Sunday, 29 June 2014


Our donor started stimulation this past Monday.  We're tentatively looking at a July 4th retrieval date.  Flights and hotels have been booked.  This shizz is really happening!

My stomach has been in varying degrees of knots for the better part of two weeks.  What hasn't helped is that my Czech clinic isn't super duper with the communication thing, at least not to the degree I'm used to with my local clinic.  I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I'm dealing with an English-speaking clinic rep who isn't a medical person, and there's an added delay as I wait for her to get information from the donor coordinator and then get it back to me.  For instance, though my donor started her stims last Monday, I hadn't heard anything at all until Thursday, and even that had to be prompted by a gentle "WTF is happening?" inquiry on my part.  Then on Thursday the rep told me my donor was coming in for another checkup that day; she said she'd have more information for me soon and would keep me updated "continuously".  Well, that update still hasn't come.  On Saturday I emailed her with the results of my lining check (8mm, triple stripe, go uterus!) and she got back to me today saying she should have a donor update for me tomorrow.  

I'm sure there are some people out there who'd be just fine with this level of interaction and would take a "no news is good news!" approach to things.  When you're an anal retentive pessimistic control freak like me, though, the lack of information just leaves space in my brain for horrible anxious thoughts to take hold.  Not to mention the fact that we had still been holding off booking our flights and hotels so that we could make sure we had the right dates.  Today we broke down and did that much at least, so regardless of what happens from here on out we're going to Prague.  I assume we'll find something to do with ourselves.  They have beer there, right?

The funny thing is that it feels like each step that we take should be making me feel less freaked out and more confident, but instead I just end up finding a new worry to obsess over.  Perfect example: I was getting increasingly worried about booking our flights to make sure that we would get one that we could afford.  Now that we've booked, I'm worried that our donor will either stim for a freakishly short period of time (meaning we won't arrive in time for retrieval day), or that the retrieval will be delayed and we won't have enough time for a Day 5 transfer before we leave.  I've done the math a million times and the rational side of my brain knows that we're going to be fine with the window we've chosen, but I can't seem to stop thinking about it.  When I do, there are other worries to take over, like that I'll get an email tomorrow that something went wrong: the donor dropped out, ovulated spontaneously, got eaten by a zombie (it could happen!) and the whole cycle is cancelled.

In all honestly, what's probably happening is that instead of dealing with this one very HUGE thing (the fact that we are using donor eggs but still have no idea if it will work) my brain is coping by breaking it down into a million little tiny things instead.  All of which are distracting me from thinking about that heart-pounding moment a few weeks from now when I will be staring at a pee stick for the first time since my chemical pregnancy.  Because guys?  The anticipation of that moment freaking terrifies me.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Plumbing updates (of all kinds)

On Thursday, I took a shower in my own home for the first time in over a week and a half.  Who knew we had been sitting on one of the most perplexing sewage problems ever encountered by the city of Toronto.

By way of quick update, two Sundays ago (June 8th) the sewer backed up in our basement while M was taking a shower.  A plumber quickly determined that there was a blockage on the city end, out past where we connected to the sewage line, resulting in an inability for water to drain from our house.  City workers had a look and agreed that yes, there was a problem on their side.  After days of assessments and measuring and figuring out how not to blow us all up by accidentally cutting into a gas line, they started digging up the street and our lawn.  Long story short, the main sewer line on our street is exceptionally shallow.  Because our house sits at the lowest point on our street, flow was actually running back from the main sewer line into our home connection.  After days of work to flush out the blockages in the main line and try to alter the angle of our home connection to achieve downward flow, the city proclaimed itself finished and began filling up the giant hole they'd dug on our lawn.

The only problem was, we still had no drainage from our house.  After calling our plumber back, we were presented with the unpalatable news that if there was still a blockage on our side of the sewer connection, we would be responsible for digging it up and clearing it.  He could do the work the next day...for the paltry sum of $13,000.  It made us sick to think of having to spend this much money (especially so close to our DEIVF cycle), but when you have no ability to use your home facilities for over a week you get desperate.  We told him to go ahead.  We would be cleaning out our "rainy day fund" and seriously impacting our ability to do future ART, but a girl's gotta be able to do a number 2 in her own house.

Except the next day, the city contractors were back on our doorstep.  After consulting with Toronto Water, they'd determined that because whatever blockage we were experiencing had been caused by backflow from the city line, it was their responsibility to clear it out.  On their dime.  At which point, despite all the stress and aggravation that we'd been through for over a week, we felt like the luckiest people alive.  

Believe it or not, this is progress.

I ended up staying home that day to allow the city access to our house if needed.  After yet more digging, the city located our line where it branched off from the sewer main.  They decided to break into the pipe to find the blockage, and when they did they found it chock full of stuff that didn't even look like sewage.  It just looked like regular dirt and silt.  They started clearing it out by shoving a hose up there, at which point I ran back inside and down to the basement to make sure they weren't sending yet more sewage gushing back into our house.  I watched as the water level in our basement drain (which had been hovering at about 2 to 3 inches below the floor) started burbling, and then all of a sudden dropped about 2 feet.  I ran upstairs and outside to tell them that whatever they had done had worked...and found about 4 city workers standing at the top of the hole, pointing down inside it and howling with laughter.  

Inside the hole, the poor guy who had been doing the work with the hose (the youngest guy on the crew, so presumably the newbie), was puking his guts up.  I don't know what the fuck came out of that pipe when he finally unblocked it, but you know it can't be good when the guy who deals with sewage on a daily basis is vomiting.  But at that point I honestly didn't much care.  If I'd been allowed to I probably would have jumped down into the cesspool and hugged him, since for the first time in ten days it looked like we were finally nearing the end of this thing.  And we still had our $13,000.  


Now for my internal plumbing update!  In the midst of all the sewage insanity, my Czech clinic had given me instructions to stop my magic European birth control pills on Monday.  Thursday ended up being CD1, so I started my drug protocol the next day.  For anyone who's interested, it looks like this:
- 2 mg estrogen (Estrofem, similar to Estrace) orally three times a day (no smurf cooch!!)
- 5 mg predisone once per day (for immunosuppression)
- 100 mg anopyrin once per day (similar to baby aspirin, which I could have substituted if I had to)

I had kind of hoped that all of the anxiety and stress that I was feeling last week would have completely dissipated once the city figured out the sewage issue, but unfortunately that hasn't been the case.  While my stress level has dropped considerably, I'm still finding myself uncomfortably anxious a lot of the time.  All of my worries about donor egg are probably worthy of their own separate post, but suffice it to say that I'm far from certain that DE is going to work for us.  I'm worried we're going to discover a problem beyond poor egg quality, like that M's sperm is worse than we thought and more than partially responsible for our poor fertilization rates.  Or that I have more serious issues with my lining.  Or that it just won't work, and we won't know why.  I'm terrified of failure, because I honestly don't know if I can go through the stress and aggravation of coordinating a foreign cycle again.

As it stands, we're waiting for our donor to start her period and her stimulation protocol, which I'm hoping may have been sometime over the weekend.  We've held off booking flights and hotels because of expensive change fees if we have to shift our dates, but obviously the longer we wait the more costly flights are going to get.  I'm just really looking forward to the point where we can feel like we are headed off to a vacation in Prague.  In the meantime I've tried to take my mind off things this weekend by spending some time outdoors hiking and having a picnic with M and Buddy.  Oh yes, and by drinking copious amounts of wine.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Running out of lemon recipes

It's about to get depressing and whiny up in here.  You've been warned.

First off, don't worry, everything's still a go with my Czech donor cycle.  I need to stop birth control next week and have a period, then we're off to the races.  But there's been a lot more aggravation in the meantime.  My RE, who initially seemed to offer her full support to us in cycling abroad, has since gotten very particular about exactly what she will do to "help". 

She had warned us from the start that she wouldn't prescribe any medications that she wasn't familiar with or didn't use in her own protocols.  A bit restrictive in my view, but at least she had told us up front.  That meant that she would prescribe estrogen, but not prednisone (used by some clinics as an immune suppressant in a transfer cycle to prevent the body from attacking the embryo).  What totally blew my mind was that she then also refused to write me a requisition for a day 10 ultrasound to check my lining thickness.  I got a bunch of bullshit excuses as to why, ranging from "I'm not the one treating you so it's a liability issue" to my personal favourite, the "doctors are magic" excuse.  This one involved telling me (without any basis in fact) that my Czech clinic wouldn't want the raw ultrasound tech report; they would want one that had been reviewed and cleared by a doctor and that wasn't going to happen since my clinic wasn't technically treating me.  Of course I confirmed with the Czech clinic that the basic u/s tech report was just fine, at which point I discovered the real reason for my RE's hesitation.  My Czech clinic didn't have a formal "satellite monitoring agreement" with my Toronto clinic, meaning that my local clinic wasn't getting paid.  I told my RE that I was more than willing to pay for the u/s out of pocket (which I had been saying up front for ages) but was told it wasn't that simple.  Silly me for thinking that I had become more than just a bank machine to my clinic; that I might have become a person they genuinely wanted to see succeed in treatment.  So much for my RE's idea of "help".

After more than a few days of stressing and running around and stressing again, I ultimately ended up getting what I needed from my GP.  Who seemed stunned, that after all the money we've spent at the fertility clinic, they wouldn't give me a simple u/s requisition.

I had about two days of being able to breathe again, when the sewer backed up in our basement on Sunday.

If only I actually believed this, it might help.

I'll spare you the gory details.  Long (very long) story short, there is some kind of blockage in the main city sewer line right where our line joins it.  For three days now we've had various city people ignoring our calls, showing up hours later than they're supposed to (if at all), trying the same stuff over and over again, and generally giving us no idea of when things will be fixed.  Until then, because no water can drain from our house, we can't use the shower or flush the toilet.  Water can come in no problem, but it can't go out.  And there's no end in sight.  The best info we've gotten has been from grilling the various contractors the city's been sending out, and rumour has it they'll be digging up the street in front of our house in the coming days, but that's all the detail we have.

Honestly you guys, I'm not dealing with this very well.  I feel like I used to be ok in a crisis.  When M had his big accident, I didn't even cry.  I took charge, did the shit that needed to be done, and kept it together for him.  We had a different sewer flooding incident a couple of years ago as a result of a huge thunderstorm, and I just picked up the phone and called the insurance company.  I used to be tough.  I used to be able to cope.  This time?  I sat on the couch and cried, and have continued crying pretty regularly for the past several days.  I just feel like I can't deal with shit anymore. My mental sewer is backed up too, it seems.  Any extra crap, no matter how minor, and the system overloads.  Is this how a nervous breakdown happens?  All the little stuff (and, let's face it, some big stuff) just piles up until eventually you just want to walk out the door and get in your car and get on a plane and never come back to your life?

I know right now I'm supposed to be thinking positive thoughts about this upcoming DE cycle.  That stress isn't good.  And I swear, if I could in any way minimize the amount of external stressors I seem to be dealing with, I would.  But it feels like life just keeps hurling fucking lemons at me.  And I'm running out of things to do with them.  I'm not one of those people who believes that "everything happens for a reason".  I wish I could be, but I'm not.  Sometimes crap just happens, and it's all chaos and random bad luck.   But when you've had as long a stretch of it as we have, you start to wonder if it's ever going to change.  If it's even possible for things to go right.  

Which is no way to approach a DE cycle, I know.  So if anyone has some magical optimism pills, hit me up.