Tag Archives: in vitro fertilization

Fertility Tourism

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This is a subject that I’ve been fascinated by lately.  I’ll admit I was fantasizing about a London holiday where I would live in a charming cottage for months and receive IVF treatment for $4.  The price of it here in the US is killing me.  It’s so insane.  I also feel a little icky thinking about how some of that cost is probably due to the fact that people dealing with infertility are sometimes so desperate they would pay anything, so companies know they can charge anything.  What do I know factually about how these companies get their pricing?  Zilch-o-la.  But it’s still suspect.

I know that other countries have different laws and I think that makes up the majority of motivation for fertility tourism.  For example, I believe in Canada you can’t pay for donor eggs or sperm?  And in some countries PGD for sex selection is illegal.

Other than cost, we have it pretty good here in the US.  We have some of the best doctors and tend to be the most relaxed with our regulations.  But part of me did want to just look into IVF in a few other countries just for the heck of it.  I couldn’t find much on it.  I’d love to hear anything you ladies know!

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Unshakably Happy

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So, I’m a Nichiren Buddhist, which is probably the best thing I have going for myself currently.  It’s really helping me not lose hope through this rough patch.  I’m sure people of all kinds of faith will understand that.  The organization SGI (Soka Gakkai International) is structured very much around the members and each individual experience.  We are encouraged to share our struggles and our triumphs with one another, strengthening each other’s faith and practice.  Nichiren Buddhism is not one for blind faith, really.  It’s more about challenging the practice, and learning from our results and the results of others.  THIS is how we grow our faith, by constantly seeing proof, and getting a better understanding of how and why it works.

Every month, each group has a discussion meeting.  There will be a specific topic that the group will delve into together, we will share our favorite quotes pertaining to the topic, read related articles, and share our thoughts and feelings on it.  But the real kind of meat and potatoes to these discussion meetings are the shared experiences by members.  Typically one member who has recently received an inspiring benefit, or has just made an exciting cause in their life working towards a major goal, will be asked to tell their story.  The human aspect of encouraging one another is massive.

I’ve been asked to speak at our meeting today.  I was asked months ago, and was really hoping to have something inspirational to talk about by now.  I was hoping my story would have turned around and I could talk about how I was coming out on the other side.  But that’s just not the case.

Our struggles are what shape us into better human beings.  And the goal of Buddhism is to be unshakably happy.  That means that your circumstances do not determine your happiness.  Circumstances will always change and shift, and if our happiness was dependent on them, that would mean our happiness would waver as well.  To be whole and complete and to find inner peace and happiness NO MATTER WHAT is what being a Buddha is all about.  The cool thing is that we are all Buddhas.  Whatever you believe in or whatever religion you practice, the key to your happiness is within you.  It’s YOURS.  You have the power to make great changes in your life, and the greatest thing you can do is have courage, and to make the determination to be unshakably happy no matter what challenges come your way.

I know I talk a lot in my blog about not giving in to the sadness that surrounds IVF.  It’s not that I’m suppressing my feelings, it’s that I am making the determination to focus on being happy instead.  It’s not easy, but it benefits me immensely.  When I feel sad, I allow myself to, but I try not to feed into it.  I respect my emotions, but I also realize that being happy is my choice.

Human suffering is something that every person on the planet shares.  People with small problems and people with big problems all experience suffering.  I’ve found that the people with only the seemingly small problems actually suffer just as much as the people with large problems.  Of course the people with large problems would love to trade with those that have small, superficial ones.  And that just proves that our situations are subjective.  If a person going through the loss of a child got to trade with someone whose biggest problem was worrying about making rent that month, they would feel light and free and HAPPY.  But that person who only lives in the realm of not knowing if they will make rent, suffers.  They are sad and consumed with worry and it most likely will effect other areas of their life.

I hope that makes sense.  And I also hope it does not come across as though I am making light of what any of us are going through.  I’m so happy to have found women to share stories with and a community of support.  I hope that we can also encourage one another to find real happiness through these challenging times.

I don’t have a happy conclusion to share at my meeting today, but I have the enlightened determination to face this challenge head on and win.  Let’s all be champions for ourselves.

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The “Me Too”-ers

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Comparison is the thief of joy.  That’s why I do very little comparing myself to others.  As far as my issues with infertility, it’s really no different.  When I hear that someone I know is having a baby, I’m genuinely happy for them.  I’m aware that there’s no fixed amount of babies allotted for the planet and they didn’t get the last one.  Sometimes there are little pangs of sadness, but those come just from being reminded of what I’m going through when I’m trying not to think about it.  I tend to keep it all under wraps until I’m in front of my computer blogging about it these days (ignore my meltdown 2 nights ago).  So I keep it together, but there are reminders everywhere.  And I’ll feel those sad pangs of “oh yeah” and let myself feel it for a second, and then wrangle it back down again.

I feel the exact same when I hear about other women getting pregnant or see pictures of their babies as I do when I’m shopping and walk by the diaper isle or a life-sized cardboard cutout of the Vlasic Pickle stork.  It’s just a reminder of what I’m going through.  Nothing more.

But I guess in life you can’t help who is out there comparing themselves to YOU.  And I am very used to this concept.  Insecure people tend to see the world as eat or be eaten and feel the need to constantly compete.  Unlike most of you probably sane ladies, I’m pretty sick, so I get a kick out of it.  It tickles me in a very naughty way.  Not the really good kind of naughty tickle, but still.

Now I’m starting to realize there’s apparently another event in the Tournament of Lives and it’s even more obnoxious.  It’s the emulation of struggle.  I’m really beginning to understand the old saying about someone that needs to be “the bride at the wedding and the corpse at the funeral.”

A person close to me recently started telling people that she’s having “infertility problems” just a few weeks after hearing what we were going through.  She has only been trying the last couple months and hasn’t even been to the doctor about it.  Now, that’s none of my business (insert Kermit drinking tea meme) but I can’t help that the lesser evolved portion of my brain feels a little bit highjacked.  Especially since she knows every detail of what we’ve been going through and how painful it’s been.  Apparently she’s pretty vocal about her pretend prognosis and I feel like it trivializes the real thing.  This is why is the infertility and tttc forums (that I have become very involved in through this) when someone who has been trying for less than a year posts or chimes in they a-l-w-a-y-s get dragged.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Another good friend of mine was dealing with infertility a lot longer than I was, and way more of it.  Many failed IUIs, full rounds of IVF, too many years and a sickening amount of money.  She had just about the same thing happen to her.  After letting people in on what they were going through, a good friend of hers started posting on FB about “not being able to have a baby” after trying for maybe 2 months.  Also, nothing medically wrong with her.  Thank God my friend and I weren’t crumbling like that after 2 months, we never would have made it this far.  Maybe they don’t mean any harm by it, but it just shows their inability to see past the nose on their own face.

After talking to more women and reading more blogs, I’m finding out that quite a few of us have similar stories.  That’s weird right?  I feel like it needs some kind of special term, since it’s seemingly so common.  Just like “Catfishing” has now become a term for something that seems like it should be obscure.  But it’s now SO common I guess they need a word for it.

I’m only human, and obviously not completely immune to being hit by the shrapnel of pettiness, but I found a way to have peace with it.  I remember why it is that my husband and I are putting ourselves through all of this.  And it has so much meaning that the petty stuff simply can’t touch it.  People tagging themselves onto what we’re going through without actually having a clue about it just aren’t even in my peripheral.  I think about how much we are going to love our future baby and how every person’s struggle is different.  People with problems that may seem small to you, don’t see their own problems as small and I’m learning to find compassion for that (while simultaneously giving some serious side-eye).

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Questions for You IVF Pros! <3

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So the nurse sent me my tentative protocol and I’m having a hard time making heads or tails of it.  I’m wondering if some of you fine ladies might take a look at it for me and help me figure it out?  Does everything look pretty typical?  I was supposed to be traveling to visit my husband who’s gone for a month and a half but I’m assuming that will be a no go.  Were any of you able to travel during the process?  I would be back before my first blood draw and u/s.  

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Last Night

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to post about this.  I try as hard as I can not to throw a pity party for myself and mainly focus on finding humor in this situation, with a little side order of being pissed.  That’s typically the recipe I need for survival.  But last night I just broke and could not for the life of me get it together.

I don’t know if it’s the BCP finally kicking in or what.  I mentioned before that the last time I took them they made me insane in the membrane.  But I was more just not myself, not an emotional wreck.  So who knows, maybe I really did hit some sort of breaking point.  I’m feeling a little better today, and I knew I would.  Things are always colored differently by the light of day.  That’s why I didn’t write this last night.  But I was like a moment away from feathering all my hair and swooping it across my forehead, putting on massive amounts of eyeliner, turning on some hair touching band with a whiny dude singer, and writing my lament a’la Lydia Deets.

While I’m glad I didn’t do that, I was reminded last night about how reading other women’s stories made me feel less crazy and less alone.  I guess, according to every person that has ever tried to console me while I was crying, you’re supposed to remember how other people have it worse than you do.  That never worked for me, it only makes me sadder.  The only time anything like that ever works for me is when I am feeling sorry for myself when my husband is on tour, and I make myself remember families out there whose loved ones are in the military, putting themselves in harms way, and then I usually feel so stupid I just laugh at myself.  The most danger my husband is ever in is getting accidentally clipped by the tiny, sweaty elbow of some overzealous teenage stage diver.

But, no, thinking about how other people are sadder/worse off than I am does not tend to make me feel appreciation for what I have.  I feel even further down the hole, like sadness is insurmountable.  I can’t save those people, I can’t even save myself.  The world is a terrible place.

What set me off yesterday was the nurse at my appointment for my MMR vaccine.  No, she wasn’t a bitch.  I fucking WISH.  She was totally warm and sweet, and that is my kryptonite.  When I’m sad or upset, I can be pretty tough.  And when people are terrible to me, I can hold it together and defend myself and be strong, I have no problem with that.  But the second someone shows me real kindness, I turn into one of those tiny push button toys of a horse or giraffe that collapse when you press the bottom.  I crumble.

Of course one of the first things out of her mouth before giving me the shot was, “Any chance you are pregnant?”  I pressed my lips together, and even though I smiled politely as I said “no” it was like she was somehow able to see through it.  She didn’t say anything but smiled back warmly.  “Do you plan on being pregnant any time soon?”  Now I can feel the sensation of water pressure building up behind my face, but I was still holding it together, at least I thought so.  “No.”  Then she said the most terrible thing she could have said to me in that moment.  “Are you ok?”

She said it so sweetly, in the warmest voice, and there was nothing I could do about it at that point.  I cried.  Like ugly face cried.  Then she really went above an beyond, asking me questions and not taking “I’m ok” for an answer.  It took a little bit to get anything out of me because I didn’t want to burden her with it, or make her feel like she needed to continue to be sweet to me.  Like she would feel trapped and be sorry she asked if she really knew what was up.  But she was really wonderful, and talked to me for a good amount of time and offered to let me sit in the room with her until I felt better.

I never really recuperated from that yesterday.  As I was going about my day, I would look down at the band aid on my arm and it would all come back to me.  I even did my very best to focus on whatever I could that was shallow.  I turned on my go-to antidote for all things feelings, Bravo TV.  But none of my familiar beloved sociopathic housewives were available to hang out.  It didn’t matter, there was some show on about money grubbing realtors in Miami and I thought “perfect.”  Halfway through the episode, the sort of deadpan Jewish American Princess with the personality of a dial tone took her dog in for a teeth cleaning and it fucking DIED.  I lost it.  Why Bravo, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME!?

I turned off the TV, pulled it together, and tried to focus on something else.  I have been asked to speak at a meeting of the Buddhist organization I belong to this Sunday.  I wanted to work on what I was going to say. I was really hoping I would have something inspirational to share at this point, and I just don’t.  At that point balloons and confetti dropped from the ceiling and Lionel Richie played over the speakers, this pity party was in full swing.

I guess I try to fight it too much.  I don’t WANT to be sad about this.  And I know I shouldn’t be, things could be much, much worse.  But am I going to be am mom??  I seriously need to know.  Cool I have my health, and a great husband, and lots to be happy about.  But is it ok for me to actually admit I might trade every bit of that for a baby?  I mean, that’s kind of messed up, right? There’s something to feeling sad when you know you shouldn’t be.  It would be one thing if something horrendous had happened to me.  Then I could cry and grieve and let it all out.  I almost feel like I’m not allowed to be sad right now, but I am, so it’s really messing with me.  I don’t want to burden my husband, family or friends with it.  Everyone has their own stuff going on.  And honestly there’s really nothing they can say or do about it anyway.  So I cried.  Hard.  Like violently vomiting up sobs.  And my body oscillated  through numbness and then stabbing pain, and then numbness again, over and over.  But I think I just needed that.  I feel better today, I do.  I think I may have exorcised the demons, at least for right now.

 

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Time Out

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I can’t even go into all the set backs we had due to the changes in healthcare in the past couple years because I’m one step closer to the edge, and I’m about to break.  But just to sum it up for you, between my diagnosis of the uterine septum and possible endometriosis (which turned out to be stage 3) and my actual treatment, it took a YEAR.  A whole mother-loving year.  And in that year, I had 5, count them, F.I.V.E.!. doctors retire on me.  (Not that I blame them, I would have retired as well)  So we were just lost in the shuffle every step of the way.  There were tests I had to take multiple times because my results were lost, or by the time they got them back to us, they were old news and they wanted current info on what was going on with me.  I had to have an HSG TWICE because of this same reason, and those are miserable.

So, needless to say, I’m getting rather effing antsy!  Also with 35 just around the corner for me, time is of the essence.  So I pretty much had a melt down the other day when the nurse informed me that the Dr. was insisting I get my Rubella vaccination and that you can’t start treatment for 3 whole months after!

We had been over this in his office in our last meeting.  He told me that my blood work showed that my Rubella levels were “a little low” and that we should “think” about getting a booster.  He also told me the risks on BOTH SIDES of the issue.  It sounded to me like it was my prerogative.  I am a believer in vaccinations, but I knew that I did still have some of the vaccine in me, and it seemed like something I could do after the baby was born.  Also, the fact that there were a couple risks on the side of getting the booster as well, pushed me in the direction of waiting.  I’m never around children and would make sure I wasn’t in this time, limit my traveling, and be super careful.  The fact is, the vaccine is in my body still, and had I not started this process of ttc I never would have known it was a little low.  I felt like it could wait 11 more months.

But now, the WEEK we were supposed to start the IVF process, I find out that it is mandated by the Dr. and he won’t let me start unless I get the vaccine, well, 3 months after actually.  I don’t mind him being cautious, he is a doctor and that is his job.  I’m also not going to argue with him when he tells me what is best for me and my baby.  He is the EXPERT.  I am not, I don’t care how much I sit in front of Google.  I was still having a very massive woe is me moment after receiving that news.

 

Anyway, so after all this, I got some pretty good news today.  My doctor said that it’s actually only a 30 day period from the time of vaccination and actually getting pregnant that is unsafe.  But I can start the treatment within those 30 days, so I’m good to go!  I have an appointment this afternoon for my MMR and then I don’t have to worry about it anymore!  It’s kind of the best outcome because I would have been a little worried about it even if the doctor had allowed me to sign a waver or something and start treatment without it.  And now we can proceed on schedule!  For now.  We’ll see what this TTC wants to throw at me next.  Sometimes I feel like this infertility odyssey is a huge game of dodgeball.  *WHAM* You’re out.  Go sit in the corner until your next period.

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My D&C and Septum Resection Experience

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I want to share the experience of these because there were a couple things I went through that I would liked to have known about ahead of time. Hopefully this info can help someone who needs it.

I had my first Laparoscopy, D&C and Septum resection for my bicornuate uterus in June of 2013. That procedure pretty much went off without a hitch. Of course I was terrified in the days leading up to it because I am a frightened diaper baby. I was a little sore after but slept all the way through to the next day when I felt much better. The doctor put a balloon filled with saline in my uterus to hold the walls of it apart until they healed so they wouldn’t grow together, which is pretty standard I believe. That wasn’t a problem either. Sometimes I swear I could feel it sloshing around in there, but I think that was just my imagination.

Getting the balloon out wasn’t a huge deal, but I hated it. Anytime a speculum comes out, I’m instantly in tears. I don’t know if I’m just super sensitive down there or what, but that is seriously torture. After all the things I’ve beed through medically in my life, and it’s a lot, I can’t believe how excruciating that is for me. It just feels wrong, wrong, wrong, so I tense up, and those muscles are strong! I must be the Arnold Schwarzenegger of kegel muscles. Anyway, once the speculum was in, the balloon was out almost instantly and it was over. I felt none of that.

My doctor had warned me that there was a slight chance some of the uterine septum could grow back, and for me it did. So I had another resection in September of 2013. Again, the doctor put in a ballon, and again I felt just sore but groggy immediately after. I started to get really antsy after I woke up and I asked if it was ok if I went home. They gave me some more pain meds and released me to my husband.

As we started to drive home, I became increasingly more uncomfortable. We only live about 15 minutes from the surgery center, and by the time we got home, I was in more pain than I have ever felt in my life! I laid down on the floor of our bedroom in the fetal position and groaned and cried until that turned into screams. The pain just kept getting worse and worse. My husband left immediately to go fill the pain prescription for me, and I swear he was back in 30 seconds. At this point I was on the toilet, I couldn’t even tell where exactly the pain was coming from, but my subconscious was telling me I needed to push it out. So, I tried to poop. Pushing would relieve the tiniest bit of pain for a second, and then it came back, much much worse! I took the pain pill, it did nothing. I can’t even explain to you what this felt like.

At this point my husband is almost in tears, he has no idea what to do for me. He called the surgery center and told them what was happening and they were clueless. They told him to bring me back in, which he relayed to me right there while still on the phone. I think my response was something dignified like “There’s no FUCKING WAY!” as my head spun all the way around. They called in a much stronger dose of pain meds for me, and again my husband flew there and back in no time delivering them to me. These also did absolutely nothing.

It had only been about 2 hours since I left the surgery center, but it felt like 5 days. I think there’s something about not knowing why the hell you’re in pain that makes it a million times worse. I think if the nurse would have even said, “Oh, ok, that’s just her uterus falling out.” I would have felt a little better. But instead she said something much worse, “I’m sorry, we won’t know what’s wrong with her unless you bring her back in.”

My poor husband. He has no training in handling wild animals, nor did he study the art of exorcism. He was completely unprepared for dealing with me. Getting me down the stairs and into the car was like a scene from Jurassic Park where they try to corral the raptors back into the cage. Putting a seatbelt on me was not happening. At that point I was kind of hoping we would go careening off a large cliff in a fiery death. I rode pretty much on my back with both feet pressed firmly against the windshield doing lamaze the whole way.

The scene at the hospital did not get much prettier. I was literally begging the nurses to help me, mixed in with a lot of screaming at them. Within seconds I was back in the surgery prep room wearing that piece of Kleenex they call a hospital gown. They gave me a shot of Demerol while a second nurse searched for one of my shitty veins to put an IV in my arm. “This is going to pinch a little,” the first nurse said sounding nervous but sweet. At this point everyone there was afraid of me. I turned to her as flames shot out of my eyes and my voice dropped 6 octaves, “GIVE ME FUCKING NINE OF THEM.”

The adorable, sweet and VERY soft spoken anesthesiologist came over to ask me a few questions, the poor man. He was very shortly joined by my doctor. They stepped aside to converse for a moment and I could tell they were still a little baffled. I decided I had to take matters into my own hands now and it was time to push again.

I stood up, grabbed my IV bag stand, and booked it for the bathroom with my gown flapping in the breeze. The nurses shouted after me to please wait for them, but I did not. My bare butt exposed to them, the doctors, and about 5 patients and their families I charged for the bathroom, sat on the toilet, door open wide for my adoring audience, and tried once more to poop.

This, of course, did nothing. The door remained open as nurses came flooding in. I sat hunched over, rocking, holding my face in my hands. Finally they got me back in the bed and wheeled me into the surgery room. The doctor put in a speculum, at this point not even that could phase me, and he pulled out the balloon. And just like that, it was over. The pain was completely gone.

And here I am doped up on more drugs than Courtney Love at the VMAs. I looked around the room at these people I had terrorized and felt awful for about 1 second until all the endorphins kicked in. Then I felt WONDERFUL.

Apparently, the second time around, the balloon had sent me into advanced labor! That on a freshly wounded uterus, with no build up and not knowing what was happening, it was terrible. At least it explains why my subconscious was telling me to push. I didn’t need to poop, my body was trying to birth a balloon!

Anyway, I say this not to scare anyone that’s going to have the procedure. My advice is that you stay there for as long as they will let you to make sure that your body is reacting ok to the balloon before you leave. And if this crazy pain starts for you, at least you can tell them right away it might be the balloon and it can hopefully save you from the hours of pain I went through. Literally the second the balloon came out, my pain dropped to zero, and it only takes a second.

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Here Goes Everything!

I can’t think of many things more personal than dealing with infertility.  Even when you try to be open with people about it, there are times it can be met with so little understanding you’re almost left feeling like you should be ashamed of even paying attention to this thing your body can’t do.  Like you’re greedy or something for not just focusing on what you DO have.  Unfortunately I’ve learned that, for some people, not understanding something has absolutely no correlation to how opinionated they are about it. Despite all that, I want to share our story as it happens.

The main reason for this is because I know I would not have made it this far if it weren’t for all of the awesome women who have shared their stories with me. Infertility is heartbreaking. And I guess when we put all our little broken pieces together, we can make something cool out of it, a sort of mosaic. There are so many feelings when dealing with infertility, I believe if you can’t have some sort of outlet, you’ll most certainly explode. I’d like to dig up unsolved mysteries of spontaneous combustion and see if I can’t find a link to infertility.

So before I go BOOM, I’ll share my story. Some of our history is in the About Us section. Our IVF cycle is still brand brand new, but it’s been about a 3 year trek to even arrive here. I started my BC pills on Friday night, so far I feel no difference, which is a good thing. The last time I was on birth control I was cah-ray-zay! And not in the fun way, either. I think I tend to be a pretty hormonal person on my own, puberty took roughly 8 or 9 minutes to completion for me. I went from long standing member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee to carting around my very own set of Dub Ds faster than you could spell Soleil Moon Frye. I’ll never forget the inopportune moment it happened, either. My mom had just bought me a plum colored t-shirt dress from the Gap that were all the rage in 1991. I tried it on and went bounding down the stairs to show it off to my family. As I hit the 3rd or 4th step my sister gasped, pointed and sang “KATIE’S GOT BOO-BIES!” I hated that song.

So I don’t know if the hormone thing really has anything to do with my reaction to birth control. All I know is that some of my less boobified and more tomboyish friends loved taking it. They were all Zen about it and felt great, the dumb bitches. It just made sense to me that it was like a scale, leveling them out, meanwhile sending me into overdrive, pressing heavily against the “Serial Killer Mode” switch in my brain. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.

I have no idea how women did it in the 70s. Weren’t they taking like a bajillion milligrams back then?? I guess that explains the adoration of shag carpeting, puke green and baby shit yellow that decade, women were out of their poor minds!

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