Wisehubby and I had been TTC for a while and, on a hunch, discovered his severe male factor infertility--basically, he has an army of mutant sperm. I'm also mutant; I have a clotting disorder: Factor V. We were on the IVF with ICSI track, and I gave birth to a beautiful boy after IVF #2. We've tried varicocele repair, too--ugh. Our frozen embyro transfer ended in miscarriage at 9 weeks 1 day. We don't know where the quest will take us from here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our visit to the ball doctor, and the new plan

Our Visit to the Ball Doctor

Today we visited Wisehubby's urologist, our third Dr. B (b is for balls?), for a follow-up to months of hormone therapy and our IVF cycle. So, it has been a day filled with ball jokes, one of the only ways that Wisehubby can get past the disappointment he feels in his body. #balljoke

Surprisingly, our failed IVF was informative for Dr. B(alls). He basically said that losing so many of the embryos and having neither of the transferred embryos take means that there is likely something else wrong with Wisehubby's sperm, something that you can't see under the microscope. This poor quality is, according to his theory, what caused our early pregnancy loss and the lack of good embryos for freezing.

Dr. B(alls)'s solution is to do a surgery to close off the extra veins that are "backing up traffic"--his words, not mine--in Wisehubby's testicles. All that extra blood is super-heating and mutating his junk, so that is no good. Dr. B(alls) says that, in his experience, even if the sperm doesn't look better under the microscope afterward, the rate of pregnancy with IVF goes way up.

The recovery for this surgery takes about seven days before the pain subsides.  For optimal results, Dr. B(alls) said that we need to wait six months before trying IVF again. This, of course, bumps up against what we had talked to the male Dr. B about, which brings me to the second half of this blog.

The New Plan

After our WTF follow-up visit with the male Dr. B, we started to formulate our new plan for conceiving our Wisebabies. The male Dr. B suggested that we were unsuccessful in our IVF cycle because "there is some element of chance." He would change very little about my protocol if we were to try again. Dr. B would reduce the initial doses of stimulation drugs, and add menopur, a hormone to support stimulation, just in case. We're also double-checking that I do not have an autoimmune disorder, a precaution that required seven vials of blood.

The male Dr. B did talk with us about how to afford further treatments, since being a public school teacher is not exactly lucrative. That was very helpful.

We tentatively decided to do our second IVF cycle over our fifth wedding anniversary next June because the time seems to be right with our work schedules. This now conflicts with the proposed surgery to correct Wisehubby's rogue veins.

Luckily, Dr. B(alls) offered to squeeze Wisehubby in for surgery next week, which is the last time he'll have available to take a week off to rest post-surgery for while. That means that we'll likely be able to do our second round of IVF next July. Here's an even better scenario: Next July, we will be able to try artificial insemination because Dr. B(alls) delivered on his promise to improve Wisehubby's sperm quality.

Regardless, we've got a plan that we're comfortable with. Thank goodness we're still moving forward, because, for the last seven weeks, I've felt like I have been spinning my tires.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I am a woman.

At a women's group luncheon at church, we were doing some visioning because we have a female pastor on staff for the first time in years. The women's group has fallen apart a bit, by and by, and so we were discussing what we wanted out of it. This naturally lead to a discussion of the importance of not making it something available only to one generation, but to get women, especially younger women, to participate. Then, someone posed the question of what we were defining a younger woman to be. Then came the answer that I least wanted to hear: Someone who has young children.

What does that mean for me? Am I not a woman? Does my childless status somehow disqualify me as being a real woman?

I am sure that the woman didn't mean offense, but there is this sense that a woman is not really fulfilled until she has a child. That her life somehow lacks purpose or meaning. That she is not a woman. She's still just a girl in a grown-up body.

Well, I'm fucking sorry that my grown-up body rejected the only baby that my husband and I have managed to make in our five years of marriage. I'm sorry that despite shelling out $16, 000 for invitro fertilization, all I have to show for it is a fridge full of meds, a box full of needles, and a picture of two blastocysts that were washed out of me by a river of blood nine days after they went in. Oh, yes, I forgot that I've also got a heart that's been broken three times over.

I wanted to scream and shout about it at church, but that wouldn't have been very proper, so I am doing it here.

I am a real woman.

I am not defined by my womb.

I am not childish.

I am devestated.

I am surviving.

I am childless.

I am tired.

I am.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Inspired by grief

I had the opportunity to meet Jordan Sonnenblick, the author of several moving novels for young adults including Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie and Notes from the Midnight Driver this week at school. He gave my students a talk about how he was inspired to write his first two novels. Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie was inspired by a student of his whose brother was sick with cancer. Her experience, though challenging, was positive and moved him profoundly.

Notes from the Midnight Driver, on the other hand, was born of a few challenging situations. Sonnenblick had an eighth grade class from hell that gave him grief. In the midst of struggling with his students, he reflected on his dark times as a teenager, while his parents were getting divorced, and how his grandfather was his rock. As an adult, his grandfather was slipping away slowly because of Alzheimer's. Sonnenblick took a combination of those dark situations in his life and created a beautiful novel about a kid learning to move beyond the shit in his life that he couldn't control.

Afterward, I made a point to introduce myself to Sonnenblick. His novel, Zen and the Art of Faking It, is what inspired me to start writing my own novel for young adults, something that I've set aside a bit during my IVF struggles. I mentioned it ever so briefly to him, and he made a point to encourage me to keep writing.

Most of all, I was encouraged to hear him talk about how powerful it is to write about the nasty crap that is going on in your life. That's what this blog is all about, the fall out from the uncontrollable reality of our infertility. That is what my novel is about, the fall out from the untimely death of my brother. Writing can be a healing process.

I'm stricken with grief because of infertility, but I'm inspired by it, too.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stepping away for a bit

As Wisesister told me, sometimes you just can't think about your grief because you have to keep moving. I've been on a vacation from my grief for the last couple of weeks. Between Thanksgiving vacation and a trip to Austin, it has been tough to keep up with my Twitter feed and blog.

So you know, I'm down, but not out. I'll probably just take a break between now and our December urology appointment so that I can get through the next nine school days without murdering a middle school student. I'll get you all updated on our WTF appointment and plans for the future at that time. Until then, Merry Christmas and let's all start praying for a much happier new year.