Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hard to Believe It

A year ago we were setting off to Menorca and Paris-- a blissful week in the Mediterranean followed by some serious sight seeing and eating (more serious eating) in Paris. What a trip. And we thought we were coming home to do an IUI cycle with Partner. Life was crystal clear, just like the waters off Menorca.

And then we had the fateful hsg, and summer turned off kilter. But then there were those halcyon days of the first IVF cycle. So full of hope! The autumn seemed golden! The trees were never more glorious! We couldn't wait to poke each other with needles! We were both so sure that it was going to work the very first time for us. After all, it wasn't "fertility" problems that necessitated our IVF, it was just some damn fibroids.

And then it was winter. And we realized that there were other issues. Fertility issues. Egg quality? My uterus? No one knows. For all the science and minute cc's and mm's measured, it's really a crap shoot. It's like when my ex boyfriend got a book about shooting pool. He wanted to study the physics of it, sure it was going to make him a better player. I'd argue with him: "But Jose," I'd say, "It's about more than physics. It's what music is playing in the pool hall, the path of the moon, what beer you are drinking or not drinking, the short skirt of the girl at the table next to you." He never believed me. But he never went pro playing pool either.

In RHC 101, I spent an hour after class one night talking to my professor about reproductive endocrinology, indicating my interest, both academic and personal. He told me about the grueling fellowship these docs do, and the intense oral exams they face at the end of the fellowship. So much book knowledge. In Dr. BusyBusyBusy's office today, we laughed about the titles of the books: The Pituitary, The Thalamus, The Hypothalamus. Riveting reading, I'm sure.

But the fact of the matter is that no matter how many books or articles any physician in this field publishes or reads or consults on, when the cycle fails, he or she rarely has an answer for the question we most desire to be answered: Why?

For some inane reason, I thought this third cycle would have me breezing in and out of the office like an old pro. But I failed to realize the stress I would feel thinking "this is it: our last IVF cycle." This morning in the shower, I thought about how even more desperate this cycle (the one that gets tagged as "the last") must feel to my friends married to men. If this cycle doesn't work, we move to IUI on me and restart the odds. But if you don't have two resident uteruseseseses-- Oh Lord-- my friends-- Sigh. (How can I feel so much love for you gals I've only ever met over the bloggish world?)

But so far, this cycle sucks. I hate it. Today's visit to the doctor for ultrasound and labs was hororific. We waltzed in-- easy, breezy, beautiful-- with our old sharps container in hand and (evil) consent forms filled out far in advance. I read Town & Country, Partner read Time. And then the nurse came to get us. The twelve year old nurse. "Oh shit," Partner murmured. Oh shit indeed.

Up on the table, Partner braved going first and twelve year old nurse tenatively knocked on the door. I mentioned that sometimes Partner was a tough nut, so to speak, because of the fibroids. I really did say it to be supportive of her. I didn't want her to feel discouraged because she couldn't find Partner's ovaries. Even some of the more wizened nurses have had trouble, and once we did have to return later for a doctor to do the search. If you are an IVF veteran, you know that the ultrasound usually goes quite swiftly, in and out one might say. But my lovely Partner was prone for 15 minutes. At least. And in that time, twelve year old nurse not only failed to find her ovaries (both of 'em!), but also her uterus. An experienced nurse was called in off the bench, and she found the uterus. (Oh, there it is!) She found one ovary. The other ovary, she suspected, was tucked behind the fibroid. "It doesn't matter if we can't quite see it," she quipped. OH REALLY? Then why even have the ultrasound?

My ultrasound wasn't as remarkable, but I experience quite a bit of pain on the right side when that camera goes to work, and usually it goes quite fast and I bite back the pain. Today, she wasn't fast at all. And my left ovary? Little bastard. Quite the go-getter: seven freaking follicles!! I was fully suppressed with a full dose of Depot Lupron and had the hot flashes to prove it.

Don't worry, don't worry, don't worry all the nurses chanted. We'll draw blood and the hormones will tell the whole story. This time, I volunteered to go first, and twelve year old nurse deftly plunged the needle into my arm (after I pointed out the correct vein to use). On to my dear Partner, who has the smallest, most impossible veins ever. She's a legend for her small veins. I advised (who says I'm bossy? Shut your gob! I just know what I want!)-- Anyway... I advised twelve year old nurse that usually nurses use the butterfly with her, and she tried the butterfly, with Partner squinting and looking away. She didn't get a vein, but that didn't stop her from digging around in her arm with the butterfly needle. She didn't take the needle out and try again, she dug all around my sweet baboo's arm. It was disgusting, and I finally had to say something. Again, a different nurse was called for back up blood letting. She used a regular needle, and conversely, my Partner's antecubital area is disgustingly black and blue.

Finally, we were harassed about paying in full for the last cycle before this cycle could start. This is when I really had to bite my lip. All in all, there was nothing pleasant about this day's office visit. I rehearsed a phone call to Dr. BBB during the whole appointment, one in which I explained I didn't want twelve year old nurse. It's our last cycle. I'm feeling tender and desperate and I want someone who can at least find Partner's freaking UTERUS! I haven't made that call yet. I want to support the young woman starting her nursing career, but I also feel intensely, one could say insanely, selfish right now. I want a baby in my belly from Partner's eggs.

When we got hitched in August 2004, we thought we'd start with babies immediately after that. And here we are. Last year, we imagined a super break followed by kids. We waxed about taking babies to the beach and find a sitter for my brother's wedding.

There are no easy answers to the easy questions. Nothing is clear like those waters in the Med. I don't know if it's some karmic issue I'm meant to address here, or even how to come to grips with it all. Is it the cycle of the moon, or the beer we're drinking or not drinking, or how we slept the night before, or how I much prayed or didn't pray or even just the bump on the road? I just know that all of it, all of it, is still hard to believe.


Blogger Sara said...

Yuck - I'm sorry that today's trip to the doctor's office was such a pain....literally. Let this be the last cycle - because you're going to be pregnant, dammit!

11:30 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Oh, Katie. Let next summer be so, SO different from this and last. Please. I'll be keeping you both in my thoughts this cycle.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Tamsin said...

What a horrible appointment :o(
Hope that you feel more able to make that phone call to DrBBB today; in your final IVF cycle you don't want there to be ANY doubts over the quality of your treatment, so 12-yr old nurse has be be side-lined. Definitely time to be selfish.

5:25 AM  
Blogger Michko said...

What a very powerful post. I'll be sending good vibes your way.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Jenn said...


10:36 AM  
Blogger Mandy said...

Sorry about the horrible appointment. Sounds like a bad experience all the way around. Why is it that they think they should dig around in your arm like that when they don't hit the vein? Yick. I sympathize all too well and have had many black and blue arms to show for it. Sending tons of positive thoughts for this cycle.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Hoping said...

Hoping for you this cycle is the one....sorry for the horrible appt. :(

11:58 AM  
Blogger Pamplemousse said...

Feeling the love in the room! Back atcha!!! Keep your chin up and more tea needed.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous pixi said...

Please know that I'm rooting for you guys with my whole heart.

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...


Here's hoping!

Take care, you guys!

6:37 PM  
Blogger Soul Searching said...

Is there some kind of fertility dance we could do for you? I'm reserving all my karma for round 3 because there's nobody who deserves it more than you 2.

12:22 AM  
Blogger abster said...

Oh Katie,

We are keeping our fingers crossed for you this cycle; hopefully everything you are going through now will yield a wee one (or two) in the end!


10:01 AM  
Blogger fisher queen said...

Sigh. At least she finally found the uterus.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Career Guy said...

Today I had my monthly "bloodletting" as Kathy calls it, and sure enough, the lab tech says "whoops" (confidence inspiring) and then roots around hoping to spear a vein. Hate it when that happens. Hope things turn around for you two.

8:54 PM  
Blogger amyesq said...

That was such a great post. Well, not the part about the missing uterus and missing vein (read: missing brain of the 12 year old nurse) but all the rest of it. I am also hoping you won't hate this cycle for long because it will yield a sweet baby.

4:40 PM  
Blogger Nico said...

I hope everything's going well, and you haven't had to see / deal with the 12 year old again!

8:30 PM  
Blogger art-sweet said...

Katie -

I'm so sorry that you and partner have had to go through all this shit. I think the hardest thing about all of this, emotionally, is the lack of control. Does anything we do really matter? We recite mantras, avoid drinks, or have just one drink because then it will work since having had that drink will give us something else to worry about.

And in the end, it seems so totally random.

I am hoping so hard that this cycle works for you.


art-sweet (&Pili too)

12:23 AM  
Blogger Robyn said...


just wanted you to know that i've been following this cycle, looking for updates daily (or so)....and i want you to know that i'm keeping you and partner in my thoughts. tell dr. busybusybusy that stress is NOT what you need right now...and that he's got to keep his staff off of your backs and keep only his most experienced staff serving your every need. i'm so sorry that this process is so difficult. and i'm KNOWING that soon...you will get the prize you are seeking!

3:48 PM  

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