Monday, June 4, 2007

Barren Bitches and Bare Beauties (If you ask me)

First things first. Ladies in the 28 day challenge? Ladies trying to work out and need a boost? Fashion yourselves a ticker a la Blogger like this one to the right. I got home from a pretty dreadful doctor's appointment today (more in a bit) and had absolutely no desire to take my pooch for a short walk, let alone a run. But then I remembered. If I run, I can add more to the total! And people will see it! So off we went. It sucked. Even the dog didn't enjoy it. But it's done and I feel better and now I'm drinking wine and it's delish.

OK, quickly onto my appointment today. I've only been with this RE since February and while I would never go so far as saying I love him, I did always appreciate his candor and straight-shooting MO. So knowing this shouldn't I have prepared myself better for my first post-failed IVF follow up? Shouldn't I have known to bring W?

And shouldn't I have looked around his office before this to notice the creepy collection of egg-art that he's got hanging up there? Seriously, probably 12-15 different works of art all focused around eggs. Different artists, different mediums, same round subject. WTF?????

So basically he told me that my eggs are crappy (kind of like his art) and that while he'll try another IVF cycle, my best real chance of getting pregnant is with donor eggs. For this next cycle, he'll give me a new protocol and then he said, "If you get six good embryos I'll put 'em all back." SORRY? There is no fucking way that I am having six embryos transferred into my body. I had a hard enough time this last cycle with three. And why are you telling me what YOU'RE going to put into MY body. He backed off ever so slightly trying to say that we need to be aggressive. But there's a fine line somewhere between aggressive and completely and totally irresponsible and six embryos is WAY past that line.

He then went on to tell me our July vacation is a great idea and then launched into a completely unsolicited tale from his recent Mexican vacation. Apparently he was in Mexico City and had hired a driver to take him and his family to a museum. (Of course he didn't even thank me for his ability to afford such luxury) They got there to find a huge protest in the street. And I quote: "There were hundreds and hundreds of women standing in the street, all butt-naked. Now, these women were like forty to sixty (years old) so they were not beauties." I'm sorry? 40 years old and you're instantly a hag who should never take her clothes off? He went on and on about what was "hanging" on the women and it was so fucking weird and horrible. I kind of hate the idea of going back to him, but since we did the Buy-1-Get-1-Free option, I don't see that I have much choice. Ugh - fucker!

Bottom line - starting after we go away in July, Microdose Flare protocol w/ BCP's and my own eggs, and then if it doesn't work, I've got some serious thinking to do.

Ok, onto the Barren Bitches Book Tour. Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list here. This book club is open to everyone in the community so you can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: The Kid by Dan Savage.

#1 Peggy Orenstein says, 'The descent into the world of infertility is incremental. Those early steps seem innocuous, even quaint; IUI was hardly more complex than a turkey baster. You're not aware of how subtly alienated you become from your body, how inured to its medicalization. You don't notice your motivation distorting, how conception rather than parenthood becomes the goal, how invested you become in its 'achievement'." Does this accurately describe your experience? Would you say you have become alienated from your body while struggling with infertility?


Rather than an incremental descent, I’ve found that the world of infertility has been a very steep and slippery slope. I resisted treatment for the first year or so telling myself that I didn’t want to take drugs to become pregnant. Ha! As if that’s all it will take. So finally at my cousin’s urging I went to a local fertility clinic and was prescribed Clomid. It seemed harmless enough and when it didn’t work the first time I was all too eager to double to dosage for the next round. After a few more Clomid cycles it was time to go for the “turkey baster.” My doctor explained that it was just like kicking your golf ball out of the rough. You still make that great shot, just with a little help. Count me in!

Well, that IUI didn’t work either and then after we moved home to SF and signed on with the new RE, a second Clomid IUI also failed. By now I’d finally been diagnosed with decreased ovarian reserve and because of my RE’s suggestion to skip IUI with injectibles, all of a sudden we were on the fast train to IVF.

The train did not take me where I wanted to go and since my appointment this afternoon I’ve been forced to think about donor eggs. Where does it stop? Reading other blogs I see all the experiences that other IF’ers have gone through. I would never ever say that I’m jealous of them, but I feel like my journey is more of a freefall where I move so quickly from stage to stage and never have a chance to feel comfortable at any level. Of course, where is the comfort in any of this.

If any good has come of the process, I think I’ve become more in touch with my body, rather than alienated from it, during this process. I was not that great at noticing what went on from month to month and have learned so much about myself. On the other hand, during the freefall I have become completely inured to just tossing back the pill or shot du jour. DHEA might, maybe, possibly, sort of help make more eggs? Sign me up! Wheatgrass will potentially, perhaps, somewhat improve egg quality? Seven pills per dose? No problem? I’m like a depository for supplements at this point and although I do wonder what it’s all doing to me, I have only the end goal in mind.


#2 You can tell from the title of the book that the author eventually becomes a mom. How did this knowledge affect you as you read? Were you hoping for a certain outcome -- unassisted pregnancy, medical miracle, child through foster or adoption...or possibly even dreading a happy ending? To what degree does your own experience filter into the unfolding of Orenstein's experience?


I think what I was hoping for was completely affected by my situation while I read the book. I was going through my first IVF, and was absolutely hoping for her to have a medical miracle. I needed to know IVF works. I’ve read the statistics, so I get that it has been successful for people, but time and again I read these books and the author almost always ends up pregnant from a non-medicated cycle. I really thought this would be the one. She would obsess over the 2ww like so many of us do, and wait by the phone anxiously for the beta. No more “I felt kind of funny over the past couple weeks…must have been the stomach flu.” BS. Oh well.

But I know that if I were to pick the book up for the first time today, while I’m on the precipice of at least two DIY cycles, I know for sure I’d be looking for the unassisted pregnancy. It’s so incredible to have the opportunity to read about someone going through similar struggles and to be able to manipulate their stories to try to mirror our own.

On a funny note about the title, W would constantly look over my shoulder as I read, constantly asking, “Did Daisy get there yet? Did she?” He couldn’t believe how long it took. I had to explain that it was called Waiting for Daisy, not Hanging out with Daisy.

#3 Peggy Orenstein writes that her first reaction to donor eggs was, "Using donor eggs was so Handmaid's Tale. Once again I thought, I'd never be that desperate for a child?" What was your initial reaction to the idea of donor eggs? Did your opinion change over time? If you were successful, would you tell your children that they were conceived using donor eggs? Why or why not?

What a scary-timely question. I don’t know that I ever thought of donor eggs as “so Handmaid’s Tale,” but I do know that just like Clomid, IUI’s, injectible drugs and IVF, I definitely never thought that donor eggs would be something I would have to consider. At each step of this journey I have been sure that I wouldn’t have to move on. I know now that what I tried to pass off as an aversion to using hormone therapy or invasive procedures was based on a complete faith (stupidity?) that I would never have to use them.

After my RE appointment today, I realize that donor eggs are something that I have to at least consider. Already in just a few hours my opinion has started to shift. At first I thought (oh so selfishly) that if we got to this point I would want to adopt. My oh-so-sound reasoning? “If it can’t be my genetic child, then it can’t be W’s either.” Believe me, I know how pathetic that sounds, but it was my first reaction. But then I realized that with donor eggs, I could still carry my baby. Give birth to my baby. And meet my baby on its first minute of life. Do these outweigh my selfish first reaction? I don’t know yet. But I hope so.

Although I find it hard to articulate exactly why, I think it would only be fair to tell my children that they were conceived with donor eggs. I hope I’d have the courage to do so, but it’s such a complex concept, it would be critical to figure out the timing. How do you know when they’re ready to hear about something like that, without waiting too long? And really how necessary is it? I don’t know the answer yet. All I have is this horrible vision of having a fight with my teenage daughter and having her throw back in my face that she’s really just “Daddy’s daughter” and that I can’t boss her around. How fucked that I’m having imaginary arguments with my imaginary child, but it’s exactly where my mind goes whenever I think about donor eggs and I don’t know how to change that. I guess I could try having a son instead…

17 comments:

Stacie said...

I'm here for the tour but I am going to deviate from book tour protocol and talk about yout RE. Egg art? How creepy. Personal stories about his life? Rather inappropriate, especially at a follow-up meeting to a failed cycle. Complaining about "ugly" older women. So out of line. I guess you are stuck with him in that you have already paid for your next cycle but what an annoying thing to add to the regular IF stress.

Leah said...

That RE sounds like a real piece of work. Six embryos sounds like complete lunacy to me! And there is no way I'd consider it appropriate for him to tell me his rude and insensitive comments regarding the naked protesters. Nice to see that he has a real appreciation for the female body (where he makes his living) -- not.

I have some pretty crappy eggs. We've known this from the get-go. We've done 3 IVFs (well, in the process of #3 right now) and have tried a different protocol each time. On the 2nd one, I did Microdose Lupron flare too. The good news is that with each protocol, we got more and more eggs (3 the first time, 4 the second time, 6 this time).

If you want to talk more about this, you can email me at leah_conway@yahoo.com.

In the meantime, enjoy your upcoming vacation!!

Alexa said...

Ugh, what an asshat. I am sorry you don't have a more sympathetic (and less creepy) doctor. A vacation sounds perfect.

Reproductive Jeans said...

6 embies! Holy cow....
Ohhh lovely vaca time! Enjoy it!

ekunkelmann said...

Wow, these are very timely questions considering your latest conversation with the RE. I like your analogy of free falls from one step to another. So often, IF diagnosis and treatment is like a series of carpets being pulled out from beneath you. It's hard to prepare for that.

Ms. Planner said...

Hi E - What a great post. I hope writing about all of this helped you a bit. Your RE sounds like a real piece of work. And 6 embryos sounds completely irresponsible.

My IF shrink went through 1 failed IVF and then used donor eggs to conceive her son on her next round of IVF. She also has a 2nd miracle baby (all it takes is one good egg which could be in there somewhere, right?). Regarding her donor egg child, she said to me that once the embryo was put into her body, it became her baby - now matter what egg was used.

I'm a stats person and when you look at the IVF success stats using donor eggs, it is a pretty convincing argument.

Also, a little ass-vice, if you haven't done so already, please have your RE do a progesterone test and an immunity work-up on you so you can mitigate any potential issues post-transfer.

Thinking of you, Ms. Planner

LIW (Lady In Waiting) said...

Even though you are committed to your RE for another cycle, can you go somewhere else for a second opinion? He sounds bizarre and it might help to get another RE's perspective.

Good luck. You are in a really tough position right now!!

Carrie said...

What a good post. What a lot of things you have to think about.

It can't be easy to be given news like that. I think your doctor sounds like an idiot. I'm sorry you're having to even think about this stuff right on the back of your IVF.

It's very early yet. Please try not to worry about what might and might not be until at least the next IVF cycle.

I know what you mean by one treatment leading to another etc. I'd never have thought I'd have been in this position, just wouldn't have believed I'd be this driven (or desperate) but here I am. I think the donor egg issue may be like this. Let it filter through your mind but you'll only know how you feel if/when you actually get there, hopefully that'll never happen. If it does you'll deal with it. I know you will.

I'm still sorry you're having to deal with all this,

Samantha said...

I completely agree with you about the treatments being free-fall. My very first IVF was a converted timed intercourse with injectibles. I'm still a little pissed that my RE never mentioned that as a possibility, because suddenly I had to make this important decision in a matter of two days.

The donor egg has come up for me too. Like Orenstein, it was something I would have never considered, and was talking to my husband about how I wouldn't consider it, and suddenly, I was considering it!

Sunny said...

WOW to great thoughts! You know when you first begin the journey you have goals and also things on your "I will never do" list. One by one different things are checked off the list as failure. You are left with rethinking.

You made me think!

The Town Criers said...

Eeeew to the RE. He sounds a bit like my old OB who gave us many wonderful catchphrases that we still use today when we need a good laugh...

I think the free-fall description captures it. And how we keep moving to consider new things. And I think sometimes it's self-preservation as we still strive to be a parent. And sometimes it's simply because you get past the knee-jerk reaction and read more and consider the possibility. At least, I'm giving myself that excuse.

Wishing you a good trip!

Bea said...

Whoa! What a consult.

I love your answer to the second question. I do find myself chasing stories of how *what I'm doing right now* worked for so-and-so, as if that's going to make a difference to me.

I also laughed at "Hanging Out With Daisy".

Bea

Sticky Bun said...

First--can you tell how you got your tracker? All the ones I've found are so busy, but I like the idea of tracking our progress...

Second, 6 embryos is ridiculous. And insensitive and dismissive.

Argh.

I'm sure you've already been over this in your mind, but if you had any interest in looking for a second opinion or an RE recommendation in SF, I'd be happy to ask my SIL (the surgeon in SF--shes pretty well connected and there's no one I would trust more).

Anyhow, I'm sure you've already done a ton of research and asking around, so feel free to ignore the unsolicited offer! :-)

BestLight said...

Hi, Erin. I was going to say you made me laugh with "Hanging out with Daisy." But others beat me to it.

So, this is your other passage that stuck with me: "I’ve become more in touch with my body, rather than alienated from it."

What a wonderful side-effect from a crappy situation!

Hope things go well on your next cycle.
Lori

millie said...

Welcome, home. I'm another Bay Area high fsher so I feel remiss in my Welcome Wagon duties.

There are quite a few local REs to consider (and quite a few NOT to consider) if you're thinking of working with someone else.

I think most of us high fshers/poor responders go down a much steeper slope like you mentionned. We just don't necessarily have the same options.

I gotta say I found it strange to consider using Donor Eggs when it was brought up in my very first consult because I WAS a donor years ago. It's not nearly so strange now. In fact, lots of folks who conceive with donor eggs think of the process in thirds: the man contributes half the genetic material, the donor the other half and the recipient does most of the work (and, in fact, influences which genes will turn on or not).

Best of luck to you.

Amy said...

Erin, I'm so sorry to hear about the news your doctor told you. Crappy news in addition to complete rambling from your RE...double UGHs. Millie summed it up best with her comment about the donor route- a third of the baby will be yours, not just the donor and your husband. Anyways, thinking of you. Big Hugs :)

Rebecca said...

RYC: I haven't listened to Whiskeytown but I think I'll have to! I'm literally spinning in excitement now!