The Pain Olympics.

I’ve read this term many times. It’s basically when people try to outdo each other on how shitty their situation is at the moment.

I’m guilty of it. I really am. Like many women in my situation, google has become my closest ally (and worst enemy really) in the war of infertility. I’ve found myself going down the rabbit hole of infertility message boards and blogs. I read about couples dealing with secondary infertility. I read about couples going through IUI, IVF, or TI (timed intercourse) in order to conceive.

And I am 100% guilty of occasionally being in a bad mood and reading some of these things and thinking, OH GOD SHUT UP, YOU HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA. Awful right? Like I’ll read someone’s long account of how heart breaking their IVF failure is, and how they don’t know how they’ll cope. And then there’s a mention of their already born child that will never know the joy of a sibling. And that’s when my brain shuts down. Enter the pain olympics. Who are these women complaining about the world ending because they can’t have a second child when I (and many many others) will never have one?!

The thing is, intellectually, I 100% support these people. Having the rug of your life plan pulled out from under you sucks. It’s life changing. If you spent your whole life planning 2 children to be told that would never happen, it’s got to be heartbreaking. But that little bitchy part of my brain still thinks, “Ugh. That’s not infertility.”

And I hate myself for it. Because it’s so petty. Pain is pain. Just because someone else has it better than me doesn’t mean they can’t be in a world of hurt. It’s like saying you can’t be happy because someone else out there has more of a reason to be happy. I know the fact that my husband and I still have a shot at having a baby that’s genetically ours puts us way ahead of So. Many. People. And someone probably reads my ramblings and says Ugh, she has no idea. I’m in no way so naive to think I have it worse than everyone else, trust me!

This comes up because I have a friend, a girl I’ve known since I was freaking 14 years old. We’re 31 now! She has PCOS and she and her husband tried for over a year before they got pregnant with their little girl, almost 2 years old now. They used clomid and had timed intercourse for 3 months to make it happen. And then when that little girl was 1.5? BAM. Surprise natural pregnancy with baby #2, due this September.

Anyway. This friend knows about our struggle and our failures. And she likes to say things like “I know how much this sucks” and “I know how hard this is” and “I understand exactly how y’all feel.” And the thing is…she really doesn’t. She got to have sex to have her baby! Like normal people! She never had to go through all the invasive exams, and injections, and the whole IVF shebang. And I hate that I have these thoughts, because she is one of the most loyal and wonderful women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. And she is being supportive the only way she knows how.

I don’t really have a point to all of these ramblings. I just hate that I have these thoughts sometimes during my low points. Because everyone is going through a journey that I’m not privy to and it’s not my place or anyone else’s to judge. But those stupid thoughts are still there. Just another thing to work on during our 90 day break. Improve myself, inside and out.

Time to breathe.

Had the WTF appointment. It went as well as could be expected.

She literally went day by day over our entire cycle, starting from the first monitoring appointment after I started stims. Went over all my hormone levels and follicle sizes and the progress throughout the whole cycle.

After going through everything and addressing our questions, she gave it to us straight. The fact that we only had 2 suitable embryos after everything? It’s almost certainly purely a sperm issue. She said I responded pretty fantastic given my age and all my levels. The next cycle, she wants to add in Omnitrope to possibly improve egg quality, even though she said it was just fine as it. But might as well give it our all right?

So why did they retrieve 12 mature eggs and we only end up with 2? Well, the sperm ain’t so hot. The tricky part of testicular failure is that there is literally nothing that can be done to improve counts. Nada. It’s not a question of if the sperm will dwindle to 0, it’s when. On retrieval day, his count was actually at 400,000 – the highest they’d ever been (I actually high-fived my husband in the middle of the appointment when she mentioned this, because we are mature adults ready to be parents). So really, all we can do is try to improve the quality. So for 90 days, husband is taking a cocktail of vitamins and antioxidants from some specialty pharmacy. She put me on CoQ10 and a fish oil/DHA supplement as well. She said there’s no reason to believe that his count will drop from 400,000ish to 0 by November – she assured me she’s never seen it drop that fast in all her years doing this. So…finally some good news.

The clinic lab shuts down for a huge chunk of December, so the plan is to do the cycle in November and freeze all, then transfer in January. I told her I never should have done a fresh and I didn’t want to do one again and she put up no fight at that, which I was thankful for.

I hate that we’re in this position again. I hate all of it. But we have a plan. I fucking love plans. I am that woman that makes packing lists in excel before taking trips. So to have a plan is already making me feel like a human again. I have 3 months to take control of my body and my life again.

So…today is a good day.

So many questions.

After the nurse called on Friday to confirm the shitty news of our second failure, she said the RE had requested a consultation. I’ve heard this referred to on the forums as the “WTF Appointment.” As in, what the fuck went wrong?

I have questions. But I’m scared to know the answers. Is it me? I’ve put on like 10-15 pounds this year with all the stress and medications. That’s not good. I have a very stressful job at multiple times during the year (tax deadlines are a bitch)…is that destroying my chances of success? I have minor hypothyroidism – can I even successfully manage that during a pregnancy?

Then there’s the big question. Is there even any sperm left? The super fun part of testicular failure is that you don’t know when the sperm will just go away. Hell, for all we know, he stopped producing sperm last month and all this worrying about another cycle is all for nothing. Before we do another cycle, I want another SA done to make sure. He had sperm (obviously) for our cycle in May, so that leaves some hope. Husband is still wonderfully (and fucking annoyingly) optimistic that this will work. We will have a child. Whereas I use the word “if” when talking about children, he is still firmly in the “when” camp.

Guys, seeing him with tears in his eyes on Friday morning gutted me. We’ve been together 6 years and the only time I’ve seen him cry is when he had to put down the dog he’d had since childhood. And then Friday. When I crawled back into bed after my morning shower and had to tell him that it didn’t work. I had failed us again. We weren’t going to be parents. He said he loved me and that it wasn’t my fault and that we would do this again.

I don’t know how I feel right now. I’m kind of a mess. The idea of another full cycle makes me sick to my stomach. All the injections and the constant blood draws and twat wandings. The retrieval. The embryo hunger games. I swear, I’ve lost 10 years off my life in the last 8 months from the stress and anxiety alone.

Back to the original topic at hand. The WTF appointment. It’s Wednesday. I’m not sure what to ask. I still have some issues with how the first cycle went, mostly stemming from staff communication and expectations, that I want to address. But other than that…what should we be asking?  Every step of this process, I feel SO out of my element. I’m like a deer in the headlights. Have any of you been through this meeting and care to share any fantastic insights?

Aaaand hope is dead.

7 days past transfer. Negative first response test. Fuck. That’s two failed transfers now.

I don’t know if I have the strength to go through another entire cycle. I’m angry at the world. I’m angry that my husband can’t make sperm. I’m angry that we may be facing a vast expanse of infinite life with no children. I’m just fucking angry.

9 days of mental gymnastics…

wait

Mental Gymnastics. That’s what the wait for the beta feels like, and it’s the best way I’ve been able to describe it to my husband.

For him? He said of course he thinks about it, whether it worked or didn’t. But it doesn’t flat out consume all his thoughts and energy like it does to me. I guess because I’m the one going through the physicality of it all. I’m the one sitting here second guessing every single twinge I feel in my lower abdomen.

Wednesday and Thursday were very zen. I knew there was literally nothing I could do to change the outcome, so I moved on with my life. Friday and Saturday, I was in the “THIS TOTALLY WORKED” phase of the wait. A few localized cramps on the right side of my uterus? IMPLANTATION, BITCHES! But this morning I woke up and I don’t know exactly what shifted and when…but I’m now convinced it didn’t work. Like, of course it didn’t. Of course I will fall into the 50% statistic of unsuccessful transfers at my clinic.

Yet even with that gnawing on my brain, I’m still surprisingly calm. I haven’t run out to buy any pregnancy tests, I haven’t been obsessively googling symptoms. I’m not pinning my hopes on the fact that some chick on a message board in 2009 had a perfect pregnancy after experiencing the same symptoms I am on the same day. I promised my husband I wouldn’t test until Wednesday, which will be 7 days post transfer. And honestly, that is one promise that will be easy to keep this time around. I am still slightly zen about the whole thing. There’s nothing I can do to change what will happen, whatever it may be, so there’s no point in obsessing or trying to know earlier.

But hey, on the REALLY FUCKING BRIGHT SIDE of all this. My clinic has finally put together all the paperwork from my insurance company and they actually ended up covering a few things, leaving us with a $2,800 credit with the clinic! So IF we end up having to do another full cycle, we get 25% off PLUS this credit. Assuming my meds stay the same, we may be able to get away with a $10,000 cycle. And if that isn’t the best news a person undergoing IVF without full insurance coverage can hear, I don’t know what is.

Wish me luck kids, it’s going to be a fun 6 days to go!

The eagle has landed.

Had the transfer of our only frozen embryo today. Woo? Yes. Woo!

We arrived at 11:30 for a noon transfer as requested. My bladder was nearing the uncomfortably full stage by noon when the RE swung in, apologized, and said the lab needed another 15 minutes. I think she saw my distress and let me empty my bladder just a bit to make everything more bearable.

I was WAY more calm for this transfer than I was for the fresh one. I still maintain we never should have done the fresh transfer, but oh well. Live and learn, huh? We got into the little transfer room and I got all prepped on the table. I actually made my husband hold my hand the entire time this time around. If this works, I want to know he was at least touching me in some way when the magic happened.

They showed us the blastocyst on the screen. It had already started to hatch! I hear that’s a good thing, so let’s run with those feelings for the next 9 days, shall we? A few minutes later it was jettisoned into my (fluffy) uterus and all was done. I hopped off the table and went down the hall for the BEST PEE OF MY LIFE. They gave us a picture of the embryo and the little petri dish it was cultured in and then we were on our way.

Right now I’m feeling pretty peaceful, shockingly. I’ve done all I can do and it’s up to nature at this point. I don’t relish the idea of having to do another full cycle of IVF, and there’s a possibility that Mr. Oh Just Relax may not be producing any more sperm. But right now I’m good. Of course, if on August 12 I get another negative beta, I’m sure I will be feeling FAR from zen about the whole thing. But for right now?

Right now I’m good.