Yesterday I went in for my IVF treatment day 8 ultrasound. The drive there, I hoped and hoped that my 11 follicles were still there follicling. It would totally be my luck, I figured, to have ovulated through the ganirelix and have a cancelled cycle.

But when the dildo cam went up to do its thing, even the nurse started freaking out. “Oh my god! Oh my god!” she kept saying. I had 20+ beautiful follicles.  My sleepy left ovary had suddenly decided to throw a rager. Every move of the dildo cam revealed another big follicle. The nurse couldn’t even count them all. Mainly because all she could do was say “oh my god.” Apparently for someone with an amh of 0.04, 20 follicles is unheard of.

There’s still several steps to getting those suckers out of my body. But regardless, I couldn’t wait to celebrate. And then I remembered…until after the retrieval on Monday, I’m not drinking, I’m not eating anything that tastes good, and I’m so tired from the medication, I can’t really do anything but sit. But in my mind, I’m throwing myself a little party. Steamed broccoli and chicken breast, anyone?

My Stomach, the pin cushion

Well, it’s happening. And by “it” I mean shots. And by “shots” I mean stims, which is a term us in the infertile hood use to describe the stuff that makes our ovaries blow up.

Last Wednesday I started giving myself 225IU of Menopur in the belly and 225IU of Follistim in the belly. I like to think that when it comes to giving myself shots in the belly, I’m a bit of an expert. I’ve been giving myself a shot of lovenox in the belly every night for almost a year. So when the nurse at our RE’s office ran through the injection instructions and played the videos showing us how to inject the stims, my husband and I sat there all cocky thinking about how the poor hand model they cast for these videos had no idea what she was walking into on that particular day of work. At least, that’s what I was thinking about. My husband was likely thinking about lunch.

When my meds arrived earlier last week, I shut them all in a cabinet and didn’t give them much thought until 9pm on Wednesday night rolled around. And then, it was go-time. We unpackaged all the little bottles, containers, syringes, and sterile wipes in our family room and I set up my laptop to replay the instructional videos – you know, because even experts like us could use a little refresher. And then, we got going. And by “got going” I mean that shit started hitting the fan.

Menopur is one complicated bitch. My particular dosing involves four different bottles: one bottle of diluent and three bottles of the actual little powdery medicine. To prepare the injection you actually have to take your syringe, put a special cap on it to draw up the medication from one bottle, then inject it into the next bottle, draw that up, then inject it all into the next bottle and so on and so forth until all four bottles are now in the syringe ready to make magic happen in the layer of fat hiding under my waistband.

The video, of course, made it look rather easy – just pull on the plunger and up comes the solution. Ha ha. Not so. The syringe kept pulling in air with the occasional drop of solution and it looked nothing like the hand model’s perfectly full syringe in the video. After 7 or 8 attempts with no more luck, my computer froze. Like completely froze. Here it was, now 9:30 pm on the night it was imperative that we get this stuff in my body, thousands and thousands of dollars lay in our hands, and we couldn’t figure out how to make any of it work. I almost threw up. My husband had to set down the vials, now representative of our savings account, and leave the room.

Finally, we decided to lose the special cap on the syringe and just use a needle to draw up the solution and mix it. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. And each night has gotten substantially easier.

Now, on day 7 of stims we have a little routine where my husband pretends he’s a chemist and prepares all the injections while I search for an available spot on my black and blue belly and then inject myself. We added ganirelex injections to the list on Sunday to keep me from ovulating early. So now, including the lovenox, I have four different injections each night and sometimes five if I’m at the end of a cartridge on the follistim pen. In the mornings, I can’t help but lift up my shirt and stare at my marked up stomach. Each bruise and bump feels like a badge of courage awarded to me by the Infertile Powers That Be.

At last count, I have 11 follicles growing. The nurses all say that is extraordinary for someone with an AMH as low as mine (0.04). But the little overachiever inside me can’t help but feel a little disappointed by the number. In my dreams, my ovaries are exploding with so many eggs that they start shooting out of my lady parts and it takes a team full of doctors with woven baskets to collect them all.

The Egg Retrieval is scheduled for this coming Monday. And, in addition to getting these little suckers safely out of my body, all I can think about are the carbs I’m going to finally allow myself. I don’t care if I’m all drugged up from the anesthesia, I’m going to plop a bagel in my mouth that, at that time, may or may not be capable of chewing.

Return of The Dragon Lady


[Quick sidenote: Well, this is awkward. It’s been almost two months since my last post, which means I should definitely be fired from this whole blogging thing. Good thing I’m my own boss on this blog, and will therefore allow myself to keep on writing randomness with reckless abandon. The reason for my absence is that work has been nonstop over the last two months. And since I am now a freelancer about to throw a boatload of money toward IVF, that’s good news. Thanks for understanding. Now back to our regularly scheduled weirdness]

The Dragon Lady and I had a breakup back in September,  but it was the totally unawkward kind of breakup where we just stopped seeing each other and didn’t bother with the half attempts at explanations. If I had tried to explain it, I don’t think the “you told me I was having triplets when I wasn’t even pregnant” argument would have gone over so well with her. But it wasn’t just that. The main reason I stopped seeing her was because that voice in my head that sporadically pipes up to tell me that this is all a lost cause got deafeningly loud. So yeah, basically I ghosted the Dragon Lady.

But, now that we are about to drop a totally ridiculous amount of money on IVF, I’m going all-in on everything. I’m all-in on this whole fruits and veggies thing. I’m all-in on nasty wheatgrass shots. I’m all-in on no caffeine, no starches, and no alcohol. Okay, starting tomorrow. And I’m all-in on no chemicals, no phthalates, and no deodorant that actually works. And so it only seems right that I should also be all-in again with the Dragon Lady. That way, if things don’t work out, I won’t have the constant weight of “what if?” on my shoulders. I’ll have done all there is to do.

So after 6 Dragon Ladyless months, I scheduled an appointment and instantly turned into a barrel of nerves. Would she yell at me? Would she put needles in my eyes? Would she light me on fire and point out all my acne? Would I understand what she was saying anymore? Seriously, I had gotten really good at understanding the Dragon Lady’s short verbal assaults in broken English, but now I was out of practice.

The day of my appointment, as I lay there on the table, waiting for the Dragon Lady to enter the room, I brace myself. There will be lots of yelling, I just know it. Lots of tongue examining, pulse feeling, belly inspecting and yelling.

The door opens, and suddenly there I am face to face with the woman who will officially rip me a new one and then jab needles into it. And then it starts, the verbal assaulting.  “hi hun! How doing?!”

Wait a minute…

“I miss you. Want so bad you have baby.”

Um, who is this woman and what has she done with The Dragon Lady?

“Let me feel pulse. Then I see”

I hand her my wrist and she holds it, closing her eyes in concentration. Then I see it – a wave of true Dragon Ladyness wash over her face. There she is, the woman I have come to see today. Her eyes fling open, but inside her eye sockets there is only fire.

“No good! No good! No baby!”

I tell her how good I’ve still been. How I’ve even kept burning myself…sometimes. And that I am all-in for this IVF cycle.

“Pulse bad! Hormone bad! Kidney yang bad!”

I explain to her the protocol all my doctors now have me on, and that we have 6 weeks until the egg retrieval.

“Lot of work! Lot of work to do, hun!”

This, I figured. But I’m willing. Because, after all, I am all-in. So bring it on Dragon Lady.

And she does. By the time I leave her office an hour later, I am armed with four new supplements to add to my vast collection, strict orders to burn myself until I am bright red, and a mental list of all the things I cannot eat. Which, is basically everything.  And I am also armed with some words that surprise me.

“I pray for you. Tonight, tomorrow, I pray.”

Of all the things I had expected to happen this visit, this was not one of them. I’m not a huge prayer person, though over the last two years, I’ve definitely sent some prayers up to the man/woman/thing above about all this. But that voice in my head that sporadically pipes up to tell me that this is all a lost cause told me that praying wouldn’t make two craps’ worth of difference. So I’d given up on that front. But The Dragon Lady hadn’t.  She’s praying. So maybe I should too.

After all, I’m all-in.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now beginning our descent.

For the last several months, we’ve been in a holy-shit-what-do-we-do-now holding pattern over the treacherous land of babymaking. No longer willing to spend hundreds of dollars every month on methods that just aren’t working, though not yet fully-committed to the idea of dropping $17k on a last-ditch attempt with IVF, we’ve been going about things the good old fashioned way. That is, if you consider nightly shots in the stomach, bi-weekly IVIG infusions, taking 23 pills a day, peeing on sticks and setting alarms to have sex, the good old fashioned way.

And every month it seems the good old fashioned way continues to end in good old fashioned heartbreak. So now, as the husband says, it’s time to shit or get off the pot.

Sure, perhaps we’d keep going if it weren’t for all the above-mentioned shots, infusions and pills. But the reality is, they’re taking a very serious toll – both mentally and financially. Not to mention the possible affect all those dangerous medications could have on my long-term health.

So we’re about to end our holding pattern and make our final descent. But not without one last dance with destiny. I’ve officially entered what will likely be my second-to-last two week wait.

Which means it’s my second-to-last round of pausing with every belly twinge. My second-to-last round of incessantly checking my nipple status. My second-to-last round of not knowing whether or not I should feel guilty about that glass of wine. My second-to-last round of pills up the hooha and IV marks up my arm and searching for a bruiseless spot on my stomach to plunge the needle in.

My second to last two-week-wait is here. And then it’s on to our final destination: one round of IVF. And the hardest, most final two week wait of all. Please fasten your seat belts.

Everybody poops. And we all have our shit.

My husband and I left for a trip to Mexico last week. “But Zika!!!!” The world seemed to proclaim. “Not a present concern!” we silently replied.  And so we were off. To enjoy sun, margaritas, enchiladas, and a mostly free timeshare that my in-laws couldn’t use.

While there, we had serious plans of having no plans. And topping the list of our no-plan plans were no babies, no other people’s babies, no talk of other people’s babies, no doctors talking about babies, and no uncomfortable medical devices to fruitlessly produce such babies. Babymaking commenced without the mention or thought of actual babies.

And other than the daily game of me having to stash a box full of syringes somewhere in the room where the hotel maids wouldn’t spy them and trying to quickly and secretly down a baggy full of pills in every restaurant, it was like we were any other couple who didn’t have a daily reminder of the one thing we couldn’t figure out.

On our fifth day, we met another couple by the pool. They were our age, which was a big deal in this resort full of blue-haired timeshare owners, they just happened to be from our city, and they had all-inclusive wristbands they could use to order our drinks. We hit it off instantly.

That is, until they started talking about their kids. Yes, this fun, young, cool couple started telling us about how they had four kids back home who were just the cutest. And that they were so close in age because they wanted to have their babies close together and how two of them were VBAC babies (and luckily my husband had no idea what that meant) and on and on as I smiled and nodded and “that’s great”ed and “so happy for you”ed and secretly eye-rolled behind my ray-bans. Here it is, I thought, we came to paradise and befriended the very thing we wanted to escape.

But then they started telling us about Molly,* their second child who has down syndrome. And how they had no idea until the day she was born and the nurses and doctors all went silent in the delivery room. They told us about how they had to sell the house they had built so that Molly could be in a different school district and get the attention she needed.

Then, they told us about Beth,* their youngest, who has brain cancer. And how they took her to the doctor after she had a bloody nose and said her head hurt. And how a simple MRI turned into the worst day they could imagine. That she was only 3 and a half and couldn’t understand what was happening. They told us how it was stage 3 and doctors didn’t know what to do, but that they searched and searched and didn’t give up until they found the right doctor who successfully removed the tumor and continued to treat her.

They told us all those things. And then they asked a simple question, “Do you not want kids, or can you not have them?” It was the simplest, most straightforward way I’d ever been asked before. It cut right through the crap. No “why are you putting it off?” or  “clock is ticking” or “just wait til you have kids.” It was just a bit of simple understanding from one couple who’s dealing with their share of shit to another. So we revealed our own steamy, fly-infested pile of turds.

And as we flew home to resume our normal lives, childless woes and all, I got to thinking that we all have our shit. Our own just stinks a whole lot worse to us sometimes.

And since we’re on the topic: no, we did not drink the water and our poop was just fine.



*Names changed

I don’t really have words…(but since when am I silent?)

It’s fair to say that in the last two years, I’ve become an unofficial expert on babymaking. That’s not a line I plan on using at dinner parties or anything, but it is the truth. Our miscarriages and infertility have led to months and months of me googling, reading, researching, asking, blogging and participating in discussions about conception.

And what blows my mind about conception is the series of intricate events that need to take place in order for it to actually happen.

The body has to produce hormones at precisely correct levels to signal other hormones that in turn must be at correct levels. The blood flow to the ovaries and uterus has to be just so. The egg has to be free of harmful free-radicals and toxins from that taco bell burrito one may or may not have eaten in a moment of desperation two months prior. The uterine lining has to do its thing while the corpus luteum does its thing, both telling each other exactly what that thing is. Not to mention the fact that intercourse has to happen at just the right time. And then the sperm have to swim well, but not too well, or they’ll overshoot the target.

If you’re me, on top of all those events, a whole slew of other events have to happen just right.

Exactly the right level of synthroid must successfully correct my ever-so-slightly underactive thyroid to produce the right level of hormones. My blood thinning shots have to happen every day, starting on exactly the 6th day of my cycle so that my blood can get to my ovaries at just the right time. My IVIG infusions must be spaced no more than 2 weeks apart with precisely the right dosage to calm my immune system to exactly the right levels. The right dose of prednisone must be started exactly 2 days after ovulation to decrease my body’s inflammatory response. My diet has to be just so and metformin must be taken so that my blood sugar level remains constant. Progesterone, estrogen and about 12 other supplements must be taken in the right dosage on the right day, spaced exactly 12 hours apart.

And after all that, if, and only if, my blood tests and ultrasounds come back in normal range, we can proceed with the babymaking part. Hoping, of course, that that first set of intricate events all happens as it should.

A freaking lunar landing sounds easier and less complicated.

Which is why I am just speechless about the fact that my brother called me last night to tell me that even though he and my sister-in-law were doing everything they could to NOT have any more children, they are now 13 weeks pregnant with their third child.

How does that happen? How do you successfully and flawlessly land a spaceship on the moon when you never even attempted liftoff? How?

And what am I supposed to say?  To this beaming, happy person who has just reminded me how messed up my body must be to not be pregnant despite extreme scientific measures? What do I tell him?

A line I know so well by now: Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! This is wonderful news!



The sliding glass doors of doom

Yesterday, I did the thing recurrent miscarriers ought never ever do. I wandered aimlessly and purposelessly through the aisles of Buy Buy Baby.

I did enter with a mission. I was to buy a gift for our friends who are in the midst of adopting a little boy from South Korea. After more than a decade of infertility, they are now just a short but completely undetermined number of months away from finally bringing home their forever child. And so we are rightfully celebrating them with a surprise new year’s eve shower.

Armed and ready for action, I headed through the giant sliding glass doors of Buy Buy Baby like I have so many times in the last 20 months: shield over my heart, blinders around my eyes, inhaling the deepest breath possible before directly setting out for battle.

Normally, I speed walk directly toward the gift I am intent to buy, not allowing myself a glance in any direction that is not directly in the path of that specific item, before I pay and finally get the hell out of there, operation complete.

Maybe it was because this was the first baby gift I’ve bought in a long time without feeling that tiny twinge of resentment. Maybe it was because these friends have shown me that there are always other ways. Or maybe it was because I simply had nowhere else I needed to be. But, after I located the all-important Sleep Sheep and onesie and my mission was over, my battalion veered off-course.  I found myself walking, looking, and touching. The things I have never ever allowed myself to do before.

I eyed the crib with the bedding I’d want if I had a little girl. I touched the cute little blue bouncy swing I’d want if I had a little boy.  I saw the stroller I’d want if I had two grand to drop on a stroller. And I saw the empty room in my house as something other than an empty room. I saw it with curtains and a changing table and a rocking chair and a cute little dresser with matching pants and tops that say things like “Mommy’s little stinker” and “I only drink milk.”

I saw a mom-to-be and her mom having a disagreement over car seats. She shot me a look as if to say “Isn’t this the worst?” And I resisted shooting her a look to say, “No, really, it’s not.”

After I’d thumbed through the books and stroked the fluffy blankets and held the tiny outfits up to admire, I took the adorable little things meant for somebody else’s formerly-empty room and I paid for them.

And as I walked back through the sliding glass doors, I realized that I didn’t feel any better than when I first walked in. But I didn’t feel any worse. And that, at least, was a good start.

Fortune cookies don’t know shit. And other surprising things.

One year ago exactly, my work catered in chinese food for lunch during a particularly busy week. So naturally, after we all scraped our plates clean of every sort of wonton, eggroll and fried rice available (don’t judge, it was pre-Dragon Lady times) we moved on to the next fried event. Fortune cookies.

A few of us sitting at the big long table in the office decided to go around and read our fortunes out loud. Fortunes promising new friends, revelations of deep secrets, and unexpected riches were all read. And then it came to me.

“Next year, your greatest wish will come true.”

After just coming off of two early miscarriages, I knew all too well what that greatest wish was. And being in the two week wait at the time, I immediately went ape shit inside my brain. What the fuck, fortune cookie?!! I can’t be pregnant this year??!! There’s still 3 weeks left!!!! Why do you have to ruin my life?!!!!

I calmed down a little when my brain quickly rationalized that I could still get knocked up in 2014, but that the birth itself would be this greatest wish thing, which, of course, wouldn’t happen until 2015.

Everyone around the table oohhed and aahhed, speculating as to what my greatest wish might be. Having just gotten married 7 months before and then having promptly moved in to a big new house right after that, there weren’t too many options left to guess. The ladies all eyed me knowingly, if only they actually knew. And the guys all demanded that I tell them what my greatest wish was. So I had to come up with something quick.

“To meet Fred Savage, of course”

Why on earth I chose these words, I have no idea. Maybe because I’d had a dream a few nights before in which Fred Savage broke into my house to bake me a cake. And yes, it was glorious. But the words came out and successfully diverted the conversation to a discussion about why The Wonder Years was the best show ever  and then eventually to a sing-off of the greatest sitcom theme songs of all time.

I’ve had a fair share of fortune cookies in my time. And I usually forget the fortunes. But this one, I remembered. Not only did I remember it, I believed it. 100%. This fortune was just for me. It’s like it knew me and could stare deep into my soul. But not like in a pervy way. And it probably even rewrote itself to say those words exactly the moment it touched my hands.

I mean, hell, at that point no doctor had been able to give me any reason as to why I kept miscarrying and I had nothing else to go off of. So why not trust the the mystic chinese proverbs developed in a factory in Michigan and then stuffed into a sugary piece of tasteless nothing. Why the hell not?

This fortune spoke truth. And so I believed. 2015 would be the year. My greatest wish would come true.

Turns out, that fortune cookie didn’t know shit. Because here I am, on the backside of 2015 NOT knocked up or anywhere close to giving birth. And I didn’t even meet Fred Savage.

What the hell, fortune? I thought we had a thing where we trusted each other, believed in each other and could stare silently at each other for long periods without things getting all weird and stuff.

Turns out, you were wrong all the time. Unless by “greatest wish” you were referring to the opportunity to re-grout our shower floor. And in that case, you were super super correct.



An open letter to the sperm in my vagina right now

Dear sperm,

I am writing to inform you of the extreme skill and effort it took to get you into my vagina yesterday in hopes you will take that into account when deciding how long to stay there.

You see, not everyone can find the courage and strength to bone while sleeping in the toy room at the in-laws’ lake house with 15 family members eating breakfast in the next room. But we did, sperm, we did. And we did it, literally, as our six nieces and nephews banged on our door begging to come in and play on the rocking horse. Why on earth they care so much about a damn rocking horse or, better yet, why on earth the only childless couple in the family is continuously forced to sleep in the toy room while the other couples get private cozy bedrooms is beyond me. Such cruel irony. But nevertheless, dear sperm, we got you where you needed to be.

We knew it was the only way. We knew that later in the afternoon, my husband would be traveling out of town and I would be traveling back home and that it would be the last moments we’d have alone before I ovulate tomorrow or Wednesday. Yes, I know that is a long time to hang out up there and that you are bored and have nothing to do. But damn it, read a book or something. Because you are our one and only shot this month, pardon the pun.

And so, dear sperm, before you find yourself tempted to swim toward the light and make this month like all the months before. Before you decide to become an indistinguishable smudge on my underwear and my calendar. Please consider that you could be so much more than the sperm that made its way into my vaj while 6 kids yelled outside the door. You could be the one doing all the yelling.

With hope,

The lady attached to your new digs

The Friend Of A Friend Trap

I was ready to get married long before I was married. Long before I was even close to getting married. Long before I had even come close to meeting someone worth marrying. I wanted the marrying part. My friends were all married. My siblings were all married. All the random people in the aisles at Target were all married. For God’s sake, where the F was my marriage license and wedding band and guy that came with it all?!

Good thing I had smart people all around me to teach me how to catch a man. The secret, they all said, was to just stop looking for him. Because all that really needs to be done to find the love of your life is to stop thinking about finding the love of your life. To start focusing on other things. Like work. And travel. And yoga. And fun trips with girlfriends. And then poof, Love Of Your Life just shows up. On cue.

And how did they know this? Because a friend of a friend of theirs totally gave up on finding the love of her life and went off and bought a one-way ticket to Switzerland. And then, swear to god, a week before she’s supposed to leave she meets Future-Husband in a bar.

So what did I do? I went off and bought my own house. I gave myself my own perfect space and my own perfect yard and my own perfect patio for enjoying evenings alone. And I started running marathons. And filling my time with training and conditioning and long runs. Because who needs a man when you can enjoy all those things all by yourself?

And then, of course, I met my now-husband. And, I too, became a friend of a friend story. A success! More proof! Just stop looking, and you’ll find it! Stop wanting it so bad, and it will happen!

It’s a beautiful story. It’s a wonderful example of just living life. It’s also complete bullshit.

Sure, by all appearances, I did go out and buy a house and get in shape and get the hell on with my life with or without a man. And then poof, I found him.

But that poof was three years. Three god damn years. And, while I might have tried to convince myself and those around me that I had stopped desperately looking for the love of my life. Not once did I actually, honestly, successfully stop.

I closed my eyes to the need to find a man in the same way that a four-year-old hides their eyes when playing hide and seek. No, Guy Down The Street Wearing a Red Sweater Who I’ve Already Mentally Re-dressed In a Tux and Perfect Boutonniere, I’m not paying any attention to you.

And I went on dates. So. Many. Dates. Terrible dates. Decent dates. Good dates that later led to short and bad relationships. And in my heart, I was always still searching for him.

And that friend of a friend of a friend who was days from moving to Switzerland before she found her man? I don’t know who the hell she is. But she didn’t really stop looking either. Because if she had actually stopped, the stories people tell would be about her drinking Schneider Weisse at the base of the Alps rather than her buying a pretty white dress.

The truth is, you can’t just turn your brain off from thinking of and searching for the thing you really want. You can only distract it for a little while.

And for the last little while, I’ve distracted my brain very well. I’ve taken a leap of faith, I’ve started my own business, I’ve struck out on my own to write. Thoughts of babies and embryos and my uterine lining have been pushed aside to make room for thoughts of accounting software and networking and gaining new clients. And so by that old friend of a friend story model, I should be knocked up by the end of the month.

But I won’t be. And those old familiar baby thoughts? They haven’t gone away either. They will never go away. No matter how hard I try and kid myself, they will always be there. Not that that stopped an old co-worker of mine from telling me about her friend of a friend who gave up trying for a baby so that she could focus on her business for a while, and then poof, ended up pregnant.

These friend of a friend, just-stop-thinking-about-it-and-it-will-happen stories are complete crap that we need to stop sharing. We need to stop telling each other these terrible lies. We need to stop making people feel bad for focusing on something they really want for themselves.

Because it’s okay to think about what you really want in life. It’s okay to look for it. It’s okay to try to make it happen. Because who the hell ever got what they really wanted by ignoring the fact that they wanted it?

And you know what? It’s also okay to let your mind wander to other things that will make you happy in the meantime. I don’t once regret buying my own house. I don’t regret a single mile that I ran. And I doubt I’ll ever regret breaking out on my own to write.

But I’ll never convince myself or anyone else that shielding my eyes to focus on those other things is what magically made my real dreams come true. Maybe, just maybe the only way to get what you really want is to face it head on and make it happen. Despite what that one friend of a friend might say.