Some good news, thankfully.

February 27, 2008

THANK YOU ladies for all of your kind words of support responding to my post earlier today–I was SO upset when I wrote all of that, just beyond frustrated with the whole situation. And it means so much to know that there are folks out there reading along and commiserating.

I am feeling much better now, in no small part because I talked to Dr. No-Nonsense, finally. She’s so great, very very calm and reassuring. Talking to her reminds me of why I chose this clinic in the first place. And she came bearing good news: sickle-cell is not going to be an issue for us, because only one of us is a carrier. It turns out, though, that G is the carrier, not me. I can’t believe the on-call RE I talked to yesterday misread the results! Dr. N-N said that she wants me to get tested for a few other types of anemia, to make sure there aren’t any other potential genetic issues that might crop up because of G’s sickle-cell trait, but actual sickle-cell disease isn’t a concern. Whew.

While we were on the phone, Dr. No-Nonsense confirmed that IVF would be what she recommends for us next, which didn’t surprise me. With G’s numbers, she thinks it’s the best option. She asked us to make an appointment to sit down with her and talk about the process. She also suggested that G see a urologist, I guess to get a specialist’s advice about the possible medical reasons for his sperm’s lackluster performance.

So, that’s where we are as of tonight. Sickle-cell is off the table, and I am VERY happy about that. We’re going to take the rest one thing at a time. Next up: injections/IVF class on Tuesday the 4th. Will keep you posted!


All-around bummed.

February 27, 2008

I just got off the phone with the RE’s office; my chart is in Dr. No-Nonsense’s office, so the nurses can’t get to it, apparently, to give me more info on G’s sickle-cell results (clearly that means that Dr. No-Nonsense is not in yet–I don’t know whether she’ll be in today). The best they could do was promise me a call back when they are able to get their hands on the chart.

So, naturally I am frustrated. Hence, I am blogging instead of working; I have meetings back to back starting at 11:00am, one of which I need to make some photocopies for, so I don’t have much time to write a real post. Still, I’m really annoyed and upset, and not just at the clinic for being so (seemingly) incompetent.

Some reasons why I am bummed:

1. I’m wondering if I made a bad decision on going with Columbia over NYU in terms of choosing an RE. I am not liking how they’ve handled this situation at all; if you are going to make me worry about sickle-cell by informing me that I have the trait, the least you could do is have my husband’s blood test results ready at the same time, so I will know for sure whether it’s a concern or not. And to be unable to locate my chart when I call back for information? AARGH.

(Clearly, overnight I’ve become one of those “hysterical” infertile women that I didn’t quite understand before I got to the treatment stage, railing against insensitive nurses and disorganized clinics. I was always sympathetic, but I never really “got it” until now. Stop jerking me around, Columbia! Just give me the information I need so I can know what is what and stop feeling quite so helpless.)

2. My doubts about parenthood are back. Maybe this just isn’t for me. Or maybe I don’t deserve to be a mom. It’s not my lifelong dream, becoming a mom, as it is for some women. (Hello, Jennifer Garner in Juno). I don’t feel I was “born to be a mother.” So why should we even go down this road, which seems to be such a difficult and complicated one so far, if I’m not even 100% sure that parenting is right for me?

I know a lot of people who are ambivalent end up happy parents anyway, but in those cases often their bodies or their partners’ bodies decide for them–an accidental or unexpected pregnancy means they’re on the road to parenthood, like it or not. Maybe our bodies are deciding for us too, just in the opposite direction. Which seems so unfair, since while I don’t feel born to be a mom, I do feel like I’d like to give it a try anyway, especially with G. But it’s hard not to feel like the universe is telling me bio-parenthood is not for us. (I need to write a separate post with my thoughts about adoption, but I’m not ready to go there yet)

3. I am also hating the hurry-up-and-wait aspects of this process. Not just the clinic snafus, but also, as I alluded to at the end of last post, the other bureaucratic stuff that means we really need to wait until May or June to do a cycle. Why? Because my institution has no maternity leave policy.

This means that if I give birth in January, when school is not in session (which is when I’d be due if we did a cycle in April or even late March) I would be expected to use January break as my “leave.” If I give birth in the summer, I would be expected to use summer break as my “leave.” If I give birth in the fall semester, I could take 6 weeks paid using my sick leave (or up to 12 weeks with a special doctor’s note that I needed extra time to heal), but this would not cover the entire semester. So I’d need to be back to work when the 6-12 weeks were up. And then I’d have to work spring semester, when said kid was 2-4 months old.

The only good time to give birth (especially now that we can’t afford for me to take unpaid time off) is early spring. Then I could use sick leave for 6-12 weeks paid, and have the summer paid, and go back to work in the fall when my kid was closer to 6 months old. Which is still too young for daycare in my opinion, but what can we do?

See what I mean about the universe conspiring against us?

I have to go to my meeting, so I’m going to post this. I may edit later.

Um… IVF here we come?

February 26, 2008

In other words, folks, the SA results are not good. We’re going to have to repeat the sample to make sure, but it looks like we’ve got inadequate sperm count (only 6 million when they like to see at least 40 million), not-so-great motility, and questionable morphology too. Crap! I worried that we’d be dealing with male factor, but still can’t believe BOTH of us have turned out to be “broken.” This plus my blocked tube means we are not a couple who are statistically likely to start a family on our own!

So, unless the second test shows that these results were a crazy fluke, it’s looking like IVF may be the next step for us, rather than Clomid/IUI. With male factor, I think IVF + ICSI are fairly standard procedure, and both are covered by Aetna (well, up to a limit of three cycles per lifetime–generous, but not that generous).

In the when-it-rains-it-pours file, I ALSO found out today that I’m a carrier for sickle-cell anemia. I have to call tomorrow to see if I can track down G’s blood test results (I’m utterly confused as to why those weren’t ready to be given to us along with the SA info). If it turns out that he’s a carrier as well, we’d have a 1 in 4 chance of having a kid with sickle-cell disease. That would mean that our IVF cycles would also have to include preimplantation genetic diagnosis. I doubt that our insurance covers this, as the certificate of benefits (which I have SCOURED, believe me) makes no mention of it either way. At our clinic, PGD costs an extra $2500 per cycle. I am REALLY hoping that G is not also a carrier.

So that’s my news. Also, apropos of crappy news, thanks, all, for the commiseration about our tax bill last post! Ugh, right? We’ve managed to reconcile ourselves to it, and have even figured out a decent way to budget for the payments (even with lower net salaries, since we’ve also had to ask the IRS to withhold a bunch extra from both of our paychecks so that we won’t have this problem again next year). But still, damn. The tax news does sort of pale in comparison to the infertility news, although after a good cry behind closed doors at work today, I’m even feeling a bit better about the infertility stuff. It sucks, yes, but it’s not the end of the world, or the end of our plans for parenthood.

G, of course, is his usual upbeat self in spite of the news. I am hoping he’s not just putting on a brave face for my benefit–he definitely plays the role of being my “rock” in hard times, but he doesn’t always take care of his own emotional needs, or let me play that same role for him. So I’m trying to keep the channels of communication open in case he does have unhappy feelings he wants to share, but he claims he’s okay, and that he’s “saving his emotional breakdown energy” for something really insurmountable. Which is a pretty healthy attitude. I hope I can maintain a similar level of mental health this summer*, which may be WAY more eventful than I expected it to be.


*If we do have to go straight to IVF, it won’t be until May, for a whole host of reasons that I’ll explain in another post.

Death and taxes.

February 18, 2008

Well, okay, just the latter. (Warning, entitled whining ahead.) Today G and I did an online “draft” of our 2007 taxes and guess what? We owe. A LOT. Like, thousands upon thousands of dollars. You might think I am exaggerating, but trust me, dear reader, I am really not. 

What I have realized is that we should have taken the huge amount we owed last year (five grand, to be exact) a little more seriously. Naively, we figured then that it was some fluke, some inadvertent but still minor and easily fixable error on our part. I had mistakenly listed two allowances on my W-4, and both G and I had checked the withholding box for “married” status, instead of “married, but withhold at higher single rate.” So, having corrected these things, we figured, hey, next year won’t be as bad. Maybe we’ll owe a little bit, but we should owe way less than five grand.

…So, this year we owe almost 50% MORE than last year. Turns out–and if we’d consulted an accountant like we’d meant to do but never got around to doing we would have known this sooner–tax law is pretty much set up to penalize couples in which both husband and wife work and both husband and wife make equivalent salaries. That’s why they call it the “marriage penalty,” apparently. What pisses me off about this is how it punishes fiscal equity, and still sort of rewards partnerships in which one spouse, usually the husband, makes dramatically more than the other. (Way to keep kicking it old school, tax law!)

Basically, if one spouse in a marriage is a Wall Street power broker, or physician, or corporate exec making $100K plus, and one spouse is an elementary school teacher, waitress, secretary, or copyeditor making $25 or $30K, then the couple will face no major tax penalty. But if, as is the case with G and I, both spouses make good-but-not-astronomical money, if, in fact, the two spouses make nearly equivalent annual salaries–i.e. the wife is also a professional–then they are really going to get screwed.

Not only do we owe more tax married than we would as two single individuals filing separately, but the system is set up to underwithhold from both of our paychecks! Unless we each voluntarily ask the government to withhold a couple hundred extra dollars per paycheck, all year, we will end up owing big bucks every tax season.

That is, until we save up $50,000 to $60,000 for a down payment and buy some property in our chosen city (yeah right) or, possibly, have a baby (sigh). In spite of the fact that we are going to be drastically in hock to Uncle Sam starting right around April 15, we are still moving ahead with Project: Living, Breathing Tax Deduction. In fact, if we do a Clomid + IUI cycle starting mid-to-late March, I could be getting news of successfully being knocked up at the exact same moment that I am signing over my first born to the government to pay our tax bill! AWESOME.

Back from the Masturbatorium*

February 16, 2008

So, G finally got his semen analyzed. They told him it would be ten days before the results are available, which I find fairly suspicious, because when I talked to my RE about the SA process way back when, she suggested that “he’ll get results the same day.” I am guessing this means that the results will probably be available much sooner than February 23, but that in case they aren’t, the office doesn’t want to be hounded in the meantime. So they keep expectations low. 

That is, however, a long-winded way of telling you that we don’t have the results yet. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, I can report that G complained bitterly (okay, not so bitterly, but he did complain) of the outdated porn (VHS tape, anyone?), lack of lubrication, and general weirdness of the entire experience. Weird, you say, old chap? Try having radioactive dye shot up your hoo-ha, among other indignities, many of which still await. Not that it’s a competition.

Happily, we had a great Valentine’s Day celebration the following evening. Thanks for all of your responses about your own takes on V-day–asha vere, I hope you had a great birthday. 🙂 And I also had no idea that folks were celebrating this holiday in the seventeenth century and before, so many thanks to Ariel for correcting my “Hallmark holiday” assumption! I subsequently felt very sophisticated and historic as I exchanged cards with G over dinner. Which was fabulous, by the way. We did, indeed, go to Stone Park Cafe, and here is what we had:

1. Delicious, delicious raspberry champagne cocktails

2. A complimentary amuse-bouche of creamy asparagus soup with truffle oil and parmesan shavings (omigod, heavenly)

3. A light green salad with the tiniest, thinnest, most delicate slices of cucumber that I had ever encountered in a salad

4. An organic, grass-fed “steak for two,” perfectly prepared to medium-rare, brought out from the kitchen at the end of cooking so we could see how beautiful it was, then whisked away again, sliced up prettily, and returned to our table ready to eat

5. Silky creamed spinach (seriously, this was one of the best things I tasted that evening, although I was too full of steak to eat as much of it as I would have liked) and thyme-roasted baby red potatoes as sides.

6. A slim column of chocolate mousse cake, which was just as tasty as you might imagine chocolate mousse cake to be.

Mmmm. *drools at the recollection* It was AWESOME.
Then G gave me a really wonderful, perfect, romantic gift: a book on writing fiction! With exercises! I have been commending him on this gift constantly, because it was so super-thoughtful and he has a somewhat spotty track record on gifts for me.
THEN we came home and had really, really fantastic sex (too much information? Sorry! But it *is* my report on Valentine’s day…).
and then, as the piece de resistance (pronounce that with a French accent, please, as you read this to yourself), we chilled out on the sofa and watched Lost on the DVR. A Lost episode that featured a cleaned-up, killing-machine Sayid (Naveen Andrews), who is one of my favorite characters on the show. Yum.

I mean, does a night get better than that? I think not. I hope you all had a good day/night, whatever you were up to; belated Valentine wishes to one and all.

*have you seen Running With Scissors, folks? I can’t exactly say that I recommend it, but it might be worth it just so you can see the “masturbatorium” scene. HILARIOUS.