…Go!

Well, I’m officially off and running on this final FET.  My start-cycle visit was Monday.

Back in June when I had my saline-infusion sonogram (SIS), Dr. E noted that my ovaries looked as though I had “mild” PCOS.  The “string of pearls” of small cysts that are one of the criteria for PCOS were evident.  I was ovulating based on seeing LH surges and having regular periods, but I knew that in SIS I had the cycle before I conceived M without medical assistance, my ovaries had shown no signs of the “string of pearls”.  I dug out my notes from that time and put myself back on the same medication/supplement regimen with a couple small tweaks (prior to this, I had been using lower doses of the medications/supplements that seemed to get me ovulating but obviously hadn’t totally cleared my ovaries of the cysts).  I hoped that with three to four months, perhaps my ovaries would fall in line.  I figured even if we were using the final frozen embryo as opposed to trying to conceive without medical assistance, the more in-line my hormones got, the better the chance for a good outcome.

I’m happy to say that when the ultrasound tech scanned my ovaries Monday, there were none of the little cysts.  My ovaries looked like normal, healthy ovaries.  It’s interesting – I had wondered if the cycle where M came along was a fluke, but it appears that possibly with the right combination of medications, I may be able to put my PCOS into a sort of remission.  I don’t know if that’s reality, since getting proof would mean serial ultrasounds/blood draws, but it’s certainly hopeful.

I took my first del.estrogen shot Monday night, and that is the thickest medication I’ve ever seen.  As someone who has injected an awful lot of oil-based meds into my rear, that’s saying something.  Not much fun, but at least it’s small amounts of oil (0.3 mL per dose) and only every 4th day.  I started the dexa.methasone Monday night as well.  So far, I’ve been able to sleep (steroids tend to give me insomnia) but I’m only two doses in, so we’ll see.

Next ultrasound/bloodwork is scheduled for Oct. 17 with transfer now tentatively scheduled for Oct. 23.

Fingers crossed.

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‘Bittersweet’ Isn’t Quite The Right Word, But It’s The Closest Thing I’ve Got

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We had a marvelous trip for a family wedding recently to New Mexico.  The whole thing went remarkably smoothly, the airline staff was lovely, and seeing all my aunts/uncles/cousins was a great deal of fun.

One of my cousins has a strange sort of resemblance to my brother.  I say “strange” because my cousin and my brother have/had completely different coloring (one’s a blue-eyed strawberry blonde, the other dark hair/eyes) and completely different heights.  However, there’s something, because I’m not the first to notice it.  My grandmother used to mix them up at times and multiple family members have remarked on the resemblance over the years.

At the reception, my cousin was dancing with my younger daughter, who was just loving it.  Watching him swing her around as she giggled loudly and yelled “more” was incredibly precious and absolutely wonderful.  He’s really good with kids as well as a lovely person and it was fantastic – I’m truly glad to have him (as well as my other cousins) in the family.  As the oldest by a decent margin, it’s great fun to watch as they grow, find careers, get married, and embark on their adult lives.

I also had this incredible stab of sadness.  Just for a split second, my brain played a trick and saw my brother there.  The memories that I usually keep firmly stowed came flying out so fast that I had to look away for a second, take that deep breath.

I know I’m not the only one with these moments – the ones that are so very wonderful that you’d never give them up, that you’re so grateful to have, but that also pierce you right to the core because they’re such powerful reminders of what you’ve lost.

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want more, please head over to Stirrup Queens!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

Ready, Set…

Last week, I called the RE’s office about a few assorted matters since the FET visits and meds should start fairly shortly (within the next week or so).  First up was my flu shot.  Due to my job, it’s not so much a question of if I’ll get exposed to influenza, it’s a matter of when.  As I’d read over the medication instructions again, it occurred to me that the steroids – designed to weaken the immune system to provide a better chance at implantation for the embryo – might cause my body not to form much of an immune response to the vaccination.

Based on my period-tracking app (which is fairly accurate for me), my cycle is set to commence this weekend, which also concerned me.  Weekends are the worst time to have to start things or call medical offices in general, not to mention I work on the weekends.  I wanted to make sure everything was squared away and I knew who to call and what to expect.

Turned out to be a good thing I checked in.  Dr. E confirmed that the flu shot did need to be obtained before I started the steroids and hopefully in enough time to give my immune system the time to build the antibodies.  That meant the day before leaving on a major trip I was calling pharmacies to see where I could get one.  The one that had vaccine was the one not in my insurance network, so I paid about $41 for something I usually get for free.  Add it onto my running infertility tab, I guess.  Better than getting sick later – if this cycle works, I’m on the steroids until I’m 8 weeks along, which puts me into December, aka flu season, based on the best information I have (the dark part of my mind is grumbling that this is ridiculously optimistic, why would I think this cycle is going to work at all?).

It also transpired that the local office isn’t staffed with a nurse on the weekends currently, just a lab tech and ultrasound tech, so start cycle visits have to go to the main office (around 2 hours away) on Saturday/Sunday.  “I can’t do that,” I said.  The nurse – who knows me well and was at the office through 2013-2014 when I was doing the majority of my cycles and IVF – said that since I know the protocol, can do my injections, and understand when to call if something gets strange, she could do my start cycle visit the week before my period is projected to start and then she’d leave word with the office that I could be seen locally for the ultrasound + blood work.

I’m not sure if I’m comforted by the fact that I knew to call in and check the finer details (because there’s always something) or a little unnerved that I’ve spent this much time doing ART.

Anyway, I had my start cycle visit Tuesday.  That went well, I nailed down the details of exactly which office to call at any point in the weekend if my period starts, and we mapped out as much of the cycle as possible based on my app.  At this point, it’s just a waiting game.

Current Cycle Status

Content note: Final FET feelings + already present kids mentioned.

Well, this cycle is finally starting to become real.  I’ve been going back and forth with the RE’s office to start pricing out drugs and nail down the slippery little details that I’ve discovered can really derail things quickly.  I confirmed that they still open at the same time they used to, that now they do Sunday appointments in my city (it used to be that they only took Sunday checks about 1.5-2 hours away at the main office), and got copies of all the paperwork.  When my period starts this month, I’ll call, get the prescriptions, and order the drugs in preparation for next month, thus outlaying the first actual cash in this endeavor.

I’ve noticed that I’m starting to have a more reasonable reaction to the prices again.  Maybe it’s that I’ve been out of the ART world long enough or that we’ve spent money on other things in the meantime, but I’m keenly aware that what we are spending on this cycle is going to be right around what we paid for our entire upstairs flooring in a high end, water resistant laminate including installation.  I remember when I paid for the flooring and called Arthur to give him the final bill remarking that while it wasn’t cheap, it was about what we’d paid for FET cycle past and – salient point – we weren’t paying for a chance we’d get a floor, we were actually going to receive a floor.

That last sort of sums up the mixed feelings I have bidding farewell to the RE’s office and ART.  I’m really grateful for the fact that IVF brought us older daughter and also cognizant of the immense emotional and financial costs that went into all the cycles.  One of the things that’s hard about ART and IVF is that beyond picking a doctor/office/lab and following the protocol, there’s really very little I could control in the cycle.  I was at once expecting my first IVF to fail (because I’m a defensive pessimist) and also completely shocked when I miscarried (apparently there’s some underlying optimism there after all).  I’ve known for a long time – working in the medical field – that modern medicine as a whole is extraordinarily powerful in some ways/instances, but also falls badly short far more often than some of the glowing articles and incredible stories would have people realize.  Even knowing this, I found it hard to stack up the hopes I had with the grittier, less successful realities.

It’s the end of ART for us.  One way or the other.  I’m almost 37 and it’s time.  Whether or not we see if something breaks loose on our own if the cycle fails is something we’re very undecided on.  Met.formin really does appear to regulate my cycles but in my late 30s, other concerns such as higher miscarriage rates are starting to tick up (and that’s making the enormous presumption that I’d get pregnant at all – certainly not a given with my history).  I’m not going to lie, I have a little bit of the ache these days at the thought of being done, I’d really love it if the cycle worked out, but I can’t tell if that’s a deep, ongoing thing or if it’s happening because I’m immersed in getting ready to try to get pregnant with the FET and if the beta is negative will dissipate with some time.  Despite the occasional achiness, I’m grateful for where we are now.  I have no doubt that regardless of outcomes, life is going to go on and I believe it’s going to be good.

The Mushroom Affair

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A couple of weeks ago, I was pulling into the driveway and noticed some new additions to the yard.

They’re big – the fully open ones were about 6-10 inches across. 

The mushrooms were so large, striking, and graceful that even one of our neighbors commented on them.  We all wondered if they were good to eat, but no one was going to try anything.  I’m no mushroom expert*, but my father does know mushrooms somewhat and he taught me all throughout childhood the cardinal rule of mushroom hunting: do not eat anything without being 100% certain of the identification.  I grew up in rural Virginia where wild mushrooms were fairly plentiful and remember clearly his warnings and stories about a single mushroom in a stew being able to poison an entire family.  Even if we weren’t planning to eat them, however, getting an ID was worthwhile.  The mushrooms were growing right next to the sidewalk, easy for picking or curious dogs to take a bite.

I called my dad and sent him photos.  We quickly eliminated the entire branch amanitas, responsible for some of the more deadly poisonous mushrooms as these lacked a volva at the bottom.

With some research and Dad’s guidance, I found an article on the false parasol, also known as the green-spored lepiota or chlorophyllum molybdites.  We both concurred that this was the most likely identification and there was a final test that could confirm it pretty strongly: a spore print that produced green/gray spores on paper.

Sure enough:

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The green-spored lepiota is poisonous, but not generally deadly.  It produces severe vomiting/diarrhea (that can cause dangerous dehydration) in humans and apparently can be fatal to dogs.  Living in a neighborhood full of small people and dogs, it was an easy call to carefully pull them up and dispose of them.  They’ve come back once already after a heavy rain and we’ll have to keep watching.

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want to read more or participate, please head over to Stirrup Queens!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

*Disclaimer: I am not an expert whatsoever in mushroom identification and can’t be responsible for identification of whether or not something is poisonous.  This 100% is not a way of determining whether something you choose to eat is safe – make sure you know your stuff well and consult an expert in real life because correct ID can literally mean the difference between life and death.  

Lost And Found

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I grew up traveling to Mexico City regularly as a child and teenager.  My paternal grandparents lived there (my grandmother was Mexican) and so every few years we’d go down and see them.  I played with the decorated stuffed burros and dolls we’d buy in the markets, would marvel at the painting of my great-great-great grandmother Hippolita (I was absolutely entranced by the lacy dress she wore in the portrait), eat cajeta, and we would get pastries at El Globo.

I have an enormous sweet tooth as well as a love for all things fancy, so the pastries were always a huge highlight.  I’d never seen anything like them – the eclairs, the tiramisu glasses, the pan dulce – all exotic to me and beautifully presented.  We’d walk into El Globo, grab the metal tray and tongs, and start selecting treats for both after the evening meal and breakfast in the morning.

While there are plenty of excellent panaderias these days in the US where I can and have found most of the more traditional Mexican sweets like conchas or orejas, one sweet that I’d only ever seen at the panaderias in Mexico City escaped me: the garibaldi.

Garibaldi are essentially muffin-sized pound cakes glazed in jam (traditionally apricot, though there are raspberry versions) and covered in small, white, nonpareils.  They’re well known as a breakfast treat, though I remember eating them after meals as well.  El Globo is credited with having originated the recipe, so they’re a uniquely Mexican creation.

I’d mostly relegated garibaldi to memory until I happened to find a recipe by an American married to a Mexico City native who managed to take a family pound cake recipe and made an incredibly good copy of El Globo’s garibaldi.  These even got the seal of authenticity and approval from my father, who knows these pastries well.

I’m pretty excited.  It’s amazing to go to the kitchen and make this taste of childhood I thought I’d lost.

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The garibaldi I made

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want more or to participate yourself, head on over to Stirrup Queens!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.

I Had Forgotten The Rules of RE Office Phone Tag…

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Watched Pot Theorem: The more you stare at your cell phone after leaving a message, the less likely it is to ring.

Murphy’s Law of Returned Calls: The phone will ring once you have stopped watching/procrastinating and gotten into a project where you can’t reach the phone or a pen easily.

Public Places Corollary: The more public the space you are in when the return call comes, the more likely you are to have to discuss your menstrual cycle or reproductive organs in detail.

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want more, head over to Stirrup Queens!  Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.