Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adoption nightmare

One of my dearest friends is stuck in an adoption nightmare. She completed all her research and paperwork and decided to adopt a child from Kyrgyzstan. She was matched with a beautiful little baby, 5 weeks old. She flew to Bishtek and met her. She fell in love immediately. Back home, we all celebrated the news of the referral. We all thought that her little girl would be here soon.
That was twenty-two months ago. Her little girl just turned two this week. She is still in an orphanage in Kyrgyzstan. Because all Kyrgyzstan adoptions have been placed on hold, putting this little girl, and 64 other Kyrgyz children in limbo.

It is unclear when this nightmare, finally picked up by the national media, will end. But undoubtedly, these children, some of whom have medical conditions in need of treatment, will not be the same as they would have been had this stalemate not occurred. Two years is a long time to spend in an orphanage.

My friend has lobbied U.S. congress, traveled to Kyrgyzstan to speak before their parliament, and created a media campaign to try to sway public opinion in Kyrgyzstan. She has now celebrated two birthdays for this little girl in her absence. And her heart is just breaking.

God, I feel for her. And through her experience I have grown more skittish about international adoption, fearing that you could get so far in the process only to have some international snafu jeopardize bringing your child home.

It's a scary story and although it's unusual, I guess it's one of the potential realities of international adoption. It is so hard for me to accept that there are never any guarantees, never a time when you can say you've made it to the other side and all is sure to work out all right. Not in adoption and certainly not in pregnancy. Unfortunately, my experiences so far in infertility have made me feel more intolerant of uncertainty, not less. Which is not a good thing, because there seems to be uncertainty for so many of us at every turn.

I'll keep you posted on what happens for my friend. For now, please keep her, her little one, and those 64 other orphans matched to American families in your thoughts.


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Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Remember way back in January 2009, when I started going to the Over Forty IVF Support Group even though I was, and continue to be, younger than forty?

Well, would you believe this group is still going strong? We long ago shed the group leader and became more like a group of friends than a technical support group but we still meet a couple of times a month.

It is such a pleasure to meet with these women, to see how people's trajectories have developed over the past year and a half, to just continue to show up for and encourage each other.

It's funny too how our roads are turning out to be quite different. It seems that of the six of us, many of us are taking different paths to becoming parents. Sitting with four of the group this week, I was struck by how we could almost represent an HBO documentary at this point, something like "Extreme Infertility Stories: the heartbreak version." Because none of us has turned out to be the typical IVFer, who does treatment once or twice and has a happy ending. We're all veterans at this point.

There are two "successes" so far: One woman, after multiple IVFs, did donor egg at 43 and now has a son. And another got pregnant naturally and had a daughter, but this after three IVFs and four miscarriages (one at 19 weeks).

And then there are the rest of us:

One woman, after multiple IVFs and miscarriages, has been waiting 9 months so far for a referral for domestic adoption.

One, also after multiple IVFs and no pregnancies, has just been matched for an anonymous donor egg and is about to transfer in a couple of weeks.

One has major health issues and POF and so is using a gestational carrier in addition to anonymous donor egg. Her situation is complicated even more so by the fact that she is from a minority ethnicity, which has made finding the right donor egg situation super complicated.

And then there is me. The under 40 person. The one still trying with my own eggs in my own body. The one doing the frankenstein lab maneuvers to try to get some normal embryos ready to go.

What a group, huh? Kind of a motley crew in a certain way, but a roomful of women who have made it so much easier to go through all of this, because every other week or so, I can count on sitting down in one of their living rooms and just sharing how hard it is, knowing that they all get it, are going through their version of it, and are getting through it somehow. Some days better than others, but getting through it nonetheless.

You guys, too, are such a godsend. To find all of you out here on the Internet, some of you bloggers, some of you just commenters, some in situations similar to mine, some in very different circumstances. To find that we can reach across our experiences and connect. I wish we weren't here, not a single one of us. But since we are, what a wonderful thing to have found each other.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Healthful eating...and a recipe to share

In our effort to add significantly more fruits and veggies to our diets, we've kept up the breakfast shakes - blending half a package of baby spinach, an orange, an apple, a handful of nuts, and a few ice cubes together in the mornings and then splitting it into two shakes. Still yum! And rather filling.

And we made another healthy soup last night - this time a broccoli cheddar soup.

Here's our recipe - amended from the Vitamix cookbook - because we wanted to add more vegetables than the original called for. If you don't have a Vitamix, you could probably cut everything up much smaller and just use a regular blender, blending for longer.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Yield: 4 cups
Time: 5-6 minutes
1 cup (240 ml) skim milk
1/2 cup low fat cheddar cheese
32 oz frozen broccoli, steamed (keep 1/2 cup aside from blender)
1 sliced onion, lightly sauteed in chicken broth
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 vegetable bouillon cube

1. Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
2. Blend for 5-6 minutes or until heavy steam escapes from the vented lid.

Serve over steamed broccoli pieces you set aside

There you have it. A very veggie dinner. I don't think it gets easier than this to make a meal.


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Monday, April 26, 2010

Moxie in the springtime

I realized I haven't posted any Moxie pics in a here goes.

She's nine months old now (where has the time gone?!) and she's gotten to be a big girl. Over 50 pounds of boxer!

Here are some shots of her playing with other doggies upstate this past weekend. We've found a wonderful place where they come and get her from our apartment, take her to play with other dogs on 10 acres in the country, and deliver her home, happy and healthy. (And yes, this awesome dog sitter posts photos for us online so we can see that Moxie is having a good time. And yes, being the over-attentive childless dog parents that we are, we log on multiple times a day from wherever we are vacationing until the pics are posted so we can see how our little girl is doing....looks like she's having a grand time running and playing and running and jumping and running and playing tug of war).

We expect her to come home tomorrow very happy and completely tuckered out. We've missed her!

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sundays of grace #29

1. We are down in DC for the weekend to pick up Will's parents and drive them back to NYC and we are having a lovely time away from it all, tucked into our hotel, jogging around the Capitol, visiting with my sister, and noshing with good friends we haven't seen in far too long. It is so nice to get away from everything together and enjoy a rare morning of sleeping in, cuddling, enjoying a leisurely breakfast. And pretty awesome to get to supplement all that relaxing with some good social time with friends and family.

2. Spring weather - it's so capricious, and we're so enjoying it. This week was bright sunshine one minute, and then a sudden cooling thunderstorm, and then bright sunshine again. It's completely unpredictable and completely refreshing.

3. Ms. Moxie. She went to training camp while we were off in Colorado for the last IVF cycle and she came home a much more poised puppy - one who sits, and stays, and comes, and goes into the kennel, and leaves the room on command. We've been enjoying her much improved behavior - and it seems like she feels more settled too, understanding better what's expected of her and how to fit in comfortably with our little family of three. This weekend she's upstate running and playing with other doggies in the country - it will be great to see her when we get home.


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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Colorado cocktail and let the healthiness begin

So...what will I be doing for the next month as I wait to start stims?

I'm adding the following recommended supplements, as per doctor's orders (apparently part of Denver's brand new protocol - as of last week - for poor responders/PCO...which isn't really me, but I can use all the good eggs I can get.) You need bloodwork before starting these to make sure your liver functioning is normal.
  • Myo Inositol 2gm twice a day
  • Melatonin 3mg at night
  • Co Enzyme q10 200mg twice a day
Dr. Schl's office recommended acupuncture too, so I'm strongly considering it (but haven't scheduled anything yet). Anybody have a Manhattan-based acupuncturist you swear by?

In addition, I'm ramping up the nutrient density of my food. Planning on massive quantities of green leafy vegetables, salads, non green vegetables, fruit, and small quantities of nuts...and cutting way back on sugar, trans fat, alcohol. Been needing to do this anyway, so this is as good a reason as any.

Will and I kicked off the new start with Barefoot's asparagus soup recipe last night. And it was delicious. We invested in a Vitamix blender several months ago and while it was an expensive purchase, it makes pulverizing two bunches of asparagus and a whole onion a complete breeze. We only lightly cooked the onion and asparagus, and then popped them in. We left off the veggie broth and used Fage nonfat yogurt in place of the half and half. Five minutes later - wonderfully yummy pureed asparagus soup dinner! Incredible what a two-horsepower blender motor will do for you. Definitely a product we're happy to own.

This morning, Will and I had homemade breakfast shakes made out of baby spinach, an apple, an orange, and a few nuts. Pretty tasty despite the bright green hue.

And today's lunch? A romaine salad with mango, pumpkin seeds, a little goat cheese, and tomatoes. Plus, a small ham sandwich. A woman (or THIS woman, at least) can't live on salad alone.

I feel healthier already. Ovaries, I hope you're feeling it, too.


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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Decision made

Will and I have gone back and forth between wanting to proceed straight to FET or choosing to get another cycle under our belts before we put back our wonky blasts. Round and round and round we have gone...

Well, we finally reached the Denver nurses today and discussed the options of proceeding straight to FET v. cycling again.

Dr. Schl. wants us to do two months of lupron (blech!) before transferring our frozen blasts because I have stage III endo and some other lining issues, so it will be three months down the line before we could do an FET...which seems like light-years away.

On the other hand, if we wanted to squeeze another fresh cycle in first (basically, if we are masochists), we were told we can basically do that immediately, which was a surprise. Immediately as in, my period is due to arrive today or tomorrow and they were willing to work me into the schedule to cycle THIS MONTH. That's, um, really right away.

Because we've lost any and all good sense that God gave us at this point, we almost jumped on that. But it actually turned out to be pretty intensely crazy, because it would mean me missing three classes, plus a week of work, plus my doctoral graduation ceremony. Not to mention, it would mean last-minute anxieties and sorting of all kinds of things so that we could jump on a plane in mid-May.

So Will and I thought about it. And sorted through our meager finances. And thought some more. And we swallowed hard and decided to do a fresh cycle in June. And then a frozen transfer in September (after the two months of dreaded lupron).

I hate waiting around, but have tried to tell myself that Mo, thirty days of waiting is really a drop in the bucket at this point. By waiting a month, I'll have a chance to clean up my diet, start taking a bunch o' supplements Dr. Schl. recommended, do some acupuncture, etc. And while all this probably won't affect things in any way, at least it will feel like I'm doing my part to try to get the best results we can.

Because really, IVF #7 has to be our last IVF, right? Right?! Geesh. (I wonder what the IVF world record is? I'm sure it's way more than 7, but how many do people do?)

Hopefully, we're making a good decision. Hopefully.


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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Given your history

It's a strange phrase I've heard from my doctors - first in relation to my cancer diagnosis, and now in reference to our infertility struggles.

What does it mean, "given your history"? Well, I've learned that it usually means a pessimistic prediction is about to follow.

For instance, a couple of years after being declared in remission from Hodgkin's lymphoma, I felt a small lump in my right breast. Not irregularly shaped, or too hard, or matted into the tissue (things I knew from my go round with lymphoma were baaaad), but definitely there. I had an ultrasound, and the mass was solid, not fluid filled (so not a cyst). The doctor looked at the ultrasound and felt the small lump and said something like, "Well, in a woman under 30, we wouldn't really think much of this - it's almost certainly a fibroadenoma (translation: totally benign) - and we would probably just watch it over the course of the next several months...but given your history, I think we should do a biopsy."

Which was negative, thankfully.

But examples like this began to occur repeatedly. And at first, I was grateful for the careful medical attention. After all, I had lost trust in my body's ability to work properly, too. But over time, I learned to not go to the doctor and report a symptom unless I wanted something invasive done, because "given your history" translated in practical terms to something like, "You were really unlucky once...and so now we have a higher index of suspicion over ever cough, ache, and fever just in case it's another unlucky (and unlikely) event."

And knock on wood, in more than 10 years, nothing else has turned up. And my "history" has faded into the background...not a big deal anymore, but just something mentioned in my medical history and then tucked back again where it belongs - in the past.

Flash forward to infertility and it's been almost the opposite battle.

I had a bad feeling about our reproductive chances from the get go, which is kind of funny (also kind of sad) in hindsight. We actually saw an RE before we even got married to get a reproductive workup, because I was so concerned. Based on what? Gosh, nothing really, except maybe what you would call a (not yet) mother's intuition. And the RE gave us the all clear. Everything looked great. Go out and have unprotected sex. And can see where this has gotten us.

As our infertility losses have accumulated, we've heard repeatedly that each miscarriage is just bad luck and our likelihood of it repeating very low.

This was comforting to hear after miscarriage #1. It was significantly less comforting to hear after miscarriage #2. Then somewhat puzzling to hear it again after miscarriage #3. By miscarriage #4, hearing that we wouldn't miscarry again was irritating. And by miscarriage #5, it was downright infuriating.

It seemed that in infertility, our lack of a history meant that the physicians were not able to imagine we could fall outside of the population statistics. For most women my age, a miscarriage is not a repetitive event. A live baby is around the corner.

So it is only now after three years of grief, we are beginning to hear the words "Well, given your history..."

And I find myself wanting to half laugh, half cry. I've been trying to get this situation assessed for what I've thought it was for quite a while now, and only NOW are the doctors also beginning to see a pattern?

It's a funny thing, this lens that medical providers see you through. A lens colored by your personal health bad luck or a lens filtered by population statistics. Either one may have a lot - or very little - to do with the actual truth of the matter.

Same as my own lenses on the situation, I guess, which are sometimes colored mostly by my fears about a bad outcome and on another day, filtered by my hope, my drive to see this through and out the other side to a child in our arms.

It will be a glorious thing when "our history" becomes just that, something we've moved on from. Something we can look back on from afar and say, Remember how hard and unending those days seemed! So wonderful it is to be out the other side! It will be a wonderful thing when we can have our infertility history tucked where it belongs - a thing of the past that we have overcome.


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