Wednesday, December 30, 2009

-

IUI attempt #1 failed. No wonderful baby news with which to kick off the new year, much to my profound sadness.

As Super Man dried my tears this afternoon, I realized that we've been at this now for around 45 months.

That's 45 months of trying. Hoping. Wondering. Medical tests and procedures. Pregnancy tests. Mourning.

And no second baby for us.

Three more tries at IUI before we pull the plug. We're praying that a positive pregnancy test exists somewhere in there, with a second amazing miracle waiting at the end of it.

always,
SW

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

wondering

Hello and Happy Holidays, friends!

I'm so sorry for not posting lately. I've had a lot - A LOT - going on in the past two weeks. My stress level has been inordinately high, too, but that's another story for another time. And, really, I'm sure many of you have experienced higher-than-usual levels of stress lately, too, what with the holidays and all the usual gatherings and all.

But I can't blame my absence entirely on holiday busy-ness and stress; I've also neglected my writing lately because I just don't know what to say. I've been in a bit of a limbo the past few weeks.

As you know, Super Man and I went through our first IUI procedure on December 16. It's been a long two weeks of waiting to see if it worked, and I still don't know. I'm not supposed to test until tomorrow, and then only if my period hasn't come.

I'm nervous. Anxious. Hopeful. Cautious.

Friends and family ask me if I "have a feeling" one way or the other. It's hard to answer that question. Because I WANT to have a feeling that I'm pregnant and, I don't know about you, but when I want something badly enough I can convince myself that I feel something I may not really feel, you know?

It's also hard to answer that question because I don't trust my "feelings" on this subject. Not one bit. Why, you might ask? Because when I was trying for Super Boy, it went like this:

Month #1: Was 100% convinced that I was pregnant and had all the standard pregnancy symptoms. Yet I was not pregnant.

Month #2: Was 100% convinced that I was pregnant and had all the standard pregnancy symptoms. Yet I was not pregnant.

Month #3: Was 100% convinced that I was NOT pregnant, and had all the usual PMS symptoms. Yet I actually WAS pregnant.

So, you can see that I'm not the best at gauging how I feel physically when it comes to guessing whether I'm pregnant or not. I've been trying to avoid doing that as much as possible the past few weeks.

(I do have SOME sense of self-preservation, despite all indications to the contrary.)

That said, I have been bone-tired, completely exhausted and could fall asleep at the drop of a hat for the past week. Could be baby-brewing, but could be the stress.

So I'm sitting here on this frigid, sunny late December afternoon, wondering. Am I pregnant with another child? (Or two?) (...Or more? Eeek!) Or am I going to be disappointed another month running because IUI failed this month?

The thought of us welcoming a new member to our family in late August or early September sure is sweet. I hope it is a dream come true.

Let me say now - just in case - that if it turns out that I AM pregnant, I haven't yet decided whether I'll post it here right away or not. My personality is such that I was virtually unable to keep the wonderful, blessed news a secret when I was pregnant with Super Boy seven years ago, and thankfully it didn't present a problem for me then because the pregnancy stuck and was by all accounts a great success. But I know that's not always the case. And after all these years of trying for another baby, I'm not sure if I could take announcing the happy news only to have to retract it due to miscarriage in the early weeks. I guess I'll make the decision once I know the news myself. But if I do withhold the information for a little bit, I hope you'll understand that it's not about me not wanting to share it with those of you who have followed our journey and wished us the best. Again, it's just that self-preservation thing I mentioned earlier, and needing to protect my heart just a little bit.

As 2009 winds to a close I wish you all the happiest of New Years, and pray that all your dreams come true in 2010!

With love,
Average Everyday Super Woman

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

at last

After nearly four years of trying to conceive, and after four months of seeing our little team of fertility specialists, we're finally at the good part of the whole process: ACTION!!!

After my successful surgery last month, I was put on 100mg of Clomid again from Monday to Friday of last week. This morning, I underwent a mid-cycle ultrasound to gauge whether the Clomid did its thing and we could proceed with IUI.

And the answer is YES - the Clomid worked (I had one large follicle, 2 medium follicles and several small follicles on my right ovary, and another good sized one on my left ovary), and my uterine lining was appropriately thick, so we're good to go!

Because everything looked so good, I got an HCG shot in the buns before I left the office today, which will force ovulation within 24 hours, so we're scheduled for IUI tomorrow morning. Super Man will take care of his end of things first thing in the morning, and I'll go in at 10am for the insemination. I've got to admit, it's a little odd to think that the moment of truth will happen when my husband is an hour away from me, bustling away at work, but hey - whatever works at this point!

I can't tell you how excited I am right now. I realize that this could all end as the past 45 months have ended, with me not getting a positive pregnancy test and feeling devastated. But I am hoping for the absolute best. And the fact is that this month will be completely different than all 45 months behind us, because the components will have all been primed and put as close together as they can get short of doing IVF, so if anything is going to give us a good shot at success, it's this.

I should know by New Year's Eve or New Year's Day whether we'll be adding to the Super Family nine months from now. If my test is positive, what a wonderful way to ring in the new year! And, if not, then we try again in January, February and March and pray one of those months brings us the news we so want to hear. I have such a good feeling about 2010... I hope this is the reason why!

Wishing you all a blessed holiday season!
SW

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

baby steps

We're one step closer to the goal, friends! While our progress may be slow, we are one step closer.

I had my post-op appointment with the fertility specialist today, and it looks like IUI Attempt #1 will be kicking off on or around December 19th. I cannot begin to articulate everything I'm feeling right now.

Certainly I'm excited. Ridiculously, perilously excited. This is it. After nearly three and a half years of trying, trying, trying on our own without success, and three months of general (and largely unpleasant) STUFF under the care of the fertility specialist, we're finally at the doorstep of the only fertility treatment we plan to pursue, the one we're hanging our hopes on. All of our hopes.

For that reason, I'm also scared. Because, ultimately, my Super Doctor said that we have a 20% chance of achieving pregnancy in any of the four months we plan to do IUI. During those four months, 50% of couples will conceive and 50% won't. If we're in the 50% who don't, that's it. The end of the road. The natural pessimist in me fears we'll be in the latter group, but I'm trying to ignore that side of myself and just hope.

Hope. Yes, I'm hopeful. I'm tremendously hopeful. All of the tests that have been done on both me and Super Man have come back normal. We're in that 15-20% of infertile couples who have infertility with no known cause. Which could simply mean that the problem for us is not one of the mainstream easily identifiable problems, or it could mean that we just haven't gotten the stars to align correctly doing our own thing, and by bringing all the players closer together, throwing in some Clomid, and timing the heck out of the process, we might finally hit the jackpot. I'm inclined to HOPE for the latter scenario!

I'm also incredibly emotional right now. Heck, as a Catholic, I can't even think about Christmas marking the birth of BABY JESUS because that alone makes me cry. Seeing babies (or pregnant bellies), hearing about babies (or pregnant bellies), seeing pictures of babies (or pregnant bellies), thinking about babies (or pregnant bellies)... all of it reduces me to a teary-eyed mess right now. I suppose that's as it should be, since it totally reinforces for me and the rest of the world that I want a second child so badly that the sheer wanting of it is painful and heart-wrenching.

And there is a small part of me that is relieved to be at this part of the process, finally. Regardless of the outcome, this will give me the answer I've been seeking for so long now. Will our family expand one last time, or will it remain as it is? So much of my life has hung in the balance waiting for that answer - and that's no way to live, take it from me. The "what if" is always hanging in the back of my mind, coloring every decision I have to make about the near - and far - future. If I achieve and sustain pregnancy from one of the four IUI attempts, at least I know how the next few years of my life will be spent. If I don't achieve or sustain pregnancy, then everything is up in the air, open to change, a book yet to be written. I've spent so much time dreading the latter outcome because it's not what I WANT, but it's come to the point where I've had to make peace with the fact that it might BE the outcome. And, if it is, I need to embrace that and accept it and make my peace with it, for my sake and that of my whole family. So, while I pray that this will end with another healthy, wonderful baby, I will feel some sense of relief just to have a clear sense of direction to my life after years of waiting for the answer to be revealed.

I'm also finding myself daydreaming about how Super Boy and Super Girl would handle a new addition to the family. Super Boy has longed to be a "big brother" for so long now that I know he will be ecstatic to finally fill that role. On the other hand, I have no doubt that it will be a big adjustment for him. He's been the baby of our family for six and a half years, and he LIKES being the baby - most of the time. He's used to having my undivided attention as the major focus of my life. I think he will struggle a bit to pass the mantle on to a new baby, but hopefully he will quickly learn that my love for him can never be diminished or divided. He will always be my first baby, my angel, my boy. As for Super Girl, who will be 14 in a few months, she keeps saying she hopes I have twins! She's all for us having another baby, and - at her age - she understands that we've faced challenges in trying to achieve that. I know she will be helpful again, as she was with Super Boy - and even MORE SO now, since I could probably get her to change a poopy diaper this time! She was only seven years old when Super Boy was born (the age Super Boy will be when I would deliver another baby, if this all works), so she was pretty dead-set on only helping with the occasional "pee only" diaper changes. ;)

So, that's where it's at right now. A whirlwind of stuff this month, and I couldn't be happier!

Love and kisses,
SW

Monday, November 30, 2009

where did it go?

I'm referring to 2009. Seriously - where the heck did it go?

Honestly, I was just starting to get the hang of writing "2009" on checks and correspondence, and now I'm mere weeks from having to start all over again with 2010. Maybe that'll catch on a bit quicker for me. Then again...

It seems like we just wrapped up a holiday season a matter of a few months ago, snow and ice and all.

And it seems like Super Boy was just finishing kindergarten and we were excited with anticipation over the three months of summer vacation - FREEDOM - that stretched before us.

And it had to have been just yesterday when summer was winding to a close and a new school year was beginning, with Super Boy starting 1st grade and Super Girl beginning her final year of junior high.

How can it be time for Christmas once again??

I swear, I've hit a worm hole in time or something and jumped forward somehow.

My grandparents always said that if I thought time went quickly as a young person, wait and see how fast time seems to go by as you get older. At this rate, each year will literally seem to pass in the blink of an eye by the time I'm 75.

Ah, well.

I truly love this time of year, the holiday season. Complete with the lush, fresh scent of an evergreen tree in the living room, pretty presents waiting to be opened, lights decorating the house, yummy holiday baking, and time spent with family and friends reminiscing on the blessings in our lives and the wondrous year that has passed.

And so, if time must insist on passing so quickly, I'm glad it's brought me once again to this time of year.

Wishing you all a blessed and wonderful holiday season!

Super Woman

Thursday, November 19, 2009

lighter

I meant to post the evening of my surgery to let you all know how it went, but the day got away from me, and then I had a few rough days after that, so I'm just now getting to it. My apologies!

Tuesday morning, I woke up after an okay night's sleep feeling fairly calm, but I could sense the jitters lying in wait beneath the surface. So, I did what I always do to take my mind off things: I cleaned.

Between my cleaning rampages of Monday and Tuesday, my house is looking pretty good.

I cleaned right up until my mom got to my house, around 11:30am. Then, while she made herself lunch (I couldn't eat - I was banned from food after midnight Monday - so I couldn't bear the lure of yummy food), I went up and took a long, hot shower. The upside was that I didn't really have to do much to "get ready" after my shower; I wasn't allowed to wear make-up - or jewelry, or nail polish on my fingernails - for the surgery, so I just dried my hair, got dressed and was done in record time.

That left me just enough time to let Super Dog out one last time, check email and Facebook one last time, throw a few post-surgery must-haves into my bag, and head out the door to the surgery center.

Thankfully, my wait at the surgery center was mercifully short, because I could really feel the anxiety setting in once we arrived. They shuttled me into pre-op, I got into my gown and booties, and they hooked me up to an IV in short order. My anesthesiologist, a vivacious and funny woman, then came in and introduced herself.

She was awesome. She asked me all the necessary questions, after which I somewhat sheepishly shared with her my concerns about getting nauseous or vomiting from the anesthesia. She talked to me about the special "cocktail" of meds she could use to minimize the potential for nausea and vomiting as much as possible. Needless to say, I was totally on board - and in love with her - by the time that conversation ended.

Interestingly enough, I went into that day thinking I would want to remain awake for the procedure (similar to the level of anesthesia I had for my colonoscopy, where I was awake and talking, but feeling no pain or discomfort and a little bit loopy), but after talking to the anesthesiologist, I realized that I was probably better off letting her knock me out. The cocktail of drugs she was talking about using on me couldn't be used if I wanted to remain awake, and using the more standard drugs to keep me more awake would increase my odds of nausea and vomiting. Also, because the procedure to remove fibroids and polyps is more... physical than a colonoscopy, being more awake for this procedure would have also meant that I'd be likely to feel more, and that might have made me feel nauseous, too. Bottom line? Best to be asleep!

Once all the formalities were taken care of, the anesthesiologist gave me a little Versed to mellow me out (oh, how I love thee, sweet Versed!). It seemed like just minutes later they were wheeling me into the operating room. I remember boosting myself from the gurney over to the operating table, and I remember someone removing my glasses. After that - nada. I was o-u-t!

Next thing I knew, I heard someone say my name. I felt like I had taken a SUPER long and restful nap and was in the middle of a very bizarre dream when I suddenly heard my name. I opened my eyes; I was being wheeled out of the OR and into recovery.

I asked the recovery nurses how things went, and they said everything went very well - no complications, no problems. This was, of course, great news.

But for some reason, it struck me as incredibly funny.

I started giggling. I couldn't stop at giggling. Next thing I knew, I was full-on belly laughing.

Clearly it was a side effect of the anesthesia wearing off!

The nurses left me for a few moments, during which time I managed to convince myself that the single funky and beautiful piece of art on the wall was actually several matching pieces of beautiful art. I was actually surprised later when I realized that it was, in fact, only one piece of art. Like I said, the anesthesia had definitely done a number on me!

My mom was led into the recovery room, where she got an enormous kick out of my post-surgical silliness. I kept repeating the same questions, talking about the same things, giggling. In short, I think it reminded her of when I was four or five years old. Good times.

At some point, my doctor came in and talked to me about the surgery. He said he did see the fibroid and polyp and was able to remove both without any issues. He said they looked fine visually, but would still have to go to pathology to be checked, just to be safe.

By this time, my giggles were subsiding, and I remember feeling an enormous sense of relief. I survived the surgery, and all went well. Amen!!

As the anesthesia wore off, I realized that I felt really quite well. No pain, no nausea, and I was more alert than I expected to be. I drank water, drank apple juice, got up to use the bathroom, got dressed, and was ready to go home within about an hour.

Once I got home, I felt almost completely like myself. I say almost because the one thing I noticed that evening was that I had some pain when I peed. Not much bleeding though, and just a little bit of very minor cramping, not even enough to take Tylenol. All in all, not too shabby.

I took it easy, of course - ate a little chicken noodle soup and had some ginger ale from the comfort of the couch, watched some t.v. for an hour or so, and then played Monopoly City with Super Man, Super Boy, and my Super Mom for a few hours. When bedtime rolled around, I was still wide awake. The anesthesia left me so rested that I didn't feel at all tired that night, unfortunately. I read until 1:30am and then forced myself to fall asleep.

I slept poorly Tuesday night, probably because I wasn't at all tired when I finally fell asleep. It didn't help that Super Boy ended up sleepwalking in the middle of the night, either!

Despite a poor night's sleep, yesterday started off with me feeling fairly energetic and well overall. I took Super Boy to school, stopped for a coffee at Starbucks, came home and visited with my Super Mom for a few hours. When the surgery center called midday yesterday to see how I was feeling, I mentioned that I felt great other than the pain when I was experiencing during urination. I assumed that might be normal, considering that the bladder sits right in front of the uterus/cervix, and that area was obviously traumatized during surgery. Turns out, however, that it might actually be a bladder infection from the catheterization I had during surgery (which I didn't know I'd had - it was done, and removed, all while I was under anesthesia), so they said that if I still felt the pain today, to call my doctor's office and let them know.

My mom left around lunchtime because I was feeling pretty well. But as the day went on, I found myself feeling really tired, almost like I was coming down with something. After I picked Super Boy up from school in the afternoon, we came home and I laid down and fell asleep for two hours. When I woke up, I felt even worse. I was supposed to go to the book fair at Super Boy's school with Super Boy and Super Man last night, but I figured I should probably stay home and take it easy.

I called the doctor's office this morning to let them know that I was still having pain when I urinate, and they wanted me to stop in to the lab to give a urine sample, to be safe. I should hear about that in the morning. (Update 11/24/09: Did hear from the doctor on Friday; was definitely a bladder infection. Hooray! So, I'm on day 5 of an antibiotic now. Amen.)

So, aside from the unexpected bladder infection, the whole thing went FAR better than I imagined it would. I say this facetiously, but I feel lighter since the surgery. Knowing that it's behind me, that the fibroid and polyp are out and that we can move ahead with IUI in December has just lifted a huge psychological burden off my mind. I feel optimistic and hopeful again, knowing that I'm physically primed for everything to come together for another baby.

I also feel very happy and confident in my decision to switch to my current doctor at the Reproductive Medicine office. He did a great job with my surgery, has been honest and thorough in explaining things to me throughout the process, and he's hopeful that we will achieve the pregnancy we so badly want. I'm glad I trusted my gut and switched to him.

So, now we move on to bigger and better things! I will meet with my Super Doctor again on 12/1 for a post-op check-up and to set the schedule for IUI in December. I will of course update again then. Thank you for all thoughts and prayers you've sent along the way, and please keep your fingers crossed that things continue to go as well as we move forward!

With love and hope,
SW

Monday, November 16, 2009

a few words of thanks

Well, this is it, kids - tomorrow is the surgery I've alternated between dreading and eagerly awaiting just to have it behind me. Barring any unforeseen problems, twenty-four hours from now I should be back at home, resting comfortably, minus one fibroid and one polyp. And within the next forty-eight hours, you should see an update on here letting you know how things went.

I feel an enormous sense of calm tonight. Probably because I've resigned myself to the fact that there's nothing good that can come from turning back at this point. The best possible thing I can do is just stay positive and get it over with. Because once this is behind me, we can look forward to the good part of this process - the IUI. Which isn't to say that that part of the process will be FUN - no, after taking Clomid in September, I think I can safely say that it won't be FUN to have to take that again! - but at least it's forward motion, and forward motion toward our ultimate goal at that. And the bottom line is that the IUI is the best shot we have at getting the end result we most want: another child. I try to keep thinking about that whenever the anxiety about the surgery creeps back up on me again. It helps.

That said, I would be remiss if I didn't pay proper respect to the fact that surgery - ANY surgery - comes with inherent risk. This one is no different. Obviously, my biggest concern is that something will go SERIOUSLY wrong and I end up falling under that <1% of people who DIE from complications. Highly unlikely, yes; but possible. That thought lurks at the corners of my mind every moment leading up to this surgery, I will admit it. But I try not to let it steal the show. Anything else that could go wrong would be small potatoes compared to that, so if SOMETHING must happen, I just hope it's something minor in the big scheme of things!

I will only say this. IF something goes horribly wrong ...

I want my family to know how much I truly and completely love them all. My husband, my son, my stepdaughter. My mom, my dad, my stepdad and stepmom. My brothers and sisters, nieces & nephews. I am who I am because of all of you, and I love you more than I could ever possibly hope to express in words. I will trust all of you to carry on and help Super Man raise Super Boy if something happens, and I hope you will talk about me with my little boy often so he never forgets me. And a special shout-out to my mom, who has been my best friend and who is always there for me (as she will be tomorrow!) no matter what - I love you so much, and am so thankful for all you are and all you do!

To Super Man, you are my soulmate. I knew shortly after I met you that, right or wrong, good or bad, I was in it for the long haul with you. We've certainly had our ups and downs, but I still look at you and thank my lucky stars that God brought the two of us together. You have made my life fuller, better... more. You made me a mom twice, first by sharing your child with me and second by creating a child with me. I can't thank you enough for being my partner in life. I love you, baby. Always.

And to Super Boy, you are the most amazing miracle of my life - the greatest thing I've ever been a part of creating, the most rewarding job I've ever had. The sun, the moon the stars and everything wonderful and sweet and extraordinary and beautiful is all wrapped up in you. It has been an enormous honor and pleasure being your mommy; I wouldn't trade one second of it for anything in the universe. I love you with all of my heart and soul, in every cell in my body. Whenever my number is up, I want you to know that I will always be with you, will always be watching over you. I love you, more than the whole wide world, forever and ever, no matter what.

To Super Girl, I want you to know that I love you, and I'm grateful for the gift of our relationship. I never imagined that I'd become a parent by being a stepparent first, but I'm glad that it happened the way it did, and that YOU were my stepchild and not anyone else. You're a wonderful young woman, with a big, bright future ahead of you. I hope that some of who I am and what I value has rubbed off on you over the years, and that you make good choices and be the best person you can be as you make your way into the world. I want only the best for you; don't ever forget that.

And to my very best friends - you know who you are - I can't thank you enough, for everything. For all the good times, for putting up with my crazy ass over the years, for supporting me even when you thought I was making mistakes, for being there when I had great things to celebrate, for not abandoning me when the chips were down and I needed you most. I hope I have been able to give to each of you what you needed when you needed it, and that I've had a positive and lasting impact on your lives, as you have on mine. I love you!

I have been so blessed, and am grateful for every minute I've had in this life. While I firmly believe that this is not the end for me, I wanted to make sure I shared those things, just in case. Because you just never know, and I'd hate to go without saying them.

On that note, please wish me luck tomorrow, readers. Say a prayer, send good juju, think positive thoughts - whatever floats your boat! :) I am most grateful and appreciative, as always.

I look forward to sharing news of a successful and uneventful surgery in the next day or two!

With a full and grateful heart,
Super Woman

Monday, November 9, 2009

and the wheels are moving again!

I'm relieved - and, yes, a little bit nervous - to report that a date has again been set for my surgery. Barring any new illness or disaster of some sort, I'll be going in for my hysteroscopy on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 17th to remove the suspected fibroid and polyp from my uterus.

As I think I mentioned a month or so ago, we had to cancel the original surgery that had been scheduled for October 21st because I ended up catching the respiratory virus that Super Boy had the week prior, and the doctor wouldn't do the operation with me still being congested due to the risk of me developing pneumonia from the anesthesia. I'll admit that a part of me was relieved (I really wasn't READY-ready to face the prospect of surgery), but a bigger part of me was super discouraged by yet another unexpected delay putting off the start of our IUI treatments.

Knowing that we've got a date on the calendar again, and that it's just a week away, I'm praying now that all goes well and that we can manage to stay healthy so I can just get this over and done with. Assuming all goes well, I'll be on the path to IUI for December, which means so much to me, I can't even say. I'm ready for that to begin, have been ready for that since September. So I'm trying to focus less on my fear and anxiety over this surgery and more on my eagerness and excitement for getting to the GOOD part of this process!

To all who have been following along on this journey, and especially those who have expressed support and offered your assistance to me and my family, thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

Will continue to update as I have more to share...

Your hopeful pal,
SW

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Grampa

November is such a bittersweet month for me each year.

Generally speaking, on the one hand, it marks the end of the comparatively warm, bright days of early fall and sets the stage for the onslaught of the long, cold, snowy, miserable winter, which I find utterly depressing. On the other hand, it marks the beginning of the Christmas holiday season, which - despite the cold and snow - is my favorite holiday of all.

On a more personal level, my Grampa H. - my father's father, with whom I was very close - was born on November 1st, making that day one of celebration every year. Unfortunately, he died on November 20th, back in 1998 after a short but devastating illness, making that a day of mourning and somber remembrance ever since.

I was with him when he died, in a hospital room, in the middle of a cold and snowy night, with my dad and stepmom beside me. It was an unforgettable moment, one of few such moments in life, and I was transformed by it. Completely and utterly transformed.

My Grampa was the sweetest man to ever walk the earth. He was tall but not imposing, sweet but not a pushover. He had a voice that was deep, rich with texture, and an infectious laugh that was part chuckle and part giggle. He always had a twinkle in his eyes, and he would fascinate and amaze my older sister and younger brother and I as children by wiggling his ears. While he could at times be stern and raise his voice, he was also the sort of grandfather who would happily play with us grandkids as children, and he took endless delight in watching us grow.

He loved the circus, baseball (the Brewers were his favorite), the Beer Barrel Polka, playing pool and cards, and us grandkids.

My father was an only child; as such, we were the only grandchildren. After my parents' divorce, when us kids moved with our mom to a town six hours away, we saw my grandparents only a few times a year for the rest of our childhood. My grandmother died a year after we moved away, but my grandfather lived for many years beyond. I was 24 when he died; he had lived to just past his 82nd birthday.

I, like most kids, took my grandfather for granted when I was growing up. He was so good and kind and sweet to us, but he was just "Grampa" for many years. It wasn't until I was in high school that I realized how truly blessed and lucky I was to still have him in my life. He had lived through so much that I couldn't even begin to fathom, and his life had been more complex and had contained more heartache than I ever realized until I took the time to really get to know my Grampa.

We became pen-pals toward the end of my high school years, and that continued until he passed away. We would write letters to each other every few weeks, and his always came ensconced in a sweet card of one sort or another. I'd write about my boyfriends, about my general activities, about school, and eventually about work. He'd write me about his weekly pool (billiards) group, about how all the women in his retirement apartment community were after him - one woman in particular kept leaving her "unmentionables" in the dryer when she knew my grampa was doing his laundry. And he'd also write about his health, which right up to the end had been quite good, all things considered.

He always had the right words to cheer me up or the right advice to help me make a tough decision, and no matter what, I knew that he was always in my corner. His letters were written with such love and in such detail that I could hear his voice in my head as I read each of his letters. I think that as long as I live I will never forget the sound of his voice. It was - and remains - always a comfort to me. In fact, there is a priest at the new church we've been attending for the past few months whose voice and patterns of speech remind me so much of my Grampa that I often find myself closing my eyes and smiling at the sound of it, and I've remarked to my husband a few times how much Father Larry reminds me of my Grampa.

One of the sweetest things my Grampa did had to do with my business cards. When I got my first job out of college, as an executive secretary, he had my business card laminated and he would show it to all of his friends and tell them that his granddaughter was "an executive." He was so proud!

One of the toughest things about losing my Grampa when I did was that he never met Super Man, or Super Girl, or - especially - Super Boy. He would've loved them all, and he would've loved to see me happily married with a family of my own. One of the things that drew me so to Super Man was his sweet, humble nature; it was a quality that my Grampa had, too, in spades. He didn't always approve of the guys I dated, but I think he would've loved my husband.

We had started dating several months prior to my Grampa passing away, but we weren't yet serious enough that I would bring Super Man "home" with me to meet him. I regret that often. Then again, the timing wasn't right for it then, and I had no way of knowing that my Grampa would die so soon.

When I was pregnant with Super Boy, once we found out at the ultrasound that he was a boy, I told Super Man that - no matter what - his middle name had to be my grandfather's name. As it turned out, the name we chose as Super Boy's first name - Super Man's paternal grandfather's name - ended up fitting perfectly with my grandfather's name. Super Boy knows who he was named after, and why. He likes that his names are special, that they are of his family.

And once Super Boy's personality started to show, I had the oddest feeling that my child, who is and has always been so indescribably perfect and in sync with me, was hand-picked in heaven by my Grampa. While they may not have met on this side of life, I believe with all my heart that they met on the other side. Super Boy has so much of my Grampa in his personality, as well, and it charms and enchants me to no end.

Fortunately, it is not only my son who shares many of my Grampa's traits: my younger brother looks exactly like my Grampa did as a young man, and my brother is also one of the sweetest people ever to walk the earth. I'm so glad that the best parts of a great man still live on in our family today. It comforts my soul.

I miss you much, Grampa. I think of you often, I see you and hear you often, and I know that you are my and my family's guardian angel, always.

With all my love,
SW

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BlackBerry, CrackBerry

Yes, folks, your old pal Super Woman has finally - FINALLY - entered the 21st century.

I got a BlackBerry Curve last week!

A little background...

Two years ago when my trusty old phone was limping along with its poor cracked screen, almost perpetually drained battery and archaic features, I realized I had to get a new phone. However, at the time, money was tight, I wasn't into texting, and I was perfectly content to use my laptop to access the internet and our great little Canon digital camera to take any pictures. So, when I was looking at new phones, I ended up just getting the most basic - and FREE - phone that Sprint (my long-time carrier) offered. It made phone calls, stored my contacts and COULD access the internet and all that, but there was no built-in camera, no good keyboard, and no bells and whistles.

Don't get me wrong, it too was a great phone. It was slim (I could fit it in my pocket), the battery held a charge for a respectable period of time, and it did what I needed it to do.

Except that when I started to receive texts from people and wanted to text back, it took me in the neighborhood of five minutes to formulate a reply using the standard phone keys. And I was getting texts more and more frequently, but we didn't have texts included in our service plan, so I was paying a premium each time I replied.

It occurred to me then that my two-year contract was coming up again this fall. So, one day I went to the local Sprint store, just to confirm when I would be able to upgrade and renew my contract and to look at the current offering of reasonably priced (or free) phones.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that they had a few BlackBerry phones for under $50, after rebates! Seriously, I was shocked: I always thought they were at least $150, if not more, and had never considered spending that kind of money for one in the past, especially because I never really needed to look at them before.

I left the Sprint store that day without getting a new phone, but armed with information about how we could change our service plan and add a data package and still SAVE money with me upgrading to a BlackBerry Curve at the end of the billing cycle. And then I went home and did some more homework.

I found that BestBuy had the same phone on special with Sprint for $19 with a two-year contract renewal or new contract. So, I went to the local BestBuy store to make sure the price was accurate given my circumstances, and to make sure they could do all the service plan updating I needed done with Sprint if I were to get the phone there. They assured me that they could, so I decided to go back there at the end of my billing cycle to get my new phone. And so I did, last Friday.

So now I'm a BlackBerry user.

It's different; I will definitely say that much! It's like having a little computer with me everywhere I go. Which is great, but so much more complex than the simple little phones I've used for the past half-decade. I discover something new about the BlackBerry every day.

The one thing I DON'T like is that my battery drains quickly. The phone guy at BestBuy warned me about that, given that it's working harder because of the internet access, etc., so it wasn't completely unexpected. It's just an adjustment. I have to make sure I charge it at least every other day, or I'll find the battery is dead when I go to use it.

I have to laugh, because I was told to give it a solid five days before making a decision about it one way or the other, and I can see why. It's not as intuitive as my old, basic phones. But I can see how it's addicting. I've been told I won't go back to a "regular" phone after having a BlackBerry. We'll see.

What I really wanted was an iPhone, but even though they've dropped in price, they're still $99, and I'd have to switch to AT&T, and I really don't want to spend that much for a phone or leave Sprint. So, maybe in a few more years. We'll see how this whole CrackBerry thing pans out. :)

Technologically yours,
SW

Monday, October 12, 2009

finally sinking in

My hysteroscopic surgery is scheduled. It's happening on the 21st of this month. And, as I fully expected of myself, I'm freaking out over it.

I mean, sure, I've been thinking about it ever since the words "you need a hysteroscopy" left my original fertility doc's mouth. But meeting with my new fertility doc this afternoon for my pre-op appointment - and, specifically, having to sign the consent form, which was riddled with words like "complications may include uterine performation, perforated bowel, stopping of the heart, massive blood loss and DEATH" - really made the reality sink in. Deep.

First, it's SCHEDULED now. It's not a theoretical possibility left hanging out in space anymore; it's actually on the books. And I've actually signed a consent form. One with the words POSSIBILITY OF DEATH on it.

Second, I've now talked to the doctor who will be performing the surgery about what said surgery will entail. In detail. And about the risks. In detail. I know pretty much exactly what's going to happen and how it's going to happen - provided everything goes off as expected - and while I'm okay with all of it in theory, the reality is that the only surgery I've ever had is the one that delivered Super Boy into the world, and I really had NO choice but to go ahead with that one because he was stuck.

But the thing is, while I am CHOOSING to have this surgery to give my reproductive organs a better chance of getting pregnant again and sustaining a second pregnancy, there's also a part of me that feels I don't have any other choice but to have the surgery.

I say that because as the doctor and I were taking a close look at my ultrasound results today, and looking at them from several angles and depths, etc., he noticed that there is another unusual thing in my uterus that he now also wants to check out during my hysteroscopy. He thinks it's a polyp.

Of course (and as usual), my mind immediately screamed CANCER! (I'm sorry; I can't help it.) But when I was able to form the question to ASK if that was a possibility with a polyp, my doctor said that yes, it's POSSIBLE, but for a woman my age who is NOT post-menopausal, it's highly unlikely. Won't know for sure until next week though.

And that's why I no longer feel like I have a choice BUT to have the surgery. If I opted not to do it now (purely out of fear, in case that wasn't clear), what if that other thing we see on the ultrasound IS cancer - and I didn't find out now and deal with it? The fear of THAT outcome is greater than my fear of having surgery, no question about it.

I just can't think too much about the risks. For what it's worth, the doctor said that the above mentioned complications arise in less than 1% of people who have this procedure, so that's reassuring. Odds are strongly in my favor that I will go in for the procedure, all will go well, and I'll be out and on my way within a few hours. I'll be visualizing that, anyway.

On another note, in a totally bizarre twist of fate (considering that I was meeting with my doctor for my pre-op appointment this afternoon), while I was waiting for my drink at Starbucks this morning, I just happened to glance at the cover of today's New York Times -- which I NEVER do at Starbucks, for whatever reason. Anyway, front and center on the cover is a story about the risks of IUI for those struggling with infertility.

WHA...?

What are the ODDS of that?!?

I couldn't resist - I had to spend the $2 for the paper so I could read the story and find out more about what I'm getting myself into with all of this.

Big mistake!

Suddenly, instead of envisioning the SLIGHT (7-8%) risk of possible twins instead of a single baby, I'm scaring the pants off myself at the thought of somehow ending up pregnant with quintuplets or sextuplets! I'm optimistic that we could manage with twins, but there is no WAY we could manage with five or six babies.

No. Way.

Needless to say, I had to discuss this article with my doctor today.

Now, let me just say that even I picked up on the fact that the focus of this article was on injectable fertility medication, not on oral Clomid (which is all I've taken - and all I will take). After discussing my concerns with him, my doctor assured me that the risk of more than two babies being conceived at once on oral Clomid is less than 1%, and the risk of twins is about 7%. I can deal with that. I think.

What I did not realize, however, is this: While I've been panicking a bit over the risk of ending up with MANY babies as a result of IUI with Clomid, I didn't know that the odds of IUI with Clomid working for me in any given month is only 20%, because of my age. Without the Clomid, the IUI has a 5% change of getting me pregnant in any given month. Without the IUI, I have a 3% chance of getting pregnant in any given month.

Three percent. No wonder all our efforts over the past three and a half years have been unsuccessful.

Even with IUI and Clomid, I'm looking at a 20% chance. And my doctor said he would try four cycles of IUI on me. In those four cycles, there's a 50% chance I will get pregnant - and a 50% chance I won't.

Am I ready?

I sure hope so.

SW

Thursday, October 8, 2009

a sick boy and a plea to parents

This has been a rough week. After a busy, action-packed weekend spent in good health, Super Boy woke up Monday morning with a headache and a low fever. No other symptoms, but already the alarms were starting to go off in my head because that was exactly how Super Boy started off when he had strep for the first time in the spring: headache and low fever and nothing else.

I waited for some other symptoms to kick in as the day progressed, but none did. The Motrin would take his fever down and have him acting his usual self until it wore off, and then he'd have a headache and fever again. Because of the ongoing fever, I knew he'd be home from school on Tuesday as well, but wasn't sure what the next day would actually bring.

After sleeping well through the night, Super Boy woke up Tuesday in much the same way - a low fever and a headache. Because of the H1N1 hysteria, I figured a call to his pediatrician was in order to see if we needed to be concerned/tested/treated. The nurse assured me that while it didn't sound like H1N1, strep is going around and because he was having the exact same symptoms as when he had strep in the spring, they wanted us to come in to swab his throat. Quick-strep test was negative, but they were going to grow the culture and see what happened (should hear today). The doctor felt that the culture probably won't grow strep, as there are also some viruses going around that have these same symptoms (and, incidentally, which he said are lasting up to a week in some kids), so it was a "wait-and-see" sort of deal.

Anyway, Tuesday was almost a mirror image of Monday except that his fever actually stayed away after his afternoon Motrin wore off, so while I was still planning to keep him home Wednesday (after all, they're supposed to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school), I was hopeful that he'd be able to go back today, just in time to make his class field trip to the local book store, which we'd both been looking forward to!

No such luck.

Wednesday went pretty well at the outset - he woke with NO fever, feeling pretty good other than being a bit congested in his head. But he was playful and active and his usual bubbly self most of the day, so I felt very good about his planned return to school today.

Until he ran another 99.9 fever yesterday evening.

Now I know that there are parents out there who won't consider their kids to have a TRUE fever until they're over 100 (and some even stretch that further, for reasons I can't fathom) and will still send them to school (most often pumped full of fever-reducer so they won't get sent home), but I'm strongly of the opinion that if my child is running a fever, he's staying home. And he's one of those kids who is almost ALWAYS an exact 98.6 sort of person, so when he's got a temp of 99.9, I know that he's not healthy.

He fell asleep fine last night, slept well, but again woke super congested and hoarse. No fever, no headache, but he said he felt lousy (and he sure looked lousy), so the poor kid stayed home again today and missed his field trip.

He's frustrated about missing out on seeing his friends, missing his field trip, and missing his favorite class - gym - but even he knows that it's better for him to stay home and get healthy and NOT infect his classmates than to go back before he's really feeling better and get everyone else sick, too.

And that has definitely been on my mind the past few days, too - the issue of parents who send their still-sick kids to school without any apparent regard for the other kids. Because I'm 98% sure that's where he picked up this little gem of a virus.

I get that I perhaps err more on the side of caution than others when it comes to gauging how sick my child is, but there are two reasons for that: (1) Super Boy was CONSTANTLY sick in daycare (and I'm NOT exaggerating that) and it took a major toll on his immune system, so I'm very sensitive to his health after all of that, and (2) I AM concerned about the health of the kids he plays with, or went to daycare with, or goes to school with and I don't want them to get sick, too.

I know that not all parents are stay-at-homes like I am right now, but I lived the full-time working mom scenario for the first four years of Super Boy's life, through his chronic & recurring sinus infections that went on for the better part of four years. I know that it IS hard to juggle work schedules with sick kids. That said, we all have to suck it up and do what we have to do for our children, even when it means seeing if we can work from home or having to use our vacation time and sick days for our kids' illnesses.

When parents send their kids to school knowing full well that they are still sick - and contagious - whether it's with a fever or anything else, those parents are knowingly and willfully sending their kids to school where they are going to get other kids sick. It's not even a question of maybe; it's a guarantee. Especially in a first grade classroom.

I'm sorry, but even the most frequently reminded of kids that age generally are NOT good about keeping their hands out of their eyes/nose/mouth (especially if they have boogers or runny noses, come on!), and they're also NOT good about always washing their hands or using hand-sanitizer after they've picked/wiped their noses, and they DON'T always cover their coughs and sneezes, etc. You get my drift.

So, to all the parents who read this blog, PLEASE do all of us a favor and keep your sick kids home until they are (1) fever-free for 24 hours, (2) clearly feeling better and past the worst of it, and/or (3) the doctor has said they're no longer contagious and can go back. Especially with H1N1 going around, I beg you to consider the health of the other kids in your child's classroom and just keep your sick kid home until they're truly well enough to return. Think about how much less time EVERY parent would have to take off in the long run if all of us just did the right thing when it was our child who was ill?

And to all of you who have sick kids at home right now, I feel your pain and I hope your kiddos feel better soon!

Your germ-conscious pal,
SW

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

turning the page

Earlier today, I received a phone call from a nurse at the fertility specialist's office, with a message from my doctor.

Apparently, he wanted me to go on THE PILL.

...HUH????

Yes; I was supposed to wait until my period, go on the pill "to thin the lining of my uterus before the procedure," and then have the hysteroscopy before day 10 or 11 of my next cycle.

Which - YES - would mean that I would lose another potential IUI cycle.

I was beyond perplexed/frustrated/pissed.

I told the nurse that Dr. ____ TOLD ME last Wednesday that he wanted to do the hysteroscopy ASAP so we COULD try next month. Why would he tell me that?!?!?

She didn't know. This is standard procedure, apparently, so he should've set my expectations accordingly. But he didn't.

I cannot tell you how maddeningly frustrating that was. The LAST THING I want is to go on BIRTH CONTROL when I'm trying to GET PREGNANT! Sure, it might help him see my uterus better for this procedure, but isn't this contrary to the ultimate goal of GETTING ME PREGNANT?!?!?

Aaaaaaaaaaagggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

I realized then that it was time to put a call into the Clinic Manager to share my concerns about the major detour my care has taken and my concerns about Dr. _____ continuing to provide that care.

The Clinic Manager was a godsend. She sat quietly and listened to me as I shared with her my concerns about the way things have gone over the past week, from the botched prep for my HSN last Wednesday to the complete miscommunication about how we would proceed from this point. She expressed concern - and rightfully so - over the iodine situation, and sympathized with me for how frustrating the process had become since the HSN.

I told her what I wanted.

- For Dr. ____'s partner (the head of the clinic) to review the sonogram from my HSN and give his opinion as to whether the hysteroscopy was really necessary.

- To know if I absolutely MUST be put under general anesthesia for the hysteroscopy or I could do "twilight" sedation, as was done for my colonoscopy, where I was awake but loopy and felt no pain the entire time. Or do an epidural and appropriate pain meds, as was done with my C-section.

- I wanted to know what the ACTUAL timeline of events is going to be from this point forward, and whether that is consistent with the standard of care or not.

- And, ultimately, I wanted to see if I could switch from Dr. ____ to Dr. Head of the Clinic.

The Clinic Manager assured me that she would look into all of it and get back to me, and she apologized for the direction things had taken, as she wants all their patients to feel good about the quality of care and their experience with the clinic. I felt better just to have gotten it all off my chest and to know that someone was going to DO something about it.

Within an hour, Dr. Head of the Clinic called me to talk about my concerns. I was floored.

We discussed his opinion of the HSN results and the need for the hysteroscopy (he concurs that it's most likely a fibroid inside the uterine cavity - as opposed to the uterine wall - and should be removed). We discussed my allergy to iodine and the mistake Dr. ____ made by prepping me with iodine last Wednesday - and my concerns about what might happen if Dr. ____ does my hysteroscopy and forgets about my iodine allergy again. We discussed the ACTUAL timeline of what will happen going forward, according to the standard of care. And I ultimately asked Dr. Head of the Clinic to take me as a patient to put my mind at ease, since I simply felt more comfortable with him and his style than I've come to feel with Dr. ____.

He said yes.

So, this is what's going to happen now.

I'm going to schedule a pre-op appointment with Dr. Head of the Clinic for next week, so he can meet me in person and we can go over ALL my questions about the hysteroscopy.

I'm going to wait until I get my period, then call his office to schedule the hysteroscopy. He is NOT going to put me on the Pill, because he prefers not to do that. Doing the surgery between days 7-10 of my cycle will keep my uterine lining thin enough for him to see adequately during the hysteroscopy.

I will have the hysteroscopy between days 7-10 of my next cycle, in mid-October, under "twilight" sedation. If it IS a fibroid, he'll remove it. If it's just a distortion in the wall of my uterus, then nothing happens and the procedure is over. Either way, I will still not have IUI in October, to let my uterus heal either from the removal of the fibroid or just from the trauma of the hysteroscopy.

Assuming the healing goes as expected, I will start my first FULL IUI cycle after I get my period in early November.

And - hopefully - I'll find out that I'm pregnant in early December, just in time to be the perfect Christmas present. I know that it may not go down that way, but here's hoping that it does.

Can I tell you how much better I feel knowing that I'm going to be seeing Dr. Head of the Clinic from this point on? I've spoken on the phone with the man twice now (he was the one on call when I called about my abdominal pain/bloating on Monday night), and just in the span of those two phone conversations I have such a different vibe from him. He DOES take the time to explain things, to answer questions. He's not operating independently of me and my needs or feelings, and he's still able to set my expectations realistically. Yes, this means I definitely WILL lose another potential IUI cycle in October, but he explained WHY that's in my best interests. I think we'll get along much better and that I will feel infinitely more comfortable in his hands than Dr. ___'s, particularly for the hysteroscopy.

So, while the train is moving again - albeit more slowly than I had expected - I believe it's now headed in the right direction. And now I'm just going along for the ride.

Hope is back, baby! Hope is back.

Yours always,
SW

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

frustration

I've been having a frustrating past couple of days. I sat down to write blog posts twice in the past three days, and ended up not being able to hit "publish" either time because I wasn't really saying what I wanted to say.

And what I want to say is this: What an effing rollercoaster ride this whole fertility treatment business is!

Sheeesh.

Where's this coming from, you might be wondering? Well, it's coming from a few places.

First, the Clomid has been messing with my body and my emotions for the better part of the past week. And I was under the impression that if I didn't experience any issues while I was actually taking the Clomid for those five days then I wouldn't have any issues after those five days were done. I had asked my doctor what I could expect on it and all he said was that I might experience menopausal-like symptoms (like hot flashes, mood swings), "but most people tolerate it fine." Well, the day after I stopped the Clomid, I was up in the middle of the night with hot flashes and feeling nauseous. I felt okay the next day, but as the week went on, I started getting bad headaches that Tylenol wasn't helping. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I had bad headaches like that, and I was completely beat. I also had heartburn all of those days, despite not eating anything that would've been an obvious culprit. And I also cried at the drop of a hat all week long. It didn't occur to me until yesterday, when I was able to add consistent aching abdominal pain and bloating to the list of issues that it occurred to me that MAYBE it was the Clomid.

I got on Google and started trying to track down whether or not the issues I was experiencing were typical on Clomid. Everything I saw about abdominal pain and bloating indicated that a call to my doctor was in order, as there was a risk of OHSS (Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome, which can be life-threatening).

It was 9 o'clock at night though. And I learned that my doctor was out of town all week when I spoke with his office earlier in the day (I'll get to that in a minute). Still, my nerves prevailed and I called the doc-on-call, who happened to be my doctor's partner and the head of the clinic. He said that all the things I was experiencing were totally normal - if unpleasant - side effects of Clomid and asked whether my doctor had gone through any of that with me. "Yeah - no - otherwise I wouldn't be calling you!" Nice.

Second, and this sort of ties in with the first point, I've lost some faith in the doctor I'm seeing. Things started off so well at our first meeting, and I was really on-board with how swiftly he was moving things forward after that meeting, but the experience I had at my HSN appointment last Wednesday - and the things that have happened since then - have really called my opinion of him into question.

For starters, something happened at the HSN appointment last week that surprised and concerned me. My doctor came into the procedure room late and apologized for being late, saying that he'd run into a "complication" with his last procedure. Within 5 minutes, my feet were in stirrups, he'd inserted the speculum and I could feel him swabbing my cervix. It occurred to me then that I ought to ask whether he was swabbing it with iodine, to which I have an allergy.

I asked; he said yes, he was using iodine. "Why?"

"Well, because I'm allergic to it, that's why. It's in my chart."

"Oh." He used some other solution (saline?) to swab off the iodine before proceeding, as I sat there freaking out a little, wondering if I was going to have a reaction or not. I didn't - thank God - but still. He must've been freaking out about it, too, because he gave me a script for Benadryl "to be safe."

That shouldn't have happened. And I can't help but wonder if it happened because he was flustered from the complication with his last procedure (which in and of itself is not cool) or if he makes a habit of NOT checking the file - or asking the patient - about allergies before beginning procedures (which is even LESS cool). That troubles me in particular because he wants to put me under for the hysteroscopy, and if I'm unconscious then who's going to tell him not to prep me with iodine?

The other reason I'm questioning his suitability to be the doctor who assists me in this journey is that he indicated when we were wrapping up the HSN last week that he wanted to get me in "as soon as possible" to have the hysteroscopy, so I'd have time to heal and we could proceed with IUI in my next cycle, and yet I still haven't been able to get the damn thing scheduled.

He had told me that if I hadn't heard from his staff by Friday, to call them to inquire about setting the date (remember, my HSN was on Wednesday). I waited, anxiously, until Friday morning, at which point I left a message saying we needed to schedule the surgery and asking someone to call me. No one called me. I called back late that afternoon only to find out that the person who schedules the surgeries went home sick earlier in the day. I was told to leave her a message and that she'd get back to me Monday.

I left a message. And then I waited until Noon on Monday for her to call me, and when she didn't, I called her. She proceeded to ask me if I was on birth control.

"Uh.... no? Because we're trying to get pregnant? That's why I'm at your clinic seeing Dr. ___!?!?!"

"Right..."

She then informed me that Dr. _____ typically schedules all surgeries for days 6-10 of the cycle, to ensure that the patient isn't pregnant.

Uh... come again???

I immediately objected, telling her that the doctor himself had told me that he wanted to get it taken care of as soon as possible so I'd be ready to try IUI next month and we wouldn't be wasting another cycle. And I specifically asked him if Super Man and I should "abstain from all activity" from that point forward in addition to Dr. ____ canceling our IUI attempt for this month, and he said yes. And I'm an instruction follower, to the letter, so I assured her that she had no need to fear that I gone and gotten pregnant on my own (that would've been the miracle to end all miracles, at this point). And I stressed again that I was very eager - VERY EAGER - to get this scheduled and over with so I could stop thinking and worrying about it and so that I'd be ready to go through the full IUI cycle next month.

Still, she said that she had to see what Dr. ___ wanted to do. "And unfortunately he's out of town this whole week, so unless I can reach him by email, we'll have to wait until he's back to see when he wants to do the surgery."

Uh... come again?!?!?! Are you freaking kidding me??!?

Now, I'm not saying that the man doesn't deserve to take vacations, or that he should plan his vacations around my cycle and my needs. (That would be nice though.) But are you KIDDING ME?!? He didn't say a word to me last Wednesday to indicate that he'd be unavailable to do the surgery he wanted to do "ASAP" until NEXT week, which is TWO WEEKS after the HSN! And I'm a little put off by the fact that he didn't tell the scheduling person to make it so I could get in for the surgery while I'm still in my current (already wasted) cycle, even if he couldn't do it this week.

You know, I realize that I'm not his only patient, but I have to admit, I have definitely felt like once it became clear that I wasn't going to be an IUI patient for this month, I fell off his radar screen entirely. And - I'm sorry - but I am entrusting this person to help me on what is one of THE most important journeys of my life, not to mention entrusting him WITH my life, so I expect him to be sensitive to that fact and treat me like I matter regardless of whether I'm actually having a costly treatment this cycle or not.

So now I'm waiting yet again.

But I may be waiting for different reasons now.

I'm considering asking to switch to the other doctor - the head of the clinic - instead. Considering the experiences I've had with Dr. ____ so far, and me feeling less-than-confident in his ability to treat me safely and expeditiously, I feel like I either need to see the head guy in the clinic or I need to go somewhere else entirely. And I'd rather not jump ship without seeing if the other guy is better. I just wish it hadn't come to this.

Anyway, that's where things stand right now. I have no idea when I'm having the surgery - or even IF I'll be having the surgery, as I now want the other doctor to weigh-in on whether HE feels it's necessary based on the HSN. If I DO have to go through with it, I don't know WHO will be doing it, or who I'll be seeing from this point forward. And the Clomid is making me feel like shit, all for nothing since I wasn't able to go through with the IUI attempt this month, and it will continue to make me feel like shit until I get my period. In nearly two weeks.

Needless to say, I'm not pleased.

Here's hoping that things will take a turn for the better very soon. Will keep you posted!

As always,
SW

Sunday, September 27, 2009

faith

We've been going to church every week for about the past month. This is odd only because - while we certainly have gone to church before - we usually make it only once every few weeks (or months). It's also odd because we've been attending a church that is not our own.

There's a reason why we've been going to a new church every week for the past month. (And, no, it's not because we've become religious zealots in our spare time.) It's because we wanted to enroll Super Boy in a Sunday School program, both so he learns more about what it means to be Catholic and to help prepare him for his First Communion next year. Unfortunately, Sunday School is no longer offered through our regular church (where Super Man and I were married and where Super Boy was Baptized), and because we didn't want to be hypocrites about "forcing" him to go to Sunday School while we slacked off in observing our faith, we're determined to attend church before (or after) Sunday School each week, too. We want Super Boy to really understand what he's learning and why it's important to his life, and to us as a family.

Super Man and I have talked about our lack of commitment to church attendance quite a bit over the years. After those conversations, we might occasionally get on a good streak where we'd attend more regularly than usual, but we'd eventually revert back to our old ways. So, yes, the impetus for this regular church attendance was the Sunday School thing, but I think it was exactly what we needed to get us to "do the right thing," so to speak.

Because, really, there's been no GOOD excuse most weeks for why we haven't attended Mass. Sure, occasionally someone is sick or we're out of town or whatever, but by and large, we're around, home and just sleeping in rather than getting up and going to church.

Anyway, as more frequent attendance at church often tends to do, I've found myself spending a lot of time lately reflecting on my beliefs, both those I've been taught and those I've acquired, and on my concept of spirituality in general.

While I can't really call myself a highly religious person, I consider myself a very spiritual person. I believe in God, a higher power, forces at work that we can't see or touch but that absolutely direct the path of our lives. And as long as I have that, the specific details of my religion - or any others - don't really bother me too much.

For what it's worth, I'm Catholic. I don't necessarily believe everything I'm supposed to believe in order to call myself a "good" Catholic, and I struggle with that, but I consider myself Catholic nonetheless.

Does it make me a hypocrite to call myself Catholic even if I don't believe everything I ought to as a Catholic? Sometimes I believe that it does. Then again, there are times when I think that it's not about exactly and precisely fitting the mold of a model devotee of a certain faith and is more about finding the faith with which you most closely identify. I believe that I'm most closely identified with Catholicism... then again, I must confess that I'm not entirely sure.

I was Baptized Catholic. I had my First Communion as a Catholic. But then my parents divorced and my mom - the one who had ensured we received religious education and took us to church every week - stopped attending church, so hurt was she that her church would turn its back on her because she divorced my father. So for years - like a dozen years - I either didn't attend church, or we went to a Lutheran church, because my stepdad is Lutheran, and theirs was not as exclusive as the Catholic church was at that time.

Needless to say, I didn't go through CCD or Confirmation with my Catholic classmates in high school. They envied me for not being forced to participate in a Catholic ritual they didn't really give two hoots about all the while I envied them for at least being a part of something spiritual.

It wasn't until I was planning my first wedding - The Wedding That Wasn't - that I had to really confront the question of my religion. My fiance at the time was a Confirmed Catholic, and in order to be married in his church, I had to be as well. I definitely wanted to be married in his church, but I wasn't sure whether I really wanted to go through Confirmation after having been "away" from the Catholic church for so long. All that I'd learned about Catholicism as a young child was virtually gone from my memory by that time, and a part of me felt like I'd only be doing it to get a green light to marry in the church. I didn't want to do it for the wrong reasons.

I had a few long conversations with the priest from the church and shared with him my conflicting emotions about the whole situation. He was a young priest, and fairly progressive for the late '90s, and he assured me that I was still Catholic despite having been "away" for so long. He also told me that it wasn't necessary for me to believe EVERYTHING the church felt I ought to believe, as long as I believed that Jesus was the son of God, and that he was divine. After much consideration, I ended up enrolling in the RCIA program and became confirmed at the age of 23, just in time for The Wedding That Wasn't.

Despite the fact that the wedding for which I'd gone through Confirmation wasn't to be, I was glad I'd ultimately made the choice to be Confirmed in the Catholic faith. And I was fairly good about attending church from time to time going forward, although I will be the first one to admit that I've never been an "I go every week" kind of gal. I will also be the first to admit that it was my faith in God, and my belief that He had a different and better path in mind for me, that I survived the very difficult choice to call off The Wedding That Wasn't, move out of the apartment I shared with The Man Who Was Not to Be My Husband, and move on with my life.

Through all of the difficult times in my life, I have turned to God. To be fair, I also turn to Him during the good times, to thank Him for the blessings I've been given. But I especially turn to Him when I'm facing challenges or I need help making decisions about something important. Yes, there have been times when I've felt that He wasn't listening, or wasn't helping, or had abandoned me. It's hard to maintain faith during those times, no question about it. But then I remember that even when I've not been able to see what He wanted me to see right away, the thing He wanted me to see always revealed itself in time.

When I called off The Wedding That Wasn't, I agonized over the decision. I loved very much The Man Who Wasn't to be My Husband, but it had gotten to the point where I felt physically ill at the thought of spending my life with him, only I couldn't fully articulate WHY I felt that way. I knew it wasn't just "cold feet" but I didn't know exactly what it was. I just knew that I couldn't go through with the wedding and I couldn't stay with him because I felt in my gut that we were not right for each other. I felt it in my bones even as my heart ached.

It was hell for the first few months, trying to sort out my life and figure out my feelings and come up with a new plan for myself. Should I stay in the city to which I'd moved for my ex-fiance or move back to the city I had grown up in, to be near my family? Should I leave the job I loved, or stay and hang on to that one thing that felt right about my life in the new city? I wanted God to show me the answers, and to do it quickly, so I could KNOW whether I was making the right choices or not.

Of course, He wasn't giving me answers on demand. He let me agonize and drift aimlessly for a few months. He let me be alone for awhile. And, see, at that point in my life, I didn't do alone very well. Frankly, it scared the hell out of me. I feared that I'd never find someone to spend my life with and that I'd always BE alone. But as the pain gradually lessened, and the fog that had become each day of my life started to lift, I started to feel semi-alive again. I wasn't just going through the motions day in and day out, but I was starting to feel normal and okay and, yes, hopeful again. I found myself feeling really glad that I'd chosen to stay in the new city, at the job I loved.

And then out of nowhere it occurred to me that I had managed to get through one of the hardest times of my life on my own. I hadn't run home to let my parents help fix it, fix me - I had toughed it out alone, and I was starting to figure out what was to come next in my life. So even though I didn't really get answers from God at a time when I thought I needed them, I got what I needed most from Him - some faith in myself. He was there all along; he just stayed quiet to let me figure out that I was going to be okay and that I could take care of myself.

A year later, after a few miserably failed attempts at dating again and when I least expected it and wasn't really looking, I met Super Man in a most serendipitous way. It was almost accidental, really - although I tend to believe (to borrow a line from the epic film "Kung Fu Panda") that "there ARE no accidents." I think God was waiting for me to stop waiting for someone, and then He sent me just the right person for me.

Maybe He knows that patience is unfortunately NOT one of my virtues, and this is His way of trying to teach it to me, the hard way. It's very hard for me to not feel like I have some control over my life, and I think it shows in my super-low level of patience. I actually think it's kind of funny that I am SO impatient, and yet I have this total trust in God to reveal His plans for me when He's ready, not when I want to know them.

I have to keep reminding myself of that lately, as I continue on this journey to have a second baby. I've found myself questioning whether God thinks I'm a bad mother, since He's chosen to withhold a second baby from me. I've wondered if maybe He doesn't think I'm ready yet, and He's just waiting until he sees that one thing that will show him that I AM ready. I've wondered if we haven't tried hard enough the ENTIRE three-and-a-half years we've been "trying," and thus He thinks we need to try harder. And, yes, I have wondered if He will punish me in some way for turning to science to help me get around the fact that my body doesn't seem to want to do this naturally.

Ultimately, I know He has a plan for me. It may or may not include a second child. Only time will tell. Obviously if it does, I will be ecstatic, and I will be thanking him again for another blessing and miracle. But as much as I would hurt if it turns out that I will not have a second baby, I also believe deep down that the reason for it would become clear eventually. And, as I have in the past, I believe that I'd see the reason one day and KNOW deep down that THAT was why it didn't happen, and I'd be able to make peace with it on some level. This is why I have said of this journey that I will survive it either way.

Because I know that - no matter what - even when I'm alone in body, I'm never alone in spirit. God is there with me, even when he's quiet. He's always leading me where I am meant to go, even if the path - and the destination - are completely foreign and unknown to me. And I also believe that the spirits of my family and friends departed are right there with us, every step of the way, as my guardian angels. I'm never truly alone.

Being reminded of that is one of the reasons why I really do like going to church on a regular basis. It's an opportunity for me to quiet all the chaos inside my mind and body and soul and just enjoy the peace of giving it all over to God. It reminds me to let go of the petty things that I allow to influence me from one day to the next and focus on the big stuff instead. It really brings me a sense of peace and well-being.

I hope that my son and stepdaughter are learning the true importance of having faith in God, both from what we teach and from what they learn in church and in their respective religious educations. I fear that they will end up, like so many of my peers did, feeling disconnected from it while growing up because it's been fed to them, not sought out by them. That was the only reason I felt "fortunate," if that is the right word, for not being "forced" to go through CCD and Confirmation as a teenager. Because I honestly wouldn't have gotten it then the way I did when I had to make the decision of whether or not to go through it as an adult. Regardless of whether the kids ultimately choose to remain Catholic or find their place in another - different - religion, I just hope that they will always be spiritual, and that they will always know that they are never really alone.

Peace and love,
Super Woman

Friday, September 25, 2009

a bump in the road

I'm a little late in putting out an update from my hysterosonogram (HSN) appointment on Wednesday morning, so I apologize if any of you were waiting for it. I just needed a few days to process the information from that appointment before I could write about it.

Obviously, based on the above AND the title of this post, we've hit a little bit of a setback, such that we will NOT be going forward with IUI this month. Understandably, I have some very mixed - and strong - feelings about this change in plans.

My reproductive medicine specialist believed going into the HSN that he'd get a good look at the supposed uterine fibroid that the radiologist saw during my HSG appointment in June, and that it would most likely be a non-issue since the radiologist said it was "small." I think both my doctor and I expected this to be a simple peek to make sure it wasn't a big deal, and then we'd be good to move forward with my IUI this weekend.

Unfortunately, the ultrasound didn't give him a very good or complete look at what is going on in my uterus, so it looks like I'm going to need to have surgery. The procedure is technically called a hysteroscopy, which basically means that the doctor will insert a scope with a camera on it into my uterus (transvaginally) to actually be able to "see" what it is that he saw on the ultrasound.

As far as I know, the question is whether it actually IS a uterine fibroid or it's just a distortion in the wall of my uterus, because apparently I have a slightly twisted uterus. I never knew that before, so that was new news to me. And since the appointment, I've come up with a bunch of questions about that, too, but I'll get to those later.

I presume that if it IS a fibroid, he'll remove it as long as he's in there. I believe that can be done hysteroscopically. And, frankly, if it IS a fibroid, I'd prefer that he get it out while he's in there, since I've been reading that fibroids can be very pesky pains in the butt, both during pregnancy and otherwise. No sense leaving it there if it doesn't have to be left there, as far as I'm concerned. If it is a fibroid and he does remove it, then I'll have to recover, and then - hopefully - we can start a real, full IUI cycle after my period in 2 weeks. And hopefully removing the fibroid will give me better odds of conceiving, as they can sometimes interfere with conception.

If it's NOT a fibroid, then I don't know what happens. If it's just a distortion in the wall of my uterus due to it being twisted, I don't know what that means in terms of my potential for pregnancy, etc. My doctor seemed pretty nonchalant about that being the case, so I presume that we'd be okay to plan on doing IUI next month, but I'm not positive.

But I find myself wondering about this whole "twisted uterus" business: Has it ALWAYS been twisted? Was it like this before, when I got pregnant with Super Boy? I didn't have any issues getting pregnant with him, and my pregnancy went swimmingly, so I'd have to think that either my uterus WASN'T twisted then or it was and it's just not a big deal. If it twisted since my pregnancy, how did that happen, and can it be... untwisted? Can they fix that? And DOES it matter in terms of my ability to get pregnant? Will or might it cause problems if I DO get pregnant? Any big risks I need to know about? I'm chock FULL of questions about that, so I definitely need to talk to my doctor again.

And then there's what I'm calling the third possibility: That the thing he's seeing in my uterus is neither a fibroid nor a simple distortion of my uterus. Of course, I'm automatically freaking out thinking "CANCER!" but I don't know whether that concern is warranted or not. It certainly crossed my mind, but I don't know if it has crossed the doctor's mind. I know it's not really worth spending too much time worrying about at this point, and I'm trying REALLY HARD not to worry about it, but it's hard. I'm a mom, and a wife. I'm 35. I'm not prepared for that.

Anyway. So, the surgery... I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before but I've never been put under general anesthesia. My only surgery was my C-section with Super Boy in 2003, and I was awake for that with an epidural and pain meds.

The idea of general anesthesia completely - COMPLETELY - wigs me out. There are risks with that. Bad risks. My worst fears are DYING while under (top worry), or waking up from the anesthesia but being sick as a dog with vomiting (many, many thanks to my vomit-phobia for that). I look at both as unacceptable risks!

And I find myself wondering if they can't just give me an epidural or do it the way my colonoscopy was done (with Versed and fentanyl), so that I can be kept conscious for the hysteroscopy but not feel anything or be stressed and anxious during it. Can they do it that way? MUST I be put under for this? Because I'm telling you right now, if they MUST put me under for it, then we better get the friggin' surgery scheduled SOON so I don't have too many more days to spend freaking out over it, and they'll probably want to put me on some anxiety medication leading up to it so I can keep from climbing the walls until the day rolls around. I'm dead serious about that.

The only - ONLY - upside to the procedure Wednesday was that the doctor was able to see how well the Clomid was working. Both of my ovaries had several visibly developing egg follicles, so I definitely responded well to the medication. That's a good sign. Assuming we're able to go ahead with IUI next month - or ever - that is.

In the meantime, Super Man and I have been instructed NOT to try to conceive this month on our own and the IUI has been postponed. I can't tell you what a let-down that was for me when I heard the news. Here I had already taken 5 days of Clomid and gotten all jazzed up over the good test results that were coming in, and then the brakes were slammed on the whole thing due to the HSN. If all had gone well on Wednesday, I'd have had my mid-cycle ultrasound this morning, might've gotten an hCG shot today, and would've been going in for IUI tomorrow or later this weekend. I might've gotten pregnant this month. It's SO HARD to not feel sad knowing that. My mind was ready and my body was ready, but for the stupid uterine thing.

But then I think about the fact that I've been waiting, waiting, waiting for nearly four years now. Thinking about it that way, another month isn't the end of the world. Not really.

Still though... it's hard. Because after all those years worth of months spent waiting, for the past few weeks things have FINALLY been moving forward, quickly and well. I have felt positively elated the past few weeks, filled as I was with new hope and optimism. It felt sooooo good to feel that way again...

For me, hope for another baby has become SUCH a fragile and rare and blessed thing. I have to have reason to hope, because without it, I feel so empty. I don't want to feel empty.

So I sit again and wait. Wait for the doctor's office to call to schedule the surgery. Wait to find out what the issue with my uterus is. Wait to find out if I can even keep trying to have a baby or whether we've hit the brick wall I've been dreading.

I wait.

Please, whatever good thoughts and prayers you can send, please send them. And I am begging - literally, begging - God to give me strength and patience and peace with whatever comes next.

With hope,
SW

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

something new

I learned something today that I didn't know before, despite the fact that the subject has been of increasing importance to me since about the age of 27.

Why 27? Because that's how old I was when I had my FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) level tested for the first time. And I had it tested then because of my family history of premature menopause. See, Super Man and I planned to start trying to conceive the following year and I had spent the prior 12 years on the Pill, so my OB-GYN and I wanted to be sure I hadn't gone through premature menopause, the symptoms of which would've been masked by the effects of the Pill.

I've known all along that FSH is one of the best predictors of female fertility, but I didn't really understand what the numbers meant. When I had my first test at 27, I never thought to ask what my actual number was, only whether it was "normal" or "abnormal." It turned out to be normal (and, thus, we conceived Super Boy several months later). I didn't give it a second thought again, until we started trying for another baby.

I'm not sure what my FSH level was when I had it tested back in 2006; again, I only heard that it was "normal." Again, I didn't think much about it, because I thought that was sort of all set.

It's only been going through the process of a Clomid challenege that I've really started wondering WHAT DO THE NUMBERS MEAN?!?

My Day 3 result was 7.8, which my fertility specialist said was great, as they like to see values less than 10.2. I took Clomid from Friday of last week until yesterday (Monday), and had another FSH test - Day 10 - this morning. The result today was 7.4, and again, I was told that this was "great," and "exactly what we wanted to see."

But I didn't understand WHY this was great and what they wanted to see, so I asked. The nurse told me that the whole goal of the Clomid is to drop your FSH number by a few tenths of a point. They would've been concerned if it had stayed the same or gotten higher, but a drop is exactly what they wanted to see.

All of a sudden, this lightbulb went on in my head and I asked the nurse if a woman's FSH level steadily increases through the course of her life. She said yes. So now, of course, I'm wondering what my 2001 and 2006 levels were! I'd love to see how much lower my FSH was, especially in '01, to really get a sense of how much my fertility has declined in the past 8 years, from 27 to 35.

And it also occurred to me that the goal of the Clomid - in a way - is to cause your body to act more like it did during a more fertile time. Almost like turning back the clock just a tiny little bit. While the net effect was only .4, that could make all the difference in the world. It could cause my ovaries to release that one extra mature egg that will make the difference between me getting pregnant and me NOT getting pregnant. It's staggering, if you think about it.

It's frustrating though, because I'm trying to find some information on the Internet showing what "average" FSH levels are in women of different ages (say, from onset of menstruation through old age), but all I'm finding is that a result less than ___ (my doctor uses 10.2, but others say 9, and some even say 12) is normal, and then they talk about the approximate FSH levels based on the different "stages" of reproductive capacity. In a nutshell, by the time a woman starts menopause, her FSH levels will be around 30, and that will increase to a level that eventually tops off somewhere between 50 and 70, when menopause is complete. I never knew that bit of information either, so I guess I learned TWO things today.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that this business of assisted reproductive medicine is a whole lot more complex than I ever imagined. Sure, specialists do a lot of different test and ultimately what matters is a result of "normal" versus "abnormal," but it helps to understand the actual numbers and to get a sense of the big picture. And FSH is only one part of the equation; other hormones like LH (leutinizing hormone), progesterone, estradiol and prolactin also have their own impact on fertility. For my purposes, those numbers all look good for me, so that obviously makes me pretty happy. I just hope that it's enough to lead us to another baby for our family.

Next steps for me are as follows:

TOMORROW: Hysterosonogram to check my uterine fibroid AND I start using the Ovulation Predictor Kit. Assuming all is okay on the fibroid front, we move forward. If my fertility doctor feels that the fibroid has to come out, then the IUI is put on hold until next month and I schedule the fibroid removal surgery instead. Here's hoping it's the former and not the latter, as I'd hate to see this put on hold now that we've come this far!

THURSDAY: Day 2 of the Ovulation Predictor Kit.

FRIDAY: Day 3 of the Ovulation Predictor Kit AND a mid-cycle ultrasound to see how many egg follicles - and, specifically, mature egg follicles - are developing. That will help them assess whether the IUI is likely to succeed and whether my body is ready for a shot of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) to force ovulation to occur the following day. If the follicles are ready, I MAY get the shot and then we'd have our first IUI (intrauterine insemination) procedure on Saturday. If the follicles are not ready, then they'll give it an extra day or two, MAYBE give me the shot of hCG and then do the insemination the next day.

About the hCG shot: I really don't like to take any medications that I don't "need," so I'm hoping that my Ovulation Predictor Kit will indicate on Friday that my LH surge is happening the following day so that I'm ready for the insemination on Saturday WITHOUT needing the shot on Friday. That said, if I forego the shot on Friday and still don't have a smiley face on my Ovulation Predictor by Sunday, I'll have to get the hCG shot on Sunday and we'll have to do the IUI on Monday. And that will be a "must" by that point because Super Man has a business trip early next week and we could miss the very narrow window if we wait for me to ovulate naturally. We don't want that to happen!

SATURDAY or SUNDAY or MONDAY: IUI

So, whenever I actually end up having the IUI done, that's sort of the end of the action. And then... we wait.

Two. Long. Weeks.

I think I'm going to have to do some SERIOUS fall cleaning and purging and reorganizing during those two weeks to keep my mind and body occupied while I wait. Otherwise, I'm likely to drive myself and everyone around me bonkers. (You know it's true.)

Keeping my fingers - and everything else - crossed that this all goes the way we hope and pray it will. Will keep you all posted. And hey - thanks SO MUCH for all the support. Whether we have another baby or not, we are so blessed.

Love,
SW