Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Back in the Stirrups Again

So we went to our consultation appointment on Monday. I really liked the doctor we met with. And I guess the news was as good as we could hope for.

We went over our history with her. She talked about how being an old lady like me is not good for eggs (no duh). She said my husband's sperm counts (from 2008) looked very good. Which means the trouble really is all me and my old ass eggs. But she said my FSH has stayed basically the same from 2008 to now. So all that was good news.

Some things that surprised me: I had gone in thinking we were definitely looking at IVF, but based on what she said, IUI may be our best option. Because our only issue appears to be maternal age, our odds of getting pregnant are about the same if we do a few rounds of IUI as they are if we did one round of IVF. She said IVF increases the odds of pregnancy in younger women and women who have tubal issues and for couples dealing with male factor and those sorts of things. But apparently old ladies like me just don't have good odds when using their own eggs. Now I did actually know this (again, no duh), but I didn't realize that IUI could possibly give us just as good a chance. As anyone who has gone down the infertility road knows, IUI IS HELLA CHEAPER THAN IVF. She also told me that going with an IVF package (2 fresh, 2 frozen cycles at a discounted price) is no good for us because I would most likely not have any embryos to freeze. She said that with women my age, they are just HOPING to get 2 or 3 good embryos and that they usually use all 3 in a fresh cycle and hope that just one sticks.

So we then moved on to the examination room where it was time to hop back in the stirrups. When the doctor left us so I could get undressed, my husband just looked around and said "here we are again." Of course, I have been in many a stirrup since we last did fertility treatments, in the quest to figure out what the hell was wrong with me, but he wasn't with me at those appointments. And they weren't technically related to babymaking. But I could see he was feeling a little like "oh shit, I did not miss this." I was actually feeling pretty okay. I've had so many trans-v ultrasounds, it ain't no thang. And I type "trans-v" in honor of those assholes in Virginia, especially the man who sponsored the bill, but can't even SAY the word "vagina." I forget his name at the moment, but I saw footage of him saying "trans-V ultrasound" over and over. Its trans-VAGINAL fella. If you can't even SAY the word vagina, maybe you should think long and hard about legislating what women have do with theirs. Kthanx bye. Now back to me.

My antral follicle count was 2 or 3 on the left and 3 or 4 on the right which she said was about what she expected - not great, not horrible. On day 3 of my next cycle, which should start any second now, I'll get my FSH, estradiol and AMH tested. I've had FSH and estradiol done recently, but I've never had the AMH. Apparently it wasn't even available way back in 2008. Its another indicator of ovarian reserve and helps the doctor estimate our chances of success. So if that comes back in a not horrible range, it sounds like she's going to tell us we have a reasonable chance of success. What's reasonable? I believe she said they don't like to do IVF on women who have a less than 25% of success and that we should decide what percentage is acceptable to us. 25%?! Is 25% reasonable?! Oh and I think the percentage is even smaller for any given round of IUI. Awesome.

So anyways, now we wait for my period to make its arrival. Of course, this month when we are waiting for it to come to get started on possibly trying, its not coming. And not because I'm pregnant (I already POAS and it was negative - who pees on a stick on day 25 of their cycle? Me.) I guess its good that I'm actually having a normal-length cycle? Oh, who knows. So now its day 28 and I haven't had a 28 day cycle in who knows how long. Oh well. I feel relatively relaxed about the waiting. My new focus on "one day at a time" appears to be working so far AND I have a delightful little two year old to keep me quite busy.

The only other thing worth noting is that the day of our appointment was the 5 year anniversary of finding out the terrible news about our first baby. February 27, 2007 . I can't believe its been five years. I wore the bracelet my husband got me as a remembrance of her. For good luck? To remind myself and her and all the world that she will always be my first baby in my heart? I don't know. i just felt like wearing it.

So we shall day a at time.

The Two's Are Not So Terrible

As I start typing this post, my little man is sitting on the couch, yelling the names of all the Thomas engines as he watches his show - "Thomas! James! Gordon!" (actually he says "dordon") That little boy voice and his not-quite-right pronunciations make me smile. I'm in here typing while he watches because, sometimes, I just can't watch Thomas. The stories are boring, the trains with their rolling eyes and odd faces are creepy, and the songs are terrible. The episodes narrated by Alec Baldwin are bearable because I find everything he does to be a little bit funny (and his James voice makes James sound like a prissy queen and that just kills me because it is SO right). Most days I'll gladly sit through a terrible kid's show to snuggle with Finn on the couch, knowing that someday snuggles will be few are far between, but every now and again, I use that 20-30 minutes to do something for myself (like pay bills online or empty the dishwasher or do the taxes - indulgent stuff like that).

So about those "Terrible Two's." So far, not so terrible in our house. Don't get me wrong, we have our moments. There are fits. There is crying for no apparent reason. And when all the "terrible two" typical behaviors started, I felt quite frustrated and irritated. I felt like I was saying "no" ALL day. I felt like he would NEVER play by himself or let me cook dinner or even go to the bathroom by myself. I felt tired and crabby and not sure what to do. And I think I was taking some of his behavior personally. But then I read a couple of blog posts, a couple of those Babycenter "My Toddler at Two" emails came at just the right moment, and I saw that lady who wrote a book about parenting like the French on TV. And I was reminded that this is totally normal and taking a two year old's behavior personally is ridiculous. And what I took away from the French parenting book lady, was PATIENCE. So I tell myself every day (okay, 10 times a day, or 25, whatever) to be patient and calm. And the two's are a lot less terrible.

The wonderful things about two?
* He doesn't fall as much - I don't have to worry every second that he's going to fall down or try to climb something he's not ready for. Stairs are still tricky. We don;t have stairs at house so he doesn't get much practice. Going up, he's good. Down? He would just barrel forward and fall right down if I let him. But other than stairs, we're all good.

* He can talk!!! Granted, I can't understand all of what he says and most people can't understand MOST of it, but he's talking and communicating and its adorable and helpful. I remember when my friends' kids were little and they would talk to me and I'd think "what the hell did that kid just say?" and the mom would be like "he said he went to the park and had fun on the slide" and I'd be like "there is no way in hell that's what he said." But now I totally get it. I am Finn's interpreter. Finn will tell my mom "Gramma Danet, da dabage duck tame and dot my geen dabage" and she'll look at me like "WTF?" And I explain "Grandma Janet, the garbage truck came and got my green garbage." But he can tell me when he's full and when he wants his sippy cup and when he has poo and what toy he wants to play with and which book he wants to read. Woo hoo!! The frustration level for both of us has gone down considerably. And that little voice is just too much.

* He can play by himself. Not all the time and not for long of course, but he is getting more independent. I can flip through a magazine while he plays cars. I can get dinner ready while he plays in his kitchen. I can chat with a friend while he plays with their kids on a play date.

* He gets silly. He loves to laugh and run around, chase me or Greg and be chased. He loves it when we make funny faces at him. He'll point to a picture of Thomas the Train and say "That's Percy" and laugh and laugh and then go through the whole book calling every train Percy and laughing the whole time. He'll put on my shoes and walk around in them to make me laugh. God, there is no better sound then his laughter. I have always loved hearing babies and toddlers laugh, but when its your child doing it? Oh man.

But best of all?
* He is a little lover. He likes to snuggle and watch a show or snuggle and read books. He says "I wuv you Mama." And sometimes when I say "I love you too Finn" he says "I wuv you too" and I say "I love you too" and he says "I wuv you too" and it makes me smile and want to cry at the same time. He hugs people and gives kisses. He tells his grandparents that he loves them. Its the absolute best.

Having an infant is wonderful and awful at the same time. I was sleep deprived and new at staying home and in pain 24 hours a day. But now I get to sleep, I'm better at being a "stay at home mom," the pain is better, and I'm the healthiest I've ever been. And I have a healthy, mostly happy, son who is becoming this amazing little person. I don't know if what we went through makes me appreciate what I have more. But I am painfully aware how lucky we are to have him. Which isn't to say that I run around blowing rainbows out my ass and acting like everything is perfect all of the time. We have our moments (like this morning when I started this post - I stopped to feed Finn breakfast. He had a meltdown for seemingly no reason. Eventually I figured out it was because he wanted his pancake folded in half so he could hold it like a burrito). And there are days when I am like, get me out of this house and please let some intelligent adult talk to me. But I think losing a baby and having trouble getting pregnant help me put the tough days in perspective. The twos aren't terrible. Before we had him was terrible.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Fear Factor

We're thinking of doing IVF. I even made a consultation appointment that's gonna cost us $275 whether we decide to go through with it or not. Which reminds me, I need to play the lottery tomorrow......

So why this change of heart? A year ago, even two months ago, if you had asked me if we were going to do fertility treatments again, I would have said HELL NO. Too expensive, too stressful and scary, not likely to work, no thank you. But now I'm feeling like we should give it a shot. Why? I mean, this is a major change in my thinking. Am I crazy? Am I going to change my mind again in a month? I am not PMSing so it can't be blamed on that.

Here's some of my thinking:

1) I think the hubs wants to try for another biological child. We've been talking about adoption and I just don't think he is ready for that. He has not pushed me in ANY way to do fertility again. And I love him so much for that. He has said from the beginning that I am the one that has to go through the most physical discomfort and stress and if I don't want to do it, that is okay. He totally gets what it means to go down that road - it will be a lot for me to deal with, physically and mentally. Not that he gets through it scott free, but its different and he really knows that. Thank God. But I think that if I am willing to do it, that would make him happy. I think he'd be happiest if we just had lots of sex and got pregnant the old-fashioned way, but that doesn't seem likely....

2) Turns out my fertility may not be as bad as I was thinking. For some reason, I thought that when I first went through all the fertility testing, that my FSH was 14. I went back and looked at my info and saw that it was 6.9. Quite a big difference. I recently went to a new OB/GYN and she tested my FSH mid-cycle and it was 20. She started to think that maybe I was in early menopause based on my previous FSH of 14 (which I now know wasn't REALLY 14 and now I am so embarrassed to tell her I was wrong, it was actually half that), my shorter menstrual cycles and the FSH of 20. Apparently 20 can be normal-ish or really high - it depends on the stage of your cycle I have only been keeping track of when I started my period, not ovulation so its hard to know exactly what that number meant. So before I resigned myself to shriveling up at the ripe ole age of 38, I asked her if we could do a day 3 test. That test came back at 11.3. High but not astronomical. My doctor said it indicates "decreased ovarian reserve but not infertility" and she said we should consult a fertility doctor if we want to get pregnant again.

Also, she finally explained to me in a clear and concise way what the hell is wrong with me. I won't get into that now, but let's just say that getting pregnant again and having another c-section where they can get in there and clean up some things MAY be the best option for fixing my problem.

3) When I think about trying again, I don't feel as scared. And I think when I am really honest with myself, the biggest thing that was holding me back was my fear. I would have told you it was the cost. I mean cost is a HUGE consideration because the cost is HUGE. But I think when I would say before "The cost combined with the thought of the physical toll and the stress makes it not worth it" what I really meant was "I cannot stomach spending all that money to go through the pain again." And I don't mean the speculums or the ultrasound wands or the needles, I mean the pain of disappointment and loss. Why spend all that money when it probably won't work and even if a miracle occurs and I actually get pregnant, something bad will probably happen. I was just assuming it would be all disappointment and hurt. Because if that's what you tell yourself and that's what you prepare yourself for, it won't hurt as much right? Yeah right.

But here's the thing: I don't want to base my decision on fear. The fear is understandable. Practical even. And it IS a consideration. Everyone has a point at which they can't do it anymore. Can't do it emotionally. Can't do it financially. But I don't want fear to hold me back from doing something I want to do and can, in fact, handle. I think I have lived a good portion of my life that way - basing choices, from small day to day things to big life-changing decisions, on the fear of getting hurt. Doing whatever it took to avoid being hurt.

At the end of the IVF road, there may not be a baby. And this may be naive but, I feel like at the end of the adoption road, there will be a baby. Which isn't to say that it would be easy, but I feel like if that was really what we both wanted to do and we were willing to put in the time and open our hearts and find the right birth mother, it would happen. And I think that's why I was ready to move on to adoption. It feels less risky. Less scary. There are things about it that scare me of course - Would anyone ever choose us? Would the birth mother change her mind? Would our adopted child feel strange or second best because we have a biological child? But these are fears I don't really KNOW because I haven't personally experienced them. They are abstract, theoretical fears and that makes them seems easier to face.

The things that scare me about IVF and trying to get pregnant again are fears I KNOW all too well. I know the disappointment of not being pregnant after trying and trying and hoping and hoping and spending thousands of dollars and making endless long trips to the doctor. I know the pain of losing a baby. I know the pain of having a miscarriage. I know and vividly remember the fear I tried so hard to keep at bay when I was pregnant with Finn. The fear that was always right under the surface, that made me look at the toilet paper every time I wiped, that made my heart stop for a moment at every ultrasound while they looked for the heartbeat, that made me wonder at my baby shower what I would do with all the gifts if something happened to the baby, that made me start to LOSE IT during labor when his heart rate dropped and I felt like I had made it all that way and yet I would still lose him. I could go on and on.

After we lost the baby, my journey trying to get pregnant was filled with pain and fear. And when we started to talk about another baby,my knee-jerk reaction was, I am not going through all that again. The thought of continuing that journey, of getting back on that road was not an option for me. Because I was afraid. I had made it through my pregnancy, I was feeling happy and whole again and I did not want to risk going back.

But here's how I feel right now, today. I do not have to get back on that road. The road that was ruled by pain and fear. And the truth is, I literally CAN'T get back on that road. It CAN'T be the same road. Because things are not the same. I am not the same person. I am not in the same place. My marriage is not the same. Our family is now made up of three. Things are different. Better in so many ways. And not better in others. So it just simply will not be the same. It will be a different road.

Is it possible, even likely, that there will be stress and disappointment? Yes. Is it possible that I will get hurt and feel pain? Yes. And does that scare me? Yes.

But not enough to not do it.

Because here's the thing. I accept all the disappointment and pain and hurt and loss that we experienced. Its a part of my story and our experience together. It is a part of me. It shaped who I am today. It brought me to my son. It showed me over and over again that I married a wonderful man. And those years weren't ONLY filled with pain and hurt. They were also filled with love and supportive family and friends and hope and growth.

Wow, this sounds a little too.......I don't know, hippie-dippie. So why don't I switch gears.

Fuck fear.

I can do this. Or not do this. But I cannot let fear be the deciding factor.