Of Milestones and Healing

This blog has not died, it’s just been in some serious hibernation mode! Once again I find myself in the familiar place of having several blog posts half written in my head and not enough time to sit down and compose my thoughts in an orderly enough manner to post online.

While my own infertility struggle has been resolved, infertility continues to be part of my life through involvement in online infertility communities (particularly twitter), my volunteer role with an infertility charity, and of course by seeing the toll it continues to take on people I know who still walk this difficult path.

My own healing process is also ongoing as I continue to gain (often surprising and unexpected) insight into my own experience with infertility, even from my current privileged vantage point. I am a numbers person –  numbers are a natural way for me to make sense of the world – and infertility lends itself well to being reduced to a numerical shorthand. Anyone versed in this shorthand can understand notations such as: TTC 32 months, 4 IUI’s, 2 IVF’s, 3 mc’s (just an example, not my story). But at its most basic, the weight of another month or year passing with seemingly no end in sight is an experience that those facing infertility can relate to.

While I thought that my infertility story had been written, I am surprised to find myself facing yet another milestone. My husband and I first started trying for  baby in June 2008. I got pregnant with my first son in September 2011, or after 3 years and 3 months of trying to conceive. Now, in a few weeks, it will be 3 years and 3 months since that beautiful little embryo first snuggled into my uterine lining to become a part of my life forever. In other words, the amount of time that has passed since I conceived my first son will soon be longer than the amount of time that it took to conceive him.

Over the last 3 years and 3 months the process of shedding the psychic weight of infertility has been gradual, and like any weight shedding exercise, filled with periods of sudden weight loss, followed by plateaus, and continuing slow and steady drops. After giving birth to my second healthy son, I thought that I was finally done.

However, I now find myself with pent up anticipation of welcoming this new milestone. I remember back in my dating days, that once a relationship ended, I felt like I could only have true closure once enough time had passed to cancel out the effects of the time spent in the relationship. I now look forward to taking this next step in my relationship with infertility.

Perpetuating the Infertility Taboo

As I mentioned in a recent post, I will soon take on a more public and impactful role in the wider infertility community through volunteer efforts with an organization whose mission  is focused on infertility awareness, support and advocacy.

Outwardly, my volunteer efforts will focus on helping other people who are experiencing infertility, however, my motivation for taking on this role is not  purely altruistic. Aside from all of the usual benefits that people get from volunteering their time, I am hoping that this more public role will force me out of my comfort zone and get me talking more about infertility, and my own experience with it in my day to day life.

While living with infertility, I did not like to share many details about what was going on with friends and family. I was always honest when people asked if I wanted kids, and would freely share that we were trying, but that was usually the extent of it. As I have written in earlier posts on this blog, the reluctance to share many details extended even to other people in my social circle who were also experiencing infertility (though in this case, the reasons for not wanting to share were much more complex).

The sad thing is that I think at the time, my instincts were correct, and I was emotionally better off by not sharing. Even now, when I am sharing my experiences with others who are in the midst of their own infertility struggles, if the topic of being more open with their broader social circle comes up, I generally advise that the less said the better. Instead, I give them ideas of how they can connect with other people also experiencing infertility, or steps they can take to protect their emotions from the repeated painful reminders that being infertile in a fertile world can bring.

Unfortunately, infertility remains one of the last taboos. Probably the closest analogy I can think of is the perception of mental illness, yet I think even mental illness has come a long way in the last ten to twenty years in terms of public awareness, and acceptance of the mentally ill.

All of these factors lead to a vicious cycle: the general public has many misconceptions about infertility; as a result, infertiles who choose to share their struggles find themselves facing ill timed or intrusive questions, or receiving unsolicited advice from caring friends and family who are trying to be supportive (not to mention much worse from others who may not be as well meaning); leading to infertiles deciding they are safer to keep quiet about their struggles; resulting in an uninformed public and the continuing taboo.

There is the odd person who has the emotional and mental make-up to take on the role of advocate while in the midst of their own struggles, however for most people, I think it is more realistic to advocate once their own infertility is resolved (however that resolution may happen). Therefore, I strongly believe that in order to break the vicious cycle, and properly educate the public about infertility, it is up to those (like myself) whose emotional resources are no longer drained by infertility.

And yet, despite promising myself that once I had Baby Boy I would be more open about what we went through and share my experiences with friends and strangers alike, to date I  think I have failed miserably. The reasons for this failure are many.

I am generally at peace with my own experience with infertility. Yes (as I explained in a recent post), the scars are there, but they are just that – scars. Infertility is no longer a gaping, weeping wound, nor even a fresh scab that can easily be picked to bleed again. It depends on the day, but I would guess that it has an impact of 5% to 10% of what it used to (and much of this is actually due to the positive after effects of infertility, which I also described in the aforementioned post). Therefore, I think I am in an excellent position to advocate and share my story every chance I get.

However, the reality is very different. When I do bring my experiences up in conversation, I tend to keep it vague – I say that “it took us a long time”, or maybe (the odd, odd time), I admit to doing “fertility treatments”. And while I wish that I took every available opportunity to share even this amount of information, I usually only bring this up when I suspect that the person in front of me may also have experienced (or be currently experiencing) infertility. And when I share even these fairly neutral statements (from behind my current shield of motherhood, and growing pregnancy belly no less!), my stomach is clenched and my heart is racing, and I feel completely naked and exposed.

Therefore,  I completely understand why infertility remains a taboo topic, because despite my best efforts so far I have not been very successful in doing my small part to change things. I am looking forward to what I hope will be growth and healing as I take on my new role, and slowly, step by step become the advocate I’d always hoped I could be.

New Beginnings

Lotus Flower, Innisfree Garden, Millbrook, NY

The experience of infertility has been on my mind a lot lately. There are a number of reasons for this – a big reason is that I am on the verge of stepping up my involvement in the infertility community in a big way through a volunteer role with an organization whose mission is to educate people about infertility, and advocate for, and provide support for people who are infertile. Needless to say, I am super excited about this opportunity.

Something else that I am super excited about is that I am pregnant again! I haven’t blogged since I found out (on either of my blogs), for all of the usual reasons, but at 21 weeks along, I am more than halfway through this pregnancy (I just updated the details on my “TTC Journey” page). Once again, I am enjoying an uncomplicated, fairly symptom free pregnancy, and am looking forward to welcoming Baby Boy’s little brother into our family.

While my husband and I are not committing to “never again”, the reality is that in all likelihood, our family will be complete once this baby arrives. This means that after six years where trying to conceive, infertility, and pregnancy were such a big part of our lives (at times overshadowing everything else that was going on), we will be closing the door on our reproductive years.

This is, of course a wonderful place to be. After having lived through the anguish and uncertainty that infertility brings, both personally, and through the stories of the hundreds of infertile people I’ve connected with (online and also in person), I know how incredibly lucky we are to get the “happily ever after” ending.

And yet, the last six years are so imprinted in my mind, that it’s still hard for me to see ahead to the time where something that was so front and center in my life will no longer matter. I cannot get my head around never again worrying about the ins and outs of my menstrual cycle, never buying another ovulation prediction test, nor needing any more fertility clinic appointments. Even something as matter of fact for most people as taking birth control after this baby arrives has me torn and confused, as it is diametrically opposed to everything I’ve been working towards these past six years.

For better or worse, infertility (and everything reproduction related) seems to have seeped into my identity and affected my world view to such an extent that in order to move forward beyond infertility, I find myself fighting a version of stockholm syndrome now that I will soon no longer be a hostage.

Before I  wrap up, I feel the need to point out that I have seen posts similar to this one be misinterpreted by those still in the trenches.

What I have touched on here is the coming need (and hopefully) eventual ability for me to move beyond MY infertility. I do not wish to forget or erase the past, nor do I plan to ignore what infertility means to millions of other people who continue to live with that reality every day. Moving on personally does not mean that I will stop supporting other infertiles (and in fact, as I mentioned at the start of this post, I hope that in the coming years I will be able to make a discernible, positive impact on the lives of people who continue to struggle with infertility). Arriving at a healing place, and continuing to be supportive of others are not mutually inclusive.

Lastly, despite all the negative aspects of infertility, the experience has taught me a lot:

– it has opened my eyes to the many amazing advances in science and medicine that have taken place just in my lifetime, while also teaching me that all of our advanced knowledge and tools can still only go so far;

– it has tested me in a way that nothing else in my life has, and as a result taught me about my level of resilience;

– it has increased my empathy towards others who are dealing with hardship (including any number of medical conditions) in their lives; and (more to the point)

– it has taught me to never, ever take for granted the ability to conceive, carry a pregnancy, deliver a healthy baby, and be able to build your family in the way that you had planned.

Crossing the Great Divide

This is another post that I wrote on my other blog, however as much of it deals with the experience of infertility, I thought it may be of interest on here as well.

Baby Boy turned one recently, which means that it’s been just over a year since I became a mother. There is an argument to be made that I was already a mother to the babies that started developing in my womb but did not make it, or to the embryoes created during our IVF, but in this post I want to focus on motherhood in the traditionally understood sense of the word: a woman with a child. As someone who struggled with infertility before becoming a parent, it has been interesting for me to explore over the last year to what extent my experience of infertility impacts my identity as a parent, and vice versa.

While we were trying to conceive, as the months and then the years passed by, I found myself detach more and more from the world around me. The experience of infertility is very isolating, and sometimes it felt like every day brought fresh reminders of how different our reality was from that of our friends, colleagues, and society in general.

When you are first trying to conceive, the initial months are unremarkable: you have sex at the “right time of month”; you read the first chapter of pregnancy books to make sure you’re doing all the right things to conceive; you imagine how your life will change when you have a baby; and then you wait to see if your period will arrive on schedule or not. It is very easy to find community and common ground with friends and strangers alike when you are in this stage.

As the months go by, you start to get discouraged, but it still feels like pregnancy is just around the corner. You did not get pregnant the first month trying, or even the second or third, but your experience continues to be unremarkable. At some point though (and this point is different for everyone), you start to notice a divide between your experience and what you have read or heard about. As you go further and further down the road, the divide becomes greater. Key events that signify that your experience is no longer “normal” may  include trying for over a year (and realizing you are now considered infertile), experiencing pregnancy loss, and the initial visit to a fertility clinic. Suddenly, you realize that you do not know anyone who shares these experiences (or maybe you do, but they have kept their struggles to themselves).

Realizing that you have to rely on a fertility clinic to help you conceive is a difficult thing to deal with, as is having to go through the testing and investigations required to narrow down what the problem is, and once identified, learning to accept the problem. Lying in bed after having sex, as you think of baby names for your likely newly conceived baby is a distant memory. There is another divide once you start fertility treatment, and then a further one when you move on to IVF, with each step leading to further isolation and loneliness as your story becomes more and more removed from the typical narrative (there are further divides, but I will stop there, because that is where my experience stops).

Once you become pregnant, the struggles do not stop. You are now part of a sisterhood that you have been yearning to join, and you are closer than ever to achieving what has often felt like a distant dream.  But, even though you are ridiculously happy, the divide is still there. While from the outside you look like any other pregnant woman, as soon as you speak to other pregnant women, or parents of young children, you are reminded of how different you still are. While they are complaining of the normal pregnancy aches and pains, you are terrified that there is something wrong with your baby, and are closely watching for pregnancy complications that could impact your baby’s health. You cannot relate to the experiences described on pregnancy websites.  Even though you are pregnant, you are still infertile.

And then you give birth to a healthy baby. You take your baby home, and your new concerns become feeding your baby, sleep (theirs and yours), and making sure baby is reaching their developmental milestones. You learn about teething, fevers in babies and starting solids. Perhaps you struggle with going back to work, and how to find childcare for when you do.

You find community with other new parents and find that they have all the same concerns. It does not matter how their babies got there; you are all in the same boat now. Sometimes you think you love your baby more because of how much you fought to bring them into the world, but then you see how they look at their babies, and how tenderly they hold them and you realize that they love their babies just as much.

And this is where I find myself today. I am first and foremost a parent. Whether I am talking to my friends who also had babies in the past year (without the experience of infertility), or whether I am reading my twitter feed filled with tweets from women parenting after infertility, the concerns are the same. We all want what’s best for our babies.

When politicians speak of family friendly policies, they are now speaking to me. At work, or at social gatherings, I can finally contribute to the conversations about the joys and challenges of having children. The huge weight that was on my shoulders has been lifted. The feelings of isolation, of “otherness”, of feeling different are gone. I have crossed the great divide.

This Time Will be Different

I published this post on my other blog, but I figured it had some relevance here too…

Sometime this year, my husband and I will start the process of trying to conceive baby #2. This moment is still months away, as there are a number of moving pieces that have to fall into place before we can reasonably attempt any baby making. At minimum, I need to wean, get my chicken pox vaccine, and get my period back. Since we have five frozen embryos from our IVF cycle, we are planning on jumping right into doing a frozen transfer as soon as we are in a position to do so, therefore there will also be the various tests and procedures that our clinic requires before proceeding with a transfer, not to mention coordinating our schedules with both the clinic where our embryos are, and the clinic where we will do our monitoring for the cycle. The many joys of procreating by committee will soon be upon us.

While I have tried hard not to speculate about what trying to conceive will be like this go around until the time comes, in the last few weeks I’ve often found my mind spinning as I try to process the ramifications of what getting back on the baby making train will mean for us. This is due partly to the fact that we are starting to have preliminary discussions about what our timing is going to look like, and that I am getting close to weaning Baby Boy (I had planned to breastfeed him to a year, which is another two months away, but based on his lack of interest over the last few weeks I suspect our wean date will come sooner than that). I have also recently read a lot of blog and twitter posts that touch on some of the issues I have been struggling to get my head around, related to life after infertility, secondary infertility, and infertility amnesia.

I have no idea if or when we will have another baby. If we do have another baby, I don’t know if we will get pregnant via frozen transfer, natural conception (ha – sounds like immaculate conception to me!), or through further fertility treatments. I don’t know if it will happen on our first try, or after multiple attempts. But despite all of the uncertainty, rather than feel panic at the thought of climbing back on the roller coaster, I am at peace with whatever our outcome may be. I am at peace, because I know that the worst is behind us.

The experience of infertility while trying to conceive Baby Boy was akin to falling down a deep chasm, and having no idea how far you had left to fall, or what sort of landing you would have. Along the way, we were willing to grasp at anything that would help us achieve a quick and safe landing – in the six months before we conceived Baby Boy, my husband and I agreed that we would pursue donor eggs, donor sperm, or surrogacy if we got any indication that any of those would resolve our infertility (unexplained infertility is its own deep chasm, but that’s another story).

I am a planner by nature, and while trying to conceive Baby Boy, having a plan gave me some semblance of control over an uncontrollable process. I was always two steps ahead: if the current cycle/treatment option failed, I had a plan A, and then a plan B if plan A failed. At the time we conceived Baby Boy, I had my plan A and plan B all set, and my husband and I had the resources (financial, emotional, physical) to keep going balls to the wall until we achieved our goal. We were not at the point where we had an end date (whether fixed on the calendar, or based on a number of things happening, or not) at which point we would change course to pursue adoption (when we had last discussed it, this was an option my husband was not interested in), or living permanently child free.

While overall, our mindset was that given enough time and treatments, we would eventually be successful, not knowing how our story would end was still terrifying. The future held so much uncertainty, and there was no way of knowing how much more heartbreak in terms of failed cycles, pregnancy loss, or even just the cruel passage of time we would have to endure before we held our baby in our arms.

This brings me back to my original point about starting the process of trying to conceive again. No matter how many times I turn the idea of it around in my head, I come to the same conclusion: this time will be different.

This time will be different because we are not starting at zero: not only do we know way more than we should about all the ways that conception can go wrong and therefore are intimately familiar with how difficult it can be; but the existence of our five frozen embryos (that paradoxically only exist due to the extent of our struggles first time around), mean that we are starting out ahead of the game.

This time will be different because we are no longer in a chasm of unknown depth. I can look ahead and know with certainty that I will not have to endure multiple fresh IVF cycles in order to bring my baby home (I am not ruling out the possibility of doing another fresh cycle if none of our current embryos take, but I don’t see a scenario where I would do more than one more fresh cycle). I know that if we are to have another child, it will take us less time to conceive this time around than the 3+ years it took us the first time, for the simple reason that due to my age it has to (I’ll be between 37 and 38 when we start trying again).

This time,  there are limits to what we will go through in order to conceive. I know that we will transfer each of our existing embryos until one sticks, but if we are not successful, we are not going to go to heroic efforts to have another baby. Lastly, knowing that we had the strength to survive failed cycles and pregnancy loss the first time around gives me comfort that if needed, we have the strength to survive again. All of these factors mean that when we start trying again, we will be able to feel, or at the very least, see the ground below our feet. We will be able to reach our hands out and find something sturdy to hold on to, rather than grasping at air as it slips through our fingers.

This time will be different because no matter what happens, I will never forget that even our “worst case scenario” of being parents to one healthy, amazing baby boy is many people’s dream.

Documenting the Pregnancy Experience

Last month, I started writing in a pregnancy journal that my mom got me for Christmas, in order to document more of the details of this pregnancy. At first, the idea of a pregnancy journal terrified me. As I have written elsewhere on this blog, my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 11 weeks. As expected, this experience (in addition to 3+ years of infertility) changed my expectations for and experience of pregnancy forever.

In dealing with the aftermath of the miscarriage, I spent a lot of time with a friend who’d lost a pregnancy at 20 weeks about a month before I got pregnant, sharing our grief and trying to heal. I remember very clearly being with her about a week before her expected due date, and talking about whether she was going to do anything special that day. It turns out she had a small ritual planned, where she would open her box of mementoes of the pregnancy/baby and spend some time with these objects. The box included ultrasound photos, plaster impressions of her tiny baby’s feet, and a belly book.

I hadn’t heard of a belly book before, so she explained that it was similar to a pregnancy journal, and that it was where she had documented her pregnancy through weekly pictures of her belly. Upon hearing this, I still remember the two very strong emotions I felt. First off, I felt incredibly sad for her that she had this tangible reminder of the joy and expectations that she and her husband had for the lost pregnancy, and how difficult it would be to look through the book and contrast her grief against the memory of how she had felt while the pictures were being taken.

The second strong emotion I felt was relief for myself that I did not have a belly book, pregnancy journal, or any similar chronicle of my ill-fated pregnancy. The only remotely comparable thing we’d had was pictures of the pregnancy pee stick showing those two magical lines, which I deleted from my computer several weeks after the miscarriage because I couldn’t face accidentally flipping to them. The lack of a belly book or pregnancy journal was purely a fluke – it is totally the sort of thing I would have gotten if I’d been in the baby and pregnancy section of the bookstore at the right time.

When I got pregnant this time around, even though I was comfortable buying small baby things fairly early in the pregnancy (as I was able to tell myself they were for my eventual baby, whether it be this one or another one), I couldn’t bring myself to get a pregnancy journal or belly book, which would be so intimately tied to this pregnancy and baby.

However, when we told my mom about the pregnancy, one of the first questions she asked was whether I was keeping a pregnancy journal, and after I said no, she highly recommended I do. So, it was no surprise when I got one under the Christmas tree from her, but it still took me a few weeks before I was able to get over my fear and actually write in it.

Since then, I have written 3 posts with details of how our appointments went, or what new milestones we’re experiencing. I write when I’m in bed, just before going to sleep, while feeling the baby moving around inside.

In one sense, the journal is more about facts than this blog – a detailed explanation of how the anatomy scan went, a documentation of my weight and baby’s heartbeat, and other such factual details which I want to remember, but don’t feel quite comfortable boring my blog readers with.

However, one of the surprising things I’ve really enjoyed about the journal is that it is also much more personal than this blog. While the blog is primarily about my feelings and experiences, my journal entries are written to my baby, and focus on him. I honestly don’t know if he’ll ever read them (I think the fact that he’s a boy and not a girl makes it less likely that he’d ever be interested), but as I write”you” instead of “the baby”, and “daddy” instead of “my husband”, without fail tears of joy come to my eyes and I feel an uncontrollable outpouring of love and an intense connection to the miracle growing inside me.

Pregnancy Revisited

Four home pregnancy tests later, and I’m still pregnant. On the one hand, I’m starting to get antsy to finally go for my bloodtest and get things rolling “for real”. In some ways this time now feels a bit like cheating, like I snuck into the movie theatre when nobody was looking. But, on the other hand I feel safe and protected, and like nothing bad can happen yet, since nobody’s monitoring my pregnancy and measuring how it stacks up. So, from that perspective I’m in no rush to bring on the stress.

I’m in a great head space right now. Over the last year and a bit I have wondered how I would feel once I got pregnant again, and if the fear and anxiety of knowing too much, and my past experience would get in the way of feeling the sheer, crazy joy that I felt the first time around, not to mention the surprising, immediate connection with the tiny life growing inside me.

In that time, between twitter, infertility forums, and infertility blogs I’ve read about many other infertiles’ joy at becoming pregnant. I remember feeling jealous reading the progression of posts from those people who were pregnant for the first time – not because they were pregnant, but because of how easily they accepted the pregnancy and didn’t question whether it would last or not.

Of course, there are always exceptions, but for the most part, these people were grateful that after many months or years of trying to get pregnant, the hard part was over. Reading these posts, I felt like my innocence had been stolen, and that I would never again experience that same level of excitement at being pregnant.

The posts from those who had suffered loss(es) in the past were different. While they were also excited about pregnancy, for them the hard part was just beginning. It made me sad reading about all the fear and worry that accompanied their pregnancies.

Now that I’ve been lucky enough to experience pregnancy again, I am relieved and surprised at how great it feels to be here. The overwhelming emotion that I feel is happiness, mixed with a huge dollop of wonder. I am too busy enjoying myself to let fear and anxiety spoil my big moment for me.

I know that the odds are still on my side that this will work out. I have every reason to believe that my past losses were bad luck, and that this time will be different. And if for some reason that’s not the case, then all the more reason to enjoy every second of this pregnancy that I can, because who knows when I will next have the opportunity to feel this way again.

I know that there are many hurdles to cross before we can bring this baby/these babies home, but I’m going to take things day by day and try not to worry about them in advance. So far, so good!

And the Wait Begins..

I haven’t posted much lately, and I never did write about the follow up appointment after our first transfer failed. As a result, I haven’t written much about this cycle, or the plan if it doesn’t work.

So, I’ll start with a brief synopsis of where we’re at. As I wrote about in most (all?) of my recent blog posts, I moved across the country in the middle of my two week wait from my first cycle. We had an appointment with a clinic here in Toronto lined up just in case the IVF did not take, which took place in early August.

A few days later, we had our WTF appointment with the RE in our old city. I did write a draft of a post describing in some detail how it went, but in a nutshell what came out of it is that we still don’t know why we’re not getting pregnant (via IVF or otherwise). So, the diagnostic aspect of IVF did not give us any answers, other than to say that both egg and sperm quality are great, and we make lots of very good looking embryos.

We decided that for this FET, we would do our monitoring appointment in Toronto, and fly back to our old clinic for the transfer. If this does not work, we are considering shipping some of our embryos to Toronto to do our next cycle here (probably 2 out of the 5 we have left – I’m still nervous about shipping them, as is my old clinic).

Our RE already pulled out most of his tricks on us with the first FET, so not much changed in the protocol this time around.

We did the intralipids and heparin again, but did add a steroid to the mix. These things should help us with any undiagnosed immune or otherwise weird implantation type issues, because that’s really all that’s left. And we decided that after only transferring one embryo last time that this time we would transfer two.

While overall, I would say my RE treats aggressively, he is conservative when it comes to the number of embryos to transfer. Wherever possible, he recommends a single embryo transfer, especially if it’s a day 5 transfer, and the blasts are high quality. As much as possible, he wants to avoid multiples, and I tend to agree with him.

I want my next pregnancy to go smoothly, with as few complications as possible. I’ve already had a pregnancy that did not go well (miscarriage), and one that never really started (chemical), so I want to do whatever I can to ensure that the next pregnancy makes it. While I understand that there is only so much you can do on that front, one guaranteed way to increase your risks across the board is through a twin (or higher) pregnancy.

Pretty much every possible risk, from incompetent cervix, to preeclampsia, to premature birth is magnified when you have are carrying more than one baby. Many women pregnant with multiples end up on bedrest for a significant portion of their pregnancy in order to try to manage these risks, which must just magnify the stress.

And the risks don’t end with pregnancy – babies born prematurely have more health issues, some of which can be lifelong problems. For example, cerebral palsy is ten times more common in twin pregnancies than in singletons. And lastly, there are what my RE described as the “psycho-social risks” once the babies are born, and the parents are overwhelmed dealing with two (or more) babies who both have the same needs at the same time.

Based on all of that, I was happy to transfer one embryo the first time around. But, when that didn’t work we had to decide whether to up the stakes this time. My husband was all for it, but it took me a while to come around.

I had been worried that if our first transfer did not work I would regret only putting one back in, but in the end I was at peace with our decision. I know that we did the right thing by only transferring one embryo, and if I had the chance to do it over, I would do the exact same thing.

However, the decision about how many to transfer second time around was much harder. I asked our RE what he recommended, and while he wouldn’t come out and recommend we do two, he did say he understood why we would want to try two this time around.

In the end, I did some crude math and decided I was willing to take my chances with two. Probably the biggest factor was thinking about the possibility that if we put one in this time around and it didn’t take, we’d be looking at another failed cycle and heading to a third transfer. If the third one took though, it’s a result we could have achieved earlier by transferring two this time around. And emotionally, I think there’s a big difference between being successful on the second transfer vs. having two failed transfers under your belt and having the stress mount that things aren’t going to work out. Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m getting impatient.

A related consideration was miscarriage risk. Again, if we put one back in and miscarried, it’s a very different story than putting two back in, having a vanishing twin, and still ending up with  a healthy baby. And this time around, my desire to get pregnant first and worry about the consequences later outweighed my desire to minimize pregnancy risk.

When we got to the clinic for our transfer today, our RE sat down with us to talk about our embryos. As in our first transfer, our embryos thawed perfectly. Once again, we heard that they looked like they had never been frozen, and once again both the RE and embryologist gushed about how they couldn’t look more perfect.

We went into the procedure room, where I changed and got ready for the transfer. The embryologist then told us that this morning when the embryos were thawed, our RE had started to wonder whether we should really be transferring two, since they looked so good and he felt they had a high chance of both implanting. Sure enough when he came into the room, he asked us whether we were sure we wanted to go ahead with two. He offered that we could transfer one and refreeze the other.

It was not an easy decision, but we talked it over and decided to stick with the plan. Hopefully no matter the outcome of this cycle, I’ll look back on this as the right decision. In the meantime, for the next twelve days I’m pregnant until proven otherwise.

It’s Complicated

Pardon my absence….

Part of the reason for it is the usual “to busy to post” excuse. My husband was wrapping up a few final things in our old city, and he finally came back for good last weekend. My evenings since then have been busy, and since I started my new job, I’ve been pretty careful about my internet usage at work.

At my last position, I was self employed and used my own laptop. We didn’t have an IT department, so I knew nobody was monitoring my internet usage in any way. Here, I have a company computer that is logged on to a network, therefore I don’t feel like I have the same freedom to surf the internet, and in particular, post on my forums, or write my blog (I think facebook and twitter are outright blocked). This is not really a bad thing, as it keeps me focused on doing my job, and if I really need a fix, I can check stuff out on my blackberry. But, at the same time it does limit the time I have to update my blog (I used to write a lot of posts during lunch).

So that’s part of the reason for my absence. The other part is more complicated, but in a nutshell, I’ve been feeling like a break. While for the most part, writing the blog has been therapeutic and a great outlet for getting my feelings out, the act of writing also forces me to focus on the unpleasant part of what is, for the most part the fantastic life that I’m living (especially recently, with our move back to Toronto). It’s a fine line, and for the last few weeks, living my fantastic life and trying not to get sucked into the infertility negativity has won out.

I’ve still been checking twitter, and the two infertility forums I belong to, but less so, and staying away from posting much of anything. While all of those have been wonderful sources of comfort for me, sometimes I feel like it can get to be too much.

Logging on and seeing the raw emotions people are feeling over whatever stage they’re at in their infertility journey has a real emotional impact on how I’m feeling. Often it’s because they’re going through things I’ve experienced (miscarriage, failed cycles, unexpected delays, etc.) and seeing their posts makes me re-live those difficult moments, while other times it’s things I have not experienced, and hope never to have to deal with. But, in any case, seeing so much grief wears me down sometimes.

On a related note, it seems like in the last few weeks I’ve spoken to too many frazzled parents, as my husband and I have started catching up with our friends in and around Toronto, many of whom have young children (3 and under). They are all good parents, and wonderful people, but they all expressed some level of frustration and stress about the demands of parenting, and having to juggle that with everything else in their lives. None of this was said in a “Woe is me” way, and not once did any of them suggest we were lucky for not having to deal with these things. These were just frank conversations between friends, and I understand where they’re coming from.

We were at a wedding last week, where many of these conversations took place, and as my husband and I were dancing the night away (long after most of our friends with kids had left to go home and relieve their babysitters), and getting everyone caught up on our exciting new house and exciting new jobs, for the first time in a very long time (well, since we started fertility treatments a year and half ago) I felt like taking a break and not worrying about anything to do with infertility or treatments for a while.

And then a few days later, I got my period, which meant it was time to get my frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle going. And  then my clinic told me they needed some updated bloodwork for me, and since it was already day 3 of my cycle, I had a minor panic attack that it may be too late to get the bloodwork done this cycle, which meant I would have to postpone this cycle until November (since I was away for two weeks in October), and just like that I was sucked back into the madness. Fortunately, the bloodwork my clinic needs can be done any time of month, so things are a go for an FET this month and now I’m starting to count down the days to my monitoring appointment, my transfer, and my beta day.

Like I said, it’s complicated.

Delusions of Natural Pregnancy

I seem to be suffering from a touch of infertility amnesia this month. Coming off my IVF cycle which took four months for one very precisely timed shot at conception, to all of a sudden trying naturally again this month makes me feel like I’ve rewound my infertility history by several years.

 I am once again charting my temperatures, peeing on ovulation predictor sticks, and monitoring my vaginal secretions so that my husband and I can ensure we are giving egg and sperm the best possible opportunity to meet.

I am paying attention to what my acupuncturst says, studing the Cooking for Fertility cookbook I borrowed, and reviewing my Yoga for Fertility book once again. For some reason, I am seriously embracing all of these things which have failed me in the past, as if one of them might actually make a difference this month.

Last week, I even ran around to several stores trying to get a tube of Preseed, the sperm friendly vaginal lubricant, since I was worried I may be approaching ovulation with very scant amounts of cervical mucuos. I don’t know what got into me, but I felt that I just had to get my hands on some Preseed, or else this month was doomed for failure.

I’m not sure what to call this. Hope is too strong a word – I don’t really expect to get pregnant this month. But at the same time, it has been a very long time since I took a natural cycle this seriously.

I think there must be something invigorating about experiencing the contrasts between having a highly controlled medicated cycle, and a good old fashioned roll (or 4) in the hay. And this works both ways – a “break” from treatments usually ends up being more welcome than I would have thought, and yet I am always happy to be moving on to the next medicated cycle where I feel like I actually have a chance. And thankfully this time around, the next medicated cycle is just around the corner, with our next frozen embryo transfer planned for September.