April 30, 2009
Instead of continuing to blog about blogging as we’ve done for the past three Thoughtful Thursdays, we will conclude April by returning to Thoughtful Thursday’s bread and butter: regular old infertility. The kind of issue that Fertiles just don’t tend to deal with, or at least not in the same way.
Hold on, not so fast… Quick detour first. It’s on topic, trust me.
When I bought my Volkswagen (as you may recall, the car I bought in 2001 to prepare for the baby that I was sure would be on the way soon), I received a registration card from VW. In addition to the usual name and address questions, it asked a question I’ve never seen anywhere else — a manifestation of the quirky marketing for which VW has strived for decades.
The registration card said something to the effect of:
Did you give your Volkswagen a name?
___ Of course! The name is _______
___ Huh? Why would I name a car?
To me, the very same question can be asked about all of the eggs and embryos (“theoretical children,” as my husband would call them) that get produced during fertility treatments.
Looking good!! Did you name ’em? We named ours Attia and Servilla (Attia survived- we assume).
Honestly, naming embryos had never occurred to me before. Yes, I gazed at their photos for hours, wished that they would stay, imagined their futures, loved them. But naming embryos who had not implanted (and in that case, never did implant) was just not on my radar. I did name my Volkswagen, though.
Anyway, I have found many people who thought otherwise in the blogosphere. I have seen names for eggs prior to retrieval or IUI (usually naming the whole group rather than each individual, such as The Magnificent Seven). I have seen lots of names for embryos post-fertilization/pre-transfer, and even more names for embryos post-transfer (some names for the group and some individual names). The naming seems to go up further once people see embryos on ultrasound. When the sex of the fetus is known, it seems rare not to have some kind of nickname (or in some cases, the people start using the real name that they will give the baby). Some names are unique to people’s interests; some reflect something about the embryos/fetuses; some are just fun or silly.
Using some concurrent twin pregnancies as examples:
- Miss Conception calls her twins Chick and Pea.
- Katedaphne has called her twins Thing 1 and Thing 2 since seeing their first ultrasounds.
- Shinejil named her twins Bruiser and Runty upon seeing their disparate sizes on ultrasound; one week later, Runty’s heartbeat could no longer be found, but Bruiser continues to do well.
- Mrs. M@sk had been calling her twins The Flintstones, then revised it to Wilma and Betty once she learned the sexes, but she continues to call them all sorts of variations on the theme such as Bedrock Babies. By the way, Mrs. M@sk has just been put on bedrest for the remainder of her pregnancy, so go send her your good thoughts that the babies stay put for several more weeks.
My husband and I do have nicknames for our fetuses, but between the two of us we have said them out loud less than half a dozen times. Once, only once, when my husband said goodbye as I left for work, he also said goodbye to the babies using their nicknames. One of them is a name that DH for years has joked about giving our child as an actual name — purely a joke, he’s not batshit insane. The other one we came up with as a counterpart to the first name when we learned that I was carrying twins.
I’m not going to tell you the names, but I will give you a huge hint. If anyone happens to get them both before next week’s Thoughtful Thursday, you will get an enormous jackpot bonanza prize. I’m pretty sure no one will guess — wanna prove me wrong? (If you do guess, please don’t forget to also answer the substantive Thoughtful Thursday questions.)
Your hint(s): The names come from The Transformers. The 80s cartoon and toy empire, not necessarily the recent movie. One of the characters after whom one of our twins is named appeared in the 2007 movie, but the other one did not. I am not telling you whether they are Autobots or Decepticons (or one of each).
Back to this week’s Thoughtful Thursday query:
Have you named eggs/embryos at any point in the treatment process? If so, at what point? Were the names picked out before or after you saw their microscope/ultrasound image?
I’m not talking about when you might assign the real name to a fetus — that’s a topic for a different Thoughtful Thursday. Today, let’s talk about the silly nicknames that some of us give and some of us don’t. You can even tell us the names if you’d like.
March 5, 2009
It’s a new month, and that means a new crop of Intelligentsia (people who have commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post for the month of February). Returning from her January Intelligentsia appearance is Wiseguy from Woman Anyone?, the only two-time Intelligentsia member. She has some fine company this month:
Ernessa from Fierce and Nerdy
Fattykins from I Can’t Wash My Jeans, My Fat Is In The Way
Heather from Joys In My Life
Leslie Laine from What You’re Not Expecting When You’re Trying to Expect
Mel a.k.a. Lollipop Goldstein from Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters
Shalini from By the Pricking of My Thumbs
Thanks for your diligence, ladies! If you would like the icon for your sidebar and need the code, let me know. Otherwise, enjoy your bling and your accolades. Y’all come back now, ya hear?
Onto the main event. This week’s Thoughtful Thursday will focus on socks. Huh? Yes, socks.
The topic was inspired by Kym’s Great Sock-It-To-Me Exchange (signups end on
FridaySunday, but if you hurry you can still join in the fun!). Send a pair, get a pair. Make a couple of new friends. Fend off the winter chill, snuggle up filled with bloggy camaraderie, or bring yourself some good luck for an upcoming cycle (even though many of us have come to realize that we don’t believe in luck).
The Sock-It-To-Me exchange actually won’t be the first time I’ve sent socks to another blogger. You may recall the Mojo Sock giveaway, in which I found redemption following an unfortunate pottery calamity through the simple purchase and gift of some socks. I am so thrilled to say that the donor FET in which Miss Conception wore the Mojo Socks has resulted in a twin pregnancy, about to reach the 14 week mark. I don’t believe in luck, but I just might believe in Mojo.
Oh, and Miss Conception would like to pass along some kindness of her own. If you are in the U.S. or Canada can use any of the following extra meds, please email missyconception at gmail .com:
1 full box of Crinone (18 applicators) worth $400…free to a good home
1 bottle of Prometrium (100mg tablets x 41)
1 Bottle of Estrace (2mg tablets x 17)
Enough thoughtful giving. Now, time for the usual kind of thoughtfulness.
It’s pretty clear what happens when the cycle works. There are many cases in the blogosphere of socks from a successful cycle being passed along to someone else, in the hopes that the success would also be passed along.
Before her transfer, Miss Conception talked about visualizing herself wearing the Mojo Socks at delivery, waddling down the hallway of the hospital as labor progressed. In addition to the transfer, she has worn them at several ultrasounds, continuing the power of the Mojo.
But what happens to socks from an unsuccessful cycle? Move them into your normal sock rotation? Banish them? Wear them for a future cycle?
I’m not so superstitious as to discard “unlucky” socks, but I can understand the impulse. The socks I wore for IVF #2 retrieval are in my normal rotation now — wool socks are quite useful under winter boots, regardless of the zany stripes. I don’t believe that they’re cursed or anything, but I still wouldn’t wear them for IVF #3, especially now that I’ll have my new Sock-It-To-Me socks.
There’s an added layer of complexity if socks are a gift. If you give someone socks for a cycle that turns out to be unsuccessful, should you feel bad? My happiness for Miss Conception was combined with relief that I didn’t jinx her.
I realize that this doesn’t have the gravitas of some of the other Thoughtful Thursday topics, but it’s something that many of us have to deal with, and something that I’ve never heard discussed elsewhere. You can play along whether you’ve worn “lucky” socks for a treatment, whether you’ve done IF treatments but haven’t worn special socks, or whether you’ve never done IF treatments.
What should you do with socks from an unsuccessful cycle?
February 5, 2009
You don’t know how lovely you are
I had to find you, tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart
–Coldplay, The Scientist
First, giving credit where credit is due. I would like to introduce a new element of Thoughtful Thursday, The Intelligentsia. People who have commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post for a given month will be added to the Intelligentsia roster and will receive some sidebar bling. For January, our esteemed members are Wiseguy from the outstanding blog Woman Anyone? and Cat B., who makes up for not having a blog by leaving lots of excellent comments on others’ blogs. I hope they will have plenty of intelligent company in the coming months — please join them, if not in The Intelligentsia then with occasional comments. (And, for those of you who are all-or-nothing types, don’t think you need to give up for the rest of the month if you miss a week — thoughtfulness is its own reward.) For the record, every Thoughtful Thursday comment is appreciated — I just wanted to give a little extra bonus for diligence.
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh take me back to the start
–Coldplay, The Scientist
Second, an update on my bizarre infertility journey. I went to see Dr. Full Steam Ahead last week to establish a plan for IVF #3 — the one that I hope will be paid for by the Trick Up My Sleeve (still in the works, so no details yet). Dr. Full Steam Ahead, living up to his name, set forth an ambitious plan which involves giving me the Old Lady protocol. Even though I am “so young” (33, to be precise, and not getting any younger), I did not produce as many eggs as he would expect from the IVF #1 and #2 protocols, and even fewer “good” embryos. So he wants to try microdose Lupron plus as much FSH as the human body will tolerate to encourage my ovaries to give a burst of excellence. My husband is pretty horrified at the doses and number of daily injections, but as I always say, “in for a penny, in for a pound.” Actually I’ve never said that before in my life, but it applies here.
But, before the Trick Up My Sleeve can take effect, it is extremely likely that the new insurance company will require me to have failed 3 FSH+IUI cycles. I failed two during 2008, then stopped because Dr. Full Steam Ahead thought it was futile and I might as well move on to IVF and “save some money.” I had numerous Clomid+IUI cycles in 2003-2004, but those apparently don’t count. (FYI, all IUI cycles in 2003-2004 and 2008 were paid out of pocket. Boo.) So…
My current health insurance (the one that was my primary reason for running myself ragged by taking on New Job in addition to Old Job) pays for IUI but not IVF. Trick Up My Sleeve won’t kick in for a couple of months anyway. Therefore, I proposed that rather than waste time later, we get the FSH+IUI cycle out of the way now (since it’s paid for by New Job insurance anyway), and pave the way for Trick Up My Sleeve IVF. Dr. Full Steam Ahead agreed with my plan, so we’re all set to do FSH+IUI whenever my body decides that it’s ready. It will be injectible+IUI #3, or total IUI #7 — I think. Seriously, I can’t keep track anymore. Let’s go with #7, that sounds right.
Some people might feel guilty for “using” one insurance company to do a useless IUI merely to satisfy another insurance company’s IVF prerequisites, but I just can’t feel guilty. I wouldn’t have to play this game that if New Job’s insurance covered IVF. And plenty of people while covered by New Job-style insurance would have done a bunch of free IUI cycles instead of paying fourteen-fucking-thousand dollars out of pocket for IVF+ICSI. I’ve only cost that insurance company one hysteroscopy and one upcoming IUI (plus one flu shot) during the five months that I’ve been insured with them. If anyone is going to feel guilty here, perhaps it should be the doctor who cost me $40,000 last year (that’s my rough estimate… I haven’t had the courage to add it up yet), or the insurance company who, despite receiving over $500 per month in dues from me before I switched to New Job insurance, wouldn’t even pay for my beta when I was pregnant. Assholes.
Dr. Full Steam ahead joked, “Who knows? The IUI might actually get you pregnant! Stranger things have happened!” Ha ha, motherfucker. Just keep laughing all the way to the bank.
No, actually I’m only saying that for effect. I’m not actually bitter about the IUI, though I am bitter about plenty of other things, including the water-under-the-bridge money. I’m actually at a place of true acceptance with the IUI. First of all, this IUI was my idea. Second, I consider it simply a necessary step before the next real try, albeit a step dictated by the bureaucracy of the Bureaucracy Masters: insurance companies. I have zero expectation that the IUI will work. Honestly, it’s no different to me than any other procedure that is necessary before doing an IVF cycle, like an HSG or hysteroscopy. I believe that there’s as much chance of an IUI getting me pregnant as a hysteroscopy. Technically that’s not accurate, but I really don’t think it’s far off from the true odds.
Questions of science, science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart
–Coldplay, The Scientist
This brings us to our third order of business, Thoughtful Thursday. This week’s theme: Hope.
Most of us have had cycles (treatment and do-it-yourself) where we were sure that it was “the one.” For me, the first cycle of doing something new has often been infused with extra hope. First year trying to conceive, first Clomid, first IUI, first FSH, first ICSI… Presumably somebody must get pregnant during a hope-filled cycle, but it’s never worked for me.
Many of us have also had cycles where were sure that it wouldn’t work. Maybe we forgot an injection or two, or we were horribly sick, or the timing of sex wasn’t optimal, or we’d just given up hoping. The upcoming IUI cycle fits into this category. Sometimes, thanks to the Murphy’s Law of Infertility, these are exactly the cycles that do work. Both of my BFPs (temporary though they were) have occurred during cycles where I had less hope than usual — miscarriage #1 was going to be the last Clomid+IUI cycle before we stopped trying for a while due to a depletion of energy and money, and miscarriage #2 occurred during IVF #1 when I should have had high hopes but just didn’t.
Unlike me, some people believe in the power of positive thinking. Some of those people even get pregnant by directing the positive energy with their thoughts (probably accompanied by sex or something… I don’t think thoughts are that powerful, at least in this universe… unless you’re one of those horrendous “I get pregnant every time my husband looks at me” fertiles). I have had many hope-filled cycles, especially early on, and it never did anything for me, but I suppose it must work for someone, right? How else would The Secret become a bestseller?
From a cosmic standpoint, I harbor a secret suspicion that positive intentions are good things. I like to imagine the soul of my baby being drawn to my irresistible good vibes, its microscopic body enveloped by my fabulous aura of love. I still think that The Secret is flim-flam, but the romantic part of me feels that hope is better for the universe than cynicism. At the same time, my soul seems to be losing the battle with reality. I have been let down so hard, so many times, that I may have used up all of my hope. Hope hasn’t gotten me anywhere so far, so now I’m substituting Guarded Almost-Optimism and Cautious Could-Be-But-Probably-Not-But-Maybe? in place of hope.
My question to you:
Do you believe that hope can actually impact your outcome? Specifically in terms of a cycle or a pregnancy, or in general if you prefer.
All of this assumes that one’s actions are the same with or without hope, and that attitude is the only variable. Obviously, if you lose hope and give up on treatments, that would likely have a different outcome than doing several more IVFs.
Oh, and after all of my talk about how I have given up on hope, you will laugh your ass off when I tell you where I’m going tomorrow. But that’s a post for another day.
January 31, 2009
For this week’s Show and Tell, I will present some artwork that I recently bought. Then, I will announce the winner of this week’s Dirty Laundry contest and her prize, which is related to the artwork.
During the unpleasantness of the 2WW during IVF #2 earlier this month, I did a lot of web-surfing. One of the sites I came across was Wall Blank. I really like the idea of this website: every day, they post one piece of artwork. It is available for purchase for one week, unless it sells out first. Editions seem to run in the range of 50 to 200 prints — small enough that you won’t see the same print at someone else’s house. If by some chance you do, you will be delighted that you both share the same good taste and belong to such an exclusive club. Maybe you’ll then develop a secret handshake.
Some of the art is photography; some are prints of paintings, drawings, mixed media, etc. Prices are extremely affordable for limited edition artwork. Really, extremely affordable — I have paid more than twice as much for photo prints that were 1/4 the size.
Offering a new piece every day brings a fun sense of anticipation and variety; one of my favorite Google Reader clicks every day is the new Wall Blank print. The one-week deadline creates an interesting sense of urgency. One day between IVF #2 transfer and beta day, I was smitten with a photograph. Each day, I would consider whether to buy it. During moments of optimism: art for the baby’s room! During moments of pessimism: art that will remind me of the failed cycle. During moments of realism: art that will simultaneously connect me to the past and the future. Finally, I decided to make the purchase a couple of days before the one-week window closed. Not knowing the outcome of the 2WW, I didn’t know whether optimism, pessimism, or realism would turn out to be correct. I did know that if I failed to seize the opportunity, I would regret it later.
Here is the photo that I purchased (the image is from the Wall Blank website; the print looks even better in person, but I haven’t framed it yet so I can’t show you what it looks like on my wall). The visuals are striking, but the title and description sealed the deal.
Dreaming Makes Life Colourful. Description from Wall Blank:
This photo was taken in Seoul during the Buddha’s birthday celebrations. This was taken at Jogyesa, which is one of the temples in central Seoul.
In the Buddhist religion Buddha’s birthday is the equivalent of Christmas for Christians. At this time of year Buddhists can make a wish in the form of a message attached to a lantern. Those wishes are often peoples’ dreams and can include desires for world peace, good health for a loved one, or success in something they’re doing that year. I feel those who are striving to achieve dreams are living life to the full, and as such lead a life full of colour and joy. Every dream has it’s own colour and uniqueness, so hold onto your dreams.
By Simon Bond. An archival pigment print. Includes a signed & numbered certificate of authenticity.
As someone who is in the midst of trying very hard to achieve a long-time dream, this description spoke to me. The British spelling of colourful was icing on the cake.
The one-week deadline has long since expired, so none of you can buy this particular print (sorry!) unless it makes a surprise reappearance someday, but something new appears each weekday. I’ve seen several other offerings that would make nice metaphors for infertility, and many that were aesthetically wonderful.
This brings us to the Dirty Laundry contest winner. Earlier this week I posted ten items of dirty laundry, anonymous bits of honesty about people in my life. I asked readers to guess how many my husband would correctly identify.
He correctly identified most of them instantly. Amusingly, the one that I said would be pretty easy for him actually required extra thought. The one that stumped him the most was ironic: it’s about one of his relatives, and it’s more his complaint than mine — which says something about his attunement to my emotions as well as his own ability to move quickly past things that bother him (an ability that I don’t share). But, after some thought, he got all ten of them correct.
Anita’s prize is any artwork of her choice from Wall Blank. She can choose something that’s currently for sale, or she can wait until something catches her fancy.
I was all set to pay for the artwork myself, as I have done with my other contests, but in the course of emailing customer service to ask a logistic question about the gift certificate, Wall Blank’s founder Shawn generously offered to provide the print for the contest. Thanks very much, Shawn!
Anita’s IVF cycle was canceled yesterday. I hope that winning this contest will be a pleasant distraction for her, and that she’ll be able to pick a piece of artwork that helps her look to the future, as mine does for me. Congratulations, Anita; I wish you the best with your surgery and the next cycle.
More optimism, pessimism, and realism at Show and Tell.
January 25, 2009
ER update: Angela Bassett’s character had her egg retrieval! Spoiler alert: didn’t go well. Several aspects of the depiction were nothing like I’ve ever experienced (ultrasound to count the number of follicles the day of retrieval, husband in the operating room, private room for post-op recovery) but I suppose since the doctor on the show is an OB/GYN instead of an RE, anything goes. On the upside, the extensive talk about follicles and high-grade embryos was a triumph for infertility awareness. It also served to debunk the myth that IVF is a guarantee for older women (or anyone).
And now, Show and Tell. Years ago, I wasn’t yet a potter. Instead, I was a knitter. I was a very slow knitter, but I made a few lovely pieces — mostly scarves gifted to family members. I particularly enjoyed working with complex stitch patterns. Because I was so slow, I quickly figured out that I should only use very high-quality yarn — it was impossible to rack up a high yarn bill when it took me two months to make one scarf, and it’s much more pleasant to work with cashmere, silk, and merino wool than acrylic.
The last piece that I was working on before a computer-based repetitive stress injury ended my knitting career was a baby blanket — for the baby I was expecting to have in the near future. Periwinkle, because it’s gender-neutral. Cotton, because at the time we lived in a warm climate.
I actually learned to crochet just so that I could make the border of this blanket. I was almost finished with the border when I realized that the last ball of yarn I’d used for the main body was from a different dye lot than the rest. This means that there’s a few inches at the end that are a slightly different color. The border is a different color on purpose for contrast, but the different color within the body just looks strange. A perfectionist by nature, I realized that I would need to rip out the border and then unravel the section of the blanket with the wrong yarn. Around the time of that realization, I also realized that my repetitive stress injury was being aggravated by knitting… and then I had my first miscarriage, and I didn’t have the heart to keep working on the blanket.
And so, for five years this blanket has sat in a plastic bin in the closet, with a half-finished border and a discolored strip. I’ve figured that whenever I do finally
get stay pregnant, I would fix the mismatch problem once and for all. Hasn’t happened yet, but whenever it does, I’ll bring it back out of the closet and finish what I started so long ago.
What caused me to bring the blanket out of the closet after all of these years?
In a blog comment on one of Cara’s blogs, I made an offhand remark about knitting. She responded by emailing me to ask me if I still knitted, and if so, would I be willing to make a few buntings in which to bury babies. I sadly told her that I no longer knit, but I kept thinking about the tiny babies and their grieving parents, and the knitting that I used to do.
Last week I invited people to cost me some money by commenting ($1) or delurking ($2 for first-time commenters), which I would then donate to charity. My secret idea was that I could make up for my lack of knitting by subsidizing others’ knitting. For the four posts since I announced that plan, you’ve cost me $97: 26 new commenters, and 45 returning commenters.
I am donating the money to Share Southern Vermont. Some will be earmarked to cover the cost of yarn for some knitters in Cara’s area who are donating their knitting skills to make buntings, and the rest will be used for the general startup fund. If you’d like to help bring Share Southern Vermont closer to their goal, head to Building Heavenly Bridges or Share Southern Vermont to make a donation (and enter the scrapbook raffle). And if you happen to knit, I’m sure Cara would welcome a bunting. Unfortunately, the demand never stops.
Join Miss Lollipop and the rest of the class at Show and Tell.
January 19, 2009
Working on the trick up my sleeve to try to get the next IVF covered, we had to consult our attorney. One of our attorneys, actually. I don’t know where other people find professionals, but DH finds real estate agents at the poker table and dentists at the golf course.
This pattern holds true for our attorneys. We have three attorneys that we consult for different purposes (all DH’s business purposes; I have never before needed an attorney for anything).
- Former roommate of a buddy that goes to Vegas with DH sometimes (contract stuff)
- Guy that went to high school with this other guy we know (corporate stuff)
- Dude that used to play basketball with DH (tax stuff)
I asked DH to contact Basketball/Tax Dude to get clarification about some Trick Up My Sleeve issues. DH received some answers via email, then forwarded the email to me. It only contained partial answers, and I knew that DH would have to go back to Basketball/Tax Dude and get further clarification. As I scrolled to the bottom of the email, I saw a query from Basketball/Tax Dude.
So when are all the little DHs and Cassandras going to start popping out?
Generally that kind of question pisses me off, but this time it amused me. The irony — embedded in an email in which we are consulting him about the Trick Up My Sleeve that may pay for the next IVF(s)!
So then, DH calls Basketball/Tax Dude to get the clarification we need. After some back and forth about business details that I won’t bore you with, Basketball/Tax Dude says, “The only reason you’d need to do that would be if you were doing In Vitro Fertilization or something.”
DH: Yeah, well, actually, that’s exactly it.
Basketball/Tax Dude: Oh. Okay. Then that is the right course of action.
DH: Great, thanks. And, um, we’re not telling people about IVF or anything, so I’d appreciate it if you don’t say anything to anyone.
Basketball/Tax Dude: Dude, attorney-client privilege!
It’s official. I am not going to make any new friends unless they are attorneys, physicians, therapists, or priests.
Know what? Weebles Wobblog also keeps some tricks up her sleeve, along with a bunch of Perfect Moments.
January 14, 2009
It’s confirmed — negative beta.
One benefit of POAS knowledge: the nurse seemed surprised that I took her bad news so well.
One ray of hope: I may have a trick up my sleeve that will allow future IVFs to get covered by insurance — don’t ask yet, since I’m not sure if it’ll work. Sure, it would have been nice if I’d discovered this trick earlier before paying for 2 IVF cycles out of pocket (plus assessment and 2 IUIs earlier in 2008, all of which actually would have been covered by my current health insurance except that I didn’t have this job at the time) but that’s water under the bridge.
Thanks for all of your hope and well wishes.
Now, I’m going to go wash the magic marker PIO targets off my butt.
Edited to add: I’m pasting the timeline here, just so that I have it recorded.
12/19: start stims (Gonal-F)
12/23: blood & U/S
12/23-12/24: Gonal-F plus Repronex — itchy!
12/25-12/28: Gonal-F, Repronex, and Centrotide
12/26: blood & U/S
12/28: blood & U/S
12/29: blood & U/S: follicles are ready; time to trigger!
12/31: egg retrieval, ICSI, start estrogen
1/1: start progesterone in oil
1/2 embryo transfer
1/14: beta: BFN