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.

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.

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.

Getting rid of Excess Baggage and Thoughts on Karma

The last six months have been filled with an incredible amount of life upheaval. Big decisions were made, and life altering changes happened in just about every aspect of my life. The one thing that has remained constant (thankfully!) is that my husband and I are doing all of this together.

By all of this, I mean moving across the country and all that it entails – leaving old city, old jobs, old house and social circle, for a new (though familiar) city, new jobs, new house and new social circle. And doing all of this against the backdrop of our first (and seemingly never ending) IVF cycle and all the drama that came with it.

So of course with all these changes, and the complex emotions associated with them, it’s not hard to imagine that it’s also been a time when I’ve been looking for signs to help me navigate the craziness, and grabbing onto anything that would ground me, or give me a sign that everything would work out. And it’s not hard to imagine that with all of these inter-connected changes happening at once, that sometimes emotions and thoughts from one of the changes would spill over and affect my view of the other changes.

Leaving our house in our old city was incredibly emotional. It was our first house, which we owned for seven years, and also where I imagined we would become parents. We knew what room was going to be the nursery (the small bedroom next to ours), and with that in mind, had kept the furnishings in there minimal, so they could be combined with our office when the time came.

We even had a piece of furniture waiting to be deployed once we brought our baby home. Our friends who had moved out of the country several years before had given us their nursing chair as they weren’t planning on having more kids. It was a padded arm chair/rocking chair with a matching rocking ottoman.

When we moved away for our one year sabbatical, it was the only piece of furniture we took with us. We’d been trying for a year, and I wanted to have the chair at hand for when we needed it. Of course, we lugged it across the continent, only to lug it back without having to use it in between.

We were happy to be able to sell our house fairly quickly, for close to the asking price, and were curious as to who had bought it (all we knew is that it was a couple). We were also looking to streamline our possessions before we moved, so arranged with our realtor to contact the new owners of our house in case they were interested in buying (or receiving) any of our cast offs.

The weekend before my egg retrieval, my husband and I were on our front porch sorting through our junk. While we were outside, the realtor for the people who bought our house happened to walk by, and he asked us if we’d heard back from the new owners about going through our stuff yet. When we said we hadn’t, he replied “They’re really nice people – you’ll like them when you meet them. I’m sure it’s just slipped her mind to contact you. She’s 5 months pregnant so she’s got pregnant brain, you know.” He laughed and walked away.

Hearing the words “she’s pregnant” was devastating. I felt like my heart stopped for a second, and when it started again, I was living in a cruel, cold world. I went grocery shopping, and seethed with anger the whole time that someone else would (in several months time no less!) be enjoying her baby in what should have been my nursery, while I was stuck with ongoing uncertainty while going through IVF.

Soon after this, the new owner emailed me, and we set up a time for the following Saturday. Unfortunately, when Saturday arrived, I was several days post egg retrieval and dealing with the worst of my OHSS. I really wished I could postpone our meeting, but it was last minute and I didn’t know if they would get the email in time. So instead, I mentally prepared myself for the visit.

When they arrived, they got on my good side right away by calling our cat by his name as they reached down to pet him seconds after stepping through the door. We started chatting and showing them what we had to offer. And then we got to the small room next to our bedroom.

As soon as we walked in, the new owner’s eyes went straight to the nursing chair. “Ooh, are you selling the rocking chair? We’re going to need one of those, since I’m pregnant.” And then she rubbed her tummy. Or maybe I’m just imagining the tummy rubbing, but somehow it seems right. My husband shot a panicked look at me, and jumped in right away “Actually, that’s not for sale.”

I cut him off. “Actually, I think we’re open to selling it” I said, as my husband’s jaw dropped in disbelief.”Are you sure?” he asked. And I was. Even before they had showed up, I had anticipated that they may be interested in the chair, and I had decided that if they wanted it, I was ready to part with it. We’d had it for years now, with no opportunity to use it, so maybe it was time for a fresh start. Who knows? Maybe, it was bad luck having it around, taunting me. In any case, I felt much better once we agreed to sell the chair, and in a strange way felt like now that we’d sold the chair, our luck would surely change.

I was reminded of this the other day, when I met one of my new neighbours in my new neighbourhood. Once she heard which house I lived in, she smiled. “Do you know about the old owners of your house?”. I knew that the guy we’d bought the house from had owned it for less than six months, during which time he’d gutted and completely renovated the inside and never lived there himself before selling it. Somehow, I didn’t think she was talking about him though. “No, I don’t know anything about them.” I said.

“They were so cute. They lived there for about 50 years, and even after all that time, they would go for walks every evening, holding hands. And then they died within one day of each other.” She smiled as she told me this. “So you’ve got some good karma in that house, hopefully it will rub off on you.”

I smiled back at her. And then she said  something that terrified me. “It was always just the two of them. They never had any kids.” And just like that, the good karma disappeared in my mind.

My husband thinks I’m nuts to worry about this. I’m sure he’s right, but without anything concrete to latch onto, I’m looking for any sign anywhere I can that things are going to work out for us, and hearing that as far back as anyone can remember our house has not had any kids living in it does not help my fragile, insecure state one bit. I’m hoping the coming months will bring us good news on the baby front, but if not, I will have to continue to look for signs of what our outcome will be anywhere I can.

IVF Post Mortem

Over the last few days, I’ve experienced many emotions in processing the information that despite all the things that went right with my IVF cycle, ultimately it was not successful.

Going into the IVF, I felt I was realistic about our chances of this working. Unlike some women, I was very aware that there was a good chance the first IVF would not work. In fact, I felt like I would be one of the lucky ones if I only had to do IVF once. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t think anyone who has to do IVF even once is lucky in the grand scheme of baby making. Of all the ways one can end up with a pregnant belly, it is by far the most invasive and stressful (not to mention expensive) one.

Nobody wakes up one morning, decides it is time to have a baby, and says to their husband “Honey, let’s go buy a pharmacy aisle’s worth of medication for me to ingest and inject over the next month, so my ovaries can grow to gargantuan proportions and the Dr. can extract a crap ton of eggs and introduce them to your sperm in a dish. That sounds like way more fun than popping in the Marvin Gaye CD and having sex all month long.”

Some people jump to IVF sooner in their conception quest (possibly even very early on), because it is the only way they can hope to get pregnant, or because they are getting older and want to ensure they pulled out all the stops before time runs out; while others eventually get there after years of exhausting other more palatable options. Either way, the IVF process is not an easy one, and there is a lot invested in the outcome.

As I mentioned above, I went in to this cycle with eyes wide open that one try may not be enough. Over the last year (and especially over the last four months when I was actually doing IVF myself), I have read of many other women’s IVF experiences on the online infertility support forums that I belong to. I always cringed when I would read about women going through their first cycle planning their maternity shopping trips a few months out, or deciding when they would have their baby shower before they even knew the IVF was a success. Even though I was also just going through my first IVF, I felt like the jaded veterans with multiple IVF failures behind them when I read these posts; amazed at these women’s naivety that IVF was a sure thing.

While a small, ugly part of me wanted to see how these women would react when they got a negative result (something about their ignorance of the process and the lack of awareness that success rates are not 100% really bothered me), for the most part, I held my breath and hoped really hard for them that their cycle would turn out the only way they imagined it could and they would in fact be buying maternity clothes sooner rather than later.

In some cases, they got lucky and ended up pregnant (perhaps never even realizing how lucky they were to have ended up on the right side of the statistics), but in many cases, I watched these women try to pick themselves up after a failed cycle, and as you can imagine it was not pretty.

So I tried to stay realistic, and prepare myself for the possibility that my cycle would not be successful. However, even knowing all this, I was still blindsided by the profound sense of loss I feel knowing that things did not work out. I am normally an even keel sort of person, and not prone to riding the emotional rollercoaster, but even for me, there is no middle ground with IVF. Instead, there are only two possible extremes of emotion: the ecstatic feeling of having won the lottery, or the deep sense of despair that the best that modern science has to offer was not enough.

The Blood Test Drama

Well I never did write the post that was to be my rant against the Ontario health care system on Friday, or yesterday. Instead, I ran out of time, and out of steam. I’ll try to do a quick summary of the ordeal that getting my pregnancy test results was, and then I’ll move on.

In case, there’s any doubt, my negative pregnancy result was confirmed via bloodwork. I got the confirmation on Friday, but it was quite the production.

When I had my transfer, my clinic had warned me that the lab in Ontario may not accept the requisition they wrote for the pregnancy test, in which case I would have to go to a walk-in clinic to get a requisition from a Dr. here. Sure enought, that ended up being the case, so after going to the lab, I went to the closest walk-in clinic, got the requisition and figured it would be smooth sailing from there. Wrong!

I had written on the requisition that test results should be copied to my RE (in my old province). However, the woman in the lab told me that they couldn’t send results to my Dr., as they were only authorized to send results to Dr.s in Ontario. It would be up to the Dr. here to forward my results on, but she warned me that it was totally up to his discretion, and that he may not do it! I was absolutely shocked at this. I understand that the lab has rules they have to play by, but for a Dr. to withhold test results from the medical professional who had ordered them in the first place (simply because they practiced in another province) seemed unfathomable to me.

But, it got worse. I was then told that results would not be available for 24 hours, and therefore I would have to wait another day for confirmation. I was once again shocked, as I was used to same day results, and had never considered I may not get them here. I was in Canada’s largest city, getting routine bloodwork done minutes away from the largest concentration of hospitals and medical facilities in Canada (and I’m sure sure one of the largest in North America), and I had to wait 24 hours for my results?? Meanwhile, I just wanted to get closure on this cycle so I could start to move on and plan next steps.

I was so upset by all this that I started tearing up as the lab tech was taking my blood. She noticed I was upset, which somehow made it worse, and I ended up flat out bawling. She saw how upset I was, and said that I could call the clinic to see if they would provide a new requisition that was marked “urgent”, in which case the results would be ready in three hours.

I considered this, but decided that at this point I needed the path of least resistance, and so would just wait until tomorrow for my results (especially as I didn’t think I would be able to get two words out to the clinic without crying). However, the lab tech somehow convinced me to call, promising that the receptionist at the clinic would be able to help me, and I wouldn’t have to drag myself in to see the Dr. again.

I called the clinic, and ended up speaking to the Dr. who informed me that they do not do “urgent” requests for pregnancy blood test results unless it’s a suspected ectopic as it would unnecessarily tie up resources. I told him fair enough, but the reason I was requesting it was because I was used to same day results in my old province and that the lab tech had suggested I request an “urgent” rating in order to get that. The Dr. finally relented and said that while he couldn’t code my requisition “urgent”, he could do an “ASAP”, in which case results may be ready earlier.

I then asked if he would send the hard copy results to my RE for his file, and the Dr. here said he wouldn’t (again, something about wasting resources). I was flabbergasted, but stayed calm and explained that my RE would require written confirmation of the test results over and above my verbal confirmation that the cycle was negative, and how would I go about making sure he got that confirmation?

The answer to this was that I would have to go back into the clinic on Saturday to get a copy of my results, which I could then fax to my Dr. myself. Again, this was incredibly frustrating. Not only would this be another painful step for me, and take up my time, it also meant that other patients with legitimate medical concerns would have to wait while the clinic served me again.

The Dr. ended up speaking to the lab tech directly, and when she hung up, she assured me I would have results that day. I was not convinced, but called the clinic just before they closed and got my confirmation. I dragged myself back to the clinic on Saturday, asked reception for a copy of my test results, was told they weren’t signed off by a Dr. yet, so I would have to see a Dr. before I got them. I then waited half an hour in the overflowing waiting room to see a Dr. for one minute so he could sign off on the results and give me a copy. I then went to a Grand and Toy down the street and faxed the results to my clinic.

Finally, over 24 hours after first going to the lab for bloodwork, my fertility clinic had the results.

Peeling Back a (Small) Layer of Anonymity

I am back from my pregnancy blood test, and may or may not get results today. That said, the results are just a formality, as I already know what they will say. I took my last pregnancy test today just to confirm the earlier negative results. I am 11 days post a 5 day transfer, so even with late implantation, etc. if I had a viable pregnancy, my First Response Early Response pregnancy test would show a positive.

So I am expecting a flat out negative, but based on my previous chemical pregnancy where my beta hcg was only 11 (or too low to be picked up by a home pregnancy test) I realize there is also the possibility that my bloodwork could show a low positive.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not holding out “hope”. When I had my chemical pregnancy, I did a ton of reading about starting out with really low hcg levels, and saw there was virtually no chance that starting out that low would result in a viable pregnancy. While I came across enough stories about “low” betas resulting in healthy, bouncing babies 9 months later, they were betas in the 20’s or 30’s, which of course my home pregnancy test would have picked up this morning.

The only reason I mention the possibility of a low positive scenario, is to provide context for why I am anxious to have the pregnancy results today; so I can officially get closure on this cycle, and know how it ends – whether it’s the likely BFN (Big Fat Negative), or the less likely, but still possible chemical pregnancy scenario. I want to know what my “stats” are, as I start to plan next steps and make a list of questions I will ask the Dr. at my follow up consult next week.

Assuming I still have the emotional energy, I am planning on writing my next post about the complete nightmare that the simple act of getting my blood drawn this morning ended up being. But in order to do that, I need to provide some additional context, which will be very difficult to provide if I continue with cloaked references to my “old city” and “new city”.

When I started this blog, I was very careful to leave out any details that would reveal my identity if someone who knew me happened to stumble across it. It was (and still is) very important to me that I could write what I want about who I want on here, and be comfortable sharing things I wouldn’t share in person with people I know, without worrying about someone I know reading it and connecting the dots.

So aside from the obvious things like not including my real name on this blog, or posting pictures of myself, I have taken the less obvious steps of connecting this blog with its own email address, instead of the one I normally use, and not even revealing where in Canada I lived. 

I really don’t get enough internet traffic to warrant this level of paranoia, but  it made me feel good knowing I had multiple layers of security in place to keep me safe from prying eyes. That said, having recently moved from a smaller city, to a bigger city, I had already been considering at least sharing where it is I now live, as millions of other people live here too, so I no longer feel like sharing that information would really reveal anything personal about me, and it’s easier to just share where I am instead of constantly saying “new city” or “where I live” etc. etc.

While many would argue that the place I moved from is large enough that sharing that location would likewise not be any sort of big reveal, over the years that I lived there, I experienced too many strange connections/coincidences to give me comfort that I could remain anonymous if I shared where it was. Despite being one of Canada’s major (or at the very least semi-major) cities, over and over again I came across situations which proved to me how small and tight social circles there could be. In many ways it felt like a much smaller town than the population would suggest.

Here is just a small sample of what I mean (this post has ended up ridiculously long – feel free to read only a few of the below coincidences):

1. Shortly after moving there, I started to cultivate a friendship with one of my coworkers. When we discussed where I live, it turned out that her husband’s ex-wife lived in the same 8 unit complex as us (2 doors down, I believe).

2. Around the same time, my husband connected online with someone who was putting together a band and looking for people to jam with. Soon enough, we found out that one of the singers in the 8 person band worked at my work (not the same office as me, but the other office in town). To make it more strange, just the week before I had bid on (and won) a United Way raffle item at my work which she had submitted, for 3 personal training sessions with her.

3. After buying our house, we were telling a friend (actually one of the band members referenced above) about the place we bought and how the old owners had moved to Belize. His wife perked up, and we soon made the connection that she worked with the woman we bought the house from until she moved away.

4. On another occasion, a friend of a friend was driving me home after a party, and when she pulled up at my house, she said “I’ve been here before.” After a few minutes of discussion, we confirmed that she also knew the old owners of our house.

5. Several years later, I was now working at a new job. The office was really small, with just three of us, and me and the guy I worked for were looking for someone to replace the third person as she was going on maternity leave. We hired a keen summer student as a temporary replacement, and when he found out where I used to work when I first moved, he asked if I knew his cousin who also worked there. It turns out I knew here quite well, as his cousin was the friend mentioned in point 1 above.

6. When we went away on sabbatical two years ago, we put our house up for rent. One of the people interested was a yoga instructor. When she showed up to see the house, we immediately recognized each other as she had just subbed in that week for a class I was taking at the new yoga studio I was trying out. She and her friend ended up signing a lease, but due to a last minute change in her friend’s circumstances, had to back out.

7. We ended up renting our house to three other people. One of the roommates was our main contact, however when we met the other two roommates, we discovered that we had another yoga instructor on our hands. This girl taught at the main yoga clinic that I attended, and I’d done many classes with her, so again she recognized me right away.

8. When we sold our house in June, we had another series of coincidences. My husband was trimming the plants at the back of our yard, and chatting with our neighbour in the yard behind us, when the neighbour told us that he met the guy who’d bought our house. Turns out they were at a stag party for a mutual friend, and ended up going back to our neighbour’s place after the party, where the new owner realized he was staring into his new backyard.

9. Several weeks later, we were talking to the girl who bought our place, and she mentioned off hand that her best friend was familiar with our house. She was telling her friend about the place she’d just purchased, and her friend started finishing her sentences. Turns out her best friend is the yoga instructor who almost rented our house when we went away (see point 6 above).

10. And if you’re not sick of the yoga references yet (hmm….perhaps the issue wasn’t where I lived, perhaps it was the fact that I did yoga 🙂 ), after buying our new house, we realized that we would have nowhere to put our hutch/china cabinet, so we listed it on Craigslist. We started getting requests for more information coming in, but nobody seemed interested anymore when we followed up. And then my husband got a hit from someone who wanted to come see the hutch in person. He forwarded the email to me, and I recognized it right away as my fertility yoga instructor’s. (And in case you’re wondering, for good karma, we ended up flat out giving it to her instead of charging her anything for it).

So if you’ve stuck with this post so far, hopefully you’ll appreciate that I’m not some nut for not wanting to reveal where I used to live! However, I am comfortable with sharing that as of last week, I live in Toronto, Canada’s largest city.

Starting the Mourning Process

I moved on Friday, so am now in my new (but old) city in my new house, about to start my new job. Of course, all that change cannot go without a hitch, so the last few days have been busy with filling out paperwork for my new license and health card, waiting for my car to come, and getting internet hooked up.

Of all those things, I think the internet hook up took the most out of me, as it ended up being much more of an ordeal than it should have been, and I really missed not being able to go online anytime I wanted. Thankfully, as of this afternoon it is finally up and running, so it is time for an update.

I have a few draft blog posts in the works, and was planning to finish one of them as my next post, but given where I am currently at emotionally, the planned hopeful, uplifting post is not in me.

The good thing about my recent move is that it was a great distraction during the two week wait after my embryo transfer last Monday. However, this only lasted so long. On the weekend, I was thinking that by next weekend I would know how this cycle ended, which of course got me thinking that I may know as early as Monday if I did a home pregnancy test and it was positive (Monday was the earliest day I said I would allow myself to test).

I tried to hold off, but when Monday morning came, I couldn’t resist and did the test. It was 7 days after my 5 day transfer (so good chance of getting a positive if there was one to be had), but the result was as always negative. I had told myself the night before that since I would be testing early I wouldn’t get upset if it was negative, but seeing the familiar single line completely overrode that resolve.

I held off testing on Tuesday, but by the evening had started the mourning process for this cycle, and thinking more seriously about logistics of next steps. I tested again first thing this morning (actually 4AM as I couldn’t sleep), and I just knew it was going to be negative again. 9 days post 5 day transfer, I should be getting at least a faint second line if there was any hope of pregnancy, but the test was once again stark white where the second line would be.

My bloodwork to make everything official is not until Friday, and I just want Friday to come and be over with, so I can have the bad news confirmed and start to move on. In the meantime, all I want to do is take a hot bath, have a drink, or go for a workout to make myself feel better, but I have to hold off on all of these things until I get the official word that I’m not pregnant.