It’s been a while…

Since I last updated. I guess I haven’t been quite sure what to write? So I’ll keep it simple, because in so many ways, it is.

In January of this year, we underwent our 2nd retrieval and 3rd round of IVF. We were hopeful for what the future held when 17 eggs were retrieved and 9 were mature. While not super duper numbers, it was an improvement on the previous retrieval and you can imagine how thrilled we were when we also received an update that 7 were growing nicely.

The side effects this time around were pretty horrible, especially with doing PIO every day instead of every other, but we were so excited as we went into our third transfer. We planned on transferring two embryos to ensure the best possible chance of pregnancy.

I remember so clearly the embryologist coming into the room on February 11th and telling us that we had “two early blasts” to transfer that day and that they would be checking on the others the next day to see if they progressed. If you’ve been through multiple transfers and done your research on IVF, you know that the words “early blasts” at a 5 day transfer can make your heart sink. At this point, your embryos should be developed enough to have a grade to give them the best possible shot. But unfortunately, that was not to be the case with ours. So, with heavy hearts, we put on our best positive pants and transferred two “early blasts.”

The next day, we received the call that told us none of the others had survived and that the two currently resting in my belly were our only shot before I’d have to undergo another retrieval. I spent the entire night crying at the possibility and exhausted with this whole process. I think it was at this point, as awful as it is to say, that both Jon and I detached from the situation and began just going through the motions.

10 days later, despite every symptom in the book (likely from the PIO), our RE called us to let us know that the beta was negative and that I could stop all medication.

So here I sit, a little over a month afterwards, not really sure where we’ll go next. We haven’t had our “next steps” consult, I think because we’re both scared of what the doctors are going to say. We’ll be seeking a second and possibly third opinion from different clinics to decide whether or not we’ll be pursuing further treatment or moving on and in the meantime, taking a break to enjoy each other and the life that has been so consumed by infertility in the past two years. I write that the recap of this post is simple because, in spite of the pain and grief that has now left an impression on us both, it’s like it never happened…

Infertility Is

Infertility is sunglasses when it’s dark outside facing the train window on your commute home so no one can see you cry.

It is praying to a God you’re not even sure (knows you) exist(s) anymore in the hopes that He will take away this pain if you’re not meant to be a mother. If He can give to others so freely what you desperately want, surely, he can freely take away what you so desperately want taken away.

It is bruises and stress that make your body so tense that when your partner tries to comfort you, your body’s instinct is to recoil in fear of another violation.

It is “growing up too fast”- grief and loss not many other 26 year old couples have had to experience.

Infertility is crossing the street to avoid eye contact with the family coming towards you, little boy/girl joyfully running out in front of parents, reminding you of what you may never have… what your family may never look like.

Infertility is four women at the foot of the hospital bed- your legs in the air, their hands on all of your sensitive regions with a big bright light examining every inch of you for perfect placement.

It is discreetly removing the bandaids from your arms at work after this mornings bloodwork. (Hoping the bruises and lines don’t start to look like track marks.)

It is panic attacks in Buy Buy Baby when the cashier asks for the name of the registry you are shopping for and, unable to respond, running out of the store before the sobs escape your mouth.

It is smiling through the pain at back to back baby showers as new moms-to-be open diaper bags and pack and plays and hundreds of adorable outfits.

It is packing up the outfits you bought for your someday when you first started trying, tucking them away in the top of the closet on a shelf rarely used.

Infertility is the “nursery” at the top of the stairs being turned into an office. No sense waiting to use the room for a baby who may never come.

It is gaining 30 pounds in two years, the result of stress eating and hormone injections and general disregard for a body which no longer feels like your own.

Infertility is listening to the voicemail that could change your life… and hearing that it won’t.

And pretending like nothing is wrong.

Infertility is business as usual.

A Letter to Customer Service at Buy Buy Baby

Good morning,

   It is with deepest regret this morning that I write to you all with a story not of excellent customer service but rather unfortunately, one of the worst customer service experiences I have ever had. My apologies, this is a tad long but I appreciate you taking the time to hear my story.
   To understand why my experience was so terrible, you need to know a little bit about me. 2016 was not an easy year for me. 2016 is the year I experienced 3 failed intrauterine inseminations and 2 failed rounds of In Vitro Fertilization. I lost not one, but two babies in 2016. I endured countless injections with needles bigger than the average person’s thumb and around 5 surgeries, in the hopes that I would be able to obtain results that most people don’t even have to think about- a tiny little human growing inside of me. But that was not to be in 2016. Just this past Thursday, I started yet another set of injections in preparation for another surgery and my third round of IVF. As a loss mom, and an infertile woman, it is sometimes very painful for me to watch others experience the joy and wonder that a pregnancy brings and that I am losing hope that I will ever have. And yet, life goes on. And I must be supportive of the women around me who have what I want more than anything else in this world.
   It took WEEKS for me to muster up the courage to step into your Chicago location, which I did last night. I have two friends, the first of my friends to have babies, who are due in March and have back to back baby showers that I have to attend in the next 2 weeks. They are both due within a few days of when I would have been if my first round of IVF had successfully resulted in a take home baby. I had never been to your store and when I finally decided last night would be the night I would go shopping for their gifts, I was even beginning to get a little excited that perhaps I could even buy something for myself in an act of good faith that maybe THIS round of IVF would work.
   But it took me a few minutes to even get past the sliding doors, past the first wall of floor to ceiling baby gear. I was more overwhelmed with emotion than I had anticipated. With my husband’s guiding hand, I somehow made my way to the bottles and the young woman who was stocking the shelves assisted me in locating the ones I had managed to pull up on my friends’ registries. I was in your store for probably less than 10 minutes before we made our way to the cash registers, eyes cast down, on the verge of tears and afraid that I would meet eyes with one of your other shoppers and that they would see.
  It is when I got to the cash registers that I experienced the EXTREMELY poor customer service.  I was struggling with being able to contain the pain that was welling up inside of me, having been reminded that I still do not have what I have worked so hard for for the past 2 years. My husband loaded the 6 things that we had in our basket on to the counter and I stepped up to pay.
“What’s the number of the registry you’re buying these for?”, asked the woman checking us out.
“I um, I’m not sure, there’s actually two gifts here for two different people and one of them isn’t registered here. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed right now can we skip that part?”- I answered.
“You don’t KNOW the number of the registry? What’s the name?”, she retorted.
“Um, Mahnaz Dass, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, can we skip that part? I can do that later.” I answered again, huge tears now welling up in my eyes and heat rushing to my face.
“I need to know the name of the registry so that I can make sure that she doesn’t get double things!!! What’s the name of the registry?!” Your cashier yelled at me as she rolled her eyes.
“I, um, I’m overwhelmed right now, I can do that…”
It is at this point that I informed my husband that I would need to leave the store because a sob had escaped. I spent ten minutes crying uncontrollably in the car afterwards.
Your cashier could not have POSSIBLY known what I have experienced in the last year. However, having said that I was overwhelmed THREE times and clearly about to cry, I would have hoped that she would have dropped the subject of the registry. Instead, she pushed and pushed, ignoring the signals and verbal queues I was giving her and made an already difficult shopping experience even harder. Infertility and loss is an incredibly isolating process and your cashier made me feel incredibly alone and lost in that moment.
1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. 1 in 8 people in the US experience infertility. With these statistics, it is likely that your cashier comes into contact with someone who has had a loss or who has had to endure what I have endured EVERY. DAY. I share my story with you in the hopes that you will provide sensitivity training to your staff so that the next time someone states that they are “overwhelmed” with their shopping experience they may realize that it may not be just by the floor to floor choices that are put in front of them.
I thank you for your time and hope you have a great day,
   Mallory

Today is November 3rd.

Yesterday, November 2nd, 2016, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT YEARS.

As the name of my blog suggests, I live just about a mile north of Wrigley Field in the city of Chicago. Last night was absolutely incredible. There is no way to describe what I felt last night except that it was electric.

We attempted to get into a few of the bars in our neighborhood after work but by the time we got there, they were already packed out. So Jon, our friend Kevin and I stayed in and polished off a few IPAs and PBRs while sitting through 10 of the best played innings I have ever seen in my entire life. When it was over, I jumped off of the couch in celebration and tears filled my eyes. I had just witnessed history. We went outside to walk our dogs and fireworks were going off everywhere. Cars honking their horns as they drove by and from miles away as fans exulted the win they had been waiting for for so long.

Today feels surreal. My city is changed and I felt the need to record my moment, my “where were you”, this morning. If you’re not from Chicago or have never been here (come visit!), you may not understand but I have never seen or even heard of a city with as much civic pride as this one. You might say it’s just a baseball game but for us Chicagoans, it’s a lifestyle, a culture.  This city- this beautiful, breathtaking (for better or worse), proud city by the lake- has brought so much to my life and there have been few instances where I have felt as much a part of a place as I do today. I feel a joie de vivre that I have not felt in a long time and what a perfect start to my Month of Me.

Today, November 3rd, 2016, I am a very proud Cubs fan.

Heavy Hearts

It is with a heavy heart that I write today that Frostie’s cycle did not work out and we are not pregnant after Round 2 of IVF. Our one and only frozen embryo is gone. There aren’t really any words to describe what that feels like except that we are devastated.

The list of questions that I have is a million miles long right now. We’ve decided to take a break for the rest of 2016 and pick back up treatment in 2017. I will say that it was incredibly kind of my RE to call me directly to deliver the bad news, I’ve always had a nurse call and give it to me. I’ll be making a consult for sometime in December to go over next steps- which I’m assuming will include genetic screening for any future embryos that we might get.

Right now, we’re also trying to figure out what our limits are- it’s now pretty clear that not being able to have biological children is a real possibility for us and neither of us is sure how we feel about that. Physically, I think I could take a couple of more rounds of IVF and since we are lucky enough to live in a state that mandates fertility coverage, that’s an option, but emotionally, this is… A lot. To say the least.

While we’re doing our treatment break, we’ve decided to take dedicate November to a Month of Me. We’re going to live life like the young married couple that we are- sans all of the grief and stress that comes along with infertility. We’re going to practice self-care in some way or another every day and use the time surrounding the holidays to refocus on ourselves and each other. I hope to post a few times about what we’re doing in case anyone else would like some ideas on how to try and recover from a failed cycle.

Thank you so much for your well wishes and support during my FET, I’m incredibly grateful.

North of Wrigley (1)

Frostie the Snow-emby

frostie

Introducing, the one, the only- Frostie! Hopefully currently nestling her way into a cozy spot in my uterus where she’ll stay for the next 9 months. (Again, I don’t know that it’s a “she” since we didn’t do genetic screening, I just have a feeling. 🙂 )

As you can see, we survived “The Thaw”, which was a great fear of mine, and made it through Transfer Day. On Monday morning, we woke up nice and early and made our way to our  favorite pre-treatment breakfast spot, The Goddess and the Grocer. It’s  been our tradition to go get breakfast there on the morning of any treatment so it was a great way to start the day- if you’re in Chicago, you MUST try their maple bacon egg sandwich! At around 8:30, we crossed the street and arrived at the clinic for our 9am appointment.

Now, if you’ve ever had a transfer done, you know that they require you to have a full bladder for the procedure to allow them to get a clear picture of your uterus… And you also know that this is probably one of the most uncomfortable parts of the whole procedure. Otherwise, it’s a piece of cake. I’d had a large cup of hot apple cider (warm uterus + no caffeine = happy embaby!) and a 32+ oz bottle of water to make sure that my bladder was perfectly full by 9am… Well 9am came and went, 9:15 came and went, 9:30… They didn’t call us back into the procedure room until 10 o’clock. By that time I was super uncomfortable. So I asked the nurse if I could empty out a little bit. She gave me a cup to go in but didn’t explain that I could fill it! So I only emptied a little, fearing that if I did too much, it’d delay the procedure.

Another 15 minutes go by and I’m back in the room now EXTREMELY uncomfortable. To the point of tears. Jon was such a sweetheart and went out of the room to ask them to hurry up or if I could go again. The nurses assured him I was next so if I could just hold it a little longer. Another 5-10 minutes went by…when you have to pee that’s an eternity. Finally the nurse came in and saw my tears and immediately whisked me off to the bathroom- “We want you to be relaxed! Not uncomfortable enough to have tears!”- where she explained that I could empty a FULL CUP. Well geez, had you told me before…

I walked back to the room MUCH more comfortable and then the rest of the crew came in. Just like before, the embryologist came in to confirm who we were and how many we were transferring, they propped me up, put her up there on the big screen- What a movie star!- sucked my embaby up into the catheter and *flash!*, it was over. The ultrasound tech gave us this picture, after she was placed in there:

20161010_105652_hdr-1

That little white dash? That’s her! As you can see from the picture on the title- Frostie was already starting to hatch out of her shell for implantation, which is very exciting! After all was said and done,  we went home to rest, making a pit stop at Trader Joes to get some pastries and for Jon to buy me flowers (Awww!). I spent the rest of the day watching Netflix with hubby in bed and then we went out for a very relaxing and delicious dinner that night.

Tuesday I returned to work since I have a desk job that doesn’t require much movement and had acupuncture afterwards. I had to do my PIO shot that night and change my patches- I’m getting so much better at self administering the shot! I felt a little light headed all day and like a little… Idk, heavy? down there but otherwise no symptoms to write home about.

Today I am symptom spotting like a motherf-er. I had a nose bleed this morning… I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a nosebleed in my life and my  uterus is DEFINITELY sore today. I am constantly aware of it and it’s not because I’ve been thinking about it all day because I’ve had a pretty busy day at work… (sigh) Now I’m rambling.

Anyway, feeling pretty optimistic overall! I will likely test before my beta because I don’t want to be completely surprised but not until next week. I did not do a trigger shot so no HCG in my system and if I test it will be the real deal.

Hopefully my next update will bring good news!

North of Wrigley (1)

Transfer- Confirmed!

I’m seriously so bad at keeping up with my posts this time around. Last time I updated, I had just started 10 units of Lupron. A lot has happened since then- yesterday I took my last Lupron injection, and today I did my first progesterone in oil (PIO). I’m less than a week away from transferring our Frostie now- October 10th is the big day!

Recap of this cyle:

Days 1-10: 10 Units of Lupron. Those Lupron side effect headaches are no joke.

Days 11-25: 5 Units of Lurpon + Estrace + Baby Aspirin and Minivelle patches. No side effects other than the icky residue from the bandaids and some itchiness at the Lupron injection sites.

Today all the way until beta on the 20th- Estrace, Baby Aspirin and the patches + Endometrin 3x daily plus PIO every other day.

Feeling like a badass right about now… Jon isn’t going to be home on the nights when I need to do the PIO injections so I have to give them to myself IN THE A**.And can you just look at these needles! That WHOLE THING has to go in. It’ll be all worth it if I have a little one in my arms at the end.

pio

First one went off without a hitch! Just a bit of discomfort and now I’m resting comfortably on my heating pad and watching some Netflix. The ultimate Netflix and chill.

I’ve also been doing acupuncture 1-2 times a week. My acupuncturist is a hilariously awkward dude in Chinatown who speaks with a very thick Chinese accent and yet, likes to practice his Spanish on me (after I told him my mom is Puerto Rican). Actually quote:

“AH MALLORY! Como estas?! You hold one minute… I have other girl… She, uh, she doesnt speak Spanish uh even though she look like she do. (giggles softly to self)”

So funny and awkward. I’ll have one session with him on Saturday and one on Tuesday, just after transfer and he’s been having me take a Sikie Black Chicken supplement that he said many Chinese women take. He said it won’t interfere with my other hormones so, why not! (And to date, he’s right, everything has been perfect during my monitoring appointments.)

 

I’m desperately trying to be positive that this will be our unicorn baby, but it’s pretty terrifying to think that this is our one and only shot before I’d have to do another retrieval. I’ve honestly felt pretty detached from this whole process this time around and like I’m just going through the motions. I can tell even Jon is slightly less excited & hopeful this time. We hardly talk about it and when we do, its not without trepidation. Hopefully Monday it’ll all sink in and I get to experience that rush like I did the first time.

I don’t think I’ll be testing until much closer to my beta this time around. I took a half-day this time around so that when I get the results, I’ll be by myself to let it all sink in- for better or for worse.

I’ll update again after transfer! I’ll have a lot of time on my hands while I’m lounging around praying for implantation. 😉

North of Wrigley (1)