No Motivation

I have been so tired and unmotivated lately. Just standing up can be a (dizzy) strain. The kind of deep and broad thought necessary to finish writing a novel is often way beyond me. But I get bored watching videos, too, and it’s too hot to go outside most of the day, and most activities outside the house seem kind of exhausting. I feel constantly hungover, with a queasy stomach and acid in the back of my throat. (At least I don’t have headaches.) I find myself just wishing the time away, wishing it will pass.

(I’ve also started having an aversion to eggs. Today I wanted Mexican food for lunch. Nothing else would have done. Then I wanted microwave pad thai for dinner. Popped out of its plastic container and microwaved in a glass bowl, of course. Actually what I really wanted was cereal with bananas, but we were out of almond milk. Mostly I just want Mexican food all day every day.)

Sleeping is tough, and my dreams are off the rails. Everything from utterly humdrum scenarios, like having four frozen pizzas in the freezer instead of one (and then waking up wondering whether we actually have four or one) to really stressful stuff like being asked to solve an incredibly complicated equation without any context, and knowing everything will be ruined if I can’t.

Yesterday my husband’s boss hosted a pool party at his place, and I knew it’d be almost six hours of socializing, which is exhausting for me even on my best days. And of course the first question a lot of people asked was, “So, do you have Ahmed have kids?”

I answered with my standard: “We’re working on it.”

Miraculously, my energy stayed pretty good until the end. Almost like I was running on adrenaline. Then today I crashed. When I found it too exhausting to watch a Youtube vide, I took a nap for three hours. Then I got up and made the bed and needed another 15 minute nap to recover from that. I napped on top of the covers so I wouldn’t have to make it again and end up in bed forever.

If I knew this was all for something, I’d happily take it for nine months and then some. The not even knowing is messing with me a bit. I’m not allowing myself to feel anything, and I have no idea what kind of feelings are ahead of me. The other two CC women I’m closest to online, who transferred just before me, both had good ultrasound results after many years of bad results, and I’m so happy for them. I hope I don’t end up being the odd woman out.

I just remember, so clearly, what it feels like to build hopes up, even a little, and meditate and visualize your child(ren), and try so hard to believe, only to have everything yanked out from under you at the last minute. Any faith, so far in this four-year trip from hell, has only always been punished.

Come on, August 7. I really hate wishing time away. All time is so precious. But this state of exhaustion and tension is something I’ll be glad to put behind me. At least some new form of tension will be interesting instead of the same old one for the past four years.

And at least kids grow and change as four years pass. This pins-and-needles, is-it-or-isn’t-it, will-we-or-won’t-we feeling is desperately monotonous.

Ridin’ that Train

I’ve been watching Youtube videos about early embryo development — the bilaminar disk, primitive streak, trilaminar disk, notochord, neural tube formation, and all the rest of it. Fascinating stuff. Like a magic trick. It looks like so much nothing for so long, like a flat little amoeba rearranging itself, and then it starts folding and bam — it kinda looks like an early fetus! Still looks very much like a tadpole, but you can kinda see where it’s going.

If all is well, I’m 5 weeks 2 days pregnant, and I still don’t really feel like it. My breasts being sore and enlarged was the biggest symptom the other times I was (almost) pregnant, but this time the effect is very muted. I get a little nauseated when I’m hungry (and I feel hungry almost all the time), and sometimes I feel lightly euphoric after eating, but no cravings or aversions.

My sense of smell does seem heightened, but that can be psychosomatic. I feel more tired than usual, but then when I lay down I often feel incredibly restless. And then when I stand up too fast (or sometimes just at a normal speed), I feel super dizzy and need to hang onto something for support until my head clears. And my throat has been slightly sore due to reflux. (I get a sore throat instead of heartburn.)

Oh yeah, and you can definitely tell a lot of blonde jokes about me, because I say and think the absolute stupidest things sometimes. Big juicy brain farts. I literally pointed to the southwest the other night and said, “I think that’s the North Star.”

Ahmed was like: “Um… shouldn’t it be in the north?”

I have lots of stress dreams, too, where I have to catch a plane but a million things are standing in my way and I just know I’m going to miss it, or it’s the first day of class in college and I can’t find any of the buildings where my classes are supposed to be.

And I get way too invested in TV shows, especially ones about kids and families. I was far more sad than I should have been when the psycho brat Sand Snakes were killed on Game of Thrones (they were sisters!), and an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine almost wrecked me. (It was the one called Time’s Orphan, about losing a small child down a time portal and stranding her on a deserted planet for ten years. Jeezus.)

In general I feel incredibly restless, like there’s something I’m supposed to do but nothing I can do. I don’t know if that’s a pregnancy symptom or just me wanting so badly to get that ultrasound and find out if this is something or less than nothing.

We can’t bear to really celebrate. Feels like setting ourselves up for a(nother) fall.

Our numbers were good and our odds are better than they’ve ever been, but we don’t seem to do so well with odds.

13 more days until we find out if this train is still moving.

P.S. For those of you still trying with your own gametes, here’s an interesting study that shows eating a protein-rich diet can have profound effects on IVF results. Of course, “protein-rich” generally just means healthy, but so many Americans get almost all their nutrients from carbs, and that’s really bad for fertility. Probably the real villain is “empty calories,” which the US diet is absolutely full of. So stick with meats, beans, lentils, fruits, veggies, and a few whole grains for a nice boost.

This will probably help even if you use donor gametes — it means you’ll be getting a heck of a lot more nutrients and fewer blood sugar spikes. I generally eat healthy anyway, but I cut out grains even more with this transfer (and sugar). Not completely, as I continued eating corn and a bit of wheat, but more than usual. It really compels you to reach for coconut or fruit when you need a sweet hit instead of a cookie or something, and that can only be a good thing. I might have a sweet dessert once a week, but it’s not a daily thing.

It’s been four years now of thinking of my body as not entirely my own. One thing I look forward to if we ever have our kids is just thinking of my body as my own again. Hopefully I’ll still eat healthy, but I won’t be quite as stressed about it…

Lucky Sevens?

OK, I had this whole spiel about not believing in omens, but get this:

  • My embryo transfer was 7/7/17
  • First beta was 7/17/17
  • Second beta was exactly 777 more than first beta
  • And my ultrasound? It’s scheduled for August 7
  • Then the first two OBs I called seeking a first appointment both had the same first date of availability: August 17

Coincidence? Yes. But still kinda funny.

Also, when I got in the car today to get my blood drawn for my second beta, Sweet Child o’ Mine (Guns ‘n Roses) was playing on the radio.

Another time, before I left for California, I turned on the radio hoping for inspiration, and it was Mama, I’m Coming Home by Ozzy Osbourne.

And then there’s that figurine I found in a junk store in Oakland that completed a set I’ve had since I was two years old.

I feel like Indiana Jones after he said, “X never, ever marks the spot.”

All I can say is: If this one doesn’t work, the universe is really, really, really mean! 😛

P.S. Now that there’s a somewhat better chance I’ll be shooting my ass for the long haul, I put together a nice system in the bathroom: Big syringes are in a heavy glass cup, small needles are in a small glass teacup, progesterone is just next to the Q-tip cup, alcohol wipes are in a small painted Turkish bowl we got for a wedding present, and sharps container is in the corner so it won’t block the cat’s way and end up batted into the toilet.

Really hoping I’m settling in for 7 and a half more weeks of it. Now it looks nice instead of everything crammed into a plastic bag and shoved into a drawer.

The estrogen patches are in a little drawer in the kitchen. For some reason. I guess so I can slap them on while I’m making my morning tea. I’ve found they work much better if I use an alcohol wipe on the place where I plan to stick them, then dry it off with a cloth before applying the patch, then I hold the patches firmly in place with the palms of my hands for 30 seconds.

The things you learn after four years of this stuff…

2nd Beta

I made sure to go in at the same time, after having much the same tea and breakfast, just to keep things as consistent as possible. I was hoping for at least 1464. That’s be a doubling in 48 hours.

The number I got: 1509. Doubling time 46 hours.

My confidence in general is so low that I kinda wanted to blow it out of the water, not just squeak in under the 48-hour gate, but I’m thrilled we’re still on target.

Here’s where we fall on the beta range:

chart

It was good enough for my CC coordinator, so no more blood work. Nothing to do but keep putting stickers on my belly and shooting oil in my ass and wait for the ultrasound in three weeks. No idea how I’m going to hold out.

For now I keep checking in with my (so far mild) nausea and hoping it gets worse and worse…

We celebrated our very provisional but encouraging victory with Mediterranean food at a Syrian place called Leena’s — chicken shawarma + felafel / mezze platter — followed by splitting a decaf flat white with coconut milk at Starbucks and a chocolate cookie with raspberry frosting. (Of course he had most of both of them since he’s not trying to watch his caffeine or sugar intake.)

My TSH also went up from 1.004 to 2.124 despite upping my meds from 60 to 110. That’s still in range — should stay under 2.5, but between 1 and 2 is better — but it’s probably still climbing, so I’ll up my meds again to 125. As my estrogen rises even more once the placenta takes over (if I’m lucky enough to get that far), I might test again and up it to 150 if necessary.

(Though I did read something interesting today that suggested patches alone didn’t wreak as much havoc on TSH levels as pills. But I’ll need to do more research to make sure. During my previous transfer with CC, I took patches only most of the time, and only pills for a few days to plump the lining, and my TSH still shot up to 5.4 or something.)

I refilled my progesterone today, and insurance barely covers it, so it cost around $100. Good news is, the only expenses I have left are the ultrasound and one more progesterone refill. Then, if all goes well, I’ll officially be a pregnant lady.

I’m sure that will come with its own expenses. But at least all these extra “fertility” expenses will be behind us for a while. (Hopefully! God, believe me, a big part of me is just waiting for the other shoe to drop…)

1st Beta

This is ten days past transfer, which would be 15 days past (effective) ovulation date.

After the last transfer, my beta on ten days past transfer was 91, which wasn’t doubling like it should and was lower than average.

This time my number is: 732.

That’s exactly twice the median beta value for twins on Betabase. (God, I hope it’s not quads… kidding. The chances for that are astronomically low. There’s just a lot of variance in beta numbers. But a stronger number means a stronger placenta, or possibly more than one.)

Now, a big number is great, but the real test is to see if it doubles on Wednesday. And then, of course, the desperately dreaded ultrasound. (I’ve failed every “pregnancy” ultrasound I’ve gone through.) Etc.

But this is the first time I’ve kinda felt like an overachiever at anything related to conception and pregnancy!

So… two hurdles cleared (home tests and first beta)… many to go.

Today is another good day.

P.S. Yesterday I wasn’t going to watch Game of Thrones — didn’t want to upset my mental / emotional state. But then when we were out walking at dusk, a baby snake wriggled by just in front of me — and those things wriggle FAST. I nearly jumped out of my skin. (Not scared, just really startled.) Then I followed it across the walking path and bike path to make sure it got safely to the grass on the other side.

After that, I figured fictional dragons wouldn’t be any big deal at all…

Breathing

OK… I hesitate to post this, because I’ve done that twice, and both times it ended badly, and I don’t like to put anyone else on this roller coaster. But what the hell. Strap in.

This is 7 days past a day 5 transfer, which in an ordinary cycle would be two days before my next cycle would otherwise be expected to start. (12 days past effective ovulation date.) Point is, any line at all would be good now, much less one that strong.

So now I can breathe until my first beta test on Monday.

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There but for the Grace of God…

My friend Mamjojo23 has a lovely blog with posts that often make me think. Her latest post reflects on how this whole “journey” (she describes it perfectly as “the Groundhog Day from hell”) has affected her now that it’s nearing its end.

I responded in a way that I know to be true, even if I don’t feel it sometimes. I have been trying to live my way into knowing this not just in my mind but in my bones:

Thanks for this. I’m not yet in the “retrospective” phase. I’m right in the hard, uncertain middle of it. Still in the middle of my FIRST try — never mind number two if we don’t end up with twins.

I have also learned to let the sadness pass through me and not dwell on it so much. Feel it, and let it go. But I still most definitely have PTSD that can be triggered without warning. A travel delay (that reminds me of the horrible travel day we had before my first miscarriage) can smack me down into a deep hole.

But I nose my way out of the hole faster and faster, and I always know I CAN nose my way out, even when I don’t yet see how.

That’s not to say I’m not damned tired of holes (and NOTHING else, at least when it comes to this particular life-altering endeavor). But it has been humbling in a lot of good ways. It helps me understand better, truly, deep down, that the sun shines and the sky rains on the just and the unjust alike. I don’t have any kind of special exemption from that. There but for the grace of God go I, in every way imaginable.

If this is the worst burden I ever bear, I can only be grateful. And if things get worse, I can still only be grateful, because even if I never get another thing in life, the universe has already given me so much more than I ever “deserved.” It was just a gift.

If I get this other gift, too, of a child or children to love and raise, so much the better.