Sunday, July 30, 2006

If it's a Couple Thing, Why Am Only I the Patient?

As far as wanting IF treatment to be more couple centered, I couldn't agree with the post by Jweitl5 more. Before I knew we had a problem, I had a few co-workers tell me about some of their friend's IF problems and about how centers these days really treat the WHOLE couple, not just the woman. They told me that couples were expected to come to appointments together and both people were treated as patients, even though most of the treatment focuses on the woman. Now, I had no reason to be interested in this at the time, but it stuck with me. Imagine my surprise when we started IF treatment at what's considered the premier IF center on the East Coast, and all the paper work only refers to me as the patient, not me and my husband. And we're dealing with male factor infertility! When we sign in, it has a spot for patient's name (clearly meaning the woman), and then spouse's name. I always fill in both of our names as patient. It bugs me. My husband is on board with this being a joint process, but when he has a conflict with work, I know I'll be going to things alone. Yesterday I had my blood taken for the Cystic Fibrosis test--which is just a precaution and could have been done by either one of us, since both people have to be CF carriers to pass it on to a baby. I HATE needles and giving blood, so H was going to be the one to do this until our nurse told him that it had to be me. We asked why since I had read about other couples who had the man do it. If H tested positive for CF, then logically I'd have to take the test too. But if he didn't, there was no risk and no reason for me to do it. I got a " just because" answer from the nurse, and was told that I shouldn't be so worried about giving blood. I couldn't believe it. I like our center, but they have let me down in making this about "the couple."

Sigh. My arm didn't really hurt from giving the blood sample. But still.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Pesky Hope

I am waiting for my period to arrive on Sunday so that I can start the birth control pills for my first IVF cycle. Despite the odds, I've been praying that my period won't come, and somehow I'll be pregnant and this whole nightmare will be over before it even really starts. I even dreamed last night that I took a pregnancy test in the middle of the night and it was positive. I've been keeping these thoughts to myself, but H admitted today that he has been hoping for the same thing. It's ridiculous. I KNOW I'm not pregnant. But still I hope.

And I know I will hope even more fervently during the IVF cycle. How helpful really is hope? If I get my hopes up too high, I'm afraid it will make it even harder for me to go through cycles 3 and 4 or however many it will take before this is over. Is it easier to just abandon hope and expect failure--that way you can't be disappointed when things don't work out? I've read so much that says positive thinking helps the body; but destroyed hope seems to do an equal amount of damage. I'm aiming for realism, but let's be honest--in high school, I was voted "Most Optimistic." Yes, it was a real category. And I have lived my life optimistically.

H and I have been so lucky. We found each other and fell in love at an early age, while so many of our friends struggled with loneliness and breakups. We have a beautiful home in a great neighborhood that we were lucky to afford before prices shot up too high. We each are extremely successful in our careers and make enough money to easily support children. We have no debt other than the house and our cars, and our health, up until now, has been fine. With all of these great things going for us, we often would admit to each other that we were "waiting for the other shoe to drop." We both had this expectation that something bad was going to happen, because honestly--things were just going way too well for us. Granted, we've worked hard for all the good things we have, but we still attributed fortune to a lot of it. Well, wouldn't you know it. The other shoe HAS dropped. Hard.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hello and Thank You to New Friends

I really appreciate those of you who have been checking in and giving your advice on my bare bones blog. I am going to try and learn how to do more links this weekend and will hopefully inprove the site soon. I'm a little hesistant to add pictures because I'm afraid that certain family members are going to find and read this, especially now that word is getting out about me and H's situation. I want this to be a place where I can type freely. I feel like I have to watch what I say enough in real life as it is. I'm a very private person, especially about s-e-x, so how funny to be spilling all of my most intimate details on the Web. When you are going through fertility treatments and are forced to give up all shreds of modesty, I think it helps to be able to open up emotionally to people who know what you are going through. It puts a little bit of the humanity back into the situation. I am not ready for group support sessions because I feel like I won't be able to talk without crying. It's nice to hide out here behind the computer screen and still be heard. Thanks for listening.

IVF/ICSI--No Big Deal?

I just learned that one of my relatives, who is a research doctor, actually lectures on ICSI. My mom told him about my situation, and she reported this back to me in hushed tones at a family picnic we had this weekend. (I guess in her mind, me telling her not to talk about it means she shouldn’t talk about it to H, but the rest of the world is fair game. I’m not really mad, but still.) Anyhow, she said Doc pulled out his laptop and showed her this whole Powerpoint on ICSI. She is totally optimistic about the whole thing, and Doc is a big believer in the technology, but somehow I don’t think either of them really gets what it means to actually be going through it.

The same day, I had to tell my sister what was going on. H, for whatever reason, let loose that next month I would be undergoing a medical procedure when she asked whether we could go on vacation with her and my brother-in-law. Gee, thanks, honey. Then he gives me the look of—well, go ahead, tell her. Well, I wasn’t about to tell her right there out in the open. She was all intrigued of course, so I later pulled her aside and told her, starting in the most general of terms possible, that I was going to have IVF done. When I finally managed to get it all out because she didn’t understand my subtle ways of saying it, she was like—“oh, that’s not so bad. Don’t worry. There are more people than you’d think going through that right now.” While part of me took comfort in her reaction being casual and not thinking of me as some monster who was going to try to conceive artificially, I was a little surprised at now nonchalant she was about it. “Do you realize this means I might not ever have kids?” I asked. Again, nonchalant. She said, “There’s nothing you can do about it, so just see what happens.” And that’s so true. There isn’t anything I can do. I guess I have to just stop feeling so shocked that this is happening to me and just accept that kids may or may not be in my future. I started counting how many childless older couples I know through work and family, and there are tons. I always thought they made the choice to stay childless, but maybe they didn’t. The bad part is, I always looked at them and couldn’t imagine that life for myself.

Breaking the News to Family

When I found out that H and I weren’t going to be able to conceive without some serious assistance, I told my parents almost immediately, even though I knew H didn’t want me to. My telling them was a little selfish. I felt that if they knew, then it would take some pressure off of me, because surely they were wondering why we didn’t have any “news” by now. They hadn’t been pressuring us, but I was feeling the pressure just the same every time my mom gushed over my brother-in-law’s new niece at family parties.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised at how my parents handled the news. My mom was extremely positive and supportive, which is absolutely not like her when it comes to stuff like this. Usually health problems scare my mom, and her way of dealing is to push the person away and even get a little mean. Her initial reaction of, “Thank goodness, that’s all that’s wrong? I was afraid you were going to say you had cancer,” maybe wasn’t the most sensitive thing to say, but it was still so much better than I had expected. My dad was simply quiet and listened, also uncharacteristic of him. I could tell he was just trying to digest it. I told them both that this was something that they COULD NOT discuss with H (he’d kill me), and that I wasn’t thrilled to talk about it either, but I would keep them updated when there was something to say, pretty much letting them know I don’t want them to ask me about it unless I initiate the conversation. At this point, I had no idea how they felt morally about IVF, and since this wasn’t a given yet, I really didn’t bring it up. I just told them we had “lots of options.”

H’s parent’s, opposite of mine, have been pressuring us for kids like crazy. They have older kids than us who are single, and I guess they see us as their only hope for grandkids. Boy did they back the wrong horse, huh? H does not want to tell them what’s going on, though I feel it would shut them up at least. It’s been painful every time they have bugged us about it, even before we knew for sure that we had a problem. They are very tacky and crude in the way they ask us about our “intentions to procreate.” I’m pretty sure they are looking at me as the problem, so it would be somewhat gratifying for me to be able to tell them that it’s partly their side of the gene pool that is experiencing some technical difficulties in this matter. That’s not fair to H though, and I can see how he would be mortified in telling them his diagnosis. Given their crude remarks about everything else, I can only imagine what they would say. One would hope they would be supportive, but there is no guarantee. H is so upset about this whole thing that having his parents upset him at the same time would only make it worse, especially since he is so conflicted about treatment.

About six months ago, H’s parent’s made one of their typical remarks when they were spending the weekend with us that maybe we should go upstairs and get busy so they could have some grandkids. H took them aside later and explained to them that we had been trying and that we would appreciate them not pressuring us about it and saying stuff like that. So, their response now is to loudly tell other people at family parties that they want grandkids but they are not allowed to talk about it to us. They also said that they started a college fund for our unborn child. I wonder how they’ll react if I ask them if we can use that money to help fund the child’s conception instead? They just won’t stop being pushy.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Faster than a Speeding Bullet

I don't know how we went from having some questionable SA results to already having our IVF protocol in just a little more than 1 month. Yesterday I found out that my start date will be August 19. I still don't even know what all the acronyms stand for, but I have a full list of dates. I suppose I should feel lucky for it, considering how many people seem to have to wait for appointments. I feel like the center taking care of us is just ready to roll. It's like they saw how good our insurance coverage was and wanted to push us through immediatly before we chickened out.

Luckily H has managed to go from "I'd never do IVF" to "I'll consider ICSI with IVF if I have to" in record time, poor thing. I know this is hard for him, but at least he isn't about to start injections! Have I mentioned yet how much I hate needles and about how I get faint at the sight of blood? Mix in the hormonal imbalances I'm about to expereince and I think I'm going to be a real mess. Hubby can be very hormonal himself--sometimes I feel he's more moody than I am. I keep reminding him that he's going to have to bear with me during the treatment, and he keeps throwing back that I need to be extra nice to him too. Okay, will try, but I can't promise--CAUSE I'LL HAVE DRUGS IN MY SYSTEM! Has anybody out there had minimal side effects to the injections? I'm a little person, so the fact that my ovaries are going to triple in size will probably be enough right there to turn me into a lunatic. I'm going to just do my best to avoid fighting with him while I'm feeling bad, but sometimes when he starts to pick a fight because he's in a bad mood, there's just no avoiding it. Don't get me wrong, we normally get along fine. But when we are both stressed and moody--what a mess. Like last night. He just kept whining about how unfair it is that he has to cut the lawn in 100 degree heat. (Do we really want to talk about fair here?) I finally went upstairs. And he follows me. Ugh. It wasn't about the lawn. He was just in a bad mood. Maybe I should get him some valium to take when I start my cycle. ;)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

This Blog is Rated "B" for Bitter

I have to admit that I'm writing this blog to hopefully connect with other women in my situation as much as I'm doing it to vent. Otherwise I'd just pick up the nice new journal I got for Christmas and use that. I'm new to blogging in general, so I really look forward to hearing if there's anybody else out there just starting out like me.

Last night H and I had a pretty good heart-wrenching conversation about accepting what's going on with us medically and moving forward as a team. One thing I am grateful for is that we have really drawn a lot of strength from each other in the past few weeks. I feel like our bond is tighter because of this problem.

At the same time, we have very different ways of handling our grief, so that has caused the occassional flare up. Luckily those moments have not lasted long. For H, I talk way too much about everything. So, this weekend we spent a day at the beach and I swore not to bring up anything about our condition the entire day. Well, no sooner had I settled onto our beach blanket and opened my book when H says, "Oh my God--Look!" I turned towards the ocean and looked upward to see one of those bi-planes flying a message across the sky that read:

Not Pregnant Yet? Maybe You Should Try IVF.

My immediate response was, "What the .....!?!?!?!"

First off, since when do those planes go around advertising fertility treatments??? I'm used to reading: "All you can eat buffet tonight at the Bonfire. DJ Batman at 10" and stuff like that.
Luckily H and I both were able to laugh about the irony of it, but still. Needless to say, we ended up talking about our options a little even though we were trying to just relax for a bit.

H is coming around towards IVF now that its sinking in that this may be our only hope of a biological child. I really feel for him, because while I have always wanted us to have kids, I've always felt that he has wanted it more than me. He's great with all kids, whereas it takes me a little longer to warm up to them. I always knew that having my own would be different though, and when we started trying I was so excited.

I'm trying to remain hopeful about IVF, but I just have a bad feeling about this.

Monday, July 17, 2006

You and I and IUI

Well hello out there. I have to admit, this is a little weird. I recently have found out that the chances of me and my husband conceiving naturally are about say, one in nil, so I did what every modern girl these days does--turn to the Internet for clues, advice, anything...

I found a wonderful collection of IF blogs and figured if they had offered me some comfort, then I should start my own. So, here's my story...

My husband, let's call him H, and I have been married for over 6 years. We married young and had agreed from day one that we would start trying for kids when we hit the five year mark. Since we waited until marriage to have sex (yes, its true), we figured we deserved the time to get used to being together without the added pressures of children. So, imagine our surprise after all of our waiting and proper birth control when a year of trying passed and we didn't even have so much as a pregnancy scare. Meanwhile, our other, well-deflowered friends were getting knocked up without even thinking about it and then crying about it because it meant no more crazy nights out at the bar.

H saw how easy it was for the rest of them and thought that there was no way we would have any problems. He was wrong. Turned out we got a two-for-one deal. Male factor infertility combined with only one working tube, probably due to my secret nemesis endometriosis, which my OBGYN has sworn for years that I do not have. The prognosis--go directly to not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars. I had just barely convinced H that IUI wouldn't be the end of the world when we found out from our new RE, Dr. Optimism, that IUI wouldn't be enough anyway given our super combo deal of problems. For H, IVF has serious ethical ramifications. It's pretty funny that I'm the Catholic one and he is not religious at all, but when it comes to ART he sounds like the most die-hard Catholic you'd ever want to meet. For me, I'm a believer of science and of God. I believe that we wouldn't be able to do procedures like IVF if God didn't want us to. When God closes one door, he opens another, right? So, while the whole thing sucks beyond comprehension, I'm mostly okay with trying IVF if that's what it will take for us to have a baby. H is still struggling to come onboard.

He's having a hard time with me talking about all the options and possibilities right now, and I'm having a hard time not talking about it. When I told him I had gone online to read about people with similar situations, he blew up at me, saying he just couldn't handle it right away. I'm having a hard time accepting it, but I've already moved onto dealing with it. I need to realize that we react differently. So once he calmed down, he suggested that I keep my own blog and perhaps start to network with others.

What's hard is accepting that this is actually happening to us. We were the responsible couple, the mature couple, the perfect couple that had been together forever. How could we also be the perfectly infertile couple??? While I am so thankful that we have each other, I think it is cruel that we might never experience having a child together.