Tuesday, October 25, 2005

All set to go

Aunt Flo arrived yesterday, much earlier an expected and for the first time in ages she was welcomed with open arms. In her wake Hope arrived as well.

I had sent Hope packing at the beginning of this cycle, because I had promised myself some time off. Time to indulge coffee, beer, wine and good food without any guilt.

The both of them sure make an odd couple if I ever saw one. Sitting on my couch, stirring their tea in awkward silence.

Hope is eying the Clomid and giving me meaningful looks. I'm not sure I'm going to handle her. One day at a time, I guess, like all the rest.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Oh no, not THE question!

While I'm just sitting here and waiting for my period to show up (so I can start with the Clomid), I thought I'd use my time to come up with some answers to THE question:

Why don't you have kids yet?
  • Because we can't find an opening .... in our schedule.
  • Because computer widows don't have kids. Nor do computer widowers.*
  • Because we're waiting until babies come equipped with ethernet ports.
  • And have sex? Yuck!
  • Oh, we have kids. We just don't want them to meet you.
  • We're just waiting until you get bored of yours.
  • We're just waiting until child protection services gives us yours.
  • Give me 50€ first. You don't expect me to talk about our sex life for free do you?

I'm hoping answers like this will make people give up on asking us (HAH!), especially BIL#1. But he has thick skin and is not easily embarrassed. His wife always berates him for asking THE question to anyone, but it doesn't help.

The reason I'm so obsessed with THE question right now is mainly because the holiday season is coming. Now I'm actually very fortunate. My parents never asked me, ever, nor have my grand-parents. My aunts and uncles haven't asked me THE question for years. Most of my nephews and nieces are too young to be interested in asking. This probably has to do with me being the oldest grandchild.
At work, THE question doesn't come up. Everyone thinks I'm a somewhat hostile childFREE person. To an outsider, the difference with a bitter childLESS person must be near impossible to spot. It's not in my interest to correct this misunderstanding right now.

I only run into trouble at the in-laws. They have been asking THE question for years. My MIL is desperate to have grandchildren. For years she's been saying 'I'll never have any'.
I understand her feelings, being grandchildLESS is a cousin of being IF, only you can't do anything about it. But it doesn't make THE question any less painful for me right now. I also realize that I can't expect her to be sensitive of our problem, if we don't tell her about it.
We didn't tell her we were going to start TTC 2 years ago, because I dreaded having to answer 'PG yet?' every month. I didn't need the added pressure. I'm also a very private person (if you don't count spilling your guts to the internet).

Now my MIL has the happy prospect of getting 2 grandchildren very soon (if all goes well). You'd think she'd be content and stop badgering me and her daughter (SIL#3). No such luck.
In two weeks, we're all getting together for a family dinner at the in-laws. I'm really dreading it.

I've been telling DH that things can't go on like this. We need to come out of the closet. At least then we can ask them for support and explain why we (mostly me) react strangely sometimes to anything baby related. DH is very reluctant, mostly because he wants to keep our life private I think. But I'm the one suffering for it.

He didn't want to say anything before the results of the first round of tests, because maybe they would tell us more about the cause. And if we tell, they'll ask. I agreed to wait, for the off chance that we did find a cause so quickly. But after reading up on this, I don't expect we'll ever get an explanation as to why we're IF. We'll just educate them that most of time the doctors don't know.

Timing is also an issue. When do we tell them this unhappy news? We don't WANT to cast a shadow over the happiness of the two expecting couples. If we tell them, it will make them feel awkward towards us. (Hey, I'd trade any day). DH fears his mother will become over-sensitive and lash out at any baby talk when we're present. That's a risk I'm willing to take. Waiting until May when SIL#2 is due, I just don't think I can make it. SIL#1 is due in January.

Finally, he hopes the Clomid will actually work, so we won't have to tell them anything. He has a point there, but I'm just not that optimistic. Could it really be that simple?

How on earth do you start a conversation about IF with your in-laws?
Maybe I'll just wait for this variant of THE question, and answer truthfully for once.

When are you guys going to start trying?
2 years ago.

Now where did I put my list with retorts to assvice?

*The term is actually a 'football widow'. You get the picture, husband glued to football matches on tv at home or in a pub, wife feeling deserted.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Pregancy abounds*

* but only elsewhere.

I currently have not 1 but 2 SILs. Fantastic. Now of course I'm very happy for them, blah blah bah, I'm just very sad for myself. I know for a fact that both couples started trying way after us. This is a well covered topic in IF blogland. Suffice it to say, I want to stick my head in the sand and don't want to hear about it. Seeing either of them makes me want to burst into tears. Which is horrible, because I don't like to show such strong emotion in public.

I have a third SIL, who is not pregnant or wasn't the last time we met. We're not very close, but that's because we live in different places and lead different lives. Same with the other in-laws.

Almost two years ago, SIL#3 announced that she and her husband were going to TTC that year. I was absolutely stunned at this announcement. We had made the same decision at that time, but weren't about to inform our family. I didn't want to have all these expectations adding pressure. Even then, I was worried things might not be that easy.

So now two years have gone by and nothing has happened for either of us. Of course this has gotten me wondering whether perhaps we're both in the same boat.
Of course, I wouldn't dream of just asking her 'hey, are you perchance IF?'. I don't
ask how the babymaking is going either, because I resent when people ask me that, and have resented it for ages.
Some other family members don't have any qualms about asking though. Particularly expecting BIL#1 feels he's entitled to ask now that he's 'done his bit'. Both SIL#3 and I engage in defensive manoeuvres. I evade by pointing out this is an intrusive and even rude question. DH contributes 'all in good time'. SIL#3 also evades: 'they've realized since that the're enjoying life as it is right now, and have some big project to finish first, and there is still plenty of time'.

Today I called SIL#3, not ready to confess our IF, but to test the waters. Some choice snippets of conversation:
SIL#3: 'So it's just us left that aren't pregnant, or do you have any news?'
Me (OMG, she asked me the question): No news.

Then without any prompting from me, she starts giving me her 'enjoying life - big project - plenty of time' routine. She talks about starting a family and timing for 15 minutes.

SIL#3: But it does annoy me to keep being asked THE question.
Me: tell me about it.
Me: I have a friend going through IVF, and if you'd ask her that question, you'd risk having her burst into tears.*
SIL#3 (flustered): Oh well, of course. Did I miss something, are you ...?
Me: No.

SIL#3: And if it turns out we can't have kids, well then that's just the way it is, I'll just continue living my life.
Me (stunned): hm.

She doesn't sound like someone struggling with IF (thank goodness). She sounds like someone annoyed with her nosy family and friends, but at the same time still confidently assuming she is fertile. In other words unbelievably normal.

*Ok, I have a couple of friends going through IVF, but I don't think they burst into tears that easily.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A golden ticket for the ART roller coaster

The consult with dr. Sunshine wasn't all about TED. After going over the test results, it was time to discuss options. Because our results didn't show anything wrong - well if you don't count the lack of ovulation - she recommended starting some mild medication: clomid. Alternatively, we - or better I - could continue on to the next set of tests starting with the HSG.

Now I am both a pessimist and a panicky person. This is not a good combination. It means that I keep telling myself that nothing is bound to work and that I should resign myself to this. Not constructive at all, and I'm working on it. Also, I'm very anxious that I'm wasting time, and by the time I 'graduate' to IVF, I will get a diagnosis of premature ovarian failure. Not that I have any reason to think this. It's panic talking.

I guess I've been doing too much research on the subject as well. I'm still in the 'got to read everything' stage. I don't consult dr. Google often, but read a number of IF blogs for moral support. In doing so, you pick up a thing or two.

I bought some books from my friend The Internet. One is a book by dr. S. Silber, an RE from St-Louis, with the obnoxious title 'How to get pregnant'. One of the chapters explains which tests and treatments you can expect, and the author gives his opinion on their usefulness. The author claims there is a test available that can give you an estimate of the time you have left until menopause: antral follicle count (AFC).
This can be performed with a good ultrasound machine.

Of course I would love to know if I can afford to waste time or if I have to hurry, wouldn't we all. So I brought it up with dr. Sunshine. I didn't demand such a test, but asked her if she thought it was possible to estimate the time left on my biological clock in this way.
Either she didn't agree with this research or wasn't familiar with it, I didn't quite understand. In any case, she wasn't inclined to do the AFC.
I'm really going to have to work on being a good advocate for myself. I'm also the non-confrontational type.

I decided to follow her advice, and we'll do a few cycles with clomid. Part of me wants to do a whole lot of research on AFC and present it to her next time, or move on to an RE who would be willing to do this. Part of me thinks I should give this treatment an honest chance. After all, it just might work, or they wouldn't prescribe it any more, right? (Give me a T!)

Alarmingly, Silber's book claims that RE's all over the world continue using treatments that have been proven ineffective by independent research. Not out of malice of course, but mostly out of habit and not being aware of the latest research. Of course, ask two doctors for their opinion and usually it will be different.

So, you see, I'm suffering from FUD. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.
But I'm also happy that we're finally doing something. I've gotten my ticket for the ART roller coaster, and am now waiting to get on board.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Meet TED

You don't really start ART with high expectations, now do you? Statistically, 90% of couples get pregnant naturally within 2 years. If you're in the other 10%, you know the odds are against you. With these uplifting thoughts in the back of my mind, I went to my very first consult.

The doctor was nice enough, a bit too optimistic for my taste. A 'bit of don't you worry, we'll get this sorted in no time' kinda thing. A regular miss Sunshine.
In her defense, she's a regular ob/gyn and specializes in deliveries, not IF.

She ordered blood test for both me and DH and an analysis of DH's little swimmers.
I also had my first date with the wand. The aim of this expedition was to find out how far along I was in my cycle. She found a smallish follicle and estimated ovulation would take place a week later. To be on the safe side, she told me to come back for another blood test 9 days later.

Now I already mentioned I have irregular cycles, the extremes are 23 to 45 days, the average is 32 days. I found that BBT monitoring predicted my periods with remarkable accuracy, so I thought it indicate ovulation as well. My GP and my ob/gyn have told me that BBT is useless, because it's too difficult to interpret. But I digress.

On day 9 my temperature hadn't risen, but I went for the blood test anyway. I didn't want to be branded a rebellious patient from the outset. On day 10 (after the wand visit), my temperature did rise. So the next day I called in and went for a third blood test.

All this went on in the beginning of September. Due to work related travel , I couldn't make a follow-up appointment for the results until last week. I knew not to expect too much, but I still counted the days in anticipation.

Just to make things more interesting, my temperature increased again a week later. Of course, this got me hoping this could be a sign of implantation. Silly me, a HPT quickly brought me back to earth. I usually don't do HPT's, all those negatives are way too expensive* and, well, unpleasant. But I just had to know if I might be suffering from 'recurring chemical pregnancies' or just negatives. Glad that's cleared up. Ugh.

Over all, the results were not bad. DH got the all clear, so that is very good news.
My results didn't show any diseases either. But, ..., the blood tests didn't show any sign of ovulation. Either, nothing happened at all and the rising temperature was just a mirage. Or, I ovulated later in the cycle. Dr. Sunshine encouraged me to think the latter.

Thus, I had my first brush with TED, the bane of the IF world. Trial, Error and Disappointment. The doc tried to predict my ovulation, one of us failed and now I'm disappointed. I've been lurking the blog community long enough to know this is just a tiny peek at TED. But this is my blog, and I can whine if I want to, whine if I want to. You would whine too if it happened to you ... ;-)

Is anyone still reading this TEDious post?

* I stocked up on HPT's during my stay in the US. At 6 $ a piece, they cost between half and a third of the price I pay over here! Outrageous.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Short, short introduction: I'm a newbie

For the first 6 months of TTC, I told myself not to worry. Not everyone gets lucky immediately. I told myself to 'just relax'. Once six months had gone by, I started to worry a bit and by the end of year 1 despair set in. Naturally, I turned to the internet for help.

I have somewhat irregular cycles, so I looked up information on natural family planning. I was hesitant about seeing an ob/gyn at that point. Instead I decided to chart my basal body temperature and inspect my mucous. A part of me hoped we just had bad timing and that everything would sort itself out. Not!

Another 6 months went by. We took a lovely, long, relaxing vacation. Still nothing, but what do you expect. That relaxing helps?
At least I now have a good respons to 'just relax' or 'just go on a nice holiday'. Been there, done that!

After 18 months the game was up, and I made an appointment with an ob/gyn.
By then I was roaring to get on the ART roller coaster.

So here we are, thrilled at this new beginning and exited with the prospect of all these possibilities just laying in front of us. No, wait. I'm depressed, angry, resentful, cynical and pessimistic.


Friday, October 14, 2005

First there was lurking

I've been lurking the IF blogs for a few months now. Then, shyly I started commenting. Now it is time to get my own blog.

First let me get the hang of this before I invite you for a blog-warming party.