Tuesday 26 November 2013

IVF #1 is on

Today The Fertility Clinic called and offered to do a cycle with us. Dates are still tentative, depending on when next period comes,  but we are on.

I didn't expect to be offered a cycle before mid-December. I suppose my perception was affected by my  short menstrual cycles (averaging 25 days). I didn't quite realize  how much "wind up" there is to a Flare IVF cycle. With the proposed timeline, embryo transfer (should we be so lucky) will happen the last week of January.

For the moment nothing much happens. They send paperwork, we review, we pay a bunch of money, etc.

Next cycle, birth control pills. Followed by more drugs and monitoring. The week of January 20th is when things get "busy" with monitoring appointments leading up to the egg retrieval.

Still, the timeline is what I had in my mind: I hoped we would be doing IVF in January. So when she gave me the timeline, I said "yes" right away. No need to discuss further; no need to ruminate.  We've done all of that.

If you asked  me last week, or even yesterday, if I was excited about IVF, the answer would be a definite No. That doesn't mean I don't want to do IVF. IVF is within the range of what we consider reasonable to do to have a baby. I have no moral objections to it.  The only valid ethical objection  to IVF in my mind is the issue of what to do with unused embryos, and seeing as I have POF, that is extremely unlikely to be an issue for us. Any  eggs we get, we'll be fertilizing, and any embryos we get, we'll be putting back.

Reason number one for my lack of enthusiasm, if not quite dread: fear that we won't get any/enough eggs or embryos. I know from Dr. Cotter's warnings and the experiences of other POFfers that this is a distinct possibility. We made the decision to go ahead with a fresh IVF cycle anyway, and I'm OK with that decision. But I'm very aware that disappointment, not celebration, may be the result of this cycle.

Reason number two: My ambivalent feelings about the degree of medication and medical intervention involved in IVF. Again, it's not a moral or ethical thing. I fully intend to take all the drugs and endure all the discomforts. It's just....I am going to be more medicated than I have ever been in my life. I could count the number of times I've taken prescription drugs of any description on the fingers of one hand. I have never had a serious health problem. I've never been on the goddamn birth control  pill. I've always had a pragmatic attitutude to my health and body. If it isn't broken, keep it healthy and don't mess with it. I'm happy with my looks and my overall fitness. (OK, I have some skin issues, but nothing that I lose sleep over.) Not trying to come across as a virtue-crat, but I have never had the slightest interest in substances that alter my body/mind chemistry. Never been the slightest bit tempted to try smoking/illegal drugs. I drink alcohol occasionally (especially during periods, lol), but I could give it up any day and not feel it much of a sacrifice.

Why does all this matter? Well, part of me wants to say "It doesn't matter." And it doesn't really, because I believe the chance of having  a baby is worth some (a lot of?) physical and emotional discomfort. But at the same time I have a perception of myself as someone who is healthy and whole and doesn't need a lot of medical intervention.  Now, any number of things could have (and might still) happen to me to challenge this perception. I could develop a serious disease, or have an accident. I guess, to state the obvious, what has happened to challenge my perceptions is infertility and IVF. I can accept intellectually that I need drugs and other interventions; accepting it emotionally is a  little bit harder. I still have a voice in my head that insists we should be able to just get pregnant. Natter on, little voice.

I've been dealing with these emotions on some level for almost a year, ever since our family doctor told us that we would not conceive unassisted. I've alternated between feeling grateful for the possibility of ART and feeling ambivalent about actually using it. Still, today when IVF became a plan instead of a possibility, a plan with a timeline, I felt a little excited. Maybe it's just that initial feeling of hope that comes from trying anything new and different. But...any step toward a goal gets us somewhere. Even if the goal is far away or changes  along the way, it's still a step forward.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Time for

A box of chocolates and a bottle of friggin wine.

Okay, to clarify, not the whole bottle of wine and not quite the whole box of chocolates. Actually, I was going to get the small box of chocolates, but then I decided I would get the big box so there were be a few left for Mr. Turtle. (He doesn't drink wine.)

Mmmm. Guylian seashells and a couple of glasses of my mom's homemade red. Pretty damn delicious.

Along with the chocolates I picked up a new BBT thermometer. I have been having some problems with my old one. I am not sure if they are real problems or if I just profoundly resent it for failing to give me any indication of a pregnancy, which of course didn't exist in the first place. Whatever. New thermometer.

Picking up the thermometer required me to go down the "family planning" aisle in the drugstore. So much  for our plans, I muttered resentfully at the universe.  Then I thought some suitably fatalistic thoughts about the futility of planning in the face of chance and time and mortality and our imperfect physical selves. Bullshit like that.

I also pondered the real meaning of "trying naturally."  It sounds like we spend our time rolling naked in a field of daisies while drinking herbal tea. Yeah, if only.

But the combination of wine and chocolate this evening is fantastic. Wine, a big bowl of spaghetti plus a busy work day and  a walk home in -20C, should mean I spend the night in a peaceful stupor of sleep. If I sleep through the night without waking on CD 1 and 2, everything is usually OK.

Still, between now and bedtime I really need to find the motivation to practice my band music. Christmas concert is in 3 weeks, so I'm practicing all Christmas music. I'm afraid that this might be the year I start to hate Christmas......music just a little bit.

Mmmmm. More wine.

Sunday 3 November 2013

A walk on the beach with monsters

Imagine a stretch of coastline. There is a steep bank with various hardy shrubs growing on it. The beach below is rocky and narrow but easy to walk on. It is too cold to swim in the water; the people who have come to the beach - couples, families, solitary people - are wearing their sweaters and jeans. They walk along the beach, talking, laughing, calling out to each other. There is a fairly stiff breeze, but it is not stormy. The sky is overcast.

One of the people stops suddenly to look at something on  the beach. It is the same grey colour as all the rocks on  the beach. She bends over and picks it up. Suddenly, pink tentacles appear. They come from one of the shrubs, but they don't emerge from the shrub: rather the shrub becomes tentacles. They twine around the woman, easily stifling her screams, and absorb her into the ground.

There is panic on the beach. People stare, run, flee. Several more are seized and devoured by the tentacles.

Days or weeks pass. More people have been attacked on the beach. Nobody  understands where the tentacles are coming from or what exactly they are.  The beach is closed to the public, but scientists come to try and figure out what is happening. They don't make much progress; however they do observe something else very unusual about this beach.

There are letters all over the beach. They are just like all the other rocks, but they form uppercase typescript letters.  All letters of the alphabet. They are scattered about among the rocks in no apparent order. Some of the scientists wonder if they form a message or code, but nobody can prove this or say what the message is. Furthermore, it is rather hard to study the letters because the tentacles keep emerging and snatching away the scientists, too.

Except for one scientist.

This scientist moves slower than the others, and is more observant. He notices that the tentacles emerge whenever one of the letters on the beach is touched - either by being picked up or by being stepped on by accident. So he is very very careful to not step on any of the letters, and he absolutely never touches them. He is rather detached from the urgency and the panic of the situation. He is not particularly sad when yet another colleague is seized and devoured.

All the action is happening on one part of the beach, and it hasn't occurred to anyone to explore other parts of the beach. So the scientist leaves his group of colleagues behind and starts to walk along the coastline. He continues to see letters on the ground, but he watches his step carefully and does not step on any of them. Slowly the sound of human voices falls away and the scientist is alone. The only sound is the wind and gentle surf, and even the wind seems to be dying. The sea is empty grey expanse, as is the sky. Sea and sky blur  into each other at the horizon.

As the scientist walks,  there seem to be fewer and fewer letters. The beach  becomes  sandy  with scattered driftwood. The few remaining letters are the exact colour and texture of the beach, so he still has to watch very closely to see them. After a while the scientist begins to feel quite safe. He was not overly scared to start with, but now he feels quite confident that he will not be imminently eaten by the monster. However, he is not satisfied because he still does not understand what the monster is, nor can he explain its behaviour. It is not enough to be safe from it. He must understand. So the next time he sees a letter, he reaches down and picks it up.

Do the tentacles reach out and grab the scientist? He could not really say for sure, because in that moment his perception of the world completely changes. What he knows for certain is that the monster does not mean to eat him, if indeed that is what it really was doing with all the other people. What he knows is that he is now part of the monster. He is not afraid but remains profoundly curious. Perhaps now he will be able to learn about the monster.

The scientist gives the monster a name: the Kraken. But it does not really resemble the Kraken in movies or legends. It exists as part of the land and the sea, and although it has tentacles it is not a squid or any animal. In fact it has no real shape in space at all; it resolves into different forms and shapes depending on what it needs to do.

At some point the scientist becomes aware of something else: not only is he now a monster, but he is also a female monster. His sex has changed. This does not bother him, but he does find it interesting. If he has become a female monster, there must be a reason for that. And it must mean there is a male monster somewhere nearby. As soon as the thought occurs to him, or rather her, she is filled with an intense desire to find the male monster. The sea suddenly seems like a huge and  terribly lonely place without another monster for company.

No doubt her counterpart is thinking something similar, for he soon appears. Or rather, their presences connect and recognize each other, for nothing physical appears in space. Until that is, the scientist starts asking questions. Questions like: how did I come to be here? What are you? What is our purpose?

The other monster explains it. As he explains, he takes on a shape: and it is the shape of a human woman. But not a human woman seen close up, a woman seen at a distance. Far enough that she is recognizable as a woman but her face is a blur. She wears a black sweater and jeans, and her hair is long and dark. She is maybe 35 years old, of medium build. The monster/woman explains that she too, was once a human, until she became a monster in a similar manner as the scientist has just done. The monsters are real, and humans have names for them like Kraken, although those names and descriptions capture only the tiniest part of the monsters' real essence.

There are very few of the monsters in the world, and they live far apart in space and time.  However, they do live in partnership. They are mortal, and eventually one or other of the partners dies. The monsters cannot bear to be alone, so when they lose their partner they seek another one from among the humans. The new monster takes on the opposite sex of the existing monster, regardless of what sex the human happened to be. In this way the woman became a male monster, and the male scientist became a female monster.

It is hard to say how long this dialogue between the monsters went on. Minutes, weeks, months, years. They do not experience time the way humans do. At some point the talk became quite dirty, however, with the female monster asking the male "Can you show me how long is your ----?"

I woke up at that point.

I'm pretty sure the monsters went on to have some monstrous offspring, and it looked like they were going to very happy together in the grey sea by the rocky coast, but I shall never know for sure.

I have no plans to be a regular dream bore, but there can be a peculiar grace in the non-literal.

New cycle, day 9. With the first (hopefully) fertile signs starting to manifest.

Hoping the best for everyone's new week.