All Good

After upping my estrogen quite a bit, and relaxing and getting a massage and body work session that left me feeling like a bag of warm caramel, my uterine lining was up to 9.6 with a triple stripe through much of it. Whew.

Good to go and feeling hopeful. The donor’s egg retrieval was today, and the embryos that will hopefully become my kid(s) will be conceived some time today, possibly as we speak, here on the last day of 2016.

May they thrive!

I gave my donor a beautiful copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau that I’ve had for some years along with a metal bookmark with blue ribbons and beads that has an (approximate*) Thoreau quote etched on it: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”

May she thrive!

* The full quote reads:

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.”

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Bump in the Road

Well, I’m in California again. After another day of exhausting travel (up at 6:25am, first plane delayed so that I couldn’t relax and have lunch in Dallas, then another flight followed by two buses. The third bus didn’t show up, so I had to drag my luggage for 30 minutes to the clinic — including going under train tracks and over an interstate — and rocked up, sweating and out of breath, exhausted and starving, ten minutes late), I just wanted it to be good news.

But after two full weeks of estrogen patches (which I TOLD them didn’t work well for me last time), my lining was only at 7mm (should be at least 8, preferably 9) and not as beautifully trilaminar as it usually is — in fact you could barely see a pattern at all. They told me to start taking estrogen pills in addition to the patches and come back on Saturday, which means it doesn’t make sense for me to travel four hours to Palo Alto on Thursday and four hours back to Davis on Friday to stay overnight for my Saturday morning appointment.

It also means that if the estrogen pills don’t work… Well, they just take it one appointment at a time and never given me a heads up on the possible branching paths ahead. So I don’t know what will happen if things aren’t good. They seemed reasonably chipper that it’s all fine, but… especially after that last goddamn doctor in Istanbul, let’s just say I have some trust issues.

So I’m staying in this Holiday Inn Express for two more nights (great, another unexpected expense), alone, eating at restaurants, instead of staying with good long-time friends at their intentional community in Palo Alto and eating fresh healthy farmers market food with them. They have a piano and a workout room and yoga classes, and it’s just a bunch of really kind, cool people.

I was so looking forward to getting there and relaxing. I hate hotels. This one is pretty nice, and very friendly, but… yeah. You keep hoping after all these years, something will just go right. It’s hard not to feel that doom in your guts after you’ve endured so many failed cycles, so many heartbreaks.

And naturally it sent me to the internet to try to figure out what it all means. Some say the trilaminar pattern significantly increases your chances, others say that for Embryo Transfers (as opposed to IVF), it doesn’t matter that much. I’m trying to stay off Facebook for a while, but I went to the California Conceptions (closed) Facebook group to ask, and a couple of women said they had a similar issue and it worked out just fine.

It just sucks because I’ve never had lining issues before. It’s always been in my back pocket, just not an issue. But then we gave up on our own egg and sperm, and now suddenly my lining is marginal?

It’s a real kick to the gut.

I keep thinking I’m growing as a person through all this, but then some new unexpected bump in the road (mixed with travel exhaustion) saps all my positivity and leaves me feeling peevish and cornered and filled with doubt.

So my body is failing and my spirit is failing and maybe I should just take a nap, meditate, read some spiritually refreshing books, go for a walk, and hope I feel less like a steaming pile of failure after that.

(I really shouldn’t blog while exhausted.)

Oh, one little positive thing: I realized after the fact that I flew into California on the new moon and will fly out again when the moon is full. So that’s a little cosmic, isn’t it?

Another Hurdle Cleared

Just got back from an exhausting forty-hour trip to Davis, CA, for the saline ultrasound that would determine (a) if I could go ahead with this cycle and (b) if I would qualify for getting my money back (or trying three more times) if three donor embryo cycles with this clinic — and its 90% success rate — manage to fail.

I had to get up at 4:50am and had barely eaten anything by the time I’d taken two planes and two buses to get to the Mexican restaurant near the clinic at 1pm California time (3pm Oklahoma time). I wolfed down crappy taquitos and heartbreakingly watery guacamole (I expect better from California) and felt almost human again.

The clinic was smaller than I expected, but everyone was super sweet. The nurse said all the staff were like sisters. Dr. Goud was friendly as well and seemed surprised at how nice my ovaries looked. (I explained our bad luck with IVF, and he shrugged and continued.) He injected the saline into my womb and said it looked very nice as well. I think he’s used to getting a lot of last-chance cases (we were lucky enough to start pretty young and also lose our stomach for IVF after “only” three tries), and he didn’t even have to think it over before telling me he’d recommend me for the guarantee.

So that was a huge weight off my back. All that was left was to figure out public transport to my hostel in Sacramento (a bus and a train), book my next flight for my lining check ultrasound on December 28 (I was so tired I first booked a flight for the wrong time, then booked another one to the wrong city; luckily I caught both mistakes in time to cancel them and get a full refund), eat some pho, chat with a Guatemalan guy, and pass out next to a woman against whose snores my earplugs were useless.

The next morning, after giving myself my Lupron injection, I had to walk for 15 minutes in the rain, and the bus was ten minutes late, but otherwise all went smoothly. That 42B bus just kinda goes almost everywhere I needed to go.

At the airport, TSA took my Lupron out of its cooler to examine the ice packs around it, and a Chinese woman came up to me afterwards and said excitedly, “I saw your Lupron, are you doing IVF, too?”

I said not exactly, I was trying embryo adoption, and she tried to sell me on trying IVF again, this time at CNY.

Everyone has an opinion… 😀

Anyway, other than feeling exhausted and like my head is filled with sand, I finally started getting excited — like this is really happening. And it’s the best chance I’ve ever had. It’s hard to even imagine success right now after all these years of failure. Hope is hard after it’s been dashed for 40 months straight. By now actually growing a baby or two inside my belly seems like science fiction. But… well, I suppose we’ll see.

I’mma be Honest about Something

I used to be one of those people who browsed blogs about dealing with reproductive issues* and then logged off thinking (among other, more charitable things), “Yeesh, sucks to be them. IVF / egg donation / embryo donation? Sure, a great option for some. But I’m glad it’s not me!”

Well… now here I am.

Dealing with fertility issues kind of destroys your ability to be smug.

Which is probably a good thing. The fact is, none of us knows the future. Anything can happen. We can find ourselves at any number of crossroads where we are forced to make decisions we never imagined we would make. That’s reality.

If this is the harshest season of my life, I will consider myself a very blessed person. That’s not to downplay how bad these past four years have sucked sometimes. But if you look around, if you take a random sample of human beings, a lot of them are going through things we can’t imagine right now.

So try to tread gently if you can.

I wouldn’t consciously choose to go through what we’ve been through. But I’m glad this season of my life has knocked a lot of the “smug” out of me. I’m glad for the way it’s increased my ability to feel empathy for others, and for how shatteringly grateful I will be when we finally do have kids. It’s not something I will ever take for granted, not for a moment. I can imagine people who get pregnant easily — maybe too easily — might resent their kids sometimes. Us? After we walked through fire to get them, they will never have a doubt in their minds that they were deeply wanted, and neither will we.

Another problem with having kids too easily is the risk parents might treat their child as a “mini-me” — an extension of their ego. I know this is a danger for me, because I have an ego that can get out of control sometimes. (Not that I’ve won any Nobel Prize or anything, but let’s just say I tend to overcompensate for not feeling as comfortable in my own skin — as inherently lovable — as I would like to, and as I believe people should.)

Using gamete donors takes a lot of the wind out of that, because it’s not even my genetics. Sure, my husband and I will raise the kids. But they will be their own unique beings. They would have been even if we were the genetic parents. But this kind of puts an underline under it.

They will be kids. Curious, playful, naturally sweet, full of potential. My job is not to try to make them into anything but to support them as their unique humanity emerges. What they may be one day is not up to me, and in any given moment, it is not important. What is important is the quality of the attention, guidance, and love I get them in every given moment. The rest will take care of itself.

* Most people call them ‘infertility blogs,’ but most of the bloggers end up having kids, which doesn’t sound like infertility so much as delayed or alternative fertility. And even the people who end up choosing to be childfree may have been fertile if they had chosen to try other options. Basically, you can’t prove a negative. So calling it ‘infertility’ kind of sticks in my craw. Am I all alone on that?

By the way, the reason I browsed fertility-related blogs even before I had my own issues was because I was an egg donor, and I wanted to understand the other side.

Now I am the other side. Now — believe me — I understand.