Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Good plumbing. Why the clogs?

As I wait patiently for my surrogacy agency contracts to arrive in the mail, we had the thought that we could possibly fit one IVF in this summer to freeze our embryos in preparation for the surrogate. We could sign on with this agency now and while we wait for a surrogate match, we could fit in an egg retrieval. This gave me that bizarre satisfaction of not wasting time. This cycle could give us a sense of how this new RE and new protocol work for my egg production. Maybe we could do PGD and see it as a test round? Maybe we can get into their shared risk program? But most of all, maybe this will ensure that once my surrogate is ready we can transfer those embryos immediately. Saving time is my addiction. Gotta have it. Of course there is a small part of me that thinks if we got more than 3 good embryos in this prep round that I would be tempted to just put one in me for the hell of it? If I get a BFP and it fails or BFN then I still have the other embryos on ice for the surrogate? Is this crazy talk?

It all seems comforting to cover all my bases. But it still forces me to think about plumbing. My plumbing. The two clogs I had this year were not to be taken lightly. Since I might be tempted to transfer one in me (if circumstances seem right),  I opted to follow my new REs request to do another HSG exam. I had done one in 2006 with normal results which is why we never imagined ectopics being a problem. But I figured the health of my tubes has probably changed dramatically since the two IVF ectopics and the surgery. 

So naturally when I raced up to the radiology center this morning I was bracing myself for the results of bad rusty pipes - the kind that a plumber would recommend ditching altogether. As I worked out all my insurance and logistical medical mess with the front desk, a woman sitting next to me said, "Did you take any motrin?" This was the secret handshake needed for us to know that we both were infertile. We exchanged horror stories and then she was called in. Then I was called in. As I waited in my blue gown with the bottom half of my birthday suit, the same woman came out shaking. She told me both her tubes were blocked and that she screamed in pain. So then I really got scared - scared of the results and scared of the pain. I had gotten a little cocky since the last HSG was painless and also with all this IVF crap making me feel like you could stick an elephant in there and I will be okay. But suddenly the panic set in. 

Noticing my face falling, she asked again, "Did you take motrin?" 

I told her in a higher pitch than normal, "Yes, but an hour ago so maybe it is wearing off?" 

She quickly grabbed her motrin bottle out of her purse and gave me two tablets. "Take it!" she commanded. 

With no water in sight and my pathetic inability to swallow pills I went into survival mode and just starting chewing up those motrin pills like prey running from its predator. 

As I was called in and briefed by the doctor, he nodded and sighed, presumably concerned over my two ectopics and what pain this exam might cause me. "Not a good sign," I thought. As they lay me on the table and I put my legs on the extremely high stirrups, they strapped my feet in - doubly not a good sign. Clearly people flail around in pain during this. 

But like many suspense dramas, lead up can be way scarier than what we see behind the curtain. The ink went up beautifully into both my tubes with zero pain and the doctor was in and out in less than 5 minutes. They were amazed, as am I, at how good my plumbing is after such trauma. I have scoured the internet to find others like me who have survived two IVF ectopics and still have both tubes. I'm a rare alien breed. It's hard enough to find someone with two IVF ectopics, but even harder to find one whose kept their tubes. Most people I meet online with ectopics I hear that their tube ruptured causing the loss of a tube. Others have elected to take them out because of damage. But me, my blessing was I got away clean. Sure I could do more advanced tests but this is the third time I've been told that my tubes look healthy. So of course this continues the million dollar question of why does my good plumbing get clogs? Will it get more clogs? Will I ultimately have to tear out my good plumbing after continual unexplainable clogs? For god sakes, what makes a perfectly good tube let an embryo get stuck in there? We'll never know clearly, and once again I have that twisted satisfaction/frustration of being "normal" but not really normal. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Start or the End?

I know. Where have I been? I was all revved up for metamorphosis and my butterflying sort of got caught in a lengthy net - a sort of Hamlet moment of  "To use a surrogate, or not use a surrogate: That is the question."

I'll get to how I answered that question a little later. But first, my little craft glue project. I know maybe you were expecting some great mittens and scarves or some crochet throw, but it's been like a bazillion degrees in New York so the thought of such things makes me want to vomit. Sooooo, I went in a different direction. Inspiration can come from all over the place and this time it came from a soon-to-be expired vitamin bottle.

My little craft glue project represents what I title: "The Start or the End?" Now we all know the first tiny little invasive step we take with our bodies when we begin to dream of our beautiful baby is the good old folic acid increase. Some go straight for the rocket ship of prenatals, but I went for a wimpier mix of multi-vitamins and folic acid tablets. I started this regimen in December 2005. I took those damn pills everyday with the few exceptions of bleeding/miscarriage/ectopic times. The folic acid was just the beginning of my hopes for having a baby. I've been off duty since my last IVF disaster and those pills have remained in the pantry untouched. So I've found a better use for them.

Now for all the folic acid pills I have popped, I would expect a baby by now with a brain size of Texas with absolutely no neural tube defects. So my little glue project is here to represent this fantasy of "Folic Acid Woman=Folic Acid Baby." The irony is clear. I have no baby. My folic acid pills are about to reach their end date and so have I expired too? Does this starter vitamin really represent the end of an era, the end of innocence, the end of carrying my own child? 

This brings me to what we've finally come to decide. After much flip flopping, agony, stress, and opinion polls among family and close friends, I think we are going to move forward with a surrogate. The start and end points of infertility get so blurred along the way. You might be ending one kind of treatment and then starting a new treatment. You might be ending IUIs and starting IVF. You might be ending using your own body and starting a better road in another body. We are all starting and ending on a regular basis in life. After being paralyzed by indecision, neither starting nor ending anything, I've forced myself to both start and end with a decision. I'm still not sure we are doing the right thing. But the fact of the matter is, I will never know until something actually works. The REs can make their case for trying another IVF on me and I can certainly make the case that I don't need more losses, more ectopics, ruptured tubes, and endless guesswork about the whys. Like any major decision, you have to look clearly at what you want and what you need. I WANT a baby. I NEED to do this in a safe and healthy way for me and the pregnancy. So now do I really need folic acid anymore?