Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sex and other taboo topics for kids

My 11-year old stepdaughter is completely up to speed on how IVF works.  She's witnessed SQ shots in the belly, and has also questioned why one would use a birth control pill when trying to have a baby (that one can still be pretty confusing).  And for some reason, our openness about the process with her has surprised some people.

Just a few weeks ago, before we started the injection part of the process, she asked, "What exactly is wrong that you need to do this?", while we were making dinner.  "Well", said my husband, "what is needed to have a baby?".  He was digging for her to talk about the egg and the sperm, so we could point out which parts worked and which didn't.  She instead looks at him confused, and says just above a whisper, "Sex?????".  I about broke into laughter when I saw my husband trying to hide a smile.  "Yes...but how exactly does that work?"  This led to another conversation about the whole process, and how my husband's sperm aren't quite fast enough, and quite numerable enough, and some might be a little deformed.

So yes, she gets the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We talk to her pretty frankly about sex, about drinking, and about drugs.  We'll also talk about why it is important to be nice to people you think are weird, to be polite when tuning down dates (she has "I'm very flattered, but just not interested in a relationship right now" memorized), and to always think about how her actions today can impact her potentially very bright future. 

Sometime she'll ask things, and my first inclination is to skirt the issue, or come up with some non-answer because I just want her to remain innocent and naive.  But kids in this tween age are curious and impressionable.  If we shut down now, she won't come back to us when we need her to.  Our goal is to never make her feel embarrassed or stupid for asking us anything. 

There are times we delve into subjects and specifics that have raised some eyebrows.  She knows that a glass of vodka and a glass of beer are not the same number of servings. She also knows that the drinking age law is not totally arbitrary; drinking at too young of an age is just plain harmful. And you should never drink and drive. She knows that the barrels that wine is stored in impact the taste and nose.  She knows that once she decides she wants a tattoo she needs to want the same one in the same place for a year before making actually making it permanent.  She knows that horrible things can happen to girls, and it doesn't always have to be a stranger that is the instigator -- sometimes it is that nice boy you said yes to for a date. 

She also knows that our conversations are mostly judgment free (at least for now).  We've set the stage for her to come to us when she does have that moment at a party where she is uncertain about drinking.  Or when she felt uncomfortable with a boy's advances on a date.  Or when her friends are experimenting with bending the law, and she isn't sure how to not be involved with being labeled a loser.

So, I'm very proud of the open relationship with have with her.  I'm thrilled that she views me, her stepmom, as a confidant and a source to satiate her ever-increasing curiosity.  And I would plan to do the same thing with my biological children.  Some may think that will make me a bad mother; one that is not protecting my children as long as possible from the scary, complex outside world.  I think the children will be prepared for everything that comes their way, and will be as equipped as possible to make intelligent, independent decisions no matter what the situation.  Because let's face it - if the kid is not going to trust the parent to have these conversations, he or she will listen to the best friend's sister's boyfriend, and that's how you end up at the hospital with your tongue swelled up from a rogue piercing gone wrong. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lupron Shots + Nonalcholic Drinks + Movie = Best Date Night Ever

I realize after my squawking for my calendar, I never updated and said that I did receive right when my nurse returned to the office that week.  As I noted before, hubby and I are packing in the antibiotics this week.  One (2x a day) for him and two (2x a day) for me.  And they seriously make me want to throw up.  I ended up taking the day off work today, because the combination of a nasty cold (for which I can't really take anything) and the pills are just driving me bananas.  So off to the couch to blog I go!

I start the injectible portion of my suppression stage tonight. Earlier this week, my husband sent me the sweetest email that asked me out on a Friday night date to celebrate this step.  The plan was appetizers and "drinks" (I was really looking forward to a flavored lemonade at Cheesecake Factory by the movie theater) and a showing of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which I've heard is romantic comedy? right?).  My miserable head isn't really up for that now, though, so the updated plan is soup, sandwiches and a basement movie.  After the Lupron is locked, loaded and delivered, of course.  Ideally, full out date night will happen tomorrow!

Lupron is a super common drug used in infertility.  Interestingly enough, it started as a drug to treat advanced prostate cancer.  I'm always amazed at how drugs are created for one thing (and work) but all these other uses arise.  But it does make sense -- Lupron essentially slows down the "sex" hormones in both women and men (estrogen and testosterone).  The limitations on testosterone help slow the spread of prostate cancer.  In women, it is common treatment to endometriosis.  And, for my purpose, it puts my little ovaries to sleep.  It can be harmful to a fetus (understandably) which is another reason to be on birth control until the egg retrieval stage actually occurs. 

Of course, there are side effects.  A decrease in estrogen occurs around menopause, so you guessed it -- I get to experience menopause symptoms.  AWESOME!  I LOVE hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and swelling of the ankles and feet.  And if I'm super lucky, I'll get pregnant and get to experience a lot of these again!! 

Anyway, this first shot will be for about 25 days and is subcutaneous (SQ) which basically means it goes in my gut.  It's a fairly simple one too - just withdraw 10 units from the bottle and shoot it up.  I think my intent right now is to have my husband measure it out and for me to give to myself.  Once we graduate to intramuscular shots (i.e. in the ass), he'll have to participate in the actual injection, so I'll let him off the hook for now :)

Things will be pretty quiet until my baseline ultrasound on February 1st.  As long as everything is adequately suppressed at that point, we'll be raring to go into the stimulation stage.  Off we go!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I want a beer!

Besides one glass of wine while out to dinner a few weeks ago, I haven't had a drink in almost a month.  I don't necessarily drink all that much, but once you are told you can't drink, it is really all you think about.  Oh, barley.  Oh, hops.  Oh, you would be so good in my belly.  I'm sure all the pregnant people before me understand my pain!  Although, I suppose in that case you at least have the baby to concentrate on.  If this thing works, I’ll have gone almost a year without alcohol.  My already admirable lack of tolerance will be completely nonexistent at that point.

Of course, my husband is not allowed to really drink either (alcohol or caffeine), save for the random brew here or there, and suffice it to say....he believes that he is the one going through the WORST EXPERIENCE EVER.   Anyone who knows my husband is shocked when they find out he has managed this so far.  Not that he’s an alcoholic or anything, but the man definitely appreciates his right to imbibe.

The drinking is especially outlawed this week (although I really am not cheating at all).  One medication I started this week has such a strict no alcohol limitation, that I am not allowed to use mouthwash, antibacterial gel, etc.  I almost used a stout to braise ribs for tonight’s dinner, and decided against that even.  Oh, how much I would like a drop of wine on my lips!

So the new meds this week are all antibiotics, ensuring that neither hubby or I have any infection in our bodies.  So no injections yet (that starts Friday), but between vitamins, aspirin and prescribed drugs, I’m taking 8 pills a day.  I am so prepared to be old now.  I was this close to purchasing one of those plastic pill things that are labeled for each day of the week, but decided that my mind should have enough clarity to count out my pills without that additional help.  Ideally my husband won’t be picking me up off the floor from a folic acid overdose later this week due to this lack of guidance.

Speaking of the lovely dear husband, I did make him one promise that I really had no problem getting behind.  Certainly anyone reading this blog is “in the know” when it comes to our little adventure.  So you’ll obviously know our success before any official announcement.  Or lack of success, which understandably would not be announced widely.  Can you imagine that FB status?  “So bummed that my fertility treatments didn’t work, but on the bright side my belly is full of awesome sushi tonight.  Have a great day!”  (I mean, let’s be clear.  If there is no baby after this, I’m getting drunk and eating sushi until I throw up.  I’ll then have peanut butter and cold meat sandwiches the rest of the week.)

Anyway, no matter the outcome, we’ll keep it to ourselves for a few weeks.  If it was a thumbs up, we’ll want a chance to revel in our happiness, and ensure that it isn’t a fleeting moment that just as easily ends in sadness.  And if it doesn’t work, we’ll understandably want that time to grieve.

But now is the time for optimism – so time to watch the pretties on the Golden Globes and think of the cute maternity clothes I’m going to wear.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

And it starts! (Kind of...)

This is my little treat for tonight...

The green glass of goodness is a spinach smoothie from (which is insanely good and healthy - HIGHLY RECOMMEND). 

The three pills below the glass are a prenatal vitamin, a baby aspirin, and a birth control pill.

I know, birth control pills?  So weird and counterintuitive.  But I'm starting the suppression stage of IVF and this kicks it off.  The birth control pills really are a timing mechanism which will help the doctor know exactly when to start certain drugs that should be injected before my next period begins.  They aren't ideal for everyone - the use of them could lead to oversuppression which limits the number of eggs to be produced.  But since I had so many eggs in my preliminary testing, the birth control pill should not be an issue here. 

I am now waiting for the doctor to provide my calendar for the remainder of the cycle.   They gave us a sample calendar in our class and the structure of a calendar totally calms my analytical personality.  I was hoping that my first day would align with the sample calendar (a Wednesday) and I'd be good to go, but stupid period did not want to come right on time.  Therefore, we started up on Friday and my nurse is out of the office until Tuesday.  She has no idea how stressed this makes me.  I am in for a long road if I get stressed for not having a calendar in front of me!  But I should get it sometime next week and will start the injectable portion of the suppression stage soon after.

I do find it strange that I was pretty haphazard taking the pill back in the day, but now that I want to get pregnant, I actually set the alarm on my phone to take it at the EXACT SAME time every day.  Come hell or high water, I'm doing this exactly right.

The best part was getting the BC pills at the pharmacy.  I got another bottle of prenatal vitamins too, so I'm sure she was just thinking I didn't know how this whole birds and bees business worked.

I'm generally an optimistic person, but the pessimistic part of my brain is taking over.  I'm constantly worrying about everything that can go wrong, including (somewhat in order of realism, but these have seriously all been considered):

  • It doesn't work (duh)
  • It works, but I have a first trimester miscarriage.
  • My cycle gets cancelled midway through due to me getting over stimulated.
  • Even though my eggs are suppressed, I actually still ovulate before they can retrieve them.
  • My husband accidentally drops his "deposit" on the floor the day of the retrieval.
  • The doctor accidentally switches my husband's sperm with someone else's.  
  • The doctor accidentally switches the sperm and the other family has some legal claim to our baby.
  • The doctor accidentally switches the sperm, and our baby comes out loving Nascar and Ke$ha, and we DO have legal claim to it.
  • The two embryos both implant and split into identical twins, for four babies total.  (It happens!!!
  • I'll go to the bathroom after the embryo transfer and somehow pee my babies out.
  • I'll fall down the stairs while on my bed rest and knock the embryos off my uterine wall.  (I think that's why they put you on bed rest - I'm sure the clinic is concerned about that possibility too!)
  • My dog will jump on me after the transfer and the same thing will happen.
  • Right after embryo transfer, the doctor says there is only one more step to make it work that he forgot to tell us about - and it costs $10,000.  If we don't pay, the babies have no chance to survive, like a bad ransom/blackmail movie. 
And with all these concerns to consider, I'm supposed to relax???????  And that hasn't even started the worry that occurs once I am pregnant.  And have a baby.  And a toddler.  And a teen.  I guess the worrying never stops.  This yoga thing  (thanks FB friends!) better keep me calm for life!
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