Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Anniversary of the Great Egg Hunt

*originally posted April 15, 2009)*

Today is an interesting anniversary of sorts. Not a typical 5 year milestone that one would mark as "special" on the calendar. Although from my perspective it was quite memorable. In actual fact, unforgettable.

April 15, 2004 was Ovum Retrieval Day.

I remember it almost as if it were yesterday.


After five unsuccessful tries at IUI over the course of over a year, our first scheduled IVF cycle began late March 2004. By the time O/R day came, I had already subjected myself to a couple of weeks of Lupron and Puregon injections, and subjected others around me to my raging hormonal tendencies. And as we tried not to have our life stand still because of our attempts for baby #2, many of these shots were taken at social functions. I would just excuse myself and go to the bathroom, dial up the pen to appropriate level of FSH prescribed for the day based on the daily blood results ... and *BAM* shoot myself in the thigh. Let's just say I carried around a big purse.

I was lucky, though, for one of our closest friends told me that I didn't have the "IVF face". The puffy fertility drug visage that apparently some women can sport as a result of the cocktails pumped into already tired bodies - bypassed me. So although I was churning on the inside, the outside world didn't have a clue.


The morning of the O/R was of course fraught with all manner of logistical issues. I had booked a day off, but still needed to bring the boy to daycare. The problem was that we had to be at the clinic before the daycare was open. The plan was to get to the clinic in time for my prep, then the man had to do what he had to do, and then he would take our little guy to daycare. After which he'd come back to the clinic to pick me up and bring me home to rest. And no one would be the wiser.

Except one little wise man. After I was prepped and ready in my gown, Daddy had to go provide his sample in the -ahem- special room. As he got up to leave, the boy asked, "Daddy, where are you going?"

Both of us frazzled with the situation, we had to do some really quick thinking on our feet. So we came up with "Oh, Daddy is going to have a check-up just like Mommy is today'. The boy seemed content with that. What a relief.

While Ian went to do his thing, my little guy stayed with me. It was exciting but nerve-wracking at the same time. It was also very helpful having my boy with me, my little man who would be turning 4 years old in a matter of days. A great distraction. Did you know that the average 4 year old asks about 457 questions a day? Including...

"Hi Daddy, how was your check up? Are you okay?" as the man came back upstairs with his paper bag.

"Yup, everything's just fine. All is good with Daddy."


He handed the nurse the bag for processing and off the boys went. Daddy and our boy also left.

And I was taken into the O/R room, feeling very bloated and nervous, but happy that there were multiple follicles. After trading pleasantries with the doctors, I lay back as they started with the ultrasound, and gave me something to relax. I faded out of consciousness. The day had finally come.


I woke up a bit groggy in the recovery room. I was sore, feeling like someone had ventured into my reproductive plumbing, scrounged around and hoovered up some hidden treasures.

Oh yeah, somebody just had.

But I knew exactly where I was and what had happened. As I sipped on the apple juice they provided to me while I waited for Ian to pick me up, I asked the nurse how everything had gone.

I guess the Easter bunny had left some good egg karma that year.

They retrieved a dozen eggs. From my closer-to-40-than-35 year old body. A perfect dozen.

(To be continued).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hidden in a drawer

(originally posted 11/13/08)

...buried under all the bedside table junk, was a piece of nostalgia that I suppose I just could not throw away.

It was my daily point of reference, my calculator, my diary, my medical chart ... all rolled into one. It was my life captured in a Milk calendar.

In reality, there were a few years' worth of calendars marked for "easy at a glance" viewing. I wasn't crazy enough to keep all of them, though. But this snapshot was a critical one. I should probably get it embossed.

I haven't posted about my infertility story in a while. Not because I'm avoiding it ... although the subject does take a lot out of me, much of which I have buried deep within. The story just deserves more than what a NaBloPoMo'd mind can give.

So the posts, they will be coming.

(This Flashback hosted by Colleen at Mommy Always Wins ... )

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Break and the Reason

The place: Stratford, Ontario, for an offsite work meeting.

The background: The fall of 2003. About a week after finding out that our fifth IUI (intrauterine insemination), did not take.

The straw: A colleague of mine at this training program admitted that she was indeed expecting.

The camel's back: I excused myself, went to the ladies' room, made sure no one else was there, got into a stall. And broke down. I could not take it any longer.


How did it come to this?

The stress of the scheduling was a huge factor. With the travel and meetings in our work schedules getting in the way, it took close to a year to complete the five cycles. The frustration was bringing us down as well. We were exhausted, emotionally and physically drained. And we still had a very active preschooler to deal with. How fair was this all to him?

The running around each cycle, dealing with the traffic, getting to the lab for daily bloodwork, ultrasounds and the waiting and waiting. The drugs weren't helping my temperament much either. Feeling bloated and cranky 24/7 had actually become the norm.

An open concept office. That was wonderful. At least when we were trying for baby number one, I had a real door. But with the company move, management decided that everyone under VP status did not need a door. In the spirit of working together, better apparently, we all became Les Nessman noobs.

There's nothing like having to track down a small conference room or shut yourself into a filing room to find the privacy to make these "results of the month" calls. I'd whisper quietly into the receiver, keeping my fingers crossed that no one would come in or need the room at the last minute. Then I would anxiously wait for the results of the blood tests taken earlier in the day.

Sometimes the response was compassionate: "So sorry, sweetheart. Maybe next time."

Other times, not so sweet: "Nope. Negative. Bye."

I don't know which I preferred. The news was the same, so in the end what did it matter?

Five times too many. Five times of having to clench my teeth, wipe away my tears, pray that my face wasn't too red, and compose myself before walking back into the office with an efficient clip. As if nothing had happened. As if my womb, still-empty of baby, didn't hold the weight of my heavy, sunken heart. We knew the chances of IUI being successful after more than three times were very small. The law of diminishing returns was in full force.

During the period of the IUIs, we had started looking into adoption. That information package was still sitting there for us to look at again.

Ian was as supportive as ever. He always maintained that he was happy with the status quo. The urge for baby #2 was mostly mine, an inexplicable obsession. But he would welcome a second baby, and had very positive thoughts about adoption. In fact, as we were looking at adoption in China, it might have been a way to fulfill a dream of his own ... to have a 100% Asian baby. We used to joke about that when we were first married; he's always maintained that Asian babies are just the cutest...but I'd respond that if that was indeed what he wanted with our kids, well, his procreative involvement would be problematic.

But I had to be honest with myself. Was this IT for us? The end of the roller coaster? Was I not willing to go the next step? Did I not have enough in me to make that huge leap into IVF land? Did we have enough in u$ to start down the slippery slope of hope?

So we were at a crossroads.

We decided we needed a break. After two years and five IUI's, the next cycle - it came and went. No poking, testing, ultrasounds, shots, stirrups, samples, tubes - nothing. We took the time to gather our thoughts, digest everything and decide what made sense for us, for our family.

In November, we came to an agreement. We would proceed with one IVF cycle. And take it one cycle at a time. How could we not? I never in a million years thought we would have to go this far. But we had to at least try.

So over Christmas, instead of another frantic month, we took it easy. Enjoyed our time with our boy. But we did attend an IVF orientation. We signed the papers, brought the information, including all of the presciptions necessary, home with us. I made another appointment for the new year to learn how to self-inject.

Taking a look at our calendars, the earliest we could schedule our first IVF cycle was in April.


Something to look forward to in the spring.


My musical memory: this was 3.5 year old L's fave tune at the time...
(okay, I'll admit it, it was me trying to train my kid to become the next hot Eurasian lead singer of a hot band ;)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

That was My Life

(Originally posted August 25/08)

Artificial Insemination. Something that's always sounded so foreign to me; foreign as in "out of this world - alien". If you had asked me when I was younger whether it would become a crucial part of my world for well over a year, I would never, ever have believed it.

When we signed up with the clinic to begin our quest for our second child, we felt that we knew the score. We decided based on my age, and our lack of success conceiving the traditional way (we're way too radical, don't you know?) ... we would bypass the drug and timed intercourse step and go straight to AI, or IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), a more commonly used term nowadays.

Or why don't we just call it the turkey baster method? Why leave anything to chance, when a tube will do?

So we were back on the Clomid and monitoring train again. We had the boy in daycare fulltime so that was at least covered. Either I or the man would drop our boy off early and I would head to the clinic for blood work before getting back to the office by 8:30 AM. No one at work would be the wiser.

Especially if I wore sleeves all the time. Oh, the poking. And lucky me, my phlebotomist could never get blood on the first prick. NEVER. We would have to switch arms so often, I would forget which arm she did each day (as we tried to alternate). And it would KILL me; as if the whole process wasn't bad enough, I would be guaranteed to have a major bruise on either or both arms as a result. (I don't get it, she was a nice enough lady, but this was her job, and from other discussions in the waiting room, I wasn't the only one who dreaded seeing her every morning...).

The transvaginal ultrasounds, they weren't everyday. They had everything timed so that I should only have to come in for an U/S once per cycle, based on the levels of hormones in my bloodwork. I would keep my fingers crossed that there would be multiple follicles, and that they would be progressing well. If the follicles were large enough, then we could time the HCG shot, and schedule the IUI. And I would make up some excuse for coming in late to work if IUI day happened during the week.

To say this was stressful was such an understatement. I felt very alone in the process - I couldn't help but feel it. I would go for the monitoring on my own; I would wait in the waiting room for my u/s... be given the instructions for the HCG shot. It wasn't that Ian wasn't involved or was detaching himself from the process; there was only so much he could do. Of course the one thing he had to do on demand likely wasn't so much fun either.

The very first IUI I had done was a disaster. I went on my own for purely logistical reasons. The one thing that Ian and I had discussed was that I ask that the sample being used was the right one. I said to Ian that I was sure that they had the procedure in place to make sure of that, but he was adamant that I at least doublecheck.

As I lay there waiting for the doctor to come into the room (and I wasn't sure who it was going to be; there was a roster of doctors who rotated based on availability), I just proceeded to get more nervous as the minutes went by. When the doctor came in, he introduced himself, told me what to expect, what to do, and asked if I had any questions. So I asked.

And I got a big lecture on how these things are quality controlled, it was impossible for the wrong sample, this wasn't a 2-bit operation, the clinic had years of experience, yada, yada, yada... and here, take a look, is that your name?

GAWD!!! I was speechless, felt that I had been told right off. All I could do was lie back, let the procedure happen. And know that the chances of this particular one being successful were likely next to none.

It wasn't until later that I felt enraged. I felt it was within my rights to ask. But I just kept it in. After all, at this point, I really felt that I needed the clinic a lot more than they needed me. Just sitting in the waiting room, and waiting with other desperate people, that was evidence enough.

Funnily enough, after my first IUI, the clinic got an audit as they were being certified. I never got that particular doctor again (thank God) but before each of the next procedures took place, I had to look at the sample, read the name, and sign off that I had checked it. I guess it wasn't such a stupid question after all.

But no matter, another 4 attempts at IUI, scheduled in and around the nightmare of SARS, 2003 was not the productive year we had hoped it would be. At my fourth procedure, I asked the nurse how often people usually go with the IUI step before moving on. She said on average, about six times. So we made an appointment to speak with our doctor again.

After our fifth failed attempt, in the late fall of 2003, we decided to stop with the IUIs. I was going nuts with all the failures; I was driving the man nuts; and although I'm sure our little boy wasn't feeling any ill effects as a result of my obsession, I didn't want it to get to the point where he WOULD start feeling them.

We had a major decision to make.


A big hit of 2003 - I still prefer the original Talk Talk version, but Gwennie, she didn't do too bad a job of it.

Testing, Testing

(Originally posted August 11/08)


It seems each doctor has differing nuances in their fertility protocol. And I suppose they must do their due diligence. That's what makes it rather frustrating to the average patient. You really feel most times as if you have absolutely no control.

I wanted my new ob/gyn to give me a "go straight to fertility clinic" card, given my previous history. But of course she couldn't until she felt she had checked everything out. Again. More delays. Things may have changed a bit since actually having a pregnancy and giving birth. You couldn't fault her for not being thorough.

Blood tests. Man tests. More temperature monitoring and charting. And then the lovely experience called the HSG. Again.

Remember the last time? This occasion I decided to go it alone, and left my boy with my parents. No need for the hubs to come with me, after all, he'd already seen the picture a few years ago and my tubes looked as hot now as they did back then.

It was a different hospital this time, though. With shiny, brand-spanking new equipment. Boy, this was going to be fun.

Except it wasn't. I now know what if must feel like for my car to get an oil change. The platform I was on was raised, the dye injected. It all felt very mechanical. I've never felt the same at a Jiffy Lube since.

The dye didn't permeate on the one side as quickly as it should have, so they gave me another hit... which just proceeded to go nowhere except translate into physical pain. Oy. If they weren't blocked before, they certainly felt it this time.

Turns out one of the tubes was possibly blocked. Or maybe not. There was a little bubble that could have been a fibroid. The good news was that at least one was clear. And one is all you need. Well, we would have to see about that. Sore, but at least that question partially answered, we moved on.


Next up: the post-coital test. Fun WOW. Now this one we hadn't had before. And I am very glad of that, because there is no need in this world to have it more than once. Current research even questions the value of this test nowadays. For those of you who haven't experienced this firsthand, it goes something like this:

Doctor: Okay, everything looks pretty normal on the individual front. Let's see if there are issues with you guys as a team.

Me: (in my head: HUH???) Excuse me?

Doctor: On this day of your next cycle, I need you to have intercourse with your husband first thing in the morning and come to the office within a couple of hours. We'll take a swab and test it.

I guess they wanted to make sure that I didn't have a "hostile environment" for the hub's little guys. Which I thought was strange to do, seeing as we did have one child already. Could we all of a sudden have become allergic to one another?

Needless to say, it felt like I was being hauled to the principal's office after doing something terribly naughty. And being given a Pap for punishment. "Naughty" also wasn't the operative word, as said "deed" was not the fireworks-inspiring experience of a lifetime either. Wonder why?

But turns out these results were fine.

So after another several months of this "pre-infertility check to confirm that yes, indeedy, we were still inexplicably infertile" she FINALLY sent us to a fertility clinic. A clinic that was a pain and a half to get to traffic-wise. How in Hades was I going to get there every day? How was the little guy's daycare going to fit into all this? Who would drive when? How was I going to keep it all on the hush hush at work....All the negatives swirled around in my head.

As luck with have it, though, they were overrun with patients at this clinic and asked if we wouldn't mind going to their other location. And lo and behold, something positive. This alternate program was so much easier to access. We were back on track. Well, sort of, anyway.

It was 2002, over a year of TTC #2 and I was thirty-GULP-seven.

Tick tock, tick tock...

On the road to Little G

(Originally posted August 4/08)

It was decided.

When the boy was about 14 months old we embarked on the "second baby journey". As you’ve probably guessed, it was not to be an easy one.

After an unsuccessful several months of trying haphazardly on our own (no medical intervention) for baby #2 (haphazardly, because everything is a little less organized when you’ve got a busy toddler), I sat down with my doctor and asked her to provide me a referral to an ob/gyn.

The clock wasn’t turning back and I knew we didn’t have much time to waste. (I didn’t go back to my previous specialist, because he was downtown and we had by this time moved to the burbs). (And yes, I'm the queen of brackets.)

Me: “I was so hoping it would be easier for us this time around.”

Doctor: “Why would you think that?”

Me: “Aren’t your chances of conceiving a little better after you’ve already had a baby?”

Doctor: “Well, no. And given your history, it doesn’t surprise me. Why do you want another anyway? Honestly, it was such a hard road for you for your first baby.”

(sidenote: My doctor, who’s my age and has two boys around 12 and 14, is also my parents’ doctor, attended my wedding, and is somewhat of a friend of the family. So she knows EVERYTHING. And she likes to tell it like it is).

This was a really loaded question. Why does anyone want children; more than one child? How many is enough? How many aren't too many? Why did she want her second? Why did I feel I had to answer it anyway? Why didn't I have a smart comeback?

Me: “Well, Ian would be happy with what we have. And I can’t say that I’m unhappy, as the boy brings so much to our lives. But I think it would be nice for L to have a sibling. Someone for companionship, to share life’s load, you know, especially when we’re old and decrepit and need to be cared for. I don’t want it to be all on his shoulders.”

Doctor: “So essentially, you want another kid to take care of you. That’s nice.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s pretty much it. So give me the referral”. (Sarcasm dripping...)

I like to tell it like it is too. (edited to add; snark... a reason, but certainly NOT the prevailing one!)

And so my obsession began. I thought I was so prepared, almost felt like a pro. But actually was still so naive, and had no idea what was in store for us. Who knew it would be more frustrating and even more heartbreaking at times than our first four years at this game?


Let's see, it was 2001 ...

Hit Me Baby One More Time

(Originally posted July 31/08)

So when do you know that you’re ready to have baby number 2?

Or if you want to have baby number 2?

Because it was entirely conceivable that it would be impossible for us to conceive again. We hit the jackpot once; maybe we were meant to be a family of three. Our boy was our wonder; a beautiful, loving little character, who had us enthralled from the moment he was born. Shouldn't we have been so happy to be so blessed?

But still, the desire for another child gnawed. At me.

So when?

Is it when you realize that your biological clock is ticking on over drive?

Is it when you see this ...

And he shares this with you...

And he cracks you up with this...

that you realize that your baby is growing up quickly in front of your very eyes…

so quickly that you want to get that "baby feeling" back?

I took a deep breath and wondered if we could indeed do it again. Only now it was a couple years later, I was a couple years older. And perhaps not so much wiser.

I love rollercoasters, I really do, but this was flippin’ ridiculous.

Oh boy, here we go again ...