Monday, 26 May 2014

Too close for comfort

What a fucking weekend.

I took all of your wonderful advice and, when I woke up on Friday morning with still no email from the Czech clinic, I wrote them again.  The gist of it was "hey, I haven't heard from you and I'm really worried, what the eff?" but I was of course much more polite in real life.  When I got home from work on Friday afternoon, an email awaited me.  The doctor had been very busy, and they were very apologetic for not getting back to me sooner.

Happily, all went well with the donor's checkup.  Retrieval and transfer are scheduled tentatively around July 2nd to 7th, which fits nicely in our availability window.  Score!

The rest of the email went on to say that the donor's period would be later than mine, so I should take norethisterone to delay my period.  I was instructed to start taking it at least 5 days before my expected period and keep taking it until they told me to stop.

Fine, except for one leeetle problem.  I had no idea what norethisterone was, let alone have any.  I was already on CD21.  Which was still fine, if I was going to have a 28 day cycle this month.  But sadly, my crystal ball is in the shop and therefore I had no way of knowing if I was headed for a 25 day cycle instead.  If I was, I needed this medication STAT.  Oh, and did I mention it was past 5pm on a Friday afternoon?

I made a few desperation calls to my RE and regular GP anyway, but as one would expect they were all closed.  I resolved to get up early, get my ass to a weekend walk-in clinic first thing in the morning, and talk some random doctor into giving me mystery drugs.  Piece of cake, right?

This part of the plan was actually surprisingly easy to execute.  I explained my situation, and the doctor pulled out his prescription pad.  Note to self: next time ask for narcotics too.  However, a red flag went up when he asked me how to spell it so he could go look it up.  My suspicion was confirmed when I left the clinic and walked into the pharmacy down the hall, where I was confronted with a look of confusion by the pharmacist.  My heart sank.  The unexpected snag: no one knew what the fuck this drug was and they sure as hell didn't have it in stock.  They could order it, but it wouldn't arrive before Monday.  CD23.  Tick tock tick tock.

For those of you wondering, norethisterone is a magical drug that is apparently widely used in the UK and Europe to delay your period if you're going on vacation or getting married or have some other event going on that would be marred by the arrival of your boorish Aunt Flo.  Apparently those of us with Canadian uteruses (uteri??) are too damn polite to use this drug to tell AF to go the fuck off back where she came from.  I imagine it sounding something like this:

Canadian uterus:  Hey there Aunt Flo, how ya doin', eh?  Good ta hear from ya.  What's that?  You were thinkin' aboot comin' fer a visit?  Oh yah, sounds great!  Whenaboots?  Oh, next week?'s just that me 'n' the mister, we were headed to Jamaica donchaknow, had a week's vacation all booked and...oh...ya got the dog sitter booked already?, I know, they're not easy to come by...but see, we had this holiday planned since December, and we had six months of snow...yeah...yup...uh huh...sure.  See ya Wednesday.

British uterus:  Oy, wot's this now?  You wanted to pop round next week for a spot o' tea?  Hah!  You taking the piss or wot?  Not bloody likely!  Now bugger off, you barmy wanker, or you'll be findin' me foot in your arse!

Yes, Jane, this is what I think you sound like.  ;)

I drove to a few other pharmacies but got the same look at each.  You would have thought that I was asking for powdered unicorn horn or a fucking phoenix feather.  I spent several hours calling around to pretty much every major pharmacy chain in southwestern Ontario to no avail.  I was stuck with Monday.  Tears were shed, teeth were know the drill.  Adding insult to injury was the fact that, if the Czech clinic had gotten back to me in a timely fashion after my donor's appointment, I would have had tons of time last week to get this stuff lined up.  I did my best to let it go, but the anxiety stuck with me all weekend and I was terrified I was going to start spotting or something and the whole damn DE cycle was going to have to be rescheduled.

Of course, I emailed all of this to the Czech clinic, and got a reply this morning saying that they thought starting the pills on Monday would be just fine.  Which is what I've done.

So much stress and worry.  For basically nothing.  I think I'm going crazy.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Finding emo

I think today was the kind of day they meant when they came up with the phrase "one of those days".

I'll back up a bit first and fill you guys in on what's been going on with our donor egg situation.  Last time I posted about it, we had just chosen our donor from a list of five women provided by our clinic.  We picked donor #3, but also mentioned #1 as an alternate just in case.  That turned out to be a good thing because the clinic got back to us saying that #3 wasn't available.  No big deal, and donor #1 was booked to go in for a checkup with the clinic on May 19th.  We paid our deposit and waited for an update.

Of course it wouldn't be a true IVF cycle for me without timing issues.  It seems like we've always had something scheduled that meant that there was stress over timing, whether it be clinic closures or holidays or business trips.  You'd think we were the world's busiest people, when in fact we're actually remarkably boring and lazy.

Fuck stairs.

This time around, the hiccups are my dance recital at the end of June and a friend's wedding in Vancouver at the end of July.  That still leaves pretty much a whole month for us to do this thing, which seemed reasonable to me given that we only need to be there for a week to ten days (arrive in time for retrieval and fertilization, leave five days later after transfer, although we'll probably tack on a few days on either side to be safe).  

I mentioned our time restrictions right off the bat to the clinic, and told them if it was a problem then we would just prefer to schedule something for the end of the summer.  They said it should be fine.   When we chose our donor, I again mentioned the June/July window and asked if they thought we would make it.  It seemed a little tight to me for a full IVF cycle (assuming full Lupron suppression before stim phase), but they again said it should be fine.  I emphasized the need to be back in Canada in time for the wedding, and they replied telling me that I would probably be looking at a transfer around June 20th.  Way earlier than I expected...and the exact date of my dance recital.  Which I had already told them.

I wrote back and reminded them that I wasn't available to leave Canada until after that date.  I mean, I could theoretically bail on the recital but at this late stage of the game that would be a real dick move.  The clinic said no problem, and that they would know more after the donor had her checkup on May 19th.  That was this past Monday, and despite me sending a chaser email on Tuesday asking how things went, we've yet to receive a reply.  

They're usually quite prompt in getting back to me.  Due to the time difference (6 hours) I usually receive an email the next morning after I send them one, so for the past few mornings I've been waking up and immediately checking my phone for emails from them.  Nada.  If I'm being reasonable then it's probably not that big a deal, because I'm sure the doctor needs to review the donor's results and look at my schedule and try to plan things out first.  But I'm an impatient control freak with paranoid tendencies, so I'm starting to worry that the time window won't work/the donor has bailed/we've been scammed out of our money.  I'm also stressing about booking affordable flights to Prague and getting a reasonably priced hotel or vacation rental during the middle of the summer (none of which we can do without firm dates), on top of all the obvious worries I have about whether the cycle will work or not.  

Getting back to today, things got off to a shitty start when I woke up and saw that yet again I had no correspondence from the clinic.  I got cranky, and ended up snapping at M for (almost) no reason before heading to work.  Then at work, I ended up forgetting to do something that I thought was really important.  When I finally remembered, I called the people I was supposed to do it for and asked them how they wanted me to deal with the situation.  It took three hours of me stewing in my own stress before they eventually called me back and told me it was no big deal and not to worry about it.  At that point I was done and just wanted to go home.

Or do this.

I feel like infertility is one of those things where you can be totally ok for a long time, but when it catches up to you it just makes it so that everything is too much.  Today I didn't really have that bad a day, but I just felt overwhelmed by the unfairness of it all.  I don't want to be having frustrating email exchanges with people halfway around the world to have a family.  I just want to be normal.  I don't want to have to do this anymore.  I'm tired of it.

Upon arriving home I used my favorite new iPhone app Songza to find an appropriately depressing playlist, poured myself a glass of wine, and let the tears flow.  It was totally emo, and totally cathartic.  While I can't say I feel 100% better, tomorrow is another day.  Who knows, maybe I'll even have email.

Monday, 12 May 2014

The Never-Ending Battle

I've been fighting a battle for almost three years.  A battle to grow and nurture something, although Mother Nature seems to have other plans.

Oh, did you think I was talking about the inside of my uterus?  My bad.  I was talking about my lawn.

Behold the majesty of my kingdom.

When M and I bought our house a few years ago, we knew that there'd be some frustrations with home ownership and maintenance.  Stuff like a roof needing repair, or an old furnace needing replacement, or just general minor crap around the house that would need upkeep.  But the lawn?  We kind of figured it would pretty much just take care of itself.  Cut it, water it occasionally, and it would be fine!  I mean, grass grows all kinds of places all on its own, without people even taking care of it, right?

Yeah.  Not so much.  

The three-pronged assault on our green space began in the backyard, where we discovered occasional dry patches that just weren't responding to our usual watering.  Turns out this is because the grass was being eaten from beneath by an infestation of disgusting fat white beetle larvae.  Since most pesticides are banned in Ontario, our only real option to get rid of them is to use nematodes, which are basically freeze-dried microscopic parasites.  You add water (think sea monkeys!) and spray them on your lawn, where they are supposed to chow down on the grubs while leaving your lawn untouched.  Great in theory, however applying them to your lawn is incredibly finicky.  You need a certain temperature range, damp soil, no sun for a couple of days, a full moon, a blood sacrifice to the Norse gods...well ok I made some of that up but it seriously felt like working a magic spell and we obviously did it wrong since we still have grubs.


The super awesome part about having grubs is that they're just the first wave of destruction.  They spend all summer weakening your lawn's root system so that in the fall, when they're nice and fat and delicious, raccoons have no trouble at all tearing up your dead yellow grass to get at the delectable little treats.  Don't let their cute little masked faces fool you; raccoons are assholes.  They were pulling up huge strips of grass and rolling it back like demented little anti-landscapers, meaning that there were literally mornings that we would look out our window and see huge swaths of bare dirt where there had been relatively healthy grass the night before.  If he wouldn't have been arrested for animal cruelty, M would have gotten himself a BB gun and sat out there in the dark so that he could take care of the little fuckers Clint Eastwood style.

With the backyard essentially a lost cause, we at least took solace in the fact that our front lawn looked nice.  That is, until we went on vacation last year and came back to find that the pretty little blue flowers we'd seen on our lawn in the spring had been warning signs of a weed called "ground ivy" which had now overtaken pretty much the entire front yard.  Ground ivy is also called "creeping charlie" which is fitting because getting rid of this shit is like going up against the goddamn Viet Cong.

You can try to weed it by hand, but it's an exercise in futility because it's basically a vine that crawls along the surface of the soil and sets new roots every inch or so.  At each node it sends out new vines so you end up with a web of the stuff running under your grass.  The first time I tried to pull it up I ended up feeling like that scene in The Hurt Locker where Jeremy Renner (ugly? hot? I can't decide) thinks he's digging up one bomb and ends up pulling up a bunch of wires and realizing he's surrounded by bombs.

Like this, but much less explode-y

Yet again, pretty much anything that will kill this stuff is not available in Ontario.  One home remedy is to use diluted Borax, which apparently upsets the chemical composition of the ivy enough to kill it without damaging the lawn.  I have to say that I find it oddly fitting that I'll be using the same chemical that Sam and Dean used to kill the Leviathans on Supernatural (seriously, you guys still aren't watching this show??), but given our lack of success with the nematodes we'll probably just end up killing the whole lawn entirely.  Which, at this point, might be a mercy.  We should probably just light the whole thing on fire and start over.

This would be so much more satisfying.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Fitness frustrations

You guys, I am in serious danger of falling off the fitness wagon.  

As you may recall, during my first year dealing with infertility, I kind of let everything slide.  I was depressed, I ate, I stopped working out, and I consequently put on about 10 pounds and generally felt like shit.  Then, I smartened up a little and started using fitness as an outlet to deal with infertility issues.  We signed up for a fruit and vegetable delivery service and started eating better.  I didn't join a gym, but I started doing various workout DVD programs (Chalene Johnson's TurboFire and Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30) about 5 days a week in our basement.  I gradually dropped the extra poundage and started feeling good about myself again.

Then, in January, I decided to mix things up a little.  I'd been pretty heavily into cardio, and though the Jillian Michaels programs in particular had a bit of light strength work in them, I'd been reading a lot about how lifting heavier weights can be really beneficial for women.  I decided to cut back on the sweat sessions and focus more on muscle building, so I asked M to get me the ChaLean Extreme program (also by Chalene Johnson) for Christmas.  It's a DVD program that mixes three days of heavy lifting per week with two days of abs, cardio interval training and a little yoga for stretching.  

At first I loved the new program, and quickly realized that I could lift a lot more weight than I initially expected.  The scale started going up a little bit, but I knew I was putting on muscle so I wasn't worried about it.   The program is split into three one-month phases and online reviews pretty universally said that after gaining a little muscle weight in the first two months, in the third month I could expect a significant fat loss due to my newly increased metabolism and muscle mass.  While I'm at a pretty healthy weight already and had no illusions about getting shredded, I thought I might at least finally get rid of my stubborn belly pooch and start seeing some nice definition in my arms.  

Instead...I hit a plateau.  Not only did I not lose any fat, but I stopped making any strength progress.  I was supposed to be hitting muscle failure between 10 and 12 reps.  For instance, once I could consistently do 12 reps of bicep curls with 15-pound weights, I decided to add the next weight increment (which, on my dumbbell set, is 2.5 pounds).  The number of bicep curls I could complete at 17.5 pounds?  A pathetic four.  I ended up having to increase only one side of the dumbbell (leaving me with an off-kilter 16.25 pounds) which got me back up to 10 reps.  But I've been stuck here for weeks.  Seriously, it seems like 1.25 pounds should be nothing, but to my biceps it's a mountain they just can't climb.  

I started maxing out on a bunch of other exercises too, so I decided to do some reading online and discovered that maybe I should be adding more protein to my diet.  Unfortunately, this meant that I had to start tracking my food intake again, which I absolutely hate because it makes me obsessive and irritable.  Also, unless you like snacking on canned tuna at 10:30am, getting enough protein in your diet is HARD.  I spent way too much time on MyFitnessPal being told that I couldn't have an apple for a snack unless I was wrapping it in meat. 

C'mon, it's even funnier because this is an infertility blog.  IRONY!

At the end of the third month, I was completely frustrated.  Which is probably stupid, because I still made some pretty good strength gains at the beginning of the program.  Unfortunately, being frustrated means that I'm now also totally demotivated.  I've stopped working out as regularly (I'm down to about 3 times per week) and I've been eating a ton more crap than usual.  I know myself well enough to know that this is the danger zone where I either need to get back on track or else risk fucking off from a healthy lifestyle entirely, until I gain weight and the whole cycle starts again.  The problem is I don't know how to find my motivation!  I had thought about starting P90X next, but even watching the first video made me want to vomit and I just don't know if I can find the time commitment since most of the workouts are so much longer than what I've been doing (between 60 to 90 minutes, 6 days per week).

I need your help, internets.  How do I kick my own ass into gear before I lose all the progress I've made?