Truth be told, I don’t feel like writing. But then I got a comment from a sweet blog-friend and realized some of the ladies in cyberspace might actually want an update, so I decided to oblige. Maybe you don’t care, and that’s okay too.
We came home from Denver in the wee hours–some time in between the Red Sox winning the World Series (boo!) and Halloween, with its tiny people in costumes on my doorstep. It was not a charmed trip. There were the dumb things, like Obama’s visit to Boston delaying our flight home such that we barely made our connector into JFK (long story involving certain Jet Blue employees not knowing ass from elbow and having to go through security twice while literally jogging with luggage from gate to gate) and the fact that the weather was sunny and warm on all the days we were tethered to Denver for poking and prodding but rainy and cold on the days we were free to explore, which put the kibosh on any hopes of hiking in the mountains and left us bored, joining the AARP crowd for two midday matinees. (By the way, I highly recommend Captain Phillips–in the same category as Argo in its capacity to be terrifying even though you know how it ends because it really happened.)
And then there were more significant disappointments like the fact that this cycle was my worst response on record, uncharacteristically lame, stupid ovaries, fucking underachievement has reached new heights. The hilarity of this is that I have changed medication protocol every time in attempts 1-5 and I always get the same 7 embryos no matter what I do. Okay, well technically I got 7, 8, 7, 6, and 7, but you get my point, right? Not much variation despite all the doctors’ plans and promises. This attempt, round 6, was the first time I have ever done the same protocol twice and just 2 measly months apart–one would expect the response to be the same, no? Pshhh, please, don’t be so naive, my friend! I got 3. I know. I was shocked too. I’m tempted to do a cost-benefit analysis by tallying the medical fees, travel expenses, lost wages and sick days and some quantifiable value placed on the stress of organizing and executing an out-of-town cycle, but I won’t because then I will definitely cry again. I got 3.
I knew it was going badly when I went in for local monitoring the Wednesday before last–only 3 measurable, one on the right, 2 on the left, nothing much in the “less than 10” category except some really tiny ones that I knew wouldn’t grow. I called nurse H and she was all, “We can’t really trust the scans at other clinics because…yadda yadda yadda…and we really wouldn’t recommend cancellation this early on, so the best thing for you to do is to come out here and let us take a look.” So I did, and it was still bad when I got there Friday morning. Irony that didn’t escape me: when I did the first round with them, the stupid NP at the local clinic told me I only had 2 antral follicles and I got really upset, fearing this very thing, but that cycle was a smash success (in my book). This time, my AFC looked totally fine, but most of those little suckers failed to grow. Failed. I feel so fucking defective.
I met with Dr. Schoolcraft later than morning, and honestly, he was never more human than in that moment. B calls him a Vulcan because he has zero finesse with all those warm and gushy feelings (eww!) and he almost always makes me cry. Not in front of him, no, never in front of him. He’s not the right audience. He said that if my “previous cycle had been, say, 2 years ago, we would blame this on a decline in fertility” but it was only 2 months ago and, based on that fact, this was probably “just a wonky cycle;” that I could cancel and try again, which would probably yield a better result, but that no one could guarantee that. He said he was “on the fence” and that it might be best to “wait it out through the weekend” before making a decision. We talked about my cycle history in which, regardless of total retrieved, I seem to consistently make the same 2 that have a chance to go to blast, and those 2 are probably the same vigorous growers I was poised to retrieve from this cycle. He said I could cancel and cycle again or push forward but that either way I may “end up with the same net result…Let’s see what the bloods do,” and promised to keep an eye on things through the weekend so that I could make the ultimate decision with his input. And finally, Dr. Spock (hmm, maybe that will be his new nickname) ended with, “I’m optimistic about your chances of taking home a live baby from all this.” Whoah, what? “Optimistic”??? He’s never said that. CCRM is the clinic that nearly arm-wrestled (hyperbole, don’t want you thinking I was accosted by medical personnel) me into the psych eval for donor recipients on my ODWU.
So, of course, I found myself reasoning my way through a dilemma for which most of the deciding factors were totally uncertain, like July all over again!
Choice A: Cancel. Fly home ASAP so I can get back to work on Monday. Just kidding, everybody! (Dogsitter, students, boss, etc.) Do this all again in hopes of better results with no guarantee.
Choice B: Push on. Retrieve however many stupid eggs I can, wake up the frosties, and bite the bullet with a significantly diminished sample size for CCS. Sample size is important when you want closure–to feel like you tested enough blastocysts to gain assurance that if none were normal you’d probably never make anything normal and should just move on.
Choice C (B’s Plan): Don’t cancel. Retrieve. Freeze everything. Cycle one last time so that we have a sample size we’re comfortable with. If Dr. Spock’s whole theory about “net result” is accurate, then this will actually put us in a better position. Money? Oh yeah, it will cost a bunch of that.
I might add that while all of this was going on I had not slept in 36 hours, trying to reason with a brain in tatters in a time crunch. I emailed my therapist (Is that inappropriate?) because I needed a rational person’s help. When he called back he said, “What’s going to result in the least amount of regret?…Fuck money…It’s just one more shot.” Later on that day nurse H called me and pushed my next monitoring appointment back from Saturday to Sunday, saying, “The doctor is not supporting cancellation” because the blood showed that my E2 had tripled in 2 days, an indicator of healthy eggs, scarce as they may have been. That put B, Dr. Spock, and Vince all on the same side, so I let these men in my life make the decision for me: Choice C. How out of character!
I monitored, braced myself for disappointing ultrasounds, retrieved, braced myself for the egg count and the fertilization report. I tolerated the OR nurse who greeted me with, “Oh my goodness, you’re a baby! How old are you??” (That sort of thing, the emphasis on how “young” I am, always makes me feel more broken, more cheated, more abnormal.) I talked to nurse H about plans for banking cycle #3, which will force us to skip a month since cycling right back into priming and stimulation would land retrieval right around Christmas, while the clinic is shut down for the holidays. Truthfully, I’m really overwhelmed and exhausted by the whole prospect–the waiting (and worrying) in anticipation of a verdict, the inevitable attacks of egg donor fears, the need to take another public(ish) leave from work, the travel, the juggling of monitoring and bills and medication orders–but I’m swept along in the current of this river, and there is no easy way out. There is nothing easy or guaranteed about any of the alternatives, like some of the “just adopt” novices might believe.
And all of this during the holidays, while dealing with my family? Oh, hell no! We’re skipping Christmas. Yesterday I booked a room in suburban Pittsburgh. Our San Francisco friends whom we visited in July will be out there for the holidays, and we are spending Christmas with them as our surrogate family this year–no drama, no baggage, no shopping or decorating or cooking or expense, no risk of pregnancy announcements striking too close to home. We’re bringing the dog, driving west, keeping it simple. And the weekend after New Year’s, we’re renting a ski house in Vermont with some friends as our gift to each other. In sum, we’re taking back the desperately needed R & R that was so unfairly trampled by pregnancy loss #6 over the summer.
Wanted: escape and replenishment for the thread-bare and severely depleted infertile couple.
Universe, please cooperate…for fucking once.