Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Diary of an IVF Cycle - Delay?

This morning was another blood draw and ultrasound (Can I tell you how much I love being on the Beltway first thing in the morning? God I freaking HATE driving. Maybe the meds are messing with more than I thought...) I had 5 follicles on each side, with the largest at 11mm. The doctor told me not to worry that they're not growing quickly. He said that's very common and wouldn't change our chances of the cycle working. Can I tell you that nothing puts me in a panic mode quicker than a doctor telling me not to worry about something. Don't worry about it, we'll be able to reattach your finger. Don't worry about that, it won't leave a scar when we stitch you up. ALL LIES! Ok, maybe I don't know about the finger, but you get my point. I go back on Thursday for ultrasound and blood work (like you didn't see that one coming) and they'll see where the follicles are at and what the plan is for the retrieval. I was originally scheduled for the retrieval on July 4th and now it's looking like it will get pushed back a day or two.

I just reread that paragraph and I sound way more ticked off than I really am. More than anything I'm just exhausted and tired of the shots. Work is kicking me in the arse HARD right now and I'd love to go to the gym and work off some steam, but I can barely keep my eyes open at the end of the day right now, so playing with gym equipment is probably a bad idea. I also have this horrid vision of all my puncture wounds starting to leak blood once I got my heart rate up and looking like an extra from a horror movie. I've also felt like I'm going to cry for the last four days, and no tears will come. I NEED SATISFACTION! I really think men don't understand how that can release a level of stress. I think it's the equivalent of screaming at the television during sports. It's not going to solve anything, but it makes you feel better. See how bad you feel after watching the World Series, Super Bowl, or World Cup without being able to yell. Pretty freaking miserable I'd bet.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Diary of an IVF Cycle - Bruiser

I look like I've broken out in some sort of bizarre rash all over abdomen that leaves small red dots (puncture wounds) and bruises. I've never been as happy to not have six pack abs as I've been in the past week. The fat is good for making the shots less painful. Matt's also gotten good at working around the bruises to find the little bit of skin that is still free of marks so it will be less painful.

On Friday I got the call from the nurse (they call after every ultrasound and blood draw to let me know what's going on) and based on the blood work they increased one of my evening medications. I went in again on Sunday for another ultrasound and more blood work. At that appointment they counted the follicles that are almost large enough to be measured (instead of just what looks like it's developing), so I had 8 on each side. There's was one that they could measure at 10mm, but all the others were still too small to measure. The nurse said to not worry if the numbers were a little lower than the time before because they're starting to count differently. Does that stop me from worrying - of course not. The call on Sunday night increased the dose of the second medication I take at night, and they stopped the morning shot all together. Yeah!! One less shot a day!

The increase of the medication actually does not make me worry. I was considered to be at risk for hyper-stimulating (producing way too many eggs) and if that happens it can cause a cycle to be canceled. Different clinics define "too many" differently. The clinic we're at right now generally doesn't want to see more than 25 follicles/eggs (they're considered follicles until they're removed from the ovary and then they count them as eggs) but I know someone who had 45 eggs in one cycle and that clinic did not cancel her cycle. She also had ovaries the size of softballs and could see them protruding from her stomach, eww. When we went in for our injection class, I had lower doses of all the medications than the other two women and now I'm in line with what they had.

I continue to be really foggy in my brain. Last night I even started passing out at a friend's house at 6:30, which is a new record for going to bed early. Matt had to poke me repeatedly in the car on the way home so I wouldn't fall asleep in the car. Epic levels of exhaustion.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Diary of an IVF Cycle - Updated Follicle Count

This morning I had another ultrasound and I've got 10 follicles on the right side and 9 on the left. The doctor said that's good and I go back in on Sunday to start getting them measured. They want the to grow to about 18mm each so the eggs can reach maturity. Once they do I get the trigger shot (aka the shot we're making Matt's mom come down and give me because it's complicated, goes really deep and I've already been warned hurts like a mo fo) and 36 hours later they do the retrieval.

For the most part I'm handling the drugs better than I anticipated. Other than exhaustion (please don't take it personally if I fall asleep and start drooling on you) and a serious case of oatmeal brain, it's not nearly as bad as I was expecting. I am starting to see bruising more where the shots are given, but Matt is doing a very good job of working around those for the next day's shots.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Diary of an IVF Cycle - And Now My Pants Don't Fit

I had been warned that bloating and weight gain were going to be a problem, I just didn't realize it would come on so quickly. The pants I wore to work fit perfectly, even a little loose this morning. Now they are straining at the seams and over my bruises and puncture marks. I have now given up on pants and skirts without elastic waistbands. If tomorrow is free dress day at work do you think I can get away with a nightgown?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Diary of an IVF Cycle - Vicious Circus

Last night we had to call in reinforcements, specifically Matt's mom. The dosing instructions were very confusing and the dose was given in IUs, but the syringe was in CCs. She talked us thru it and was extremely helpful while we figured out what the hell we were doing. Everyone should have at least one nurse in the family and we are very lucky to have three mom/nurses to call in with questions.

I'm beginning to feel more and more side effects, but not in the way I was anticipating. I expected to be on edge and angry and have a temper. What has happened is I'm exhausted, but can't sleep because of night sweats, and having really bad cramps, made worse by caffeine, which make me achy and want to be curled up in bed. I was explaining it to Matt last night and said it was a vicious circus when I meant to say vicious cycle. I think vicious circus works just as well. Can you tell that I'm also currently working with oatmeal instead of a brain?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Diary of an IVF Cycle - Lupron Evaluation

There are certain things in this world that you should not have to deal with before coffee. Surprise trans-vaginal ultrasounds are on that list. I would have at least shaved my legs this morning if I knew that was coming.

Today is the start of the stimulation medication. I went in this morning for a blood draw and ultrasound. I knew I was having blood drawn, but I totally forgot about the ultrasound which is why I looked at the nurse who told me to go empty my bladder like she had lost her mind. The ultrasound looked good (8 follicles starting on the right side and 6 on the left, which is a good start) and I'll get a call this afternoon confirming that a) I'm not pregnant and b) everything looks good to start. If we're all set I start two additional shots at night and cut back the amount of the morning shot. I currently get 20 International Units of the drugs in the morning, and I will be cutting back to 5. It doesn't seem worth it because 5 IUs could be injected into a pea with room to spare, but I'm not a doctor.

So far I don't have any bruising from the shots, but I can already see bruises forming where I had my blood drawn this morning. I wore all my short sleeve outfits to work last week because they're being banned for the next few weeks.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Diary of an IVF Cycle - Side Effects

After a rough week at work, this morning I had my first over-reaction that I'm going to blame on the meds.

Scene: Sunday morning, 9am
Alicia wakes up and goes downstairs to see what Matt is up to. Teddy tries to stick her nose in inappropriate places. Matt is nowhere to be found, but his wallet, keys, and phone are still in the living room, so he's not off getting breakfast. Alicia theorizes that Matt is off on a run.

Still no sign of Matt, so Alicia eats some breakfast so she can take her pills.

Alicia checks the front yard by looking out the window, no sign of Matt mowing the lawn. Alicia starts to get concerned.

Alicia rehearses the conversation with Matt about how he needs to leave her a note telling her where he goes. Teddy tries to stick her nose in inappropriate places.

Matt doesn't run this long. Alicia starts considering driving around the neighborhood making sure he didn't throw out his back while running and is lying on the sidewalk somewhere. Decides he should have left at note and doesn't open the door.

Alicia is now good and mad and muttering under her breath. She needs to get her shot, but since she doesn't know where Matt is, she decides to do it herself. She washes her hands, gets everything together, and makes quick work of the shot. Realizes afterwards that maybe she should have been laying down, or at least sitting, in case she got dizzy, but she was too mad.

After pacing up and down the stairs a couple of times, Alicia decides that she going to start weeding the backyard, but opens the front door to make sure that Matt's not lying on the sidewalk in front of the house in pain. Is considering kicking him while he's lying down. Looks out the front door and notices that the front steps are a different color and there are wet paint cones in front of the stairs. Alicia goes to the back yard to find Matt coming in after painting the front steps. His back is sore and he's covered in paint. Alicia decides not to kick him. He tries to defend himself from not writing a note telling his loving, caring wife where he is. He is wrong.
(Editorial note: Matt insists he was only only in the front yard and thus was not required to leave a note.) He is very proud that Alicia handled the shot herself. She makes him make his own breakfast.

Fade to US Open coverage...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Diary of an IVF Cycle - Medications

We are now three days into injections, and I have to compliment Matt on his technique. I have no bruising, even with the aspirin, and the pain is almost gone. Today also marks the last day of the birth control pills, so I'm hoping my energy level returns to normal because one of the side effects of being so wound up has been some insomnia. I like sleeping, so it would be nice if that went away.

Today I also received the rest of my medications. After an obcsene amount of time it took on the phone with three different pharmacies, a trip to Fairfax on Saturday, and getting box the size of a small dog delivered to my office I finally have them.

And now for the costs
Medication #1 = latte
Medication #2 = new book
Medication #3 = bottle of wine
Medication #4 = drinks at ladies night
Medication #5 = nice dinner out
Medication #6 = car payment
Medication #7 = mortgage payment
Of course it all pales in comparison to the cost of the treatment itself, but it's all part of the Matt and Alicia stimulus package of 2009.

Millions of peaches, peaches for me

While I do love the farmers market, my biggest problem with eating locally is that sometimes I want something that isn't there. Right now I am tired of asparagus and strawberries. I want PEACHES! Times like these call for the grocery store. And then when I don't eat them fast enough, peach cobbler.

Peach Cobbler
Serves 4
6 large peaches, cut into thin wedges
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch

For biscuit topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup boiling water


Cook peaches:
Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss peaches with sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a 2-qt. nonreactive baking dish and bake in middle of oven 10 minutes.

Make topping while peaches bake:
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.

Remove peaches from oven and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Bake in middle of oven until topping is golden, about 25 minutes. (Topping will spread as it bakes.)

I followed this recipe exactly. As I poured the water in I realized that part of the recipe didn't make much sense. The point of using cold butter is so that it releases steam in the biscuit, but if you pour hot water over cold butter it will melt. Next time I'll use cold water, but it didn't seem to have any ill effects. The topping was fantastic, the filling a beautiful pink color (because I left the skins on the peaches), and it was a perfect summer dessert. I may have some for breakfast.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Diary of an IVF Cycle - First Injection

Yeah, I'm definitely not doing that to myself. Even with an ice pack on my stomach for a few minutes before it still stung like a mo fo. The nurse who taught our injection class told me that it would feel like a mosquito bite. I didn't believe her at the time, I am a mosquito magnet and they usually don't sting, but now I think she was confusing mosquitoes and Mothra.

Today was also the first day for taking Children's aspirin, apparently it helps with implantation by thinning the blood, but it also makes you bruise easier. Which is exactly what I would like when I will be repeatedly stabbed over the next three weeks. When I worked in the kitchen I used to joke that I should carry a card in my wallet that said "My husband doesn't beat me, I work in a kitchen." Now I think it should be changed to "My husband stabs me with needles every day, but it's under doctor's orders."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Diary of an IVF Cycle

Matt and I have made a decision to take the next steps to try and start a family. I have been on birth control pills for about three weeks already, and the best thing I can say about that is I've been very productive. Someone compared the way I was acting to a meth addict, or Jesse Spano on a very special episode of Saved By The Bell. Tomorrow is the first day of injectable medications. I expect to be this by the end of the week.

For the record, I will not be giving myself the shots. I almost threw up holding the needles in the injection class. Matt is going to be giving them to me. I'm making him promise not to enjoy stabbing me too much. And to use an ice pack first.

The whole process will take approximately four more weeks. I'll be writing about what's going. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons, but mainly so if I start screeching at people they don't take it personally. Imagine your worst PMS, times a thousand, with a porcupine jumping on your stomach. That's basically what I'm expecting the next couple of weeks to be like, so please excuse me if I scream at people who cut me off in traffic. Maybe giving my the shots will be Matt's revenge for having to live with me during this. It will be interesting, and hopefully worth it all.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Garden Under Water

We've had roughly 85,000 inches of rain in the past few weeks and it's messing with my garden.

Check out the herbs. The basil is looking a little sickly, the mint is gooey from mid-stalk down, the oregano and thyme will need to be replaced, but the garlic chives are going strong.
At least they're doing better than the cilantro, which melted away. Maybe that's what the Wicked Witch was made of...
The tomatoes are growing like gangbusters, even if there are only a couple of tomatoes growing.

Some of the cucumbers are starting to come in.
This was also supposed to be cucumbers. Clearly not, but the yellow squash is growing nicely.
The lettuce is also growing up nicely, even when Teddy tries to eat it. She has decided to stop laying on it, which is good. We've already had a couple of salads from it, and it's pretty good. I've even taught Matt to harvest it and use the salad spinner to clean it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dinner OK, Success, and Fail

In an attempt to branch out and try different markets in the area, Jen and I went to the 14th and U St farmers market last weekend. Getting there was a bit of adventure considering half the Mall was shut down and covered in pink. Stupid breast cancer messing with me before I've had coffee. That's just MEAN.

After picking up some coffee we went and took a look at each of the vendors before buying anything. The first purchase for both of us was strawberries. Why do we keep picking up the delicate things first? My goal for the summer is to remember to not be an idiot at least once. Maybe coffee before instead of at the market would be helpful. My second purchase was flowers. See, clearly I need more coffee. They did smell nice and kept most of the week. Hello peonies!
I picked up a jar of Roasted Shallot and Barolo sauce, along with some pasta from the same vendor. I had read good things about him from a couple of local bloggers, and was excited to try it out. I also picked up some hamburger buns from another vendor because I had read that they were excellent. I got both the regular buns and the Parmesan ones.

Saturday night we had friends over for dinner and I made the first bread salad of the season. Hi Bread Salad. I missed you. We used the hamburger buns for burgers from the butcher. I liked mine better. Maybe that will be this weekend's project...
I also made strawberry shortcake. There were a couple left over so we had them again the next night. I did hold off on eating it for breakfast.
We made the BBQ chicken sandwiches with the Parmesan rolls. Dude, caramelized shallots mixed with Jack Daniels BBQ sauce, chicken, and cheddar on the Parm rolls is awesome.
Wednesday night we tried the Barolo sauce and the pasta. Wow. It was bad. Really bad. Neither Matt nor I could eat it. We ended up eating crackers and cheese for dinner.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dr. George Tiller

As a student I read much about abortion clinics, the violence providers faced, and legal theories of both sides of the debate. I heard the rhetoric of both sides, both logical and irrational. I try very hard to understand the pro-life movement and try and show them the respect that they deserve. I will never understand how someone who is pro-life kills another person in cold blood. By all means, debate, protest, file suit, rant on the internet, but how dare you take someones life in the name of faith.

For me, my faith is the reason I am pro-choice. Because I have struggled with faith and what I believe I refuse to force someone else to live by my beliefs. What if I'm wrong? I know enough to know that I don't have all the answers and I have a deep skepticism of those who claim they do.

I do know that late-term abortion is something that many pro-choice people are uncomfortable with. If you've never read it, this essay is heart wrenching and will make you cry. It's a horrible choice to make, but for those who are faced with that decision it's one that they should be allowed to make for themselves.