Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another New Year

So every year I seem to renew my vow to myself to continue to hope, fight and be thankful for whatever I have in this moment.

This is all fine and dandy, and honestly, it's been a much nicer holiday not having spent it in the hospital with Daddy having a MI...so in spite of the multitude of NCLEX questions I do everyday, I'm not trading this year for last, but I would like to take a moment to recognize an emptiness.

I felt it more this year than ever. I lazily scrolled through Facebook posts on Christmas Eve and giggled as my friends diligently updated Santa on their toy-finishing assignments. But it hit me that I was tired of having Santa still come for me. I wanted to be up putting a Barbie dream house together. So I did what any 30-sumpthin does when she is sad, and I laid my head in my mother's lap and let her rub my back while I whined about life not being fair.

It's hard to make use and appreciate time you don't want. Honestly though, I'm starting to resent not having children. I'm tired of being asked if I've traveled and seen what I want to see. Well, yes and no. I've seen what I want to pay for. As a closet miser, I hate paying for "leisure" activities. A piece of me literally dies when I think about paying for a trip when I could buy new counter-tops and have them forever. Plus I have the Travel channel, and a zoo. So what's the point? If you're paying...and I don't have to fly in a 40 year old germ canister...well, then different story, but I'm digressing...

Ok, so I really feel like I'm missing out more than ever right now. Emma doesn't need help opening her presents anymore, the cats don't give a rat's hind end. It's just BJ, me, and our fur-babes. We're more than ready for the next challenge.

So as we embark on what will become our 5th year trying to conceive a child, I get it that there are no guarantees. Simply, I toast this margarita to my empty uterus. You've brought me a lot of pain, tears, and despair, but you've also taught me what courage is. So instead of naming off the things I'm thankful for and how hopeful I am that this year will be different, I'm just going to say 'Bring it, Bitch.'

Peace, Love, and Happy New Year!
Mary Katherine

Monday, December 23, 2013

Why Egg Donation

This has been a hard post to write because this has been a hard progression for me to make personally. I'm sure people are going to ask why did you choose this route? Simply told it's the next best thing to a natural conception that MAY be able to give us success. I am by no means against adoption. After working with the public, in a counseling job, etc...it's simply not my first choice. So with all honesty...

A little over 2 years ago, I could not even bear to think about using donor eggs.  It was a failure.  I wanted my children with blonde hair, blue eyes, and my spunk (or as Kanye would say, "musical genius" or sass...or whatever you'd like to call it...).  I was seriously worried that I would not bond with a baby that was not genetically mine.  It took a good year to year and a half to mourn my eggs, my genetics, my family line.  That idea of a 4-year-old mini-me looking back at me as if she knew something I didn't...All of those hopes, dreams and desires had to be mourned. 

It's not easy to let go of something you've thought about since you were a teen. This wasn't just my dream car, or house, or a pipe dream. This is something relatively simple and not monetary-related. It's just reproducing. What most couples can take for granted has been denied to us. It wasn't something with which we expected to have difficulty. There is a lot of resentment that goes along with that. Letting go of that resentment, really accepting the situation, and mourning all those "mini-me" moments I thought I would have, all those quirks I thought I would laugh/cringe about passing along, took time. I now know deep in my heart, without a doubt that I'd rather be a mother to BJ's biological children or to a stranger's biological child than none.

I'm sure when people find out we are pursuing egg donation the "just adopt" barrage will increase. On many levels it's so much more complex than "just".  When we explain to these people we aren't actively pursuing adoption "just" yet, we get that, "but there are so many children looking for a good home."  Somehow, BJ and I get turned into selfish people because we don't immediately drop everything and hire an adoption attorney and adopt up all those poor, starving children.  As if it were just like going to an animal shelter and picking out a cat or a dog...Yet, I don't hear my friends who've had children the good, old-fashioned way complain about lectures from strangers telling them to adopt all the needy kids in the world. If you think about it, they have already proven themselves competent...I may start a new fad...Hey! Everyone I know that has a kid and it's turned out pretty good so far...JUST ADOPT!!!

A particularly bitter run-in with a total stranger who gave me the "This is God telling you, you don't need a baby, but a broken child,"spiel (yeah...that's what she said...) I actually looked at our state's website for children who were available through our foster-to-adopt program.  Amazingly, BJ and I would not have been the preferred choice for many if any of these children.  For instance, one child wanted a "2 Mom home"...Gender reassignment is a bit much for me to ask BJ to do.  Several required previous adoption/fostering/parenting experience.  Some warned "not good with small animals".  I love my cats and dog too much to open my home to a child with sociopathic tendencies.  There are good adults out there with training, education and experience to parent these children, but BJ and I are not those people. If we were to give birth to a child with problems such as these which is always a possibility we would be in a world of hurt and would need to rely on a lot of resources. Fortunately for us and our future children, we aren't alcoholics, we don't like to beat each other up, or play mind games so that lowers the chances of a child we raise from birth developing a major personality disorder a good bit. But we can't fix one that's already developed. Not even the professionals can...

Domestic Infant Adoption...can easily be more expensive than fertility treatments (IVF included). Long, possibly, really LONG,waiting  periods.  Super invasive process with social workers that hurts my feelings even thinking about (I mean babies who spend months in the NICU b/c their moms shot up drugs the entire time they were pregnant get to take their babies home, but you are going to make make me feel bad because we pursued fertility treatments before adoption?)...Oh, and there is no guarantee that the adoption will go through even after you've invested money that you will not get back if you are paying your birth mother's living expenses. You can't control what your birth mother does with her body while she's pregnant good, bad or worse.  On the positive side...you can be with the baby as soon as it is born if the birth mother allows it. You can work out how open you want "open" to be. There are a few good agencies out there, but none of them are close to me.  Different states have different relinquishing dates and my state is one of the longest and makes me not want to adopt here if we do adopt...Definitely still in our playbook, but not our current front runner until we've tried other pursuits first.

International Adoption...we'd love a newborn...not gonna happen with this. Still an option, however. All I have to do is show BJ the video of the young gymnasts training in China and BJ melts...
This all depends that these countries don't follow the lead of Russia and close the US off to adopting.

Embryo Adoption...definitely an option, but why deny BJ something he is capable of having?  We have a great program right in our backyard with National Embryo Donation Center.  Plus our clinic also does their own embryo adoptions.

So our current front runner option is to go ahead and pursue egg donation.

Again, I may not be able to have the child with the ADHD hyper-active focus-type, but who's to say that's not a good thing, anyway.  I still would LOVE to experience a pregnancy, and no, I don't want to hear condescending remarks about how miserable [insert placating, condescending person here]'s pregnancy was.  That was her pregnancy and she got to be pregnant and all of her complaining could never take that away from her, yet it could never give that experience to me, either.  Let me have the chance to be miserable...but also let me have the chance to see the heartbeat on the ultrasound, feel the baby move, talk and read to him or her in utero, play music for the baby, eat all the right things, avoid all the bad things, do prenatal Crossfit...umm, I meant yoga. Let my cats enjoy my baby bump as their new perch, let me hopefully have my own horror story/birth story to tell, dang it!  Just let me enjoy the small things...I promise you I'll be scared to death through it all without worrying about whatever wives' tale you tell me to worry about.

Now if only BJ could pick out a donor...I think he owes us blog...

Peace, Love, and Genius,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Oh Really...

BJ and I had our first appointment with Dr. D...almost exactly 2 years after our debriefing appointment from our biochemical pregnancy fiasco...

I was nervous.  From the familiar smells and setting, everything creeped me out.  There were patients hustling in and out not making eye contact.  There was an unfamiliar person at the receptionist desk.  I was nauseous, but then Pat walked in.  Our Pat! The Pat I thought had retired.  The Pat that made me want to be a nurse, too.  The Pat that I can talk to, cry to, get her to ask Dr. Donesky things I'm too ashamed to ask.  All the fear melted.  She came over and I'm pretty sure I practically leaped into her arms like a child reuniting with their parent.

My spirits lifted.  I hope one day that I have that affect on my patients...I digress....

After updating our information, we saw Dr. Donesky.  He asked how I was doing and how school went.  He had obviously done his research b/c he talked about my previous cycles like they were yesterday.

So I updated him on my interstitial cystitis diagnosis and the migraines.  He asked what we were thinking about pursuing fertility treatments, and I told him we were looking at using an egg donor.
He proceeded that he thought it was a good option for us.  He has a 60% success rate...which is better than the 20% a fertile couple has on any given month.

In the state of TN, once the eggs are retrieved, BJ and I become the owners/parents/whatever you'd like to call it.  There have been no successful custody challenges over a child conceived by donated eggs.  Dr. D kept saying, "it's very clean".  In the state of TN, if it comes out of your uterus, it's your child...which gets messy with the surrogate situation, but fortunately...there is no reason to worry about that at this point.

The most shocking thing to BJ's and my world was when he said with "my age" he only transfers one embryo.  My heart clenched.  I've been a little set on the one and done deal.  It wasn't even about the babies, it was the idea of having to go through this 2 more times.  As I've processed it more today...I think about what I originally wanted before we got into this fertility struggle.  My perfect family with a big brother and a sister 4 years younger...granted I'm a lot older than I wanted to be...BJ and I should be trying for baby number 2 in some alternate timeline where my eggs aren't scrambled and they don't sell greeting cards that say "Winter's Greetings."  (True story!).

This revitalized that dream a bit.  I mean twins are cute and all, but I can afford things for one child at a time that I can't for 2 at this point in my life.  Not to mention, I don't think I'll need the extra complications that twins bring.  I have a better chance of having a natural birth, getting to use my own OB/GYN instead of a high risk one, and less likely to become a patient of my own coworkers on the antepartum floor. (I can't even...I'm such a terrible patient...it would be awful!)  So while it pains me to think about going through those horrible 2 weeks of waiting for another line to show up twice...It is what is best for us.

On the other hand, that means that much longer with my ovaries.  I joke a lot about getting ovarian cancer...I'm pretty sure all my friends in nursing school got that question right about infertility being the number one risk factor for ovarian cancer.  The fact that it was a test question seems to make it slightly less funny...

The other thing I think we are going to do is have our donor cycle without me.  As in we'll collect her eggs and have them fertilized a la BJ, but I won't have a transfer done at the same time.  They'll go straight into the freezer after 5 days.  Mostly we are doing this to mess with them later..."Mommy when was I conceived?" "2014" "Then why was I born in 2017?"...Actually,  I think that will take a lot of pressure off of me.  I'll know how the embryos do, and know how many we have to freeze, and I won't be a hormonal basket case to boot!  YEAH FOR THAT! Plus, if for whatever reason I don't respond to the meds as quickly or appropriately, they'll have wiggle room and it won't be so timing dependent.

Interestingly, Dr. D has started doing most of his IVF cycles this way.  Freezing the embryos and doing the transfer the next month.  Truth be told, IVF pregnancies have a higher rate of placental abruption and pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH).  Frozen cycles appear to have the same rates of these complications as naturally conceived pregnancies.  The experts feel this may be due to the extraordinary amounts of hormones a woman has in her body during the stimulating part of the cycle possibly producing changes the lining of the uterus...which becomes the connection to the placenta.  The placenta has long been blamed for PIH, ergo, stimulation drugs and astronomically high estrogen levels are more likely to lead to complications.  Dr. D is wicked smart...

I was proud of myself for asking him why his success rates dropped so much for 2011 (which was my year).  It's been hard for me to ask challenging question like that...I don't like to challenge people, but he handled it well.  He said it was a rough year with rougher than normal cases, but that he's also a little suspicious that there is some missing data.  The fact that he answered it so straight-forwardly (Did I just make up a word?) really comforted BJ and I.  He told us 2012's stats are back up.  They'll be published in early 2014.

On our side, Dr. D told us that he'd need a few updated tests...the blood tests of course to make sure we haven't contracted AIDS, Herpes, the Hep C, or the clap or a number of other STI's...  BJ will have to do another semen analysis.  I won't need a hysteroscopy, but I will need a saline infused sonogram to make sure I've not developed any fibroids/myomas inside my uterus.  I didn't ask about an endometrial biopsy at this point because I don't want to borrow trouble that I may not have to worry about, anyway.  I'd rather just be stupid and only have to dread it for a few days.  Sometimes living in a bubble is good...endometrial biopsies would be one of those times...or anytime you get a medical bill that says "surgery" yet you received no anesthesia...

So with no real timeline at this point we shook hands with Dr. Donesky and took them up on the offer to look at that "Look Book" for egg donors.

We didn't really find anyone that made us feel, "Oooh, I want her babies."  It's very strange...While I said I didn't care about hair color so much, I was a little more attracted to blondes.  There was one who was tiny, and blonde, and a nurse and I was all like 'BJ this is it' and then he pointed out her adult picture, and I was a little sad.  Horse-like would be a good start.  Anyway BJ said her smile was "too gummy".  I thought I was going to be the super-picky one...OK so I did nix all the "finished high school" and "plans to attend *insert technical school program here* school" but really unless they were 5'1 and 220 lbs (Another True Story!) I was a lot more open.  That's a lie...if they were over 5'4"  I nixed them, too...So other than height and education...Oh, nope the one with a family history of mental illness...they were out like fat kid in dodgeball, too...So other than THAT, I'm pretty open...OK it's really hard to pick out your substitute eggs...It's much like buying a new house...they're all ok but all have a quirk you aren't sure about.  Which bad thing can you live with?

We gave a list to Sandy our Egg Donation Coordinator about some we were sort of interested in as far as their availability and such, but that if she found some new ones in the mean time...we'd like to see those as well.  We're talking about maybe using a national registry... those are super fun.

As for now...Our next venture is picking out a donor...I think we are tentatively aiming for a spring retrieval and a sumer/late summer/whenever my work schedule permits/whenever I build up the courage...transfer,,.

Peace, love, and stay in school (especially if you want to donate your eggs),