Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Let's Be Real

Have you ever written a post when you were so angry that your hands were literally shaking?  No?  I hadn't until just now, and it's probably a big mistake, but oh well, I need to write about this and haven't because I cared too much about people 1. being rude, 2. expressing pity, 3. acting like it's no big deal.

Well, you know what?  Screw all of the people who would have those responses.  I feel really angry right now and I want to be open about why.

Jon and I have been trying to get pregnant since May 2010.  A little less than a year after we got married.  Do the math and you will see that it's going on 2.5 years that we have been trying.  In this amount of time I have seen people get married and pop out two children, and although I am happy for them, every time I see a birth announcement, ultrasound, or "I'm going to be a big sister/brother" post on Facebook it still feels like a stab in the heart.

Now, this is where you are probably thinking, why haven't they gone to a doctor?  Well, we have.  We had a diagnosable issue that was addressed with medication and Jon and I were both considered in good health.  Since it had been more than a year since we started trying, we sought the help of a fertility specialist, who, after getting the hormone levels worked out with a medication, said we would be great candidates for IUI.  Well, six months down the road and three failed IUI attempts later, the doctor said we had to move on to the big guns, IVF.

Minimal stimulation IVF involves oral medication to increase the number of follicles that hold eggs.  Then, daily shots to increase the size of the eggs and another daily shot that prevents the eggs from ovulating on their own.  Finally, when they get to a good size, I trigger the eggs to be released with two shots of HCG and go into the doctor for a procedure where they remove the eggs.  To help along the process, an awesome embryologist takes a sample from Jon, picks out the best sperm, and using a robotic arm with a microscopic needle, injects one sperm into each retrieved egg.  What is now formed is an embryo that is observed for two days to ensure that it is maturing properly and then the best two are transferred back into the uterus. Strict bedrest is enforced for two days after embryo transfer to allow the embryos the best possible chance of implantation and vigorous exercise as well as lifting items over 10 pounds are prohibited until a blood pregnancy test can be administered 12 days after transfer.

So, that's sort of the science behind IVF.  Here are some stats from our IVF cycle.  We had 4 healthy eggs retrieved and all 4 were fertilized and survived the ICSI process.  After two days of observation, the healthiest embryos were selected for transfer (we had a 9 celled AB quality embryo and an 8 celled A quality embryo).  I was on bedrest and spent a relaxing weekend watching TV and reading.  The other 2 embryos were observed for progress so that they could be frozen and used in future cycles to have more children.  Sadly, neither of the "extra" embryos survived to become blastocysts.  We were reassured at this stage that although those two did not make it, the environment in the uterus is much more friendly to embryos and that all was well.  My hormone levels were checked and I diligently took a shot of progesterone in the hip every morning and tracked my weight and waist.

Fast forward 12 days.  This morning we went in for our HCG beta test, to find out if the embryos took.  Upon arrival we were warmly greeted and everyone happily joked that we would have good news in an hour and a half when the blood work came back.  I should have realized that when it took three tries to get the blood sample that nothing good was going to happen.  The results came back negative.  My HCG level was less than 1.  Jon was loving enough to be the one to take the call and share the bad news with me.  The doctor got lucky because I might have cussed him out if I had been the first to talk to him.  After talking to Jon for a moment, the doctor wanted to talk to me and ask me questions about a family history of miscarriage.  A history that I brought up 8 months ago and he chose to blow off.  I was even taking baby aspirin at the time to deal with what I thought could be a problem and he told me to stop, for fear that it would thin my blood which could cause excessive bleeding during egg retrieval.  I really appreciated being told by the nurses that only 1 in 10 IVF transfers don't take and that we had such great odds of things working.  It sure made me feel great to be the 1 in 10 for whom it did not work.  Well, thanks doc, for saying things like, With the quality of the embryos it should have worked, we'll just have to do some blood work to figure things out.  Oh, and thanks doc, for faxing the order into the lab by my house, but, coding everything the wrong way so that I had to wait an hour for you to take their call and get things clarified.  Oh, and thanks doc, for taking their call and rather than listening to the lab tech chick when she tried to get answers to her questions, you just told her that the results from this morning were correct and that I was not in fact pregnant so that when she got off of the phone she apologized five times for my unfortunate circumstances.  Oh, and thanks doc, for ordering a test that costs $750 and is not covered by insurance to run a genetic test for a disorder of which my family has no history.  Oh, and the solution for the disorder is to take 2 to 3 times the recommended dose of folic acid?  I'm pretty sure it doesn't cost $750 to buy folic acid supplements from Costco.  Thanks also for not having an answer for the lab tech chick and rather than you calling her back with the answer, you had your secretary call my cell phone to give me the answer.  I had a great time putting your secretary on hold while I waited for lab tech chick to finish running drug tests for the other two people in the waiting area.  It was just a blast spending that much time in the Lab Corp waiting area feeling angry and ready to cry.  But really, thanks lab tech chick for being so nice about things, I know you hate your job, but you were really nice to me.  Oh, and thanks to the Wendy's fast food guy for giving me my first taste of soda/caffeine/DrPepper in a month when I left the lab to come home and vent to my dog.  Oh and thanks to the Red Cross, for calling to see if I'll donate blood tomorrow.  I'm pretty sure that after 4 needle pricks and 4 vials of blood today I don't want to go.  Call me next week and I'll be there, but today is not such a good day to say you want to do anything with my blood.

So, there.  That's why I am so angry that my hands are shaking as I type.  I'm sick of infertility and not knowing why.

To diffuse this anger and help you see that I am not a bitter witch I will say this, I am grateful that I live in a time when all of this is diagnosable.  I am grateful that the doctor called in labs to try to find an answer as to why things didn't work.  I am grateful to have such an affordable doctor who is really qualified and probably just as stumped by my body as I am.  I am grateful that knowing I'm not pregnant means that I can ride every ride at Lagoon this Halloween and enjoy all of the rides at Disneyland when we go for Mickey's Halloween party.  I wish that I were not able to ride them, but I can't change what's already happened.  I'm also grateful to have such a supportive family and amazing group of friends who offer prayers and comfort but also know that it's okay to just be MAD.  I'm grateful that even though this outcome is not at all what I wanted, that rather than praying for a baby, we all along have been praying for God's will to happen.  I kind of hate that His will doesn't match mine right now, but He's got more experience than I do, so I just need to accept all of this.  I just wish that for once there could be good news for us.  Like I said, I'm happy when other people get good news, but it still hurts inside.  So, thanks for letting me be real and let you know about this life experience that we are having.  Sorry there are no pictures, but hey, I included some educational links.