A Sudden and Unexpected End of an Era

I just came home from another 10 days in the hospital. Collectively, I spent nearly half of November in a hospital bed.

I missed Thanksgiving.
I missed Gus’ first trip to the dentist.
I missed my cousin-in-law’s entire trip out for Thanksgiving weekend.

I got out of the hospital (my 1st trip) after three days, feeling like my old self, just taking the occasional tylenol and ready to get on with our planned embryo transfer, which was pushed back a few days to give me time to heal.

And I did heal, and we had our transfer, and I was feeling really optimistic and got a few positive pregnancy tests starting six days after transfer. A little darker on day 7. I never got to test on day 8 — the hospital took over at that point.

A week after my embryo transfer, and 16 days after my first hospital stay, my body exploded from the inside, and I genuinely believed I was dying.

Dying in the car on the way to the emergency room. Almost fainting from pain, until someone caught me in a wheelchair (so cliché!).

Dying in the emergency room, when there were no beds and I willingly, joyfully laid down on the waiting room floor, and enthusiastically emptied my stomach into charming little plastic bins.

Dying in a small room, begging for drugs, or for someone to just Looney Toons-style knock my ass out with a frying pan to the head. Anything.

“It’s pancreatitis!” I shouted at everyone. “I need an IV! And morphine! And another CT scan! And I’m pretty sure I’m pregnant!”

They all agreed, and they tried to help me. They did help me, but nothing was helping.

I just kept comparing it to last time. Last time, I felt better by now. Last time morphine worked quickly and consistently.

This time the pain was 1,000 times worse, and nothing was managing it for the first four days. The first moment of relief I felt was several days later — After feeling like something exploded in my chest, when I couldn’t breathe, screaming at Mike that I love him, make sure Gus knows how much I love him if something happens to me, while a rapid response team doubled my meds and rushed me sobbing to a CT scan.

So, what happened?

Apparently labs came back after the first hospitalization, that showed I had elevated triglycerides. This means nothing to me, but a doctor assures me they shouldn’t be higher than 200, and mine were more than 800. That was what they were when I left the hospital the first time, but since I’d been discharged already, no one gave us the results. (I have strong opinions about this as a policy)

Do you know what can make triglycerides really high?

Estrogen.

Guess what I was taking a crapload of, for even longer than originally planned?

Want to guess what my triglycerides were when they tested them the day I went back to the ER?

More than 5,000.

Also, I was pregnant.

But you can’t take estrogen and lower triglycerides at the same time, so all my meds stopped immediately. I was also insanely dehydrated, and wasn’t allowed to eat or drink for 90 hours, so none of us were surprised when on top of everything else I started bleeding.

What happens now?

Literally right this second all I can do is sip clear fluids, and eat a few teaspoons of food a day and hope it stays in my body and that they didn’t send me home too early.

I feel horrendous, and am trying to remind myself that recovery is going to be more severe, because this time my illness was much more so as well.

I’ve been advised by multiple doctors that I should never, ever, undergo another round of fertility treatment again. That if I take any estrogen therapies in the future, it could kill me.

And so just like that, I’ll never get pregnant again. I’ll never give birth to my own child again. And, maybe it’s because I don’t have a say in the matter, but it’s a bit of a relief to step away from all the needles, and the anxiety and the worry and the fear that comes along with trying again.

I have seven healthy embryos left. Maybe someone will show up at my door and offer to grow one of them for me (I’ll name them after you!). Maybe I’ll win the lottery, and I can pay for a gestational carrier. Maybe we’ll adopt. Maybe we’ll do all those things.

Mike and his parents, and his cousin, and my parents have been so amazing, taking care of Gus and of me. I’ve gotten so many texts and calls and emails, and I literally can’t talk about it without getting winded — I’m not ignoring you, I literally can’t talk, or stop crying, but thank you, and I love you all.

I’ve been home for a day, and we’re all settling into our new temporary normal. I can’t wait to feel normal again. I miss normal.

Mike told me tonight, after the 15th time I was crying on his shoulder, to think about karma. I asked him if I was being punished, and he told me that something wonderful would happen soon.

Maybe he was talking about the painkillers? Only time will tell I guess.

Shut Your Mouth When You’re Talking to Me.

I realize that a lot of people don’t know what to say with regard to fertility treatments. I’m one of those rare, beautiful creatures, who doesn’t mind talking about it — but it’s one of those things you can’t really understand unless you (or someone close to you) have been through it yourself.

We’re stressed out, we’re pumped full of drugs, we already feel like a failure, and we’re hormonally-fueled balls of emotion — so here’s a list of things, that you should never, ever, say to a woman in the middle of fertility treatments (unless you want to get punched in the throat).

“Just relax! Drink some wine! It’ll happen!”
Um, no. No it won’t. Sure, it does for some people, who don’t have fertility issues — but not us. If it was that simple, and alcohol helped that much, I would have left college with like a dozen babies. We’ve been at this for years, thanks — so, we obviously require medical intervention. I know you’re just throwing in your two cents, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

“He just looks at me, and I get pregnant!”
Oh, good for you, Fertile Myrtle! You probably just had some wine, and relaxed too, right?! Thanks for pointing out your natural ability to get pregnant without even trying. Your parents must be so proud.

“You’re still young!”
1) Thank you. But, 2) It doesn’t feel that way. Not when people you went to high school with are on babies #3 or 4, and your newsfeed is full of pregnancy announcements. Like I said, we’ve been at this for years, and I’m not getting any younger.

“Oh, I had a friend who had trouble getting pregnant, but they like, had to do it in a petri dish.”
Uhhh, yeah! So did we! What do you think I’ve been talking about this whole time?

“Take some of my kids!”
Oh, how hilarious! You’re kids are annoying, and you don’t want them anymore! Hahaha! You have sooooo many kids, you’re just giving them away!

“Here comes the next Octomom!!”
Octomom is a great example of irresponsible decision making (also, insanity). Any respectable fertility specialist would never transfer more embryos than necessary, and only a crazy person (who is young, has had success with IVF before, and already has six kids) would insist on transferring 12 embryos. TWELVE. She was 32. I’m 32 — you know how many I’m allowed to transfer? Two, max. That’s why that doctor lost his medical license, and she’s a bankrupt lunatic. Please don’t compare me to her.

“You should just adopt — then it’ll happen!”
First of all, this isn’t the 50s. You can’t just stroll down to your neighborhood orphanage and pick up that adorable infant that poor girl in secretarial school left on their doorstep in the dead of night. Adoptions take years, and cost tens of thousands of dollars — and even then it’s not a sure thing! As for magically getting pregnant once you’ve adopted (because, you know — the pressure is off, so you’re… relaxed) please see #1.

That Just Happened.

I’m about mid-way through our first round of IVF, and am surprisingly less emotional than I was expecting I would be.

That’s not to say I’m not periodically a raving lunatic. The first few days of injections resulted in hot flashes, random outbursts of sobbing, and the occasional bout of rage.

Like the other night when I made some pizza for dinner. The crust wasn’t rolling out like it should, which resulted in me beating it with a rolling pin. I just told my mom that story, and clearly she expects the worst from me.

Me: I ended up beating it with a rolling pin.
Mom: OH MY GOD, you hit him with a rolling pin?!
Me: What? Yes, with a rolling pin.
Mom: Was he hurt?
Me: What are you talking about? I hit the pizza with a rolling pin.
Mom: Ooohhh, I thought you beat Mike.

No, I didn’t. It’s not that bad.

But (shield your eyes, gentlemen) my ovaries are growing exponentially. Like, I can feel them. Constantly. Bending over is sort of out of the question.

Oh, and I just found out one of the drugs I’m taking? Is made from the urine of post menopausal women.

That’s… interesting. I decided to stop googling things after that.

Needles. NBD.

Remember all that bitching and moaning I was doing about having to give myself shots?

Well, a couple of things:

1) It’s not really that bad. And by not really, I mean I can’t even feel it — and I’m the one doing it. I know it’s in there. I can hear the needle-pen clicking, and still, it’s like a hot knife through butter. Thanks fat stomach! You’re finally good for something!

2) That shit works, y’all. And it works fast. Eggs are everywhere. Think fertile thoughts, particularly on Friday, if you’d be so kind.

3) After being informed that said medicine was not covered by insurance, and finding out it was upwards of $800/month — a Christmas miracle occurred, and it only cost us $30. So we went out for sushi and accidentally spent $100. Oops!

So, this morning I was running late for my monitoring appointment, and I hastily pulled on a pair of mismatched socks, thinking “No one will even know. I’m wearing boots.”

And these socks? don’t match at all. It’s not like they’re both blue, but different sort-of close blues.

No.

One is blue, with stripes and snowflakes, and the other one is brown.

Then I got to the doctor, where my only reason for being there is to take off my pants and lay on an exam table. A place where the only thing I have on from the waist down is my socks.

At least my legs weren’t hairy.

 

 

My Worthless Ovaries

Well, I guess they’re not totally worthless – but they’re not really cooperating.

They’re like me when my mom needs help cleaning up the kitchen after we bake Christmas cookies. (I’m always like, “I have to pee!” and then I hide in the bathroom reading an Ikea catalog.)

I found out last week that our latest round of fertility drugs wasn’t working.

This was after six doctors appointments (and ultrasounds and blood draws) in seven days.

This was also after six weeks of avoiding caffeine, sugar, fake sugar, soy, beef, dairy and white flour.

So, what does that mean?

Well, for starters, it means I’m pissed, and I want a lovely cheese pizza, just for me.


After several months of eating crap AND responding to the medicine, I thought for sure giving up all that deliciousness would make a difference. Instead, it made everything worse. Sure, rationally I understand that being healthier didn’t cause this to happen. But I love food, and I missed it.

Treatment-wise, it means this cycle has to be skipped, so right now I’m on a different set of meds and will restart everything in a few weeks.

It’s a good news/bad news situation.

The bad news is, we spent a lot of money on a cycle that didn’t happen. I had more blood drawn in a week then I have in the last five years. I suffered through weeks of hot-flashes and sudden bursts of crying for nothing.

The good news? At least I have another two weeks before I have to start injecting myself with a new round of hormones. Yes, I said injecting. Apparently the Clomid ship has sailed since I’m not responding to it anymore, and from here on out it’s fsh-filled needles right into the stomach. I’m saying this is good news, because 1) hopefully it’ll work, 2) it’s something they can monitor and tweak really closely for better results, and 3) when I tell people I have to give myself shots, they feel bad for me, and might buy me presents.

 

Sorry Mom.

Confession: I love tattoos.

I have two. I’d have more, I’m sure, if I didn’t think my mother would murder me.

But — I want a third.

Smoop doesn’t understand this — but seeing as how she’s never pierced her ears (and I ran with a crowd that pierced things at lunch in parking lots), I’m not too surprised.

For me, tattoos are reminders of important milestones. Things I’ve done. Things I’ve learned. Obstacles I’ve overcome.

Like, my first one, reminds me that I was an asshole when I was 18.

Smoop said, no tattoos, ever. So, naturally, as soon as I was 18 and sure I was getting into college somewhere (what? I’m a rebel, but not stupid. I knew she wouldn’t hurt me if she’d already mailed a tuition check) I ran out and got a tattoo. I managed to hide it for two weeks — but it was summertime, and I was in a bathing suit, and I dropped my guard for one second! My shoulder was exposed! I was discovered! She literally backed me into a corner. And then, she just laughed, and told me it looks like a meat stamp. For awhile she called me USDA Approved.

I figured that was fair.

Chinese for "Grade A Beef"

In college, I almost did it again, a few times — but man am I glad I didn’t, because I had terrible taste when I was 19 (like, worse than chinese symbols-terrible). Instead, I pierced things — which Smoop really did not appreciate. The fact I came home with a ring in my nose on Mother’s Day one year may have something to do with that.

Then a few years ago, fresh out of a long and failing relationship — I got another one. This time it was to remind me to do all those things you say you’re going to do after someone breaks up with you. Be yourself. Be genuine. Love yourself. Do all those things, and you’ll find someone who appreciates you for who you are. You know, all that crap.

Nope, not a Buddhist. But I like the way they're put together.

This time I want something… fertile.

You know, because I’m not.

Take a second and google “fertility symbols.”

Now take a deep breath and relax, because I’m not getting any of those.

I’m thinking of going for birds-and-the-bees-type of thing. Only I’m terrified of bees, which just leaves us with birds.

Something along these lines:

So the other day (and by other day, I mean right before we sat down for Thanksgiving dinner) I told her I was getting a third.

I warned her before the second one too (I don’t like being backed into corners) and as far as I can tell she’s over it.

I mean, now that everyone she knows saw the meat stamp on my wedding day (the word, “mortified” was thrown around a lot), I think the jig is up.

 

 

Goodbye, November!

Starting tomorrow, I don’t have to blog every day.

I mean, technically, I didn’t have to do it every day in November. It’s not like there’s been a guy following me around with a gun to my head for the last 30 days. Because, not only is that highly improbable, but man, I’d feel bad for that guy. He’d be super bored by now, and I would have made him do things like carry in the groceries, and rake the leaves. You’re not staying in my house for a month and not pulling your weight — no way, Jose! (Which is just an expression — I imagine his name would be Raoul.) Now go get me the mail!

The last few days, I’ve been slacking off and relying on pictures — I blame Instagram, personally. But you can go ahead and blame me, since I’m the lazy one.

So, what’s new?

Well, I’m still not pregnant — but we’re in the middle of a new cycle and things are moving along. And by things, I mean my ovaries.

And I still don’t have a job — obviously, seeing as I decorated the house for Christmas in record time on a Monday. And so far this week, I’ve watched Willy Wonka, Home Alone, Last Holiday, You’ve Got Mail (which isn’t especially Christmasy, but man, I love Tom Hanks), and Christmas Vacation (naturally) and it’s only Wednesday. Afternoon.

It’s also come to my attention that I don’t own Elf, While You Were Sleeping, The Holiday, Mixed Nuts, or Scrooged, so if you’re looking for any last-minute gift ideas, there you go.

… and that’s pretty much my life in a nutshell.

“How did I get into this nutshell?!”