IVF CLASS – A pre-req for baby making (new school style)

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So, before you can start IVF, you must attend a 3 hour class. I have to say, there is a lot of commitment in the process. I think I did more to get approved for this than most people do for a 30 year mortgage. Make sense I suppose. Now, this class happens to only be held on Thursday mornings. I get it, there can’t possibly be so many women doing IVF that they need daily classes. However, with my work travel schedule I knew this would be difficult. Thinking, this is no big deal. You know, you call, schedule, attend, what could be the problem. Well I traveled two back to back weeks, and had another week of travel coming up. No problem. I have one whole week available. I will just go that Thursday. Wrong!

Well, normally that would be fine, I was told by the scheduler, BUT this week we had to cancel b/c our nurses are not available to do it. Well damn. That sucks. So, now I am pushing it back two weeks. Now mind you, I am at a client, delivering content while I am trying to work all of this out on the phone. This client, by the way is 99% male. Seriously they have extra men’s rooms because they don’t want to wait in line, while I can go into the women’s room and it is obvious no one has been in there all day.

 I take the call in the hall. Walking as far away from the men as possible, so that when I say, “I want to sign up for the IVF  class” no one will hear. I am talking to one of my nurses and unfortunately, I am now freaked out because the scheduling of the class is delayed. Finally I say to the nurse, “ look, I have been trying really hard not to have my travel schedule filled for three weeks at the end of May and June and now I am worried the timing won’t work out.” This incredibly patient woman helped me work through my calendar to determine, yes, it will work out. Whew!

So, two weeks later I attend the class. Luckily I have a friend who works in the hospital, so she came with me. Well, she had to work, so she came to the second half with me. We had about 7 women in the room, two had husbands with them. The rest of us were on our own (at least I was until my friend showed). Now, this is the class where they show you the big ugly needles and tell you the entire process. I won’t get into that here. It isn’t necessary unless you are going to take the class. Needless to say, if you were going to freak out this would be a good moment. I took notes…lots of notes. (haven’t looked at them since).

There was moment when the nurse was talking about the post embryo placement drugs, specifically progesterone. There are three ways you can take this drug. Trust me, none are good. But a wonderfully hilarious moment happened. Basically, you can take a shot with a really big needle , or a, well, we will call it one of two suppository options. The last option involves not walking around 30 minutes after using it. One woman, who was in a wheelchair, asked  if that was the only issue, “since she would not be walking around” The nurse then said, well it is better than the alternative, an intra-muscular shot every day for 12 weeks. I think most of us would have a problem with that. In the end the nurse was trying to say the suppository was better, who would want to stab themselves that much. Again the women in the wheelchair looked at her, then looked at her husband and said, “Well that’s your job.” I am pretty sure she preferred the shot, I am going to guess, not feeling it is just fine for her.

As for me, I have now been take shots for five days now. We will get into that in the next blog. 

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Doctors: Not really giving you everything you are hoping for

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I get it, I mean, when I know what I am talking about, I probably skip over details, not realizing the relevance. Not really having a clue what I really need to communicate to help the other person in the conversation be on the same level as me. Well damn, doctors do the same thing, but it’s worse, it’s about me. J What is amazing that for all the testing and everything, I haven’t even been in an exam room. Because none of “that” is relevant. The doctor’s will make my body react they way they need it to in order to, hopefully, get me pregnant.

This visit was basically to say, ok, we are good to go. All the tests are fine. My response “what does fine mean?” They took over 20 vials of blood for testing and I was told, “fine”. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was always an overachiever, I wanted to know, in comparison to others, am I at the top of the bell curve, average, below average? Fine, just doesn’t cut it. However, she gave me enough feedback on my AMH levels so I was thinking, ok, that number is good, I can hang my hat/eggs on that. But suddenly I remembered one of the necessary pre-requisites was for me to see a social worker. So, I look up at my doctor and ask “So, what did Anne say? Am I good to go” the response, much to my great relief was something along the lines of “Oh yea, she thought you were great,  you are good to go”

So will very little pomp and circumstance, but many little steps, I am officially approved to start trying to use IVF with the hopes of a baby to follow (little nervous about the possibility of two, but there you go). 

March Madness – Sperm Bracket Party

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So, at some point you have to select a donor. If you have never done it before, it is like online dating, just without the dates. I however thought, hey, when I had an online dating profile I had friends give advice, why not ask for some advice now. So, I chose a Saturday night, sent out an evite and got busy on a menu.

The invite list was important, I have a lot of amazing friends, and while it would be great to invite them all, there is only so much room in my living room. And let me tell you 6 is enough. It is funny because once you mention it, most friends get excited to participate. There is an inherit interest in selecting my baby daddy.

I think I mentioned before, I am totally into stakeholder buy-in. If I am going to do this, it is going to be with the support of my amazing network. I figure the more they are involved in the process the more buy-in and hopefully, when desperation calls, the smoother the buy-in. Seriously, I know the network I will have to rely on. My sister and I joke that I will have more support as my friends will feel there is a place in this child’s life that the other parent doesn’t. Meaning more people will ask how I am doing and want to help out, rather than expect a spouse to fill that role. Sounds fantastic.

However, this is my choice, my reality if/when it works out. I love that my friends want to be supportive, I will definitely need to lean on them from time to time like all good parents, but this is that moment of realization that no matter how much people want to help, this little life, the hopefully health ten fingers and toes, are mine to care for in the wee hours and it is going to be hard. I have no illusions in that.

So, the party started with an amazing feast. We had pulled pork, yummy sides, bourbon chocolate cake, sperm decorated cupcakes and wine… lots of wine. Then we pulled up the website, which I shared the login with everyone. They mocked me. I mean who else uses “babydaddy” as their password. Seemed apropos. So, we log in and start the sorting process. Not easy.

You start with over 400 possible donors, and you start with your most important factors. My number one factor is that the donor is “open”, meaning that they are open to the child reaching out to them after they have reached the age of 18. I don’t want to bring a child in the world without letting them know that I was very selective and wanted to give them as much as I could for information and future access, given my situation. Ok, now we have a smaller number, but not small enough.

We then eliminated the options based on sperm availability. Any hint, i.e. a non-green vial icon, that they may be running short on supply – OUT! Ok, next anyone under 6 ft  – OUT. This may seem shallow, but I have been on enough dating sites to know, men lie about their height.  I think we got down to about 100. We spent the next hour going through medical profiles and something called “Express Yourself.” It seems the donors are given an option to express themselves and then given standard suggestions as to how to do so: make a photo album, write a poem, draw, record your own music, anything.

So, here is the thing. I am hoping to create this little life and raise them without half of their genetic make-up donor present. Fine, happens all the time. But usually there are stories, pictures, a past, here we just have what is on the website. I figured it out, for me what is important, is to give my child a hint of who their biological dad is. How did they choose to express themselves.

I say this knowing full well, I eventually got rid of a the Philosophy majors, at some point you just need to decide another factor to decrease the options, then any major medical. But what is left. What is the only piece my child will have of their father is this small expression of self, left behind with their donation.  By the end of the night we were down to ten potential donors.

I am now down to three. Just found out that is a good thing. The doctors want back-up plans so that all the right forms are filled out. There are other stories to come, but in real time, just one week before my class to find out all about IVF. It is so close, terrifying and exciting. 

WTF IVF

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My friends know what I am planning on trying. They know that being a mom is important to me. I know that being a mom will be an amazing, exhausting, frustrating, beautiful adventure. I am not blind to the ups and downs. However, IVF? I was a bit taken aback. I know my body has had some problems but I didn’t realize that would be the next step. So, first thought… multiples. What does a single mom do with two babies. This became my mental focus. Which, of course, is me jumping way ahead. I mean I hadn’t even gotten approval from my insurance company. My doctor informed me that there is a limited time period when they approve. With my travel schedule I knew nothing was possible until June. So we had scheduled a follow up appt on April 4, after I met the social worker.

When IVF was mentioned, I realized I don’t know anything about it. I had made up a lot in my mind from movies, but no real information. To the internet I go. Well, some clinics and hospitals have great guides, so I  at least started to understand the process. There are basically three stages, 1) use hormones to try to increase ovulation and get many eggs from your ovaries, 2) the removal of eggs and injection of sperm to create an embryo, and 3) use of hormone to prepare for insertion of embryo and then the final implantation. So, comes down to a whole bunch of hormones, one surgery and one implantation. I don’t really have a fear of surgeries, I have had 5 in my life, so the procedure seems rather minimal. While I have a ton more questions, I at least have a better grasp.

I think the fear comes with the uncertainty. It comes with knowing that at some point in the near future this will be 5 weeks of my life, that may or may not result in a new life. I would like to point out that it is unlikely that I will be able to start trying until this summer. 5-6 months after I thought I would start trying. I realize now the futility of planning these things, but that is my personality. I think I have to let it go and figure out how to take it day by day. 

First Doctor’s Visit

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So, I scheduled my first appointment with my doctor. I knew I would not use her for the actual process, as they did not do that type of work. However, she said she could do the initial tests. So, I went online, yea, I know, and I found a guide to the tests to get started. There are a few of them, two have to be on specific days of your cycle. So, I called to schedule my appointment, explained why I was coming in and then asked about the tests that were cycle specific. The nurse said don’t worry about it, you have an appointment on the 8th,(two weeks later)  “why don’t we just use that one?” Assuming the nurse knew more than I did, I agreed.  

I arrive on the 8th for my annual and to discuss my situation. My doctor said she could set up the tests, but that it will take a little bit because some of the tests are Day three of cycle tests and I would have to wait. Now normally, I am not overly concerned about waiting, but when you decided you already have an alarm clock constantly buzzing in your brain, it is frustrating that you let a nurse/scheduler talk you out of what you thought was right. One month down/wasted. Boo.

I finally get my tests done, except for AMH. It is then that I realize my current doctor’s only recommendation was to go to a clinic. At that point I think about my two previous surgeries and the surgeon that performed them. I had a fibroid removed and my right tube (appendicitis leftover infection). She was the one who said “once you decide to get pregnant you should come back to me.”

So I scheduled an appointment for March 12. Again, one more month. At this appointment, we talked about my options. She ordered additional tests. About 20 vials of blood. I was fascinated, but I have no idea what the tests are, but they all came back normal.. Woohoo!

What I knew after that appointment was: 1) I made the right choice going back to my surgeon, and 2) I was going to have to skip IUI and go straight to IVF. Gulp.

 

 

 

Where, Well When, I Decided

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So far, I have had an amazing 38 years. Life has been full of adventure, love, fun, laughter, and success. But I have also had the normal share of stress, failure, heartbreak and illness. I knew from childhood that I wanted so much out of life. Being born in 1976, I was convinced by 2000 I would be married, enjoying a few years of blissful couple-hood and then have a few kids. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but there would be the same list of emotions and adjectives as I listed in my first couple sentences.

While I haven’t found the love of my life, I know one thing to be true, and have always known it to be true; I want to be a mom. My 20’s were fun, and I wasn’t too worried about having kids. I had some fun relationships but nothing that stuck. I met amazing people and enjoyed so much of life. I still do. What is hard is when people ask me today why I am single.

What I know is true is that in my 20s I wasn’t focused on commitment. Admittedly, I was afraid of it. After that, it really is that life got in the way. That’s what happens right? I went back to school. I was working 40+ hours a week, plus law school at night. It wasn’t that I wasn’t focused on building a life, I was building a life. A career, a mind, a community, just not a relationship.

At 31, I graduated cumlaude from law school without a job. Well, let me tell you $100K+ in loans and no job, does not make for a good date. I spent the next three years of my life eking by, in an existence that was empty. I went to temp jobs to get money to pay bills. I remember dating during those days I am sure the men didn’t remember me. My favorite question was “what do you do?” to which I reacted with an overly depressed response. Oh what a catch I was. Not a great date. 🙂

I finally got out of my funk when I decided to open my own practice It was a huge decision, with a lot of risk. It was hard work, very little money and a lot of extra jobs on the side. In the back of my mind, I always thought, “how can I have a kid, I can’t even support myself right now?” What I knew was that I wanted to be a mom. I tried the online dating thing, but unless you are determined, which I wasn’t, it is pretty hard to be successful there. At 35, I promised myself that if I didn’t find someone to love, and become a parent with, I would find a way to be a mom, even if it meant I would be single, even if it meant it would be hard. I made a three-year goal with a hard stop on my 38th birthday.

An opportunity came up in 2012 for me to start working inside a company, with a reasonably steady paycheck and benefits. I realized that if I ever chose to be a single mom, I needed this type of stability. It is a great job. I am still there. I enjoy the work, the people and my potential future. For these past two years, I have been traveling constantly, not making myself accessible for dating. Also, my father was diagnosed with throat cancer within months of me starting my new job. I happen to live near one of the best Cancer treatment centers in the country. So my parents became a focus in my life, they lived with me, on and off over two years. They are not the reason that I didn’t date, but I didn’t make the time I should have. A choice I made, and I would make again, but trust me, parents in the house does not make for an easy dating life.

It was February of this year that I turned 38. I am writing this blog to document my reality and create an outlet for my story; the thoughts inside my head, the conversations with my friends, who have been there all along, the fears, the obstacles (hopefully not that many), the doctor appointments, and that adventure that I know I will look back on as one of the best life decisions I have ever made. The decision to be a mom.