Monday, April 25, 2011

You're Nothin' But a Test Tube Baby

So, as I've shared with you in past posts, I run an afterschool Youth Center filled with 32 wonderful heathens.  No, seriously, I love them to death and wouldn't trade them for the world.  I get quite a bit of amusement out of them most of the time and my job can be very rewarding.  One day not long after Hubby's MESA surgery, I caught two of my teenagers taunting each other in a very playful way.  Their insult?  "You're nothin' but a test tube baby."

Seeing as how I was desperately trying to have one of those test tube babies, I decided to talk to the kids about what they were saying.  I asked them if they knew what they were saying and none of them really did.  (None of them know anything about my journey to the test tube baby....)  I explained that some people sometimes have trouble having a kid.  I know this is a foreign concept to most of them because their families are huge.  Trouble with conception is definitely a foreign concept to most of them.  I went on to tell them that sometimes people have trouble with the eggs or the sperm and have to have a baby formed in a petri dish, not an actual test tube, in order to have a healthy baby.  I told them that there's no difference from someone conceived the normal way and someone conceived in a petri dish by putting the sperm and the egg together and letting them grow there.  I explained that it's a choice the mom and dad make that has nothing to do with the child.  I said that calling each other a "test tube baby" like it was a put-down is terribly rude because they were making fun of a circumstance over which someone had no control.  They looked pretty shocked once I explained what they were saying.

I asked them if they had questions.  They asked what a petri dish looked like and I found a picture on Google and showed it to them.  They seemed pretty intrigued with the whole idea.  They all said that they had no idea what they were saying could be so hurtful and left my office.  They've moved on and are looking for a new insult.

I knew that none of them were really trying to be hurtful with their comments, but it was my one chance to talk to them about how their words - especially those words - could be hurtful to someone.  I wonder if my children will someday be eluded to as "test tube babies" and will that be a source of hurt?  Hubby and I have full intentions of telling our children how they were conceived in case they have similar problems when they are adults, but I certainly never want them to feel different or inadequate because of the inability of their mom and dad to have a child the natural way.  I never thought of how our children might feel until that day.  I hope they know they were created out of the biggest amount of love that could possibly be shared between 2 people, even though we've had to go about it in a bit different way.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


We left the house at 5:45am on Wednesday, March 30th to head to Hubby's specialist for MESA surgery, which is more than an hour away.  My Mom went with us to be moral support as well.  I think we were all anxious to find out if, in fact, Hubby had sperm and we were a "go" for IVF.  I drove us all up to the surgery center and Hubby checked in with the front desk.  Then we waited.  His surgery was supposed to begin at 8:00am, but it was already 7:30am and they hadn't even called him back to get ready.  They finally called him back and a little while later they called us back for the pre-surgery visit.  The nurses, anesthetist, and even Dr. Mr. Clean stopped by to check on us and finally it was time for him to go into surgery.  I kissed him goodbye said a prayer, and very nervously went back to the waiting room. 

It was after 9am and Mom and I were starving, but didn't want to eat in front of Hubby because he also was hungry but wasn't allowed to eat.  I got some directions to a nearby McDonald's and went to get breakfast for Mom and me.  I felt funny leaving the surgery center, but knew Mom was there in case someone was needed.  I hurried back and we both devoured the food.  I tried to watch some TV and answer some texts.  Soon, the little old lady at the front desk received a phone call and summoned me to the phone.  I was a little confused because everyone I knew had my cell phone number.  I got on the phone and the person on the other end identified herself as Dr. Mr. Clean's nurse back in the surgery room.  Holy crap!  Is something wrong?  She informed me that Dr. Mr. Clean wanted me to know as soon as he found them, that Hubby has lots of healthy sperm for IVF.  I just about kissed the woman at the front desk.  I thanked her for the good news and hung up.  I explained the phone call to my Mom and then cried.

I immediately texted several of our close friends, "WE HAVE SPERM!"  Now, I know, that under normal circumstances, people shouldn't normally text this to anyone.  This is not something that normal people share.  However, given that this was the million dollar question - actually is was the $20,000 question, but you know what I mean - and I had to give our friends the good news I had just received.  I wished I could tell Hubby.  It seemed unfair that I knew before he did.  About 2.5 hours after his surgery, Dr. Mr. Clean called us back to a meeting room.  He said that surgery went extremely well and that he did find lots of healthy sperm.  He said that he looked and Hubby's vas deferens, at some point in development, just quit forming.  I told him that it is a miracle that he performs.  He said that it's actually funny that this procedure was actually first used on award-winning race horses to continue winning breeding lines and someone in the 1990's got the idea that we should try it on human beings. 

We went back into the waiting room to wait on Hubby to wake up in recovery.  Pretty soon, the nurse came out and said she could only take me back because of space.  I immediately told Hubby the good news and he said that his Doc had already told him.  I kissed him and he said he was so relieved - that it was all worth it.  The nurse went through many instructions on caring for Hubby for the next week and we were eventually told we could go home.

Mom helped me get Hubby in the car and he almost immediately fell back to sleep.  Since my Doc's office was only about a mile away, I went ahead and drove Mom past there so she could see where the next part of this chaos would happen.  After the hour-long drive home, I helped Hubby into the house and began playing nurse.  And let me tell you, nurses are saints.  I don't think I could ever do that for a living.  Between getting him fresh ice for his ice pack, force-feeding him crackers so he could take his meds every four hours, helping him get to the bathroom, and getting up every 4 hours (day and night) to get him his medicine, there was little rest going on for me.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Old and Alone?

Several nights before Hubby's MESA surgery, I was cleaning the bathroom vanity when I looked at myself in the mirror and had a very scary thought.  I realized that there was a possibility that if his surgery was unsuccessful at finding sperm, I could one day be old and alone.  Gosh.  That was a scary, lonely thought.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pills I Never Thought I'd Take Again!

I never thought I'd have to take birth control pills (BCP) ever again, given all the infertility we've come to find out about between Hubby and I over the last year.  My situation makes it difficult to conceive.  His makes it next to impossible.  So birth control is the farthest thing from my mind.  I had taken BCP in my teens and early 20s to deal with the symptoms of my undiagnosed PCOS, but went off of them more than 4 years ago in the hopes of having a child with Hubby. 

However, BCP are part of the IVF regimen.  Who knew?!  I started taking birth control pills and I had to laugh.  During the course of my 3-week stint on BCP, I, surprisingly, didn't become pregnant.  Shocking, right?  I did, however, receive larger, more tender breasts.  My bra even got tight.  I don't remember this side-effect from my 20s and it was not a good surprise this time around.  I was glad when this subsided after the 3 weeks of BCP. 

Assume the Position

So we've come to the point in this process where I experienced a crazy thing called "sounding."  Thanks to Dr. Google, I had a bit of info going into this procedure, otherwise, I would have left Dr. Larry King's office feeling very violated and confused about what had just happened.  Please don't hear that I am not happy with my doc - I am.  I just sometimes think that, like anybody in any other profession, once you do something day in and day out for years, you forget that others don't have a clue what's going on.  Luckily, I have a doc and nurse who, after I ask my questions, realize that they're talking to an IVF virgin, and go back over everything in greater detail until I understand.

For all other IVF virgins, sounding is a procedure done to measure your uterus so they are 100% ready to go with equipment on the day of embryo transfer. They have a road map of where they're going.  My sounding appointment was at Dr. Larry King's office on Thursday, March 17, 2011 - I'm part Irish - I'm going to take this as a good sign. A nurse led us back to a procedure room and asked me to put on the very stylish paper gown with a matching paper blanket on my lap as an accessory.  And then Hubby and I waited.  And as children do when they're bored, we began to explore the procedure room.  Hubby was looking over what we were sure was an ultrasound machine and pointed out that he was glad that the doc had sprung for the "GE Pro Series" because he'd hate for them to be using amateur equipment for as much as we're paying.  I kept eye-balling the machine too.  Either it was an internal ultrasound machine or it was very happy to see me...  On the home screen, there were several options of ultrasounds that you could choose.  These included cardiac, pelvic.....and small parts.  Small parts?  Dare I even ask? 

Dr. Larry King and another cute little med student came into the room and began asking questions.  Doc wanted to know how things had gone since he last saw us in October 2010.  I told him that I'd been taking Metformin, lost 10 pounds, all of Hubby's test results had come back negative, and Hubby's doc had ruled his lack of tubes as a complete fluke.  I don't think Dr. Larry King was fully convinced it was a fluke and went ahead and ordered a CF test for me.  He said that if mine came back positive, we'd have to do some special screenings before choosing eggs to use.  But if it came back negative (which it did), we'd proceed as planned.  We let him know that Hubby's surgery was scheduled for 2 weeks later and we'd be ready to go once they determined there were sperm to be had.  He seemed to be satisfied with that info and asked me to slide down on the table and put my feet in the stirrups. Assume the position......

In went the speculum.  Then he tried to insert the catheter to measure the depth of my uterus, however, he dropped it on the floor.  So, while cute little med student was gone for several minutes looking for another catheter, I "hung out" while Dr. Larry King and Hubby waited.  It was breezy.  It was awkward.  I contemplated telling a joke, but figured I'd better mind myself this early in the game.

After the med student came back, clean catheter in hand, my Doc told me I'd feel some slight cramping as he inserted this thing all the way in.  It wasn't awful, but I could do without it ever happening again.  He pulled it out, measured it against a ruler, and declared that I was as average as someone can get.  While I'm OCD when it comes to academics, I'm quite OK with being average on this test.

Then I got to meet the internal ultrasound machine.  He told me that in the next part of the examination, he was going to look at my uterus and ovaries.  He shoved in the wand and began to poke around.  And ladies, this isn't comfortable.  He invited Hubby to come up beside him so he could see what was going on on the screen.  That's right.  Step right up!  Enjoy the show!  He shoved the wand all the way to the right (ugh) and pointed out a cyst on the outside of my ovary.  Hubby was able to see it.  I was not.  I was concentrating too much on what was actually going on internally to enjoy the show on the screen.  He measured the ovary's length and then shoved the wand all the way over to the left (ugh again).  Dr. Larry King pointed out that ovary was long and skinny, rather than round, but looked fine anyways.  Hubby was still enjoying the show and doc measured this side too.

Then, this whole "sounding" procedure became interactive.  He inserted a tube inside me that was connected to a syringe and handed me the syringe.  It looked like it was full of clear gel.  He said that he was going to have me inject the gel into my uterus so he could see it expand on the screen and measure it as well.  (I thought the med student should have done this.  She was not contributing anything at this point.  I figured she could have helped out somehow - you know, earned her "keep" for being allowed to see me naked, but no.  I had to do the work.)  So in again went the wand and I was given the signal to inject.  By this point I was a bit more used to what was going on internally and could see a little of what was going on on the screen.  I watched the little bubble in my uterus get bigger as I injected and I knew I was doing it right.  He asked me to stop while he took a measurement on the screen, once again stating that everything looked fine.  He printed out all of his measurements from the ultrasound machine while he took everything out of my hoo hah.  He handed me a maxi pad, instructed me to get dressed and asked us to come out when I was ready.  I got dressed and waited because Hubby thought the Doc had said to wait.  Pretty soon, Dr. Larry King popped his head in and said they'd been waiting on us.  Oops.  He led us to his nurse's office where she gave me the orders for a CF screening blood test for me and told me to let her know as soon as I found out if we had sperm from Hubby's surgery.

We went just down the road where I got the CF blood test done and then headed back home because I had a Board of Directors meeting later that afternoon.  I wasn't in extreme pain, but I certainly felt uncomfortable for about the next day.  I could tell that parts had been touched that aren't normally touched - kind of like how it hurts and is uncomfortable right when you take your hair down after it's been in a tight pony tail for about a day.  Not horribly wrong, but not exactly right either.  I spotted for about a day.

It was St. Pat's Day.  After that whole ordeal was done and I parted ways with the doc and the ultrasound machine, I wasn't sure whether I should have a cigarette or a green beer!

Monday, April 11, 2011

These Are My Confessions

I think I've handled it all very well over the last year.  And by "all," I mean finding out about my medical problems, finding out about Hubby's medical problems, thinking there was no hope, finding out about IVF-ICSI, waiting for test results, waiting on Hubby's get the idea.  For someone with zero patience, I've done very well.  However, I did have a few days when I did not handle it all very well.  I feel like Usher when I say, "These are my confessions...."

There was the day that I got mad: 
I was at a lunch meeting and a friend saw me getting out of my car and walked into the meeting with me.  (I do have a cute, little BMW Z3 Roadster.  It is my prized possession.  Her name is Sophie and she's beautiful.  I'd wanted one for a very long time.  I found one priced inexpensively and I've driven her every day of my life ever since.  It is my one indulgence that I treasure.)  As we walked into the meeting room, my friend said, in front of everyone, "Boy it must be nice to have that little car." Then, as he elbowed another friend standing close by, he continued, "Since I have kids, I can't have things like that."   Normally, I'd laugh and walk away.  However, that day, something rubbed me the wrong way.  I so very badly wanted to jab back, "I'd gladly give up my little car for a van full of kids any day," but I didn't.  Let the record show that I kept my mouth shut.  Points for me!

There was the day that I got sad:
Several of my friends at church have asked me questions or made comments in front of this one particular woman and she has deduced what is going on with us.  She is also expecting her 1st baby.  One time I was sitting with her and several other friends at a bridal shower.  She went on and on about how she had just went maternity clothes shopping and how they were all ugly and rather expensive and how she just couldn't fathom that she had to spend all of that money on those clothes she'd only wear a few months.  I sat there dumbfounded that this conversation was even happening in front of me.  I wanted to hide myself and cry.  This was one of the lowest points I'd had in a while.  Didn't she know how blessed she was?  I'd give anything to have to buy a maternity outfit.

Please let the record show that I'm not jealous.  I haven't been jealous of any pregnant women during this entire process.  Their situation is not, in any way, connected to mine and therefore I don't feel jealousy.  I have just found that most people don't really know what they're saying and sometimes, I haven't handled it well.  Infertility is a funny thing.  There is a definite line between wanting a child and being obsessed.  Kudos to all the women who have been able to keep on top of doctor appointments, bloodwork, ultrasounds, and multiple daily injections, and not appear to any fertile as obsessed.  More kudos to the women who do all this and still make their 9am client meetings back in their office.  Sorry I'm late.  I just had to have a doc stick a needle through my vaginal wall so he could suck out all my eggs and try to grow them in a dish later today.  Now, where were we? 

Only those of us in this loop understand that we are just trying to hold it together and this funny thing called infertility makes us seem obsessed to the outside world.  We're not.  It's just what life has thrown at us.  It's what our life has to be for the time being.  We're just trying to be normal.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Are We There Yet?

As I said in an earlier post, Hubby's lack of vas deferens on both sides is linked to Cystic Fibrosis about 95% of the time.  So, the next step for him was to test him to see if he was a carrier of a recessive CF gene.  If it came back positive, Hubby's sperm would then need to be tested to make sure we use one without the CF gene during IVF-ICSI.  All that means is more money, at this point.  And what the heck?  It's just MORE money.  If he tested negative, then we were a go.  These tests are rather complicated and expensive and there are only a few companies in the U.S.that perform them.  We decided to use the one in Massachusetts because they were willing to cut us a deal since we were self-pay clients.  They contract with a company in Columbus, OH (about an hour away) to come take the blood and overnight it to Mass.  From there, we wait 6-8 weeks for results.

A big, burly nurse man traveled to our house to take Hubby's blood in November 2010.  Poor Hubby hadn't drank enough water and his skinny little vein collapsed.  Luckily, the nurse got enough blood to submit for the CF test. 

And then the wait......

One Friday night in December 2010, we were out to eat with some friends.  Around 7pm, Hubby's phone rang and it was Dr. Mr. Clean's office.  He stepped away from the table to take the call and I began to worry.  A Doc calling at 7pm on a Friday night?  That couldn't be good.  But Hubby soon returned to the table to announce that his CF test came back negative.  Yay for some good news!  And Dr. Mr. Clean wanted us to know as soon as possible when he got the results, so he went ahead and called before he went home for the weekend.  He's scoring points with me.  So we ordered beer and raised our glasses to negative CF tests.

The next week, Hubby called back his Doc to see about scheduling his MESA Surgery (surgery to go in and remove sperm, assuming they're there).  His Doc said that he needed to do 2 more genetic tests before proceeding with MESA.  Snot!  Just when I thought we'd cleared the hurdles and were ready to go, we had 2 more of these darned genetic tests that take forever 6-8 weeks.

So, another nurse came to the house and drew blood for the other 2 tests (Y Chromosome Micro Deletion and Karyotyping) in January 2011.  My understanding was these tests were to make sure that Hubby had a Y Chromosome and nothing was wrong with it.  In the meantime, I had more bloodwork done and had to get an update on my MMR shot.  I went to the Health Dept to get that shot since it was cheaper there.

FINALLY, in February 2011, Hubby got the phone call from Dr. Mr. Clean letting us know that all his tests came back fine and we were ready to go.  Hubby wanted to schedule MESA and he knew I would bite his head off if he didn't try to schedule it was chomping at the bit to get this going. Dr. Mr. Clean said that since we are self-pay, he would have his staff schedule it at the outpatient surgery center rather than the hospital because it's cheaper.  More points for Dr. Mr. Clean.  His staff called Hubby and said that MESA surgery was scheduled for late May.  Hubby knew I would die if I had to wait until May.  He asked if there was sometime earlier and they scheduled it for March 30, 2011.  Much better.  I could wait a month.  I couldn't wait 3 more.  I just wouldn't do it.

Dare I say we were getting there?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

PETA Thinks We Deserve What We Got

I'm so mad I can't see straight.  I can't even blog about it.  You just have to read it for yourself  HERE. Keiko says it much better than I could, especially at this point in time when I'm just seeing red.

I hope all 7.3 million of us take them down.  Let's get 'em, girls!


So, looking back on everything that we've learned, I have to laugh at all that's been wasted...

I figure that we wasted about $400 on condoms, trying to prevent a little one from coming before we were ready.  So glad we did that!

I also figure that I wasted approximately $360 on pregnancy tests over the last 3.5 years, not to mention my dignity trying to purchase them-see earlier post called "Where Everybody Knows Your Name."  I was sure to buy the early detection ones because I just couldn't wait any longer.  So excited to pee on that little stick early in the morning....I was just sure this time.

With this amount of money, I figure we could have paid for a portion of our 1st round of a day's worth of drugs or something!

I am also saddened that I wasted the opportunity to have a glass of champagne over the last 3 New Year's Eves and remained alcohol-free on my 30th birthday, which I wasn't handling very well.  I could have used a peach bellini or four that day....

However, don't fear!  Since finding out all of our wonderful infertile news, I've taken every opportunity to make up for lost time!  :)  I figure I'm just making good use of all that money I'm saving on condoms!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Are You Aware of How Stupid You Sound?

You gotta read this article about Sara Evans. (I'm not the one that found it.  I saw this on My Violet Thought's Blog yesterday.)

Apparently, stupidity runs amok in the celebrity world as well as the general public.

I mean, who wouldn't wanna stay skinny and drink while getting a cute little baby.....
(Yes, that is sarcasm font.)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Conversations No One Should Have With Other Human Beings

On Thursday, October 14, 2010, we traveled to the reproductive specialist that would hopefully knock me up.  After just a few moments in the waiting room, we were taken to the doctor's office where he introduced himself and the medical student that sat in the back of the room during the entire visit.  Our Doc looks a little like Larry King with a big forehead and glasses, so I'll call him Dr. Larry from now on.

He began reviewing all the paperwork and options with us that Dr. Mr. Clean had shared with us several weeks ago.  Then he started firing questions our way - questions that made us get personal very quickly.  He wanted to know how often we had sex and if either of us had any complications with the act.  I don't normally talk about quantity with anyone.  I am a female in my 30s, which is equivalent to a boy in his late teens, so you figure it out...  We sort of looked at each other awkwardly and tried to answer his questions.  I felt like we were in front of the preacher at pre-marital counseling.  Is this the answer that will get us in the least amount of trouble?  Not only were we sharing all this info with one Doc, who up until about 10 minutes ago was a stranger, but we also had a cute little med student sitting behind us taking notes.  I wasn't sure if I should turn around to see if she was accurately getting all the details of my sex life in her notes.  Did you get that?

Dr. Larry did suggest using donor sperm or donor embryos if my husband didn't wish to have surgery, thus saving us several thousand dollars, but Hubby quickly dismissed that idea.  We had already talked about that in great detail before coming to Dr. Larry, and had agreed that this was just not an option for us.  Can you imagine having to ask your Hubby, "Do you want to us to use a donor sperm if you don't have any?"  Hubby said that he wouldn't like having a child that was one of ours, biologically, and not the other's.  I felt like that was completely fair because I know I would have a hard time if it were the other way around.  Besides, I wanted to have a child with him.  We told Dr. Larry that we'd like to try the IVF with ICSI. 

Then we had to have the conversation that you never think you'll have to have with another human being.  What if we have embryos left over - you know, like last night's lasagna?  My Hubby and I both believe that once the sperm and egg are united, that constitutes a life and neither of us could justify discarding embryos.  Dr. Larry stated that it's a very clear process as to how they develop, and within several days, they will very clearly be deemed viable or not.  Like a miscarriage in a dish?  If we were lucky enough to have extra embryos and they were viable, we agreed that we'd have them frozen to try another time.  Babies on ice?  We agreed that whatever God gave us as viable, we'd have to resolve to use them in the future no matter what happens this time around.  Dr. Larry's ability to give us details about the process put my fears to rest.

Hubby then asked Dr. Larry about a timetable.  The Doc said that Hubby'd have to have quite a few genetic tests to determine if he was a carrier of the cystic fibrosis (CF) gene, since that was usually linked to men with Hubby's lack of vas deferens.  He stated that I'd also have to have the CF test.  Doc informed us that if either of us were carriers, it'd simply mean another test on the sperm/egg being used, which basically equaled more money.  Dr. Larry said that by the time all tests and prep work were finished, it'd probably be six months (SIX MONTHS!?) til we'd try our first round of IVF.  That was the quickest I'd ever counted up 6 months in my life - APRIL.  That was pretty far away.  I should have started this process in 1978 when I was born....I might have a child by now.

We left with a giant packet of info that went over every part of the process, including required bloodwork and counseling, cryogenics, and of course finances.  He told me to continue taking the Metformin and working at losing weight until we saw him again.  When we left, I was a bit unsure how to end our visit with Dr. Larry.  With all the info that we shared, I felt a handshake was not sufficient for such old friends who had shared conversations that no one should ever have with another human being...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Get Behind Me Satan (aka 2010)

I must apologize that I've been MIA for about a week.  It's been quite the week and my next post - while it happened 6 months ago - fits well with the crap that has hit the fan for us this week.

2010 was shaping up to be one of the worst years we'd ever had.  I had to go through some major stress and job changes at work in April and May, we'd both been diagnosed with serious fertility issues in August and September, and then in October, we closed the small business that we owned.  Added to that, we were in the process of moving our stuff from our old house to our new house, and while we were out of town one weekend in late October, our old house was broken into and many things were stolen or destroyed.  2010 was an awful year.  The house was hit several more times in 2010 - including Christmas Eve - and all the copper pipes were stolen and the car that I drive in the winter was stripped so badly that it was totaled.  Here's the pic of it up on a kerosene heater that was stolen out of our garage.  Putting it up on the heater bent the frame.

Cute, huh?

(Fast forward to this week - March 27, 2011 - and the house was hit for a 4th time AND my husband had his MESA surgery.  We'll get to that in another post.  I've already told 2011 to stop acting like her evil red-headed step-sister 2010....)

We had both wanted a biological child of our own that I think we had decided before we'd even left the doctor's office that day on September 29th that we were going to try IVF-ICSI.  We weren't sure how or when, but if that was our option, we were going to try it.  We might as well...we were due for a break, right?