One

After all the thousands of dollars spent for hospital fees and medications, after the endless hours travelling back and forth to appointments, after missing work and taking days without pay, after all the tears and the pain and the disappointment, after all the shattered hopes… we have one embryo.

One. One tiny embryo to shoulder such a terrible burden as all our hopes and dreams. One chance. One hope. One.

It’s so monumentally heartrending to know that what most people can do without thinking, we’ve had to expend so much effort and energy and money and time for. It’s so unfair to know that what some people are given freely and treat so carelessly, we have had to move heaven and earth to achieve and we would without question give our lives for. And it is so hard to bear the thought that this one, tiny organism may not even make it to our scheduled transfer time tomorrow morning.

We’re so tired of hurting so much. We’re so tired of having our hopes dashed. We’re so tired of the agonizing waits and the heartbreaking disappointment. We don’t dare hope that this one singular embryo could make it, because we could not bear to think that it won’t.

It’s an incredible load to put on such tiny cells.

From 11 follicles to three eggs to one embryo. What kind of mathematical equation comes to this answer? In what universe is that fair and equal?

To be fair, we got one out of three, which is very good odds. One egg was a dud and did not fertilize, one embryo has a genetic abnormality and will not survive, and one embryo is viable and looks good. But it is still only one. One singular chance.

Our first chance at a child ended after 10 weeks in utero in an operating room at 11 at night. Our second chance at a child is a bundle of cells in a petrie dish in a lab. I can’t bear to think of it making it any longer than that, because the disappointment in 3 weeks time will be so hard. But even worse still, I can’t bear to think of how I’ll survive if it makes it even a few weeks longer and meets the same fate as our first.

Some would say, all it takes is one. I would venture to say that those are not people who have endured month after month of disappointments and failures. Hope rips your heart out after a while.

One. It is what it is. If it survives the night, we will see it transferred tomorrow, and then we will have three weeks of agonizing wait.

After that, I fully anticipate that we will have to learn to live our lives as two, and not the three or four or five we had dreamed of. That seems like forever ago. It seems like another world, other people.

One. So much further than we’ve gotten in years, but so far from where we wanted to be.

Day Fifty-Five: Summary

I am home. Drugged and very tired. Here’s my day, to sum up:

  • 8 follicles were drained for a total of 3 eggs.
  • The doctors said it was a “Difficult” procedure.
  • My nether regions have had better days.
  • Tylenor 3s , water and chocolate have been prescribed.
  • We will know if we have any embryos on Tuesday.

I am very tired. I am sore. And I am disappointed. Everyone is trying to remain hopeful.

I’ll write more when I am more lucid.

Day Fifty-Four: Getting Ready

Today I have been resting and getting ready for tomorrow. And one of the things I need for my procedure tomorrow is a CD of music, that they will play in the exam room. They told me to prepare a CD that will help me relax and keep my mind occupied during the procedure. Well, BDH and I talked about it, and he said that when he thinks of me, “relaxing” does not come to mind. I’m not your pop music kind of girl. So, I prepared a CD of songs that I love, songs that make me happy and that will help me concentrate on the music and not the pain.

So here’s my list. I’m guessing that they don’t get a lot of my kind of music there.

  • Throw Your Arms Around Me – Hunters and Collectors
  • Weather With You – Crowded House
  • Sometimes (Lester Piggott) – James
  • Friday I’m In Love – The Cure
  • Rush – Big Audio Dynamite
  • Big Time Sensuality – Björk
  • Train in Vain – The Clash
  • Lovesong – The Cure
  • Personal Jesus – Depeche Mode
  • Pressure Drop – The Specials
  • Read About It – Midnight Oil
  • Birdhouse in Your Soul – They Might Be Giants
  • Young Americans – David Bowie
  • Uncertain Smile – The The
  • Close To Me (Closest Mix) – The Cure
  • White Lines – Duran Duran
  • Route 66 (Nile Rogers Remix) – Depeche Mode
  • The Dead Heart – Midnight Oil

So, not exactly the norm, then. But hey, it makes me happy.

Day Fifty-Three: The Home Stretch

There are no words for how tired I am right now. But it’s all worth it, because we have been booked for our retrieval, on Sunday morning.

I went in again today for blood work and an ultrasound. Now, there’s about an hour and a half wait between blood work and ultrasound time, so I drive through McDonalds after the blood work, and then I go park in the parking garage (6th floor, by the elevator), eat my breakfast, give myself my injection at 8 am, and then nap if BDH is with me or read if I am alone until exam time. So today, nothing changed. I parked the car, tucked into brekkie, and then got ready for my needle. This requires yanking down my pants in the car and putting ice on my leg for about 10 minutes, because the shot stings, then I get the needle ready and swab my leg with alcohol swabs. We’ve taken to pre-loading the syringe so we don’t have to cart the vial of meds to and fro, because it has to be refrigerated. So today, I got the syringe out to prime it, and saw what appeared to be an air bubble at the top. I squeezed gently to get rid of the air. One bead of liquid came out. A second came out. No air. I squeezed gently once more. Suddenly, meds go spurting across the car. DAMN TOUCHY SYRINGES! Bastards! I lost almost 1/4 of my meds! But at least the passenger seat will not ovulate today.

So I quickly injected the remaining meds, and thought, “Okay, it’s 8 am. Maybe someone will be upstairs, and I can see if this is a big deal, and fix it.” I went up to the 9th floor, and asked to see my case nurse Pat. The receptionist said she’d let her know, and returned to say Pat would be a couple of minutes. So I went to the bathroom. I came back. I waited some more. No Pat. Now, I was beginning to get antsy, as I didn’t want to screw up this close to the finish line. 45 minutes passed. No Pat. Finally, I got called in to the ultrasound, so I trotted to the loo (AGAIN), trotted back down the hall, and went into the changeroom. I could not tell who was in doing the ultrasounds today, but I was hoping it was someone nice, since I might have to beg for more meds.

When the knock came on my door, I walked in to find… Dr. Newbie. Now, up until today, my only experience with Dr. Newbie was having him observing other doctors doing ultrasounds. And there he was, standing by himself. I asked, “Are you soloing today?” He said that he was waiting on a nurse, but she was delayed. So I braced myself for the unknown of a n00b behind the wand. While we waited, Dr. Newbie reviewed my file. He was really thorough. And pleasant. I thought, well maybe he’ll be alright. In rushed the nurse, and I began my story of the spurting Lupron. Neither of them was too concerned, so I reaxed and we began the exam. And I have to say, Dr. Newbie was really good. It’s never comfortable doing a transvaginal ultrasound, but he was really careful not to yang things around too much, and he seemed to know my file well enough to know what to look for. AND… he found another follicle, albeit a small one that probably won’t be a factor on Sunday. But that brings the total to 11.

ELEVEN. My lucky number. My jersey number. Good karma. I was pleased.

And then… Dr. Newbie decided that, based on the follicle sizes, I was ready to go. That meant that I would have to be in for my retrieval on Sunday. He explained that there are no radiologists working on Sunday, so they would not be going after that one high follicle through my abdomen. Inside, I was rejoicing. No excruciating pain! Then he said, “What that means is, if that follicle doesn’t come down once we drain the ones below it, we might just have to abandon it.” And also, any other troublemakers on my right side. In fact, I got the impression that if the right ovary is too high, they might abandon it entirely. There’s a risk of bleeding and they may not be able to get to it if it is not cooperative. My heart sank. Hopefully, if anything has to be abandoned, it is just the one follicle. At this stage of the game, I could not bear to lose all 6. I’d be crushed.

So I came home and waited for my callback. Tonight, I take my last doses of all 3 drugs that I’ve been taking so far. Then, at precisely 11:30, I have to take another injection to get the follicles ready to go for Sunday morning. And tomorrow, I get one blissful day of sleeping in and going nowhere. I’ll prepare my procedure CD, pack my bag, and start fasting at midnight.

And, oh yeah, fret the entire fricking day because I am nervous about the right ovary, and scared of the pain of the procedure. But at least, I get to sleep in.

Day Fifty-Two: All Thanks To The Magic Fertility Cartoon Hammer

DUDE. Now there’s TEN. Ten follicles, as of this morning’s ultrasound.

I know how it happened. Each morning we’ve had to get up at 4:30 to drive, BDH has come into the bathroom where I am getting ready. Behind his back he has been holding a large inflatable hammer, kind of like those giant hammers that Bugs Bunny would pull out from his back pocket and hit someone over the head with in the Warner Brothers cartoons. You know the one: Bugs Bunny gets cheesed at someone, gives the shifty-eye look — right, left, right, left — then seemingly out of nowhere, but I am sure it’s a back pocket, he pulls a giant hammer and clobbers his foe. “CLANNNGGGGG!” Then the hammer disappears. Well, BDH has one. It’s inflatable, and it says “BANG!” on the side. It squeaks like a squeaky toy, but this does not lessen the effect any.

Anyway, I hear the bedroom door open. BDH comes into the bathroom. Silent. Shifty eyes. Right. Left. Right. Left. Then, “CLANG!”, I get ponked on the head by the cartoon hammer. And then, silently, he walks back into the bedroom and closes the door.

Now, the first time he did this, if was the day of our first ultrasound, and we were nervous. We thought we’d be disappointed, since we had poor blood work and our first cycle of IVF went badly. “CLANG!” A few hours later, we had 7 follicles. Next ultrasound. “CLANG!” Eight follicles. Next ultrasound. “CLANG!” Ten follicles.

I think we’ve stumbled on a miracle fertility cure.

That’s not to say The Goddess Tracy has not had an impact. Oh no. Tracy and her goddess mantra have been INVALUABLE. As have everybody’s good wishes and thoughts. But you can’t beat the power of the cartoon hammer.

EDITED TO ADD: Now that I am more awake, I forgot to mention some of today’s goings on. Today’s numbers: estradiol 6400 and change, and LH is holding nicely at 3. It looks like they are aiming to do the extraction on Monday. That gives me a little bit more time to grow all the latecomer follicles to a good size. One complication we are having is that one of the follicles on my right ovary is being pushed to the top and may be inaccessible when they go in vaginally for the extraction. Which means, if it does not drop once the other follicles are drained, then they will have to go in THROUGH MY ABDOMEN. This is how they used to do extractions in the “olden days” and apparently it is VERY painful. *gulp*

And I head back to the lab for more blood work for 7 am tomorrow and then an ultrasound at 9. Did I mention I am REALLY FRICKING tired?

Day Fifty-One: Comedy and Countdowns

Sometimes, being so tired makes you punchy. And then everything is funny.

Today’s trip to the lab and the clinic found yours truly cracking wise and being silly all over the place. I was so very tired, between yawns, I found everything very funny indeed. I got into the lab and was joking with the lab techs, Kim and Lindsay, who are always there with us first thing in the morning. They’ve gotten to know me now, and so we have fun. Lindsay is kind of reserved, but if you take the time to say hello and remember what’s important to her — like that she calls Wednesday “Happy Day” because the week is half over — she’s a real sweetheart. And Kim is just a nut who can gab almost as much as I can, and always has a funny story to tell (when she’s not sticking her tongue out at me). This morning she was trying to mooch some McDonalds breakfast from me. And as well, I was chatting with some of the ladies in the waiting area, and we had some fun telling stories and killing time.

There’s three of us who’ve been on the same schedule for the last little while: me, a woman who works the night shift as a nurse at another local hospital and then comes after her shift for procedures, and the young, tall girl with 30-plus follicles I was in line behind last visit. Today was the first time we actually talked and it was nice. The poor girl with the many follicles is having much the same kind of cycle as I am, and today, she was rewarded with the news that they’re all growing uniformly and they’ll be able to do a retrieval this weekend. I was so happy for her. Imagine going through all that she’s done this cycle, only to have them put the brakes on and cancel the cycle at the last minute. I’d be devastated. But she will get to do her retrieval, and hopefully it will go well and she’ll have enough embryos to carry her into the next millenium. The poor thing is puffy and sore and still, she and her mom were hopeful and pleasant. I really hope it goes well for her. The other woman, the nurse, has been at the lab with me and is always chatting with others and smiling and pleasant. As it turns out, this is her second time through the process. She has a small child at home from the first go around, and she’s trying for another. Despite her all night shift, we chatted and joked and it was fun to pass the time with her. The waiting room was full of n00bs, and so they must have thought we were very strange. But maybe it will show them that this process doesn’t have to be all sombre, eyes lowered, serious stuff. BDH and I have always thought that this should be a place of joy, because finally couples are able to go and fix their broken selves and maybe make the dream of having a family come true. At least, that’s how we’ve always tried to treat it. Sure, it can be overwhelming and scary, but get in, get going, and rejoice in what victories you can. After all the pain and guilt and heartbreak of infertility, you deserve that.

And so, we had to go in for our ultrasound. We found out that our favourite Young Lady Doctor was doing the exams today, and we were delighted. So BDH and I decided to have a little fun with her. After I had gotten changed into my Bedsheet Toga, I called BDH into the changeroom, and he wrapped himself in a Bedsheet Toga as well, and we waited for the knock to indicate it was time to come in. When the knock came, we opened the door, and in walked BDH and said, “Please be gentle with me!” Well, I think that Young Lady Doctor has seen THAT one before, but still, she laughed and played along, giving BDH the “Well, I’ve never done a RECTAL exam before, but I’m sure we could work SOMETHING out…” business. Young Lady Doctor is still on the job, despite being very pregnant, and we asked how she was feeling. She pulled aside her labcoat to show us… the baby’s head, sticking out from under her ribs! She’s so tiny, and the baby is breech and is likely not going to turn, so she knows exactly where he is positioned. And she grabbed his head and wiggled it around a bit. BDH was surprised — can you really DO that to a baby in utero? — and he’s learning a lot about the whole pregnancy thing just from chatting with Young Lady Doctor. He’s getting more comfortable with the whole pregnancy thing, I think.

So the exam showed us that we have 7 really good follicles. Young Lady Doctor also said that she thinks our latecomer, Follicle 8 (I’d like to call him “Steve McQueen” but BDH is concerned about the bad karma — but better than the “Trini Lopez” I had called him two days ago) will be coming along for the ride as well. Although he’s smaller than the others, she thinks his growth shows he will be ready to go by retrieval time. And, another thing that made us feel SO much better, was that Young Lady Doctor said the ideal number of follicles was between 8 and 10, so we’re right on track according to her. We had been told before that they liked 10-15 follicles, so we were thinking that we were underachievers. And with that, Young Lady Doctor checked our growth chart, and is having us come back tomorrow.

We are now on the day-to-day countdown to retrieval. What that means is that with each day’s exam, they will give us refills of just enough drug to get us to the next day, and they’ll monitor our levels and the follicles daily to see when we are ready to go. When that time comes, we’ll stop all our meds, and take one injection of a drug to get the follicles ready for “ovulation” at midnight that night. Then we are in for our retrieval 36 hours later. And that has me just a little scared. But it’s okay. So I dropped BDH at work and came home and waited for the callback from the clinic. When the callback came, we found out that my estradiol is at 5310, and my LH (luteinizing hormone) is at 4 — “right where it should be” said the nurse. So we’re back in tomorrow for blood work at 7 and another ultrasound at 9:30. And then they will see if we are ready to go or if we need another day to cook.

BDH and I have to remind ourselves continually to NOT get our hopes up. Even though we’re doing well, we’re really still just in the early stages. There’s still some rough waters ahead to navigate, and we don’t want to get our hopes up only to have them dashed. AGAIN. For example, just because there are 8 follicles does not mean that all of them contain eggs. It may end up that only a few eggs are present, or maybe none at all. If we get eggs, then we have to hope that as many as possible fertilize. Sometimes, if there’s a problem with binding between egg and sperm, none fertilize. (Since I have been pregnant before, this is unlikely. But still, a scary thought.) And then, we have to hope that the embryos grow to the appropriate size (12 cells, I think?) before we can do a transfer. And then, we have to hope that at least one of the embryos implants and decides to stay for awhile. Then, we have to hope that it stays for a full term. And then… well, there’s so much. Add to that the very real concerns of the time BDH is missing at work and the stress of driving so much, so often, and it makes for a stressful time indeed. So it’s just best to try to keep our equilibrium if we can.

So, we take a deep breath (both metaphorically and literally — I am getting good at these transvaginal ultrasounds!), and take each day and each challenge as it comes to us. We celebrate the small victories we have, and take joy in the successes of the people we meet as we go along. And we keep one foot firmly on the ground as we reach for that elusive ray of sunshine.

Day Forty-Nine: Movin’ On Up

We were back at the clinic for bloodwork and an ultrasound today. And we are making progress.

We drove there again, leaving at 5 this morning. It’s hard, doing these trips back and forth. I wish it were easier. The strain is starting to show on both BDH and I. He’s tired and stressed about work, and then of course I stress about that. I stress about the money, I stress about whether we’re going to get through the cycle, stressstressstress… I can see why some couples cannot survive infertility and the treatment process. It is not easy. We’re both edgy and worn. BDH bears the burden of trying to do this while keeping his managers happy at work, and while he has been wonderfully supportive of me and has been a huge part of this process, I know how stressful it is for him. These are the days I wish I had a crystal ball to see into the future — will it all work out? is it all worthwhile, in the end? — because if I could get an answer one way or the other, I’d maybe do things differently. But we’re nearing the end. One way or another, the end is in sight.

I did my blood test at 7 am, and we went to the hospital for my 9 am ultrasound. In between the two, we had my 8 am shot, which we did in the parking garage. Anyone looking out of a hospital window would have seen me with my pants down, getting a shot in the leg from BDH. NIIIIICE. Mind you, I’ll bet we’re not the first couple who had to administer some of their shots in the car, and I’ll bet we won’t be the last.

The ultrasound was delayed today. Normally we’re in and out really quick. But today, we didn’t even head down the hall to the exam room until about 9:40. It seems someone got their wires crossed, and they were scrambling to get one of the doctors in to do the ultrasounds. As I waited in my bedsheet toga in the changeroom, I heard the exam before me get underway. (I eavesdrop. So sue me.) Toward the end of the exam, the doctor started counting off the sizes of the patient’s follicles, and I counted along on my hand to figure out how many follicles she had. This woman had TWENTY-NINE. And that was not counting some tiny ones the doctor couldn’t be bothered measuring. That, my friends, is what you call overstimulation. That’s twice as many as they aim for in a cycle. I felt kind of bad for her. Sometimes it’s okay to have underachieving ovaries.

When my turn came up, I got the knock on the door, and I walked in to see… Doctor Dour sitting at the ultrasound machine. Doctor Dour is a woman in her late forties, let’s say. I suppose she is pleasant, in her own way, if you count a smile hello as pleasant. Perhaps she’s just shy. Or reserved. She talks very economically, and she is certainly not one for small talk. I have tried, in the few times I have had her, to be pleasant, to jolly her up a bit… no dice, man. Doctor Dour is virtually charm-free. And she tends to diss Doctor Power, Gynecological Superhero, at least once during every appointment I have with her. (But then, he IS a hard act to follow. We LOVE him.) This does not endear her to us. And, as a woman AND an OB, you think she’d know her way around a vagina a little better than she seems to, because some days she’s pretty fierce with that ol’ ultrasound wand. Like today. I swear she hit a speed bump or a rib or something because WHOA, she yanged hard on that thing once and I very nearly leapt off the bed. So not our favourite doctor in the place, then, but she’s not the worst, either.

HOWEVER, it was not all a bad time. For in this exam, we learned two things. First, the Magnificent Seven are growing, and they seem to be growing at a uniform rate. This is good. Slowly, yes, but still growing. And that is what counts. Second, (*drum roll*) THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN HAVE CALLED IN REINFORCEMENTS! Well, ONE, anyway. One more small follicle showed up on today’s ultrasound, bringing the total to eight. Eight little follicles. So that was fairly cool. I was very pleased. Doctor Dour, of course, was noncommmittal. Bah. Party pooper.

Once we were done, we were off to the pharmacy to restock on drugs. We had another long wait there — apparently this hospital was THE place to be today — but finally, my name was called. We went up to the till to find, sadly, that BDH’s drug plan had finally maxed out. We now have to pay for all our drugs. Well, we worked the system as long as we could, and saved ourselves a fair bit of money. And we’ll try to push it through again next time, because, quite frankly, the woman behind the counter was a noob, and we’re thinking that maybe it might have been a mistake. It’s worth trying, anyway.

And with that, we climbed back into the car, and headed off for the two hour trek home. I dropped BDH off at work on the way, and came home to wait for the callback about the day’s tests.

Our case nurse, Pat, is off today and tomorrow, so a different nurse called us back. She said my estradiol was over 3000 (3300-ish, I think), and my LH was 3 or 4. I can’t remember exactly, because as soon as I got that first number up over 3000 from 860-something last week, I did a mental “YESSSSSSSSSSSS!” and totally missed the rest. All good numbers, though, which I confirmed with this nurse. Although, I think the nurse is a noob too, because I asked her which of my medications was to stop me from ovulating, and she told me one, then called back and told me another. I honestly don’t think she knows. And this is one more thing I don’t want to stress about. So we carry on with the meds I am taking currently, and head back on Wednesday for more blood and ultrasound. And Pat will be back, so I’ll ask her my drug question.

So we are moving up: in estradiol, in follicles, in costs, and in stress and worry and exhaustion. So, progress is not all it is cracked up to be then, huh?

Day Forty-Six: They Say Slow and Steady Wins The Race

God, I am tired.

Our trips to the clinic this week have exhausted both BDH and I, and we have gone in for lab work, ultrasounds and to the hospital pharmacy 4 times so far. That’s 280 km a day, or 4 hours in the car each trip. We’ve gotten up at 4:30 am, napped in parking garges, and spent sleepless nights beforehand fretting. I think being so tired was one of the reasons I was resigned to the fact that if today’s ultrasound went badly, and we were done the cycle, at least we’d get some rest.

However, we are still in cycle. Today’s ultrasound found 7 (yes, SEVEN) tiny little follicles. Not a motherlode, certainly — like the woman before me who had about 15 — but better than we had expected or hoped for at the start of the week. Seven will do just fine, thank you very much.

We went in a little early after my blood test today, because they asked me if I would be part of a case study about multiples. It was a case study done by the psych team supporting the IVF program on decision-making and multiples. It was only two questionnaires, done today and on the day of embryo transfer, so I said sure. It was easy, but we had to be in about 20 minutes early. It kind of screwed up our usual routine, which is bloodwork-quick brekkie at McDonalds-nap in the parking garage-ultrasound. Our nap was abbreviated. We rushed up to the clinic early. I did the questionnaire, which was a few questions that had (for us) obvious answers. And then it was time for the ultrasound.

And that’s where things got all messed up.

Before the ultrasound, I have a pre-game pee. You’re supposed to empty your bladder beforehand so the doctor can see everything. So I trotted off to the bathroom after all the rushing around only to find… NO PEE. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I had suddenly developed a case of shy bladder. No pee, no how. But it was my time for the exam, so I hoped that my bladder was not full, and off I went to the change room.

I went in and got changed, only to find Mr. And Mrs. Loud Country Bumpkin were in before me. She of the 15 follicles was an obnoxious young woman, and I had seen her and her husband at the lab several times. The two of them talk in one volume: shriek. I am sure they are probably very nice, but they also seem to be somewhat dim. And, as I had mentioned, LOUD. God, why do people talk so loudly ALL THE DAMN TIME? Anyway, standing in the changeroom in my bedsheet toga, it dawns on me, NOW I HAVE TO PEE. Damn. But I didn’t know when Mr. And Mrs. Loud would be done. Did I have time to run to the loo? They talk so much, I thought, perhaps… And then, they were done. It was time.

So I went into the exam room to find Dr. Power, Gynecological Superhero, was doing the exam. We LOVE him. He is friendly, kind, funny, and straightforward. We adore Dr. Power, Gynecological Superhero. So right up front I told him that I had a case of shy bladder. He gave me mock-serious tone: It had BETTER NOT be FULL! But we decided to try it anyway. And sure enough, my bladder was HUGELY full. But we saw two follicles before he sent me off to pee. I raced down the hall in my bedsheet toga, covering my assets as best I could, had the pee, and raced back. We started again, somewhat painfully, because I think I am coming down with an infection.

And with the Giant Bladder out of the way, we saw them: SEVEN FOLLICLES. TA DAAAAH! Like an angel sent straight from heaven. The monitor could have been framed in a celestial light; there could have been a choir of angels singing hosanna. There were SEVEN. Now, most of the time they hope for between 10 and 15, and so Dr. Power, Gynecological Superhero was not as celebratory, likely because he thought we may be disappointed. But we were not. We had hoped for at least 7, and there they were. More than 5 means you can continue. Given my poor blood work earlier this week, and given that last time there had been 2 huge sacs of fluid, this was HUGE. We were very pleased. Seven small, equally sized follicles. At the end, Dr. Power, Gynecological Superhero also said that for us, this time, there would be no low threshold, meaning that even if only a couple of those follicles grow, we will continue, because this is likely our last shot at this. That was comforting, to know they were prepared to go the distance with us. So despite the pain and the pee, we left the exam feeling pretty pleased.

We didn’t know if we SHOULD be pleased, however. Seven is not a GREAT number, and we knew that. But it was something, and so we picked up some more of our prescriptions for the weekend, and headed home, exhausted. The drive home was quiet, because we were both so very tired, and we were fretting. Both of us were fretting about the number, and BDH was fretting about missing work so much for this process. That’s been a very real, very intimidating issue weighing on us from the beginning. But his office has been VERY understanding and accommodating. We’re into the territory where BDH now has to take days off without pay because we have had to be gone so much, and he doesn’t want to abuse their trust and understanding. So although they have been wonderful, it weighs on us. We got home, unwound in front of a couple of episodes of Sports Night, and waited for Pat to call.

The best way to get the clinic to call is to get on the phone to someone else, so BDH called his mom to tell her how things went. Now, she knows, from the very second I post this blog, how things are going — she’s becoming quite a blog junkie. (HI MOM!! 🙂 *everybody waves*) But we needed the clinic to call. And, sure enough, five minutes in, they did. We got on the phone with Pat. My blood work had jumped up to 890 — YAY! — which Pat said was right in line with the number and size of my follicles. Last time the jump was huge, and early, and there were only two follicles, so they knew right away that the cycle was a no go, but this time, everything looked as it should. As well, she said based on those numbers, we’re on about day 5 of a cycle in terms of development, which helps us determine how long the cycle will be. And it will be a long, slow cycle, she said. We told her it did not matter, so long as we kept going. So we asked her for her assessment, and she said she was Cautiously Optimistic. If all the follicles keep growing, and we find eggs in most of them, we’ll be good. She was pleased that we came up with seven as well. Seven is better than two. I asked if there will be any more showing up, because this is our first time at this, and she said no. There is a small chance that we may find one or two have been hiding, but likely not. Seven it is, then.

With that, we crashed. Hard. We slept the sleep of the dead for about three hours. If I did not have two or three needles to take this evening, I’d have slept right through until tomorrow.

So we now have the weekend off, and must continue taking all of our many drugs all weekend, and are back in for bloodwork and another ultrasound on Monday morning. We’re not out of the woods yet, obviously. We need all seven of these suckers to continue to grow at an even rate. We need most, if not all, of those follicles to contain eggs. But we are still in cycle, and for this we are grateful. Once Monday comes, we will see how they are progressing, and we may be able to move up from Cautiously Optimistic to something more hopeful. But right now, we are still waiting and wishing for the drugs to do their job. It’s out of our hands. There’s nothing we can do but wait.

I can live with seven. The Magnificent Seven. If we get half of those containing eggs — let’s say four eggs — I’ll be ecstatic. And if those four fertilize, that’s four chances at a healthy baby. More than we had ever hoped. Monday will be excruciating.

Come on, Magnificent Seven.

Day Forty-Four: Today’s Forecast – Cautiously Optimistic

Well, it wasn’t fantastic news, but it wasn’t terrible either.

Today’s blood test was preceded by a great deal of fretting. My estrogen levels were way low on Monday — 92 when they should have been between 500 and 900 — and so we thought it was another dud cycle. Since we had the drugs, Pat encouraged us to go for a few more days and see what happens. So, having faithfully done our 3 shots a day, we trooped to a hotel last night across the street from the lab. All the driving is exhausting, so we thought we’d try to get a good night’s rest, and maybe unwind a bit, before this morning’s test.

Neither of us got much sleep. And neither of us felt relaxed or unwound. I think the phrase “pins and needles” came up more than once while waiting for today’s result.

So, when the phone rang, I was dreading the worst. And it wasn’t the worst.

My estrogen level was at 269 today. Still not great, but hey, it is rising. If it had been below 200, we would have put the brakes on and stopped the cycle, but as it stands, we’re going to try to push through for a few more days. It could mean a few things. Best case scenario, it could mean that I am just responding slowly because of my extended time on Cyclen, and so it just means we’re going to have a very long cycle. I can cope with that. As long as we get at least 5 follicles and can proceed, I can cope with a long cycle. Not-so-best-case scenario, we only have one or two follicles. If that’s the case, we can’t proceed with IVF. But if we have a couple of follicles, we’ll ask and see if we can switch to IUI. I don’t know if that is a possibility, but we will ask. No use in wasting them. Worst case scenario, we have a couple of duds like last time, or no follicles at all, and we call it all off. If that happens, we have some serious decisions to make. We can’t get back in cycle again, if we can even afford to at all, until after Christmas, which means I will be over 40. And we all know the risks with that, but it may be a risk we decide to take. If not, then we cut bait and say we are done, and think about other options like adoption. Or a nice long vacation, which looks good from the vantage point of two long, tiring years at this.

So as it stands now, we’re still going for it. This evening, we will add in yet another drug to the protocol, and we push on to Friday morning, where we have another blood test and an ultrasound to see what, if anything, is happening with these Bastard Diva Ovaries. It’s hard to be optimistic. At this point, both BDH and I don’t dare hope for anything because it will be just too hard to have the rug yanked out from under us again. I am puffy and uncomfortable; in particular, the spots where my hips meet my legs are uncomfortable, right where I fold when I go to sit, as things get more swollen and squishy. And with every needle I get more and more sensitive, which is really fucking annoying. I know there are women who go through so much worse than this, and here I am whining about a couple of little needles. I have to suck it up, and stop complaining. I promised BDH that if we got a good blood test today, I would rest for the next two weeks, as he has been nagging at me to do for months, and I would also stop complaining. If we can get through this cycle, I won’t complain, I will do as I am told, and I will just be grateful. If we can make it through to pregnancy, I will not complain. I will be grateful. Every pain, every sick feeling, everything — I will just be glad to have made it.

But first things first: some decent follicles on Friday. Five or more would be ideal. So everyone, get out your fertility dolls, light your candles, dance around the room hurling fucksparkles a-plenty hither and yon — do whatever you have to do do help me get 5 or more decent follicles on Friday. I’ll owe you one, I promise.

Day Forty-Two: Not Looking Good

Well, it was inevitable: Things are screwed up. My body is rebelling.

We went to the clinic today to do our blood test. Another early morning, another two hour drive for a five-minute blood test, and another two hour drive back. Basically this test was to determine what my levels are and how things are progressing. And, apparently, things are not progressing too well.

At this stage, my estrogen levels should be between 500 and 900. They were at 92. So I am not responding to the drugs. Again. So my case nurse, Pat, said we have two choices: we can pack it in, or we can try for a couple more days and see if the estrogen levels come up.

I was a little stunned. How could I fail yet again? How could another cycle go wrong? So I asked Pat what SHE thought I should do. And she said, I should go for it. They’ve seen it happen a few times before that someone stays suppressed from the birth control pills a little longer than normal, but then their estrogen begins to rise, just a little later. It can happen. And since I’ve bought and paid for all the drugs already, Pat said she thought I had nothing to lose by trying to go for it. So we will. Another two days of the injections, and then we’ll go in for blood tests again on Wednesday. After that, we’ll make some decisions.

So Wednesday looms on the horizon. I am dreading those test results, because knowing how badly all this has gone for us, I have a very hard time being optimistic. I was pretty upset today, but with Wednesday comes the prospect that maybe, perhaps, we will never have kids. And I just don’t know if I am ready to admit that to myself yet.

I am great with kids. Kids love me. I “get” kids. The thought of never having any seems so unfair. But it is a very real, very likely possibility. And it hurts a lot. Seeing people abuse and murder their own children, seeing celebrities parachuting into impoverished countries to “adopt” (read: BUY) children, seeing kids unsupervised and neglected and ignored — and here, two people who can and would make good parents cannot, even with all medical science has to offer, manage to have even one child that they would surely love and cherish more than anything in this world. It is one of life’s real cruelties. And it’s one that I wish I could watch from afar. But it’s not. It’s real. It’s happening. And it’s heartbreaking.

Day Forty-One: Needles and More Needles

And now, poppets, we come to the part of the show where I grow weary of needles.

It happens every time. Around the second or third day of taking follicle stimulating hormone, I start getting a bit weepy at the prospect of taking my needles. I start feeling the hormones, so of course I’m starting to get a bit overly sensitive. It doesn’t mean I stop, of course. It used to be that I gave myself my needles, and at this point, BDH took over and gave them to me. But now, he does it full time, so I just get the emotional bit. I have had so many needles throughout my life, and generally needles don’t bother me (except dental needles, which are Instruments of the Devil). And this is not like the old days, when these drugs used to be injected into your bum with huge intramuscular needles; they are just small-barrel subcutaneous needles. But combined with hormones, I lose a bit of my nerve and patience some days.

I have been taking Lupron since Wednesday. Lupron is taken twice daily, so we set our alarms for 8 and 8. It’s not a bad drug to take; by that I mean, there don’t seem to be any outstanding negative side effects for me. My heart was racing a couple of times, but that’s normal, and seems to have stopped. What I don’t like about it is the needle itself. I still take it in my leg (although I could take it in my stomach, but PLEASE, does that sound like any fun for ANYONE? I think NOT.) But unlike some of the other drugs, where you get a pen or a pre-loaded syringe, this one comes as a bag full of generic syringes from the pharmacy and a vial of stuff. So we have to load up the syringe ourselves, which is not a bad thing. On a morning when you’re sleepy, it can be tricky, but it’s not a big deal. The needles themselves are the pain in the ass — or more specifically, the leg — with this particular drug. The needle itself seems to be bigger, which so far has posed 2 problems for us: adjusting to the amount of force required to poke it in, and the tendency to hit more stuff when it goes in. The tiny needles of the pens barely make a mark, and are certainly the closest thing to painless you can find. But these ones are bigger, and so they can sometimes hit capillaries, which is a bit painful, and can also make you bleed a fair bit. (Take note: Pooh bandaids can be wonderfully soothing in these situations.) As well, if you don’t inject them in a spot with enough padding, you’ll feel it (as BDH can attest when I hollered the other morning). Add to that, the drug itself stings a bit at the injection location, both going in and afterwards. But another complication we have found with this one is that the generic pharmacy needles have had noticeably BENT needles; that is, they’re not attached entirely straight to the syringe. THAT HURTS. Going in, yes, but when coming out… let’s just say that with all needles, you are supposed to pull them out directly perpendicular to the skin, as they were supposed to have gone in that way. So coming out drags the point of the needle ALL THE WAY ALONG the hole it went into as it comes out if it is not straight. That? Hurts like a bugger.

On Friday, we added in Gonal-F, the follicle stimulating hormone. I have a love/hate relationship with follicle stimulating hormones. Things I love: it gives my body a lovely dose of hormones, which have been clearly lacking over the last two years, and so for a time, I feel normal; it seems to work well for me, and my body responds well to it, unlike most other drugs, which prove me to be a medical case study; and it comes in a pre-loaded pen with tiny little thin needles, which make it very easy and painless to inject. Things I hate: it costs a ton of money, $450 per injection, so if the cycle goes badly I am just flushing money down the drain; and it makes my ovaries swell to the size of oranges. Okay, this is not entirely a bad thing, but it can be uncomfortable. Have you ever FELT your ovaries, ladies? (And don’t tell me about being able to feel the little twinge of pain when you ovulate, because that is just a well-bandied-about medical myth. There are no pain receptors in ovaries.) No? Not terribly conscious of your ovaries, are you? I thought not. Well, imagine then that you begin to actually FEEL them getting all big and squishy and stretching everything around (THAT you CAN feel). Imagine the feeling that you’ve got two small water balloons right where you bend to sit. It’s not painful. It’s odd. It’s a bit disconcerting. The pushing and stretching is a bit… strange and uncomfortable sometimes. And so, as they get bigger, you get squishier. And the joke “I am going to need a bra for these puppies” starts to come up a little more.

However, if they’re getting bigger and squishier, the hope is that they are developing more and more follicles for retrieval for IVF. Most women naturally produce 1 or 2 follicles that are viable (containing an egg) each month, as well as some small ones. The ideal, the “glory number”, is that you produce 10-15 viable follicles with all these drugs. Of those, some will just contain fluid, but you hope most will contain eggs. You won’t know exactly how many until after the retrieval procedure when they get the fluid under a microscope. But to have the best shot at this, you want as many as possible. If you get fertilized eggs out of this, and they do a transfer of 3 embryos at a time, there’s no guarantee they will stay, so I’d like to have some backups. I’m not looking for a whole passel of kids here; I just want the best shot I can get at one or two kids. So, with all that in mind, I will not complain about the Ovaries of Doom. I’ll get my little C-cup Ovary Bra® and go on my merry way, thankyouverymuch.

But, like I said, the hormones have started. And so, by the second or third day of hormones, I begin to get a little bit weepy. BDH is good at giving needles; it’s me who is bad at receiving needles when I am flush with hormones. I can’t give them to myself, and I cry and get frustrated. Or, BDH is giving them to me, and I sometimes get tired and don’t want to feel the needles anymore, and I cry and get frustrated. It always happens. Not with every injection, just from time to time, but it happens every cycle. It is just the way it is. BDH doesn’t even worry about it any more. He’s used to it. At first it freaked him out, but now he’s come to understand that it’s just a side effect of the process. But the thing is, this protocol is the “pincushion protocol”, and there are many, many more needles in my immediate future.

I think it’s a safe bet to just make sure I have lots of Kleenex and Pooh bandaids handy for the next few weeks. Just in case.

Day Thirty-Seven: Less is More. Except When It Is Less.

It was the best of Wednesdays; it was the worst of Wednesdays.

For those of you following our gripping “Tale of Two Ovaries”, today was the day we were to go back for an ultrasound to check if That Bastard Cyst was gone. Or, at the very least, that it was cowed into submission by my birth control pills of doom. So we set our alarms extra-early, got up (BDH having had about 4 hours’ sleep, and me just slightly more), and got on the road around 6:15 this morning. The ultrasound wasn’t scheduled until 9 am, but if you remember, last trip took us a full two hours because of construction and traffic. We just didn’t want the hassles again this time, considering the 401 was closed last night and into this morning’s rush hour by a tractor-trailer collision. Ah, the smell of sulfuric acid and diesel in the morning.

We set off with the intention of taking the back roads and having a leisurely drive in. No rush, no worries. Except for the little, tiny, baby hiccup in our plan: that there was an inordinate number of stupid people on the roads this morning. Stupid people, driving stupidly in their stupid vehicles, everywhere we turned. It’s like the Annual Stupid Festival came to town, and nobody told us. But we fought our way through it and made it into our usual parking spot (6th level of the parking garage, by the elevator, because stupid doesn’t like heights) at around 8:10. Which left us plenty of time for a catnap in the car. We often catnap in the car when we get in early and have time to spare before appointments. And yet, we are always somewhat angered and peevish that BDH’s cellphone alarm has the absolute GALL to go off and wake us before our appointment. Go figure.

So, up we trooped to the clinic at quarter til nine, and down the hall for the obligatory pre-game pee. (Trust me, after the dressing-down I got from Doctor Crankypants one day for daring to have some fluid in my bladder — despite having peed not 15 minutes before — I take extra care in making sure I pee as much as is humanly possible before I go into the exam room. He actually sent me back down the hall to the bathroom, dressed in nothing but a bedsheet, to pee some more that time. What, TMI? Dude. You gotta know this stuff, man.) We went into the exam room to see our favourite cheerful Young Lady Doctor. She always makes it a positive experience, or at least, as positive as she can given the circumstances. We like her. She gets it. And wand at the ready, we reviewed what we were looking for and what would happen if we did or didn’t find That Bastard Cyst. Both Young Lady Doctor and the day’s case nurse were in great form, laughing and joking, and once we got started, we saw… it had shrunk! We’re at .9 cm! This, combined with the start of my period, means that the cyst is “not active” or not producing estrogen and therefore on its way out, so it will no longer be a problem. This was great news for a few reasons. First, it meant no procedure to drain the cyst. (WHEE! The less pain, the better.) Second, it meant I didn’t have to take any more of those stinking birth control pills, which means an end (hopefully) to the month-long headache and other fun side effects. And third and most happily, it meant we could start on the rest of the drug protocol today. We are underway for this cycle.

While I sat there on the exam table discussing the options with Young Lady Doctor, it suddenly occured to me. DUDE. She’s pregnant! Like, REALLY pregnant! When the HELL did THAT happen? And while I was pondering that, and chatting with the case nurse on my left about the protocol, I noticed Young Lady Doctor out of the corner of my eye on my right side getting a little antsy. Then, she sort of clambered across the exam table and futzed with my bangs. “What, was that BUGGING you?” I asked her, laughing and not just a little surprised. “Yeah,” she said, “wasn’t it bugging YOU?” She was all embarassed and it was very, very funny. I think, I will miss Young Lady Doctor when she goes on mat leave. So we got done and I headed into the change room. I heard Young Lady Doctor go out into the hallway and chat with BDH. They chatted about her pregnancy. Young Lady Doctor was a patient in the program as well as a doctor, and I heard her say, “I worked so hard to get this far, and now I’m kinda getting ready for it to be done.” So as BDH and I headed back downstairs to the pharmacy, I said to him, “Dude. I had NO IDEA she was pregnant.” Apparently, neither did he. And as it turns out, she’s 34 weeks along, so it’s been MONTHS that we’ve been working with her and never noticed. Oops.

We had to go downstairs and pick up our $2500 or so of drugs for this protocol at the hospital pharmacy. There was a 15 or 20 minute wait. Now, the pharmacy is situated near the main elevators, which provided us with the perfect vantage point from which to view the crazy people at the hospital while observing elevator traffic. So, it was not all crazy people driving today, then. Oh no. Some of them were ambulatory as well. Crazy bald goth biker dude with ZZ Top beard, miserable emo chick with pink hair, strange student with obligatory giant thick glasses and floppy bowl hair cut, delivery people with the leather skin and cauliflower noses… they were all there. Cross-Section-Of-Society On Parade, man. And some even stopped in at the pharmacy, which sent BDH into apoplectic spasms of frustration. One fellow in particular, in camoflage-patterned sneakers, shirt emblazoned with “Canada Post” decals, and no teeth, went in to pick up what we believe was iron pills. However, it took no less than 10 minutes of excruciatingly detailed explanation by the pharmacy staffer of what the drug did and how to take it and why before this odd little man was sure he understood enough to head out into the world clutching said packet of pills. Combine this people-watching time with the near-hysterical level of sleep deprivation we were approaching and we were very punchy indeed as we headed for home, with our refrigerated baggie full of liquid gold.

Never underestimate the power of sleep deprivation in the hilarity of a car trip. Strange things become funny to the very tired. I give you: the word “truncheon”. Two hours and endless uses of this word later, including at the drive through of McDonalds where BDH ordered a “Bacon and Egg McTruncheon”, and we were home. Giggling, exhausted, and frighteningly short of patience with the world around us (motto: we love humanity, it’s people we can’t stand), we crashed into bed around noon.

About an hour later, I got my callback from my case nurse confirming that everything looked good, and confirming the schedule and doses of meds for the next few days. I start out this evening taking 40 IU of a drug called Lupron, which I take twice a day. This one, from what I gather, helps ensure that when I start producing follicles, they’re of good quality. Kind of like digging manure into the soil in a garden in spring, I guess. Then, after two days of that, on Friday, I add in an injection of 450 IU of a follicle stimulating hormone, which is where all the money is really spent, at $450 an injection. It makes the follicles grow (hence the name, “follicle stimulating hormone”. Duh.) So, following my gardening analogy, it’s, what, fertilizer? Then, I go in on Monday, bright and early, for my first monitoring blood test, to see how I am responding. I guess that’s roughly akin to when Farmer Brown does his walkabout on the fields, and reaches down and grabs the big clot of dirt, and crushes it thoughtfully in his hand… God. I am shit at analogies. Anyway, I will worry until the lab results come back that the cycle will go horribly terribly wrong like last time. Also, because it means being at the lab for 7 am. Bah. So once all was confirmed, I groggily let a few friends know how things went, and spent the rest of the afternoon vegging in front of electronic entertainment devices. BDH missed work entirely, and woke up to find me adding reminders by the score into my calendar. I played the message from the clinic for him, including the little celebratory “Yay! You’re on your way!” from the case nurse, and he went off to hunt and gather sustenance. And a video game.

And so, having just returned from the first of my many shots, administered by BDH, I can safely say that we are on our way. Again. Fingers crossed.

Day Twenty-Nine-ish: The Dog Days

After another day of stomach-crunching gut rot, I admit it. This cycle is dragging on REALLY long. There’s way too much time to think and be peevish.

There is a point in this process where you just get tired. Tired of the exams, tired of the needles, tired of the drugs, tired of being tired. Tired of the hormonal craziness. Tired of getting your hopes up, even though you swear you won’t. Tired of failure. I am tired, and I’m just sitting here swallowing a stinking pill each day.

I don’t know how women (or their partners, for that matter) can go through this process for years and years. A wise doctor friend of mine and I were chatting about it yesterday, and in her experience, the need to do this for years goes beyond the desire to conceive and into mental illness territory. I can see that. How do people continue to put themselves through this, willingly? How do they go into massive debt to continue doing many cycles? I want to have kids more than anything, but I could not do it. I could not see us living with that much debt — at around $8000 per cycle, we can barely afford the one cycle we are doing — but people have been known to go into massive debt to chase this dream. And it is exhausting. Your body is bombarded with drugs and all your natural hormones are stopped or started or controlled or enhanced. You take many, many trips to laboratories and clinics. You experience huge emotional highs and devastating lows. You talk a lot. You analyse a lot. You cry a lot.

There comes a time where you just have to cut bait. You have to decide that you’ve done all you can and it is time to move on. I am not saying that is an easy decision to come to. I think it will be agonizing. But you do have to make that decision.

In the meantime, I have decided that being a big sucky-baby is the order of the day. I have moved on from the nausea of weeks 1 through 3, moved through a blissful few side-effect-free days, and have moved on to stomach pains and headaches. BAH. Only 7 more pills to go before the next ultrasound. I hope that the pills do their job. I am kind of dreading the alternative. And BDH is struggling with the optimism party line these days, because he is feeling pretty tired as well. Although he did suggest that we get the baby’s room cleaned out and get the furniture we bought way back when put together and ready for a new occupant. I thought that was kind of sweet. But I think I’ll wait. Just for self-preservation’s sake.

Day Twenty-Three: Because Easy is Boring

Today was our “all quiet on the ovarian front” ultrasound. It’s the one that gives us the all clear to begin taking the follicle-stimulating- and other drugs.

I was up at 6:30 and dragged BDH up at 6:45. We didn’t have to be in until 9 am because there was no blood test at 7 am with this U/S. YAY! So we went to bed last night with the happy thought that we could sleep in and have a nice, leisurely drive in to the hospital, instead of the normal, frantic drive to make the 7:15 am-ish deadline at the lab.

We were, surprisingly, wrong in our assumption.

We did get on the road by 7 as we’d planned. And there was fairly heavy traffic until the Kitchener cutoff, as there always is for the morning rush hour. But after Kitchener, the traffic did not disperse as we had expected. It’s like everyone and their dog had to get to London, and fast. Add to this, the ever-continuing construction to widen the 401 to three lanes, and by Woodstock, we were stopped. And peevish. But it started moving again after about 20 minutes. And BDH was doing some fancy and fast driving to get us into London by 8:30. However, trendsetters that we are, heavy traffic accompanied us all the way through London to the hospital. Rush hour, you say? I did not experience a lot of rushing. Mostly a lot of people dawdling along, all in one place. But we made it, with a few minutes to spare for the obligatory pre-game pee.

Young Lady Doctor was in good form this morning when we went into the exam room, and that’s always nice. Friendly is good when you’re the one wielding the wand. And then, she spied it. What’s THIS? Oh LOOK. A 2 cm cyst. LOVELY. Damn left ovary, always causing trouble. The right one was quiet, unassuming, following the program. But Lefty, as usual, ever the diva, has THIS BIG BLACK SPACE. Like a big black hole of reproductive endocrinology, man. So it is do not pass go, do not spend $200 (plus) on drugs today. Instead, the doctor tells us that this is likely that persistent follicle from LAST time (THAT BASTARD!) and we will need to get rid of it. She explained that we will continue on the birth control pills (a.k.a. The Nausea Inducing Pills from Hell) for another two weeks, and then re-check. Hopefully, the pills will suppress the cyst down to a much smaller size — ideally, to nothingness. If it does not suppress, we’ll have to go in and drain it. *cue dramatic musical flourish*

Young Lady Doctor explained that the procedure to drain the cyst is much like what we’d do for an egg retrieval, but much quicker. They put in a speculum, freeze the top of the vaginal wall, and then they stick a needle in and drain the bugger. At this point, alarm bells were going WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! in my head. ACK! NEEDLES! SPECULUMS (specula? speculae?)! IN MY HOO-HOO! So I asked, all cool and composed, Is this painful? Because I am not so good with the pain. She said it is very much like a bee sting initially, but after that, nothing. She said that the worst part is actually when the ovary is getting pushed around. It contains no pain receptors, so you don’t feel the needle, but as they’re trying to insert the needle it’s like trying to balance a balloon on the end of a needle and it keeps floating away. So you do feel that stretching, and that is not good. She suggested putting a hand on your abdomen to push back and provide resistance and that takes away the stretching. THIS is a good thing to know.

One thing that I really take stock in is that Young Lady Doctor told us that she’d been through the procedure herself, and so her experience made me completely trust in what she was saying. Before, I was sincerely stressing about this procedure. Now, I have a realistic idea of what to expect, and this comforts me greatly. When she said this procedure is half as painful as a dental needle in the roof of your mouth, I know what that means. I know what to expect.

So, we left the hospital 15 minutes after we arrived, prescription in hand. We fought the traffic for two hours home, and crashed into bed.

When I got up, I got my follow-up call from the clinic. I had a hilarious 15-minute conversation with the case nurse. I learned that having a cyst was fairly common, much to my dismay because, of course, I pride myself on being the embodiment of Murphy’s Law in the obstetrical/gynecological realm. “Oh no, you’re NOTHING SPECIAL,” she said. So I bragged up the size — “2 CENTIMETRES!” I said proudly — but she merely said, “Oh, we’ve seen bigger. MUCH bigger.” BAH. Well then. So I asked what to expect. She said if I continue the pills I won’t get a period, but “Knowing YOU, you’ll get some breakthrough bleeding or something!” So with an admonishment of “Don’t you get a period!” I’ve been scheduled for another ultrasound in two weeks’ time, where I’ve been told, nay, THREATENED, that my cyst should make itself scarce OR ELSE.

I love when my misfortunes can at least be the source of some comedy. Kind of makes it bearable. You have to laugh. It sure beats crying.

Day Seventeen: And The Munchies Continue

Man. I am just queen of the munchies this week. Can I blame this on the birth control pills? I hope so.

I have been feeling a bad case of the munchies for about a week or so. No, scratch that — that’s a lie. It’s been more like TWO weeks, because in the beginning, I had the Love Of The Pie happening. Now, it’s just craving. Just craving STUFF. Like cheese. Who craves cheese? And tonight? Chinese food. Bah. Hormones are weird. I can’t believe I ever missed them when I was low in estrogen and progesterone, man.

And the really bad side effect of the pills has been the nausea. About 1/2 hour to an hour after I eat at midday, really nasty stomach-crunching nausea takes over. It is the worst. I have to lie down sometimes, it’s so bad. Funny thing is, when I was pregnant, the only “morning sickness” I had was actually in the afternoon. About an hour after lunch. So it’s like being pregnant again, except without the reward for the nausea at the end of the road. And I can drink when I am feeling sulky and peevish. Which I may do with dinner, actually.