Monday, January 29, 2007

How

"You're the perfect example of how a full-term pregnancy can restore your hormone balance," Dr. Top said last week. "I've seen it over and over. Years of infertility--unexplained, poor responders, what have you--then an IVF pregnancy, a baby, then...fertility."

I gave a surprised smile, feeling puzzled and curious and inarticulate, and that was the end of the subject. I didn't even think to ask, "How?"

I know that something was, well, different, hormone-wise. Back before I knew just how difficult it would be to get pregnant, I spent two years charting my wonky cycles, including all of the usual indelicate jabbing and swabbing, and never once had any eggwhite cervical mucous (EWCM--remember that acronym, people? Brings you back, doesn't it?). I would often get LH surges that lasted four or five days instead of the usual one or two. The month of the inconceivable conception, though my cycle was definitely irregular, with ovulation around day 23 or 24, I had EWCM that would have made Toni Weschler's illustrations weep with envy. And there was a textbook one-day LH surge, which corresponded perfectly. Just like I always hoped for, back in the Creataceous period.

But that's it. That's all that was different. Could these small things honestly be signs that my body was somehow fixed? If so, how? It just doesn't seem possible. The cycle that gave me Olivia required the maximum stim dose, no suppression, ICSI and assisted hatching. I had less than 40% fertilization and none of the embryos were close to a Grade 1. Clearly, my eggs were not just on the decline, but speeding rapidly down that far slope.

A part of me is inclined to believe that this pregnancy was a matter of extraordinary luck, not the natural outcome of a prior success. But then I think back to all of those endless months of trying and failing and trying and failing and wonder if there's something to Dr. Top's version of "how" after all. In the end, I guess it doesn't make much difference for me right here and right now--against all of my expectations, I am pregnant--but I can't stop wondering.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Yes

There is a fetus. There is a yolk sac. There is a heartbeat. And there is a powerful feeling of relief.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I Have Nerves that Jingle, Jangle, Jingle

Second beta came in at 18,970, for a doubling time of around 74 hours. NP considered this result "fine"; the internet seems to consider it not quite ideal. Betabase lists a median doubling time for this hCG range of around 60 hours, and I'm wishing I were a little closer to that, but it's not slow enough to freak out, exactly, even though that's what every fiber in my body seems to be gearing up for. It's like there's a muscle-memory for freak-out, and any marginally bad news sets in motion this incoherent twanging fear and discontent. It's stupid; this news is maybe mediocre, but it's not bad. And yet I go into low-grade panic mode.

The twanging fear and I will just have to hang out till Friday, when the Wand Monkey is due for a feeding at 11 a.m.

Monday, January 22, 2007

First Blood

Results from Friday's bloodwork are in.

hCG: 9700 (5W2D, or 23 DPO). Nurse Practitioner called it "very good," but I have no reliable internet source to prove it.

Progesterone: 22.1

TSH: 2.103

T4: 1.33

How to spend the time till tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday morning, when the next numbers come in? Why, by grinding my teeth to little bloody nubs, of course!

Not liking the limbo

Still twisting in the wind; no word on Friday's results. Spent weekend in LA with cell in hand, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting.

Going to the office to get a lab slip for today's draw and hoping to corner someone who can give me the news.

Minimal symptoms, just an occasional breast pang and a mild aversion to sweets. Wanting to feel awful so badly.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Good Blob

One gestational sac measuring ten millimeters, or 5W1D. I'm probably 5W2D, so close enough. Said the nurse practitioner, "It's about what I'd expect to see." Personally, it's not what I wanted to see, exactly--a nice fetal pole and a heartbeat and a little flag with, "I'll stick around till September" on it would have been nice--but expectation is a whole nother fettle of kish, as my late grandmother used to say. I was given a due date, which creeped me out a little, but as it is said grandmother's birthday, it had a pleasant ring to it nonetheless.

Blood for beta, progesterone and TSH given; not sure when results will come. Not sure what results will mean when they do come. What's a good beta for 5W2D?

The same NP saw me a couple of months ago for a possible infection. When she asked the inevitable question about birth control, I sniggered. (I mean, really: I don't think sniggering was out of line, considering not only the infertility but also the fact that I hadn't even had a period yet.) Undaunted, she told me one of those myriad urban legend stories about a former patient of hers (multiple IVFs, finally had twins, then got pregnant naturally...with twins). When I laughed and said something a little flip about snowballs and hell, she gave me a sideways smile and said, "You might be surprised."

Well, color me surprised. Or maybe stunned. Better yet, stupefied.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Grace

Yesterday, I was granted two remarkable graces.

My father, despite Saturday’s admonishment to get his affairs in order and prepare for the end, will be going home from the hospital tomorrow. Whether it is a respite from the decline or a sustainable improvement is yet to be seen, but he will be going home. He will sit on his white couch in his white living room and admire the San Gabriel Mountains at sunset; he will sit in his decrepit armchair in front of his antiquated television and watch something—maybe good, maybe bad, but certainly of his own choosing. He will sit in his own disheveled bed and work a crossword from the New York Times, grumbling over pop references but getting them nonetheless.

Being with him has been poignant and powerful, bleak and beautiful. The essential core of him is still there, loyal and kind and irascible and vulnerable; the externals are just stripped away.

I said there were two, and the second is a grace of a different color—an indulgence, perhaps. It is the vivid blue plus sign on the pregnancy test I took last night when we returned home from Los Angeles.

These clichéd cycles of birth and death are staring at me, with their soft pink skin and diapers and quivering hands, with their burdens of neediness and duty and love. I feel a sense of awe in their presence.

Monday, January 08, 2007

How and when

My dad has been falling down for a while now--two or three months, maybe more. In the last week, he has been unable to get back up. He fell next to his bed, he fell in the bathroom, he fell in the living room.

The Parkinson's problems are piling up--swallowing, walking, talking--and the workarounds are getting more burdensome. He doesn't care for the soft foods he can manage to get down; he can't go downstairs to the washing machine, so he wears the same clothes for days at a time. His once-lively conversation is now so quiet and uninflected that he just gives up with a shaky wave of his good hand. My sister, the only one local, calls every night on her way home; my dad calls her every morning when he wakes up. If he doesn't answer at night or call in the morning, she goes to his house. Twice, she arrived to find that he had been down for hours.

He does not want live-in help. He doesn't want daily help. He does not want so much as someone to stop by and make him a bowl of soup. He wants to live in his house, by himself, until it is absolutely impossible for him to do so. We are taking the measures we can--a new specialist, a medical alert device, safety rails, a shower chair--but we know that these steps are mostly for our own peace of mind, an outlet for this need to do something.

When he was first diagnosed, my dad made some oblique references to his "stockpile" and asked if, when the time came, we would "want to know in advance." I told him that, yes, we would want to know, if only to try to talk him out of it. I thought at the time that he was being a bit melodramatic, and that, perhaps, his saying such things was a sideways plea for help. That, perhaps, he wanted us to talk him out of it, reassure him that he had many good years ahead of him. But when he repeated these questions to my sister on Saturday night, she said he seemed perfectly straightforward: he wants to know if we want to know, or whether he should surprise us instead.

I am his daughter, the one most like him, and yet I have no idea how to respond. It is his decision: his faculties are not in question. But I don't know if I can stand knowing. I'm not sure I'm strong enough for that.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

But it only works if you can type with your chin

Or, A Memory to Cherish from my Relaxing Holiday Break.

Have you ever noticed that women are better at multi-tasking? Is this maybe a well-documented fact that everyone was fully aware of but me? I feel a little foolish for not noticing it sooner. I mean, Jeff has great focus, so long as it's on one thing at a time: ask him to clean the kitchen counters and tell you about his day, though, and--pffft!--the counters are forgotten in a moment.

I, on the other hand--well, not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think I may have reached the multi-tasking zenith a couple of days before Christmas, as I simultaneously:

1) replied to an urgent work email,
2) discussed my father's medical care with my sister by phone,
3) gave Jeff specific instructions on the wrapping of various gifts,
4) played a game of foot-corral with Olivia, and
5) peed (not on myself)

Banner moment, that.