Monday, July 30, 2007

Salt on the wound.

When I went to pick up Cami from daycare today, I noticed that one of the other moms was obviously pregnant. Cami's teacher then rattled off the names of all the other moms in his class who are pregnant with #2.

Shoot me. Just shoot me now, I wanted to scream. I have failed as a woman. Instead, I just stood there and smiled, hoping that she didn't notice my moist eyes.

I suppose this kind of thing is inevitable, but did I have to confront it today?

In other news, here's a great article from the New York Times about the discrimination workers face when they have to take care of a sick child or other family member. A subject I'll address more, when I'm not so tired.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A short hiatus.

I haven't blogged for a week. I'm in wait mode. And you never know who might be reading and what the ramifications will be. That's the chance you take when you write, whether it's on the Internet, or in print.

I write this blog because it helps me deal. It lets me share this experience without having to repeat the details over and over to my friends, even those who care. And it gives me a place to forget about doctors and shots for a while and write about movies.

A therapist recently shared with me a study that found that women with infertility experience depression and anxiety on par with people with cancer and HIV. This made me feel better (hey! all things considered, I'm keeping my shit together pretty well!), and yet worse.

But I know that one of the few good things to come out of all this--other than my son, one of the greatest blessings of my life--is the support I've received from total strangers I've met over the Internet. So if I can help one other woman feel not so alone, writing this blog is worth it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

About the new kid in town.

My friend Peggy described Sparky as my "late transfer in."

"It's like the guy who joins your classroom after the semester has started because his family just moved to town," she said.

I'm just hoping the new guy will end up being class valedictorian, prom king and the quarterback of the football team.

My life is turning into the mid-life version of a John Hughes movie. Fabulous.

Monday, July 16, 2007

An interesting turn of events.

So I'm driving to work this morning when Dr. P calls. And believe me, whenever your IVF clinic comes up on your caller ID, you take the call.

"Is this a good time to talk?" he asked, ever polite.

"Sure!" I said. I would hang up on George Clooney, my spiritual soulmate*, to talk to Dr. P.

He gives me an update on the seven 4-cell embryos we had left over after our embryo transfer. (No, they didn't let us take them home in a doggie bag. At Dr. P's suggestion, we left them in the lab to see what would happen.)

"One of your embryos developed into a blastocyst," he tells me. At this point my mind goes all fuzzy, because I thought the chances of this happening were somewhere between slim and none. He continues: "This gives you three options. First, you could let it expire in the lab. [I know that sounds kind of brutal. Those weren't his exact words, but as close as I can remember. Like I said, my mind got all fuzzy.] Second, you could freeze it for future use. Third, you could come in and we could transfer it."

As usual when processing a critical decision, my mind goes blank. "What would you do if you were me?"

"I would choose option three." I realize that this is what I was hoping he'd say.

"When would I come in?"

"Now!" He says, laughing.

What seems like a very stupid question enters my mind, but I have to ask it. "Will transferring this one hurt the other four?"

"Not at all," he says.

So I make a u-turn and drive back to the clinic. All goes well. Dr. P addresses my concern that the five embryos will be jostling each other like some sort of uterine mosh pit. "The relation of the embryos to the uterus at this point is like 5 ants to a football field," he tells me. As the daughter of a couple who had season tickets to every sports team in San Diego, I get this.

And now I have five embryos racing toward the end zone in the fertility equivalent of a Hail Mary: the four transferred Friday, and today's blastocyst, who I have named "Sparky" because of its sheer pluck. According to a chart I found on, at my age, Sparky has about a 7.5% chance of being born. And if we make it that far, let's not talk about the chances of twins (or more). An article about multiples that appeared in yesterday's San Jose Mercury News gave me pause, let me just say.

Luckily, I'm not a math person, and I dropped my college statistics class. I get analogies (ants on a football field). I have to ignore statistics.

* Second only to my dear husband, of course.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Movie Review: The Holiday

After a steady diet of heavy, meaningful movies like "Little Children" and "Volver," I decided I needed more lighthearted fare. So I NetFlixed "The Holiday." The previews made it look like fun, mindless entertainment: Two women swap houses for the Christmas holiday. One (Cameron Diaz) gets a charming English cottage; the other (Kate Winslet) gets an incredible L.A. mansion. And the movie has a solid cast: Kate Winslet, mega-biscuit Jude Law, Jack Black, Edward Burns and semi-biscuit Rufus Sewell. And Cameron Diaz. Who destroys the film.

You know, I've never felt that strongly one way or another about Miss Diaz. She's always seemed kind of innocuous, like a big Labrador Retriever puppy: cute, gangly, and fun to hang out with. She upstaged Julia Roberts in "My Best Friend's Wedding." She did more-than-solid comedic work in "There's Something About Mary." And, most notably, she was great in "Being John Malkovich"--in part for her completely willingness to let herself be made up to look totally frumpy. (We won't mention the "Charlie's Angels" films. I won't even link to them. Sure, I've only seen bits of those travesties, but I resent the moments of my life that I lost watching them.)

So imagine my surprise and disappointment to see her suck absolutely all of the life out of "The Holiday." She didn't deliver a single believable line reading. Not one. Maybe it wasn't her fault: she was totally miscast as Amanda, the uptight owner of a movie trailer production company.

Fortunately, her scenes are saved by the fact that she gets to play most of them opposite the utterly tasty Jude Law, who--in addition to being photographed mostly in golden tones that filled me with rather unholy emotions--manages to make you believe that 1) he's in love with the annoying Amanda and 2) he's a nice guy, despite what you've read in the tabloids about his fondness for his kids' nannies.

For example. His character Graham (Iris' brother) tells us that he cries at the drop of a hat...whereas Amanda can't cry at all. Oooh. Irony. Whatever. I cried when I saw Diaz wearing a bra in one of her sex scenes with Law. Who wears a bra when they're in bed with Jude Law? Even Kate Winslet let us see her boobs in "Little Children," because she knows that women don't have sex wearing underwire. (The following photo isn't that scene. But it shows Jude being all sheepish and adorable and hoping that we'll remember him for his other, better movies.)

(Photo courtesy of 楊曼妮的閒晃世界Mani Yang's lounging world. Some rights reserved.)

Luckily, the movie has Kate Winslet, who seems as incapable of turning in a bad performance as Diaz seems unable to stop mugging. As Iris, the lovesick writer of a wedding column for the Daily Telegraph, Winslet easily has you rooting for her to dump Jasper (Rufus Sewell), the object of her unrequited love, in favor of Miles, played by the strangely subdued Jack Black. Black plays his scenes as if he can't quite believe the script isn't giving him a chance to improvise.

For my tastes, director Nancy Meyers (of "Something's Gotta Give" and "What Women Want") should have cut down the subplot about Iris befriending an aging old-studio Hollywood screenwriter (Eli Wallach), but she seems to want to use this B-story to comment on "what's happened to the movies." Her own being Exhibit A.

Seriously. What happened to the romantic comedy genre? Is it just totally dead? I think it's been replaced by movies like Judd Apatow's truly funny "Knocked Up," which, in all its R-rated glory, manages to convey how relationships really are: messy, off-color and full of all sorts of unacceptable emotions and bodily fluids.

In "The Holiday," Nancy Meyers doesn't seem to want her characters to get their hands (or their emotions) dirty. The movie may be glossy fun, but it's deeply dishonest. It left me feeling like I'd just eaten a Safeway peach: beautiful on the outside, but tasteless and dry once you bite into it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Transfer Day.

Today was embryo transfer day. I'm not saying how many we transferred. I'm just that superstitious. But we did well. Or, more accurately, our little cells did well.

Now comes the two-week wait, or the 2WW as it's known on the boards. Also known as the most agonizing period in a couple's life.

What I wouldn't give for a nice glass of wine right now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

And in other good news...

Cami is saying more and more words. The latest: "Hello." Only the way he says it, it sounds like "Huh-doh."

He's becoming a little person.

Good news.

Just got off the phone with Dr. P. He's a pretty calm person, but he sounded almost buoyant as he gave me the fertilization report: of my 15 little eggs, they did ICSI on 13. And of those 13, 11 fertilized. Eleven. That's practically a litter.

Now I have to sit here and pray that those little cells keep dividing and dividing for Friday's big transfer. (Don't worry. We won't transfer all 11. How many we do transfer...well, that decision is like playing the lottery.)

It's so hard to keep my hopes under control. Especially when it's something that's totally, completely, out of my control.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A few good eggs.

Egg retrieval this morning. 15 eggs. 8-15 is average, so I did pretty well for an old broad. Doctors and nurses were congratulating us in the hallway. Their optimism almost scares me.

The procedure itself was a non-issue. But then, having gone through it twice already, I knew what to expect. And after a Valium and a shot of Demerol...well, let's just say that I'm still feeling good, five hours later.

The clinic has a monitor mounted right above the table, so I got to watch as they aspirated each follicle. This took my mind off the fact that there was a needle poking around inside me, which wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world, let me tell you. But not a whimper out of me.

So now the waiting begins. First I have to wait for the fertilization report, which I'll get tomorrow. Then, after the embryo transfer on (probably) Friday, I get to wait two long agonizing weeks for the pregnancy test.

For now, I'm ensconced on the couch, watching movies. First up was "Catch and Release," which really was a lot better than I expected. And I'm thinking a nap is very much in order.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Welcome to my pharmacy. I mean, my life.

Here's a glimpse into my life over the 11 days. If you're afraid of needles, avert your eyes.

I'll walk you through it. From left to right:

  • Menopur. Or human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG), which is extracted from the urine of postmenopausal women. (Who are these women donating their urine? The mind reels.) Menopur is stimulates the development of multiple eggs. We won't go there right now. Anyway, every night, my husband mixed this up and injected it into my hip. You can see the needle in the center of the photo. This one hurt like a motherf$#$&*(#$. Good times.
  • Diazepam, better known as Valium. Yeah, baby! I get to take one tonight, to help me sleep, and then I have to take one tomorrow morning at 7:30am to relax me for my egg retrieval. If you call me at about 8am, you'll get to talk to one happy camper.
  • Leuprolide Acetate, a.k.a. Lupron. I already talked about this one in an earlier post. That little needle with the orange cap is what I use to inject it. Twice a day, morning and night.
  • Gonal-f. That's the white and red needle in the front that looks like a pen. In fact, it's called the Gonal-f RFF Pen. Which be all James Bond and stuff (you know, in the event that James had to suddenly help Pussy Galore produce multiple eggs), except that I had to keep it in the refrigerator. So there was no chance of me pulling it out my purse and trying to write a check with a fertility medication worth several thousand big ones. Instead, I got to screw a needle onto it and inject myself twice a day. (That's five injections a day, for those of you keeping score.)
  • Doxycycline. That's the prescription bottle back near the alcohol prep pads. An antibiotic that both hubby and I get to take twice a day to prevent any infections that might screw up the proceedings.
  • Novarel. Are you tired yet? I am. Novarel is human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Hubby injected this one into my hip last night at precisely 9pm. My caffeine- and alcohol-drinking days are officially over, at least for a while. Novarel induces ovulation in about 40 hours, which is why my egg retrieval is at 9am tomorrow, 36 hours later. Don't want my docs going in there and finding empty follicles. Not at these prices.
In the back is the sharps container. I love having something that says "biohazard" in my kitchen. So appropriate.

I think that's it. And I haven't even touched on the side effects, the most irritating of which is that I now have the water retention of a camel, which is a great thing to have during bikini season. But it's temporary, and I can live with that.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sunday morning appointment.

Back at the clinic. This morning, I saw Dr. S, who is my own personal IVF cheerleader. He was sporting a cut in the middle of his tanned forehead, the result of a minor accidentinvolving a soccer ball and his daughter's cleats.

The first thing Dr. S said to me was, "You just keep continuing to defy your age!" (I told you. Cheerleader. Which is what you want when you're going through IVF.) I thought he was going to jump for joy when he saw the number of follicles I had. Really, I could produce a litter. (My words, not his.)

I'm afraid to get too hopeful.