Saturday, June 15, 2013

I Have a What?!?!

May 15, 2013 -- I've been good for two months now. Almost no booze. My worst cheat was the Rolling Stones concert when I had two limp Staples Stadium Margaritas. But I choose to believe I was protected by the same Rock-n-Roll gods who have preserved the bodies of Mick and Keef. Besides, if I had refused all inebriates at a Rolling Stones gig, that would've been sacrilegious. Plus, I might've run off any and all spirits of badass rock-n-roll babies. Not good.

I've been less successful in the coffee department. For a few weeks I was able to keep things to one cup a day. Granted it was a super duper size cup. (When they say cup, do they mean a measured cup or a cup, as in a mug any size, of coffee? I prefer to leave that question in the realm of the great unknown.) But I rationalized: I drink my cups half milk, half coffee. So that's less than one cup, right?? One late afternoon, however, I needed a little boost to rev up for a writing session. This is why people worship caffeine. I pulled several more highly focused, productive hours out of my day. So now, on afternoons when I need to be in the desk saddle for several more hours, I dose with a second cup.

I feel guilty about it. I realize that with each cup I sip I'm potentially further deteriorating my chances of having a child. And that's kinda crazy. Does that mean my desire for coffee is stronger than my desire for a child? Wow. Not sure I want to self-analyze that tidbit further. Instead, I hold fast to the words of Dr. P and the studies I had read: caffeine can undermine a pregnancy, it does not impact the eggs. I didn't totally believe it, but addiction is a manipulative bitch.

For those of you who recoil from the normal process of bodily functions, brace yourself for the sight of blood. My orders were to call the clinic on the first day of my cycle and set up an appointment for day 3. For the men out there and girls under 11, Day One means the first day of our period.

Most of my life my periods were on 25-day cycles. Very short. Most women are at 28 days. In the last several months, my periods have been closer to 28 days, sometimes longer. Sign of my waning fertility? Perhaps. But on day 30 of this cycle I was still waiting. Day 31, 32, 33. I was beginning to wonder if I'd even have a period. Dr. P said it would probably be late, so I kept waiting. But maybe all those hormones really screwed up my system. Years ago, I had to have a period induced, so I thought perhaps I'd need to do that again. But finally, on day 34, I saw blood. OK, back on track, body!

Like a good little patient, I called the clinic to set up an appointment two days later. I even set it for 7:30 a.m. See how eager I am? I'll be there when you unlock the doors.

Dr. P did the ultrasound while the girl intern who did my first one observed. One small and one “dubious” follicle on the right ovary. One small giant (compared to the others) thing on the left.

“I think that's a follicle...” Dr. P said, as he examined a 15 mm black circle on my ovary.

But because it was so much larger than the others, it could be “something left over” from my last cycle. Or it could be my dominant egg for the current cycle, meaning it had already won the death match and the other follicles would already be dying out. It's a brutal world down there. But we wouldn't know exactly what it was until my blood tests revealed my estrogen levels.

Dr. P wanted to act quickly to put me on the stimulation drugs immediately if my blood tests showed the right result. That meant ordering a different batch of drugs than the ones I had the last time and sitting through another session of medicine prep. I was becoming such a pro with needles, I figured if all else fails I could take comfort in a future heroin addiction. The fear of needles no longer stands in my way!

While waiting for the elevators outside the clinic, I struck up a conversation with another patient. I'll call her Jill. Jill was carrying a box, and I asked, like a comrade in arms, “Got all your drugs, huh?”

Yep, she said, volunteering that they were given to her by a friend who had leftovers. This was not a new concept to me. I have two friends who recently went through IVF. After one successfully became pregnant, she gave her very expensive leftovers to the other one. I love that women do this. I can't see men doing this. 

Imagine the conversation:
“Why so sad, Joe?”
 “I have a low sperm count.”
“Dude, me too! But don't worry, I have a bunch of extra meds you can take for that.”
“Awwww. You're so sweeeeeet.”

So Jill is also freezing her eggs. She is the first live person I've met who is doing it. I probably was more excited about that than is socially appropriate, but what's a lonely egg freezer to do?

 “How's it going?” I ask, after she tells me she's mid-cycle.

“Really good,” she said with a serene and unshaken confidence that good things will prevail.

The next question fell out of my mouth like a broken-reined stagecoach. It seemed reasonable in the half-moment it traveled from my brain across my lips.

“How many follicles do you have?” Then realizing I didn't really want to know, I blurted out, “Just so I can be jealous.”



The horses were still running loose...

“How old are you?” There was no decorum left in me. I hoped my humor-in-the-gallows tone, tenuous as it might be, and the bond of this sisterhood experience might win me forgiveness to such blunt inquiries.



Young bitch, I thought. But then I was sincerely happy for her, knowing my own tragic fate. “It's so good that you're doing it now.”

She nods. She knows this. But I doubt she knows just how good it is.

We chatted more in the elevator and then in the lobby. I blabbed about my measly follicle counts. She said she had given up alcohol and coffee, citing a Harvard study saying it decreased fertility treatment success. She held up her cup. “This is lemon water.” Her skin was so clear, her commitment to the fertility olympics was so obvious. I felt outdone, like an also-ran in the race for baby. She was besting me with such committed training.

I told her what Dr. P had said about caffeine not impacting the eggs, but I shrugged, not confident at all about it. We both had spent hours on the internet, soaking in all the statistics and studies we could find. And we both agreed a lot is still unknown.

“We're guinea pigs,” she said.

The one thing we both seemed to feel good about was the study that said eating ice cream improved fertility. It reminded me to stop at the store on my way home and buy three pints of Haagen Dazs.

Nurse J called about 4:30 pm. She said my estrogen levels were too high to start stimulation this cycle. They were at 97, and while 100 is the cutoff, it was too close. She said “if the cyst is producing hormones, we don't want to overstimulate.”

What?!?! A cyst? No one mentioned the word cyst earlier. Why do I have a cyst? Is it going to go away? Was it caused by the previous cycle of hormone injections? Am I dying of cancer? Have I killed myself trying to have a baby?

I didn't ask her all those questions, but I did ask if it would pass with my next cycle, and she assured me it was no big deal, that it happens sometimes, and that it would disappear this month. “It's just left over from your last cycle.”

“So it's like an empty follicle?”

“Yes, exactly.”

OK, I can deal with that. I understand that. And in a way, I was thinking I'd prefer to wait another month anyway. It gives me more time to eat ice cream with impunity.

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