Extracurriculars

(It’s funny how anything not directly connected to either making a baby or making money to pay medical bills seems like “extracurriculars” these days…)

As the next embryo transfer (hopefully) looms, I ramped up my fun stuff for a while to make hay while the sun shines. Last week I had an hour and a half of ballet in a hot studio on Wednesday, an hour of co-ed competitive soccer in the 95 degree sun on Thursday, and at least an hour of pick-up soccer on Friday when the heat index was 103. Miraculously, none of my estrogen patches fell off. But I was glad for a rest over the weekend.

This week I’m just doing ballet today (last ballet class for a while… my $100 for 10 classes card ran out, and there’s no sense re-upping again) and co-ed soccer on Thursday. (I didn’t pay and join the summer squad, I’m just sneaking in as a sub for a couple of games when other women can’t make it.)

And that’ll probably be it. I may play soccer again on Sunday if it’s really beautiful, but otherwise I’m just sticking to my morning calisthenics and ab workout, push-ups and resistance band rows and “pull-ups”, and nightly walks by the river from now on. (My favorite yoga workout recently disappeared from Youtube, and it’s not easy finding new ones — you basically have to do them to find out if they’re any good, and if they’re not, you just wasted half an hour. So that’s a bummer.)

What I haven’t been good about is meditating and writing in my journal. They always seem to get lost first, and they’re so important to my well-being. But lately I’ve been snowed under with editing jobs, which means my own writing is also getting lost in the shuffle.

Apparently it’s insanely hot in Sacramento, too, and I’m going to try to avoid outside editing work while I’m there, so maybe I can spend some good time on my book. And also find some space for meditating and journal writing. At least it won’t be the cold, rainy dead of winter.

In other news, my husband just found out he needs some expensive dental work done. It’s definitely not a simple thing to pile onto our cash-strapped reality, but on the other hand it does kind of feel nice for once not to be the one who’s costing us a bunch of medical money. 😛

I’m trying not to think too much about the potential kids, and definitely not writing to them or talking to them or visualizing them as I’ve done in the past. It’s just too painful every time it doesn’t work. It makes the loss that much harder. I’m just living in the now, and if and when the kids finally, actually come, believe me, they’ll get plenty of attention.

Heading to Sacramento on the 29th for the lining check, and I’ll probably be stuck there a couple of weeks while the egg donor completes her cycle and the embryos develop. (I had to eat the cost of my earlier United ticket from the original cycle. A United representative told me I could get a refund, but after I canceled the flight, bought another ticket on another airline, and applied for a refund, they refused me. I’m appealing but don’t anticipate getting anywhere. Grr.) (UPDATE: It took some time and doing, but I’m getting a refund after all. Whew.)

Oh, and I’m fundraising for my friend Rania in Palestine again. She’s an amazing women who does fantastic work in her community, including counseling, after school programs, summer camps, and programs for the disabled. I raise money every year to pay her a small “salary” of $300 per month for her work, which is otherwise unfunded. If you can chip in five bucks, it’s always appreciated. ❤

Que Sera Sera

“Hopefully I can just smooth-sail through something for once.”

I really shouldn’t tempt fate that way.

All we wanted was one Mediterranean donor. But we went with the profile we were offered in large part because the egg donor was part Turkish (and we liked their personalities). I loved watching my husband’s face light up when he found out. He has so little to contribute physically to this process — at least his ethnicity could be represented. And I was happy she was part Egyptian, since my favorite place in the world is in Egypt and I speak some Arabic and would love to teach my kids and keep learning.

Now we have one Mexican donor and one from India, and it just seems completely random. When they get older and people start asking, “So, where are you from?” they won’t have a remotely simple answer.

“Well, I’m half Mexican and half Indian, and my mom is white and my dad is Turkish.”

Say what?

It’s hard to know what ethnicity even means these days when people are scattered all over the world, including as shuffled egg and sperm combinations. It’s hard to know how to think about it. After all, why should I be more inclined to teach a child Arabic just because he or she has certain DNA?

They’ll probably have that ambiguously ethnic look that will fit in just about anywhere, from Brazil to Uzbekistan. They’ll fit in everywhere, but also not really anywhere. In a way they’ll have a clean slate. They can define themselves. Citizens of planet Earth. It won’t be all perfectly “normal,” and there will be challenges, but hopefully we can all face them and grow together.

For sure we’ll try to teach them Turkish, and maybe we can find a way to all learn Spanish together, too. (Ahmed and I have tried before, but we didn’t like Rosetta Stone.) Advanced Arabic (and Punjabi) may be beyond us, at least for a while, but I can teach them what Arabic I know.

Oh yeah, and I don’t know to what extent she was serious, but the new egg donor said her dream as a teenager was to be a professional soccer player and play in the Women’s World Cup. I don’t know if that was a daydream or something approaching a possibility, but it’s a nice touch. She also says she was good at math.

Anyway, long story short, my husband wants to go for it. Other than, ya know, ethnicity and personality (and age), the two egg donors really aren’t that different. And the donor coordinator said the new one has a similar facial structure to mine, and my coordinator says she feels good about it. As far as her family’s history of obesity and type II diabetes, if we eat healthy foods and keep active it should probably be OK.

Hell, like everyone says (including me), it’s such a crap shoot either way. There’s just no way to know in advance what the right choice is. Might as well take the path of least resistance, eh?

I just hope this is the last jarring shock. But no, I’m not going to hope that. I’m not going to hope anything. I’m just going to keep taking it one step at a time, and try to dispense with expectations as much as I can. They seem to cause a lot of psychological distress.

EDIT: One interesting thing is that there were two other recipients signed up to our original profile, and both of them accepted the new egg donor as well. I wonder what other kind of people don’t mind whether their child is half Arab/Turkish or half Mexican. They apparently aren’t signed up in any of the usual forums or groups, so I haven’t been able to get in touch with them. Maybe they don’t want to be in touch.

But I admit, I’m intrigued, and I’ve always hoped to be in touch with any genetic siblings out there, in case that kind of thing ends up being important to our kids. I really hope we can find a way to connect.

In a Handbasket

It’s almost comedic at this point how everything that can possibly go wrong does go wrong.

Our perfect egg donor backed out completely after forcing the people assigned to her profile to delay for 9 days. Now she needs to “get some things together” before deciding whether to donate, and the clinic probably won’t let her donate at all due to her being unreliable.

By coincidence, another egg donor was donating on the same timeline for another (non-time-sensitive) program, and they’re trying to switch her in as our new egg donor. Two other recipients were assigned to my profile, and if we and the other two recipients agree, we’ll continue as scheduled with a different egg donor, same sperm donor.

The new egg donor is older (31), shorter (5’0″), and heavier (BMI 28). She’s Hispanic, which is fine in and of itself — it’s just not remotely Turkish, which I had really hoped for. I feel like the children I envisioned and imagined all these weeks just evaporated in front of my eyes.

Getting thrown back into the waiting pool feels awful (it could be months before we’re offered another decent profile), but this profile isn’t what I signed up for. (I know, I know — things happen, you have to be flexible. Still sucks every time the rug gets pulled out from under you.)

Sigh. What can we do? We’ll have to make a tough decision and then keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Seriously. Does this ever end?

We Literally Flipped a Coin

Of course, we didn’t have to listen to the coin.

But when the coin’s in the air, you suddenly know which side of the coin you’re rooting for.

And we were both relieved when it came up tails. Twice in a row.

Tails was fresh.

*Deep breath*

Here’s hoping.

Frozen? Or let it go?

So my coordinator gave me the option to switch to a frozen cycle (same embryo profile), but it wouldn’t be until August.

A part of me is so resistant to that — I so badly want to get this show on the road — and the doctor thinks it’s just fine to be on Lupron for an extra week (in stasis, basically — the nurse says no one ever ovulates through it), and the egg donor is still scheduled (even though she was also scheduled at the earlier dates, and look how that turned out). Plus the nurse said no embryos would be guaranteed. They wouldn’t be guaranteed on a fresh cycle, either, but somehow I think I’ll get a worse deal if I’m the one with the leftovers instead of one of the fresh cyclers.

But — and I know this is totally silly — I got a silver snowflake charm in my Christmas cracker last year, which I took as some kind of sign that I’d end up with a frozen cycle. It’s just a silly cheap little ornament, and my writer’s mind is always trying to find meaning everywhere, even where none exists.

And I’m coming around to the idea that hopefully the med change will be fine and everything will work out and let’s just get this over with.

But I’ve rushed into things before, and nothing has ever worked out, so I’m feeling kind of paralyzed but also like I’m just being paranoid based on the past…

Ugh, every part of this is always so exhausting.

Arrgghhh…

Talk about a wrench thrown into the works. My coordinator just casually emailed me that there was a “change to my medication calendar,” and in the email she said the egg donor’s dates had to change for a personal reason and everything would be postponed by nine days.

I already bought my one-way ticket. I already have plans and reservations. I’m already taking the freaking medications.

The thing I’m most freaked out about is having nine extra days of estrogen — and an upped dose at that (patches plus 4mg orally per day). Will my lining get old and mushy by then? Or even too thick?

UPDATE:

Well, this is weird and disturbing. My coordinator told me to just keep taking my estrogen (which I started yesterday) despite the nine-day delay. I looked at the calendar and saw that it would mean I’d be on estrogen for up to four weeks, which seemed way too long.

I asked to speak to Dr. Goud, and all of a sudden I’m supposed to rip my patches off, stay on Lupron for the next week, and start over with estrogen next Wednesday.

So many questions. Has this ever been done before? Will only 5 units of Lupron keep my ovaries and lining suppressed for sure? Has my lining already started growing with the estrogen in my system from yesterday, and will it just sit there and get old for the next week? When I start estrogen again, will my lining be stunted or weird after being put in stasis for so long?

And by the way, what happened with the egg donor? Was it some kind of trauma? A death? Health issue? Are they sure she’ll be in a place to be donating after the nine days of delay are over? Are they sure she won’t just end up canceling all together?

The nurse I talked to just kept telling me Dr. Goud thought it was best, and he was confident it would be fine. (Easy for him to say. Sorry, but I’ve had confident doctors before who were dead wrong.) And they can’t tell me any personal info about the donor.

At least the nurse was actually kind, understanding, and sympathetic to my nervousness. What a difference that makes!

But I was feeling so hopeful for this one, and it seemed to be going so smoothly (for once), and now everything feels unsettled and weird, and I’ve lost a lot of the spring in my step.

It’s always something, isn’t it?

On Drugs Again

(Sang to the tune of “On the Road Again…” 😉 )

Well, non-birth-control drugs anyway. I’m always so glad to leave those little pills behind. Here’s hoping those are the last I’ll ever take…

I started Lupron last week (10 units per morning), and tomorrow it’s on to estrogen patches plus pills. The estrogen patches alone don’t seem to work so well for me (I tried to tell my clinic that last time, but they didn’t listen), so I’m hoping by adding 4mg/day orally, I’ll end up with a nice, plump lining. And not be quite so terrified of ruining the effect of the patches every time I sweat. Which is a lot in June in Oklahoma. Especially if I’m able to squeeze in a last few soccer games and ballet lessons. (Have I mentioned I hate patches?)

Insurance also decided to stop covering the cost of my patches — like, zero coverage, which means $250 a month for three months that I didn’t bank on. But I found a coupon to get my first month for only $125, and after venting on Facebook, some nice women offered to send me some of their leftover patches through the mail. I also had 20 patches leftover myself. All in all I may escape with paying only $100 more than I expected. Yay for solidarity and generosity.

I’ve wrestled with myself about whether to add baby aspirin and an “antihistamine protocol” to my line-up. Baby aspirin is supposed to help thin the blood, which can supposedly help with building lining as well as implantation since it lessens the chance of tiny blood clots. But I used it for every transfer so far, and none worked, so maybe it’s time to retire that.

Antihistamines are supposed to reduce inflammation and calm the immune system. Even though I’ve never tested positive for any autoimmune issues, I do have hypothyroidism and endometriosis, so it’s definitely possible. I could have also done an endometrial scratch and a dozen other things, but my clinic says it’s not necessary. Just take prenatal vitamins that have folate, and maybe add a bit of C, D, and E, and pray to whatever God you believe in, because it seems to be a game of luck more than anything. And I chose the clinic with the best odds in the world. So. Just gotta keep spinning the wheel ’til my number comes up and try not to make myself too crazy in the meantime.

Though I did read a study that said laughing after transfer really helps, and I don’t see any harm there. So if you have any laugh-out-loud Youtube videos to recommend, please feel free to put a link in the comments!

(It’s nice, at least, that the house and I are on the same side with this. The faster I succeed, the cheaper it is for them because the fewer the embryos they have to dole out. It will be a heck of a lot cheaper for them to only deal with me twice than to do three or four or six transfers. So I’m that much more inclined to take their advice seriously. But hey — if you know of a study that shows baby aspirin or antihistamines will definitely get me pregnant, feel free to send it my way.)

My TSH is 1.004 (perfect). I bought my one-way ticket to Sacramento, and I have enough miles to book my one-way ticket home when I figure out when the transfer is going to be. I’ve also booked a bed in a hostel for four days and have a few lovely fellow “fertility journey” women to visit in those four days (one I know from her blog, two I know from CC), then I’ll probably head down to the Bay Area and visit some friends there while I shoot myself up with progesterone and wait for the embryos to grow.

Every time a transfer is imminent, I try to visualize the kids that are coming, try to talk to them, try to imagine them, try to instantiate them with my will. Obviously it has never worked before. But this time it comes easier than it ever has. Always before I felt a kind of dread, a kind of resistance, but this time it’s the opposite. It’s so easy to imagine them, and I feel like I’m being drawn forward, like a spring is attached between me and the future, and when I have my evening walks, instead of checking in with myself and feeling bereft and frustrated, I feel a lightness in my step, like I’m so, so close.

I’m trying not to question or second-guess that feeling. Trying to just roll with it.