More on IVF

March 28, 2008

Hola friendly readers! Sorry for the long delay between posts. Nothing has been happening! (Well, that’s not true. We went to see this Wednesday night–spectacular! Also, my period started on Wednesday, and I went back to a 28-day cycle this time: no idea why, but I like it. And I’ve been doing some cool professional stuff. I gave a talk on my book at a university the next state over, and just found out that I got accepted to present at a major conference in my field that’s taking place out west this October. Which is cool, because my acceptance was a real long shot. But mostly, nothing has been happening)

Anyway, our IVF orientation class was yesterday. It was informative–surprisingly so, since I went in feeling like I already had a pretty good overview of the process–but the nurse who gave the class had a very bizarre teaching style. She. talked. really. really. slowly. and. repeated. everything. twice. So, she. talked. extremely. slowly. and. said. everything. a. second. time. Imagine a class about treatment protocols, medication-mixing and injection mastery with every piece of information–and I mean EVERY piece of information–delivered just like that. The good: it was nearly impossible to miss anything or get confused, because if you somehow didn’t catch her super-slow and carefully enunciated version the first time, you would surely get it the second go-round. Bad: we had to listen to her super-slow, carefully enunciated instructions for three hours with only one ten-minute break.

Afterwards, G and I talked privately to another nurse about the urologist issue (we still have not gotten G an appointment–all the names Dr. No-Nonsense gave us have turned out not to accept his insurance, and are booked well into the summer anyway). She said that there was no problem with us going ahead with an IVF cycle without yet having seen a urologist. According to the nurse, the issue of finding out why G’s numbers are low is more a health issue for him than an obstacle to us going forward. Since G has adequate sperm to do a cycle, the urologist is more about following up than about needing to fix a problem before proceeding. This is good news, but there is some even better news.And that news is: before this morning, I was thinking we might have to pay completely out of pocket for the medications, but no! We don’t! I feel very, very lucky. I’ve already mentioned here, I think, that Aetna does not cover injectible fertility meds. Before the class yesterday I had not allowed this to worry me, in part because my prescription drug coverage does not go through Aetna anyway–any and all prescriptions I need, typically, are paid for by the faculty/staff union’s drug plan. Cool! BUT, after further research, it appeared that this union plan did not cover any fertility meds. Crap! BUT, after even more research, it appeared that the union plan also excluded any and all injectible meds, and instead those are covered by another plan, paid for not by the union, but by an entirely different organ of my employer. Since IVF meds are by and large injectible drugs, this third plan is the place to go for such drugs. Cool! Still, last night the website indicated that while yes, I have some sort of coverage through this plan, “plan details are not available online.” Crap! But I made the call this morning, and good news: we must pay a $100 deductible, plus anywhere from $10 to $45 in co-pays per medication, depending on whether the drug prescribed is a brand name or not, but we do NOT have to pay everything ourselves. COOL!

This is really good news, because at the class yesterday, the nurse said that meds for one cycle can cost upwards of $5,000. Whoa. We certainly don’t have that kind of cash on hand, especially right now, with the tax man knocking.

Apropos of that, I have also been thinking a bit about timing. Yes, I know I have already vowed NOT to try and “time” our journey into IVF, and that is still true, but after learning more about the typical protocol, I have been thinking hard not about the best possible due date, but about when a good time actually to cycle will be. The first two weeks or so of the process, the Lupron phase, don’t require too much monitoring, but once the ovarian stimulation gets underway, there’s daily or every other day monitoring, which means getting from our apartment in Queens to the clinic in Manhattan VERY early in the morning (as in, getting up, showered, dressed, and out of the house by 6:30 or 7:00am). Not to mention, they recommend taking the day of retrieval completely off of work. It all seems like something that should happen after classes are over, or pretty close to the end of the semester.

We’ll see. I’m thinking maybe a cycle starting on day 2 of my next period, which should be around April 22nd. To play it completely safe, it might even be better to wait until day 21 of that cycle, which will be around May 11th (the last day of classes for me is May 14th). I will keep you all posted. For now, G and I have to track down our consent forms and have them signed and notarized. Idiotically, we managed to forget to sign them in front of a clinic staff member while we were both there yesterday! I guess the nurse’s endless repetition didn’t work so well after all.



February 1, 2008

G’s semen analysis is finally scheduled. Hallelujah!

February 13th, 10am. We’re both getting blood drawn that morning as well, for the pre-cycle “blood panels.” The 13th still seems so far away, but I know it’ll be here soon enough. We’re also both going to go to the “injections class,” although it only happens every other Tuesday, and since the Feb. 5th class is full (what, people won’t be too busy voting to spend two and a half hours of their day sticking needles into oranges?) and I can’t make the Feb. 19th one, looks like March 4th is the soonest option. Which puts us another cycle ahead–or behind, as the case may be–since I’m expecting Aunt Flo to be back in town again around the 25th or 26th of February.

So that means we won’t be starting Clomid and doing the IUI until the cycle after that, the one that should start around March 22nd or 23rd. Which, actually, if it works (um, GIGANTIC crossing of fingers? knocking of wood until knuckles become raw and bruised?), would be pretty decent timing. Plus, chance of a 2008 Christmas baby! And who doesn’t like a Christmas baby? *smiles winsomely*

Of course I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let’s just focus on small victories, shall we? SA scheduled! Baby steps, but people, we are officially Moving Forward.

CD1, again.

January 31, 2008

Hi there! Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I TOLD you the beginning of the semester was going to bring my blog posting to a screeching halt. 

Not much to report, though, in a no-news-is-good-news way; firstly, my classes are going well so far, and I really love my students this semester. My undergrads are, as usual, a very diverse racial, ethnic, and gender mix, and, for once, so are my graduate students. Everyone seems very smart and engaged, and I have several “repeat offenders” in both classes, which is always nice. The topic, contemporary African American literature, is a lot of fun to teach, too, and I’ve taught the course once before, making preparation much easier because I already have all the notes and handouts ready. So, overall, I’m downright thrilled with my teaching this semester. Now, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the other professional stuff on my plate–two book reviews due, a big article revision that I am behind on, plus two public talks on my new book, one coming up next week, ack!–but I’m trying just to keep plugging away and making it happen.

As far as weight and exercise, and the challenge I extended to myself last post, I have indeed been keeping up with my workouts, although I certainly haven’t been going out daily like I was before. Classes started on Monday, and I went for a jog on Monday morning, followed by some all-over weight training. No working out on Tuesday or Wednesday, although I did get a bunch of incidental walking in on Wednesday. And then I went out for another longish jog this morning (Thursday), but skipped the follow-up weight training. I do plan to do some weights tomorrow, though, especially since it’ll be too rainy here to go out for a jog. And Saturday and Sunday, I hope G and I can get in more exercise of some sort, since it’s supposed to be 50 degrees and sunny both days!

My weight has fluctuated around a bit, but this morning was back to 158, so I’m still maintaining my 40 pound loss. I have to say, though, that even while the numbers on the scale stay static, my body does seem continually to be changing shape. The first day of class, I went to put on some pants that I had JUST worn at my conference at the end of December, and guess what? They were too big. In December they’d been just a smidge loose, but on Monday they were so loose as to be almost unwearable. I know, I know, tough problem to have, but I wish I’d realized that I’d lost a few more inches sometime before I was getting dressed on the first day of class. At least if I ever do get pregnant, I’ll have pants in various waist sizes to transition through before I’m actually in maternity-wear.

(Side note on that: I’ve always been apprehensive about pregnancy at work, and being “on display” physically to colleagues and students as my body changed, but having lost 40 pounds has given me a real taste of what that might be like. My students haven’t said anything, but my colleagues bring up my weight an awful lot. And even though it’s usually in complimentary ways, it’s still sort of weird to feel like “work people,” who in my estimation are only supposed to see me as a walking brain, are looking at my body and noticing its shape. Also, I can forget trying to pass as not-pregnant once I start to show, since everyone seems so aware of how trim I’ve become. I feel like my waistline is being watched like a hawk now!)

Apropos of that, as you can tell from the title of this post, my period started today. Even though that means this month I’m back to a 24-day cycle (oh, and per usual, as un-pregnant as ever), I’m still glad that Aunt Flo showed up early–we’re having brunch with friends on Saturday, and are looking forward to watching the Super Bowl on Sunday (go Giants!), and I’m glad I’ll be done with the worst of the bleeding and cramps for both events. Not to mention, license to drink copiously. Sweet.

This month, though, I’m feeling less ambivalent about ART, and more like I’m ready to get this Clomid + IUI show on the road. Well, you know, a couple of cycles from now. (:eyeroll:) Okay, maybe even next cycle if we can get our ducks in a row fast enough. We’ll see. My smaller goals for this month are to get G’s SA scheduled, finally, hopefully for this very week, and to get myself to the injections class at my clinic, which only happens on Tuesdays, I think. Or Thursdays. I have to check my Big Brown Envelope Full ‘o Infertility Stuff to be sure.

I’m too sleepy to wrap this post up properly, so instead I’ll leave you with one last interesting TTC-related tidbit: my college actually sent out a survey about parental leave policies this week! They were trying to assess how much faculty know about current leave policies, how much those (dismal) policies have affected people’s family planning, and what kinds of changes faculty might like to see. As you can imagine, in the comments section I went to town, explaining that I resented, as an infertile person, the subtle expectation at our institution (and all over academia, really) that all women can schedule their pregnancies around the academic calendar, and that our current policy was inadequate and even discriminatory towards those who could not, for whatever reason, time their infants’ arrivals precisely to the moment following that last final exam in the Spring. I hope it gets through, because if I do end up pregnant in 2008, I’d rather not have to take a semester completely unpaid, and with NO BENEFITS in 2009. Sigh.

This is a drive-by post, especially fast because I am about to get dressed and leave the house to enjoy the sunny, breezy, 64-degree weather before it departs and we are reminded, once again, that this is JANUARY. But: 

My period started on Monday (and it’s been consistently heavy, but not at all crampy! I think this is better than the reverse). That makes last month a 27-day cycle, which is fast becoming the New (Old) Normal for me. I am, again, assuming that the weight loss is responsible for this shift, and that the weight gain, which was gradual but dramatic between 2002 and 2007, was responsible for my cycles getting shorter and shorter.

Speaking of weight, I’m down a little more, to 162.5 as of this morning. After all of my dithering last post about not wanting to lose more weight, I’ve decided that my goal will be only to get down to 158, a total of 40 pounds lost, and then see if I can maintain for at least six months (or until I get pregnant). That will put me at a BMI of 25.9, only one point away from “normal.” Which, given that I don’t want to completely get rid of my curves, or change sizes AGAIN, is okay with me. I think 158, which after all is very close to my weight in college and graduate school when I was a pretty effortlessly fit person, is a healthy place for me to be. In 2008 I am all about a healthy relationship to food and exercise and the scale.

So that’s my body-related goal. The professional goal, or goals, that I alluded to in the previous post probably deserve an entire post of their own, but in brief: I’ve decided to become an Intellectual and Creative Powerhouse. Hmm, that’s the first time that I’ve phrased it in quite that way, but I think it’s fairly accurate, although a less brazenly egotistical way to put it would be that I’ve decided I want to live up to my fullest intellectual and creative potential.

This means that I want to produce, and publish, more and better scholarly work, and that I also want to write and publish fiction. Of course, I think it may take me a while to get to the point where I am producing publishable fiction, so that part of the goal is on a different plane than the first part is. Publishing more and better scholarly work mostly requires me to find time to put to paper the things I have already been thinking about–although the “better” part also implies that I will have to think harder, be less lazy, and take more intellectual risks. Which is what tenure is for, I think, so I’m in a good position to do it.

My other 2008 goal, which hopefully does not conflict too much, timewise, with these professional goals, is to love life, and especially to love the people whom I am lucky enough to have in my life, even more than I already do. I am spreading the love in 2008!

I think maybe all of these goals go together, really. What I want to attract in 2008 is physical, intellectual, and emotional abundance, joy, and power. I hope that spiritual manager of mine is listening.

CD22, and happy 2008.

January 1, 2008

Hi all; happy new year! Wishing you all a healthy and prosperous 2008.

There’s not too much to report here–as I mentioned last post, I turned 33 on Christmas day. I’m not feeling particularly different, in a good way or a bad way. I still feel pretty “young,” which I guess is good, and I’m glad that I still have most of my thirties ahead of me. And yet I am also feeling more and more confident and comfortable in my skin, which I think is something that comes along with age, so I’m glad that I’m getting older, and hopefully a bit wiser.

I’m not sure what, if anything, all of this has to do with fertility. Many days, I still don’t feel “ready” to have a child. Parenthood seems like such a sacrifice, especially for the mother. In all honesty, I can’t say that I’m looking forward to giving up a huge chunk of my autonomy. But I do, more and more, enjoy the babies and toddlers that I’ve had the chance to get to know, and in the process I feel like I have a much clearer sense of what G and I may be getting ourselves into. And of the joys that exist there. So I’m feeling very zen about our future parenthood possibilities right now, whatever they might be.

On that note, it’s CD 22 for me, here on January 1, and so I’m expecting my period to start sometime soon, as early as Friday, but probably more like Saturday or Sunday of this week. Of course, if I have a particularly long cycle this month, Aunt Flo’s arrival might hold off until Monday or even Tuesday of next week. We’ll see.

Even though I know my hopes are supposed to be up because of the post-HSG fertility boost, they’re not, since this was a pretty low-sex cycle. My mom was here, which made finding the time and space to have sex a much more complicated affair, and after my mom left, I was out of town at a conference from CD 16 through CD 20. I think G and I squeezed in some lovin’ on CD 13 and 15, but if I ovulated late, as I sometimes do, that’s not going to help much. And anyway, what are the chances, really? “A little bit better than 2%” is still pretty slim!