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.