked inside their bodies. During sex, male ducks extend, or evert, their phalluses inside the female. Brennan and her Yale colleagues used high-speed video**** to document the erection of the duck penis for the first time and found the whole process takes less than half a second—an act the Yale team described as "explosive."

Such large phalluses are supposed to give males a reproductive advantage when there is much forced mating. However, the Yale team hypothesized that females could make copulation difficult for the males with their complex genitalia. And, they wondered, do the convoluted vaginas of some waterfowl help those females exclude forced copulation?

To test the hypothesis, Brennan and colleagues examined duck penis eversion in a set of glass tubes with different shapes. A straight tube or a tube that spirals in the same counter-clockwise direction as the male penis doesn't slow down the eversion process. But glass tubes that mimic the female vaginal shapes with a clockwise spiral or a sharp bend can completely stop the penis from everting. These results suggest females have evolved anatomical mechanisms to impede forced copulation, and provide new insights into the evolutionary consequences of sexual conflict over reproduction, say the scientists.

The anatomical evolutionary race to control reproduction is one of the more dramatic examples of sexual conflict in nature.

"Although we predict that sexual conflict should be ubiquitous, finding a system where the 'arms race' between the sexes is so dramatic is exceedingly rare. Ducks are providing us with an incredible opportunity to understand the evolutionary consequences of conflict," said Brennan.

* Maybe that's why I can't get pregnant -- maybe I have one of those sideways corkscrew dead-end vaginas.

** I'll tell you who controls fertilization: my embryologist, Dr. Shah.

*** Dude, that's bigger than the average man....holy shit. Vernacular now revised to "hung like a duck."

**** Duck porn!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Back on the Sauce

Labwork done. Check. Estrace started. Check. $5000 worth of meds ordered. Check. Enthusiasm....working on it.

Here's my pep talk for the Ovs:

Hey, Ovaries. What's up? Merry Christmakwanzukkuh and a Happy Festivus to you, too! No, YOU look like you've lost weight....Did you cut your hair?...Okay, listen up. Time to get serious. Here's the deal. This is our last shot with your goods. Got it? Last chance. No more fucking around. Synchronize those emmeffers with estrogen and then when the good stuff gets pumped in, get to work! No more of that immature egg bullshit. Oh now, now, don't cry my little Ovaries. I still love you. This is, however, contingent upon your performance in about 2 weeks. So hustle up.

Sometimes your ladyparts just need tough love, you know?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Yes, Virginia, There is a Sexual Cause

What to do about this....?

When all else fails, address the problem directly. *Ahem*

Dear Fertile Moron,

Princess, I implore you...no, wait, that word's too big...

...please don't have unprotected sex with any of your boyfriends and possibly make babies. And FYI, putting Coca-Cola in your cooch will not prevent pregnancy; neither will "feeling good things there" while standing up. Please, just buy a Costco-sized jar of birth control pills and spare us all the agony of another you in the world. Because you are stupid. Your mom is right, you can "becomes like pregnant" from having "it," so listen to her on this one; and also you are stupid. I can't emphasize that last point enough.

Hugs and Kisses,
Raging Infertile Lady, PhD

P.S. Is "ride the bus with me" what the kids call it these days?

P.P.S. Is anyone else amazed that she busted out the word "conceiving" in that shitacular post? Alert Mensa tout de suite.

P.P.P.S. Her fertility is assumed. The universe works that way.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

O, O It's Magic

Last night's conversation* between KB and me:

KB: When is the "egg drop" happening?
Me: Who cares?
KB: I care! We have to try.
Me: *snort* Try what?
KB: Come on, maybe the Clomid is working and my sperm could...
Me: Fine. I'll do you.

My handy digital pee stick says today is the beginning of the Almighty LH Surge (the last of 2009!) so I guess we will start bonking like horny monkeys tonight. My sister is coming to town tomorrow and staying with us all weekend for the big family Christmas party on Saturday, and our guest room is unfortunately located right next door to our bedroom. No privacy, people. KB casually suggested we could get freaky in the car. Right. It's subzero outside! Leather seats! Also, I've never seen "in the driver's seat of a Jeep" on any lists of best baby-making positions. Maybe we'll be crafty. Or maybe we'll just be crazy super quiet late at night, with lights out, under the covers. Like God intended (hahahahaha).

I haven't even ordered meds for the January cycle yet. I go in next Monday for bloodwork so I can start estrace, and I suppose we'll have to take care of my drug jones then. I guess this cycle is about to happen. Rah rah rah. Woot. Huzzah. Etc.

*I may be paraphrasing a little. But only a little.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Called Quid Pro Quo, Bitch

Dear Friend With Child,

When you entered your kid in a Baby Gap photo contest and included me on your mass email about how stinking cute he is and would I be so kind as to create a spam-generating account to vote for him, even though I had just completed my second failed IVF cycle, as you know, I FUCKING DID IT. For you. You're welcome.

So now that I have entered my stinking cute dog into a Hallmark Christmas card photo contest, I am delighted that you are so amused by it and also have not lifted a finger to vote a single time. Understand, dear friend, I know a dog is not a baby. Let me repeat: I KNOW A DOG IS NOT A BABY. BUT I CAN'T HAVE A BABY SO THIS IS ALL I FUCKING HAVE. Peace.

Hugs and Kisses,
Your Barren Bitch Friend

P.S. Don't know why I'm shouting. Don't want to wake YOUR BABY.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gift of the Magi

My husband's insurance is my primary, mostly because they have infertility coverage. Which is to say, they cover most (but certainly not all) medical expenses related to infertility consults, monitoring, and procedures. Combined with the cost of drugs, we are still on the hook for about $6-7K per cycle after the insurance company bends the clinic over the table, or vice versa (hard to know who's taking it worse in the economics of hospital billing and insurance claims within the health care arena anymore -- although the patient in this ménage à trois never gets a courtesy reach-around). It turns out that, after careful examination of the last 6 months worth of insurance claims, my secondary insurance through my employer actually covers a limited number of infertility medical claims as well. Well, slap my ass and call me Sally. How's about that?

I called every number on the benefits website and got transferred 67 times to investigate whether I might have any specialty pharmacy coverage, or discounts that must be requested...and, no. I am signing up for some oddly vague "ParentSteps" infertility partner program that apparently negotiates discounts with clinics including mine; we'll see how it goes after I receive my handy-dandy password to sign in and navigate that likely dead end.

Here's where my detective work gets all kinds of awesome: my employer's insurance will pay for RE consults and IUI, but not for IVF or any related medical/laboratory claims. Okay, fine. But....they provide full coverage for abortion, tubal ligation, and vasectomy. ASSHOLES.

The end.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Infertile on Infertile Violence

Or, When Good Infertiles Go Bad

My neighbor stopped by last week while we were putting up Christmas lights, for an impromptu doggy playdate (adorable...more later*). She asked how "life" (in air quotes) is going. So I told her.

....Random history lesson: she and I took a yoga class together last fall and after much prying, I finally told her we were trying albeit with great difficulty and an infertility diagnosis. She had also told me about a friend of hers, someone I see twice a year at neighborly parties, who is near 40 and has multiple male- and female-factor infertility diagnoses, also planning to use IVF to get pregnant....

Fastforward to last week's convo: "How's 'life'?" "Oh, well...not much to report. Nothing is working, not even IVF, so we're on a break until January and then we'll try again." "Oh, you know my friend ___? She just got pregnant. Second try with IVF. At her age, with her problems...who knew? I just cried and cried when she told me her test was positive. I am so happy for her."

What? Was someone talking just then? I either kind of blacked out in some sort of infertility rage, or I blocked it out so I could get-the-fuck-out-of-this-conversation, scanning my surroundings for any viable exit. I cannot explain my reaction, other than A) abject jealousy in the absence of offered empathy, B) PMS-fueled self-pity in the absence of offered decorum, and/or C) some alien rage that takes over me when I hear ANY pregnancy announcement (or see a movie on tv that involves someone like Katherine Heigl going through labor with full make-up, or Tina Fey magically getting pregnant after an untreatable infertility diagnosis, etc...you get the picture). I just cannot feel joy for other people when they get pregnant right now, even if they have suffered to get there as I still do. Cannot. I can fake it like a champ, but I can't feel it.

The neighbor's newly knocked-up friend will be at the neighborly Christmas party this weekend and I absolutely dread hearing about her pregnancy and watching her touch her belly and seeing her grin like an idiot when she has to explain why she can't have a drink. My objective for that evening will be to remain out of earshot, at least 15 yards away, and out of her line of sight at all times. I will have to summon all my infertility conversation-avoidance ninja training to pull this off. Wish me luck, grasshoppers.

This past week I questioned why I took time off, why I didn't plan for a December cycle. Just because, you know, at least cycling feels like progress. The wheels don't know the difference between chasing pavement and spinning. The break has been lovely overall, but now January cannot get here fast enough. I am fighting to keep my resolve to do this one more time with my own eggs. Donor egg cycling has been on my mind. Infertility is a royal mindfuck.

*My ladylike dog would NOT let her male dog sniff her butt. She very primly sat down every time. Then she chased him around and flipped him on his back a few times. Rawr.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

O Tannenbaum Your Deathstar Does Delight Us

We have a rather, um, unique Christmas tree. Oh sure, it's normal by all outward appearances:

But on closer inspection...

A Wookie! "Arggnnhhh!" (Wookie for "Happy Holidays, rebels.")

But wait, there's more:

A fully functional Deathstar!

And the coup de grace:

Because no Christmas tree is complete without a badass Yoda.

And lastly, for the fellas:

Yes, the image that teenage boys masturbated to in the late 70's and early 80's is on my Christmas tree. Putting the "Oh, Christ!" back in Christmas.

We DO have some normal ornaments, too. Evidence:

 
 
I went all Martha-Stewart-minus-the-Camp-Cupcake-sentence and made the last one by hand. I sculpted a teeny tiny Kong! And without a staff of 50 underlings to do the work for me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Thrill is Gone

Those old familiar twinges are back....but a week early. With a bit of spotting. The glass-half-full part of my brain thinks, "Holy shit! Maybe you're pregnant! We'll name him 'Jesus'!" while the more practical, buzzkill, glass-half-empty portion thinks "Lucky you -- yay, bonus days of cramping and spotting before the Big Show." I don't have any pee sticks left in the house, so I have to just wait until this weekend to see how this story ends. Uh, here's a hint: same as it ever was. (Don't tell the sunnier side of my brain there's a drug store flush with pee sticks just blocks from my house. Shhhh!)

I don't feel any hope that this month would be any different than any other. But, oh, the daydreams. I am trying to muster some excitement for this period to show because it will set the calendar for estrogen priming this cycle, and then IVF in January. I am also trying to avoid any delusions that this IVF cycle will be any different than before, but I figure you never know. There is an awful lot in this game of chance that can't be predicted. Plus, KB has been on Clomid for over two months now, so maybe his swimmers aren't so "special" anymore and could contribute to a higher fertilization rate. (We don't know if our subpar fertilization rate is consequent more to my egg maturity or his sperm issues -- another guessing game -- fun for parties!) After that, if there is an "after that," at least I know that the most recently tabulated pregnancy rate for donor egg cycles at my clinic is 89%. That's NOT the take-home baby rate, but my age and health would be a huge factor in converting that successful pregnancy rate into a successful birth rate statistic.

But I digress....enough with the wind-up before the pitch, let's get this period started already. I've got a heating pad to hug and underwear to try to ruin, for crying out loud.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hacked?

Methinks Mrs. Hammer may have had her blog account hacked. Hmmm. Sounds like the wistful prose of a Nigerian prince.

Here is a link to Google instructions for resetting your account in the event that said hacker changed the password and locked you out.

Strange....hope all's well that ends well.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"It's Like a 5 Year Responsibility"

I present to you, another woman who is (most likely) incredibly fertile and (quite clearly) concomitantly stupid:

I know, Bonnie, it's hard to comprehend giving up beer pong for like a whole MONTH! Like shit, dude. And 5 years is like a crazy long time to take care of a baby -- I mean, it takes like 6 years to graduate from state college, and that is totally HARD! 

I think the US government should not only reform health care to include comprehensive coverage for infertility treatment, but should launch a special initiative to get us knocked up ASAP at any cost. Idiocracy is not far behind. ("Ouch, my balls!")

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Miscellany

Madame Ovary: My egg donor consultation went well today. A donor cycle would only take 2.5 months from start to finish; if we need to move on to that after our January cycle we could start right away, without delay. And, oh, how I wish time really WAS money. One donor egg cycle will cost around $20K, or we could shell out closer to $35K for a 3-cycle (plus unlimited FETs) shared risk program. The consolation prize if you don't take home a baby is 100% refund. But if we got pregnant on cycle 1, we would forfeit so much money....how much is peace of mind worth? I was excited to learn that they can match me with a repeat donor, so we would have stats on her mature egg count, fertilization rate, and number of viable pregnancies for prior recipient(s). The appointment left me feeling pretty resolved and hopeful that we have a solid Plan B in place. They were playing Christmas music in my doctor's office this afternoon, too, which always puts me in a good mood.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: But...why does it feel like the winter holidays are creeping back further and further each year? Christmas stuff used to come out after Thanksgiving, and now it's out right after Halloween. Why the rush? I sometimes forget until I see the candy and swag in full display at the department stores. You could be from another planet and figure out American holidays just by the bags of candy on sale in bulk at the local grocery store: candy hearts and bon-bons, peeps and Cadbury eggs, candy corn and miniature Snickers, and then candy canes and red and green M&Ms. (I am deliberately omitting any made-up holidays that I loathe -- I'm looking at you, Sweetest Day; nice try Hallmark!). Anyway, we are hosting the family Christmas party this year and I am in full-on planning mode (if it can't be stims and ultrasounds, then tablecloths and serving trays shall feel my wrath!). I bought a shit-ton of decorations from Target's after-holidays clearance sale last year and have all my stuff organized in the basement in anticipation of going bonkers with it this weekend. That's what long weekends are for, right? The dog gets very confused this time of year, since we move furniture around to make room for the tree and other decorations. Speaking of the devil dog.....

This is my 6-year-old puppy being humiliated in an elf hat:

And in a Santa hat:

And in plush reindeer antlers:

(Is she being a demure doggy or giving me the stinkeye in these pictures? She got boatloads of treats for this; so no harm, no foul.)

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Make Up Your Mind

Single Embryo Transplant in IVF More Effective, Study Says:

Wed, Mar 25, 2009 (HealthDay) -- It's more effective and less costly to implant single embryos instead of two embryos at a time, says a study that challenges the belief that implanting multiple embryos during in-vitro fertilization (IVF) improves a woman's chances of becoming pregnant and is more cost-effective.

Finnish researchers looked at more than 1,500 women who went through more than 3,600 assisted reproduction cycles. They found the live birth rate was 5 percent higher for women who had a single embryo implanted at a time, compared to double embryo transplants, Agence France Presse reported.

The single embryo method was also less costly, especially when the researchers factored in health complications due to multiple pregnancies.

The study was published in the journal Human Reproduction.

"At a time when there is an intense debate in many countries about how to reduce multiple pregnancy rates and provide affordable fertility treatment, policy makers should be made aware of our results," study lead researcher Hannu Martikainen, of the University of Oulu, said in a news release, AFP reported.

"These data should also encourage clinics to evaluate their embryo transfer* policy and adopt elective single embryo transfer* as their everyday practice for women younger than 40," Martikainen said.

[* At least the doctor got it right. And, Dr. Finnish Researcher, not ALL women under 40 are good candidates for single embryo implant/transplant/transfer, so shut yer piehole about policy. Ahem.]

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blanket

Irresponsible Breeder Alert: new picture posted on Facebook by my stepsister, of her fiance/boyfriend/fuck-buddy/whatever holding her toddler son....whilst dangling the kid's legs over the edge of the bucket of a construction lift. Which is elevated off the ground. Good luck in life, kid. It's at risk, and your gene pool is for wading.

Who here can say that their relatives are worse parents than Michael Jackson? Who's bad? Shamone. (Dammit, don't I wish I had some propofol and an insomniac anesthesiologist on hand to get me through the nights...)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

First Rule of Fight Club

We've only confided in a few friends and close family that we are undergoing infertility treatment. For one thing, I don't enjoy explaining again and again what IVF is, what it is not, why we don't "just adopt," and so on. Even with the small number of people we have told, these conversations have become commonfare. Boo, hiss. As a result, my husband and I are getting increasingly tightlipped about our infertility. I worry especially about the prospect of using an egg donor, and how people playing for the fertile team would react; can they understand that it's not the same as adoption, and that we cannot undergo infinite IVF cycles with my eggs if those little fuckers won't fertilize or develop into normal embryos? Dunno. I have doubts about how people would generally handle it, and if they could muster the delicacy this kind of thing requires.

My point is best illustrated by reading the comments on this NYT article. I warn you, if you read even 1 or 2 comments, your blood will boil; if you dare read more than 2, your head will surely explode into shards and shrapnel. Let me summarize: most fertile people and assholes (not mutually exclusive groups) don't get it. At all. If you ask them, we infertiles are monsters. I have only two words for the asshats who posted comments on that article.....wait for it..... "whatever, dude." (You thought I was going to say "fuck you," right? -- Gah! I said it anyway -- only parenthetically, so it doesn't count....) I could rage on and on about the ignorant self-righteousness of most of the commenters on that article -- how they need to shut the hell up and realize that special needs orphans are everybody's problem, not merely my punishment for being infertile, etc. -- but will instead redirect you here for a great redux and a hearty set of infertile rebuttal comments to boot.

It seems stupid to have to keep this hush-hush, but perhaps it's better that way. What do you think?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Q & A

Well, just Q:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who Shot J.R.?

My husband's company moved its headquarters several years ago and keeps quasi-threatening to relocate him (and therefore me) to the out-of-state office. They know I work from home, so it's hard to throw up barriers to our mobility. But my RE clinic is here. And my husband's family. And most of our friends. But also a shit local and state economy and a lot of recent, bad memories from an unfortunate journey we never imagined we would have to take. Our life here has roots; including some rotten ones, I suppose.

They want to potentially relocate us from the metro Detroit area to Dallas. Not much of a trade-up, methinks. If they were asking us to move to Austin or San Francisco or Chicago or New York...or any number of other more funky or cosmopolitan places, I would be delighted. But Dallas? Where my neighbors would be George W. Bush and Kwame Kilpatrick? Yikes.

If we are indeed asked to move, we may widen our geographic search for alternative jobs for my husband in more desirable cities. It would be a fresh start in a lot of ways, and would help us unload our house in favor of a bigger one (the current company would cover relo expenses and buy our house with a significant contribution to achieve fair market value -- a huge bargaining chip if the job search ensues). Michigan is suffering miserably in this recession, so it might be a wise move in the long run, whether to Dallas or elsewhere. But I am just so overcome with inertia while we are still trying to get pregnant -- I need to fight (and win) one battle at a time, and that is the most important.

If you and/or your spouse were offered a job in another city, would you consider? Why or why not? What city would be your top pick? I need answers, people of the internets. Tell me what I think.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round...

Dr. NiceGuy: The second opinion appointment essentially confirmed what the first RE told me; albeit in a kinder, gentler fashion. I am a poor responder. Dr. NiceGuy agreed that additional testing would be uninformative at this point, since my lack of response is likely independent of any potential autoimmunity, and clotting mutations are primarily associated with early miscarriage. He also recommends the antagonist protocol. He is more flexible with stimulation drugs, though (follistim + menopur is more expensive and requires 2 needles, vs. bravelle + menopur which can be mixed into 1 needle). He uses endometrin and crinone too, so no more horrible PIO shots (suppositories are also cheaper).

All things being equal, I would love to switch clinics to enjoy his more open philosophy and approach to patient- (rather than clinic-) centered medicine, but it would come at a hefty price. Literally. Our insurance does not work with his clinic, so we would pay ~$20K total out-of-pocket to cycle there. Ouch. At the first clinic, the RE's communication style is a little rough around the edges, but our insurance covers all but ~$2K in medical costs (add on $5-6K for drugs). For the exact same cycle. That's a pretty stark difference. How much is kindness worth?

The Plan: Take a break until January. In the meantime, schedule another follow-up with the original RE. Have a heart-to-heart with her about her bedside manner and lay out my expectations for communication going forward. Discuss what I learned from the second opinion and plan for January. We want to try one more antagonist cycle using bravelle + menopur, then endometrin or crinone. If it fails, we will be ready to move on to a donor egg cycle. We have nothing to lose, so it's push-come-to-shove time.

If it reaches this point, we can compare the costs and protocols for a donor egg cycle at both clinics and go from there. We would probably start adoption inquiries then, too, to begin preparing for home-study and placement processes if the donor cycle should fail. I am an all-angles-covered kind of girl.

My head is still spinning, so I am grateful (if a little teeth-grinding-ly anxious) for the 2-month break before the next (and last?) cycle. The IVF cycle is dead. Long live the IVF cycle.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"I Have a New Toy Now"

An 11-year-old Bulgarian girl was married to a 19-year-old teenager. But wait, there's more. She went into labor and delivered her baby during the wedding ceremony. JesusHChristFuckingShit.

She met the love of her 11-year-old life when he rescued her from bullies on the playground about 9 months ago. He thought she was 15, so he had sex with her and got her pregnant, 2 weeks after her 11th birthday. They got married to avoid a jail sentence for child rape. Oh, sorry, it's "sex with a minor." Semantics. I would rage on Bulgaria for such an arcane legal system, but many states in the US allow for the same backwards bartering. I rage on them all.

"'I'm not going to play with toys anymore -- I have a new toy now,' Kordeza told reporters as she showed off little Violeta."

Read it and weep.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sucki

That was my word verification when I posted a congratulatory comment on yet another BFP today. Just sayin'.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Taking Stock

My blood boils when I think about the pure white trash stock from whence I came, and how many babies have been born in my family out of wedlock and under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Those hooers are fucking fertile. Two cousins around my age had their first kid when they were each 16 (sibling rivalry much?). One of them appeared in an MTV documentary in the 1990's about polygamous lifestyles (allow me to join in your chorus of "what the shit?") and subsequently lost custody to the paternal grandparents. Because the baby daddy was in jail. The other cousin is a drug addict and thus had both of her kids (sired by different baby daddies, of course) removed from her custody by their paternal grandparents. Because their baby daddies are both drug dealers (guess that answers the "how did you meet?" question) and/or in jail. Ah, the beautiful South. Backwoods Mississippi. Where all the debutantes live. I didn't realize that most cotillions end in childbirth. My stepsister (also a veritable Southern Belle) had her kid out of wedlock when she was 18 and is primarily supported by my dad. He and my stepmother are basically raising her kid. She celebrated her kid's first birthday by throwing him a party at Hooters. Jesus.

As I contemplate how many cycles I have left in me with my own eggs, my genetic stock gives me pause. I am the zebra in this herd of retarded horses. Would I be doing my kid(s) a service by giving them a different gene pool? One that's a little cleaner? Can nurture conquer nature? I have so many options to sort through and my mind is racing as I wait for the RE second opinion/last chance consult. I am shuffling the deck with his-and-hers Clomid and IUI(s), IVF/ICSI with new protocol(s), minimal stimulation IVF/ICSI, donor egg IVF/ICSI, donor sperm IUI(s), and making an appointment with an adoption lawyer to discuss home studies. Head. Is. Spinning. Sometimes my analytic mind bites me in the ass.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Spooky

We all knew that this was bound to happen sooner or later. The seventh seal of the apocalypse has thus been broken:

I call it: "Plugs + TroutPout = ThrowUpInMyMouth."

Get in your bunkers. Hurry.

Bats Gone Wild

Since it's Halloween and all, I felt this apropos of the occasion. Here's an interesting tidbit on bats:

"Oral sex is widely used in human foreplay, but rarely documented in other animals. Fellatio has been recorded in bonobos Pan paniscus, but even then functions largely as play behaviour among juvenile males. The short-nosed fruit bat Cynopterus sphinx exhibits resource defence polygyny and one sexually active male often roosts with groups of females in tents made from leaves. Female bats often lick their mate's penis during dorsoventral copulation. The female lowers her head to lick the shaft or the base of the male's penis but does not lick the glans penis which has already penetrated the vagina. Males never withdrew their penis when it was licked by the mating partner. A positive relationship exists between the length of time that the female licked the male's penis during copulation and the duration of copulation. Furthermore, mating pairs spent significantly more time in copulation if the female licked her mate's penis than if fellatio was absent. Males also show postcopulatory genital grooming after intromission. At present, we do not know why genital licking occurs, and we present four non-mutually exclusive hypotheses that may explain the function of fellatio in C. sphinx."


Have I blinded you with science? Have another, uh, taste:

Figure 3. Copulation duration (seconds) in C. sphinx according to whether the female licks the male's penis (red) or not (blue).

Note the artist's tasteful rendition of a bat tapping that in the inset.

Would you like to watch this demonstrative video?:



Although this was on YouTube, it was included as actual supplemental "data" on the journal website. Music and all. Research funding to make hardcore bat porn. Who knew?

This just makes Batman THAT much more intriguing to me. And it helps explain the nipples on George Clooney's rubber batsuit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

All Work and No Play

It's been a while since my day-to-day revolved primarily around work, rather than today's RE appointment, scheduling tomorrow's, being out of office for some half-day procedure, etc. Now I have to fill my time exclusively with work. Takes the piss right out of me. I miss the cycle calender in some sick, co-dependent way.

It's open enrollment for benefits at work, and I decided to purchase an additional week of paid time off for next year. That's on top of 23 days and the week I can roll over from this year. For those keeping track at home: 6 weeks and 3 days PTO. Holla. One or two years ago, and up to as recently as the last failed IVF cycle, I daydreamed about how much time I would take for maternity leave: would I go back to work, take an extended leave of absence, or quit altogether and be a SAHM for a while? I thought about saving vacation days to tack on to the end of maternity leave. I felt I was being hopeful and practical. Now...I just want to hoard more vacation time. If we have any money next summer, I want to go to Italy (where my husband's people originate) and Ireland (my people's motherland -- irony intended). Or, if we are broke-ass from continued efforts to make a beh-beh (as I suspect we may well be), I will lay around the house and watch daytime talk shows. We'll see. I may need some weeks for trips to Colorado or China for all I know.

A friend called me yesterday to wax poetic about maternity leave and paid time off. She is due with her second beh-beh in May 2010. She had her first around the time I might have had mine, if my husband and I were capable. So I love my friend dearly, but I loathe hearing about her pregnancy. She means well and is actually very cautious about what she says to me regarding beh-beh news, but she relaxed her filter and launched into a rhetorical tangent yesterday about 6 weeks this, 8 weeks that, what about 12 weeks, blah, bah, blah. I actually physically tuned her out while she was talking. I just kept muttering "uh-huh" until there was silence and then changed the subject. I feel like a grade A jerk for being unable to carry on an adult conversation about my friend's pregnancy, but it is was it is. I am an infertile asshole. Love me or leave me.

One week until the highly-anticipated, second opinion RE appointment. Then my co-dependency can resume. Whew.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Brought to You by the Letter "O"

According to my mittelschmertz and handy-dandy OPK, I am ovulating. As I type. Oh -- there it goes. All I can think is, "Who gives a singular shit?"

My husband insists we "try" anyway. Try to what? I think he's just on a (let's be honest, reasonable) campaign to get some semi-regular sex while my body is NOT a toxic dump of hormones. Get it while it's hot, sweetheart. This love machine is cranking out nookie for a limited time, after which it will be re-geared to make eggs and host embryos. Again.

In my head I am going down the commitment path toward one more IVF cycle with my eggs, provided the new RE can cook up a plan that gives me both renewed hope and sufficient confidence. The next step after that, if more steps are needed, will probably be to either move forward with a donor egg cycle or to consult with specialists in Washington, D.C. or Colorado. The expense of either scares the pants off me.

Speaking of which, I have wifely duties to attend to, so please excuse me as I now "try" to get pregnant. Hahahahahaha. Haha. Hahahahaha. Ha. That's rich.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mr. Brightside

What is so great about being positive in a bad situation? Why is it necessary to see the bright side of a terrible predicament?

It's not, if you ask me.

Or Barbara Ehrenreich. Her new book has been added to my still-languishing reading list and I lurve her blog. Among the many salient points she makes, her book simply questions whether it's A) helpful, B) necessary, and C) healthy at all to constantly try and see the silver lining during very dark days. I couldn't agree more in the midst of infertility. I have built enough character. I have learned enough life lessons. I do not wish to revel in the gifts this diagnosis has brought me -- I can count hypothyroidism, 20 pounds of unwanted weight, and mild situational depression among the many presents bestowed upon me by this undesirable and seemingly never-ending phase of my life. I am pissed. I am sad. I need to express that, not cover it with platitudes and sucker myself into a "chin up, sport" mode of thinking that does not settle my conflicting emotions or solve my babymaking problems. And I tire of people offering their oh-so-helpful suggestions (just adopt! adopt an older child! donor eggs! donor sperm! just relax!) to try and armchair quarterback my infertility struggle. I prefer to muck around in my stages of grief during the wallowing period and then counter it with brief, manic bursts of energy and fortitude. It works for me. Realism with a tinge of hope, tempered by a dollop of anger. I can be resilient without being positive. Empowerment means different things to different people.

Here is the infertility vs. happiness spectrum as I see it:


Right now I am a 9. I hope to be back to a 7-8 soon. I miss 0-1.

I will not try to look on the bright side of infertility, because it has none. I don't want to attend infertility support group meetings, as some friends and family have recently suggested I should. I would rather go to a therapist and gripe to her until I feel better or our 50 minutes is up, whichever comes first. Or cry on my husband's shoulder. Or cry alone. (I also can't bear the thought of watching the support group roster rotate in and out as everyone gets pregnant but me....it's bad enough already and I'm not really looking to up the ante in my voluntary face-to-face interactions.) I don't want to take a break and "see what happens." No magical thinking is driving this fate, and no amount of time will change our situation. I want to have a child. I have to do extraordinary things to make that happen. And I have failed thus far, over and over. It hurts. You can't put a cherry on top of this shit sundae and call it good eats. Not now, not ever. And so I refuse to act like I'm content when I am not.

Here's my ideal infertility support group. We don't have to act happy. We don't have to search for hidden spiritual treasures in infertility, because it's not necessary to pretend to be blessed by this in some bizarro way when we know we're running on empty. We can be angry. We can be scared. We can cry whenever we want or need to. We can IVF or IUI cycle until our ovaries weep, and we can take breaks when we need to. We can have high expectations, or none at all. And we can stay in this club until we have our Nth baby (for the lucky), because we all got here on similarly shitty paths. We are Barren Bitches. We hate being unpregnant against our will and don't have to accept that we're somehow better off for suffering.

Who's in?