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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finally a Post About Canoeing and Gender Roles!

I don't like feeling sorry for myself. Except when I'm feeling sorry for myself and then I'm pretty much okay with it. But I need to stop writing posts only while I'm feeling that way, cuz they're just depressing. So here's a post on a completely different topic.

So, I love that TV show about the Dug.gars. You know the one. (*cough* 19 K.ids and C.ounting *cough*) I understand that there may be some controversy over the fact that they have so many children. But I say they've got a good thing going and they know it. So good for them.

And I love Michelle. If/when I am ever a mom, I would hope that I can be just like her (except with a tad bit more personality, I mean, does she have any interests outside of her family and God?). She never yells at her kids. Ever. She gently asks them to do the right thing, or she takes them aside and talks quietly with them about their behavior. She follows the "praise in public, criticize in private" motto. Love. Her.

Okay, so why am I writing about the Dug.gars? Well, I was watching a show yesterday in the midst of feeling sorry for myself (you'd think this show would be depressing to me, what with all that fertility running around, but it actually makes me smile), and something in particular irked me. Now this is not to be a criticism of the Dug.gars specifically (like I said, I love those guys), but of our gender-roled society (I know, finally, the post you've been waiting for!).

What happened on the show was that Jim Bob decided to go on a father/son canoe trip with a few of his sons. They showed an interview with him where he was talking about how important it is to spend time with your children and how important his sons are to him, and then they showed the canoe trip: camping, setting up tents, finding spiders under rocks, canoeing down the river. And all I could think was that if I was a Dug.gar girl, I would have been so insanely jealous.

This episode reminded me of the time, when I was about 7, that my dad and brother, along with his boy scout troop, went to a baseball game. And I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to go with them to this baseball game. And I asked to go. I BEGGED to go. And I was told that it was only for boys. And I was so sad. And you know what? To this day I have never been to a baseball game with my dad.

On another episode of the show that I watched yesterday (okay, yes, I watched more than one episode, maybe even more than two...), Michelle talked about how the little girls liked to play with dolls and the little boys liked to play with trucks. And then she mentioned that little Johanna also liked to play with trucks. Now, I don't think the Dug.gars, although they are a conservative family, force their boys and girls into gender roles on purpose. And I don't think that they would, for example, take away Johanna's trucks just because she's a girl. But I bet that if Johanna were old enough to want to go on that canoe trip, and if she had asked to go, she would have been told that it was for boys only. And then what would she have done? Wait for the mother/daughter canoe trip? And would it have really spoiled the father/son bonding if a daughter who had an interest in canoeing had come along?

I suppose I continue to harbor resentment over being denied that baseball game (okay, yes, it's true!). But when I was a kid I was so often jealous of what the boys got to do.

So, to all of you mothers and mothers-someday out there, don't gender segregate your children: let your children participate in the activities they want to participate in regardless of their gender!

(Oh, and I've been canoeing with my dad a bunch, so I guess it's not like I was denied everything!)

Did any of you ladies out there feel left out of activities because of your gender?

Or does anyone disagree with me and think that boys and girls should participate in separate activities? (Or think that that Dug.gars have way too many kids?)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Infertile Woman Not Pregnant

I'm not pregnant.

I know, this should not come as a shock to me after 22 failed cycles. And yet every month I entertain the notion that I could be pregnant, and then I start to be convinced that I am pregnant, even though I know I'm not pregnant.

And I'm never pregnant.

I've never been pregnant, not even once over these 2 years, not after 4 IUIs, not after IVF, not after spending upwards of $16,000. Not once.

I've never seen a positive pregnancy test.

And it feels so idiotic for us to keep throwing (all of our) money at this thing when clearly I CANNOT GET PREGNANT. But without a clear diagnosis, it's easy to hold on to a glimmer of hope, to even consider that maybe there's nothing wrong with me (us) at all, that our timing has just been off and we just need to keep trying.

Sometimes it feels like hope is my enemy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Jane Says Relax

I wanted to get to this before I put it off any longer. I promised you a review of Circle + Bloom's IVF/IUI program, and so here it is.

(Before I begin, I should clarify that I paid out of my own pocket for the IVF/IUI program, I am not affiliated in any way with Circle + Bloom, and was not paid for this review.)

I first heard about Circle + Bloom through Jin's blog, The Truth is Out There. Jin at the time was trying naturally, after doing several clomid cycles. Pretty much 2 weeks after she mentioned on her blog that she was using Circle + Bloom's "Natural Cycle Fertility Program," she announced her BFP.

Hmmmm.... I thought to myself.

That was back in March. In July, Self published an article called "Breaking the Silence on Infertility." In that article I noticed some interesting information in this paragraph:

In a small study of 97 Boston IVF patients younger than 40, women who had participated in 5 to 10 mind/body sessions were 160 percent more likely to get pregnant after a single IVF cycle. And more than two thirds of women with a clinical diagnosis of depression got pregnant after these sessions, whereas none of the depressed women in the control group conceived. The meetings teach relaxation techniques to ease anxiety and cognitive-behavioral strategies to fight depression. "These results can absolutely be replicated," Domar says. "Isolating oneself during fertility treatment is not helpful to getting pregnant."

Hmmmm.... I thought to myself.

On July 17th, when I got my period, and my 4 last-ditch natural cycles before embarking on IVF were over, it was time to get the IVF show on the road.

One month later, on CD1 of my IVF cycle, I purchased the Circle + Bloom IVF/IUI Program. The program comes with 3 sessions to listen to pre-cycle, so I missed out on those (although I listened to 2 of them in addition to the ones I was supposed to be listening to).

So here's how the program works: There are 18 "sessions" total, 3 for pre-IVF; then one every 2 days (so one session for cycle days 1 +2, one for cycles days 3 +4, etc.); one for trigger/retrieval; one for the cycle days in between retrieval and transfer; one for transfer (IVF)/insemination (IUI); and then one every 2 days for the 2ww. Each session is 13 to 19 minutes long.

The sessions start by asking you to take several deep breaths, and then use several different techniques for relaxation. The most common relaxation techniques used are: 1) asking you to concentrate on relaxing each separate part of your body (toes, feet, ankles, calves, knees, etc.); and 2) asking you to imagine that you are in a warm bath, and then imagine each separate body part as it is soothed by the warm water. I found these relaxation techniques to be effective, especially the more sessions I did.

In the second half of each session, once you are very relaxed, you are asked to think positive thoughts specifically related to the part of the cycle you're in. So, during stims, you are asked to visualize your follicles growing and responding well to the meds. In the 2ww, you are asked to visualize the embryos implanting and growing. I found it very therapeutic to lie there in a relaxed state and think these good thoughts about my body and my cycle.

The only 2 complaints I have are that: 1) the woman whose voice you hear is, I believe, the founder of the company, and I'm not sure she has the best voice for relaxation; and 2) although mostly the descriptions used of the various things going on in the cycle were extremely accurate, when talking about the embryo implanting, it was often referred to as "the egg" implanting, and this bothered me a bit, but I have to give them credit that they got things mostly right.

Also, I was a bit worried, since this was an IVF/IUI program, that it would be too geared toward IUI, or try too hard to be totally fair to both IUI and IVF and end up just being confusing. But, if anything, this is actually more geared towards IVF than IUI, although not in a way that I would recommend against it for those undergoing IUI.

So, in summary, I feel that my $59 was well spent. Except for the fact that I didn't get my BFP. I guess that would have been the ultimate recommendation. But I do plan on using it on any future IVF cycles I may have.

And speaking of future IVF cycles, we are getting, little by little, closer to being accepted into this IVF study. We went down to Philadelphia for the first time in the 2ww of our IVF cycle for our initial consultation, then I went back a second time on CD3 after our IVF BFN for an ultrasound and bloodwork (which was considered "testing" and thus not part of the study, so I had to pay for); and then DH and I went back last week (my 3rd time, his 2nd) for a genetic consultation and IVF nursing consult. Now, we just wait for my next period, and then I'll go back for another ultrasound and bloodwork and THEN they will FINALLY submit our paperwork to the study and I will find out a couple weeks after that if I've been accepted into the study. If I am accepted, I'll start stims at my next period, so about a month and a half from now. Oh, and I've found out that they don't do any suppression before the start of stims: no lupron, no BCPs, nothing. This seems weird to me, and I assume it will mean that I end up having a lower response to the stims.

I also want to mention that if anyone reading this is interested in participating in an IVF study, you can go to www.clinicaltrials.gov and search for "IVF" and then, in the refine search tab, limit the studies shown by state to find studies in your area.

Oh, and I finally ovulated, it looks like, yesterday. Cycle day 25 for those not following my cycle obsessively. This is 4 days later than my last latest ovulation, and 9 days later than my average ovulation (average is CD 16, according to Fertility Friend). I was getting a bit worried, but I guess this is somewhat normal the first cycle after IVF. We had "relations" at optimal times and I am now hoping for a miracle, between IVF cycles, BFP. I am not, however, holding my breath on that one.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Off the Deep End

I'm having a hard time.

I've constructed a fantasy world where I'm happy. I described it to my husband and now I can't stop talking about it. In this fantasy world we have twins. We live in the country and grow all our own food, and we have chickens and goats. I sell the extra produce at the local farmers market on the weekend, and I'm a freelance food writer (I know, what?!). I'm still trying to figure out what my husband does in this fantasy world. I've tried getting him to play along but he's not into it. Probably because IT'S CRAZY. But right now it's the only thing that's keeping me going, the idea that maybe this fantasy could be my life someday, instead of infertility and my current soul-sucking job.

My reality:

I wanted my WTF appointment to have its own post, but there's not that much to say. My RE wants to change the way I'm stimmed - he thinks I was slightly over-stimmed and triggered a bit late, and that could account for the poor embryo quality, and he wants to do ICSI to hopefully improve fertilization. I think he might be right and he might be wrong and the only way to find out is to spend another $12,000.

We decided we'd try naturally this month, not because I have any hope of it working, but because not trying, even for one cycle, is just too much like giving up. But I'm now on CD 18 and I'm tired of the OPKs and taking my temperature and just want this cycle to be over. I want TTC to be over. I'm so done with it.

Next month will be 2 years of trying, but it feels like much much longer.