Monday, November 30, 2009

'tis the season

I haven't posted in awhile. I can't seem to get past a dark cloud that has rested above my head. Something about this holiday season just isn't bringing me the same joy it has in the past. I usually start my holiday shopping in September, lists with each family members name and ideas for their gifts. We are getting to the first of December and I haven't bought one. The news about black Friday and people buying their tree makes me turn the channel. I write it off as being sick of the greed of Christmas or commercialism of it all. But you slip one layer of that cynicism off and you find someone who's just sad. I always held the holidays as the scene in my imagination, day dreaming about being pregnant and getting baby gifts or even having those "baby first Christmas" pj's. Just wanting to pass on all those wonderful traditions my parents gave me and starting my own with my child. But, Christmas would come around and I would always tell myself "don't worry next year it will happen" and each year my Christmas wish was never answered. It's somehow lost it's magic with me.

I feel like these next couple of months will be a marathon. Just trying to get through them in one piece. There are moments I am held together by a thin string on a verge of breaking and in the next moment I am brave and proactive. I just don't have the naivete anymore to tell myself don't worry next year will be different. Because no one can be sure.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bloody Sunday

Yesterday was cycle day 3 for me. That meant it was time for me to update my day 3 labs. It has been over a year since my last test. Day 3 labs are basically a blue print of my hormone levels and other baby making levels that can be read through my blood. The doctors need the blood to be drawn on the third day of my period, no sooner, no later. My husband and I also needed to update our infectious disease labs. What a fabulous way to spend a Sunday.

At the clinic they have two chairs at the nurses station where they take blood. We both were seated and they showed of the number of vials that needed to be filled. My husband had one vial and since I was getting my day 3 labs done as well as infectious disease I had 6 vials. Goodness that's a lot of blood. Of course I have the world's most difficult veins. I have been told by countless doctors and nurses that my veins are a challenge for them. It took the best nurse at the clinic over 45 minutes to find a good vein. One ruptured vein, one struck nerve and one little vein later she had the blood she needed. The poor nurse was sweating at the end of it all. She felt so bad about my ruptured vein and the nerve she hit. I told her it was fine, my best friend is a nurse and I have great patience and respect for nurses. Of course my husband was able to be in done in less then two minutes, lucky guy. He felt so bad for my arm that he took me out to a fancy brunch downtown.

I have to say after two years of fertility clinics and all the lab work they have needed from me giving blood is nothing. I look back at some of the tests I had to have done without any type of anesthesia and a little needle seems like a walk in the park. As we walked out of the clinic I looked at my husband and reminded him that was the last time we would need any more tests done until we are in Europe! It felt so good to know that we are so close to having everything we need to get to the finish line. A finish line that didn't seem close until recently. I feel very overwhelmed.

I got an amazing email via facebook from a friend in Boise who's been reading my blog. She was reaching out and saying that she was there if I needed anything. I started to cry reading the email. I felt so alone in this process until recently. Not really letting anyone in and not sharing the depth of what's been really going on. It feels so good to know that I have the support from friends and family. I am not alone in this, they are and have been with me every step of the way.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm infertile and I am not contagious

I know I am not alone when comes to feeling ashamed of my infertility. Many women go through phases during the process where you take all the guilt and place it all on yourself. Almost like talking in public about your infertile self is taboo. Remember when the word "cancer" was spoken under your breath and you would turn your head to see if anyone was listening. But now the word "cancer" isn't a dark secret. We have marathons for it, yellow bands to wear around our wrists, pink ribbons and celebrities coming out and talking about how cancer has affected them. We don't hide from talking about cancer anymore but it seems people still hide from talking about fertility. Why is that? I know I am guilty of hiding behind my infertility. People would ask my husband and I how the baby making process was going. I would grit my teeth and my husband would say the same line "we're having fun trying". Using his humor like an armor to protect me. But after the humor reflected the questions, the pain would set in. I'm not living in my truth, I am hiding.
And I was hiding today. I was at Barnes & Noble picking up a book on IVF when I noticed I was walking around the store with the book title out where everyone could see it. The big bold words "IN VITRO FERTILIZATION" with little babies on the cover. I immediately turned the book over and looked around to make sure no one had seen my dirty little secret. I now hid the book in my armpit like I had just come out of the "adult" section and didn't want the people to see I had picked up some freaky fetish book.
After a moment, I came to my senses and realized I was acting like a crazy person. I'm infertile and I am not contagious, it's not like I was buying a copy of "How To Cure Swine Flu" and sneezing on everyone. I turned that book around and held it proudly down the escalator. When I walked up to the cashier I was so jazzed with my new confidence I almost introduced myself "Hi, I am a Barnes & Noble club card member and I'm infertile and I will be paying with my debt card!!" I didn't do that but I did ask the cashier not to put my book in a bag, I was going to walk out of that store, head held high and my big book of IVF was coming with me for all to see!

Monday, November 9, 2009

high costs and low expections with fertility clinics

I am writing this blog still fuming mad at my last telephone conversation with my OLD infertility clinic. I am in pure disbelief at the amount of money they keep trying to pull out of me and my husband.
When we first started going to them I would make excuses for this behavior because I didn't know there was any other way to go about infertility. I didn't question their prices, I understood that the treatments are expensive and elective. My husband would say things under his breath when bills from them would arrive in the mail and I would give him all the reasons why their standards and practices were right. That was until I found My IVF Alternative and started researching the high cost and profit margins of IVF in the United States.
Before I found IVF Alternative I was already putting into motion the plan to have IVF done here in Seattle with Seattle Reproductive Medicine (SRM). I even had my IVF consultation with my doctor set up, the day before Thanksgiving. Appointment made and my husband even took the day off work. After we decided to go overseas for treatment I still wanted to keep my consultation here in the states just to ask questions in person.
Please put this into perspective too: I have been a patent of SRM for over a year and a half. A rough estimate of money spent there would be around 9K or more.
So I called them up and asked them if they were going to charge me to sit with my doctor and talk about IVF. The clinic calls it "next step" planning. Why am I even surprised they said YES! Of course they are going to charge me to talk to my doctor about my next step that would put $20,000 in their pockets without even blinking? Charge me more money to be able to charge me more money! I understand a doctors time is valuable, that taking a half an hour to talk to their client about their future reproductive needs takes focus and care. But when I have already spent so much, had surgery there, cried there in their arms, got to know all the nurses.. you are going to want even more money from me!?! And you know what, if I didn't know any better (like before) I would of paid. Because like I have said before, how do you put a price on fertility... and they know that!

I basically told them to kiss my ass and forward my medical records.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Medication Holiday!

Working with babies, kids and teens for the past 10+ plus years I have heard some crazy things. I have even seen some crazy things from both the kids and their parents. Sometimes I am reminded of past events and they always make me laugh. There has been one incident in particular that keeps coming to mind lately. While working with teens at summer camp a mother came up to me to talk about her son that would be in my care for an entire week. She wanted me to be aware that he was on an "Ritalin holiday" for the week he will be at camp. If you don't know, Ritalin is a drug given to people with ADHD ( Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder). So instead of the parents dealing with their kid while he was medication free they decided to send him off to camp. It turned out to be fine because camp is a great thing for kids with hyperactivity, it's camp!
The reason I thought of this was for the first time in over a year I am medication free! I am on a "fertility drug holiday" and it's FANTASTIC!
Since we are going with IVF in February I don't have to take any of those crazy drugs to stimulate my cycle. No more shots, pills, ultrasounds or predictor kits! It's a holiday!!
Of course come February the drugs I will have to take for IVF won't be a walk in the park. Basically the medications I have been taking for the past year in a half have been the minor leagues and IVF medications is the majors! I have a friend who went through part of the IVF experience and she said the meds where insane, making her feel like she was going crazy. My husband had a co-work basically say the same thing. Luckily though I have my eye on the price! You know when people are trying to lose weight they put pictures of thin women on their fridge to stay focused, well I put my friend's new babies birth announcements on mine. Staying focused and positive, is the key.

Speaking of birth announcements. My best friend was in the same boat of infertility. It was so wonderful to be able to have a friend going through the same thing. We would call each other knowing just what the other needed to hear. Luckily she was able to get out of the boat and just gave birth to a baby girl last week! I am so over the moon for her and can't wait to give that baby the biggest snuggle. Her story just reminds me to never give up hope, and when you hold that baby of your own you will know it was worth the wait.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's really happening...

Got an email today from the founder of My IVF Alternantive giving me all the documents, legal papers and medical questionnaires I will need to start the process. Pressing the print button and watching the papers come out of the printer was just so overwhelming. Seeing the IVF Alternative logo and my name across the top made me so excited and happy. THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!! There are no more tears of sorrow or pity, the air has lifted and sunshine is back where there was none. I don't even notice the nasty weather Seattle is giving these days, to me everything is wonderful.. I am on a plan, a plan that has taken hold of my spirit and has me walking on air!

I had emailed the founder, Mag, about a time frame. We are still unsure if my husband can take off two weeks of work so I needed to know when he was needed in the process and when he would be able to leave to go back to work. Of course, my Mom being the most amazing Mom EVER, will be there for the week he won't be. Here's a bit of her email:

Dear Melissa,

please know that every patient is an individual and no two protocols are alike but in general, you can expect this:

next day first appointment at the clinic
two days later - follow up appointment at the clinic
two days later - egg retrieval
two to three days later embryo transfer
you leave for US within 48 hours.

You husband's presence is needed just for the egg retrieval. But grand-moms-to be are welcome as well! ;o)

I also got a wonderful 'thinking of you' card from my Aunt Lisa today. Her card reminded me of all cards and emails I have received during this process. Over the past year and half there has been so many horrible moments and so many days I just wanted to bury my head in the pillow and not get up. But there was always someone there to pick me back up. Sitting in the bath tub, wine bottle in one hand, cell phone in the other and my girlfriends in Boise listening to my tears. Unable to be here in person but ALWAYS there in spirit. My little sister in all her innocence trying to make me laugh. My parents, oh words can't express how much their support means to me. Their love can jump phone lines and miles and wrap me in love in my darkest hours. Friends and family who send me positive thoughts. And my husband, never letting me become bitter, staying focused and loving me during the crazy.

It's really happening!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009