Friday, December 09, 2011

Looking forward, with a quick look back

It's not often that I look backward. I'm more the kind of gal who assesses what needs to be done in the future and concentrates her efforts there. I find that waffling over what-ifs really only leads to melancholy. So when I last wrote, months and months and months ago, I was focused on moving ahead. I was attempting to overcome disappointment and a whole menagerie of emotions so we could focus on what was next.

That was until our Reproductive Endocrinologist called; that sorta-famous doctor from another state, who's now even more well known because he helped a reality star discover her breast cancer in the midst of infertility treatment. It's a rare thing to get a call from this doctor, so when he calls, you kinda have to listen.

When you're world-renowned, I think getting an ego comes with the territory. And this doc thought we'd be a slam-dunk case. An effortless boost to the clinic's (already) impressive success rates. So when our first round of IVF failed, I think it hurt his ego. Perhaps even pissed him off a little? So while The Banker and I were moving on, this doc wanted us to put on the breaks. He wanted to try again, only this time he would use an entirely different protocol--one that would hopefully keep me from hyper-stimulating while simultaneously being gentler on my body.

I told him we'd think about it. And then we sat on his offer for a few weeks. He'd dangled this giant, glittering carrot in front of us, causing me to rethink our future plans. I dreaded the thought of months of hormone injections. I feared the cost to my body and my longterm health. Our bank account could only handle one more large expense--and if IVF failed again we'd have to borrow money for the exorbitant cost of adoption. It was a decision that quite literally made me sick with nerves.

Still, I told The Banker that I didn't know if I could ignore this opportunity and move forward without having severe doubts, without suffering from huge what-ifs that would swallow me whole. Never one to push me, I think he was relieved by my decision. We would try again.

So in July, The Banker and I left Boo with our families and traveled to the clinic. I stuck to a strict diet of no sugar, no white flour, no alcohol. I religiously saw the acupuncturist. I injected day after day until my stomach turned the most amusing shades of green, purple, and blue. And the clinic was able to retrieve a good number of healthy eggs, which then went to the lab to grow into embryos while we returned home.

And waited.

And waited some more, wondering if these embryos, like our last ones, would fall apart.

When the lab called with the good news--healthy embryos, Grade A for transfer--I was numb. Until the tears came. And then the sneaky paralyzing doubt, because there was still so much left in our journey.

So we took a vacation, both mentally and physically. We recognized that the past few years had been hard on all of us, and that Boo's love of princesses and all things Disney could be fleeting. So along with my parents (and THANKS to my parents, who offered the trip as our Christmas gift), we all headed to Orlando in September with one agenda in mind: Blow a 4-year-old's mind. Needless to say, between the Bibbido Bobbido Boutique, lunch with the princesses, and the amazing magic that only Disney can provide, Becca was in heaven. She literally shook with excitement as she waited to meet Mickey, Minnie, and all her beloved princesses. So often her excitement, joy, and wonder would make me smile until tears crept up. It was an amazing vacation and helped steel The Banker and me for our return to the clinic the next month.

Leaving Becca once again with our family, we returned to the clinic for the IVF transfer in October, three days after my birthday. What followed were a few very long days of achingly dull bed rest in a hotel room. Then upon our return there was a strict regimen to follow: no lifting anything over 5 pounds, no exercise, rest often, and try not to stress.

Try not to stress! This is awesome advice, akin to "don't breathe." But I stayed busy--while trying so hard not to overdo it--and waited for the days to pass so I could take the blood test to determine whether this gamble had paid off.

Thankfully, as the sky-high HCG test results practically screamed--we'd been very, very successful. To the blessed tune of TWO little babies. Holy cow, TWINS.

Not that The Banker and I quite believed it as first. After so many years of disappointment, it took a little bit of time to accept that we'd finally found what we'd been working and praying so hard for--and then some!

I'm battling through the end of a bumpy first trimester, complete with violent sickness, headaches, a few complications, and sporadic bed rest. It hasn't been an easy ride, but it's one I'm not taking for granted. After the holidays, we'll begin to cautiously gear up for the drastic changes that will be coming our way this June, give or take. But in the meantime we'll be taking the time to celebrate all our blessings this year, because they've come to us two-fold.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A Plethora of Pink

It's been a process--mourning in ways (hopefully) hidden from Becca and finding concrete steps to help us move on. And while we've not yet arrived at that (mythical?) place of acceptance, I think we're closer.

Having something to throw myself into helped a great deal. And what better focus than someone's 4th birthday? We had a visit from Sleeping Beauty that wowed the wee princesses in attendance and certainly made the Birthday Girl's day.

There were ample decorations, cake, and presents. It might have been a bit much. But I'm okay with that. Because I want Becca to know how incredibly important and loved she is--and I certainly don't want her memory of this period in her life darkened by our attempts to grow our family.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where I get a little technical (and depressing)

I've been quiet, so, so quiet here, for months and months because I needed every ounce of "me" to denote to what we'd undertaken at life. And now? Well, now I'm just a bit lost as we've discovered that much of this all-encompassing focus was for nothing.

The Banker and I traveled to a world-renowned fertility clinic, where we were told we were ideal candidates for IVF. The expense would be massive, but if I returned to the Really Big Company during Becca's preschool hours and continued to aggressively freelance, it would make the smallest of dents in the massive investment. So I went back to work on a special project, threw myself at every freelance opportunity, and started the slew of medicine concoctions, injections, and invasive sonograms to monitor my process. When it came time to harvest the small army of eggs, The Banker and I hesitantly, sadly, left Becca behind with family and moved into a hotel room for the remaining duration of the process.

Then things went wrong: I hyper-stimulated, producing too many eggs, and my body started retaining water in my body cavity. (Should the fluid have migrated to my lungs, hospitalization would have been required.) The doctors harvested the eggs but refused to transfer the embryos until my body had time to recoup. The postponement was crushing, as we returned home early, empty-wombed.

Then things went wrong again: For some unknown reason, and to the shock of the doctors and nurses, our embryos reacted poorly to the lab setting. What had begun as a large supply of eggs, turned into an assortment of embryos that were under-grown and fragmented. Our odds of eventual success dropped considerably.

But there's always hope, right? So we took two months off. Took Becca to the beach with my family, tried to focus on our family, our marriage, and all that we did have. And then we returned to a hotel room in another state for the transfer of the few embryos deemed the healthiest.

Then the waiting began. The excruciating waiting accompanied by a bevy of medicines, injections with 1.5-inch needles, a carefully monitored diet, and an almost total lack of physical exertion on my half. I tried not to be too hopeful, though the doctor thought our odds were roughly 50 percent. I tried not to be stressed out by my sister-in-law's upcoming baby showers and how difficult my attendance would be should we fail. I tried not to see everything and anything as a sign. Of success. Of failure. Yesterday, I was practically vibrating with anxiety as I had my blood drawn at 6:30 a.m. to determine if the pregnancy hormone HCG was present.

And as I discovered minutes before having to pick up Becca from preschool, the blood test was negative for the pregnancy hormone. Two years, an immense financial burden, untold damage to my body from incredible dosages of hormones...all for nothing.

In the time it's taken us to desperately try and fail for one child, friends have had two. I am surrounded by pregnant family members and friends. And every day I wait to see if my body will crack and fall apart, my outside finally mirroring how broken I feel inside. I wonder how long it will take for me to lose my sanity. After all, during this process I've lost my faith. (It's hard to go to church and praise God for the hellish existence we've endured these past 2 years while we're surrounded by others blessed repeatedly with what we can't have. I feel like a dog that continues to be kicked.) I've lost untold sums of money. I've lost time. And Becca has lost out on what she continually asks for (and all her little friends have)--a sibling.

Becca will be 4 in March. We're fast approaching a potential age gap between siblings where she'll not have a built-in friend but someone she has to "babysit" or care for (I know, as I've lived it). I feel like a complete failure for not being to able to give her the larger family she (and we) so desperately, heart-achingly want.

So what now? There's truly no revisiting the option of IVF. Cost aside, there's no guarantee our embryos will react any differently to a lab setting, essentially falling apart. (And we've tried everything leading up to IVF, including a painful D&C to prep my body, countless meds, meds and IUIs, and more.) Likely as not, we're going to take some time to mourn the loss of this dream. And I can't adequately express how crushing this is. And then, once we've had a chance to internalize this hell, we'll look to the long, emotionally exhausting, and expensive option of adoption.

Because despite how difficult this has been--and hands down it's been the hardest, most miserable experience of my life--I won't give up. Becca deserves to be a big sister. And The Banker and I really would like for someone else to call us Mom and Dad.