Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It's 10 PM: Do you know where your embryos are?

Today was the first of two procedures that constitute the IVF process: egg retrieval. After a week or so of nightly injections and daily pills, my follicles (the thingy-ma-jigs that hold your eggs inside the ovary) were ready to be  aspirated.

I was a little nervous for the procedure, only because it requires anesthesia and a long needle being inserted into my nether regions. I've only been under anesthesia twice, once in fourth grade to have my adenoids taken out, and the other in high school with my wisdom teeth removal. Both are not fond memories, but this was easy. As soon as they put me under, I was coming right back out, and after ten minutes of being a little loopy and professing my love to the anesthesiologist (I literally said, "I just want you to know I really like you," in a drunken idiot voice), I was good to go. A little cramping, a little tired, but that's it. I would have even worked out today, but I figured I wasn't supposed to, so I didn't. Honestly, the worst part was that I couldn't eat or drink anything after midnight last night. What?! Not even water! Ask my husband what I'm like when I don't get to eat breakfast or drink coffee. It's not pretty. But once I got a ginger ale and a Nutter Butter, I was happy as a... well, as a fat girl with a Nutter Butter in her mouth.

All in all, the procedure was a total success, except, of course, for the part where they only retrieved three eggs. I know that very few, if any, of my blog readers (ha ha ha- I think I still have blog readers!) know or care about IVF, so I'll spare you the details. The point is that most women end up with 10, 15, 20 or more eggs. Of course, you only need one, but the more you have, the higher your chance of having some really awesome embryos to choose from. More eggs also give you more eggs to freeze, so if the procedure doesn't work, you've already got some good embryos to work with. Three eggs doesn't give us a lot of wiggle room.

This is the first time since the process started that I've really gotten nervous. I'm afraid that none of them will fertilize, or that they won't survive until the transfer, or that there won't be any good ones to choose, or that they won't implant....blah, blah, blah. I can't really focus on anything other than being nervous about it, which is a terrible idea. I wish I knew how to turn off the worry button, but I don't.

It's also weird to know that in a doctor's office 45 minutes away, our potential child is growing- not in my body, but in a little dish. I suppose that knowledge should be freeing. There is nothing I can do physically to help the process or mess it up today. Soon, it will be my responsibility to house this embryo again, but right now, I'm sort of off the hook.

But it doesn't feel that way. It feels like there is a piece of me and Mike out there, and I have no control over whether or not it makes it through one of the toughest couple of days of its life.

So I'm trying not really to stay positive, but to stay neutral. Que Sera Sera and all of that. Whatever will be, will be. My girlfriend Amy likes to remind me to accept that there are thing beyond my control that I have to let go of. So, I will try to spend the next three to five days doing that as best I can.Stay tuned for more of me trying to stay sane/freaking out.

Post Egg Retrieval selfie- the drugs had me feelin' pretty good

I wasn't joking about the Nutter Butter

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Either Way

So, I'm back again to hijack my own blog for a few weeks. Though, let's be honest, can you really hijack an abandoned building? Anyway, a blog called "You and Me and Ella B" might not be the right place for the posts that will follow over the next couple of weeks, but would you want to read a blog titled "Me and My Super Annoying Uterus"? No, I didn't think so, though that would be the perfect title because my super annoying, totally lame uterus is the subject of this new series of posts..... still there? Great. Then let's gets started.

As many of you know, Mike and I have been trying to conceive our second child for almost two years now. We tried on our own for a year and then completed three failed IUI's (Inseminations) last summer. Since then, we've continued trying on our own, hoping for the best, but knowing that IVF (In-vitro fertilization) was the eventual end route.

So, here we are, two years later. It's hard to believe that I thought I'd have a one-year-old by now. It's hard to believe that I have spent two years wishing and hoping and waiting. Mostly, I can't believe how much this has consumed and affected my life for the past two years. I was shocked to not fall pregnant immediately. After all, we got pregnant right away with Ella, and pregnancy was something I completely took for granted. I felt bad for my friends and relatives who struggled to conceive, knowing that would never be me. And here I am, two years of trying, three failed IUI's, countless blood tests, ultrasounds, needles, uterus scraping, hours spent hopeful, and just as many hours spent disappointed.

Infertility is a unique kind of pain. It is not a sharp pain that slowly disappears over time. It is a pain that rises and falls to a regular beat. Each month brings hope, and each month leaves you more disappointed, feeling like that idiot girl who keeps chasing after a boy who doesn't want her. The darkest time was after our third failed IUI. Because I have conceived a child naturally, and because there are no known fertility issues with either of us, the doctor and nurses assured me that the insemination would be successful. To hear the doctor say that he was shocked it didn't work was disconcerting to say the least. Before that, I had been upset that it was taking so long for me to get pregnant, but it wasn't until that moment that I began to fear not simply "when" but "if" I would get pregnant again. The realization that this might not happen for us hit me hard. I could not help feeling that if I didn't get pregnant again that something would be missing from my life. As with many elements of motherhood, this feeling lead only to guilt and shame. What kind of mother and wife am I if I don't feel like my husband and child are enough? What right do I have to be sad when the world has given me so many blessings?

I had to learn to navigate these feelings and find a duality somehow. I had to learn that I can both feel a longing for something out of reach, and joy in what I already have. This has been a struggle, but one that I think I've come close to overcoming.

A few weeks ago Mike and I were working in the yard. Ella was playing by herself (she just learned how to swing without help- thank the lord), and we were both actually getting stuff done, something everyone who has children knows rarely happens. It was a beautiful day, and I was gardening in the sunshine, and I suddenly felt like, "This is good. This is a nice life. Things could be just like this, and it would  be okay." That was the first time in two years that I had felt that way- that I didn't need another child to complete my life. My life is complete. It will get better and worse all the time. That's the nature of life, but there is no missing puzzle piece under the couch that will make everything perfect. Another child certainly won't make my life perfect. Do you know what babies are like?! They definitely don't make life easier. Another child would be a blessing, the beginning of a new, difficult, frustrating, and satisfying puzzle. I hope I receive that puzzle as a gift one day soon, but maybe, just maybe, it's okay if I never get it.

This might, then, seem like a strange time to begin IVF, but I actually think it's the perfect time. I've been so afraid to do it because I know it's the last option. If it doesn't work, then we will probably never get pregnant, and I'm afraid of what that finality will do to me. I've finally gotten to a good place, and part of me is reluctant to enter this emotional roller coaster again. But I'm starting to look at it with fresh eyes, to understand that this journey may lead to a wonderful gift, a gift I will appreciate way more than I could have two years ago, but the worst thing that could possibly happen is that I'll have exactly what I have right now, and that's a lot. 

So, here we go. First night of injections down. Wish us luck. Check back in if you're so inclined, and thanks for listening.