Meet The New Acronyms

Trying to conceive is confusing initially because everyone told you that if you have sex you will get pregnant; so you swallowed pills and fumbled with condoms and pulled out and prayed more often than you care to admit, until you were more than ready to start trying and then all of a sudden…no baby. Then, when you first go online to ask your very own “what the hell is going on” question, you’re thrown into a world of acronyms where you get the impression that we’re all speaking a foreign language. “TTC for 2.5 years with OPKS, got positive on CD12 with EWCM and BD with DH but now it’s 14DPO with no sign of AF and got a BFN on a HPT (it was FRER too) but I didn’t use FMU and my CM is watery so maybe it’ll turn into a BFP if I POAS on 15DPO? This TWW is driving me crazy! FX for me ladies!”  …WTF?!

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The confusion doesn’t stop there though. Acronyms are commonly used in the medical field, and for good reason too: who wants to say that they had a hysteroscopy polypectomy after their saline infusion sonohysterography showed a polyp and their intrauterine insemination was canceled? (which is, of course, exactly what happened to me in March.) When you visit with your RE to discuss the big IVF (you know, In Vitro Fertilization: the thing where you walk into your doctor’s office and request that they make a baby for you), they’re going to bring up some brand new acronyms now that you finally just got comfortable with the online lingo. Nothing to worry about though – because I’m here to make sure you can walk into your appointment and wave off your RE like the infertile queen you are when they start to explain what ICSI is.

PGS/PGD

What it is – Preimplantation Genetic Screening (or Diagnosis). The screening is more like a check mark to say “yes, this embryo looks generally healthy” chromosomally speaking, whereas the diagnosis is testing for genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis (which is the only real example my RE felt like giving me).

Why you might need it – If you know that you and your partner are carriers of genetic abnormalities that you do not want to pass on to future babes, then this might be the test for you! For instance, if you do genetic testing and you find out that you both carry a certain abnormality (and don’t be surprised when you test positive – we all have something, which is the only thing that gets me through the day sometimes), then there’s a 25% chance that a child you conceive could have that abnormality as well. This testing (PGD) can check your embryo for that specific gene prior to implantation (hence the ‘preimplantation’ part) and you can avoid invasive testing later in your pregnancy. PGS may be a good choice if you have RPL (Recurrent Pregnancy Loss), as it will be able to determine if the embryo has the usual amount of chromosomes and therefore should have a higher chance of resulting in a successful pregnancy. Depending on where you’re having your IVF procedure done, your RE might strongly encourage this screening if you’re (*gulp*, don’t hate me!) “older”.

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Why you might want it – PGS can also determine the male/female embies, so when they hand you your Baby’s First Embryo Photo you can turn to your husband and exclaim, “She has your eyes!” (Side note: my RE’s office doesn’t take pictures of embryos before implantation and I feel like I’m seriously missing out.)

Things to consider – per my RE, the results could take 6-8 weeks to get back. Also, most insurance companies don’t cover this genetic testing, and even if you’re paying out of pocket already – it could be a hefty additional cost (like, a per embryo cost). The time and financial commitment may be enough to deter you, but there’s also the fact that you could end up wasting perfectly good embryos due to the biopsy damaging little embies, or being performed at the wrong time and therefore giving an incorrect result.  Read More »

The Tale of The Disappearing Follicle

I know what you’re thinking: “You haven’t updated us on your progress much, what’s going on there?! Are you growing a forest of polyps? Also, why are you still so butthurt over this polyp thing? It happened one time!” Well you will all be happy to hear that there are no additional polyps setting up shop in my uterus. I know this for a fact because the ultrasound tech thought she saw a polyp and just to be safe – I was subjected to my second SIS. They might as well just sign me up for a bi-monthly internal scrubbing at this point (side note: these get less uncomfortable with time, and I hate that I know that). Being declared polyp free is good, but finding out that it wasn’t the only thing to disappear this cycle was…not so good.

We all know that IUIs are all about the follies and the lining, of which both went from kinda there to completely missing within two days. Literally, I had an okay looking 14mm on CD13 and then by CD15 – POOF, gone! And no I didn’t ovulate, which is what would happen to any other normal woman, but not this Infertile! My RE said that my ultrasounds looked like they were from two completely different women, so at least I’m not failing to continually impress people with my bizarre uterus.

Here’s where things get really fucked up: this was happening in July. Now I know that initially you’re like “damn girl, what do you have against July?!” But it’s not just about it being July (except I am starting to miss the comforts of winter – aka the season of carbs). It happens to be the same month that my body freaked out last year and I conceived my ectopic. What the hell kind of pattern is that?! Now I had to hope that the lovely little 14mm wasn’t secretly released and strolling through my tube, waiting to lure an unsuspecting swimmer to be used in ectopic #2. Note to self: going forward, July needs to be the birth control month because Mars must be in retrograde or some crap that makes my body go ‘NOPE’.Read More »

Am I Relaxed Yet?

Welcome to I’ll-Try-Anything #427: Acupuncture! I’ve heard a lot of amazing (and expensive) things about acupuncture and since all of my dollars are going toward making a baby this year, I decided to give it a shot. The place/parlor/office/whatever-you-call-it I chose specializes in infertility treatments, and even has an infertility yoga class that I won’t be attending (let’s not get crazy now). There are rumors out there that acupuncture can fix egg quality and assist with implantation – both of which sound pretty good considering those are my main issues (for now). Not to mention that it’s also supposed to help with: anxiety, stomach issues, insomnia, headaches, backaches, all-aches, “facial pain” (I hope that includes RBF), and a whole list of pregnancy related issues that I know nothing about (one thing at a time, ladies). They should update their slogan to, “Acupuncture: if it annoys you, we can fix it!”

I’m always intrigued by people who claim they can tackle my anxiety – they might as well declare that they can remove my arm by blinking (“good luck” – in ‘Taken’ voice). But the prospect of being anxiety-free and having some sexy looking eggs is enough to draw me in, so I gave them all my money for the month and prepared to meet with what I hoped would be an elderly Asian woman with 50 years of experience in curing infertility who sent me home with a bag of magic herbs and teas at the end of each session. NOPE! My experienced elder turned out to be a blonde woman named Emily who is probably younger than me (which doesn’t matter but like…it matters), and Emily wants to ruin my life. Okay maybe she doesn’t really want to ruin my life, but all I’m saying is the two months I followed through with my acupuncture treatments are the same two months where everything went to shit. Acupuncture Month #1: She turned my egg into a cyst! Acupuncture Month #2: She made my almost-mature follicle disappear! This would all be fine and dandy if I was at the world’s weirdest magic show, but I can’t justify the means (cash) for these ends (cysts and missing follies).

She also seemed to be real stingy on the needles. I imagined I would be made into a human pincushion – covered from head to toe, when really Emily must’ve been told she has a maximum of ten needles to use on each patient and had to pick and choose where to put them. What I really wanted to say each week was, “You know, there’s a hell of a lot of things wrong with me other than infertility, might as well just stick me with the lot!” But I’m afraid of what would happen to my body if Emily covered me in needles – would all my organs disappear? Grow new appendages? What is this madness?! And don’t even get me started on how she didn’t bother telling me what any of the acupuncture points she chose were for (the control freak in me needs answers, dammit!) …I’m starting to think I might be high maintenance.Read More »

Unhappy Birthday

Somewhere between last week and today I turned 29. Tweeeenty Niiiiine. The near-end of my twenties – over the hill and all that jazz. There are few things in life that I despise more than my own birthday: The pressure. The expectations. The aging. Yeah thanks guys, it’ll be real fun to go out and celebrate the slow deterioration of my body as I head towards my inevitable death (I really know how to keep things light at a party). If you’re also not a big birthday fan, don’t worry: it gets worse! “Age is just a number” becomes irrelevant when your eggs go by dog years and are celebrating their 70th birthday before you even turn thirty. It’s not just a number, it matters. And let’s be real, 21 is the last good “big birthday” (sorry 25 – no one cares that they can finally rent a car). After that, you’re left realizing that you’re stuck on a rollercoaster that has no intention of stopping – that is, until it makes the big stop. Suddenly, you’re developing new aches and ailments on a daily basis and oh did we mention that at 35 you’ll be the most infertile you’ve ever been? Apparently the Three-Five marks the end of the safe zone before your fertility plummets and you’re left overdrawing your checking account to pay for IVF and egg freezing. Doctor’s will begin using words like: donors and unlikely and high risk, so that your preconceived notions of ‘young 35’ are shattered and you feel as if you’re aging like a corked wine.

My Husband: What do you want to do for your birthday?

Me: Worry about my fertility.

Six years away from D-Day seems doable, but then you factor in the time it takes to conceive and incubate and birth and recover and oh my god I should’ve had a baby three years ago if I wanted any hope of doing this more than once! My last birthday, I didn’t know that an ectopic was around the corner, or that I would most definitely not be conceiving at 28. How adorably ignorant, my dream was once to have baby #1 at 28 and #2 at 30 and now I’m all, “Am I going to get one in before my expiration date?” The ticking has turned into a foghorn blaring through my ears – warning me that I don’t have as much time as everyone else. Apparently, my ovaries thought that we were already done with this trying to conceive business. I’m toeing the line between ‘young’ and ‘for your age’, and I’m not prepared to still be meeting with an RE when I cross over to the other side.Read More »

(Sorta) Living My Best Life

You know how sometimes you get these random bursts of happiness and you’re all ‘whoa, I don’t even know who that girl is’? That was me as soon as I got a whiff of summer. I vowed to take my own advice and not let my appointments and ‘could I be pregnant?’-ness get in my way of sunshine and mules: YES I’ll go to the baseball game, and your birthday party, and that dinner you scheduled during the work week! I was feeling good. Not “hey I might finally get pregnant” good, but “fuck this I’m doing it my way” good. Turns out I wasn’t infertile and depressed – I was just cold. So in the spirit of “fuck it!” I made a few life adjustments: Signed another lease for our teeny one bedroom apartment (who needs more space?! NOT ME). Took up weekday drinking again – because I’m reckless and wild and I just don’t believe a spritzer will be the death of my eggs. Ripped the tags off of too-skinny jeans, and bought dresses that will burst before they make room for a bump. There was no more “but I could be pregnant soon”, cause let’s be real…

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It was here, in this good place, that I demanded a vacation. I wanted to gather all my polyps (oh yes, there are more) and pills to enjoy some forced relaxation. We discovered a sliver of paradise in a sea of Zika: the Bahamas have been cleared for months (thanks for the heads up, guys), so I took those Infertile Points and off we went. But wait! As I stuffed my bag full of a month’s worth of underwear and bikinis (what more does a girl need?), I realized: this might actually suck. That’s the beauty of trying to conceive – you’re always being thrown a new batch of shit and ISN’T THAT SO FUN?! Going on vacation during the TWW is great because then you get the opportunity to develop new infertile vacation worries that you never even thought about, like:

Preparing for Take-Off. As if sitting in a hotbox or germs for hours on end isn’t bad enough, you’ll start to question the impact that a tumultuous take-off can have on your possible embryo. I once scoffed at a woman who asked if her bumpy car ride to work would make implantation impossible (oh honey, no), but an aggressive plane landing? Shit, maybe. Read More »

Category X

I’ve never met a pill I didn’t like. They help me sleep, calm me down, make the outdoors bearable, and they’re supposed to make me more fertile too. These new pills though – little blue ovals of estrogen – these suppositories (you know, the fun kind) are different. My too-little too-late estrogen party was started on trigger day when a nurse mentioned (after I asked, mind you) that my lining was “a little thin”, which according to everything else I’ve read is actually a lotta thin. I should’ve swatted away the trigger shot at that declaration and exclaimed, “Whattaya mean thin?! How are we just now discussing this?!” but I’m shooting for normalcy at this office so I stayed silent. I was given very little instruction for what are affectionately dubbed the ‘smurf cooch pills’, beyond being told “if it feels weird, you’re doing it right” (if I had a dollar for every time….) and as far as I’m concerned, I’m the first of my kind. Estrogen for a full two weeks – no progesterone, no monitoring, a plethora of uncertainty. Why did I feel like I was patient zero for the TWW estrogen test? How come I’ve never heard of this being used on it’s own? It’s like a riddle ever trying to get direct information from a doctor’s office though, and I’m still left with my mind running mad – If you have to medicate me, then you must answer these questions three:Read More »

The Infertiles

At my consultation with my new RE (I feel so officially infertile now!) she told me to not feel intimidated on my cycle day 3 appointment when I walk in and find fifty other women sitting in the waiting room at 7AM. It seemed funny and a little obnoxious, until I walked in on Day 3 and holy shit she meant fifty women.  

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It’s a strange feeling to be sitting in a room full of fellow Infertiles when nobody wants to talk about it – like meeting someone who looks like your identical twin and no one says a damn word. Sure, let’s NOT address the fact that for all intensive  purposes, we’re the same person. Like, hellooooo – where’s the table of bagels being swarmed by hormone-fueled women and the rotating list of who’s on mimosa duty?! We could all sit and sip as a group while hold-my-beer-ing each other, one upping on the “shit that’s wrong with me” scale. Instead, we wait in silence while our struggles stare back at us from tens of different faces. Couples quietly bowing their heads as they whisper about upcoming procedures, lone women knotting their fingers, all while I’m itching to turn to the Infertile next to me and say, “So, what are you in for?” We’re all prisoners of our own bodies here, might as well share with people who are equally frustrated with their reproductive organs.

Not including a sign-up sheet for cycle buddies at the RE seems like a real missed opportunity. You know that the women you’re sitting with are local, you know that you’re on the same schedule, and you know that they’re just as over this BS as you are. Why aren’t we swapping numbers and planning weekly brunches? They say that people are more likely to bond over something they hate, so: infertility is my nemesis – and the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Let’s get together to build friendships based on medications that play with our emotions and the dream to one day not be violated by an ultrasound machine. We should make t-shirts and have a secret handshake and a bitchin’ code name (even though I’m partial to The Infertiles, regardless of its lack of subtly).  

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