Monday, October 30, 2006

Uh oh, there's been poetry!

I started feeling pretty sorry for myself yesterday. I know I've got to guard against sliding down into a BCP-induced pit of bitchiness and self-pity, but then again, I figure it's healthy to let some of the feelings out. Because they could be real, and could just be IVF#4 anxiety rather than hormone-fuelled rantings.

I even wrote a poem about the pain of infertility. I thought of posting it here, but as I haven't written any poetry since I was an angst-ridden 15-year old, it's probably just as sucky as my previous attempts. I think the internet is, on the whole, better off without my poetic attempts. Maybe if this drags on into IVF#5 and I end up with a small volume of sucky poems, maybe then I'll "treat" you to one or two of them. But maybe not, eh.

But, you know, it keeps hitting me. Wow, this is my fourth fucking cycle. My fourth! Although I've "only" had two that went to ER and ET, I'm still going to count the cancelled cycle because the drug protocols and build-up were the same, and the crushing pain of cancellation is pretty nasty. Who'd have thought that it would get to this? I know none of us multiple-IVF'ers ever imagined it not working the first, or maybe the second, go-around. I know that none of us infertiles ever imagined that we'd have problems getting pregnant in the first place, so it's just that continued "not surprised but devastated all the same" feeling every single month which just builds and builds until it takes over your life. So, how did it end up like this? How is it that I am still plowing on, still getting ready to shoot up, still not pregnant? How is it that I even resent people whose first IVF worked, and think of them as fertile myrtles. When I know they're not fertile myrtles, because the whole having to do IVF thing is pretty much a dead giveaway, don't you think? And let's not get started on the "finally" issue, which I always told myself I'd never ever harp on about, but some of the people out there really have no business saying "finally" when they get their positive pregnancy test. I know, I know, at the time it really feels like "finally", and probably I'd have said it myself in my naïvety if I'd got knocked up on the 5th IUI, but looked at from the perspective of where I am now, and where so many women before me and around me have been, some women just don't have a clue and it really hurts to see anyone say "finally" when it's been less than a year. Or two. I'd like to be above such pettiness, but you know, jealousy trumps logic, so my brain can't quite stop my heart from being wrapped up in its own pity.

I'm going to refrain from asking the "why me?" question, because I know there's no answer to that. Or at least no answer that I can either comprehend or am ready to hear.

But seriously folks, how much money is this going to take? How much time? How much pain? What really is my chance of success? They say the success rate doesn't go down with each cycle, but you hear of so few higher-order IVF cycle successes that it's hard to keep hope alive sometimes. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am hopeful. I don't see any reason why it can't work this time. I'm still in my thirties. I have good FSH levels. Everything pretty much checks out OK. If my egg quality is failing, then surely at some point if we throw enough eggs at the problem, we'll find a good one. Surely?

I used to feel sad for older women who went through fertility treatments and were only able to have one child. I thought about how they probably wanted siblings, and how they weren't able to have the family that they wanted, and how sad was that, how sad that their kid would be an only child. Now I think they are lucky, lucky women. I have rearranged my idea of what type of family I want. I used to think I'd be devastated if I could only have one child - now I know I'll be ecstatic. Sure, I'd like two. Sure, if this IVF miraculously works I'll be thinking about trying again for a sibling. Sure, there'll be sadness if I can't have that sibling. But honestly, after all this, just to get one healthy child would be so wonderful and so miraculous that if that's "all" I get, that's going to be enough. I don't want to deny the pain of secondary infertility, especially when there was no primary infertility, because I know I'd have felt it probably just as badly as this. But I think after primary infertility, secondary infertility takes on a different hue, because you expect there to be trouble so you're more prepared for it not working. Maybe. I'm talking out of my arse here because I really have no clue. But here I am, I'm staring in the face of living without children in my life at all. I'm staring right at a future that involves being the crazy cat lady and the dried up old spinster and that's just not funny. And I don't want that for myself. So please, universe, please can this IVF work?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Beware the whey protein

As anyone with pets, children, elderly relatives or loud neighbors knows, that old "you'll have an extra hour in bed" saying when the time changes is absolute garbage. All it means is that on Monday evening (or Monday morning in the spring), we'll be suffering.

Anyway, rant over. Or is it? Is the good mood evaporating? Are the BCPs finally catching up with me and making me psycho bitch from hell again? Hopefully not. Hopefully this is just post whiny-fucking-cat grumpiness.

What I mainly wanted to post was that I've been struggling to come up with ways to make this IVF different from past cycles, without actually making it hard like doing yoga every day or something would do. Because, you know, it has to be different otherwise it won't be successful. Ignoring the fact that my drug protocol is completely different, and my RE insists it's all just a numbers game. I mean, I have to do something different. So I decided on taking whey protein, because I have read that it can possibly help with egg quality, and I definitely don't eat enough protein seeing as I'm not supposed to be eating soy or dairy. Of course, I do eat soy and dairy, because hello? Vegetarian! I can't live on beans twice a day, every day.

So, I bought some Whole Foods own brand chocolate whey protein powder, and a gallon of fat free milk. Yes, I know, I'm supposed to be doing the whole no dairy thing, but I figured after the first gallon of milk I'd start trying juice or water or rice milk. You know, once I'm in the habit of having a glass of whey protein every day. But oh my good lord, this stuff is delicious. It tastes like a very yummy chocolate milkshake. It is thick and creamy and chocolatey. And it's health food! I had one glass on Thursday night. I had one glass for breakfast on Friday. Then I had a glass for dessert on Friday evening because it was too yummy to wait for Saturday morning. Then I had a glass for Saturday breakfast. Then a second glass, because hey, one just wasn't enough. Then I had a glass after lunch on Saturday, another one for my afternoon snack, and yet another one for dessert. Yes, I had 5 glasses yesterday. At a cost of many many many calories. I had another glass this morning for breakfast, but made it a bit thinner so it didn't taste as good. But honestly, I clearly have no self-control. None whatsoever. What am I going to do when I go through my tub of powder in a week and have put on 10lbs?

I at least have a vanilla flavored one on order from the internet, so hopefully that one won't be as delicious and I can stick to one per day. But you have been warned people, you have been warned. Beware the whey protein!

Friday, October 27, 2006

After Clear Passage

I thought I should post about how things are post-Clear Passages. It's been a month now since I went, so it's about time I took a quick inventory of the changes (or lack thereof) to my body.

First, the pain factor. Every month I used to get bad pain along my sigmoid colon (see, I learnt where the pain was while at Clear Passage - before I'd just say, uh, at the left side of my abdomen). This pain would usually last 5 or 6 days, and would be there premenstrually. In fact, the RE and the acu both blew it off as being relevant to anything because it was not during my period (thus presumably wasn't endometriosis), and was not a classic PMS type thing. But I knew it had to be related to my cycles because every month like clockwork it came back and went away at the same times. At times it was maybe a 6 out of 10 on the pain scale. It would be relieved somewhat by a bowel movement, but basically it was there all the time, and was quite distracting. This last month, I had some minor pain the day before my period came, and the first day of my period. Maybe a 2 out of 10 on the pain scale. And it didn't last all day, either, so I'd say I got at least a 90% improvement.

I used to have neck and shoulder pain constantly. Sometimes worse than other times, but it was pretty much always there. I still have the shoulder pain, and the big knot of muscle in my right shoulder has not gone, but then Clear Passage didn't work on it as far as I can remember. The neck pain is different in quality. It is lighter, and more just like it is tight because of stress. Maybe a 50% improvement in the neck, and maybe 10% improvement in the shoulder. However, I had a massage yesterday, and my massage therapist commented that my neck felt a LOT better to her, and in fact when she was working on my neck it didn't hurt at all. And didn't crunch, which it used to do. Yes, I have never found massage to be relaxing really, as I go for pain relief and it hurts when I am being worked on. So to actually be able to have a pain-free neck massage made me feel good.

As for the belly, well I used to occasionally get pulling pains as I stood up. Haven't noticed any of them since having the therapy. But I never really had that much of a pain issue in the belly so it's hard to make good comparisons. I have noticed that I can put my finger in my belly button and move my belly button around in circles without any pain or tightness. It previously didn't really move at all, and certainly not in a symmetrical fashion. My belly is still pretty squishy all over - no hard bits of scar tissue. And the saline sonogram didn't hurt at all - usually when someone is manipulating my cervix it is pretty uncomfortable, but nothing this time.

Another interesting development is that I pee a lot less often. I no longer have to go every hour, and do not get up in the night to pee. That's always a bonus! I am mostly peeing when I really need to go, not when my overactive bladder thinks it might be nice to go.

So, all in all, I am feeling pretty confident that they really did something for me, and really freed up some stuck areas. It's nice to think that I'm going into this IVF with an extra boost of help. I have to admit, I have not been good at doing the exercises I was supposed to do, but I am going to try again this weekend to do some. And as for Kegels, hmmm, yeah, haven't done them either. Wait, I'll do one now...OK, one down, many more to fit in!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I heart BCPs!

You know, internet, I have been in a ridiculously good mood since I started the BCPs this time. No psycho bitch from hell. No crying at odd moments for no apparent reason. Which is all a bit bizarre really, as I should be feeling miserable over the work situation, but I have decided that work will sort itself out one way or another, and at least I have a vague going-to-live-in-London plan for if it doesn't sort itself out. I guess that's hormones for ya, just plain crazy! One time they're the most hideous evil invention since the nuclear bomb, and the next they're actually putting me in a better mood than normal.

Anyhoo, I called the cleaning service today and swapped my schedule from every two weeks to every 4 weeks. Yes, I couldn't quite bring myself to cancel entirely, as my house has been a complete disaster since they last cleaned. But I have managed to swish the toilet out with a toilet cleaner and wipe some kitchen counters, so there's been some progress. I will save $80 a month by reducing the cleaning service, and if I cancel my Curves membership this week as I keep promising myself I will, that'll add another $40 to the "money saved" count. $120 a month isn't too shabby to start with. I can't quite figure out how to add in the money saved by using the bicycle, as I have no idea how to account for wear and tear to the car, nor the outlay of the bike itself, but so far I've done 60 miles which as I have a hybrid car that does 40 miles to the gallon works out at only 1.5 gallons. So about $5 then, give or take. But that's in two weeks, so in a month it'll be $10, excluding wear and tear and all that. $130 in total saved per month. Not too shabby at all, really, even if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

No polyps!

All done with the saline sonogram! And I PASSED! No polyps!

Of course, when I got there, they had me sign some long-ass consent form saying I didn't blame them if I died, then I had to pee in a cup to do a pregnancy test. That I could have told them would be negative because there's been no sperm anywhere near my body since the last negative beta, but the protocol has to be followed people. Rules is rules.

I was led into the ultrasound room pretty quickly, but was left there for what seemed like an age. At least I got to have a good look around, and noticed that not only had they put out a large absorbent pad for me to sit on, there was also one on the floor at the end of the table for me to drip on. It made me feel better somehow that dripping was accepted. Even encouraged. Hey, drip away, they were telling me, we put out an extra pad especially for it. I didn't so much enjoy looking across to the table of torture instruments, but it's not as if it's the first time that speculum + catheter would be introduced to my nether regions, so they didn't faze/phase (how do you spell that?) me as much as they would have 2 years ago.

The doc came in, all bouncy and happy, as he generally is. And he had a medical student in tow. He said I didn't have to allow her to stay, that it wouldn't hurt her feelings if I told her to clear off, but would I mind if she watched. I said "sure, no problem" because after egg retrieval and embryo transfer in the IVF cycles I have no shame any more. Only 3 people in the room looking at my hoo-ha? Why, that's practically private and secluded. I have to say though, it kind of made me feel good that my RE now has a medical student, because there's no teaching hospital nearby, so she must have picked him specially. So he must be a good doctor. [Please, no medical professionals are allowed to burst my bubble here - don't tell me medical students just get assigned to any old MD, I'm trying to reassure myself!] I mean, I know he's a good doctor, but when you have know-it-all friends telling you to switch to the clinic where their friends went, because they did Gloria E_stefan's IVF and therefore must be better than my clinic, sometimes it's nice to have somewhat independent verification that I can figure out who are the good docs around here on my own.

Anyway, the procedure went well. No cramps even. But that may have had something to do with the prescription strength naproxen I bummed off one of said know-it-all friends, because like the dolt I am I forgot to bring my own from home this morning. And there was no gush of saline onto the RE's shoes. Just steady drippage. Which didn't seem so bad as a gush, somehow.

After I'd cleaned up in the adjoining bathroom, and got dressed, the RE announced that he was so pleased I'd passed and didn't have polyps that he was going to give me a prize of a packet of peanuts. With a stupid look on his face. And because I'm not very quick on the uptake, as I was going "ha ha" in a feeble sort of "you are joking, right?" sort of way and wondering if I should say no, he pointed to the big yellow box on the computer screen that screams "peanut allergy" at them every time they do anything. But he's so gangly and geeky and just plain cute (not cute in a sexy way, I mean cute cute) when he's trying to make a joke that I had to laugh. I pointed out that it was his fault that I now have a peanut issue, because of the damn prometrium tablets that somehow made me intolerant to peanuts, and he said that as long as I haven't died yet, that's all that really matters. I tried to explain that I didn't have the anaphylactic shock type of peanut allergy but more of an intestinal, projectile vomiting peanut allergy, but we were kind of getting off the point by then, so I gave up, just smiled, we shook hands and he left. The med student wished me luck on the way out of the room. I wonder how many times she'll say that to patients before she's finished her stint there?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Drugs, drugs and more drugs!

My big ole box o'fun arrived today. I couldn't even fit all the drugs on one shelf of my fridge, and it has now spilled onto 2 shelves. I'll have to reorganize it all this evening so that I can reduce it back down to one shelf. Hopefully. The menopur boxes are ridiculously huge for the amount of medicine they contain. The follistim boxes are bordering on ridiculous, but we'll just go with "far too much packaging" as my comment on them. So, I'm not sure if I can squish everything in. And of course I don't want to take them out of the boxes in case I actually finally miraculously get pregnant this time, and I get to be in the happy situation of shipping off unused drugs to friends. [And yes, I know menopur doesn't have to be refrigerated, but it has to be stored under 77 degrees, and my house gets much hotter than that during the day.] I also have more needles and syringes than I care to count, because the pharmacy sends me a syringe and needle for every vial of meds they send me, and as I use six vials a day of the stimulation meds, I usually mix several vials together into one shot. Heh, maybe I should go find me some junkies and see if they'd like my extra syringes? Or then again, maybe I'll be sensible and hang on to them in case I do another cycle and end up ordering from the cheapy place in that country I used to live in, and do the slightly-dodgy maybe-not-entirely-100%-legal ordering from them. As they don't send needles and syringes, it could turn out to be handy to have a bunch of them already in stock, as it were.

The saline sonogram is tomorrow, and I'm ridiculously nervous. It's supposed to be a piece of cake, and much much easier than other tests I've done. So I shouldn't be worried, but I am. I guess I'm worried about where all the saline goes. Does it gush out of me onto the RE's shoes as soon as he takes the catheter out? Does it feel all squoodgy? And I'm worried about what will happen if my polyps have come back - do we really have time to cut them out and for me to heal in time for next cycle?

Monday, October 23, 2006

New week, new drugs, new hope?

I'm trying to battle myself into a positive state of mind. K. and I didn't speak to one another today, which wasn't a bad thing in my book. Whatever. I will be civil to her, and that's it until she decides to stop being selfish about this whole work team thing. More people have come out of the woodwork in my support as they are learning about this new team, and are saying that it cannot work with someone like K. in charge because she just doesn't know what needs to be done. Not that any of these people have any input to the decision-making process, but it's nice to know that I'm being logical and right here. Now, if the bosses turn around and tell me that they don't want me in this team, and if the IVF fails, I'll have some serious thinking to do, and may well call an end to both my Florida and TTC adventures at the same time. But I hope that somehow I can muddle through all this without having to go back to England as a failure.

I reviewed the Citizen's insurance letter, and it had a form to write back and tell them that I either am entitled to homestead exemption, have applied for homestead exemption or do not qualify. Then I found out that you can apply for homestead exemption in advance of the regular deadline (normally you are only allowed to apply from Jan. 1st to March 31st). So I duly mailed off an application today for 2007, and will respond to Citizen's truthfully that I have applied. So what if I get rejected for homestead? At least it will drag out Citizen's opportunity to drop my insurance coverage, and I can also appeal the rejection of homestead exemption to drag it out even further.

In better news, my friend A. wants to come back to work at my employer. She left nearly 3 years ago, and it hasn't been the same without her. She met with big boss today, and it looks like she can have the job when she says the word, which she's going to do in about a week or so, in order that she doesn't look desperate for the job. So, it'll be nice to have another friendly face around here.

Also, my health insurance company is paying me back $1200 for the Clear Passage Therapy. Not stellar, seeing as it cost me $5200, but hey, $1200 is a whole lot better than nothing. And it looks like our accounts department is finally processing the check for my Sweden thing. Phew! Cashflow! It has been sorely needed around here.

In ovary news, I start BCP tonight, finally! The drugs arrive tomorrow morning, and Wednesday is my saline sonogram. I can feel myself moving slowly back into full scale ovary obsession. Not that I ever really got out of ovary obsession-land, but I was able to think of other things every now and then.

And finally among this hodge-podge of unconnected ramblings, the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the demise of the Monday weigh-in. Er, yeah. Well, I blame it on my birthday and the various cakes that were forced into me. It's set off an unhealthy eating pattern, which has kind of spiraled into far to much carb and sugar overindulgences. But never fear, the veggies arrive today! Yes, I am a member of a CSA (community sponsored agriculture) veggie box thing. This is my second season, and while every other sensible farmer grows crops during summer and stops during winter, here in south Florida we like to do things backwards. There's no growing in summer because it is too hot and humid, so they grow in winter only. I will get a big box of assorted nearly-organic vegetables every other week from now until May. It's only nearly-organic and not completely organic because they do do some spraying - after all, this is south Florida which is pretty much bug heaven, but they spray responsibly and try to grow all the crops sustainably. Their reasoning is that they could do things like plow the fields many times to try to prevent weeds and some of the bugs, but they'd end up using more fuel to drive the tractors repeatedly which would do more environmental damage than the little bit of spraying that they do. So, that's good enough for me. Anyway, today's the start of this season, so I'd better go and hop on the bike and toddle off home to see what's for dinner. If last season is anything to go by, I predict that dinner will involve corn in some form or another. Corn on the cob, anyone?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

It was too good to be true

I should have known the happy excited feeling wasn't going to last. On Friday night, my friend K. came to tell me she'd spoken to senior guy to complain about me being offered the position of head of the Sarah team. She'd previously been asked to head this team, but she is at a different job level than me, and frankly has no clue on what needs to be done on a management level. It's not that she should - her job level is just not suitable for running a team like that, and the bosses should never even have considered setting up that team without someone in a job like mine in charge. It simply won't work with someone in her job running it. Anyway, she'd turned it down. And she was the reason I even knew about this team, because she told me. So I felt I should tell her what I'd done, and while I was talking to her she was all "oh, OK, yeah, fine".

Apparently she bitched to senior guy for ages. Then came to tell me off basically for trying to steal "her" job. I pointed out all the things that I could do that she hadn't thought of. I pointed out that her job and my job weren't mutually exclusive, and that we could both be "in charge" of our respective job functions. I pointed out that it wasn't set in stone and they were still working out details. I told her that I am miserable in my current role and this is my last ditch attempt to be happy at our employer. I told her that if she really wanted the job, and it really was a "her or me" situation, I would defer to whatever she and the bosses wanted, because I didn't care enough to fight her over it. And I pointed out that SHE'D ALREADY FUCKING TURNED IT DOWN.

Yesterday morning, I got an email from the big boss, cc'd to senior guy, forbidding me from discussing this team with anyone, especially my boss and K., and telling me that the details weren't worked out yet so it hasn't really been decided who will be doing what in this team. Which means he's really effing pissed at me for talking to K., and that probably I won't get to head this team up out of spite. I emailed back and promised not to discuss anything in the future with K., and then got an email back saying that "change, even positive and exciting change, can fray nerves". Yeah, right.

I had thought K. was my friend, but this is now the second time that she's gone off to discuss something I said, that she misinterpreted, without asking me first what I really meant. She's really landed me in the shit this time.

And I got a letter from Citizens insurance company, which is the FL state "insurer of last resort" that you have to get windstorm insurance from if no other company will give you hurricane coverage. They have got a change in the law, allowing them to drop people without homestead exemption on their property. Homestead exemption basically proves that it is your main home, and exempts you from certain property tax raises. But to get it you have to be a permanent resident of Florida, and my county excludes non-citizens from having it unless they have their green cards. So I don't qualify. And now I might lose my hurricane insurance, which means that living in my house will be impossible as the mortgage company requires it.

Sometimes it really feels as if the fates are lining up and pointing my way to a certain location, which in this instance seems as if it's back to England. Oh well, I guess I'll soldier on for a bit - got to get the IVF cycle done after all, but I really hope things improve soon otherwise I will be having a mammoth yard sale and shipping off. Anyone want to buy an entire house's worth of furniture?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Work weirdness

I haven't been posting as much lately as I used to, it seems, because there's been work weirdness going on. So, I feel I should bring the internet up to speed.

Well, where to start? A couple of things have not gone according to plan at work over the past few months - nothing major, just some niggling things that went wrong or didn't get done as quickly as they should have. In my defence, we've been overworked and short staffed, but I guess that's pretty normal! But I also have been spending too much time surfing and not enough time working. As a result of all this, the senior guy (the former big boss) started treating me like shit and made me feel miserable about coming in to work. My boss has, over the past year or so, tried to get me away from doing work for the senior guy, because he supposedly treats everyone like shit at some point, and it would be better for me if I didn't have to interract with him. It seems like the less I interracted with the senior guy, the more like shit I was treated. And I've been getting more and more miserable.

So I've been doing some navel gazing, and realized that in actual fact, I'm miserable because of the way my boss treats me, and because his work is pretty damn boring to have to do day in and day out. This is in addition to the way senior guy treated me, of course. And I just couldn't bear the thought of continuing along being bored, underperforming, being thought of as someone who made mistakes and generally being miserable. I thought I'd have to move back to the UK because I couldn't take it any more (I can't move elsewhere in the US until my green card comes through, which could be several more years at this rate). I thought I was done here.

I have also heard over the last few weeks that the big boss and the senior guy were cooking up a scheme to create a new team of people to handle some work. I would be so perfect to head this team, so let's just call it "the Sarah team" and be done with it. It has my name written all over it. Everyone else in the office who I've talked to about this has said that they didn't understand why I was not being considered for this team. But they were talking to other people about being on this team, and even about having people lower than me head the team when it's quite clear that the lower people don't have the ability to stand up to the higher-ups about some of the things that will need to be done, or the knowledge of how to do things. I was getting pretty pissed at this, and figured it was because the senior guy was so pissed at me that I was getting shut out.

Well, yesterday, I decided to do something about it. I went to talk to the big boss about me heading up the team. I explained how I was the logical choice, how it would make me less miserable, how I could work harder because I would be more motivated, how I could really whip this stuff into shape. How I could work less with my boss, because he's really irritating me, and that would make me happier. And he agreed that I was the logical choice, but that the senior guy had some issues with me, and that he wasn't sure if senior guy would go for it. And even though he is big boss now, as senior guy was formerly the big boss he still defers to him on many things. Greeeat, I thought. Now I'm really screwed. I'm going to have to leave because I cannot stand these people any more and their ineffectual non-management and self-serving crap that they pull constantly. I'm going to have to get a job in London and live in a shoebox-sized flat. I spent all last night just feeling so awful about the end of my US dream. The end of Florida. The end of my kids being US citizens. Failing at life. All of that.

This morning, senior guy came into my office and closed my door. He said he was thrilled that I wanted to head up the Sarah team, and thought it would really be a great opportunity. He said that while there had been some issues, he thought most of them were due to my boss who has been acting really weirdly, and that I would benefit greatly by not having to run so many things through my boss. We made up. He smiled. I didn't feel like a piece of shit any more. I also spoke to the big boss, who confirmed that they'd like me to head up this team. That I would be perfect, and that I could really make a go of it, and make it my niche. That I could really get out on my own and manage the team and be on a higher level from where I am now. It'll be a slow start though, as they're not going to switch everything all at once, but can I just say that I am amazed. Clearly, in this place you have to be pro-active, but I just didn't realize how pro-active you have to be to get what you need, as they would totally have bypassed me if I hadn't spoken up, yet now they're going to put me in charge of this team.

So I may not have to go back after all. :)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

IVF #4 cleared for take-off

Well, I just forked over nearly $10.5k to the IVF clinic. What fun! They raised the price by nearly a grand. So happy about that. Not.

But essentially the appointment went well, although I was so late coming in to work that a friend who thought I was bicycling in was ready to start calling the hospitals to see if I'd been hit by a car on my way in. The dildocam did not reveal any cysts, I got my cycle instructions sheet, and I'm to call later today for my FSH and E2 results and to be told the dates for taking all the meds.
I had a moment of heartbreak when I looked at the ultrasound screen before they started on me, and it showed a beautiful perfect little fetus there. With my name at the top. Y'see the machine leaves the last picture taken up on screen until it is started up again, even after the nurse has already inputted the next patient's details. [And let me say, thank gawd I knew the u/s machines did that, so it didn't surprise me.] But there it was, someone else's little fetus with it's yolk sac, hanging out, waiting to be wiped off by a picture of my right ovary. In the spirit of positive thinking though, I decided not to get sad over it or let it freak me out, but instead try to hold onto hope that it was a good omen for this cycle.

It seems somewhat surreal that I'm doing this all over again. That I just parted with an enormous amount of money without flinching, because it all seems so normal. That the nurses know me by sight. That I'm one of the old hands with the fat files that they actually care about getting pregnant now. That I just waltz in and start another IVF cycle like I was getting my hair cut. There's none of the nerves and angst this time (yet) because, well, by your fourth go-around there aren't really any surprises left. All I can say is that it better fucking work this time, otherwise I might seriously lose it.

ETA: FSH = 5.5 and E2 = 36.8, so I am good to go. However, they don't want me to start taking BCPs until Monday, which will be cycle day 6. It looks like they're trying to avoid egg retrieval on Thanksgiving. While I wouldn't have wanted ER actually ON Thanksgiving, it wouldn't have been bad if it had been the day afterwards or something. But anyway, it looks like it'll be the last week in November for me, with possible transfer at the beginning of December.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I did it!!

I cycled in to work! I have to admit, though, I am a lot more sweaty than I would like. I brought in wet wipes, deodorant and perfume, and swabbed myself down when I got here, before changing into my work clothes. I felt a bit stupid coming into the building in shorts, but hey. But I'm still sweating, because my body temperature is still raised. I hope I don't get stinky, because that could put a real damper on my "get fit and save money" plans. Hopefully as the weather gets cooler and I get fitter I'll sweat less. Hopefully.

But I did it! That's the main thing! Phew! And I feel so gooood.

No sign of the crimson tide yet today, so I'm wondering if it's going to arrive tomorrow. Which would be better as far as the money is concerned, because I need to clear my credit card before putting the IVF fee on it, and the cash is somewhere in the ether between my savings and my checking account. An extra day would help it clear first.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Not much to say today, though I'm happy to report that yesterday I managed to bike into work and back, and my legs don't even hurt much today. So, I'm going to try it "for real" tomorrow. Yikes!

I haven't got up the courage to call to cancel the maid service yet - I think I'll wait until they've been for their next planned visit on Wednesday, and then cancel. I'm so scared that I can actually do this - I have never been good at housekeeping!! But I keep thinking of the money. Money is tight at the moment because of the next IVF coming up, the Sweden trip, the new bike and all that. So, I need a little relief somewhere! I hope my expense check for the Sweden trip comes through soon.

I'm hoping that tomorrow will be CD1, so that I'll be starting up the grand experiment that is IVF#4. Erk. I'm not ready! No, really I am, it's just been nice having a break and not worrying about being the perfect picture of health. But that means that it'll be back to regularly scheduled ovary-gazing shortly.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The life re-start, part 452

Over the last few weeks, while at Clear Passage and in Sweden, I have read some interesting books. Sure, some of them were novels, but some were not. In particular, I have been thinking a lot about “Better Off” by Eric Brende, and “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich. “Better Off” is a memoir of the time that Brende and his wife spent a year living among Amish-like people as an experiment for his MIT thesis, to see if we are really better off with all our modern technology or not. And Nickel and Dimed is about the time that Ehrenreich lived doing various minimum wage jobs to see if she could get by.

As a back story, let me just say that I suppose I live a mostly typical American existence. I mean, I have a well-paying job. I spend too many hours a day at work. I have put on weight since moving here from the UK, and my middle continues to spread. I don’t do enough exercise. All that is typical, yes. But I am dissatisfied. I wish I could work less, have a more fulfilling lifestyle, be skinny. Again, all pretty typical. But I feel that I am a little different from my US friends in that I definitely worry about the environment, I drive a hybrid car, I turn the thermostat on my a/c as high as I can take it. I try to save energy. I worry about too much pharmaceutical use, about processed food. In other words, I am a bit crunchy.

But I seem to have spent so much of my life thinking that “it’ll be better when…” Usually, the “when” is after I’ve moved house again, or moved jobs, or when I’ve lost weight. You name it, I think it. I have this vague dream of living in a little urban enclave, with a small garden in which I grow vegetables, where I can walk to my local health food store, bistro or deli, bike to work and generally be all smug and crunchy. In fact, I picked my current house partly because there was a health food store two blocks away. However, after I had finalized the offer on the house and was waiting for closing day, the ceiling of the health food store caved in, and they decided to close. For good. Really, in walking distance there’s Winn Dixie and not much else. So, I have been living a typical American life, and bemoaning the fact that I don’t live in a better part of the world. And doing nothing about it.

But the books I have been reading lately have made me think. You know, I only live 5 miles from work, which should be easily bike-able. OK, I live in Florida, maybe I can’t bike in the summer, but I should be able to manage it for at least 6 months of the year. And, it will actually buy me time. That was the startling realization I had. I get up early and walk for 3 miles every day, which takes about 50 mins – 1 hour, depending on how fast I go. I am usually pretty slow. Then my commute to work takes about 15 mins in the car. So, say I bike and it takes 25-30 mins to get to work. I spend an hour tops getting to work and back, get much better exercise than before, and don’t pollute the planet or spend money on gas. And I gain 25-30 minutes per day because I don’t have to walk. Every day - an extra half hour to do with what I want.

Equally, I spend money every month having a maid service clean my house. I am perpetuating the low wage economy by not directly hiring someone to clean my house, and what’s worse is that the cleaning companies care more that the house appears to be clean than it actually is. If I start cleaning the house again myself, I save nearly $200 per month, and get exercise in doing the cleaning. Likewise, I spend $150 per month having someone do the yard work. I could do it myself. The secret is in thinking that yard work or cleaning are not terrible chores that should be avoided at all costs. It is in thinking that, hey, I am taking care of my surroundings in a caring manner by not using nasty cleaning products or pesticides, I am getting exercise out in the fresh air and at home so I don’t have to join a gym or do other exercise, and I am not wasting my time watching inane TV shows. And, perhaps more importantly, that I am living a more genuine life because I am taking back responsibility for it all. I am not paying people to do things that I could do myself, so therefore I don’t have to work extra hours to pay for it. Maybe at some point this can translate into working less, you never know. Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to put all this into action immediately. And in fact, since I got home from Sweden the house has already degenerated into a mess, so I have a long way to go before becoming a happy house proud cleaning person. But I’m going to try. I’m going to try to live my somewhat urban life. OK, there’s no deli or health food store that is easily accessible, but it doesn’t stop me walking or biking to Winn Dixie to pick up a basket of food. I can bike to work, and maybe be an example to others that it IS possible. And maybe if more people do it, eventually some nice stores will open in the neighborhood and it’ll be the place I imagine that I want to live.

So, today I bought a new bike to cycle to work on, and I’m going to do a test run tomorrow. Then the plan is to bike Tuesday and Thursday next week, building up to every day the following week. And cancel the cleaning service. Man, I hope I can do this and it won’t just be some harebrained scheme that I tried and failed.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Drizzly Paris

I got up at the ungodly hour of 3.30 am this morning (which was of course 9.30 pm back in the good ole U.S.).  All in honor of the ridiculously early flight to Paris. And now I'm here, and it is all just as chaotic and crazy at Charles de Gaulle airport as it was coming the other way. There was nearly a fight at passport control between competing groups of American passengers who were all late for the Washington DC flight, and were all trying to jump the queue. While muttering loudly at the fact that the seperate line for EU passport holders was getting processed much more speedily. But they should realize that they'll have their revenge while we Europeans are held up for far far longer at the US passport control.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun on Tuesday night. Our reception was the best of the conference, even if I do say so myself. And it isn't just me that thinks that, as a lot of people told me so. The secret is a free open bar, a DJ and a late hour. I made sure that I was drinking champagne in order to screw the company out of as much money as possible. Har har.

I've been called gorgeous and a babe by two seperate men in the last day, which is always a nice confidence boost, and NEVER happens in the States. OK, both the guys are very married and old pals who I have known for over 10 years, but never mind that. The fact was that I felt appreciated. Have to say though, that Bare Minerals foundation is my new best friend. And may have contributed to the spontaneous expressions of my gorgeousness. I'm sure the un-made up pallid vision that has been greeting me in the morning, thanks to having consumed several gallons of booze with very little sleep, wouldn't have inspired people quite so much.

No action, though, which is as I expected. C'est la vie.
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Still alive!

I'm happy to report that I resisted the siren call of schnapps yesterday, so did not end up with any mental blackouts. It's a bit sad though, when people you were drinking with the night before (and of course I have no memory of the lengthy conversations I apparently had with these people) greet you with a shout of "you're alive!!" I managed to stick to white wine last night, which I don't like as much as other forms of alcohol so am able to sip it in a socially acceptable manner. However, I have now got blisters on the soles of my feet, which is not good. I had to stand all freakin' night, walked from reception to reception, and it just became agony by the end of the day. Oh well. At least the blisters forced me to call it a (relatively) early night, as I got back to my hotel room at 11.30.

I guess I should be reporting something about Sweden. Well, it's very nice. Pretty mild temperatures, pretty buildings, nicely laid out city. All that good stuff. Absolutely freakin' full of women with strollers, prams and large pregnant bellies. I guess when you have a nice long maternity leave, what else are you going to do but stroll around town parading your good fortune?

The Swedish language is remarkably foreign to listen to, but oddly it is relatively easy to tease out some information when you look at it in print. For example, "värm äppelkaka med vaniljsas" (with a little circle above that last a, but I can't find that on the keyboard) turns out to be the pretty easy to understand "warm apple cake with vanilla sauce". Of course, I guess "vanilla sauce" is probably custard, but hey, you can get the gist of it. And, as a vegetarian, thank god for the Italians - "grillad focaccia med mozarrella, tomaten och basilikum" is also pretty easy to get. Apologies for Swedish spelling mistakes there - I'm going off memory so I'm a bit hazy on some of it. More complicated stuff is way over my head though. But everyone speaks English, so it's not too difficult to get by. There're also a lot of English shows on TV, which are shown with Swedish subtitles, so I've managed to catch up with The Amazing Race, and some old episodes of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Ahhh, yeah, well, beggars can't be choosers, as my grandmother always used to say.

All in all, I wouldn't even mind coming back on vacation one day. But not with the assholes who are here from my company. Team spirit is sadly lacking - not that that surprises me, but I'd hoped for better.

Monday, October 09, 2006

At the czber cafe

This post is being brought to you by the letter z, and the conference cyber cafe. The blackberry isn't working, so here I am surrounded by people diligently checking their work email and generally being productive members of society. And did you know that on Swedish keyboards, the letters y and z are swapped from their positions on US keyboards, and the punctuation marks are all in the wrong place? Or, as this first came out...did zou know that on Swedish kezboards, the letters z and y are swapped from their positions on US kezboards. And if I trz to do an apostrophe, I get this: à.

So, Air France sucks ass. The seat was chronically uncomfortable, they didn't honor my seat request made when I booked, and I had quite possibly the worst airline meal I have ever had in my life. I mean, you expect the French not to be able to comprehend vegetarianism, so I wasn't expecting much, but my entrée consisted of over-boiled vegetables and white rice. Not a bit of flavoring or protein to be seen. At least the rice pudding had 4g of protein, and the teeny portion of camembert must have had some too, but honestly, it was baaad. They don't even bother to serve water during the flight, instead leaving bottles out in the galley for you to help yourself from. Which is easier said than done when you're stuck in a middle seat and have to climb over someone to get out. The yogurt that came with breakfast tasted like chemically processed goop. Then, at Charles de Gaulle airport they had the plane taxiing for so long and so far, that I figured they must be parking us at Orly aiport. Or possibly somewhere in Belgium. We had to take a bus all the way back to the most confusing airport terminal I have ever been in (and I've flown to/from weird places, such as Vladivostock and Bandar Seri Begawan, so trust me when I say it was bad). Then there was another bus ride out to the flight to Gothenburg. Hey guys, why not think about parking the planes AT the terminal? It might make life a bit easier. At least the snack served on that flight was palatable, having presumably been made in Paris, and not in Miami. Of course, when I arrived in Gothenburg, my luggage was nowhere to be seen. It seems to be a regular occurence, as it happened to 5 people on my flight, and when it arrived at my hotel later in the day, there were at least 3 bags that arrived with it. It's not so good to hang around in your dirty clothes for most of the day after an overnight flight. Mmmm, stinky!

I have to report, though, internet, that even with all those annoyances, Saturday was a lot better than Sunday. Yesterday was not my finest hour, people. I had 4 receptions to go to, but I got so steaming drunk at the first one, that I didn't make it to the other three. There was schnapps involved. Schnapps + Sarah don't mix. I fell down some steps going into a bar with some other reprobates who were getting boozed up at the reception. The BRUNCH reception that was from 12.30 to 2.00. You'd think that falling on the way IN to a bar would have alerted me to the fact that I'd consumed way too much alcohol already, but apparently not. But I'm not sure how much more I drank because the rest of the day is pretty much a complete blank. I have a brief memory in the bar of realizing that I could no longer speak coherently. I also have a brief memory of panicking on the streets of Gothenburg because I didn't know where I was. I have a brief memory of struggling mightily to open my bottle of Aleve back in my room. And then I woke up. In bed. At 10pm. Lord knows what the good people of Sweden thought of me staggering back to my hotel room at 4pm (or whenever it was) blind drunk. Thankfully, I appear not to have been mugged or raped, but my left ankle is fucked, and I have bruises all up and down both legs. Nice. Didn't manage to meet up with anyone else from my company who is here, but then I was expecting to see them at the receptions last night. That I was passed out for.

Hopefully tonight I will be more restrained. At least I only have two receptions to go to tonight, and they don't start until 6.30, so no lunchtime drinking required. I'm sure it's not exactly good for fertility to pickle my liver like this, but oh well. There'll be no more drinking after I get back home prior to the next IVF cycle. Or czcle as the keyboard wants me to say.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Quick update on the embryo stuff

I spoke to the director of the embryology lab at my clinic. [And I now have her direct dial # - ha, that was a mistake on her part!] She was very nice, and agreed with me that the embryo storage place's policies were discriminatory, and said she'd be upset too if there was basically no option other than disposal or donation under their conditions. She said that for married couples, they use the health information from the IVF cycles for donation purposes, and that as they have that for me, and can get the donor's health questionnaire, she didn't see how that was any less information than they have on married patients, so the extra hoops they want me to jump through seem unfair. She also said that it was the first she'd heard of this issue, and she'd look into it for me. So, I heart her! However, she said that unfortunately this embryo storage place is the only one in the area, so unless I wanted to FedEx the embryo to an out-of-state place, she didn't know what to do. She did suggest that I contact the sperm bank to ask about their consent policies, to see if maybe I can attach a consent policy to the form to show that the sperm donor has no say over what happens to the embryos, and hand write on the form that I want to donate the embryo(s) to research in the event of my death. So that's what I'm going to do.

In the meantime, she assured me that they still had the embryo, and would keep it until I can get this stuff sorted out, which was nice of her. Phew!

And I spoke to a nurse, who told me that all my immunology and clotting test results were back, and they were all...normal! Which is good in that there's nothing wrong, but bad in that it means the RE was right and it's probably all just due to my age. Hey, well, I am at least grateful that there will be no shots of heparin or lovenox to be doing during the pregnancy. I just have to find that golden egg!

Sweden a go-go

Well folks, I'm shortly going to be off traveling again. Oh, the fancy schmancy jet setting life that I lead! Not really, of course, it's just coincidence that I've had two trips in three weeks.

As usual, I'm woefully unprepared for the fact that I'm taking a transatlantic flight tomorrow. Although, somewhat surprisingly, I'm not as shockingly unprepared as I normally am. Y'see, I'm ahead of the game in that I've already done all my laundry. Which is a big thing for me, as I can't tell you the number of times that I have done the 5am frantic laundry load thing on the day that I am leaving on a trip. Complete with ironing various clothes dry and/or packing them damp. And I've already planned out the outfits I'll be wearing to each event, though haven't quite figured out the "screw the conference, I'm going off sightseeing" clothes. Because I fully intend not to attend any of the boring sessions, but just the parties.

I don't know yet what suitcase I am taking, because I don't know which one my clothes will fit into. Probably it'll end up being the one that I have to check because it is too big to be cabin baggage, but if I can somehow squeeze everything into my small suitcase, then I'll have the dilemma of whether I can limit all fluids to 3oz sizes or less, AND cram them into a quart-sized ziploc bag, or whether to just say "to hell with it" and check the damn thing. I think I can stay within the latest liquid rules, though it will involve relying on the hotel hair conditioner, or buying some in Sweden. Which could mean that I end up being a frizzy haired nightmare for the duration of the conference, but hey, it's a small price to pay for not waiting around for baggage.

I also finally got the word that my employer is going to pay for me to attend this thing. Well, they'll pay for the flight, hotel and conference fee but no expenses, but that's OK by me, because I know that I can probably live extremely cheaply when I'm there by stealing breakfast items from the hotel to have for lunch and wolfing down hors d'oevres by the pound at the evening receptions. Oh, and walking everywhere. Haha, and I always thought that business trips involved lots of lovely expensive meals, but sadly, between various employers I have learned the art of minimal expenditure business travel. Of course, it took the throwing of a medium-sized tantrum on my part, and me informing them in no uncertain words that they needn't expect me to attend any more effing conferences for them, for them to actually sit up and take notice, but they finally got their act together and came through with approval for the money. So, that'll be a bit of extra cash for the IVF fee, seeing as I already paid for the flight and conference fee so getting that back will be a bonus.

Anyway, my Blackberry may or may not work while I'm over the other side of the pond, so I might post some updates. The nice lady at Cingular said it will be fully functional, but then she said that last time I went to Europe and it was completely dead the entire time. The wonders of modern technology!

In embryo news, I decided that I couldn't just sign the "single client depositor" form for the embryo storage place. I just can't. I can't sign my approval to the destruction of my embryo when I know that there are different rules for other people. So, we'll see what happens with the little guy. I expect that I shall be arguing with them for some time to come.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The squish

I have spent some time lately squishing my belly. It's kind of fun. I was a little bit too sore earlier to investigate what had happened since the therapy but I have been making more and more squishing forays over the last day or two.

Y'see, I used to have this somewhat hard area. It was front and center, below my belly button, and just above my pubes. I figured that maybe it was my uterus. Or sometimes I wondered if it wasn't my bladder, especially when I really needed to pee. It seemed like I'd notice it a lot more during the two week wait after an insemination or an IVF. I only really remember it being there after my laproscopic surgery, and I remembered that my RE had talked about moving my retroverted uterus forward. So, I hoped that my uterus was now in the proper place, and that that's what I could feel. I'd rub it and feel smug that my embryos were settling in for a long wait. I'd talk to my embryos, nay, I'd croon to my embryos. I'd tell them to snuggle in tight. I'd visualize them finding a comfy home in my lovely welcoming uterus. All the while rubbing and hoping. Rubbing and hoping.

Well, it's gone. The old hard area. Gone completely. It's now an entirely squishy belly. Because it was actually scar tissue that the Clear Passages people worked on, and apparently managed to remove. Where once was hardness is now soft squishiness.

Yes, folks, I've been rubbing and crooning to a lumpy old patch of scar. No wonder my poor embryos were confused about what the fuck they should be doing.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The next age cometh

I wonder, does it say something about my life that my dad has called three times this weekend, leaving ever more frantic messages, to find out if I would pay for something that one of my step-brothers* is trying to get from ebay, because the seller won't accept international checks or money orders. And at the end of the phone call, when I asked my step-mother if my dad had anything to say to me about [a specific day in the next, uh, two days or so], there was frantic wispering going on, followed by a loud "oh yeah" from dad, who then came on the line again to wish me a happy birthday. Before proceeding to get my age wrong by reminding me that the big four-oh was next year. Um, no, it isn't. Thanks dad. I guess out of sight really is out of mind!

*yes, I have two step-brothers. But I don't usually mention them because, well, I've only met one of them once. Not that I can remember which one of them it was that I actually met, because it was only for an hour or so. And my dad and my step-mother have been involved for about 20 years. Yup.

So, ahem, anyway, I have been resting and healing from the Clear Passage onslaught, and everything seems to be going well. Although it took me an hour to do the exercises I am supposed to do every day, not counting the million or so Kegels I need to fit in somehow, so I need to speed that up somehow. I was probably not properly counting the thirty seconds I am supposed to hold stretches for, as I was trying to watch TV at the time. Clearly I am losing the ability to multitask. I guess it's an age thing.