Wednesday, March 28, 2007

False alarm

Sorry for the long silence. I've been in the USA for five days now, and it has been quite an ordeal. About 9 hours after I landed, I started vomiting uncontrollably. I couldn't keep anything down, and within two days, I was dehydrated, exhausted, and utterly miserable. I was also near panic, because I thought it was the beginnings of hyperemesis gravidarum, which would be a complete disaster, especially if it struck while I was in the US, where a) I don't have health insurance, and b) I don't have a home. I couldn't even imagine how I would get back to Korea and my husband and doctor if I couldn't stop throwing up. Then on day three, the vomiting stopped and it turned into diarrhea. Around the same time, my friends started getting sick too. It turns out that I had picked up some yucky stomach virus on the plane. By yesterday I was fine. Whew! I actually made one of my business meetings yesterday, and will be heading off to another today. Now I'm just hoping that the embryo wasn't damaged by the turbulence in my digestive system. I didn't have a fever, so I'm hoping that all is well.

In other news, I picked up a belly band yesterday, and several friends have donated maternity clothes, so I'm in much better shape to cope with an expanding belly in Korea, assuming that all goes well.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

To shop or not to shop...

I've got a bit of a dilemma right now. I'm heading to the US tomorrow for two weeks. Week 1 will be for a couple of work-related meetings. Week 2 is to be there for my dad's surgery. I'll have a little free time in between, and plan to take the opportunity to do a little shopping stock up on things that are hard or impossible to find in Korea.

So here's the question: should I go ahead and buy a few maternity clothes? The down sides are obvious. If the pregnancy goes south, I'll end up having wasted money and brought home sad reminders. However, there are some major up sides to shopping in the US rather than here. Korean women are for the most part TINY. I'm about 5'7" and am not stick thin. So, buying clothes here is a real challenge. I'm sure that there are maternity clothes sold here that can accomodate my growing belly, but I'm not at all sure that there'll also be room for my J Lo arse, my rapidly expanding boobs, and my corn fed frame. Of course I don't know how much weight I'll gain with the pregnancy, so buying clothes now is also risky since I'm not sure exactly how big I'll be later. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Well, the big day finally arrived. I went in for the scan, and saw ONE sac, and ONE little embryo. I couldn't see the heartbeat, but the doctor said that she could see it. It was still too faint to measure the heart rate, but the doctor seemed to think that all was well. Whew!

I'm about 1% disappointed that it's not twins, but 99% relieved. While in theory, twins would be wonderful, given our situation (thousands of kilometers away from family and friends, living in a foreign country on a single salary), twins would be really hard. One is perfect.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Just like you said it would be

As a result of infertility, I have learned many things about myself, and about the human condition. Before infertility, I never knew that I was capable of jealousy so intense that someone else's good news could make the sun stop shining. I also never would have imagined that I could learn to be so patient. (To be clear, you still have to measure my patience in dog years to get a number that fits onto the chart, but compared to the extreme instant gratification girl I used to be, I'm doing pretty well.) I also never could have known that something that I didn't have could make me so sad, that my husband could make me smile on my darkest days, or that I could become so close to people that I've never met. I can't say that I've enjoyed a second of it, but infertility has been nothing but a learning experience. I'm a different person as a result, and I do like to think a better person.

Pregnancy after infertility is a horse of another color. While infertility made me miserable, pregnancy has made me absurdly happy. So happy that it's hard to believe that I could stay this happy. This makes it hard to believe that I could stay pregnant. Ridiculous, I know, but I am finding the wait for my ultrasound on Tuesday very difficult. Every time I have a little cramp, or don't have a little cramp, or don't feel nauseous for a second, or realize that my boobs don't hurt QUITE in the same way that they did yesterday, the fear takes over. 90% of my attention is below my neck at all times. I have recently seen several thoughtful posts about the epic battle between joy and fear that goes on in the heart of the newly pregnant infertile, but somehow I always thought I'd be able to keep it together. Such hubris! I now laugh at my naŃ—ve former self. When I first got that elusive, miraculous positive hpt, I promised myself that once I saw a doubling beta, I'd relax and enjoy the pregnancy. After the doubling beta, I promised myself that I'd calm down after I saw a heartbeat. Now, three days away from possibly seeing that heartbeat (please please please!), I'm starting to realize that this paranoia may be with me for the long haul. Well, no worries. There's plenty of room. Paranoia, I suggest that you make yourself comfortable in the seat in between the neuroses generated by body betrayal and the emotional scars from years of disappointment and bitterness. Just stay away from the bluebird of happiness that sits on my heart if you know what's good for you!

Friday, March 16, 2007

My happy ass part II

Here's a graphic illustration of why I heart crin*ne gel (courtesy of the Korean instruction booklet).

Mine is the arse on the left.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Flying pigs

This is a wierd wierd world. That comes right after "life isn't fair" on the list of shocking life lessons that I learned as a child.

For the IF couple, it's even wierder. Everything that you've been taught about conception, pregnancy, and reproduction turns out to be wrong. Your insurance covers vi*gra but not fertility treatments. Your life plans are constantly getting turned on their head, and the people around you are so full of assvice that it becomes an almost knee-jerk response to vehemently reject all stereotypes regarding conception, pregnancy, and birth. After a while, though, you think you've got it all figured out.

• Relaxing will not make you pregnant
• A vacation will not make you pregnant
• You will not get pregnant by making an appointment with the RE, or filing adoption papers
• You won't get pregnant from having sex
• You probably won't get pregnant at all

These rules are not reassuring, but at least they make you feel like you know what's going on. Then Barren Mare finds out at the RE's office during a pre-IVF evaluation that she's actually pregnant. Then Thalia gets pregnant on vacation*. Then I got pregnant after one of the worst retrievals ever. Then, after five years of non-stop IVF, a beautiful set of twins, and the reluctant decision not to try again, Tertia conceives naturally.

I really don't know what to think. Have the forces of evil finally been vanquished? Does happiness reign in the land? Or is this just a wierd wierd world.

Today, I started having morning sickness. Get this... it happened only in the morning. I've really got to start listening to those old wives.

*CORRECTION--Thalia points out that she didn't actually conceive on vacation. She just found out that she was pregnant on vacation. So, we don't need to start preparing for the apocalypse quite yet.

UPDATE--I was sad to hear that Tertia has suffered a loss. You might want to stop by to offer condolences.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Scene from the Seoul subway

Yes, New York accents ARE famous for their charm and elegance.

The numbers game

The second beta was 2804, which corresponds with a doubling time of ~37 hours. My doctor said that this is good.

Now I get to have fun with google, trying to derive some deeper meaning from the numbers. Good times, good times...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hope and inspiration

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've been in such a state of shock that it left me speechless for a while. I'm also (of course) going through the inevitable "now what?" stage of the newly pregnant infertile. In many ways, I just don't know what to say.

Part of it is fear of loss. Part of it is complete lack of familiarity with the terrain upon which I'm now walking. Probably the large part, though is concern about saying the wrong thing. I have no idea of how to be pregnant, and feel that I have a huge responsibility not to be one of those people who develops amnesia about infertility the second they get that positive test. I'm terrified that something will go wrong, but after whining about infertility for so long, I also feel a huge responsibility to enjoy every second while I'm here (luckily, that part has been easy so far). I also feel a responsibility to the women who are still struggling. I realize that for some, seeing a pregnancy announcement is always at best bittersweet, and at worst, frankly painful. So, I've struggled with the question of what I should say or do now that I am, for now at least, one of the lucky ones.

When I had just started trying to conceive, and was as innocent (and ignorant) as the driven snow, I hung around on "trying to conceive" message boards and got a little thrill out of every pregnancy announcement. This made for interesting times, as there was a pregnancy announcement about every 30 seconds. Not surprisingly, I rapidly grew jaded, and stopped particularly caring about them, except in a sort of abstract way ("how nice that someone else has achieved their dream... Can you pass the salt?") Then, probably inevitably, they started to bother me. Seeing someone perform a natural body function without effort just didn't strike me as particularly wondrous anymore. It probably didn't help that all of my friends chose that time to become pregnant, many by mistake, or without any particular thought or struggle.

Over the course of several more months, it became crystal clear that something was wrong. It had been a year, and then 18 months, without a sign of the long-awaited second line. I saw doctors, had tests, and still, nothing. During this time, I stopped visiting the boards so much. The good news of super-fertile 20-year-olds wasn't doing my heart any good, and things on the "infertility" boards too often degenerated into ugly and pointless brawls. So, I just visited a few of my not-so-new-anymore friends on a regular basis, but other than that, stayed away from the boards. Around this time, I discovered blogs, which offer an opportunity to get to "know" someone in a whole different way.

One of the things that I noticed during this time was that I wasn't the only one having very strange reactions to other people's pregnancies (or as the hilarious Sarah calls them, OPP). On the days that I did brave the "newbie" boards, I'd see announcements saying things like "FINALLY pregnant after 7 loooong months", followed by a sea of good wishes, most of which include comments like "you give me hope", or "this is so inspiring". Being a logical person, this puzzled me a bit. Why should the pregnancy of a total stranger give one hope or inspiration?

I had always tried to avoid being upset by other OPP by reminding myself that it is not a zero sum game. There are not a limited number of pregnancies getting doled out, and therefore, someone else's good news did not mean that my chances of having equally good news one day were reduced. However, this argument also forced me to face the fact that if each woman's pregnancy is a statistically independent event, then there's no reason that I should draw hope from seeing happy endings to stories like mine.

Yet after a while, I admit that I did start to draw hope from other people's successes. While the fertile newbies still left me cold, seeing people overcome great odds to become pregnant reminded me that someone has to end up on the long skinny end of the bell curve, so why not me? However, while these success stories gave me hope, they didn't inspire me. They reminded me of what was possible, but didn't give me any clear sense of how to get there, or how to be while I was trying to get there. Rather, I found that inspiration came not from the outcome of other people's stories, but rather from the stories themselves.

When I think back, I realize that the deepest and most profound inspiration came from seeing women battle for something that they really wanted, regardless of their success and failure. I'll never forget the day that B posted in our "buddy group" on a message board that after three years of trying, she had been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure, and told that she had a less than 5% chance of ever conceiving. I wept buckets for a woman that I'd never met, and feared that it would be the end of her story. B herself, though, refused to accept what seemed to be her fate. She tried IVF (her cycle was cancelled because of no response). She tried using estrogen support (she didn't ovulate, and had a cycle so long she feared it was menopause). She signed up for donor eggs. She explored adoption. She went to the RE each and every month for an antral follicle check, to see if she had any chance whatsoever of getting her miracle. Within about 5 months, she was pregnant from her own egg after an unmedicated IUI. Now, two years later, she has a beautiful daughter and is trying for #2. Whenever I've thought about giving up, I think of B's courage, and make another appointment with the RE.

I also think about my friend R, who has been trying for several years with no luck so far. She has been through failed IUI after failed IUI. Has had to cope with the fact that she lives in a small town, and has to travel several hours to see an RE. She has watched most of her friends and family members have their babies while her arms are still empty. Yet she refuses to let this be the end of her happiness. She exercises (and looks unbelievably hot in a bikini). She goes dancing. She does art projects. She is the life of the party. She takes road trips. Right now she's on a three-month vacation in Mexico with her sweet husband. She LIVES!!! I pray that some day, she will be able to share all of that joie de vivre with a child, but I also know that if she doesn't get that opportunity, she will be fine. R inspires me.

In the blogging world, I draw inspiration from women like M-B, and Beth, who have had two of the worst pregnancies ever, and yet managed to keep their senses of humor intact, and self-pity to the absolute minimum. Things that would leave me in a puddle on the floor bring them to new heights of wittiness. I am in awe.

There are so many women that inspire me. I could go on forever, but I think you get the idea. I realize now that as hard as this journey has been, I've also been incredibly lucky. Of course I'm lucky to have finally seen that second pink line. I don't know how this journey will end, but I will treasure that moment forever. But I'm also lucky to have had so many incredible women around me to support and, yes, inspire me. One of the reasons that I'm having trouble figuring out to say, then, is that I realize that compared with so many others, my journey has been fairly smooth. There's nothing particularly inspiring or unusual about my own journey. So, at this stage, I'm spending a lot of time thinking about other women who have won their own battles with infertility, and others who are still in the fight.

My second beta isn't until Tuesday. Then I'll have an u/s the following Tuesday. So I get to bite my nails for a bit longer.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

So that's what it feels like

After going in for the blood draw this morning, I couldn't stand it any longer. I pulled out one of my hoarded hpt's and a cup, and took care of business. When I saw the control line pop up, and a vast area of pure white open up below it, I started to despair, when suddenly, I realized that it wasn't actually pure white. There was a very faint pink line, that quickly got darker and darker until I didn't even need to use my obsesso-vision to see it. I called my hubby into the bathroom, and he could see it too.

The doctor called an hour ago. Beta was 126.

I am pregnant.

I don't even know how to digest it. It's too big. Too amazing.

Monday, March 5, 2007


The beta is tomorrow. I thought I wouldn't be freaking out, yet here I am freaking out. I haven't done a home test yet, out of sheer cowardice. I'm planning to do one tomorrow right before the beta, so I don't have to spend the whole day waiting for the phone call.

Here's the thing. There's no spotting yet (unlike last time), and no major cramping. I did have a big headache on Friday, but there was an obvious trigger other than PMS, so it doesn't really count. All of this should be good signs. But, we put in two not-very-nice embryos, and really nothing means anything but a positive test. The thing is, hope got all the way into the building and has wrapped herself so tightly around me that it would be really painful to have her ripped off again.

Well, either way, it's only one more day.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

What to do with pregnant infertiles?

The other day, I was looking through my blogroll and realized that the vast majority of "infertility" bloggers that I check on regularly are either pregnant or new mothers. The same is true of most of my dearest friends in the computer (you know who you are).

A few times, I've flirted with the idea of separating my blogroll into categories (in the trenches, on a break, pregnant, graduates, trying for #2, etc.) However, I just can't bring myself to do it. Why? Well, I've given it a lot of thought, and in the end, I think that in many ways infertility colors all of your experiences, regardless of which category you happen to find yourself in today. I don't mean that we can't resolve our infertility and go on to lead happy healthy lives, hopefully free of lasting emotional scars. I hope that for all of us. I have to believe that one day infertility will not be the focus of my life.

Rather, I mean that infertility isn't just a temporary phase that you go through, like teething or thinking that wearning a plastic miniskirt is a good idea (oh cursed youth!) I have been changed permanently by this experience, in ways both bad and good. I now know that the line between "pregnant" and "in the trenches" isn't as solid as one might hope. Having watched so many dear ones go through heartbreaking losses, I simply can't assume that one of my friends in the computer will go on to live happily ever after just because of the results of a blood test (or, more often, about a hundred million hpt's). I also can't assume, or even hope, that they will ever be "normal" pregnant people. While complications of pregnancy seem to be fairly equal-opportunity, the thoughts and feelings of a pregnant and infertile in reaction to these complications will inevitably be different. The stakes just feel so much higher, and the probability of a good outcome so much more tenuous when you've fought so hard just to get to the starting line.

Then when the infertile becomes a mother, so many new issues arise. The former infertile can be particularly hard on herself when she realizes that she's not a perfect mother, just a human being. There are also often lingering body-betrayal issues. ART mommies having multiples face additional issues. It's all very complicated. And then there's the issue of TTC #2, or #3, or #4. Sadly, having won the fertility sweepstakes once doesn't in any way guarantee smooth sailing the next time around.

In the end, though, I like to keep all of my infertile peeps in one place, and close to my heart, because I need you there. You serve as a shining example of how to keep moving forward during good times and bad. I hope that someday we can all move into a new category called "resolved", but until then, I think we should stick together.