Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thank you, 2011

What a difference a year makes.

Last Christmas we were nursing our failed IVF wounds, and this year we celebrated with our one-month-old daughter.  That is some crazy stuff right there.

The more I speak about infertility (and I do because I'll never understand how the whole thing got so taboo, and I'm not one to hold back if you've noticed) more and more couples come out of the woodwork saying they did/are having trouble themselves.  How the heck did this biological imperative become so damn hard?!

Matt and I decided we won't shy away from telling Annie how she came to be: we want her to know how very badly we wanted her to be here and how modern medicine played such a substantial role in her existence.  I want her to know about the long drives to the clinic, the crazy scenarios we found ourselves in (me constantly in  the stirrups, Matt having to, uh, give numerous samples in the clinic's multiple "male specimen rooms" complete with ample porn selections), and how we waited for the embryologist calls after the IVF extraction telling us how our little blastocysts were growing.  On our first IVF attempt nothing divided past the two-cell stage, but Annie's cycle resulted in many beautiful eight-celled little buggers.  In a way, this is her first baby picture:
I often wonder if the right or left blastocyst came to be our daughter.  The whole thing is mind-boggling.

It's not lost on me how very fortunate I am.  In terms of infertility our stint was not exceptionally long: we tried to conceive for a year and nine months before hitting the fertility jackpot with our positive pregnancy test.  We started right outta the gate from my April 2009 surgery (literally - I remember asking my surgeon - and I swear this on all that is holy - "Can my surgery incision, like, bust open with a growing baby stomach?").  I am obviously not cut out for a career in medicine.

After a solid six months of TTC ("trying to conceive" for the fertile bunnies out there) we went to our ob/gyn who performed a few tests and put us on Clomid to regulate my cycle.  After a solid year of TTC we met with our reproductive endocrinologist.  And then after two monitoring cycles (one sans meds and one with), four medicated IUI (intrauterine insemination) rounds, and two IVF rounds I had a bun in the oven and about 10 fertilized cells in the freezer.  It sounds so easy when I put it like that, but I will never forget the tears that cling to this process.

I recently saw this PHOTO ESSAY ON INFERTILITY on Slate, and I cried like a baby paging through the author's account of her journey.  The slide with medications piled high on her kitchen table?  I still have a stockpile in my closet and just recently threw out the refrigerated stuff during my eighth month of pregnancy. It's hard letting go of thousands of dollars of meds - even if they're expired and I'm already pregnant.  The photo of her sticking herself in the car?  Check!  I distinctly remember sticking myself in the car in a dingy parking garage in Philly.  The place had cameras set-up all around and I remember thinking the footage probably looked like I was doing something pretty nefarious as I stabbed my stomach roll.  Everything about the essay rang true: the damn ultrasound wand (we knew one another in a very intimate way), the near daily blood draws and subsequent nurse phone calls going over all my levels and dictating next steps.  When you're going through infertility the game plan can change almost daily: the medication dosage is constantly tinkered with or now they need to see you tomorrow morning for monitoring when you, say, have a morning meeting.  (I can say a lot of things about my last job, but I'll leave it on a positive note and just say this: they gave me the utmost flexibility during my unending appointments, and for that I am grateful).

I'm not sure why I'm writing all of this.  Partially I'm just taking stock of how far Matt and I have come.  Partially it's in response to a few conversations I've had with other women TTC: this process is absolute drudgery and there is no time when it's more pronounced than during the holidays.

I want to wish everyone a very happy new year, and I hope anyone who may be reading this who is going through infertility will find solace in the possibilities a new year can bring: I know 2011 has flipped my world upside down in the best way possible.

Here we are today lounging on the couch; Matt took this photo to show off Annie's swanky new sock monkey pants her Aunt Priscilla knitted for her.  That kid is gonna be such the little hipster.


  1. i think it is AMAZING that you have a photo of the blastocysts, and that one day your daughter will seem them. the sock monkey pants are right up there, too.

    continually happy for the three of you. happy new year :)

  2. Happy new year to you too!!!! And yeah, the blastocyst photo is pretty phenomenal. I started a photo album of her first year and should of put it as the first photo! DAMN!