Cellulite, anyone?

So I’m trying to find a bathing suit for our Israel trip, but nothing seems to fit because my ass has exploded.  This is depressing.  I’ve been very tiny my whole life but after two years of being on a wide variety of oh-so-fun fertility hormones, things have changed.  I feel like an animal.

BR: Blondie, why do you keep dressing like a schoolmarm?

Me: Because my ass has exploded and I feel like an animal.

BR: Why don’t you wear those sexy black pants tonight?

Me: Haha, I would love to, but my ass has exploded and I feel like an animal!

You try to explain this to friends and they say, “really?  But you look great!”  Which, by the way, is the CORRECT response.

But then you explain that they don’t have the “misfortune” of having to see you naked.  You disclose that the hormones have made you gain 20 pounds, have given you stretch marks, and have left a permanent explosion of cellulite on your ass and thighs that never used to be there.

And then they say, “well that’s nothing – just wait until you have a baby!”

HA HA HA!  Really person??  That’s so funny because I wish I could!

And that’s when the sad irony hits you.  Your body’s in a perpetual state of growing and shrinking and feeling out of sorts.  You endure big boobs, small boobs, bigger boobs, a swollen abdomen, nausea, a big ass, a bigger ass, big hips, fat pants, fatigue, anxiety, cramps, a muffin top, cellulite… and yet there’s no baby!  Isn’t that funny?

But it’s not their fault.  People who haven’t been through infertility really don’t know what to say.  And usually they say the wrong thing.  It can be hurtful at times, but you just have to remember that they really are trying to be helpful.

Some people (BR included) give you all sorts of unsolicited advice.  They’ll tell you that you should “distract” yourself and take up a class or join a gym or something.  Or be more social.  Or try a different clinic.  Or don’t think about it so much.  Or try and “relax” and think “positive” thoughts.  Or have you considered adoption?  Or stop drinking coffee.  Or stop drinking wine.  The list goes on.

Unfortunately this “advice” is rarely helpful.  In fact, it’s the opposite of helpful.  It reinforces the idea that you’re probably doing something wrong, and that’s why you’re not getting pregnant.  You’re already a bad mother and you’re not even pregnant yet.

And you learn very quickly that you have no control over fertility treatment – it controls you.  Your ovaries are literally holding you hostage.  You’re at the mercy of your cycle, the hormones, the doctor, the clinic, and a medically induced, totally unnatural schedule.  You can’t make plans because you don’t know if you’ll be in the middle of a cycle, possibly pregnant, possibly devastated or drowning in hormonal hell.

So I find the most helpful thing that friends and family can say is actually very simple:  “I’m very sorry you’re going through this, is there anything that I can do for you?”  Or, “can I make you some chicken soup?”

That’s it.  I don’t need “strategies” and “distractions” and “micromanagement” and “medical” advice from the internet, and “organic” cookbooks and all that crap.  Just give me a little bit of sympathy and a hug, and some god-damned soup already.

I wish I could distract myself more though, especially when I’m in the throes of a cycle.  But unfortunately when I’m eyeballs-deep in hormones, I can barely even commit to having dinner with someone.  I end up cancelling a lot.  And it’s not just because I feel like crap and have to use all my brain power to try and form a sentence – it’s also because I don’t want to unleash my hormonal wrath onto innocent members of society.  I just figure it’s “safer” for everyone if I stay home and hide under the covers.

I’ve made the mistake of trying to go out in public a couple of times, but the hormones make me extremely self-conscious.  It doesn’t go very well.

Friend: Oh my God, it’s so great to see you!  How are you?  Wow, everything looks so delicious on this menu, I can’t decide what I want.  Actually I think I’ll have the pasta.  What are you going to have?

Me: I… having… burger.

Followed by: What exactly does the waiter mean, do I want water.

Followed by: No, I will not take off my sunglasses because I can’t look anyone in the eye.

Followed by: How googly are my eyes right now.

Followed by: I… should have (sniff)… ordered (sniff)… the pi-zaa-aaah-aaaaah (sob).

Followed by: No, I don’t know how to get to my house Mr. Cab driver, isn’t that your job?  Asshole??

Now unfortunately, as I mentioned in my last post, our last IVF cycle was a bust.  It was our second attempt at IVF.  Unfortunately the first time was also a bust, and since we only got one little not-quite-developed-embryo out of it, we had to do the egg retrieval all over again.

And since I’m considered a “low responder” to the medication, it was a miracle that we got 6 embryos this time.  We were very optimistic.  We also opted for genetic testing, just as a back-up.

So the day of the embryo transfer came.  We went to the clinic.  I was ushered into the special little waiting room.  I changed into my gown and that stupid-looking blue hairnet, and was anxiously awaiting my turn while trying to ignore my very full bladder.  BR was back there with me.  We were too nervous to speak, but we both had our fingers crossed.

But then the Doctor came in and told us we had a problem.  All of our embryos came back genetically abnormal.  He said he was very sorry, but he couldn’t do the transfer.

I’m sorry, what?  What was that again?  No transfer?  No transfer??  But I’m here and I’m all ready to go!  I’m in my gown and this stupid-looking hat and I’m about to pee my pants and what do you mean abnormal?!

He couldn’t give us an explanation right then, but he assured us that it was nothing that either of us had done.  He just said we should get dressed and go home.  So we did.  We were in shock.

That’s when I told BR that I needed to get away ASAP.  So we went to Chicago.  While we were there we had a phone call with our fertility doctor.  We found out that we have an egg problem.  My spindles – those little things in eggs that zip together pairs of chromosomes from egg and sperm – are, for lack of a better word, wonky.  So instead of “pairs” of chromosomes, in some cases our embryos had 3 or 1 or none – a mistake which kept repeating itself.

And then the big crusher:  Our doctor told us that he would only try IVF with us one more time and if it didn’t work, we’d have to get an egg donor.

what??  But I’m only 35!  And a late bloomer!  And I’m very immature!

Needless to say, I was not happy with that answer.  Neither of us were.

Now theoretically speaking, I believe that you could love any child – I really do.  But when someone actually tells you that you probably won’t be able to have your own baby, it’s pretty crushing.  This baby needs my DNA!  It needs my DNA so it can balance out BR’s crazy robot DNA!  What if the donor egg comes from someone who’s also a techie/evil genius/robot?  What then??  And if it’s not my egg, will the baby even be Jewish?

SO. MANY. QUESTIONS.  I cried the entire day.  Literally.  I literally cried all freaking day.

Which is why we’re now heading to Israel.  For peace of mind I’ve decided not to google anything on the internet, but the technology is supposed to be very advanced over there.  Apparently they can “repair” DNA.

So after a long, horrible day in a Chicago hotel room, full of tears and snotty kleenex and deep-dish pizza crumbs everywhere, BR rubbed my back and said something to try and make me feel better:

BR: Don’t worry Blondie.  If this doesn’t work out I have a plan-B.

Me: (sniff) You do?  What is it?

BR: Two words Blondie: Clone Army.
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Horror-mones

BR and I have been trying to have a baby for about three years now.  It’s not exactly going well.

Which is why it’s been over a month since my last post.  You know how drinking and dialling is a bad idea?  Well pumping yourself full of fertility drugs and blogging is also a very bad idea.  So I figured I would wait until I was feeling a little more “rational.”

Allow me to let you in on a little secret about fertility treatment that nobody really talks about: IT SUCKS.  I was not prepared for how much it would suck.  And all those glossy magazine photos of blissfully happy forty and fifty-something celebrities holding their newborn babies is totally misleading.  I’d like to see pictures of those women while they’re eyeballs-deep in hormones and trying to perform every-day tasks… like putting on pants.

Now I’m not going to go into all of the dirty details about fertility treatment because it’s something you have to go through to fully understand.  But trust me.  It TOTALLY SUCKS.

So as a result, this “baby” has been torturing me for three years and is already acting like a real jerk.  Thanks baby.

And on top of that I have to live with and take care of my adorable adult baby – or “man toddler” – who also tortures me on a regular basis.

ME: BR, I really don’t feel good tonight.  These hormones are making me feel like crap.  Can I have some nursing?

BR: Blondie, I’m not a nurse.  I’m a doctor.  Therefore I can’t really take of you, I can only diagnose you.  And I diagnose you with looking like a crazy person.

ME: You are not a doctor.  And I know I look crazy because I feel crazy.  Which is why I need some nursing.

BR:  Blondie, come on.  It’s not like you have a broken leg.  You just have googly eyes.

ME: Pardon?

BR: Is your leg broken?

ME: Are you actually comparing five cycles of fertility treatment to a broken leg?  What is wrong with you?

BR: You’re right.  A broken leg is much worse.  I should know, I’ve had a broken leg.

ME: BR!  Come on, I’m begging you – just rub my back or try to console me or something!  I really don’t feel well!

BR: Blondie, I already told you – I’m not a nurse.  I’m a doctor.  Therefore there’s nothing I can do for you.

ME: YOU ARE NOT A DOCTOR.

When we first found out we had to do IVF we were instructed to make an appointment with the fertility counsellor.  Together.  BR had never been to a therapist before so he was a little “hesitant.”

THERAPIST: Now I understand you’ve already been through three unsuccessful IUI treatments.  So I just want to ask you both some questions before you begin IVF.  Now please understand that the purpose of this is not to assess whether or not you’ll make good parents.  It’s to assess whether or not your relationship can handle the stress of such an aggressive treatment.

Apparently a number of relationships do not survive fertility treatment, especially if it’s ongoing.  Which is why the therapist looks for any potential “red flags” and then teaches you some valuable communication skills to help you both cope with the stress.

THERAPIST: Now BR, of all the times you’ve tried to console Blondie during her previous treatments, what percentage of the time do you think you’ve been successful in consoling her?

BR: (blinking and staring)

THERAPIST: Ok, let me rephrase the question.  Of all the times that Blondie has been upset and you’ve tried to make her feel better, how often do you think you were successful?

BR: I think that depends on your definition of “console.”

THERAPIST: Let’s try this again.  Think of all the times Blondie has been upset during treatment.  What percentage of the time do you actually say or do something that makes her feel better?

BR:  Well… do you mean physically upset or mentally upset?  I can usually only tell if she’s upset when she’s crying…

ME: Oh my God, pick a number.

BR: What?

ME: A number!  She wants a number!  What percentage of the time do you try to make me feel better and succeed?  PICK A NUMBER.

BR: Fine.  Twenty percent.

THERAPIST: Oh dear.  Ok, and Blondie?  What percentage of the time do you think he’s successful in consoling you?

ME: Actually I was also going to say about twenty percent.

BR: Woo hoo!

And then he high-fived me.  Right in the middle of our therapy session.

THERAPIST:  Ok, that’s not really something to be “high-fiving” about.  It’s actually a pretty low number… and a potential red flag…

BR: But we got the same number.

THERAPIST: Yes, I’m aware that you got the same number but…

BR:  See?  Woo hoo!

He high-fived me again.

THERAPIST: That’s not really the point.

BR: What is the point exactly?

So that was helpful.  I’ve tried to explain to BR just how crappy the hormones make me feel and how painful the procedures are – not to mention how exhausting the stress of it all is – but he really doesn’t get it.  It’s not his fault.  He’s a man.  And a robot.  But he’s trying to be supportive so I have to give him a little credit… right?

ME:  BR, I really don’t feel well, I don’t know what to do with myself.  I’m stressed, I’m exhausted, I’m crampy, and these hormones are making me feel nuts.  I’m so miserable!

BR:  Blondie, I don’t understand.  All I know is that your hair is all messy and your makeup is smudged and your eyeballs are really googly.  In fact I’m not even sure I want to be around you right now.  You look kind of scary.

ME:  You don’t want to be around me right now?  I don’t want to be around me right now!  But unlike you, I can’t get away from myself!  I really don’t feel good and you’re not helping!

BR: Blondie, I’m trying but I’m not a mind reader.  I can’t just look at your face and your body language and listen to what you’re telling me and “magically” figure out what’s wrong with you.  I need a hint.  Text me an emoticon.

ME: Pardon?

BR: An emoticon Blondie.  That would be helpful.

ME: There is no emoticon for how I’m feeling!

BR: Try.  I can’t help you if you can’t help me.

So I sent him one:  >%-( 

BR:  Oh… yikes.  That looks pretty bad… I think I’m going to follow my initial instincts and leave the house for a while.

ME: You’re leaving me?

BR: Blondie, it’s ok.  Just do what you normally do and hide under the covers and cry hysterically.  Then by the time I get home you’ll feel better!  Here’s a bunch of kleenex.  Now I’m just going to cover your head with this blanket…

And then I heard the door shut.

Now another unfortunate thing you have to endure while in the throes of IVF is the constant appointments.  You have to go to the clinic every morning for blood work and a yucky ultrasound so they can check your hormone levels and see how your follicles are growing.  This can go on for days and it gets pretty annoying after a while for both us.  But all BR has to do is drive me.  He gets the easy job.

ME: Wakey wakey BR, I need you to drive me to the clinic for blood and ultrasound.

BR: Blondie I’m not feeling well this morning.  You’ll have to take a taxi.

ME:  A taxi?  Please don’t make me do that.  Those guys drive like jerks and I’m all crampy and I don’t want my ovaries jostling around.

BR: Ugh, Blondie!  I really don’t want to drive you to the clinic today, I don’t feel good.  You and your ovaries will be fine.

ME:  Are you planning on playing hockey today?

BR: Maybe.  What does that have to do with anything?

ME: If you’re well enough to play hockey, you’re well enough to drive me to my appointment.  Get in the car.

BR: No.

ME: All you have to do is drive me!  You don’t have to pump yourself full of hormones and go to the clinic for a daily probing!  Come on, we’re in this together.

BR: No, we’re in this separately.

ME: We are NOT in this separately.  This is potentially OUR baby.

BR: No.  It’s my baby.

ME: What is wrong with you.  Please get up and drive me to my appointment.

BR: Shhhh… I’m just going to shut my eyes and go back to sleep…

ME: (blinking and staring)

BR: Can you just rub my back a little?

ME: GET IN THE FUCKING CAR!

BR: Fine.  But you’ll have to dress me.  Go get my clothes.

ME:  Oh my God.  Ok, here are your clothes.  Now put them on and let’s go.

BR:  No, you put them on me.  Pretend I’m the baby.  It’s good practice for you.

ME: Are you kidding… ok.  Ugh, I can’t even get your sock on, your leg is so heavy!  At least lift your leg a little!

BR:  Blondie, I’m the baby.  You have to dress me.  I’m totally helpless.

ME: For the love of God, you weigh a thousand pounds!  Put your pants on!  We’re going to be late!

BR: Blondie, I’m getting cold.  Hurry.  I’m going to start crying.  WAAAAH!  WAAAAH!  WAAAAH!  WAAAAH!

ME: PLEASE PUT YOUR PANTS ON AND GET IN THE FUCKING CAR!!!

Then a couple of days later BR surprised me with something nice.

BR: Blondie, I got you a present today.

ME: You did?  What is it?

BR: It’s a booklet that shows all sorts of different “moods”.  See?  And each mood has a description to go with the cute little emoticon picture.  So now you can just flip to the appropriate mood and then I’ll look at it and try to understand how you’re feeling!

ME: Aw, thanks BR!  That was very thoughtful.

BR: I know.  Maybe too thoughtful…

But then he heated up some chicken soup for me and rubbed my tummy for a while.  He was a good nurse.

Unfortunately this cycle did not work out for us.  I needed to get out of the house and away from my usual surroundings so BR took me to Chicago.  We didn’t see or do as much as we would have liked, but we were both a little depressed and I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. So we mostly just wandered around aimlessly and ate a lot of deep dish pizza.

ME: Ok BR, are you ready to go shopping?

BR: Yes.  But first I’d like to stop for pizza.

ME: But you just had breakfast.

BR: Blondie, I’m hungry.  And I want delicious deep dish pizza.

ME: Oh no, I know exactly what’s going to happen.  You’re going to scarf down an entire pizza and then you’re going to make us go back to the hotel so you can nap for three hours.  I don’t want to spend all day in the hotel.  I need to get out.

BR: Blondie, don’t be ridiculous.  I’m only going to have one or two pieces.

That was a blatant lie.

ME: Umm, BR?  Are you ok?  You just ate an entire medium deep dish pizza.  And your eyes are all glazed over.  And I think you may be slurring…

BR: I’m in a pizza coma, Blondie.  I need to go back to the hotel and lie down.

ME: But you promised me date day!  And shopping!  Together!  I knew this was going to happen.

BR: Blondie, you don’t need me to go shopping.  You can go shopping by yourself.

ME: I don’t want to go by myself, I want to go with you.  As a couple.  Having a date day.

BR: Blondie, just go to Saks and come back to the hotel when you’re done.

ME: If you let me loose in Saks by myself after a month of hormonal hell and depression, I’m going to bankrupt you.  Is that what you want?

BR: Fine.  I choose bankruptcy… and pizza.

But aside from the pizza fiasco – multiple pizza fiascos – BR actually took very good care of me on this trip.  He could tell I was wiped out and on the verge of a breakdown.  He let me drink all the bottled water from the mini bar that I wanted.  He let me order as much room service as I wanted.  He bought me some very pretty shoes.  He rubbed my back and snuggled me in bed while we watched multiple episodes of Pawn Stars.  And he consoled me every time a baby would appear on a commercial and I would start to tear up and cry.  He was the best crazy-pretend-nurse-who-thinks-he’s-a-doctor that a girl could ask for.

So we’re home now and planning our next trip – to Israel!  Apparently they have some of the world’s leading fertility technology.  So we’re still hopeful that we’ll find some answers that will eventually give us a baby.

And right now hope is better than nothing.