Monday, June 21, 2010

Urban Legend

April 5, 2010

In some ways, 2009 was kind of a rough year. I pulled together all our tax paperwork last week for our accountant, and I noticed, over and over again, all the bills for our medical expenses.

A large chunk of those expenses were for infertility coverage. There was extra insurance to cover the costs of fertility treatments in our state. There were extra procedures to figure out if we can have a girl without chromosomal defects. And sometimes there were extra costs on top of those procedures that aren’t always reimbursed.

That’s a bunch of extras.

And that doesn’t include the ongoing costs: parking and routine lab-work, co-payments and babysitters so we don’t have to schlep our son to these appointments. More to pay to get additional coverage at daycare and nursery school. More excuses. More guarded explanations.

Our three-year-old knows what it means when I say I have to go to an appointment. “What’s the doctor’s name?” he’ll ask. He hasn’t yet figured out which name signifies what medical issue is being examined.

So what exactly did we do in 2009?

* One fresh IVF cycle over the summer, that ended in an early miscarriage and D&E. (transfer July 4th. Try explaining to your friends who have come to your neighborhood to watch the parade in front of your house about why you are leaving your son with a babysitter while you and your husband are trying to sneak out of the driveway. To get to a clinic. That no one knows you are visiting. At 9 in the morning, no less.)

* One frozen embryo transfer in the fall that didn’t develop into anything. (Circa Columbus Day Weekend).

* One vaginal procedure to figure out if there was any scarring obscuring anything en route to the uterus. (The week of Thanksgiving. Some minor scarring, but only enough to direct future people to enter with their assorted medical tools and whatnot “at 7 o’clock.”

* Another fresh IVF cycle that started around MLK weekend, 2010, but ended in an even earlier miscarriage by Valentine’s Day.

We honestly didn’t plan any of this around holidays. It just worked out that way.

For my 40th birthday this spring, the insurance company gifted me with yet another test. To prove that my old lady ovaries were still working properly (and therefore, worth insuring for another round of IVF), I had to do a Clomid challenge. This entailed yet more blood tests, several days of taking Clomid to help amp up my ovaries, and then a vaginal exam to determine my uterus was still clean and clear.

The nurse who did the exam remembered me from an appointment last summer, when she confirmed that I’d need a D&E for a miscarriage/failed IVF. “How are you doing,” she asked mournfully. “Still trying to have a baby,” I replied, all matter-of-fact, with advice: “By the way, go in at 7 o’clock and use a tiny speculum.”

She did and she did. “I see one follicle in here,” she noted. “I’ve been taking Clomid,” I reported. When not being mandated by one’s insurance company to prove ovaries are still working right, Clomid is the first line of treatment when you aren’t conceiving. I’d taken it many cycles before, long before the IVFs and the IUIs, the workups and the endless bloodwork. It had never done much for me, honestly.

But maybe could it work now?

I went home with a new mission.

“Let’s have sex!” I told Mr. L. What did we have to lose? A follicle was in sight. Never mind that we’d been here many times before, so many times that actually having sex for recreational fun was something I’d nearly forgotten how to do. As I had many times before, I bought an ovulation predictor kit and dutifully peed on a week’s worth of sticks.

The ovulation predictor tests were never entirely conclusive, but the egg white mucous pouring out of me one day suggested it was all systems go. Once again, we tried to do what most of the rest of the world does to conceive.

How shocking—we were in a bed, just the two of us! For once, I was not draped in a hospital gown and a paper shower cap, my feet up in stirrups, Mr. L sitting at my side, both of us freezing in a clinical exam room, our eyes glued to a monitor as a pipette with fresh or frozen embryos were gently, carefully, guided through my cervix and into my uterus, as my full bladder threatened to leak all over the doctor doing the transfer, the nurse assisting, and the embryologist who was always there telling us which embryos looked the best for the procedure.

Romantic, no?

But this time, things were a bit more ordinary. The typical way the majority of people conceive.

Again, since I’ve been here many times before and have never gotten pregnant with just sex, without a round of fresh IVF, both the Mister and I carried on with the rest of our lives. My day-to-day blood sugars were okay, but not stellar. My thyroid levels were a bit low. The only minor change this time: I was taking Metformin, a drug my infertility doc recommended, not because my sugars were out of line or because I’ve ever shown any sign of having polycystic ovaries, but because it might “help my hormones,” whatever that meant. I continued to eat deli meat and drink diet Coke.

One week later, at a party, I ate a smidge of Brie cheese. Weirdly, after we were on our way home an hour or two later, I felt sick to my stomach. Mr. L had to pull off the highway so I could find a bathroom. I couldn’t tell if I had to vomit or sit on the toilet for a long time. Thankfully, I didn’t vomit.

“Maybe you’re pregnant,” Mr. L said, after I left the Gas and Go’s public bathroom, shuddering.

“Maybe. Wouldn’t that be something?” I said.

I didn’t have a lot of faith.

In the meantime, we met with a few other doctors. This included another infertility specialist to get a second opinion. She told us she would keep doing what we’re doing, but to stop using PGD, an expensive procedure that tells you the chromosomal makeup (and gender) of embryos before you they are transferred via IVF. We didn't have any history of chromosomal abnormalities, and the procedure might even damage healthy embryos, so it wasn’t worth doing, she told us. A nutritionist said I was on the right track. My endo told me my A1c was 6.1 and that my bloodwork, for the most part, looked fine.

“We did try this month, but I’d be shocked if it meant anything,” I told them all. “Good luck,” they all said. One medical assistant, who waited with me as I waited to see my diabetes endocrinologist, regaled me with stories of patients she’s seen who get pregnant on their own after years of infertility treatment. A friend I haven’t seen in ages told me a distant mutual friend, one I’d lost touch with over the past year, recently delivered her healthy son. The new mom was a woman who’s done as much if not more fertility treatment than me, and had conceived her toddler daughter after a lot of IVF. Her newborn son? Conceived naturally.

I’d always thought these stories were urban legends. You hear about them, but do they really happen?

We had our follow-up appointment with our reproductive endocrinologist on a Friday in April, about two months after the last IVF ended in another early miscarriage. We’d waited the appropriate amount of time. We’d had more bloodwork to see if there were chromosomal or genetic reasons why my last two pregnancies ended so prematurely. Nothing showed up. All we had to do was wait for my period to start and we were geared up to start the next fresh IVF cycle. I was all set to order the drugs the day my period started.

That weekend, my period never showed.

I bought a pricey digital pregnancy test that promised results in three minutes.
In less than one, we had our answer:


We’ve never been here. We don’t know the embryo cell count, the potential for implantation, exactly how many days post-transfer I am. How many were transferred?

That Monday, I went to the infertility clinic for a blood test. The nurse left her message on my cell.

Beta count: 165. “Very good. We want it to be anything over 100.”

Progesterone level, that indicates the uterus is prepping to support an embryo: 40. “It doesn’t get much better than that,” the nurse said.

How did I get here? The Mister and I actually had sex and get pregnant? And me at age 40, no less?

I honestly have no idea.

55 comments:

Rachel said...

WOOT!

Laurie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurie said...

Oh my goodness!! CONGRATS! Best thing I've read in a long, long time!

I've wanted to ask the past few weeks, but haven't wanted to pry, and figured if you had news you'd share. But this news, this way? Even better than any good news I hoped to hear. I am SO happy for you and your family!

YAY! Let's get lunch and decaf drinks soon to celebrate :)

(Sorry-messed up first comment)

Sarah Jane said...

Congrats! This story is AWESOME!

Kerri. said...

CONGRATULATIONS! (And after our "ships in the night" moment with Dr. B two weeks ago, I'm not at all surprised. CONGRATS again!!!!! So excited for you!)

sweets said...

Oh WOW! A big congratulations. I am so happy for you :)

Saffy said...

Congratulations!!!! :)

Heather said...

Congratulations!! This is FANTASTIC news!! I'm so excited!

Bfly said...

Congratulations! Very good news! And yay! on not needing to go the IVF route again!

Allison Blass said...

Yay!! Woohoo! Congratulations. I'm so excited for you. :)

Nancy said...

Woo-Hoo! Guess you'll be visiting Isis Parenting for more than an occasional Expert Speaker event in the coming weeks and months!
Congratulations!
Nancy Holtzman
www.isisparenting.com

MFA Mama said...

WHOOHOO!!!

Shannon said...

Holy crap! Congratulations!

Send some of that baby dust my way, please ;-)

P.S. I ordered your book today. Can't wait to read it!

Flmgodog said...

I had been wondering myself after our few conversations if you might be pregnant. Especially since we hadn't heard anything from you in awhile.
MAZEL TOV!!!! Such exciting news. Wishing you good BG and a HEALTHY happy pregnancy!

Sysy Morales said...

YAYYYY Congratulations!! Very exciting news!! Thanks for sharing! Oh by the way I've finished your book :) It is awesome!!!

Antropologa said...

Congrats!

Karen said...

What wonderful and exciting news!!!! Congratulations!

piret said...

wow! that is great!! congrats... waiting to read more and more of your blog posts...
PS. I finally received your book and cannot wait to read it :)

Kaitake said...

Oh my goodness I never expected to read that in one of your posts! Wowee that's absolutely awesome! :) Congratulations! Best wishes :D

Bethany said...

Congrats!! So excited for you!

brigdon said...

Omg!!! I'm so utterly happy for you and Mr. L and your son! Keep us all posted and I can't wait to read about your journey ahead! Will be thinking of you!

Annie said...

Congratulations!! I can't wait to follow your journey! congrats again!

Annie said...

Happy happy joy joy! :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!!!!!!

diabetic neuropathy symptoms said...

Refreshing! :) And yeah, romance is there, no matter how cold everything feels :)

Rebecca said...

Really inspiring. :)

Tigger said...

Here from Mel:

I understand your shock. And it's a fabulous place to be, if slightly discombobulating. Congratulations!!!

gingerandlime said...

Hi, I'm here from the Creme de la Creme list. This is a wonderful story and so full of hope. Maybe all those urban legends are true... :-)

Ashley said...

Also here from Creme de la Creme...what an incredible story! Praising God for your blessing!

Lindsay said...

The wonders of modern medicine.... you go through one of the most high-tech procedures in Science only to get pregnant on Clomid. The world may never know.... Congrats!

Rochelle said...

How awesome! Glad you got your precious miracle babies!

Tiara said...

Congratulations...it's nice to read some urban ledgends are true.

loribeth said...

Here from Creme de la Creme. Hey, it DOES happen, sometimes! I had to skip ahead to find out how you were doing today -- congratulations!! : )

Aramelle said...

I, too, had to skip ahead to your current posts to see how this chapter ends. Congratulations! :)

womb for improvement said...

Great story

manapan said...

What a beautiful story! And I'm glad I could skip ahead to the happy ending. :) Congrats!

Kakunaa said...

I have come across a few of these legends! Fantastic! Congrats on being a miracle!

Josey said...

"But this time, things were a bit more ordinary. The typical way the majority of people conceive."

Ha - this shows how jaded we are all.

First off - CONGRATS on a natural pregnancy, sans IVF costs, heartache, and the like.

Secondly, how skewed is our perception of normal/typical when we feel like "normal" is conceiving without IVF? The VAST majority of my IRL friends have no idea what BBT, TTC, EWCM, or the like means... sheesh. Again, happy for you. :) Wonderful post!!

Christina said...

What a miracle! Congratulations!!!

Miracle in the Making said...

Beautiful beautiful post. *hugs*

Random fact also, we both posted pregnancy posts on the same day, had tried clomid many times before having it do nothing, then doing a random clomid challenge cycle and that's when it happens...and I find myself saying all the time "how did we get here?" Thought it was sweet it happened to both of us the same day. xoxo congratulations mama!

Sarah said...

So wonderful!

Waterbishop @ An Older Version said...

Lovely. :)

I too was an Urban Legend in 2009. it was surreal.

sharah said...

It's a different experience, isn't it? Congrats!

Keya said...

Here from creme de la creme. What a beautiful post!

Ms. Pollywog said...

What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing!
Here from creme.

Sara said...

Wow. Congrats! Here from creme.

Cajun Cutie said...

Wow, Congrats! best news ever. Here from Creme

awomanmyage said...

Here from C de la C;

That's the kind of legend I like to hear about! Congratulations on the safe arrival of your little girl!

Tanya said...

Great post - made me smile to hear it from the legend itself as there are so many stories of friends or friends. I am in the 2WW - trying naturally while waiting for insurance cover for IVF. I am hoping for a miracle too. Good luck with everything.

janetxb said...

What a wondrous, astonishing tale. So happy for you and your husband!

Esperanza said...

What an amazing story. How does it feel to be that person who just went for it after IVF and got knocked up!? It's amazing to know these things really happen. I'm so happy for you!

But I'm also sorry for the road that took you to this miraculous BFP. I know that the happiness of that result does not pave over the pain of the (holiday-themed) losses. Having all of those happen in one calendar year, I can't imagine. I'm so sorry for that struggle, but so happy for the wonderful final outcome.

I hope that the pregnancy is healthy and happy. Congrats!

Creme de la Creme #125
Creme de la Creme Iron Clad Comment Attempt

Peapod said...

Amazing - I always think of this happening as an Urban Legend as well - happy to hear it really happens sometimes.

Tasha said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing such an inspiring story! Truly gives us all hope for the what ifs and the you never knows... :D Welcome to your Little Lady!

Maria said...

Whoa....this gives me hope that an FET at 36 will work. :-) Visiting from Creme de la Creme.

Anonymous said...

Hi!!! I just randomly stumbled across your blog this week as I start preparing for pregnancy/TTC. I am type 1 and also have PCOS and my endo just put me on metformin. I am hoping it works miraculously for me like it seems to have done for you!!
I just have to say that when I stumbled across your blog earlier this week, I started at your first post and read every. single. post from there on through the end of your first pregnancy. in a few days. non. stop. LOL! You are such an amazing writer and I found myself crying and laughing as I read through your experiences. I just bought your book and will probably devour it in a similar fashion :)

i just want to say: thank you for sharing :)

 

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