Keep Truckin’


Last summer I was really grateful to have been invited into a 48 hour film festival group by some friends. Hearing about the project, I was ecstatic because it was right up my alley – but I felt intimidated that I would be joining a group of people that I did not know and sharing my ideas openly. They didn’t know me – would they wonder where I came from and why I was invading their project?

It was not that way at all – these people were fantastic. I got to work on a film project with some trained professionals who opened their doors to me and allowed me to participate. And there were others like me, who just wanted to contribute. It was a memorable experience because it was open. What I mean is that it was welcoming and free. My friend introduced me as someone who acts and writes to a group of people who, for most part, actually went to film school, but they did not judge me. They gave me a place on their team immediately, and gave me a part in their film. I really got to see how it’s “all done” – the lighting, the filming, the editing and camaraderie. It was a blast – to watch people work so hard together just because they have a passion for what they are doing. For what they were collectively creating, and for all the effort and joy that was put in behind the scenes.

That was almost a year ago. I remember that I was trying to work out schedules at the time so someone would be home for my first fertility drug delivery. I was so thrilled to be moving to the “big gun” fertility treatment and was calculating when I would be due, how fun it would be to be pregnant over Christmas, how long before I needed to start shopping at maternity stores, etc. How time flies; now we have lived another year and undergone 3 IUIs and a partial IVF cycle. Not pregnant yet. So much for the best laid plans.

Back to the film project, it seems some of last year’s crew has disassembled. People have obligations and teams don’t just magically unite when you want them to. So my friends that brought me into the group last year decided we should still do it. After all, we have someone who can do the filming and editing, who actually went to school for it – we have someone who is organized and can see the big picture without forsaking the little ones, and we have someone who can write and act. We are pretty jazzed because we have decided to create something. We have decided to keep going even though it will be more difficult, and we are not even really looking at it that way. It gets me thinking, it’s the same premise with the fertility treatment. Here is where I am going to get a bit campy and cliche. Sorry. But sometimes there is a lesson to be learned in keeping your head down and forging ahead. (I know, I did not want to admit it, either.) When I was about 5, we lived in the same neighborhood as my grandmother. Walking to grandma’s house was always a joy -no doubt there would be a hot cup of cocoa in the winter and the basket full of toys she kept waiting for us grandkids. But she lived at the top of a fairly large hill – and my legs were those of an inpatient little girl. Getting up the hill, I used to dramatically drag my feet and whine to my dad, “I’m tired, I’m thirsty, I’m this that and the other…” And dad would remind me what was at the top of the hill and he would always say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going, Sarah!” Reminds me of what my brother wrote in our guest book when we got married – “Congratulations. Keep Truckin’!”

I have had times since then when I have been really tough. Pulled through some scary situations. And other times when I just wanted to be 5 again and give up, which I did. And I know it sounds really cheesy, but your mother was dead on when she told you that if everything came easily you would not appreciate it as much. Some gifts just find their way to you, and others have layers of circumstance that you have to peel away, slowly, methodically, over time. You have no idea how the story will turn out, but it develops as you go along, regardless of what you thought you’d write.  So yes – it has been a year and I am still waiting. But I am closer – much, much closer. And while I wait, I can create in other ways. The best plots are the ones where you wait in suspense, and then you find your story revealed. And it’s better than you ever imagined.

The Emperor


Penguins have a kind of  “hard knock” life. Ever since I saw “March of the Penguins” there has been a small little space in my heart reserved for these determined birds. This space grew a little larger this week as I pulled the pages, day by day, off my desk calendar. It is a calendar that celebrates the planet Earth, and nearly every day this week was devoted to penguins. These animals put a nearly inconceivable amount of work into reproducing, finding their one mate in a crowd of thousands when it matters most, and just surviving.

Monday and Tuesday may not have been about penguins…..Tuesday could have been, but I actually don’t remember. I was still deep in the mires of work and my own little trials. But Wednesday I still have, and it is what seemed to trigger the emotions I felt for these little guys all over again. Wednesday reminded me that Emperor penguins make a HUGE migration in autumn to breed in one of the most frigid, harsh, icy, desolate places on Earth. Beautiful, but not exactly nurturing. (Makes me think of my 9 frozen blastocysts, chilling out in pairs of two in a little, metal cyro-tube.) I don’t know how they came to be called “Emperor” Penguins, and I don’t care to find out. Because in my mind it is because they are regal; they have passion in their DNA so strong that they are born just a small bird, but with a monumental soul. What a proper name they have earned.

On Thursday, the males began to guard their eggs. For months, they withstand brutal winds and numbing temperatures without food to nurture their small counterparts within the fragile shells. Holding the prize between their little penguin legs, in a warm and furry place, they take great care to ensure the developing life does not end up on the frozen ground just inches away. They never take a break. They have no sports on TV. They have no Man Cave. What do they do, all those weeks? What do they think about? What do they feel? Maybe they just understand. They instinctively huddle in groups for warmth.

Instinctively. Without reserve.

In between Thursday and Friday, the females had gone to hunt and gather. They head to the oceans where countless perils await so that they can bring back food for their mates. It is fascinating; penguins and seahorses have a great rarity in common. Male seahorses give birth, and male penguins nurture and grow the unborn. Makes you kind of realize that if a seahorse in the temperate waters of the Atlantic can share a secret with birds traveling across the icy lands of Antarctica, anything is possible.

On Saturday, the female penguin returns with food for the unshakable males. At the end of the harsh season, as the moderate (relatively speaking) summer begins, the chicks are born. The females nurture the new young, and eventually migrate home until mating season begins again. Here is what enthralls me – more than the advent of computers, surgery with lasers, or the fact that we have walked on the moon – after all those months, in an endless sea of twinned penguins, the same female finds the same male from before she left.  How? This is my argument for those who cannot find a way to believe in both evolution and God at the same time. Don’t they see? We have the divinity and the love of our creator and it has allowed life here to evolve to this momentous event. The saga of a bird, that we have mistakenly decided is leagues less intelligent than we are and much less complex. Yet it does this. Evolution is the glory of free will and divinity personified. It is God, in earthly form – to create life from love.

We should hope to be like the penguin. The Emperor.

YoGabbaGabba and other oddities


 Is the picture on Monday the 1st supposed to be a condom? Ew.

Image courtesy of none other than..Marie Claire!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 This is dedication. If men had the babies and had to grasp what a chart like this really means, there would be no people.   

 

Disturbing.

 

 

 

 

 

If you think Overhyper Stimulation sounded scary, check this out:

 

Holy crap!:

 

The Modern, Perfect Little Breeder


Wow….the Marie Claire blog broke my record for daily hits on the site! If you missed it, one of my last blogs discussed an article in Marie Claire that advertised itself as being about contraception, but instead hit on fertility preservation. I have noticed that my post has been discussed on other websites, and the feedback I received seemed to show that women had their own, strong responses to the post. Thanks for reading and sharing.

Fertility Preservation is something being discussed heavily in the media these days – Marie Claire was not blazing a trail or anything. “Conceive” magazine actually discusses many different options for women in their Summer 2010 publication. In addition to Ovarian Tissue Cyropreservation, women now are being introduced to some pretty groovy technologies that could allow them to preserve their baby-making ability even after bouts with cancer or other illnesses.  Ovarian Transplants and Womb Transplants are actually being researched as you read this little blurb.  It makes you think about a whole host of emotions, opinions, and (I can’t help it) medical bills.

I had discussed before my interest in women’s issues as they existed a few hundred years ago, and the article made me start thinking about it again.  There is a book I mentioned in May that will REALLY educate you on all things pregnancy, and the historical information is fascinating.  Plus it is a good read and will keep you engaged.

The book can be found on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Birth-Surprising-History-How-Born/dp/0802143245/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276452565&sr=1-1#noop, and if you are pregnant, want to be pregnant, are close to someone who is pregnant, or just interested in the topic, I highly recommend picking this up.

The women that came before us endured so much for us to be where we are today (at least here in the 1st world). Talk about trail-blazing: these gals endured social ostracization, barbaric birthing techniques, and a whole host of ignorance heaped upon them when it came to their bodies, their babies, and even their characters.

In the 1600’s, women who were “barren” were viewed as anything from flawed to downright evil. Of course, many of these women failed to produce a pregnancy due to the sperm count of the one attempting to impregnate them, but considering the man might be to blame was inconceivable. These women were viewed as needing to “prove their piety,” for surely their flaw of childlessness was because of their evil thoughts and ways.  Can you imagine? After this came years of weird forceps, experienced midwives being banned from birthing rooms, and the spread of fevers and illness after birth.

If you are trying to conceive, or anywhere else in the process of having a child, this book will make some of what you are going through look not-so-bad. Then, next time you are in the stirrups, you can try to feel a bit grateful instead of wanting to kick the ultrasound tech for getting a little too rogue with the wand and crushing your ovaries. (If you kick her, you could say it was a reflex. I, myself have never done this, I’m just saying.) I am going to try to apply this technique someday when I am in childbirth. Of course, I am one of the women who will 100% want the epidural. Why, you ask?  Because it exists to spare me all of the pain of squeezing another human out of my body, and I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. (What does this expression mean exactly? I am going to have to Google the meaning of this saying and get back to you) It feels kind of strange for me to state this desire for an epidural with such certainty, because I am all about natural: Natural remedies, natural products, meditation and deep breathing, etc, etc. But this one thing, in my mind, requires some drugs. And if those drugs need to be injected into my spine with a very large needle, so be it.

Anyway, the book is a good alternative to the ones that talk about how to get pregnant, what to eat, what color to wear, what day of the week to part your hair on the left for better ovarian reserve, etc.  I, personally, have decided to stop reading those books because I think the anxiety they caused in me to be a perfect little breeder was scaring my eggs.  People get pregnant all the time without investigating the molecular structure of every morsel they ingest, or worrying that the computer monitor at the office is the reason why you have spent more money on pregnancy tests in the past year than you have on any other single thing that you purchase. And, you will learn cool historical information that you can impart upon others when in mixed company. You will look very intelligent and people will be impressed. Or grossed out, one of the two.

By the way, I found the background of the expression online:

The value of a horse is related it its age – i.e., a younger horse is more valuable than an older horse.

You can determine the relative age of a horse by inspecting its teeth.

Back in the day, a horse was commonly given as a gift.

If a man received a horse as a gift, and then inspected inside its mouth, he was trying to assess the value of the gift he received. So, the saying means that you should not assess the value of any gift that you receive; rather you should be thankful for the thoughtfulness of the gift-giver

Santa! I know him!


I need to laugh. I desperately need something or someone to light a firecracker on my funny bone and make me cry silent tears of hysteria. Before that, I am taking just one, guiltless moment to whine about being sick of having to force patience into my daily repertoire. I found out today that, after injecting myself with powders and saline and eye-of-newt, counting down the days of May with bated breath, and finally getting to the point where I believed the stick would turn – aha! One line to two! – I get postponed another month before we can finish this IVF cycle. Come on, now! I know a month is like the blink of an ant’s eye in the grand scheme, but I was not born with that patience virtue. Being on Earth and having to go about life I have tried to mimic it, but I don’t enjoy being patient. It’s like sitting in the hot sun waiting for a bus. Nodding off at your desk and its only 1:00. Waiting for Direct TV to show up between 10:00 am and when Hell freezes over. But I have had to be very patient – I was patient for two years recovering from a nasty illness. And I have been patient now, waiting for my baby. But I need for once to just be an indulgent girl and say that I don’t want to wait another four or five weeks to keep going. It’s more limbo. It’s not the end of the World, it’s just annoying.

So I really need to laugh. I need to share things with you that make me bust out laughing. Some things are just pretty much always amusing. Hmmm…..Will Farrell in Elf is just funny. The scene when Santa comes.Yes, it’s June, but please just watch his face. You might pee yourself a little. If you don’t think he is twisted and funny, you need to keep watching until you see it.

I am feeling so much better. Going to have to keep sharing the love. This next kid puts a massive smile on my face.

It’s a shame that YouTube does not have any good clips of SNL Jeopardy – especially with Sean Connery. I now find myself having wasted well over an hour watching YouTube and Hulu, and I feel much better. It can just be frustrating to realize that you have not been living in the moment, which is so important yet so difficult to maintain. I think the best that we can do is to just stop and try to enjoy what’s going on now as often as we can remember – even if what’s going on now is being able to sleep in late on the weekends, read an outstanding book, or just trying to find ways to laugh. There really are so many things that I have been rushing, or sometimes even just avoiding, because I am almost living from one appointment at my RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist for those of you not trying to reproduce) to the next. It always feels one scan or one shot away from The Beginning of The End.  If you follow this blog because you are in this process, or getting ready to start it, stay hopeful and remember it’s a journey before a destination. If you can write about it, laugh about it, or try to learn from it while your on the hike, you might be doing yourself a really huge service. I guess sometimes it’s easier to give stellar advice than to follow it. But if it gets too huge and the waiting is just too much, take a day off work and off the hamster wheel and try to just enjoy a moment of relaxation – even it’s just a moment.

The New Fertility Frenzy


I am just going to start by saying that, yes, I do have a subscription to Marie Claire magazine. But it’s not what you think. I have one to National Geographic, as well. Marie Claire was offered to me for $5.95 a year, and I like it when people send me things in the mail. Not that I am insulting readers of Marie Claire. It’s just that it is kind of like Cosmopolitan trying to dress up like a cultural advocate of women’s global issues. Printing an article about the plight of young prostitutes in a third world country back to back with the diet and dating secrets of a 17-year-old icon just feels wrong. 

I don’t hold a grudge against Marie Claire. I like to leaf through it just like any other girl and figure out which models have been airbrushed. (Spoiler Alert: All of Them) But as I thumbed through it tonight, I saw an article called “The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Contraception.” I thought I would take a gander at what single girl’s are doing these days; maybe there is some new, exotic contraception out there in the ten years since I have been on the scene. I was ready for a cool new pharmaceutical name like “Fertprotrex,” or “Spermishield.” But the article began with your standard “condoms and birth control pills,” and then do you know what the author did? She played the old switcharoo, “you better start to worry about your fertility because ALL YOUR EGGS ARE DYING.”  This is an article geared towards 20 somethings and it just has to take a trip down media-scare lane! I also love that the naked girl leaning on a huge cryopreservation tank is wearing only a huge Sex-In-The-Cityesque necklace and bracelet, and is probably about 23 years old. Do you think she is worried about her diminishing ovarian reserve? Not likely. And what about the young woman who is actually struggling with this issue due to medical issues? Do you think this girl feels trivialized now? Just a little bit? I don’t think I am being over PC when I say that I bet she does. 

The article says that “By age 30, almost 90% of a woman’s eggs are gone. By age 40, a full 97% have disappeared.”* Do you know how long this statistic haunted me as a woman having trouble conceiving past the age of 30? I know it is something to consider, but don’t you think we should also consider that we are born with between 4 and 7 million eggs? I just feel like the media makes a potentially difficult situation into a catastrophic dilemma. Or is the new age of career first, baby later going to cost us? Does the media tell us in one ear that we should go after the CEO brass ring, and in the other warn us that the baby dolls we nurtured as little girls were an exercise in futility?  There is a doctor who states in this article that she thinks 3o is a good age to consider having an ovarian biopsy. Meaning, if you are 30 and single, you should cut out part of your ovary and freeze it. Then, when you are ready to start a family, you can re-attach it onto the ovary. This way, as you look more like mama from Mama’s Family and less like Carmen Electra, your eggs will stay plump and healthy. Please don’t misunderstand me – I am in the throws of something as drastic as IVF and I would do it again in a flash. But where does being proactive end and being cajoled begin? 

Just one more thing before I get off my soapbox. I think I may be over-reacting to the Marie Claire article because other media sources have gotten me peevy. About a year ago I bought a book called, “Getting Pregnant.” Naively, I assumed this tome would tell me how to become with child. But most of it was what Meredith on “Grey’s Anatomy” might refer to as the “Dark and Twisties.”  Chapter after bone chilling chapter listed all of the reasons why I am NOT finding the second line of the pee-stick appear. If you are also getting inpatient with peeing on your hand to no avail, let me save you $16.95. ($21.99 for the poor schmucks in Canada who pay more for everything.) 

Your Culprits May Be: 

  • You are suffering from an immune disorder, scar tissue, an odd inflammatory condition, or thyroid condition. No?
  • Your partner’s sperm are dead beats
  • You have contracted an STD at some point in your life. Was it the toilet seat at that concert that you accidentally sat on?
  • You are abusing drugs
  • You are too fat. You are too thin. (As If)
  • You are stressed

    Occupational Hazard

  • Your workplace is constantly exposing you to radiation, low-oxygenated air, bad AC, bad heat, and chemical pollutants 
  • It’s your computer monitor
  • It’s the climate you live in
  • It’s your kitchen – too much heat while cooking
  • It’s a mystery and you will never, never, never know

See what I mean? I have determined that the best thing we can do for our fertility is to limit our exposure to the media. Of course we should take charge of our bodies and our health – and this means to self educate – but let’s not allow a magazine article or one book to strike fear in our hearts.  Because even though time does keep marching on, the strongest factor I believe we can concentrate on is our minds and our dreams…and the course of our journey. 

*Marie Claire, July 2010, Pg. 169

Cryopreservation – The Final Frontier


Today was transfer day. The day that they put one or more embryos back into the uterus. This day feels special for IVF couples because it is the day that you are possibly welcoming your new baby into your family. But we knew in the back of our minds, due to my OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome), that we might have to postpone. And we did. And it was sad.

My doctor told me that, with the enlargement of my ovaries and the amount of free fluid squirming around my pelvis region (which is just TMI, I know) that he could pretty much guarantee a long and possibly dangerous hospital stay should I become pregnant. When he mentioned patients who needed to be drained or intubated, we had pretty much resigned ourselves. I do not want to begin a pregnancy on life support, because if I am put in a ward like I was last week I might pull my own plug. Of course I teared up when I realized today was not The Day, but apparently this is not uncommon and we can move forward in a month or so when things have cleared up. But….. I saw pictures of the blastocysts! And I’m not getting all weird, I know they are not little humans yet, but we have 6 to 9 really pretty blastocysts hanging around. If you are not familiar with what a blastocyst is, you used to be one, so I shall explain.

A Blastocyst is a fertilized egg about 5 days after the fertilization. The cells have divided and other things have happened that will allow it to implant into the uterus once it is released from the fallopian tube. (Or in my case, the scary long catheter.) I know that is not very scientific, but Wikipedia called it a “parasite” before it rambled into something that would bore you and make you stop reading my blog. And we can’t have that.

So, we had to have our little bundles of hopes and dreams frozen. As in cyropreserved. Very Deep Space Nine, very Austin Powers talking about all things “quasi-futuristic.” And there is a little Russian Roulette involved in that, because they do not all make it out of thaw. It also makes me wonder if my kids will have a natural predisposition towards things like the Polar Bear Club, ice hockey, snow cones, the Ice Capades or igloos. But mostly it just makes me feel like I was forced to decrease my chances just a bit this round. I still feel in my heart one of those blastocysts will one day be waking me up at 3:47 am, but sometimes patience sucks. Even though patience and I have had to become BFFs.

So, I am curious to know what other folks do when you want to pamper yourself and tend to your wounds for the day. I still had to stay home from work in recovery, and I nursed mine by laying on my tookus all day and catching up on two seasons of Weeds I have missed. Watching the story of a woman whose 14 year old son has orgies and delivers fatal blows to folks with a croquet mallet of some sort made my issues look real, real small. Still, my mom is out of the country and I can’t call her, so I did not have the motherly words of comfort I so desired. I turned to slothlike laziness and emotional eating.

Now tomorrow, as a result from the nasty OHSS, I will return to work looking like I have a fat baby in my belly without having a baby in my belly and I am just going to have to deal.

Hope you guys are ready to learn about Frozen Embryo Transfer in the weeks to come…..

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