i've got bad plumbing

the frantic (in)fertility odyssey of a woman of 47 to get knocked up

Feeling out of sorts

Posted on | December 25, 2011 | 4 Comments

Today’s the fifth day that I’ve been on the east coast visiting the boyfriend. I’m here til the 2nd…it’s an extended trip for the holidays. Most of the folks at my job take off during this time. We’re fortunate that our job gives us 4 days off during this period. I haven’t really been at the job long enough to take many vacations days off, but our company is rather informal about vacation days. We don’t accrue vacation time: we just take off when we need to. This benefits the company in that we can’t accumulate vacation time (vacation time is a debit in accounting “books”) and when someone leaves there’s nothing to be paid out. So you take as much time off as you can, and keep track of it to make sure you’re taking your fair share of it.

I spent quite a bit flying back here. My ticket was one that was quite flexible. I was scheduled to fly back on Thursday, via Chicago, but I saw that they were due for some snow so I rerouted through Denver. Then Denver was projected to have a 90% chance of snow starting on Wednesday afternoon, maxing out on Thursday. So I change again. This time through Denver (no other choices) but a day early. Well, the vacation gods decided to shit on me all the same. My flight was delayed in Denver for 4 or 5 hours and rather than arriving in Philly at 6PM, I think I found myself in baggage around 11PM or some late hour. The other half was peevish as he had an early morning drive into NYC. I was supposed to go with him, but I was so wiped out that I slept til 11AM the next day.

The last few days have been filled with errands, buying and wrapping presents for his children. Last night we had a lovely dinner in downtown Philadelphia with the boys who were amazingly well behaved for their years. I was elated as we were in quite a nice place – I think we had no less than 5 people attending to our table.

This morning the boys woke us up at 7:30AM. I was disappointed that they woke up so early as we’d kept them up late and had hoped they would sleep in. But no. No sleep for the weary.

This household here is a bit mixed with this holiday. My boyfriend’s ex is Jewish and doesn’t really do Christmas well. In addition to other presents, the boyfriend’s mother (grandma) had given each of the boy wallets for Christmas with $100 in them. The mother quickly took the money and proclaimed that they would lose it and it needed to go into a bank account. She put the money into her own personal wallet. We both protested as she (the mother) had depleted the children’s bank accounts years ago to pay her own personal bills and never replenished it (or at least this is the story conveyed to me). She’s terrible with money – she has trouble paying her tax bills but seems to have personal deliveries from Rue_La_La at least once a week). It was also odd that she would abscond the children’s presents – what would we tell the boyfriend’s mother? We protested and pretty much put our feet down on the matter and said that we’d take care of the money. She opened up her wallet and threw down the money. “They will lose it. 100% guarantee of that!” My own personal take is that the money has a lot better chance surviving with US than it does with her.

While I left the room to dispose of Christmas wrappings in the recycle bin, apparently they “got into it” and she retreated upstairs to her room. When I returned, the boyfriend was holding his head. I asked what was wrong and he was quiet. “She’s still griping over the money?” and he affirmed she was.

So we returned to the last few presents. I’d bought her a set of hand-painted drink coasters that an artist friend in Austin had made for me. It was the perfect present because she constantly complains that people are putting cups and glasses on her antique Chinese furniture (her greasy pizza boxes and kid’s popcorn kernels don’t seem to bother her though). They are quite lovely and were quite pricey for what they are. Each one is signed and dated and the set of four came in a pretty purple velvet bag (which is her favorite color). I know a lot of work went into these. I hate to feel ungrateful, but I was a bit miffed that her present to me was clearly something she regifted to me (some fuzzy white socks with pink bows on them – something I know she’d never buy in a million years. They were something that you would see in a “dollar store” – a dollar store that she would never set foot in).

There’s more…but I think I need to lay down and sleep a bit.

Hope your Christmas is merry and filled with love!

Apologies

Posted on | December 16, 2011 | 3 Comments

I’ve disappeared…and hope that I am back. It’s been a hard few months: the move from NJ to California, separating from the boyfriend (who is still the boyfriend), the new job, and unideal living arrangements.

I thought that I’d find a house to buy a lot faster and the market has just been horrible. Zero inventory. So I am shacking up with my elderly mother and living in her “sewing room” (den?) which is literally the same size as my cubicle at work. Roughly the size of a single bed in both directions. I’ve gone from my cozy 2 bedroom apartment on the river to a tiny room with a twin bed. I feel like a pauper most days with this situation. I make great money at my job and I live like I’m on the edge. It is depressing. I’ve started to consider that maybe we don’t be able to buy a house. Maybe the economy really is going to hell in a handbasket after all.

My birthday was the end of November. It was a sad day as I felt my other half had forgotten me. No call. No present. About 10:00 that morning I got a call from the police department that my 94 year old mother had hit a parked car with her own vehicle and was being carted off to the hospital by ambulance. So I spent my birthday at the hospital, working, and then back at the hospital. The boyfriend did send two dozen roses to my work but I didn’t see them til the next day. It was a bit bittersweet.

In the accident, my mother hit the steering wheel (air bad didn’t deploy) and she broke her arm. Apparently she was in such shock that she spoke briefly to the folks whose car she hit and then took off without providing any contact details. The phoned the police who then followed her home (yes she was still driving!) and confronted her. She was so “out of it” that she couldn’t explain what had happened to her.

Yes, they took her license away from her. Thank god.

But she’s pretty much housebound now and my days now include having to care for her before I go to work, ensure she’s eating dinner in the evenings, and attempt to coordinate people to take her to Dr. appointments here and there while I am at work.

It is just too much.

I am going to Philadelphia to see the boyfriend for Christmas, I’ll be gone 12 days, and she is a bit upset over this. I totally understand why she is upset. She is old. I’m leaving her for a bit. But I am at my wits end. I need a “break” from this so badly.

I also need to tend to my relationship, or what is left of it.

We were doing much better when I left NJ but since I’ve left, things aren’t quite right. There’s less and less communication. I feel like I’m the one keeping this relationship together. When we’re together, there’s a discernible tension in the air. If I don’t go back, I intuit that our relationship will continue to starve and dwindle.

There’s that saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”, but my mom had her own take on it:

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Or wander.”

I’m that sort of person that if I feel that I’m being “met” in a relationship, I’ll tend towards the latter part of that saying. I’ll tear the band-aide off all the more quickly to get the pain over faster.

He wanted a watch for Christmas and would only tell me that he wanted “stainless”. Nothing more. “You know what I like.”

Hell, I don’t even know what “I” like. Well, yes I do. I’d like a Cartier Santos watch if I had a choice, but that ain’t happening.

He asked me what I wanted. I never want anything. I said, “I want you to move to California next August like you said you would.”

Silence.

He won’t commit to that.

Segue into another ring of hell.

My last IVF doctor sent me bills for $13,000. My insurance was supposed to have covered my IVF cycle. Apparently I had somewhere between $3000 and $4000 of coverage left BUT, get this, I was told by his nurse that cycles cost roughly $5000 at his office.

So my out of pocket should be $1000 to $1500 or so. Not $13,000!

So I’m having to deal with a massive headache trying to determine how my last cycle got so screwed up.

His nurse, the one that told me $5000, asked me in an email last week if I was ready to try again.

Umm, not if the cycles are $15,000 or more a pop! WTF?

I wish I could say that the reason I haven’t been here is that I’ve been blissfully drinking mai tai’s on a beach in Bali with Maddy…but it’s not the case. I’ve been treading water these days. I hope it comes to an end soon.

Not so sunny California

Posted on | October 11, 2011 | 5 Comments

Today was my 3rd day back in California…and it was raining.

I arrived Saturday night: swollen eyes from crying my goodbyes to “D” and the boys, 4 checked bags, 2 pissed off cats, 2 glasses of wine under my belt. Thank god the driver checked to see that my flight was early. The sweetie was standing in SJC holding a card with my name on it. Bless him. He carried my 4 heavy bags to the car and I carried the cats (One is 19.2 pounds, the other is about 10 or 11 pounds. They’re both fat.)

He got me home in about 15 minutes, unloaded my bags, and amazingly, a building contractor offered to carry the bags up to my mom’s 2nd story apartment.

All I know is that the stars were shining on me that night.

But on the dark side…I awoke at 5AM utterly panicked. My heart racing.

I started to think, “What the hell have I done?!” I’d left my boyfriend, my belongings, everything (!) back on the east coast. I was panicking. It was a full blown panic attack.

Sunday I took my mom out to brunch. 2 glasses of prosecco later we went and did the open house circuit, looked at a few rentals for me (not sure how long I can shack up with my mom – she’ll make me crazy!), and saw a couple of houses that were really nice but at the top of my price point.

It was a lazy day that ended with happy hour with my best friend. All in all, a nice day. The days that I missed living back on the east coast. But again, about 4 or 5AM this morning, panic set in again. I awoken to cats leaping on and off the bed and then my mind started to think (again) about why I was here. How I could leave “D” back there. It also doesn’t help that the cats are still on NY time. So at 4 or 5AM, they think it’s 7 or 8AM and that it’s time to be fed!!

I texted “D” while still in bed. It was 6AM PST.

Me: “I miss you. How are you?”

He: “Awful. Awful. Awful.”

Apparently having no children, cats, or me in the house had sent him over the edge too. He got a shitty night’s sleep and felt like crap.

More panic on my end.

It was really hard going to orientation today at the new job with the panic and the knowing that my boyfriend was on the other coast missing me. We’re both wondering what we’re doing.

It was an 11 hour day today and I’ve still got to get cracking on my taxes. I’m going to bury my head for a week. I’ll be back when this (tax) hell is over and then I can deal with the hell of missing “D”.

*sobs*


PS. At my last job, I was gifted with a BB Bold 9700 but it was “locked”. I found a site where they unlocked my blackberry for free (and it worked). I told the site owner that I’d happily link to him to help his SEO. That’s what I do for a living…so, glad I could help someone in this area.

Vegas, Baby

Posted on | September 28, 2011 | 2 Comments

Things I’ll be doing over the next few days:

  • Watching an ice hockey tournament. (done)
  • Meeting a gestational surrogate named Michele. (done)
  • 2010 taxes (and preparing for pain). (haven’t touched them so far)
  • Tanning poolside (if I dare to get into a bikini). (done)
  • Enjoying room service. (done)
  • Sleeping in. (sorta done)
  • BD without the B part. (done!!)
  • Fine dining. (eh, nothing “fine” yet)
  • An in-and-out double double, protein burger, animal style. Maybe two. (done!)
  • Clubbing.
  • Shopping.
  • Seeing an old friend perform at the Las Vegas Hilton. (done!)
  • Hopefully not working too much. If at all.

Wish I could say more, but you know the rule:

What happens in Vegas….

Moving onto gestational surrogacy and things west

Posted on | September 18, 2011 | 7 Comments

I think I am finally committed to the new path which is gestational surrogacy (GS). I’ve created a profile and have joined a new community where it seems women are OK with helping someone of my age.

It sounds as though I should find an “experienced” GS so that I don’t have to worry about whether she can manage the injections and instructions without freaking. Some of the criteria for the ideal GS:

  • Experienced (previous TS or GS journey)
  • Birth within the last few years
  • No more than 3 c-sections (creates scar tissue and can also have higher chance of uterine rupture)
  • BMI < 30
  • Previous uncomplicated births (no gestational diabetes, preeclapsia, incompetent cervix, etc)
  • Has insurance that covers surrogacy
  • Willing to reduce or terminate for Downs or other scary stuff (I’m on board with twins so no selective reduction on my end unless it’s a life-threatening risk factor
  • Lives in California (which is the most surrogate friendly state in the union

I think that’s about it.


Newsflash:

I’ve alluded to something big coming up…and it has.

I accepted a job offer back in the Silicon Valley at a fabulous “dotcom” and am returning to California on October 8th. I am relieved to have found a kick ass job back home (one title lower than I currently have but the same responsibilties -I’ll regain my title in 1 year if I “perform”, and I will work my tush off to do just that). They are also relocating me fully, which felt quite generous. I am so grateful to be going home. I miss my mom, my friends, the sunsets, the fabulous life style…I feel like a huge weight is lifting from my soul

The east coast nearly killed me. I love my  “role” at my current job, but whenever our team has had an opening, my manger has explicitely stated that “my team is in NY” and has rejected all out of the area candidates. So moving my role to SF wasn’t an option. I also tried to find a new role within my company…and in six months I wasn’t able to find anything suitable.

So I’m jumping ship.

My other half isn’t joining me as his job won’t let him leave (yet). I’ll fly to NY once a month for 9 days and he’ll fly to SF once a month for 7 days. My new manager is on board with me being “remote” a week a month. Thank god.  This pattern should last until next August at the latest. The ex is also on the east coast with their two boys and she “says” she’s moving back to California next August as well. We’ll see.

We’re going to rake up the frequent flier miles over the next year, that’s for sure.

Beta: More of the same

Posted on | September 16, 2011 | 2 Comments

Beta was yesterday and it was another negative. Less than 2. No one was surprised.

Progesterone was 10. TEN. After days of 1.2g of progesterone a day. What the hell?

The RE thinks I should try again and do a cycle where we start me on humira or enbrel for at least 30 days before starting the cycle. (Back to the Dr. Beer protocol). I can try that again, but holy fuck I think I’ve already done every possible permutation.

I’m meeting a GS in Vegas in a few weeks….turning a new leaf. I’m going to try my hardest to find a GS to do a few cycles with.

If that doesn’t work I can:

1. move onto donor egg or donor embryo, or

2. think about adoption, or

3. give up.

All three options make me feel like I have a flying saucer in my stomach.

Not looking forward to the morning

Posted on | September 14, 2011 | 1 Comment

My beta’s scheduled for 8:15AM tomorrow morning. I’ve got the lab slip with STAT written all over it but for good measure I think I’ll highlight them so that the asswipes at the quest labs on the west side don’t forget to run it STAT like they did last time. I’m going to drive into the city as I have to hit the lab at 8:15AM and then get to work for a 9AM meeting.

My days are always this crazy. And, to boot, somewhere in between that blood draw and the meeting I will need to find parking in NYC.

Good freaking luck.

At any rate, I should know by late tomorrow afternoon what the result is.

But I don’t need a stinking b-hcg to tell me this cycle failed.

My lack of cramps tell me that. Actually, the disappearance of my cramps tells me that. They were there at all the right times and then they weren’t. They were here and there a bit, very fleetingly, over the last few days, but I honestly think it’s more progesterone than anything. I can feel a few twinges right now, as I type, but I know that it’s probably just the freakishly hard Ikea chair that I’m sitting on (thing is so hard I think it’s cutting off the blood supply to my entire arse!)

I stopped peeing on sticks two days ago because the white was just too glaring. Too disappointing. I’m still taking my meds like the good little patient I try to be.

All I know is that on the way home from work tomorrow, I’ll be stopping at the corner bistro for their 2-for-1 Wednesday night martini special.

I have an appointment next Wednesday afternoon to meet the famous Dr. G (a RI) on the UES. He’s the guy who loves prescribing DHEA. I just want to get a sanity check on whether all the immune stuff I did makes sense to him. Were there any stone that we didn’t over turn. My RE, Dr. R, doesn’t care for him. Says he prescribes DHEA left and right without any studies behind it. Interesting.

But for a $35 copay, I can get another opinion. I just want some closure before I plan the next “thing”, which is really starting to look like gestational surrogacy.

I’ll be back on the west coast next month, the land of sane surrogacy laws. Thank you god/dess. Hopefully Plan B will start to take shape.

6DT4DT: All quiet on the eastern (soon to be western) front

Posted on | September 11, 2011 | 5 Comments

I feel nothing, except fat from steroids.

No cramps, no twinges, no aches.

Nothing.

Ever since the stabbing cramps happened my other symptoms, those that felt like “implantation”, disappeared entirely as they did in previous cycles.

I’m on shitloads of progesterone. At least 1.2g a day. I ordered 400mg suppositories in addition to my crinone and endometrin. One would expect (at least) craps from the insane amounts of progesterone that I am cramming up my hoo-hah, but…not here.

I’ve been talking with another immune patient (“K”) who lives in Southern California. She’s also a patient of my first RI out in the Bay Area. While she has secondary IF, she, too, experiences the stabbing cramps with each cycle and also experiences a complete loss of her pg symptoms the next day. She and I emailed back and forth the last few days. She concurred that the dull achy symptoms of implantation are completely different than the shocking, stabbing pain of whatever else is going on in our bodies.

It’s sad to know that someone else is experiencing this horrible frustration, but I am also relieved to know that I’m not alone. If there are enough women with this symptom AND with implantation failure, maybe, just maybe, there is a way to figure out what the hell it is.

But I’m 46. There’s not much time for me to figure it out.

After this cycle has gone bust, and before I depart permanently for places west (yes, that is an impending fact), I’m going to see the famous RI Dr. “G” for a quick consult to get his two cents on the matter. I’ve had 4 reproductive immunologists in my IVF career. What’s one more?

5DT4DT: Getting out of the house

Posted on | September 10, 2011 | 2 Comments

Since transfer on Sunday, I’ve only left the house once and it was to drive the BF to the train station a half mile away on a rainy morning. I decided to not go into work this time. At all. I simply notified my team that I would be WFH for a week and would see them next Monday.

Today was my first jaunt outdoors on foot. I peeled off the pajamas that I’d been wearing since at least Tuesday or Wednesday and tossed myself into the shower. I follow the TCM idea of not getting your head wet/cold while cycling so I didn’t bother to wash my hair. Still, it felt good to finally shave my legs and put on outside clothes.

I actually HAD to go out today, though. I’m supposed to stay on my doxycyline for one more day and I was out. It probably didn’t matter if I did just one more day (actually 3 doses counting tonight’s), but I was sorta welcoming getting outside. The thermometer said it was 86 outside and really beckoned.

So I tossed my ever-so-full sharps box and tossed it into my bag, grabbed some clothes and dropped them off at the dry cleaner, and made my way to the pharmacy shop down the street.

The pharmacist is at the back of the store and I headed straight there and handed one of the pharmacists my script for three day’s worth of doxy. I put my sharps container on the counter. Realizing that I was hogging up the counter, I slid my things over to let a lady probably not much younger than I approach the counter while I waited for my doxy.

She says to the pharmacist, “I’ll take a box of the clear blue.”

My stomach sinks as I fear I’m being surrounded by the hopelessly fertile and probably pregnant.

But as I see her husband come up to pay for them, I wonder if they are the hopelessly fertile….or….are they yet another couple doing IVF. How many men go with their wives to buy HPTs? Maybe those that have been trying a hell of a lot?

I shrug it off, pay my bill, and continue to grab a few groceries.

At the other counter by the front door, the two cashiers are talking about which prenatal vitamins are better. “What will I take when I’m pregnant if I’m taking prenatals NOW?”, one girl asked. The other said, “I started to take these prenatals and they make me SOOO hungry.”

What the heck?

I step out of the door for the first time in 5 days and I’m suddenly overrun with the probably-pregnant and prenatal-popping-cashiers.

I’m not sure whether to take it as a sign or to just think my radar is up juts a bit too much. I feel so hyperaware of the fertility that surrounds me.

No more stabbing cramps today. A few times where I had very subtle dull achy cramps but nothing like I had last night.

A girlfriend of mine who is 20 weeks along with twins from donor eggs and sperm said that she had AF type cramps on and off for two days around implantation and then nothing. Nothing.

So I’ll keep hopeful, but the HPTs were once again snow white today.

4DP4DT

Posted on | September 9, 2011 | 1 Comment

Embryos are 8 days old and should have implanted by now. But I’m feeling pessimistic.

I had stabbing uterine pains on Tuesday and again yesterday. I’ve had these for most or all of my IVF cycles and I really think they are the uterine NK cells (CD57+) attacking the embryos. I wrote to my immunologist when they first started and he said I could take 10mg of prednisone. When they got worse, I upped it to 20mg a day (with his permission). I know some immune gals take a lot more.

One gal that I email shared a RAFS (Reproductive Autoimmune Failure Syndrome) protocol with me (she has elevated APAs, as do I most of the time):

  • Starting on day of stims, start prednisone 10mg daily (5mg am and 5mg pm)

  • Continue on through to trigger.
  • Then increase for 4 days to 60mg (to cover ER and ET).
  • Then come back down to 20mg until preg test.
  • If positive, immediately increase again to 40mg, test APA’s and stay on Pred as long as APA’s are positive.

(Note: Thanks to J for sharing this with me – hopefully this will help others, too).

Not sure what else I can do. I’ve done neupogen, intralipids, LIT, IVIG, humira, enbrel, steroids. There’s not much I haven’t tried to keep my body from killing them off.

I am quite sad, but not stressed out to the point that I’m jeopardizing things. I’m not moping or tearful. It’s more the feeling of, “Fuck, this AGAIN?” The money is one thing, but what is worse it that I have so little time left.

Always, gnawing at me, literally speaking: my left ovary has been really uncomfortable since retrieval. It’s like a weird gnawing feeling that just doesn’t go away. It’s probably an adhesion or something but I envision that there is going to be another lap in my future to sort it out. Ugh. I seriously need to have my belly button redone after all these surgeries. :(

I had some dull uterine aches today but it seemed to be after I put in my progesterone. I wondered if it was the coldness of the suppositories but it also happened with room temperature crinone. Maybe I am just getting a reaction from whatever it is in them that makes them solid or in a gel form? I get hopeful when I get these sort of cramps as it makes me think something might be happening in there.

I had a lot of breast and lower ab swelling right after transfer but I am thinking that perhaps it’s just my body’s way of reaction to the HCG trigger and processing it out. I figure, at trigger you take a 10,000iu shot of HCG, the pregnancy hormone. That’s a helluva lot of HCG and I’m not sure what the blood value would be if you took a b-HCG right after a shot. Some girls write that they have pregnancy symptoms with a beta of 300, which has got to be a LOT lower than what you have after trigger so I imagine that the swollen breasts and cramps are from the HCG and their disappearance in the last few days is just my body processing it out rather than my losing a possible pregnancy. I can’t tell you how many cycles it took for me to figure that one out. I wish they would tell you to expect the “pregnancy” symptoms to disappear over the next week or so, but not to panic or infer what it means. But they don’t.

So, I’ve been POAS every day as I usually do. I bought some cheapies on Amazon but the quality isn’t as good as it used to be. I don’t think they are as sensitive as those I’ve bought in the past. The trigger was last seen yesterday so today was the first day where the HPT was completely white. The HCG from the trigger is gone, completely and I’ll been looking at my HPTs with hawk eye precision from tomorrow onward.

keep looking »
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