Babies everywhere

Remember that commercial that went viral a while back about “babies everywhere”? No? Just me? Ok, let me refresh your memory:

As an infertile Myrtle, I feel like I see pregnant ladies and babies EVERYWHERE. Literally. I cannot take my dog for a walk, make a grocery run or even watch TV without being inundated by those more fertile than I. Here are some examples of where I’ve been hit in the face by the baby train:

  • At my fertility clinic. Yep, the very place where all the infertiles hang out together inadvertently also sometimes has babies. You might think that would be a good sign – hey, somebody here got pregnant and had a baby! – and for some, that might be the case. However, for most of us, it’s like rubbing salt in an already festering wound.  My clinic thankfully has a policy that no children are allowed in the waiting room, but I do run into them occasionally on the other side of the office where everyone passes through to check out and make appointments.
  • At church. Damn, this one hurts. I’m usually feeling slightly tender at church anyways, due to the whole “why, God?” thing. And then there’s almost always an adorable family sitting in a pew in front of me and the baby is making eyes at me and cute noises and OH MY GOD IT IS JUST TOO MUCH.
  • Target. FREAKING TARGET is the breeding ground for uber-preggos and mamas with new babes. I love Target with a fiery passion as much as the next thirty-something female, but just once, I’d like to not have to navigate through the aisles past all the carts filled with kiddos and kiddo-related items. If Target served alcohol, maybe it would make it a little more tolerable.
  • At the emergency room. The night before/wee early morning hours of the day I was due to start my shots for the IVF retrieval, I went to the ER with stomach flu. Lying in bed, hooked up to an IV and unable to move, I was at the mercy of the television screen above my face in the corner of the room. As luck would have it, there was some D-rate 2 am soap opera on, where a woman was like a million months pregnant and getting an ultrasound done. You literally cannot make this shit up.
  • Commercials. For the love of God, stop with all the Huggies, Pampers, and Clearblue commercials! I wish there were a “block” button for TV like on Facebook where you can hide topics you don’t want to see. Speaking of which…
  • Facebook. Enough said.

Listen, I know that I live in the real world, and I can’t hide from it, babies and all. Honestly, usually seeing babies makes me stinking happy. Their cute chipmunk cheeks, squishy thighs and infectious laughs make me fill with joy. But sometimes that joy turns to sadness. (What is this, Inside Out?) It’s just another example of that weird emotion I discovered called happysad; the ability to feel both ends of the spectrum at the same time. And sometimes I’m only on the sad end of the spectrum, and that’s ok. Other times, hearing a baby’s giggle makes me hopeful and expectant for the day that I’ll one day hear my baby’s laugh. And in that moment, it will be the most beautiful sound in the world.

Help is on the way

As I moved cycle by cycle, further and further along in my ever cliched “journey to conceive”, I kept searching for resources that would help convince me that I am not alone, and also educate without infantilizing the audience (pun most definitely intended).  I’ve since found a handful of places on the Internet that I regularly like to visit for solidarity, education, and sometimes even humor. For those of you looking for similar spaces, or for those wishing to educate yourself for your own future TTC journey or the journeys of others, I’ve compiled a list here for you all. And please, for the love of all things holy, skip the message boards on Baby Center or What to Expect – for your own sanity and for mine.

  • Ava blog: The Ava bracelet is modern technology at its finest; a Fitbit-like device that you can wear at night that tracks physiological parameters and predicts your date of ovulation (more on my experience with Ava on a later post). The creators over at Ava are super cool, in that they are constantly putting out evidence-based (read: SCIENCE!) content on their blog. This is a great place to learn the ins and outs on trying to conceive naturally, learn about weird myths and why they are debunked, and general knowledge about women’s fertility.

 

  • pregnantish: pregnantish is another great content-driven site, focused on those of us going through some sort of challenge getting pregnant. It’s well crafted, inclusive of all communities including LGBT, singles wanting to get pregnant, and those trying naturally, and offers various perspectives from professional writers and professionals in the field of infertility. Andrea Syrtash, the founder of pregnantish, has been through several years of infertility and knows firsthand what the long, bittersweet road feels like. I had the pleasure of meeting her at an event in LA last year, and it’s clear she has a passion for infertility awareness and advocacy.

 

  • IVF babble: IVF babble is an online magazine based out of the UK. It’s sort of a slightly looser version of pregnantish; there’s a lot of blogger contributors (shameless plug: like me! Check out the article I wrote here), and it’s more focused specifically about the IVF process.

 

  • Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago: I’m not advocating for or against this fertility center in any way, I just found their site extremely helpful when I was initially consulting Dr. Google about the IUI and IVF process. It breaks down the technical aspects of various assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in ways I could easily understand. Their page covers everything from what is IUI or IVF, to success rates, to what a 5 day blastocyst looks like. I found it useful as an ART newbie and referenced it often.

 

  • Fertility Friday: This was one of the first podcasts I started listening to when I suspected something was up with my ability to have a baby. Lisa Marie is a godsend! She is a trained fertility awareness specialist, and interviews all sorts of various medical professionals and infertility specialists, both from Eastern and Western medicine. I learned so much more about my own fertility in the last year and a half listening to Lisa than I ever did in my previous 30+ years of life. I highly recommend listening to this podcast if you are at all interested in women’s fertility issues.

 

  • Matt and Doree’s Eggcellent Adventure: My favorite resource of them all! I started listening to this podcast about a year ago, before we even knew we would need to go down the road of IVF. Matt, a writer for the TV show The Goldbergs, and Doree, a novelist and writer for Buzzfeed, are the married cohosts of the podcast who happen to be going through the IVF process. They are hilarious, deeply honest and open, and so fun to listen to. They somehow make hearing about doctor’s appointments and shots in the butt an enjoyable experience. There’s also a wide range of listeners emailing in and leaving voicemails to provide perspectives or ask advice. Listening to this podcast made me so much less stressed when we finally made the decision to start IVF. I eagerly await a new episode every Monday morning to hear an update on what’s going on in the world of Matt and Doree, who are currently going through their fourth IVF retrieval process right now. I also met Doree at the pregnantish event a couple months ago, and totally fangirled hard. No shame in my game.

 

Until proven otherwise

“You’re pregnant!”

Those were the words that I heard, from my doctor’s mouth, no less than twice on the day of my transfer. Two days later, I’m still having a hard time believing them. I’m so happy and grateful to have gotten to this point, but there’s a niggling little voice in the back of my head still asking the question, “Did this really work? Am I really going to be pregnant?” I’ll probably be asking myself that until I pop this baby out.

Tuesday went about as well as could be expected, frozen embryo transfer-wise. Dale and I arrived at the fertility center and was greeted by our embryologist, Rey, who actually thawed our embryo for us that morning. She handed us a picture of our “perfect” 4AA graded embryo that was about to be transferred. Yep, her name was Rey, like from Star Wars. I can only assume that she used the Jedi force to defrost our Millersicle. She/he shall henceforth be known as BB-8 (also because if you tilt the picture sideways it looks like BB-8! See?).

Our little Jedi sidekick. 

Despite a small hiccup wherein my doctor declared my cervix “closed” and needed a different catheter to get the little guy up in my uterus, the transfer went swimmingly! I also had my acupuncturist, Tina, at the fertility center for pre and post-transfer treatment. During such an anxious and exciting moment, it was an incredible comfort to have her by my side.

Dale held my hand the whole way, and we were able to watch the air bubbles on either side of the embryo travel down the catheter and *bloop*! Just like that, land in my uterus. What a trippy experience.

Those little white dots in the center are the air bubbles that travel down the catheter and into the uterus with the embryo. Somewhere in between the two is the microscopic fleck that will be a baby someday. Life is weird.

My doctor is super old school, so I have strict instructions to stay basically immobile over the next several days. I’m on four days of bed rest and two more days of “house arrest”, at which point I can shower and dress myself and feel like a normal person. Luckily I got the ok from doc to shuffle over to my neighbors’ house for a Super Bowl party; as long as I “don’t dance to JT during the halftime show”, she says I’m fine.

Bed rest for me has been looking a lot like this:

Basically my furbabies are just trading places on my lap; sometimes I get two of them at once. And I’m fine with that. It has been kind of nice to get some forced R&R. Although I think Dale might get a *little* tired of making all of my meals and delivering them to me on a tray.

The number one question I’ve been getting from friends and family is, “How are you feeling??” Umm… fine? Normal? Annoyed that I can’t take a shower? That’s the weird thing about this process – the egg retrieval is so much more involved and intensive. I was out of commission for several days afterwards, sore beyond belief for the first couple of days. The transfer, on the other hand, is an easy outpatient procedure that takes a half hour max from start to finish. I feel totally normal and really no different than I did three days ago, and might not feel different even after I get a positive pregnancy test. I’m on progesterone and estrogen medication that may mimic pregnancy symptoms, so I can’t even trust the typical sore boobs or nausea to tell me if I have a “sticky” embryo. (For those of you that don’t know, wishing someone a sticky embryo is actually a good thing in the TTC community, although to me it always sounded super weird.)

Sooooo, what happens now? Oh. Yeah. More waiting. And trying not to go bored out of my mind. Thank god for Netflix, Hulu and all the other modern miracles helping me pass the time and wait to find out if my miracle of life is sticking around (no pun intended). For now, in this moment, I’m PUPO – pregnant until proven otherwise.

I’ll take it.