Vermont by Train: I Fell in Love

Somewhere in Connecticut

No fertility talk today. Seriously, if all I ever talk about on this blog is how not pregnant I am then I’ll probably put you all to sleep. Myself included.

So, something different: travel!

Recently I attended a three-day work convention in Vermont sponsored by a professional association I belong to (a convention for legal-ly stuff… I won’t bore you with the deets). I’ve always wanted to visit the New England states, but never had reason to, so it was kind of perfect. Plus, my friend/former colleague who lives in the same town as the event was also going to the convention and welcomed me to stay in her home. So, I hopped on an Amtrak and headed north!

Waiting to leave Philly, my city that I love to hate and hate to love.

Once we got past these places…

NYC
Hartford, CT

…the entire landscape opened up, and everything that I imagined NE to be came true. Each scene, each town, was like something straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Immediately I loved it. It was like I was home, even though I’d never visited this place before. Weird.

Rhode Island
Massachusetts
Vermont

After the convention events wound down, I had a day and a half to explore. My resident Vermont friends showed me all the non-touristy spots that I otherwise wouldn’t have found. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I ended up absolutely, completely falling in love with Vermont!  

By nature, I am a conservative person in my religious, political, and social beliefs. That said, there is this complete, entire other side of me that’s uber hippy dippy/environmentally conscious/earthy/libby type. Catering to those elements of myself, I was pleasantly surprised to find in Vermont:

  • Green taxi cabs and recycling recepticles everywhere.
  • A walker-friendly, bicycle-friendly state where motorists don’t try to mercilessly mow you down just for kicks. 
  • Dogs are welcomed virtually everywhere! 
  • Miniature free library stands scattered around random public places. Why add to a landfill what someone else could enjoy? Plus, they’re ridic cute.
  • Vegetarian food abounds! Aside from a very few select areas, Philly is severely lacking in the veg department, save maybe a frozen veggie burger or a bland salad available on some restaurant menus. But in NE, I was treated completely normally when I requested that my hot chocolate be made with non-dairy milk. Every place we went was veg friendly! It was refreshing to actually have real options for once.

Also, I found that:

  • Locals were so friendly and extreeeeeemely chill. 
  • People didn’t drive like complete crack-addled maniacs, unlike the trafficky, crap-icky mess that I usually drive in.
  • Outsiders are enthusiastically welcomed.  My “Vermont friends” are actually relocated Floridians and New Yorkers. They couldn’t say enough about how hospitable and welcomed they were made to feel in their adopted state. 

Right now Jake is in school for the next eight months finishing up his degree. We’ve been discussing lately where we’ll move to once he graduates (we’re currently renting and, three years in, haven’t even fully unpacked our stuff. We’re very uncommitted). Even though most of my family lives in the area, I’m not thrilled about staying in PA. Jake is originally from down south, so there’s literally nothing keeping him here. I left PA once before (for nine years!) before deciding to move back, but there’s nothing stopping me from leaving again. I love my family and all, but I know that it’s healthier for me to have relationships with them long distance. It’s complicated.

Obviously it’s a huge decision that won’t be made after just one visit, but Vermont so far is my #1 relocation choice… Jus’ sayin. ūüôā

Now for the best part—pics overload:

Former mills renovated into modern workplaces.
Much love to my almond milk latte that apparently hearts me back.
Fall foliage
An adorable downtown…
…complete with a convenient husband depository!
Love the idea of handmade caramel apples. But there’s no universe in which I could justify that pricetag! (If you can’t read the teensy sign, they’re charging $8 for one apple.)
Seriously delish… Or should I say “wickedly” delish?
Best season of all!
Hunting for Champ (American version of Loch Ness Monster) in the waters below the Adirondacks… I didn’t find him. Better luck next time I guess. ūüė¶
No shortage of brewery pubs. So much fun to sample the many, many beers available!
Leaving my new fave place. ūüė¶ ūüė¶

Peace. 

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My Cousinless Nephew

Last year I blogged here and here about struggling with my brother and sister-in-law’s pregnancy during our miscarriage. Can I just say that—nearly a year later—it still hurts, it’s still raw, and I’m still having a tough time dealing?

The short recap is that my brother has had two surprise babies conceived and born in the time I’ve been desperately trying for just one. My family pretty much wrote the book on non-communication and how to sweep things under the rug, so infertility is a secret that I guard closely from them. Family dynamics and all…it’s complicated.

My brother and sister-in-law were already well into their pregnancy with baby #2 (I’ll call him Baby) when I found out that we were pregnant from IVF. Our children would’ve been only 6 months apart. During the early weeks of my pregnancy, I could barely contain my excitement to announce to them that Baby had a cousin on the way. I never got that chance, though.  In fact, I received an invitation to Baby’s shower on the same day I found out that my own baby had died inside of me. Then, almost immediately after my second miscarriage, Baby was born.

The whole situation was just textbook terrible. Especially challenging was genuinely sharing in the joy of Baby’s birth so fresh after our loss. So I spent the next little while (okay, 10 months) avoiding my brother and—by association—avoiding Baby. It was surprisingly easy: though they all live close by, my family doesn’t spend much time together.

That is, except for our four get-togethers every year for each of the four major holidays: you know, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and Camping. What can I say? We’re seriously into travel trailer camping… it’s like our very own made up holiday.

On Thanksgiving I ditched my family and went to the beach instead, as the miscarriage had literally just happened and I was still in tons of physical pain. I begrudgingly attended Christmas, where I drank too much wine and ignored Baby’s presence by hanging in the kitchen all night. For Easter, I purposefully sat at the opposite end of the table from Baby and spent the meal talking only with those around me, then made a quick exit. Check, check, and check. That only left one more family get together: camping.

Our annual camping trip was recently. It was the first time I’d seen Baby since Easter, and this time avoiding him was trickier, as campers are not known for their spaciousness. Leading up to camping, I was tripping about whether anyone in my family would comment on my childlessness if I were to go near Baby. Fortunately, no one said anything about it this time, though they have made such comments in the past that hurt very much. Having Baby camping, seeing my family dote on him and make him the focal point of the weekend was… for lack of a better word, rough. Emotionally, it brought everything home that I’ve so successfully psychologically avoided until now.

It’s not Baby’s fault. From the few times I’ve been around him, he’s adorably, preciously, perfectly wonderful. His laugh could melt a heart of steel. His face wears a constant look of wonder and amusement. He rarely cries. He’s insanely awesome. Yet every time I look at him, I have to quickly look away. Because just his being here, so alive and so beautiful, is a sharp, painful reminder that my baby is not here. It reminds me that he’ll never grow up and be in school with his cousin, or become best friends with him/her, or go on family trips together. It’s a taunting reminder of failure that revives my grief as if I were reliving the miscarriage again and again and again.

Let me be clear that it’s not bitterness I’m struggling with here. Not at all. In fact, I’m very happy for my brother to finally have a son after having had three daughters first. To be bitter would be the easiest, most natural response in the world. But, through the grace of God, I’ve learned not to fall victim to every whim of emotion that tries to creep its way inside of me and bitterness hasn’t taken root. His grace has truly gotten me through. No, it is not bitterness. It’s just straight up pain… and heartache. I want to be free of it, but I don’t know how.

Because how can I watch Baby grow up and not feel this constant, underlying current of pain and grief? How will I ever look at him and not fixate instead on the invisible space where his cousin, my own baby, should also be? Will I subconsciously treat him differently than my other nieces and nephews? Or do I instead lavish extra love on him in some convoluted way of paying homage to my own never born baby? 

I don’t know the answers.

Readers, have any of you struggled with a niece’s or nephew’s birth soon after your own loss? Did you have similar issues interacting with their babies? And, perhaps most importantly, does it eventually get easier?

 

 

Starting Back at One: Transfer Day

This morning our only frozen embryo, a grade 5BB hatching day-5 blastocyst, was thawed from its lonely chamber of cryopreservation. The thaw process only takes about an hour, a timeframe that is completely amazing to me. At some point during that one hour, our hatching blast became a fully hatched blast! Transfer day at my clinic becomes Day 1 all over again, so a new countdown now begins.

 

5bb blast
The pic came out a bit wavy since my husband folded (!) the paper it’s printed on. But I still think s/he’s a beaut, crease marks and all!

Between the¬†unscented soap and¬†all-natural crystal deodorant I insisted Jake and I wear, we were both completely¬†sans scent. I even had us brush our teeth¬†with plain baking soda this morning because, you know,¬†just in case. I’m a fortunate girl that he didn’t complain about any of my many¬†restrictions. It might have been unnecessary, but I went a step above and wore no makeup or styling products in my hair just to keep out any unnatural chemicals or subtle scents. I have reallllllly curly hair, so I ended up looking like a small porcupine took up residence on my head without my products, but pssssh, whatevs. Totally worth the outcome. I wanted us to smell like nothing, and I got my wish. Always Be Prepared, right? I would’ve made a phenomenal Boy Scout.

Anyway, Jake* and I were scheduled for a 9:15 a.m. transfer. Being overly prepared for a big day like this (see above), we got to the clinic fifteen minutes early. I had the obligatory “uncomfortably full” bladder as per the¬† clinic’s verbatim instructions, my squeezy stress ball ready¬†for the blood draw (I keep one in my purse to whip out specifically for blood work), plus comfy clothes and a pillow to sit on¬†for the car ride home. All in all, I’d say we were ready.

And once we got to the clinic? We waited. Boy, did we wait! And holy canolis did I have to pee! We waited well over an hour while I squirmed in my seat trying to find a comfortable position before it was finally our turn.

Normally the surgical clinic has extremely short wait times, and I’ve rarely gone in for a procedure and seen anyone else waiting.¬†Not today though:¬†this morning was apparently Day 1 for everyone else in southeastern PA, and the waiting room was packed.¬†It seemed every female patient there had her husband and her mother with her, which opens¬†up a whole other realm of psychological crap on my end that I’ll spare you all the deets on. I just couldn’t help but notice it,¬†cause all these chicks with their mothers’ support¬† suddenly made me feel very alone, like a spotlight shining down on an always-empty place in my life. It’s moments like this that I feel that void the most.¬†But let’s keep it happy here today. I’ll stop digressing.

I knew in advance that Dr. Goodman would be doing my transfer (f/k/a “Dr. G,” but in keeping in line with pseudonyms I want her to have a more “real” fake name if you follow me).¬†This was¬†totally okay by me because I really love Dr. Goodman. She’s my second-fave RE in the practice and has a warm and genuine and relaxing presence. She’s performed my first h/s and first ET, so she knows my uterus well. I never imagined another woman could know my uterus so well. Or that I’d ever type¬†a sentence like that with a completely straight face.

In a twist of non-ironic irony, it turns out I had too full a bladder for transfer. Dr. Goodman took one look at my bladder on the u/s screen before she had me hop off the table. She¬†handed¬†me a cup and instructed me to fill it three times before coming back to try again.¬†If I hadn’t had to pee so badly I almost would’ve laughed. Almost. But I was too busy running down the hall clutching my pee cup to care.

The actual transfer went off without a hitch. I’m a bit crampy from the procedure and sore from the PIO injections, but otherwise I feel fantastic.

I’ve spent the day hanging in my bedroom with Puppy and our new cat¬† Rocky f/k/a/ Tugg (I absolutely had to change his name. I felt like an idiot calling, “Here, Tugg!” across the room. Like a five-year-old). It’s election day here in my state, and while walking the two blocks to my polling center doesn’t sound undoable, in the name of cautiousness I’ll be negligent in my patriotic duties today¬†and skip on casting my vote. I don’t want to look back at anything I did or didn’t do today and have a regret. But still, I’m sorta bummed that I’ll miss out on voting.

Overall, I felt much more confident this time around because I knew exactly¬†what to expect. The whole time the intake nurse was reading off instructions to me on how to¬†change into the garb and how the process was going to go down, I gave her¬†my attention in only a¬†cursory polite way. While she spoke I began wondering¬†about many of you fellow bloggers who’ve been down this road many more times than I have. I wondered if eventually the nurses reach a point where they’re like, “Just go ahead¬†in. You know the drill. Let’s save all our time here and just do this thing.” I don’t want to ever find out.

Lastly, I had this really great post in mind that I wanted to do about TWW stuff. I’m so overly prepared for the TWW that it’s kind of frightening. Most likely I’ll still post it later, but not so late that it’s irrelevant.

It’s not even a true TWW. More like a 10-day wait. Totally doable. You’ll be hearing from me between now and then. No doubt about it.

*Since I began this blog I’ve referred to¬†my husband as “DH,” which is¬†the go-to acronym in the land of infertility message boards. But really, it’s just starting to sound so… blah… like he’s just an extra in a movie instead of¬†the leading man. In the interest of preserving privacy because I will continue to blog anonymously for the foreseeable future, it only seemed right to give him a name. Even if it’s a fake one.

 

No Surgery Needed

nosurgery.png

The results are in: no surgery needed to correct my arcuate uterus! Dr. C called me today and said that all the REs in the practice reviewed my recent hysteroscopy; between them all there’s over a hundred years’ of experience.¬†They all agreed that my “dent was moderate” (his words), but not enough so that I should get it fixed surgically.

I’m, of course,¬†good with this. I see¬†the situation¬†kinda like a car: you can drive a dented car and still get around just fine. I guess dented uteruses can be seen¬†the same way? Cause we all know how similar cars and uteruses are….

And—since a few of you guys suggested a¬†recurrent miscarriage panel to me—I¬†floated the idea¬†by Dr. C. ¬†To my surprise, he was totally down with it. He said it was definitely worth doing the panel before transfer, and that he’d have nursing call me to¬†schedule the blood test. So a big thank you to those of you who mentioned the idea; otherwise¬†I wouldn’t have known to even ask for it. You guys are total rock stars and I heart you.

Dr. C and I are on the same page with things right now, which is great: There’s nothing worse than fighting your doctor on something you want done but which he/she doesn’t think is needed. Right now I’m, like, in love with my RE. DH understands. We all have our doctor crushes from time to time.

I’m feeling better about things. Now I just need NO MORE SCARES between now and transfer time to maintain my good perspective. I’m guessing the panel will be drawn soon and I’ll hopefully have a very non-updated update¬†to post afterward.

Peace.

Three Days Sober and AMH Score

ifobsessed

Today is day three of¬†being sober. Sober from¬†what? Why,¬†from infertility talk!¬†I feel like I should be awarded one of those medallions like they give you in AA. (I mean this as no disrespect to AA, I just sometimes feel like an infertility junkie. It’s like consumed my life.) I decided that DH and I would not discuss infertility-related anything¬†until we have our IVF consult on July 8. I just can’t handle any more conversations about it between then. Mentally, I need a break (blogging, of course, doesn’t count. Of course). It seems like any talk about it now is just us just going ’round and ’round in circles.¬†We’re in this weird limbo right now: I’m not tracking with my RE, I opted to skip doing a¬†“dry” Clomid round this cycle, the HSG is over, we can’t start IVF yet, and we’re just trying naturally. What else is there to say? Honestly, I find that since we haven’t discussed it in a few days, I’m only thinking about IF about 80% of the time instead of 100%. That’s HUGE!

About IVF: I realize this is a very specific situation, but my Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) score was 0.6. This is¬†a very low score. In fact, 0.6 hovers somewhere on the¬†border between “Low” and “Very Low.” My doctor likes to see at least 1.2 or above for a successful IVF. Dr. C described¬†my results¬†as, “Not great, but not terrible.” Then he immediately (gently) suggested¬†going down the road of donor eggs. I shut him down quick by¬†stating we aren’t interested in¬†using donor eggs.

What I’m confused about¬†is that¬†I only have one ovary. So is my low score really not all that low? As in, would my¬†score be doubled if I had two ovaries?¬†Does AMH testing really count for a person with only one ovary, or was it a waste of a trip to LabCorp? Any input is greatly appreciated.

Unblocked Tubes Can Still be Blocked

Yesterday¬†I had my HSG. The good news? My tube (yes, that’s singular and not a typo) is not blocked! The dye ran freely through it and each of the five other people in the room¬†were happy to see that (yes, you read right, there were¬†five other people in the room with me, not a typo). BUT, that doesn’t mean my tube’s not blocked from the outside.

Confused?

Yeah, me too.

For anyone who wants to know what the procedure was like, maybe you’re about to have the same thing done, well here ya go:

Dr. C (looking adorable in a pink and yellow Hawaiian printed x-ray vest, mind you) had a difficult time getting to my cervix. Just like Dr. B did, except instead of six minutes of fiddling around down there, it took him about a minute. He said my cervix is pushed waaaay to the left and is pointed toward my left hip. My uterus is also tilted thirty degrees to the left. Basically, everything is either on or pointing to the left. Anyway, he inserted the catheter and I both felt and saw the dye traveling through on the screen at the same time;¬†freaky. It hurt like whaaaaa when he put in the speculum and catheter and I really wished that they would numb you¬†first. I felt immediate cramping when the dye was injected. (Oh, and for the record, the remaining four people in the room were the radiographer, radiographer assistant, random required hospital female to make sure no one does anything naughty, and a med school student.) We watched the dye travel across the screen, lighting up as it went, and flow through the tube and, from there,¬†into wherever it goes next. They took¬†x-ray images by lowering the x-ray machine over my lower abdomen and, that was it—done! The whole thing took less than ten minutes. I was handed a pad and instructed to change into my regular clothes. I had some spotting and clotting yesterday and today, and¬†am generally pretty sore¬†from the speculum, but otherwise feel fine.

I asked Dr. C why I’ve been experiencing years of infertility if my tube is unblocked,¬†I’m ovulating normally, have a standard cycle length, and am making and releasing follies. He replied that even though¬†my tube is open from the inside, it could still be blocked¬†from the outside with endometriosis adhesions and/or scar tissue.

Huh?

I’m no doctor, but if it were blocked on the outside from adhesions, then wouldn’t the dye have not been able to flow through? He tried to explain it to me in terms of picturing a baseball glove catching and releasing a ball, but I was totally lost and didn’t (don’t) really understand the analogy since I was feeling out of sorts.

Overall though, Dr. C was very kind, compassionate, upbeat, and cool about everything. He told¬†me to schedule an IVF consult with him for the upcoming week. I haven’t scheduled¬†the consult¬†yet because¬†I’m still kind of scared to commit to IVF, but I’m getting there. Slowly. I just want at least¬†this one last month to try naturally. Or maybe get¬†a prescription for a bottle of these:

fertility pill

 

IUI #1

ifdef

This morning was my first IUI. It wasn’t terrible and it wasn’t wonderful, it just…. was what it was, I guess. I don’t have any past experience¬†to compare it to, but I get the impression it was pretty unremarkable as far as these procedures go.

I dropped of DH’s specimen around 8:00 a.m., had an u/s and blood work at the office, then was free to go kill two hours. I took myself out for breakfast at some random diner, went to the bank, sat in the car and talked on the phone to DH, and screwed around on my phone, until it was time to head back to Dr. B’s office.¬†I was¬†immediately ushered¬†in to the exam room where I waited on every gal’s favorite place to catch some zzzzzzs:

gynchair

And I waited. And waited. Finally, almost a half hour later, Dr. B and the u/s tech came in. Dr. B pulled out the speculum, which to me is the stuff¬†that nightmares are made of (seriously, look at that thing. It probably hasn’t changed one bit since the Middle Ages):

speculum

Then he went to work! He was, however,¬†tinkering around down there for what seemed longer than usual. Once again, Idk what “usual” should be here, so finally after a few minutes, I asked Dr. B what exactly he was doing to my lady bits. He replied that because of my many surgeries, my cervix has been drastically¬†pushed to one side (it should be centered) so he was having difficulty actually getting to it. This went on for about 5 or 6 minutes. Finally he got the catheter into my pesky cervix and inserted/injected/Idk-what DH’s specimen. The whole experience¬†was definitely uncomfortable-bordering-on-painful. I just cringed, kept my eyes shut, and tried to go to my happy place for those seemingly-endless ten minutes.Once it was over i was instructed to lay on the exam table for fifteen¬†minutes before getting dressed to leave.

After the IUI I went to work, where I almost immediately started¬†to not feel well. I began experiencing¬†moderate-to-heavy cramping and, weirdly enough, nausea. Like crazy nausea. Boss sent me home after one hour at work, which was prefaced with the expression, “You look terrible (thanks?)! I don’t want to know what they did to you this morning, but you look really sick. Go home. And good luck, i hope it works out for you.” (AWKWARD!) But who am i to argue with the big Boss? I was actually very relieved, as the prospect of spending 5 hours at work was pretty awful.

Currently chilling at home with my heating pad, remote controls, cranberry juice, and my sweet, sweet Puppy. There’s a bit more to the story which I’ll post about separately; I simply¬†don’t have the oomph right now. I just wanted to get this out there because I know a few other ladies who’re preparing for their first IUI’s this week, and I wanted to share my experience to hopefully help prepare them for their own.

Baby dust to you all!