"Stay positive, everything's going to be fine."

Okay, do I appreciate these words from folks? Sometimes.

But not usually and I'll tell you why. People are so fucking uncomfortable with just saying, Hey, I'm sorry, that doesn't sound good but I'm here for you if you want to talk. So they blurt out ridiculous bullshit that has not an ounce of truth and it's more than annoying to me.

Case and point. I was reading one of the infertility boards and a woman just went in for her ultrasound at nearly 7 weeks and the doctor still can't see the heartbeat (incidentally, I knew it wasn't cool when no heartbeat was seen at 6 weeks but hey, I was still thinking "positively."). What brought her in for ultrasound a week later was red spotting. Okay, so far I'm still on board with the positive thoughts. But then she drops the bomb - the beta bomb! The number should have been in the range of....oh....say 500-350,000. Listen, it's a range, right? Yeah, I get it and though I'm not a rocket scientist, I know somehow that being much closer to the top end is a good thing.

When I experienced my chemical pregnancy last month, my beta level was 15.5 on d12po. If you look at the "range" on the beta sites, I was "in range." But I didn't ignore (and you'd have to IGNORE) the other stats - the ones about 90% of pregnancies with betas under 100 at 14dpo being doomed (okay, I'm not exact on those stats, but close enough and you get the gist). So, yeah, I knew the fat lady was just behind the curtain, ready to belt one out.

So the woman on the board tells the others that the beta is around 15,000 and in 2 days only jumped to 18,000. I felt awful for her, crushed - it was heartbreaking - I recognized the familiar sound of that obnoxious behemoth of a woman about to sing her sad song.

You know what the women on the forum did? They did the predictable. They ignored the pathetic beta results (which were pretty dismal) and focused instead - AND SOLELY - on the spotting and the lack of seeing a heartbeat at nearly 7 weeks. They reminded her how many women in the group had spotting and went on to deliver healthy babies. They assured her that a heartbeat would be seen a few days later, that it was still too soon. But not one of them said "Hey, don't worry about that beta, my beta got to 15,000 and then increased by only 20% in 2 days vs. 100% and I had a beautiful healthy child." Nope, not one of them told stories of how betas so early on in the pregnancy increased by 80% less than expected and all turned out well.

Why? These ladies aren't stupid - often times, they're more educated than the health professionals themselves. If I'd posted a secured $50,000 bet to each of them with the right answer and asked "will she go on to have a successful pregnancy or not?" Every one of those women would have suddenly said, Nope - not with that beta problem.

But instead, they insisted it would all be okay and deflected from the BIG FAT ELEPHANT in the room which was NOT the spotting and NOT even the missing heartbeat. IT WAS THE BETA!

How is it helpful to try to build false hope in someone, knowing the situation is most likely doomed? Why do that? When people do that to me, I don't appreciate it, I resent it. I feel like they're mocking me.

Why must it be so difficult to say to someone, I'm sorry, That sounds difficult, My heart goes out to you, I'm here to talk, Be well?! Why must we go out on a limb and encourage others to believe it'll all be okay, when we know it won't be.

Ironically, my way is perceived as cruel. Lying and providing false hope and encouragement is kind.

What a fucked up social structure we've embraced.

(yeah, I've been in a bad mood for days - work is unbearable, my boss is a mess (when she's even in) and I'm just down and out!)



Oh yeah baby, they're coming out! Woo Hoo!

So, back to my earlier post when CCRM told me I needed an HSG and I asked, "Why?" Because from my perspective, what did it matter when I wouldn't be needing tubes - who cares if they were blocked. Then came the education - blocked fallopian tubes collect fluid which can not only inhibit implantation but proves toxic to embryos and causes miscarriage. Then Dr. Success proceeds to tell me about a study that was done on two groups of women undergoing IVF - one with blocked fallopian tubes, one with clear tubes. The women with clear tubes had the highest success rate for IVF recorded at that time (around 30%). The women with the blocked fallopian tubes had a significantly diminished success rate of around 6-8%. Researchers knew the fluid inside the tubes was to blame but weren't sure to what capacity. Did the fluid harm the embryo or did the fluid harm the uterine cavity, causing permanent damage? So they took a group of women with blocked tubes, removed their tubes and subjected them to a round of IVF. Voila! Success rates jumped to same as women with clear tubes.

So Friday night I was reading through the operative notes from my laparoscopic surgery last year (before undergoing IVF). Now, mind you, my former RE has these notes, and it clearly says that I had a hydrosalpinx and that it was cleared and that a fimbrioplasty (plastic surgery to the end of the fallopian tube to fix the delicate fingers that grab the egg from the ovary) was performed. Well, one thing I know is that a hydrosalpinx nearly always recurs and within a relatively short period of time. I quickly drafted an email fax to my Gyn (who I am developing a major crush on - how pathetic!) with a copy of his operative notes and asked to bypass the HSG completely and just have my fallopian tubes removed. Thirty minutes after I faxed over the note, he called in complete agreement.

Of course, my first RE NEVER asked me to have an HSG in the first place and I underwent an IUI (converted from an IVF 'cause of my poor response and few follicles) which ended in BFN. And a donor frozen embryo transfer which ended in a chemical pregnancy last month. Don't think for a second I'm not wondering....hmm....did that have anything to do with that fluid? Hmm.....I'm bitter about that, let me tell you. And I deliberately went to a very reputable IF clinic in NJ with a huge staff of doctors so this very kind of thing did NOT happen!

I'm nearly 42 years, my highest known FSH is 22 AND at least one of my fallopian tubes is blocked. The chances of my having a natural pregnancy with my own egg is, umm, well, statistically close to zero. And EVEN if I could find an RE who would attempt to do IVF on my eggs (the 2-3 that heavy stimulation drugs could cajole), the stupid fluid in the blocked tube(s) could kill the embryo. I mean, c'mon here!

So don't cry for me Argentina - I'm having these puppies cut right out and I'm never going to worry about this again!

September 9th is the big day. I just pray it goes smoothly and that I get a nice report that everything went great and that my fallopian tubes are no longer an obstacle for my future donor egg cycle with CCRM.

Man! I don't know how my future child is going to receive the information that we're not genetically related - but one thing I don't fear is there being any validity to the words "you never wanted me!"


Celebrating the miracle of life for others

Leah posted about an open letter from one "infertile" sister to "expectant mothers" in her life. And maybe because it's CD1 for me (not that it means a hoot this month; nothing's going on!) and I'm overly emotional, it rang so true and touching.

No one in my office knows I've spent nearly 8 months trying to get pregnant, a drop in the bucket next to most women in my shoes. I don't share it with them because A) if it never works, I don't want pity, B) I don't want people whispering, "she's never been right since she couldn't have that baby," C) This is hard enough without having people I am not close with ask me every other week "so, you pregnant yet?," D) My job is stressful enough without worrying that they might be making plans for me without my knowledge based on their perceptions of what I'll do if/when I deliver, E) WHEN I am 4 months pregnant with a healthy little munchkin, the rumor mill will be ripe enough with questions like "she's not even dating anyone, is she?" and, finally, F) It's none of their f-en business! So there!

But I'm blessed - in ways most people I know aren't. Same as I was blessed with the ability to genuinely accept what I cannot change (eggs are bad, need donor eggs), I am also blessed with having not one shred of envy in my soul WHATSOEVER. In fact, sometimes I think that's why I've never been good at competition - I just don't care enough to "win."

I am the girl who is enormously happy for another girl who landed some wonderful Mr. Right. I am the girl who is so tickled to hear that the old factory worker from Wisconsin won the 320M lottery. There isn't an envious bone in my body, truly. I always want the best for everyone and am thrilled when they get it. (disclaimer: if you're a rapist, pedophile, scumbag, I want very BAD things for you!)

There are 3 women in my department alone who are pregnant (1 with twins, IVF of course!). And then my counterpart (who works off-site in Atlanta) announced in April that she was pregnant and due in November. We had a shower for her last month when she was at the office. I COULD NOT have been any happier for her, truly, and if ever there was a time for me to feel bitter.......last month, you see, I was pregnant - for a few days. On July 2nd I was implanted with 2 donor frozen embryos and on July 7-8 I got that elusive 2nd line on the EPT. It's a beautiful thing I tell ya! Well, my beta was very low and it was clear within a couple of days that it was over.

A week later I began to bleed and I mean bleed. Guess where I was standing when it was in full throttle? At BabiesRUs, buying my counterpart gifts from her registry for the shower the following week. And for the first time, I felt something. Not bitterness, not envy, no. I felt incredibly sad and hurt. I am just not an ultra sensitive person but I wanted to sit on one of the rockers in the store and cry my eyes out. Everywhere I looked, a crib, a stroller, diapers, dresses, bottles - all the reminders of the baby that my body was dutifully flushing from me at that moment.

And yet I sat 3 days later feeling so happy for her (it's her 2nd child, btw) and happier, still, that she liked my gifts. I picked things I would like to see my own baby in.

So I think back to that open letter and wonder why women blessed with a healthy little bean in their bellies without much effort at all sometimes don't have any understanding or compassion for those of us who can't. I don't think it's too hard to imagine for them. Picture your pregnant belly not there. Picture it not there next month or next year either. Picture trying to get it that way, month after month, and it doesn't happen. Not a nice picture at all.

I think if I can stick it out at BabiesRUs through a miscarriage to find gifts for my colleague and be so genuinely happy to watch her unwrap them, it shouldn't be too difficult for a woman blessed with a healthy pregnancy to extend a little bit of tenderness to women who aren't so lucky.


Japanese Hair Straightening

Five years ago I got fed up with my Rosanna-Rosanna-Dana-crazy-ass hair and decided to have it professionally straightened with a process that was all the rave - Japanese Hair Straightening, also called Thermal Reconditioning. Hey, I was scared, of course. If it went badly and my hair got fried, I just knew I couldn't pull off the Sinead O'Connor bald look.

Why did I do it? Because until you actually have curly/wavy/frizzy hair, you just don't get it. I have gotten outright FURIOUS when someone with perfectly straight hair tells me how beautiful my hair is because "it's so thick" and has "so much body." LISTEN, if I sat in a salon next to a girl with perfectly straight, limp hair and we both were given all of the tools and hair products to create an awesome up-do or any other look and two hours to do it in, I would win - hands down. There, I admit that much. I'll go one further, my hair would look better than 99.99% of women in existence. Okay, happy? BUT how many of us has 2 hours a day, the right tools, products and even the desire to dry, shape, pull, iron, curl, spray? Honestly, no one.

If I walk out of the shower after having shampooed and conditioned my hair and decided to let it dry naturally, it wouldn't just AUTOMATICALLY dry like Brooke Shield's beautiful locks. Heck, I'm sure her hair doesn't dry that way either. But people just can't get it through their thick skulls that it takes an ENORMOUS amount of work for it to look good and that if you "do nothing" to it, it'll look AWFUL. Conversely, if you do nothing to pin straight hair, it looks boring, flat, lifeless. Okay, so-fucking-what?! It sure as hell doesn't look CRAZED!

Don't you get it?! In my hair, some pieces dry like corkscrews, some pieces have tight waves (not curls), some pieces are loose waves, some pieces are pretty straight, some pieces have stubborn cow licks. Now put all of those textures together and add a layer of frizziness (an inherent condition of curly or wavy hair) and see what you get - A NEST, that's what you get!

So, I can't just comb my hair and go.

So we have two camps. Straight hair that's flat and lifeless if it's not "worked on" or curly/wavy hair that looks like the unruly mess of Gilda Radner's on Saturday Night Live if it's not "worked on." I say, crap, I'd rather have hair that looks flat and lifeless if I didn't bother with it over hair that looks like shit if I didn't bother with it. 'Cause let's face it, how many ladies out there has 2 hours/day to "work on it?"

The result of all this is that I spend more than 3/4 of the year with my hair pulled back into a tight wet bun out of the shower. Last month I had a meeting in the city with my agency and one of the account exec's said "hey, I didn't know your hair was long." This girl's seen me dozens of times but never with my hair down. Now what kind of an existence is that?!

So in 2003, I did it and whatever my best expectations were, the process surpassed them. My hair was smooth, silky, straight - beautiful, straight out of the shower. I could walk outside in 90% humidity with dry hair and not one single frizzy, not a one! Pure joy!

Today I went back - same guy, same salon but new location. They're Korean and barely speak English but who cares. $500, excluding tip. I left the salon and on my way home, driving on the NJ Turnpike I called my friend V. This is what I said:

V, no one told me how overwhelming and emotional I would feel when I saw two beautiful embryos up on the flat screen monitor being piped in from under the microscope. The feeling was magical. If it worked, I would have seen my baby at the cellular level. Pretty powerful stuff. I remember I had a lump in my throat when I saw those teeny tiny embryos. I wanted to cry. And when he dried my hair today and it was beautiful, pin straight, I had the same exact feeling.

Okay, don't get pissed that I just compared the potential precious life of my baby to hair straightening. But it needs to be said that it was an earth-moving moment for me. When you get used to living with your hair up 3/4 of the year because you just can't deal with the bullshit of trying to do something with it and then fight the rain/humidity and then you see it fresh from the sink, dripping wet and not curling up and doing its own dance, God it's a beautiful moment.

Like the cost of IVF, INSANELY expensive but the prize is OH SO WORTH IT!


Genetics don't matter

Yeah, seems a convenient declaration from a woman whose eggs suck! Seems a no brainer I'm saying this with such careless conviction. But you might agree I thought this way before I was told to find eggs from someone else's basket.

When 3 days after my 41st birthday I received a call from my Gyn that my FSH was 12.8, I did fast homework on what that meant before seeing my first RE a month later.

I'll never forget it, I sat in bed on Friday night and consumed every shred of anecdotal and scientific material Google could conjure up on high FSH in women beyond 40 and it wasn't good. Within hours I decided I wouldn't even try with my eggs. Invest wisely, I thought, and go straight for the good eggs. I wanted a baby MUCH more than I wanted genetic offspring.

One month later I walked into my first RE appointment and declared that I was only there to discuss a donor egg cycle. She talked me out of it and I still don't know how I feel about that. Listen, if it worked, I would have been thrilled that one round and minimal cost (relative to IVF of course) later, I wound up with a health baby (and it didn't hurt that it was my genetic offspring).

Maybe it's because I am an only child. Maybe it's because my mother was raised in an orphanage and didn't have deep-seeded feelings about "family." I don't know but I have just never felt strongly about genetics.

Maybe the kid who grew up with 8 siblings and dozens of cousins feels differently. But I'm not that girl. I'm the girl who doesn't care about DNA. What can I say? I feel grateful for that.

And it's not to say I don't think there's a difference. Of course there is. But I am pretty analytical about this stuff. The difference is the child won't have my full lips. Too bad, oh well, who cares? Yeah, you can't believe it but I don't. I never shed a tear, not a single tear over the idea of a non-genetic child.

I can't explain it very well but I can sum it up like this. You're pregnant - Woo Hoo! And you pray for a girl who has your husband's Irish genes with blue eyes and curly red hair. Months later you birth a boy with your grandmother's olive complexion, brown eyes and brown hair. That sure wasn't your "first choice," but are you any less happy? Any less in love? Any less over the moon? Will you raise your son thinking, He was not my first choice? Doubt it.

And that's the only example I can provide of how "second choice" isn't exactly second, rather just different. :)

I broke up with my NJ RE

Today was the day, it had to happen. I called my nurse who, of course, called me back 8 hours later (better than last time when it was 2 days later) - that kind of unprofessionalism just made me feel good about the break up.

I told her I was going to pursue an egg donor cycle with CCRM and that the reason was based purely on statistics. But that I would like for them to do the off-site monitoring and that I needed a copy of my entire patient file. So looks like we're good.

Now I'm ready for my CCRM work-up and though I thought I'd do it this cycle, I think I'll wait and though the thought of more waiting doesn't sit right with me, let me tell you what sits worse with me.

I need to have that HSG. And here's what I want to avoid. Let's say my tubes are blocked and that I need to have them removed, that will take me out of the running for a couple of months. Well, that will be time that ticks on the CCRM frontier and a bunch of diagnostic tests will have expired on their end that I would then have to repeat. Well no thank you. I'd rather get this god-awful HSG out of the way and if my tubes are blocked, schedule the laparoscopic surgery to remove them, wait a month and then have my CCRM work-up and get on "the list."

That way I'll know that once I've cleared the work-up, there is nothing but an available donor keeping me from starting that cycle. :)

Sound rational?


I miss you Mom!


Today is the one year anniversary of your death. You died at 1:24 PM on August 10, 2007. You can't imagine how much I miss you.

Did you see me today? I planted the prettiest little flowers around the stone that marks your spot; I know you would have loved that. We had such a difficult relationship but I loved you and I took care of you in my home every moment of your last 3 months on earth - during all the hospice care.

Remember the last few days? There was one time I thought you might have been somewhat aware. I sat you up and I said "I love you, I looooooooooooove you" and in barely a whisper you tried to say it back to me and had a tear in your eye.

Did you hear me mom? I hope you did.

Mommy, if you know, if you're somewhere you can see me, I love you and I'm so sorry when I lost patience, I'm so sorry when you spent a week in hospice and I didn't go every single day. There is no good excuse but all I can say is that I was tired, that I truly needed a break and that I was bearing all of it alone. I hadn't slept an entire, uninterrupted night in months and the anxiety and tension from your ill health had plagued me for over a year at that point. I was barely able to keep it together.

Please forgive me if I was less than I wanted to be, but know I tried - even when I failed, I tried again.

I wish you were here right now for an hour - health and mentally clear. I wish I could tell you about my plans to have a baby and that you could give me your opinion; I so want to know. I wish I could hug you and kiss you and squeeze you 'til you said ouch. The pain of losing you is unbearable sometimes - today is one of those times.

I kept messages you left on my answering machine when you were well because I feared what's happening - that I'm forgetting the sound of your voice. Having been raised in an orphanage, you couldn't have ever imagined how badly I would miss - how searing the pain of losing a mother.

No one would believe how much I'd trade right this moment to have you back for 1 hour, just one. But if you're out there, you know it's true. Please come back to me in some way, even if only in a dream. Let me know you're there and that you hear me.

I will love you and miss you and cry for you until I'm gone too.


How do most people afford this?

I received the Donor Egg Cycle breakdown cost from CCRM today. Wow! How in the hell do most people pay for this stuff. From my calculations, it looks like I'll spend somewhere in the $38-40K for the cycle. Double and triple gulp. It makes me want to take my chances with a place like CNY Fertility and their donor egg program (where I would be matched right away and could do a cycle for about 11K). No, their rates aren't nearly as high as CCRM's but it just makes ya wonder, ya know?

I don't know about you but I could do a LOT with 40K. I think to myself, am I nuts? And I can't exactly look to the infertility community, 'cause I've seen people blow 100K and not bat much of a lash over it. Oh....and I'm already down 15K from the cycle this year. So you can imagine the prospect of nearly 55K total makes me sick to my stomach.

And....what if.....OMG, I can barely say it. What if it fails?! Honestly, you'd have to commit me. No baby and down 55K. And where do you go from there?!

I try to rationalize it - to bring it into perspective - by listing all of the items in life that could cost 55K:
  • A higher-end new car
  • A nicer house
  • Home improvements
And that's kind of it. The list just isn't that big. And then I think more about those items.
  • I own a 4 year old Toyota Rav. I will own it until it dies (my last Toyota died at 213K miles, love these cars!). I have never been into cars and really couldn't care much about the kind of car I have - so I certainly don't blow money in that department.
  • I have a house. I bought my house 10 years ago (THANK GOD!) so although the market is abysmal and the value of my home has decreased 20% in the past 3 years, the overall increase over my original purchase price is about 175% - that's not bad! I feel incredibly blessed but some of that is thanks to my nature. I live in a house that is much more modest than my means. I could afford a house that's twice the cost - but I sleep soundly knowing that I am not even remotely over-extended. I know it's "The American Way," but I just can't do it. It scares the hell out of me.
  • And home improvements.....well, let's just say that I consider myself a partially savvy individual. I know a few things about how this works. It's nice to upgrade your house but you have to be cognizant of what houses comparable to yours are worth BEFORE you remodel all 3 bathrooms. If I were to invest 30K into brand new bathrooms, it would certainly make it a more attractive house to buy but is someone going to give me another 30K because the bathrooms were updated? Probably not, but more importantly is that no appraisal company is going to take new upgraded bathrooms into consideration when they appraise your property. They go strictly by "comps" and if the comps in your neighborhood say your property is worth between $340-$355,000, then that's the figure the buyer's lender will use to determine how much they'll lend, period. You can't say, Hey, look at my receipts for the $80,000 kitchen cabinets and granite counters 'cause the bank doesn't care. The bank doesn't lend money on cabinets or nice materials - the bank lends money on concrete things like square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, garage space, basement - stuff like that. And that makes sense, doesn't it? Because even the most updated room can become out of date in a few years or the buyer can decide to paint those gorgeous Italian cabinets and ruin them. Banks don't lend on materials, they lend on tangible bricks and mortar. (sorry for tangent)
So there you have it. I don't spend money on big stuff and in my own twisted little way, I can forgive this Donor Egg Cycle cost because it's the one single place where I have been/will be extravagant.

(psst you can see I'm rationalizing here - so feel free to add to my crazy logic; I'd appreciate it, truly)


Will people just do their jobs? Will they?

I'm an Advertising Manager and though I'm not some mega bitch corporate climber who sleeps next to her BlackBerry and spends the evening thinking of media buying opportunities and messaging strategies, I'm still a consummate professional. That means that I play hooky once in a blue moon like everyone else and just as rarely I'll blow off a call or an email 'cause.....well.....'cause I'm fucking busy - and you just have to prioritize.

BUT when an expensive, top notch infertility clinic is on my payroll, I expect to get a call back. I asked the CCRM nurse yesterday to have the finance person email me a detailed, itemized payment schedule so I could see for myself what is and isn't included. I don't want to be dinged mid-donor-egg-cycle with another charge for 5K for legal paperwork and extra insurance for the donor. I'll pay every cent that is owed but I demand to know IN ADVANCE what I should expect to pay and not when I'm already so far in that I'm screwed to stop and screwed to continue. No, I want my choices NOW, not later - thank you very much.

And I don't know if it's intentional but I received no email, though I was told I would, from the finance person. Maybe the list of charges is so huge, my company's firewall blocked the 10MB file. Ouch! Hope not! :)

I'm holding out a slight bit of hope that it'll arrive WITH the big packet of donor information and paperwork I need to fill out prior to my one-day work up in Colorado (hopefully in 2 weeks). But I don't know anymore.

I started to have these problems with my NJ fertility clinic during my donor embryo cycle. The nurse assigned to me is the nicest person, truly - sweet as pie and very gentle in her demeanor. You might have noticed by reading my blog but I don't absorb a lot of value from that. My last nurse (during the miserably-failed-IVF-turned-IUI cycle last March) was much colder but on top of her game. She called me every single day she was supposed to (or if I'd left her a message to call) by 2:30 PM, precisely.

And that's what I appreciate. I don't need a nurse who's going to cry with me if things fall apart; I need a nurse who calls me back on the day she's supposed to and earlier in the day than 6 PM. I need a nurse who appreciates the fact that I rarely ever call and leave a message. In 8 months, I've done it 4-5 times - I'd call that RARELY! Hey, all things being equal, it's not bad to have a nurse that's super sweet and responsive but since I live in the real world and accept that personalities are so often two sides of the same coin, I acknowledge they don't come in the same person. The Type-A personality nurse will call me back by 2:30, have all the answers to my questions, will call in the prescription to my pharmacy and set up my next appointment all while she's performing a hysterosalpingogram, so I don't really mind that she reports my beta as "No Mother's Day card for you this year." What I do mind is nice-nursey who would probably rock me in her arms, patting my head and "there, there, you'll be a mom one day, you'll see" but she knows shit about the quality of the embryos, what the last beta indicates, hasn't spoken to my doctor in over a week and wastes precious few moments in our conversation apologizing for neglecting to call me for two days because she's been swamped. Save it sister, I read the book. Wanna make it up to me, call-me-fucking-back next time!

I don't think I'm an elitist, truly. In fact, I hate elitism. And though I believe you should have a clean room, fresh sheets and a safe stay at Motel 6, I also don't delude myself. When you're renting rooms for $32/night, something's gotta give - and that's usually quality, the first thing to ALWAYS give when money's short. But I'd rate my current (actually former as of yesterday) clinic as pretty top notch and CCRM holds the #1 spot in the country. Women from Dubai choose to fly to Colorado to treat their infertility - and I think it's a safe bet those ladies could afford IVF on Jupiter if it existed. Their rates are also the highest. So I want CCRM to provide service that's a lot closer to that of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai than the Motel 6 in the Ozarks!


Consult with CCRM

Well, I have some good news and bad news. I learned from CCRM (Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine) that all fertility patients must undergo a Hysterosalpingogram. This is a test whereby they insert a catheter into your uterus (yeah, it gets better, watch...) and push dye through the cath, which then fills the uterus and gets pushed out of the only avenue it can - the fallopian tubes. If the dye doesn't go through, that means the tube(s) is blocked.

Of course, this begged the question of Doctor Success (DS), "But DS, why would I need fallopian tubes? In fact, this will be a donor egg cycle - I wouldn't even need my ovaries." Then he educates me. Me! Of all people, I pride myself on knowing what's going on in advance. Heck, I would say the other 28 minutes of our conversation were great, but taught me nothing I didn't already know. But he tells me this: There are studies that draw a clear link between blocked fallopian tubes and significantly reduced IVF rates. Apparently, if your fallopian tube is blocked at the end closest to the uterus, you're fine. If, however, the fallopian tube is blocked at the end closest to the ovary (the most common blockage called a "hydrosalpinx"), it leaves a tube open and available for collecting fluid (a cavity). Well, what happens is that the fluid that collects becomes toxic and when it spills into the uterus, it kills attached embryos.

How do they know this? Because a study was done over a dozen years ago showing a drastically reduced rate in women with a hydrosalpinx vs. women with clear fallopian tubes undergoing IVF. They quickly theorized the fluid in the hydrosalpinx was the culprit but wondered if that fluid was also causing a permanent problem in the uterine lining or if it was a remedy as simple as removing the fallopian tubes. So they followed up by removing the fallopian tubes of the women with a hydrosalpinx and followed them through IVF. And their numbers shot up to the same success rate as women with unblocked tubes. So refusing to remove a hydrosalpinx can present you with an IVF success rate of around 6-8% vs. the going average for women your age at your particular fertility clinic.

I was pleased to hear that blocked fallopian tubes do have a remedy.

And the really great news is that I know this now. The bad news is that I did NOT know this previously and I'm ticked off at my current RE for never having even suggested this test. It could be completely irrelevant but I just had a chemical pregnancy and I was patently clear with my RE that I would submit to any and all tests IN ADVANCE of an embryo transfer if it gave us some learnings that could help. If I have this painful test done and I have a blocked tube, I will be in more pain wondering if that had any impact on my early miscarriage. Fuck, fuck, fuck!

Hey, I would never volunteer for this test, all things being equal. I personally know two women who've had it and both said they couldn't believe this is done without sedation - that it's excruciating. I know in my 2nd saline sonogram this year, I cried when the doctor left the room. I was in such pain. So I definitely do not look forward to this test, no way. But if it provides the opportunity to save me the heartache of another failed pregnancy, I'll consider taking a bullet for that peace of mind.

Well, next steps:
Day 1 of next cycle I am to call CCRM for scheduling a "Work-up" between day 5 and 13 of my cycle. I understand that is the ONLY time I'll have to fly to Colorado before the embryo transfer. That's one good thing. :)

During the 1 day work-up, I'll have a fiberoptic hysteroscope (sounds oh so painful!), meet with a counselor (just a way to bilk me for cash - 'cause I've had 3 mandatory counseling sessions with current RE this year so far - I think, by now, I know this is right for me!), meet nurses and submit to a slew of blood tests for infectious diseases - never mind that I've been screened for every infectious and genetic disease on the planet this year on 3 separate occasions and that before this year, I donated blood every 3 months. One thing is clear, if I have HIV, trust me, it's my RE's office that gave it to me!

But this is a mandatory step - and I'm going for it! Wish me luck!

Cat up your Ass

Before you think I have something against furry felines, I don't. I have two of them and their canine "sister" that all get away with murder. What a life my "kids" have. Sleep all day in a lovely air-conditioned/heated townhouse with no space off-limits, bowls full of high-end cat/dog food and fresh refrigerated water every single day. Never mind that they're constantly being petted, kissed, pampered and that "mama" brings home new toys almost every weekend.

'Nuff said.

The moral of the joke Cat up your Ass was meant to cure me of something I often do: hype myself up unnecessarily. I've grown to DETEST drama, yet remnants of my past are sometimes hard to let go of (40 years with a mother who LOVED and welcomed drama into her life and, thereby, mine).

I find myself often reading so much into something that I'll create this entire false reality before I know the slightest bit of what's really going on. Here's an example (out of thousands I could call upon). A few months ago I logged into Google at work. It didn't come up, kept failing. I rebooted, same thing. Then my password wasn't working to get onto the internet. But everyone else's was working fine. Uh-oh, they're on to me, I thought. Even though I spend no more than the average person does at work surfing the web, I was getting worried that they'd locked me out and that I would be on disciplinary action due to it. Did I have any evidence to support this? No. Then I saw my old boss walk by and I said hi and he didn't respond. S is sort of scatterbrained and easily could have not heard me but I decided he didn't say hi because he couldn't be nice to me knowing he'd have to talk with me about my internet usage. Then I worried that this could be technically a Code of Conduct violation and that I could be dismissed WITH cause over it. That would mean I wouldn't get severance or unemployment benefits and I could even lose my company-given long-term-incentive shares (enough to buy me a very nice, high end car!). I wondered if I should execute the shares. If you execute your shares, they're yours, period. If you leave them in the account, gaining interest (based on company profits by quarter - and they've been doing beautifully for years!), you also risk that if you're fired with cause, the company can take them away. Now, I work for a huge company - over 75,000 employees. I've only known one person to be fired with cause and she was under investigation for months - she'd been stealing from the company, logging into people's email accounts without the authority to do so and that was only the tip of the iceberg. Her sister works for the company too and was doing similar things but was never caught as red handed. To this day I call them the Grifter Sisters - they scared me in their brilliant ability to lie without flinching. I'm convinced they could easily beat a polygraph. Meryl Streep has nothing on the Grifter Sisters. Well, when the one sister was fired, even she got to keep her shares and apply for unemployment (no severance though). Like most companies, my company went above and beyond to cut its ties from her, without hammering her so hard (which would have been justified) that she felt compelled to find some ambulance-chasing shyster to sue the company for unlawful dismissal while making a dozen false accusations. Publicity like that can be awful for a company, whether it's later found to be true or not.

Even with that, I was scared witless. So here's the joke. Incidentally, the joke was originally in Spanish so I must tell you that in Spanish, the word for cat (gato) is the same word used for a car jack (also "gato"). Hopefully you'll get the joke:

A guy's car breaks down far from home. He inspects the car and notices his back tire has a puncture and pops open the trunk to change the tire. Just then he notices the jack ("gato" - cat in Spanish) is missing. So he leans on the car and thinks....hmmm....a friend of his lives about a mile down the road, maybe his friend has a jack (gato/cat) he could lend him to change the tire. It's hot and he's walking to his friend's house and the whole way he's thinking, Man, this guy's the least helpful of my friends, he doesn't lend anything to anyone, he's distrusting and selfish - last summer I gave him free tickets to the World Series and I helped him build his deck. I know he's not going to lend me the jack (gato/cat) - he's going to make some bullshit excuse that he doesn't have it. I'm going to snap if he doesn't, after all I've done for him.

So he gets to the guy's house, rings the door bell and when his friend answers he says "listen, you can take that "cat" and shove it up your ass," turns around and returns to his car, leaving his friend flabbergasted and standing on the doorstep with his jaw still agape.

I think of that story when my mind goes racing and I conjure up an entire crazy dramatic tale of woe of something bad to come when I have no real evidence to believe that. Most times, that won't happen at all. My friend V used to say to me, "You must think a lot of yourself that you think in a company with tens of thousands of employees that the president is actually spending his day thinking about ways to fire you." Then we'd laugh ourselves silly and that would always snap me out of it.

No, I'm not the center of the universe and most people don't go out of their way to think of ways to rain on my parade.

Cat's in the Tree

This term comes from a Spanish joke describing a scenario by which you sort of let someone down easily.

A guy lives at home with his mom and decides he needs a vacation. So he asks his sister to stay at his house with their mother and keep an eye on his beloved cat.

After a couple of days away, he calls home to check in. "Hey Sis, the weather is beautiful here, hey, how's my cat?" She replies "oh, the cat got hit by a car and died." He gasps and scolds her "What kind of an insensitive idiot are you? That's not how you break bad news to someone." She's taken aback and says "Oh, I'm sorry, it's what happened - how should I have answered?" He says, "Well, maybe you say something like, Oh, the cat ran away and the next time I call you say now the cat is high up in the tree and won't come down and the next time I call you tell me the cat is higher up in the tree and looks sick and then the next time I call you tell me that the cat fell from the tree and doesn't look good. You break bad news to someone incrementally and gently."

Then he says, "Well listen, enough of all that, onto something else - how's mom doing?"
The sister pauses "Oh, well Mom's up in the tree."

The moral of the story intends to be obvious and I'm sure we've all been in situations where we had to gently tell someone harsh news.

Me - I don't like it so much. My first appointment with an RE last January I walked in and said "I will be using donor eggs," to which the doctor replied "Whoa! that's not something I hear every day from a 41 year old with functioning ovaries."

No, I'm not immune to being jolted by harsh news but if it's between a jolt of bad news or a cat in the tree, give it to me straight the first time. Fortunately, I have been innately blessed with the ability to accept things I don't like and make the best of them. I don't define myself as a positive or a negative person but as a realist. I would prefer to face a bad reality over a delusional one under the guise of being "positive."

I told the doctor I didn't think it would serve me well to spend $60K on one failed IVF after another only to wind up with no baby and then having no funds to pursue donor eggs or adoption. To each their own but I don't play big money at the Blackjack table and the odds there are FAR BETTER than the odds of a 41 year old woman with a 12.8 FSH of getting pregnant with her own eggs.

Whatever the truth is, however harsh the stats - give them to me, 'cause I can handle the truth if it's going to save me agony later on down the road!

Write the Check

This is a descriptive term that describes the following real-life story.

My best friend in the whole wide world is V. She's awesome in a million ways - good hearted, animal-lover, realist, self-aware, devoid the slightest bit of overt hypocrisy and is always striving to do better.

Anyhoo, last year V tells me that her brother and sister-in-law's development project in Atlanta fell apart and that her sister-in-law's sister is going to sue them because they'd deposited 30K into a house that never materialized and that she had solid legal ground on which to sue them. Now, we're not talking about people in the Trump sphere where they can sue one another for tens of millions and still be friends 'cause it's a pittance and the win is merely for bragging rights. No, these are normal people who were hit hard with the housing crisis we're now in and last year, they put their last few bucks into starting the Atlanta development which fell apart. They were left penniless themselves when the project crashed. So they didn't have the 30K to return to the sister.

Oh and here's the gravy on this story - V's sister-in-law is suffering IF so they had to come up with 20K last year for a round of IVF in their only bid to conceive - and now they were going to be sued by the sister.

So last fall V tells me that her sister-in-law was going to spend Thanksgiving at her sister's house (the sister who was suing her and her husband for 30K) and I said "V, I find it very hard to believe that she is going to enjoy a social event with the sister who is suing her." Again, I'm not saying she shouldn't be sued, just that it would be difficult to spend time with someone who was causing you pain - justified or not. V said that her sister-in-law was madly in love with her young niece and told V that no matter what, that she could never cut them out of her life because"family is family," etc.

I remember my response as clearly as if I'd just said it, "V, has your sister-in-law had to write a check to a lawyer regarding the lawsuit yet?" and V said "I don't know, why?" I said "find that out and then we'll talk." I told her I would enter into a 1K bet that her sister-in-law hasn't had to write one single retainer check to the lawyer yet, not a single dollar. I said, "I don't care if she gave her sister her eggs that produced her niece, if she has had to write a retainer check to her lawyer brought on by her sister's lawsuit, that's when I'll believe 'family is family'."

V didn't feel strongly about this. Weeks later I got a call, "you're right - she didn't fund the defense for the suit - it's being handled by the lawyer of the developer."

There you have it folks. I knew it. There is no way you're going to tell me that if I'm a working class stiff like everyone else and my only sister sues me, no matter how much I "adore" her and my niece and no matter how family-oriented I am and no matter how justified the lawsuit is, there is no way I am going to remain in a loving relationship with the person who is costing me much-needed money directly out of my checking account - money that could have funded my IVF, money that could have funded a much-needed new car, money that could have saved me from financial ruin.

Hey, it's possible, of course. This is a great big world with millions of personality types. But I was willing to bet good money that odds are in your favor you'll never find someone quite that "understanding" and objective.

Somehow, I just knew V's sister-in-law hadn't forked cash over to a lawyer to defend herself from her own sister as a plaintiff and was still willing to break bread across from her at the holiday table.

So when people tell you a story that's oh-so-hard to believe, find out first if they've actually had to "write the check" yet.

Lottery Moment

This refers to your behavior AFTER you quietly collected the net check for 90M from the Mega lottery and the money is right now safely deposited into your bank account.

It changes things, truly.

Presuming you go into the office to tell them you'll be wrapping up your projects for the next 3 days and transitioning them over to someone else 'cause you're leaving the company (regardless of whether you tell them you won the jackpot), there will be moments that will provide you the freedom to say what you wanted to say a thousand times but since you didn't have the millions of dollars to say it (lest risk losing your job), you kept your mouth shut.

For me, that would be saying to my boss "STOP BITING OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW!" Your idea of working is to arrive at 11 am, run errands from 12:30-2, return until 4 and then bolt out with one "emergency" or another. And while you're here, you spend 60% of the time doing personal stuff (bills, calls to lawyers, therapists, florists, whatever!). So it's best that you STOP initiating more projects to work on only to not be present to the meetings and
fail to make the deliverables. And another thing: get a book about self awareness! Though you think you work a 9-5, that has NOT happened one single day in the 2 years I've worked with you.

It isn't a real work day until I get a call from someone looking for K and finds the voicemail on her cell phone is full and not taking new messages and is in desperate need for a file she promised and for her attendance in a meeting she's blown off.

Then I have to scramble to try to help them somehow. Ugh!

Obviously, my lottery moment would be to sit K down and have a come-to-Jesus meeting! Of course, she'd have me fired 5 minutes later which would be perfectly fine with 90M bucks in my bank account.


Welcome to Plan B

Today's the day. I have a phone consult with CCRM. I played hooky from work because I just couldn't deal with the 45 minute commute only to leave at noon anyway so I could head home for my call with the clinic later today. So I'm nursing a stomach ache and chills, on the record. Off the record, I'm enjoying a nice cafe latte and blogging with two out of my 3 furbabies in the room. They definitely wish I could be a full-time mom - me too!

My boss K tells me last week that she thinks her husband "has a girlfriend." It was a "Lottery Moment" (see post for descriptive terms: "Lottery Moment," "Write the check," "Cat's in the tree," "Cat up your Ass" and "Of course it's my egg!")

So, when K tells me this, I didn't have the winning ticket so I didn't say "A girlfriend? As in singular? Are you fucking kidding? The guy has been using you every day of this sham-of-a-marriage for a green card and a sugar mama. And he's a greasy, slimy dirt ball who's programmed to hit on every female within a 60 foot radius. And you think he's got "a" girlfriend? Listen sista, be grateful if he doesn't have herpes and HIV - the gifts that'll keep on giving; a girlfriend has an easy fix: GET RID OF HIM!"

Instead, I said: "well, how do you know?" and she said she'd had his cell phone charges printed out when she was changing their family share plan and he'd logged in 17 HOURS worth of calls in June to a number in the next area code and when she called the voicemail belonged to a woman. She added "calls at 11 pm, 2 am - all hours of the evening." And I said "Oh K, that's probably a billing error because at that hour, he'd be sleeping and you'd know if he weren't there." Though that's a LONG SHOT, I meant it in earnest. I'll admit I was only married for 7 years but I sort of think you'd know if your husband is making calls at 1 am (and I sleep like a rock!). I don't know - I think we're programmed to hear certain things. I mean, I can sleep through thunder and lightning storms that take down power lines and pepper neighborhood streets in broken Oak trees yet I wake up the instant my dog barks or cries just once. Our brains are wired to respond to certain sounds. I kind of think that my husband leaving the bed at 1 am several times a week to sit in the living room and chat on the phone would trigger something for me. K said "well, no, because he often stays downstairs watching TV until the middle of the night and then comes to bed." Uh-oh!

Then she said "and on Friday and Saturday nights he goes to the bar by himself and doesn't get home until 3 AM."

You know, #1 I was busy. But #2 is that I wanted to get up and sock her in the mouth. Goes to a bar by himself Friday and Saturday nights?! I mean, are you an idiot?! Listen, wives should trust their husbands - yeap, I get it and agree with that statement. Generally people cheat because the marriage has other problems - I also agree with that. And husbands and wives have a right to go out on occasion with friends (yes, even to a bar) and be trusted. BUT circumstances and opportunity will often dictate unfortunate outcomes. Relationships are difficult enough without having one partner frequenting a bar twice a week and returning home at 3 am. I mean, don't you think that's going to be a dangerous environment at some point in your marriage?!


So she didn't go into the office last Friday because things got ugly at home Thursday night after she confronted him. Apparently she's changed the locks on the house - which is only a smart move if she didn't wind up spending $500 to change the locks only to hand him the new keys in 2 weeks when he sweet talks her. Personally, if I was going to forgive him anyway, I'd rather spend the $500 paying for new pots and pans after denting the current ones over his skull. But that's just me. ;)

Well, all this to say that though I'm playing hooky, I'm wondering what's falling apart at work since my "boss" is probably not in again today. I have never reported to someone who had so much DRAMA in their lives. It exhausts me.