Archives for the month of: October, 2014

Sometimes calm, sometimes going crazy of course. I’ve been up googling symptoms in the middle of the night for the past two nights. I’ve been really emotional and teared up in Whole Foods today for no reason. What is there to cry about in Whole Foods?! I’ve felt some mild cramps and lots of twinges since yesterday, but part of me thinks I must always have this, it’s probably just gas and I’m just noticing it more. I wish I’d paid attention to my abdominal area last week so I could remember if these twinges are just part of normal life.

It’s my fourth day not exercising. I don’t really feel like eating as much although I’m still trying to eat lots of protein and vegetables, like eggs with spinach each morning and vegetable soup with chicken. Last night we went out for Thai food, which was spicy and warming.

Green curry with brown rice and egg rolls

Green curry with brown rice and egg rolls

Today Los Angeles actually feels like Halloween. The temperature dropped and it’s been chilly and overcast. I love it! It’s my day off (I work a 9/80) so I had a leisurely morning distracting myself with wedding stuff on Pinterest, then went to Whole Foods to get everything for our Halloween dinner. I’m making Marcella Hazan spaghetti and meatballs with sauteed swiss chard and gluten-free pumpkin spice donut holes. We’re handing out candy with our neighbors and planning to watch a semi-scary movie (not horror, we don’t do horror). With two or three more days until I can take a pregnancy test, I’m glad there’s cooking and wedding planning to do!

I’ve been getting adorable pictures of my niece Guiliana all day from my mom. Tomorrow is her first birthday! I’m missing it because of the FET and not being able to travel, but I sent her a gift I bought in Italy and hoping this sacrifice will give her another cousin!

Giuliana being crazy cute!

Giuliana being crazy cute!

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I’m not religious, but I’ve always felt connected to the world in a spiritual way. My parents brought us up agnostic, but I wanted so badly to have a spiritual outlet. In sixth grade I started going to my friend’s Methodist church with her family, joined the choir and the youth group and loved it. When I was nineteen my mom sent me to Kripalu, a yoga center in eastern Massachusetts where I meditated, did yoga and prayed all day, and I loved that too. Finally in graduate school I found the Unitarian church and it really resonated. I went every week for about two years, then wanted something even more and started attending an extremely liberal Christian church in San Diego with a gay pastor, and kept going to Christian churches for a couple of years. When my life kind of fell apart a little over two years ago, I stopped going to any church and I haven’t been back since, although it’s been calling to me lately.

I do believe that there’s a higher power out there, but I also believe a lot of it is science. I believe in a higher order and in chaos theory. I believe that if you put your attention into something in a positive way, you create thoughts and actions that set things in action in the direction you’re paying attention to. I’ve seen the studies where water that is prayed over crystalizes in beautiful ways.

This is just background info for what I’m about to say. I’ve been praying several times a day. I’ve been talking to God, to the Universe. I’ve been looking for signs and talking to my embies and pretty much begging for a pregnancy, and then for that pregnancy to last. Please.

Yesterday morning I woke up in a wonderful mood. Usually I’m tiptoeing around in the dark, trying to leave and not wake J up, but yesterday she woke up early too, turned on all the lights and we had coffee together. I sang Prince’s “Purple Rain” to her because it’s one of our songs. Prince and J are both from Minnesota and we once slow danced to this song in my living room.

A few minutes later, on my 110 South commute, I started sobbing. I was overcome with a sense of need and desire for the embies to implant, and to stay. I started telling them that we would be excellent moms, that they would grow up in a calm, happy household, that we would do the very best we could, that they wanted to stay because we’re a good choice for them. I asked for God to bring me the abundance I’ve been hoping for in 2014, asking for forgiveness for my negativity, and continued strength to hold the good things coming my way with grace.

While I was crying, I looked up and the license plate in front of me said “USC Keck School of Medicine.” This is the school connected to our fertility clinic, where our doctor teaches. I took this as a sign. Suddenly, Prince’s “Living Comet” came on the radio. Living comets, shooting stars, as our doctor calls them, the shooting stars that our embies looked like as they floated into my uterus.

I’m saying another prayer right now – embies, please burry in. Please get warm and comfortable. Please stick around and trust that J and I will welcome you, take care of you, raise you well, make you laugh, support you. Please stay.

Here’s a quick synopsis of our embryo transfer yesterday, since it was so similar to the first one! You can read the details of my spring 2014 transfer here:


Yesterday morning I did some yoga and meditation, ate a healthy breakfast and got ready to go to the clinic. This time I kept my bladder full, which I wasn’t so good at the first time. The financial “counselor” called us in first so we could settle the $4,000 for the procedure. Our IVF coordinator brought me a Valium which was very nice of her. Most people don’t take a Valium for the transfer, but I’ve had vasal-vagal reactions to pap smears before, and although I’ve gotten better at deep breathing and not almost passing out, I figured it would help me calm down and deal with the small pain of the procedure.

I wore the hospital socks they gave J during her egg retrieval for good luck (thank you, LadyLove)! I wore the same dress I wore last time, which I hope will become a maternity dress. I loved all of the awesome rituals you all shared with me on transfer/IUI day – thank you! It really helped me feel excited and supported yesterday. You’re all so creative and nurturing about this process.

The transfer went perfectly – the embryologist passed our embryos to our doctor and she slid them through the catheter. I didn’t see the “shooting star” like I last time, but we could see the catheter in the ultrasound machine, and at the end we could clearly see the two bright white spots of the embryos, which are actually just the fluid around the embryos, as they’re microscopic. Our doctor said that the embryos were pretty advanced, almost like 6-day blasties. We also have assisted hatching. I don’t know if that means that the embryo hatches faster, but I know that the embryologists somehow get the process of hatching started before the transfer.

blasties

We stopped at the french bakery near our house on the way home for a chocolate croissant and bread pudding. I took two naps yesterday and watched a cute indie movie called Expecting on Amazon. I ate an delectable grilled cheese and kale sandwich and soup, and in the afternoon my croissant with warm almond milk. I’m not so good at bedrest, and I also cleaned up the house, made homemade cream of celery soup, and helped J make fajitas for dinner. So far today I haven’t had many carbs, just eggs, vegetables, nuts, fruit, chicken and hummus, as I read that a whole foods, high-protein diet is good for implantation. I do plan on eating some bread pudding tonight though!

meal

I tried to take it easy at work today but I ended up having to cover an Anger Management group that was awful. Two women cursed me out and walked out of group just because I started with a relaxation exercise. I was so anxious I sweated through my dress. Other than that, I was able to stay pretty calm. When J got home she ran over and said hello to the embies. We’re sending them so much love and hope.

pineapple

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I knew that I would feel anxious about implanting, but I actually feel terrified. I feel like I’m going to cry from the fear. I also feel warm and happy, having J’s embies back inside of me where they belong.

I feel like I’m holding my breath. This morning when I woke up I spent some time praying, asking for our embies to hatch successfully, to burry in, and to stay. I visualized this happening. I feel so much more connected to them than I did the first time, probably because I felt close with my fetus who didn’t make it, and have had four more months to think about them, four more months to see us as moms, four more months to understand that these last two embies are so loved and depended on.

Tonight I’ll post a brief story of our transfer with some pictures. I’ll have extra time after work now during the time I usually work out for an hour.

It is very daring to have hope when odds are slim and you’re already fighting bitterness. One of my brave clients shared in a therapy group this week that without hope, she would still be using crack and wouldn’t be surrounded by strong, loving people at the clinic. I want to learn from her, someone who has lived in a Hell I’ll probably never know. I will have faith today, I will be grateful, and I will honor this beautiful chance at life by giving it hope. 

MORNING POEM

Every morning

the world

is created.

Under the orange

sticks of the sun

the heaped

ashes of the night

turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches –

and the ponds appear

like black cloth

on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.

If it is your nature

to be happy

you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination

alighting everywhere.

And if your spirit

carries within it

the thorn

that is heavier than lead –

if it’s all you can do

to keep on trudging –

there is still

somewhere deep within you

a beast shouting that the earth

is exactly what it wanted –

each pond with its blazing lilies

is a prayer heard and answered

lavishly,

every morning,

whether or not

you have ever dared to be happy,

whether or not

you have ever dared to pray.

~ Mary Oliver

Tomorrow morning is our second attempt at getting pregnant. Throughout my workday I kept getting excited, then nervous. If we don’t get pregnant or we have a miscarriage, we won’t be having a reciprocal IVF baby because we won’t have any embryos left. It feels like a lot of pressure, but I feel hopeful too. Sharing our lives with a child would be amazing, and I hope he or she chooses us.

For those of you who have done IUIs and fresh transfers and FETs, what are some beliefs or activities you do surrounding these procedures? Do you eat a special diet, have an acupuncture session, or wear something special? For my first transfer I wore a new maxi dress that I was looking forward to using in maternity. After the transfer, J and I watched Knocked Up, my favorite baby-type movie. This time around we did a special shopping trip for foods that’s are supposed to support implantation – a whole pineapple, of course (but not too much), lots of protein like organic chicken, beans, leafy greens, and walnuts. I read an article about a study that showed that women who ate a high-protein, lower carb diet had better chances of responding well to ART.

It feels like Christmas is coming, and I hope I don’t get coal! Even our kitties seem in tune with the nervous excitement, being super cuddly and clingy. We made veggie burgers with whole wheat buns, melted cheese, sautéed kale, veganaise, sriracha, and avocado for dinner, with homemade root beer floats. Most importantly, J brought home a “morning sickness kit” from Whole Foods. It consists of organic saltines, whole wheat oatmeal cookies, squeezable applesauce I can take anywhere, apple juice and salted corn nuts. If we don’t get pregnant, it’ll be a great hangover kit!

Please share your little procedure rituals of you have them!

Lessons from the strong and complicated women of South Central

This was an incredible week at work, listening to women with trauma histories battle through their pasts, fight their addictions, realize the deliciousness of taking care of themselves, only to fall on their faces again and live to talk about it (to me). Today at work I was so overwhelmed and stressed, with clients showing up unscheduled, in crisis or needing paperwork or five clients wanting to talk to me “just for a minute.” Each session I have comes with the burden of a clinical note and I felt like I was drowning in a lake of their emotions and my desire to make things better in what little ways I try to.

In the middle of it all I stopped to fax an updated consent form to our fertility clinic, and it occurred to me that the stress of my job isn’t going to be good for my embryo transfer next week; my cortisol levels need to be balanced. I also had gone to a meditation workshop at my yoga studio Sunday night, which helped me realize something: no matter how hard I work, how emotionally involved I get with a client, how fast I type their notes, it won’t change the nature of the job. I’ll never be caught up because the second I am, a woman whose treatment I care about deeply is in the waiting room again. I can take deep breaths, slow down my documentation, stop rushing around, and probably get the same amount of work done; it’s all in my perspective. I love the feeling of being stimulated and engaged, I even like the paperwork part, but this job is definitely tipping over into excessive pressure. Once I realized that I may as well do the work but remain calm, I felt like I could show up emotionally for my clients so much more. Instead of worrying about how I was going to get everything done, I enjoyed meeting with them. Towards the end of the day, I was sitting with a woman in her twenties who experienced sexual trauma a few years ago and is having trouble dating. I usually feel a bit helpless with her because she’s incredibly negative and self-pitying, but today I felt my heart open up and reach out to her. Verbally, my interventions were genuine and had just the right amount of compassionate challenge. She seemed to respond well and we left the session on a really good note.

I’m going to try to maintain this calm all weekend and throughout our TWW. Hopefully this kind of lesson will finally sink in and I’ll just calm down in general!

Hormone Preparation

Last night I started progesterone and reduced estrogen to twice a day instead of three times. I had to order $100 worth of estrogen but have progesterone from our first cycle. This morning I had to call our IVF coordinator to confirm that I inserted a progesterone last night, or they won’t proceed with the transfer. J and I also re-did the consent form we signed at the beginning of the cycle saying we wanted to thaw and transfer one embryo; we will now be transferring two. J literally discussed with me all aspects of the possibility of having twins – where we would live, which of our mothers would help out and how, how we would save enough money to raise two children at the same time. I think she feels more comfortable now that we’ve had more experience and done more research and processing. I’m happy to be transferring two and increase the chances of getting pregnant.

Tonight we opened some champagne to celebrate J’s success at work and enjoy some final provision before I stop drinking for an undetermined amount of time. Tomorrow night I’m going to my friend’s annual costume party in San Diego and will be masquerading as the Black Canary! I’ll definitely post pics.

I’m on CD 11. This morning I went to the clinic by myself for the first time, I can’t believe J’s so sweet she’s never left me alone there! Today she had to go out of state for work but it was a piece of cake because I’m used to everything now. I had bloodwork and my progesterone is .2, which apparently is good. The US showed my lining to be between 7.6 and 8.1, a tiny bit thinner than CD 11 last cycle, but not by much. Our IVF coordinator went over everything with me; I’ll reduce the estrace to twice a day on Thursday and begin progesterone. Monday night, the night before the transfer, I take doxycycline, then another doxy dose the morning of the transfer.

J is considering transferring two embryos. We had decided to transfer only one because we really don’t want multiples, but after looking at the cost of each embryo transfer (around $5,000) and the stats, I think she’s leaning towards two. In transferring two, our clinic’s stats are 50% chance of pregnancy with 10-20% chance of twins. In transferring only one, there’s only a 20% chance of pregnancy. We only have two embryos left, so if we transfer two, we’re, um, putting all our eggs into one basket so to speak.

Work is very stressful and I’ve been subpoenaed to appear in court to testify in a criminal case my former client is involved in. This means that I’ll have to drop everything and appear in court in Santa Ana (a long drive) for a day either this week or next week. I feel like this kind of stress isn’t good for the week before or week of the transfer 😦

I other news, we’ve been having fun looking at engagement rings! J loves artistic, structural jewelry, true to her architectural craft. She’s found a wonderful designer in Michigan who makes modern, recycled rings with conflict-free diamonds. I love their stuff, but I can’t imagine there isn’t a designer here in LA who does the same. I can’t find one that we like as much as the Michigan one.

Here’s the designer:

Kara Daniel Jewelry

The rings we’re considering:

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We would design our own custom ring from a combination of these. My mom thinks they’re too modern for me, but I love wearing something That reminds me of J and her work and passion, and I actually like the tension-set diamonds. Any thoughts? I Need help!

Thanks for being supportive of my adding in some engagement stuff!

“Be drunk in love, since love is everything that exists.” – Rumi

Being engaged for the second time is fucking scary. I want to love it, revel in it, embrace it, and I hope that blogging about the fear will help dissipate it so that my soul can do these things.

I was engaged a few years ago. It was a well-thought out engagement; my ex and I were together for three and a half years, she had an elaborate and heartfelt proposal, we spent two months designing coordinating rings, and we began planning our wedding. It’s not like she didn’t think it through all the way or it was impulsive. Then she changed her mind. She said that she realized I wasn’t “the one” when we started wedding planning. I loved the planning, enjoyed viewing gorgeous, earthy weddings online, thinking about the details that would make our wedding special. She said I was a “bridezilla” for being excited about the wedding, even though all I was doing was normally planning the wedding. Sidenote – I was only doing half of what most women who get engaged do. I believe some lesbians, unfortunately, have some internalized homophobia when it comes to weddings. A lot of our “friends” at the time were weird about our wedding planning, and none were married. I’m so happy that lesbian weddings are becoming more and more a part of our society. Anyway, she left me right after we put down a deposit on our photographer, refused to give any of the money back, and did many other horrible, cold and unexpected things I won’t waste any more time explaining.

Fast-forward – J is amazing. She’s trustworthy, loving, and seems to be as excited about our engagement as I am. She brings things up on her own, like showing me the engagement ring designer website and asking if we can finish our engagement announcement of her own accord. She points out that having a baby is more of a commitment than getting married, and that she’s already dove into that process by literally giving me, and our future family, a part of her body. Plus, as she jokingly put it, what’s the likelihood of having two weddings called off in one lifetime? Haha. The point is, she’s so different and we’re so different. So how can I move away from being so gun-shy?

Fear is no way to be engaged. Grasping onto someone, or something, is no way to have a romance. This is likely what happened with my ex; I was holding on for dear life by diving into wedding planning, probably because deep down, I knew it was all we had; we were no longer connected and to be honest, had I more self-confidence, I would have admitted this to myself and moved on of my own accord. I don’t want to grasp onto J, nor do I need to. She’s not going anywhere, and knowing that deep within my bones will serve us both.

J is well aware of these fears, and she has been so reassuring. As our relationship grows, I need less reassurance. The engagement has brought up some fear, yes, but I know this fear will be short-lived.

Here’s a summary of Thich Nhat Hanh’s ideas on true love, to remind myself and hopefully all of you what it means to have a truly open heart:

Maitri – loving kindness is the desire and ability to bring joy to someone else. In order to love someone without hurting her, you must understand her, not in terms of yourself, but outside of yourself. To do this, we must listen and see the person.

Karuna – the desire and ability to ease the pain of someone, which requires understanding the nature of her suffering.

Mudita – out of understanding and easing suffering comes joy. A loving relationship is not all meditation and suffering – joy is at the heart of true love.

Upeksha – equanimity and freedom. When you love someone, you bring her freedom. Giving your Love all of the above also gives her security and space, which brings ultimate freedom.

This is paraphrased from the book True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh. The ideas are Buddhist in nature, but seem so universal to me. I’m putting forth an intention to love J wholly, not through my fear or grasping, but from a place of openness, confidence and joy.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” -Rumi

By the way, I hope my lovely WP friends like weddings. I know most of you have already had that chapter, and your gorgeous wedding pics inspire me! I’d love to share wedding planning with you in the future, if you’re interested. This may become a pregnant bride blog!

There’s a lot to catch up on since we returned from Italy, and with our new engagement, it’s happening fast! One thing I like about IVF is the flexibility and control you have with scheduling, although if you’re trying to conceive in your own home, I supposed it’s way more flexible! I stayed on the birth control a few extra days when we got back so that I would have Day 2 of my period on a Saturday and not have to miss work.

Day 2 we had an ultrasound and my lining was normal for that time of the month (very thin). I had the same endometrial cysts I’d had prior to starting our original IVF cycle in the spring, which they weren’t worried about. They call these “chocolate” cysts because they’re full of blood and dark, and I just want to say that I think that’s gross. Thanks for ruining chocolate for me, fertility clinic. Because things were normal, I didn’t have to have any bloodwork. The nurse went over our cycle schedule with us. I started Estrace twice daily.

Today we went in for my hydrosonogram to see if there was any scarring from the D & C. I took ibuprofen and a Valium, because I have vasal-vagal reactions when it comes to medical things being in my vagina. Our favorite nurse took mercy on me and brought it out to the waiting room. I waited for it to kick in, but while I was getting undressed I saw the tools and speculum on the counter and thought about how the doctor who discovered our miscarriage was about to do my procedure. I started sobbing. I’ve been so happy with the engagement and work and everything that I haven’t felt very emotional, and all of a sudden I was scared. Scared that something would be wrong, or that we won’t get pregnant, or worst of all, that we’ll have another miscarriage. J was of course sweet and supportive.

When the doctor came in (our own doctor wasn’t there today), I told her I love her but she better tell me something good because now I associate her with my miscarriage. I know, I have no filter. I had an US first. My uterine lining is 5.9mm and they want it to be 7 by Tuesday, so that’s fine. However, once I was in the stirrups and the doctor put the catheter through my cervix, I was extremely uncomfortable. It hurt! Wow. I don’t even want to think about the pain. She apparently put water in my uterus and looked around but I was so uncomfortable I had to take J’s word for it. There was good news though, no scarring and my uterus looks great.

I went up to Estrace 3x daily today. Our embryo transfer is scheduled for October 28th. Doing IVF and working full-time is really hard. I don’t want to miss any work, especially since we have a clinical meeting every morning at 8 and then I have clients and groups back-to-back, and rescheduling things is really difficult. Today our IVF coordinator emailed to ask if we could change the transfer to the 29th, but I’m already booked with clients all day that day, so I asked it to be kept on the 28th. Then I get anxious – what day is best for our blastie? So many factors to consider, but our nurse said that it doesn’t matter which day we do it, it was just a scheduling consideration. Our embryo is actually kind of a 6-day blastocyst, as it grew an extra day after our original transfer before it was frozen. J pointed out that these embies are frozen in time – if this one becomes our little child, he or she will be several months older that she really is, if you count the time she spent frozen at the clinic, waiting for us to create her.

Since we’re only transferring one embryo, and since I experienced a miscarriage I didn’t think would happen, I’m not as excited as I was last time. I feel that anything could happen and I’m just going to try to be as open as possible. In the meantime, I’ve been sick with a cold this whole week and haven’t been exercising too much, but trying to eat healthy and drink decaf instead of regular in the afternoons. Our fertility doctor doesn’t think that any special diets or herbs will make any difference with implantation or any other part of IVF, but she does suggest eating healthy and cutting way back on exercise during implantation, so that’s what we plan on doing.

J has a new niece. She’s three weeks old. J just left for the baptism, and because I keep getting sick I didn’t want to travel or get the new baby sick, so we canceled my plane ticket and I’m home alone for the weekend. I’m having fun looking at engagement rings and thinking about wedding and baby stuff! I’m very sorry to miss her new niece’s baptism, though, and can’t wait to meet the little baby soon!