Little Acorn

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

transferring life

I can't believe I haven't written anything since before the transfer! That really tells me something, that I'm not necessarily obsessing with this. The transfer went extremely well. Our snowbaby thawed successfully and kept right on growing. By the time the embryologist brought us a picture our embryo was well on his way to hatch out of his shell (weird, right?) and getting ready to implant.

I had worked that Friday morning trying to get as much ready for this week as I could, but I left at 9:45AM and never looked back. I had an hour with my acupuncturist, ate lunch with Ryan, and excitedly awaited the procedure. I was so calm I didn't even need the Valium they gave me (which was a first). Both IVF cycles before this I abso-freakin-lutely needed that damned Valium. I was a wreck.

But no. I was relaxed and laughing. By the time they wheeled me in I was cracking up with the nurses. Then the doctor came in and was inviting the embryology director to dinner. He told us of their office plans to expand and it was just nice, interesting conversation. Then he said, "you know, Kensley is one of my favorites. I really want her to get pregnant, but I have to say, I would miss her around the office. I'll have to set my personal feelings aside though." Did I mention this was said as he was sterilizing my cervix? Huh.

Well, I didn't know what to say to that. My feeling is that if I never had to see the man again I'd be a very happy person. So of course, being one who doesn't gloss over my thoughts very well, I gave a half laugh and said back, "Yeah, I know the feeling. I mean, I'd be happy never having to come back, but you've been such a great doctor." 

Anyway, the bottom line is that the doctor also said that he wasn't just being nice, but that we had a
very good embryo, one that had excellent growth and progress, a fighter. And when they rolled me out I shook the doctor's hand and said my many thanks. He held on to my chin for a moment and said he really really hoped we'll have some good news.

I went back to the acupuncturist after the procedure and took it easy the whole weekend. So now it's Wednesday, Day 11. And I have been so calm. Half of it is because work is so busy (not stressful busy, just mind-numbing busy). The other half is simply this odd feeling of calm I've had. I'm not into binge eating. I'm not really obsessing over every twinge or breast tenderness.

Actually, there really hasn't been those twinges I've stressed over in the past. Not even period-like cramping this time. Just what feels like a little pressure deep within (I'm assuming my uterus), like something's in there. I've had that feeling before but nothing so consistent.

I also am thirsty so I've been drinking water like mad (and I hate water). I've had consistent headaches each day, but I don't know if it's dehydration (shouldn't be with all the water) or allergies. I've also had hot flashes like I'm burning up, but they go away, and quick dizzy spells like I'm walking on something movable. Lastly, I am tired. Sometimes I feel great--no pain, no nothing! But other times this wave of exhaustion washes over me. I took a nap both Saturday and Sunday and then again on the plane yesterday and I never nap. So I don't know if it's allergies, psychosomatic responses, or if I'm truly pregnant.

Regardless, these are definitely some different symptoms I'm seeing and I'll either add them to my symptoms list for next time or I'll know I'm pregnant on Saturday. What's funny is that I'm really okay with it either way. I've got some really fun things coming up in April and it would be a relief to have some wine and just not think about this stupid infertility stuff for a while. I mean we're going on 7 months straight of treatments now! Obviously, I'd be out of my mind excited if I were pregnant, but I am really okay with this outcome. And perhaps that's because I'm healing from all of this.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

reality slaps

When reality hits you, it doesn't just pinch your cheeks. It flat out bitch-slaps you clear across one side the face and down the other. As was the case last Sunday when the doctor started to measure my uterine lining and said, "well, we're looking at a solid 6.8 [mm]." Confidence plunged.

So my lining was going to plateau no matter what I did, whether it was injectibles, acupuncture, baby Aspirin, bromelain, healthy foods, and plenty of water. You think you can control this? You crazy! It does not matter. It will always do what it's always done. Not much.

I guess a solid 6.8 mm is better than the last two FET cycles that brought in a measly 6.5 mm from each cycle. And that's about par for the course with all my other cycles, the best reaching 8.1mm (ideally you want to see at least 7 mm). But I question the accuracy of these measurements and have to assume there is some level of error in determining the actual thickness. So who knows what they actually were for those cycles. Bottom line, none of it worked. Whether it was egg quality or implantation issues, none of it worked.

In my head I'm convinced that it was an egg quality issue. Why? Because every embryo degenerated in the dish. Every time. And so you can conclude that every embryo put into the body degenerated as well.

No matter. I am at peace with what is about to be. I can't keep going on in this perpetual cycle. I can't keep spinning in place. I must move forward. And if this lining is the best it's ever going to get, then so be it. I am at peace with whatever the outcome.

It's so funny how different my perspective is now on this. My best chance ever and I am at complete peace with it failing. Because I think I let go my hopes of a genetic connection a while ago. And at least it's progress, right? Progress to getting our baby through other, more realistic means. Of course, 1 hang up: Ryan really does want to do a 3rd IVF cycle. I think it's a waste of our time and money and emotions, but he still believes. And I will do it for him. So I still think it's progress. Slow, but steady. No matter what the outcome.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

calm kicks crazy's ass

I started freaking out that I will need to be in town this Thursday or Friday and likely all next week because I'm getting very close in lining thickness (6.7 mm). I should be extremely excited as it's taken since November to get to this point. Well, really it's taken 3 years to get to this point. But no. That's not how I roll. No, I am upset that this is happening because it's starting to conflict with my work schedule. I called my mom to help me calm down.

I was stressing about work to the point of tears. I was trying to fit it all in. I have to do two surveys I because everyone else is either on maternity leave or about to pop. I have to attend a conference in Galveston and market our services. I have to manage and conduct out-of-town endangered species surveys. And I have to proceed forward with this frozen embryo transfer. And they all need to be done in March. All of these have-to's! I was stressing myself out thinking I could keep all these balls in the air for some reason. I thought I could still make it happen.

Then something happened. After coming back to work and stewing over my schedule, a pleasant calmness washed over me, like cool river water over stone. It was the most wonderful feeling of relief. I realized that I can't do everything. I don't want to. My priorities were quickly becoming screwed up and I needed an inner reality check.

This inner calm told me, "Wait a second. You know what? Screw that! Your procedure is the only thing that is truly important right now. So what if it's happening during a busy month? Every month will continue to be busy. Are you gonna push it off again for work? You gonna let work push you around? Gonna let it take over your life? You almost worked on the weekend to accommodate this crazy schedule, you psycho! Screw that! Take it back. Take back your life. Own in right now and be free. Free your schedule and work within your means, not outside the boundaries of what is reasonable. Ugh!"
God, I love being calm. Grin. Calm is my inner bitch finally fighting for me. And I love her for it. Calm is my hero that makes everything better. She puts it all into perspective. Calm is my rational mind finally getting back up after being shoved and kicked in the gut. Calm fights back. She kicks Crazy in the ass. Calm makes me smile as I write this. Calm relaxes my forehead creases. Calm lets me know it's all going to be okay. I will just have to do my surveys instead of my conference. That's the way it has to be. Period.

Nothing else matters. I am finally realizing that this is it. It's happening. I am about to have my snow-baby, this tundra tot, our popsicle kid placed into my warm and eager and loving body. This is the moment I have been waiting for so very long. I will let myself go for this moment. I will fall head first into oblivion for this chance. I will put all hope on the line. I am willing to trip into the rabbit hole of depression deeper than I've ever gone if this doesn't work. I will take the chance willingly because it's the best damned chance I will ever have. Nothing. Else. Matters.

So take it right now.
This is it. Get ready. Feet to the edge. Thighs tense. Spread your arms wide. Steady now. Focus on it. See it right there. Take a deep breath. Now plunge! Dive deep. Dive into the depths of this opportunity, become immersed in it's possibility, and let everything else float back to the surface.

Monday, March 12, 2012

introducing the players

"introducing the players" posting - August 20, 2012

I am finally daring to step out of my comforting and private little blog called The Cobbled Road and start up a very visible blog of our sweet family life called The Shaded Acorn. I debated for a long while where to begin this so very publicly available chronicling of our lives because I had closed down my heart and thoughts to so many for so long. A little background information for you... My husband and I have battled with infertility for almost four years (since the fall of 2008) and have struggled with this private and heartbreaking experience ever since. We finally broke through and, by the grace of God, got pregnant on our last fertility treatment and I have been in intoxicating bliss ever since. Too brief? Let me explain.

To start off, we began our battle with infertility in the fall of 2008 and started a series of intense fertility treatments (i.e., in vitro fertilization [IVF]) in the fall of 2010. That's when I began chronicling our journey down the bumpy road of infertility in The Cobbled Road, trying to find our way past the downed limbs and cobbles, those setbacks and trials that we continuously endured. To sum up, in total we had two failed Clomid cycles, two failed intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycles, two failed  IVF cycles, two cancelled frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycles, and one successful FET cycle with the only embryo that we knew of to be genetically healthy. We have not experienced as much pain as other couples that I hear have battled infertility, but it was certainly a traumatic experience of epic proportions for us.

No, our infertility was not particularly unique, but it certainly was isolated. Among my dear friends and family, I knew no one going through this and that was perhaps the hardest thing to endure...alone. While they were more than willing to be supportive, I couldn't bare sharing our sadness. The hurt and guilt and rage seemed to be boiling over the brim and I needed a small place in this world to capture the mess, to vent my pain and frustration privately without worrying over hurt feelings. Because, to be honest, part of the problem was our friends and family, that they were living their own lives while we were stagnating, blocked on our own road. While it's not fair to say or even hear, it's honest and a very real symptom of the hushed reality of infertility.

The Cobbled Road was such a comfort to me in the darkest years of my life. I leaned on it, came back to it again and again, wrote about rage and frustration, about our pain and sadness, about the utter isolation we felt. I would go back and walk down this path over and over again, retrace my steps, recall the sacrifice and tears, witness my slow progression towards healing, and feel the cobbled road slowly start to open up and the burden start to lift. By the beginning of 2012, I was feeling better, starting to heal from the pain we endured over the last three and a half years. I was ready to move forward with whatever our next step would be. I was done with fertility treatments, over the needles, the patience, the constant monitoring, the doctors, the calls, the forced smiles, the sideways glances, the worry, the stress, and the sheer invasion of my privacy, my intimacy, my mind, body, and spirit. I was ready to move forward with the next step (i.e., egg donation or adoption), and was resigned to the tragic fate of my genetic future.

Of course, that's when God graces us with an unbelievable baby! Life is truly ironic. And so we are humbly expecting a strong, courageous, and beautiful baby girl on December 10, 2012. Just like that. Our only embryo of out 19 to survive. This seems to always be my M.O. too, that when I finally let go of what I wanted so desperately, I get the very thing that I have made peace with not obtaining. It's not the same as "just relax and it will happen" (BTW, never say that to an infertile couple). I mean, we have worked very hard to get where we are today, but in principle, I guess the theory could apply. Once I finally let go, once I stepped over the edge, God carried me to the other side.

So now on to introducing the players. The star of this performance is lil' acorn. We nicknamed her this because when I used to think of the growing families that surrounded us, I would refer to them as healthy trees in a forest, vibrantly shading their growing little acorns. My heart ached for this succession and I am so thrilled to be shading my own growing little acorn! I am a wildlife biologist and have found that I use the natural world to explain my thoughts, moods, and emotions, so you'll see a lot of it. My engineer husband, Ryan, also loved the blog name because one of his favorite quotes is, "A tree is a wonderful living organism which gives shelter, food, warmth and ... it even gives shade to those who wield an axe to cut it down." He says its about turning the other cheek and supporting the very thing that's killing you, about being unabashedly happy for those who walk your path. It's perfect for what we've been through and where we are meant to go.

Since we learned Acorn survived six months of cryopreservation, thawing, implantation, and thrives to this very day, I have been writing a sort of foreign, joyous language, one of awe and humbled gratitude in The Cobbled Road. Ryan and I talked about this new type of chronicling and we agreed that it's time, that our friends and family may want to keep up with our news as we have loved keeping up with theirs. So where to begin this little blog? I decided I would start at the beginning of the third FET cycle so anyone reading this will get a small taste of our fertility treatments, while understanding how unbelievably humbled and gracious we are to have little Acorn in our lives. FYI, the FET treatment involves preparing my uterus, thawing the only frozen embryo that survived out of our second IVF cycle in October 2011, implanting the embryo, and monitoring my hormone levels. These posts (up through August 7, 2012) have been copied from The Cobbled Road. I hope you enjoy our journey. It has been a long road to get to this point and there are still many miles to go.

"as the bell tolls" posting - March 12, 2012

Alright. We're in ROUND THREE of our Frozen Embryo Transfer cycle, this time using hormone injections.  I'm trying to remain calm and healthy. Well, healthier. I'm not worried so much about weight right now as I am about remaining sane and calm and clear and focused. I have a lot to do at work this month, so hopefully that will remain a nice distraction.

I have been so strong lately, so calm and undeterred from what I know my fate is. I have enjoyed this new found strength, this wisdom that only comes from pain, this holding-it-all-at-bay attitude that has made the last few months more bearable. But then something always spirals me out when I least expect it. Ryan and I went to see a movie, Friends with Kids, on Saturday night. After coming home, Ryan got pretty down. He actually teared up because he wanted a child so badly (and he never does this). I hope I was strong for him. I told him that with each tear, with each good hard cry, you release the sadness from you and heal a little more. Those tears are your sadness and they are wiped me. I felt strong and honored to help him. But in the twilight hours of yesterday while I was happily distracted making jewelry, his sadness began to resonate in my soul, reverberating the memory of his pain over and over again, volleying it back and forth in the recesses my mind.

I got to thinking. I realized that a dear friend had just given birth and I succumbed to it again. I started remembering how many people were nowhere near ready in their lives to have a child when we  started down this path in 2008. And now people have fallen in love, gotten married, since gotten pregnant, and even given birth, sometimes twice! All in the time it has taken us move in perfect stillness, run in place, stand rigid on our tiny plateaued island of sadness and grief. We are surrounded by a sea of fertile couples on this island. We are isolated with no movement forward, no progression, no growth, no real connection. Just standing there, frozen and high above the rest, looking out over the sea of families, an ocean teeming with life and growth, surrounded by something we can't drink or touch or even reach for, their happiness lapping at our shores and eroding our hearts.

I try not to dwell on it too much these days. It's a black hole of sadness and pain, that rabbit hole that I am oh too familiar with, the one of inky blackness and clouded despair that I can so easily trip into again. So instead, I laugh. I realize that there has been forward movement. It's been time. And I have patience. Oh, yeah! Actually, there has been a little progression too! Of my wrinkles!

I also keep telling myself you'll appreciate your baby that much more when you finally do get to hold him or her. I don't know if that's really true, but it certainly helps. I tell myself to know your fate. Know that it may not be in the cards for you and that's okay. Know that with perseverance and patience, you can accomplish anything you want, and that shockingly does include even a baby.

So I await my fate. I wait for what is to be my future, to what will cross my cobbled road when we can finally move forward. Ah, to start walking again, to stretch out our legs out would feel so good! And so I await for the tolling of the bell. The bell that starts and ends this round of fertility treatments. I can almost hear it in my ears, hear the wide white roar. If you drop it down the stairs, hear it fall forevermore.