Saturday, February 27, 2010

Snowy With a Chance of Pregnant

A terrible weather system has been plowing through the U.S. and where we live north of Boston was hit very badly. 75 mile an hour winds tossed boats, fences, grills and part of our roof like they were snow flakes. What were once beautiful trees are now destroyed and remain pushed to the side of the road or chopped into pieces to allow utility crews to get to the power lines that lay strewn across major roads in and out of our town and neighboring towns. We lost power at 10:30pm on Thursday night and they are saying it could be days before we have power again. This weather has temporarily uprooted us from our home and we're now staying with my mom and stepdad, which has left our sleeping somewhat erratic. Add the continued waiting into the mix and well, what is the point in trying to sleep at all?! The weather, us losing power and not getting much sleep - it's a good thing we now know we are pregnant since that makes everything a lot rosier. I'm sorry, what - you want me to repeat that? Yes, WE ARE PREGNANT!!!

Okay, so in hindsight, maybe we were being a bit too cautious. We actually first knew the answer back on Wednesday - due to a surprise email from Dr. Sudhir in response to a few unrelated questions - but this process has taught us to keep an even keel.  It's killing me and I'm stressed to the max, but I am trying very hard to remain balanced and calm with a little side order of holy crap we're freakin pregnant!!!! Wednesday we were told R's beta numbers were 104 - that's a triple from the Monday number - but we wanted to be sure and wait for the next blood test which was done Friday. This morning, Saturday, we called Dr. Yash and learned the beta had grown to 246. There's no doubt about it now.

We do need to keep in mind it's early. As Geoff says, we're now in the peed-on-a-stick phase - not exactly too far along and there's still a couple of high risk months to go. At least in the U.S., it's common practice to keep the first trimester quiet just in case things go wrong. Obviously, our situation is a bit more public so there's no hiding our status. However, we're going to try to balance excitement with measured patience.

All this said, we have no reason not to be optimistic now. I'm feeling better, R is healthy, the baby/babies are growing. We're pregnant!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Numbers Game

We're up to a 31, still inconclusive. The beta has risen, which is good, but not enough for us to believe we've passed the first viability hurdle. As we mentioned, the point isn't the number so much as what happens to the number; the beta should be doubling every three days or so and we didn't quite hit that mark. Our next test will be conducted Friday, with results available Friday morning our time, and we'll be looking for a number up around 90.

Any couple trying to build a family obsessess over every variable they believe reflects or influences the process. Right now, Shannon and I have one, solitary number to fret over so it's getting one hell of a lot of attention. We have to remind ourselves that for "normal" pregnancies, some women live through this first month without even being aware of what's going on inside them let alone measuring HCG numbers. All of which is to say, our numbers may end up being perfectly fine but the detailed knowledge is as much of a curse as it is a blessing.

To really overdo analysis of a single number, we're thinking the size of our beta implies - at the very least - that there's no chance of twins. We were ambitiously hoping for twins as our ideal family size includes two children and we weren't keen on going through this surrogacy process any more than necessary. However, yes, it's just too early to interpret much of anything. It's so hard not to play the numbers game!

Next up, Friday morning. More waiting.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Pregnant Pause

Shannon and I received a call at about 10am EST today - Saturday - from Dr. Yash. Our carrier tested "positive" with a beta level (i.e. an hCG level) of 18 mIU/ml. I put "positive" in quotes because a number like 18 lands a woman into the gray area one could call "a little pregnant". We're two weeks post transfer and at that time the beta for healthy pregnancies range from 5 to 426. Good news, right? Well, the beta typically needs to be more than 25 before a physician officially considers a woman pregnant. With a beta of 18, we might have a pregnant carrier simply on the low end of the scale or we might have a struggling embryo (or two) not fit for this world. In response to such a score, our doctors will be performing another blood test to ensure the beta continues to rise; the results will supposedly be available to us Monday morning our time. More waiting. However, I'll be the optimist and point out that because the beta level is higher than 5 and because we're two weeks in, we've clearly still got one to two embryos vying for life.

Apologies, by the way, for the silence 'til now since our return to Boston. Frankly, we were beat and had little to report. Shannon's health is finally recovering after taking a full week off from work; I've been back to work full time and using it as a distraction from the waiting anyone pursuing IVF knows so well.

Finally, I wanted extend one more thank you to everyone for your continued best wishes since our return. Please know that Shannon and I return those sentiments. Our experience is unique to us but not to this community. There are many couples in this world with their own stories and their own struggles and all deserve our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers. In light of our current situation, we'd like to make a particular shout out to those in the midst of the 2WW (two week wait) like us. Go beta!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

There Is No Place Like Home

We are so happy to be home!  For two people that were as prepared as we were for this trip, I feel as though we were hardly prepared for the mental, emotional and physical aspects that were endured.  I know, it’s sad, but very true.  As I’ve said to all of the family and friends that we’ve talked with since our return home, it was supposed to be a happy and exciting trip but with the unexpected complications of laparoscopic surgery and with my getting sick, it was hard to enjoy ourselves. Had the circumstances been different, we would have had a much better experience.

Since our return, the outpouring of emails and calls, flowers, groceries and home cooked meals being delivered has been miraculous.  We are forever indebted to our coworkers, friends and families all expressing care and concern. Words cannot express our gratitude!

Regardless of this trip being a good or bad experience, it was one that I could not have survived without my ultimate best friend – my husband.  In India and home, he has been by my side every second of the way, holding my hand – what more can I ask for?!  In my eyes, I am the luckiest woman in the world because he is the solid rock I get to trek through the bad times with and he is the funny, brilliant guy that I can share the good times with.  (I know the ladies will agree, his debonair looks aren’t too tough on the eyes either!)  He makes my life better in just about every way and marrying him was one of the biggest achievements of my life.

We are now in what's called the "2WW" (two week wait) and believe me, we are counting the minutes until we receive that call revealing our fate for this cycle.  Have you ever heard of the fastest gun in the west?  Well, we'll be the fastest phone in the east and that first ring won't even have time to finish before we answer.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Many Miles

I'd started to think of our Mumbai hotel room as the editing desk for A Distant Miracle. How are Shannon and I supposed to feel inspired anywhere but here? What will we do without an ever present in-room dining tray? Without oddly random and relatively bad English-language television programming? Without the convenience of going to the bathroom a mere five feet from our bed? Ah well. Shannon and I will just have to suffer for our art and put up with being HOME!

Yes, home - where folks drive in single lanes and think 85°F is hot. Oh, and what a day to come back. The Super Bowl was scheduled for later that night. The Super Bowl!!! You can't get more commercially American than that. Shannon and I would have kissed the ground if she wasn't doubled-over in pain and I wasn't saddled with three bags and a backpack. This trip is over, baby!

My poor wife is officially a mess. We visited her doctor first thing this morning for a once over to ensure there's not some crazy problem lurking behind the scenes. Thankfully, no. Most of her symptoms are the result of the laparoscopy. The severe distention is caused by a few things: residual swelling of the ovaries from IVF, bruising from the surgery, carbon dioxide left over from use of the laparoscope and constipation caused by the use of anesthesia. Her throat pain is likely from use of the tracheal tube during surgery. The ear infection and sinus infection are bonus gifts caused by a bug she probably picked up at the hospital but who knows. For all of this, the cure is time - she'll be out of work and on bed rest for at least this week. Shannon just has to put up with the pain, nausea and general discomfort with the help of some newly prescribed pain meds, antibiotics and a DVR with multiple episodes of The Office, Brothers and Sisters, American Idol, Barefoot Contessa and 24. Oh, and lots of sleep, little of which she picked up during our last three or four days in Mumbai or during the 17 hour slog of a flight back to the States. Thankfully, she's now in her own bed, with family by her side, eating home-cooked comfort food.

Our last day in Mumbai, Saturday, was spent mainly as a time killer. The flight to Newark was at 11:40pm that evening, meaning we didn't have to be at the airport until 7:30pm. I begged and guilted the front desk into giving us a super-late checkout time of 6pm and then walked the streets to a local chemist for some decongestant, anticipating the flight could be torture on Shannon's ears (which proved to be true despite their use). Shannon stayed in bed 'til around 3pm and then screwed up the courage to waddle her way down to the pool for a last hour of sun. I, meanwhile, hit the streets once again and made my way to Hare Krishna Land (seriously, that's what they call it), world headquarters for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), about a five minute walk from the hotel. Then around 4pm we started the packing process, hitting the streets for mosquito-filled Mumbai International Airport a little after six.

What followed was almost 24 straight hours of sitting on our butts. One might argue this was in Shannon's favor - not having to do anything but sit. However, picture yourself feeling really sick and congested and then sit in an airport or on planes for almost an entire day. That is not a recipe for success. I managed to get some fitful rest on the cross-Atlantic flight but Shannon mainly counted the minutes.

It's over, we're home, the healing begins. Best of all, the trip was a success. Everything we planned for went to plan. R is resting and being cared for; Shannon is resting and being cared for. It's a crazy parallel if you think about it. Maybe this is nature's way of giving Shannon a (very compressed) empathetic experience of pregnancy. I'm not trying to spin things - I hope (we hope) Shannon never has to go through this again. However, what's done is done. And if this bit of sacrifice helps prime the karma surrounding R's pregnancy, we'll take it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Transfer Day

Dr. Yash pulled us aside as we entered the IVF waiting room in Lilavati. She led us to a set of chairs, sat down next to us and said, "As of this afternoon's tests, four of your embryos are in very good condition. We will check them once more before the transfer but my opinion at this moment is that we implant all four now rather than freeze a mere one for later use. Let's make the best use of this opportunity." Shannon and I looked at each other, saddened by the news. We always imagined freezing a few embryos on the off chance that we'll want or will have to make a second attempt without Shannon having to bear up with a whole new cycle of IVF. However, we've always told ourselves that success is a single child, that freezing embryos is a nice-to-have, not the goal. We assented to Dr. Yash's advice as she was called to the transfer room for the final evaluation and to ensure R - our surrogate - was comfortable and ready.

Shannon and I put a good face on things, comforted by the idea that R would be carrying four embryos, more than the usual count transferred and thus, we figured, having a high chance of pregnancy. Sitting with us in the waiting room was another couple who had just flown in from Australia to use donor eggs for a round of surrogacy. They congratulated us on the news and took it as a positive omen for their chances. Soon after, Dr. Yash returned.

"Your four embryos are in absolutely excellent condition. We have a new option. We can transfer just two now and freeze the other two. I wouldn't normally suggest this but their quality is excellent. I suspect that if we implant more than two, the chances of multiples are very high and will require selective reduction." Talk about out of the blue.... I asked if we were undermining the chances of success this first go-round in order to justify freezing. Dr. Yash replied no, the quality is very good and this should not be a concern. In her opinion, transfer two. Shannon and I sat back, talked it over briefly, and agreed to transfer only two. In less than sixty seconds we made a decision that may very well impact the rest of our lives. The other SI couple couldn't help but eavesdrop so when Dr. Yash walked away with our answer, I looked at them and said, "Now that was a heavy moment, huh?"

Dr. Sudhir, also in the waiting room, told us that Dr. Yash does not spare couples honesty about egg quality. Excellent means excellent. The other couple agreed. Apparently, they'd gone through multiple rounds of IVF with no success (thus their trip to India) and had certainly never heard the word 'excellent' used to describe embryos before. All of sudden the number four, which had seemed a sober compromise, now felt like an absolute jackpot.

The transfer process itself was completed fairly quickly, conducted by a Dr. Pai - the head of the IVF clinic and the same person responsible for the ICSI procedure. A mere 15 minutes after Dr. Yash left with our decision she returned with, can you believe it, R herself. She's this absolutely cute, little woman who was now the most precious person on the planet next to my wife. She and her caretaker sat down with us and the doctors (R's husband was at work). R carried a very composed air that was, in retrospect, a little surprising considering what she'd just committed her body to. She was also much more comfortable with Shannon and I, making full eye contact and flashing a smile; clearly, that first meeting in the clinic had broken the ice. We had a brief conversation mediated by the doctors, wishing her well, inviting her and her family to Boston, promising to learn a little Hindi, and then telling her we looked forward to speaking with her in a couple weeks via Skype. (SI communicates with all their clients using Skype and will connect couples with their surrogates once transfer has occurred.) Then off she went to the clinic for two weeks of lying down - probably the longest vacation of her life. I, meanwhile, wiped the flop sweat off my forehead and Shannon fell back in her chair.

Every step in this process has its own challenges and Shannon and I know we're in the midst of a statistics game. Just because our little guys are judged to be excellent doesn't, of course, guarantee anything. We'll have a better idea two weeks from now when our carrier is given her first pregnancy test. So are we relieved? Absolutely. Excited? Well, we're too cautious for that. But this is one heck of a hurdle and, to appearances, we've leapt it as well as we could have hoped.

Oh, and try this on for size:  If we do find ourselves with a baby or two nine months from now, they're already growing inside R. Now that's a mind blowing thought......

Bathroom Talk

I know I will be opening myself up for judgment when I say this, but I just can’t help but love the trinkets and t-shirts that read “I Fling Poo” – most of which depict a fun picture of a monkey.  This brings me to this morning’s entry – a lighthearted, kind of vulgar post that I must warn you about…this entry will not be for the refined among us.

So, it’s been approximately four days and 15 hours since I’ve had a bowel movement.  I am quite positive this is not helping the slew of other side effects I am experiencing due to the surgery and IVF cycle.  One of those side effects is most obvious - my stomach is very swollen from internal bruising, bloating and constipation.  Forget the baby bump, I now look as if I’m six months prego. I have an alien growing inside me, or perhaps an elephant.

It’s ironic because prior to our trip, many warned us of diarrhea or New Delhi Belly, most commonly caused by the water and any raw/uncooked food rinsed in it.  We’ve done very well at avoiding this, but others we know can’t say the same and it regrettably lasted for weeks.  The food from the four restaurants in our hotel and the room service happens to be terrific.  In light of my current situation, I have tried to eat an abundance of fruit and grains for the fiber, but nothing that helped.  I have continued to mix the Benefiber that I brought from home with bottled water, but nothing.  I am still drinking outrageous amounts of water and Gatorade, but nothing.

I currently find myself desperate enough to run (okay, slowly shuffle because I can’t walk fast right now) out to the water’s edge on Juhu Beach to suck up as much of the filthy Arabian Sea water as possible just to help “move things along”.  Obviously, I haven’t really lost my mind that much so instead we called Dr. Yash first thing this morning and she prescribed a laxative (plus some throat lozenges) and had it delivered by the lovely Heena at 11am.

Now, I wait to see when the first dose of this rocket fuel castor oil kicks in.  Seeing that I really can’t push (or laugh, sneeze or cough) with my stomach feeling so badly, I’m slightly hoping it’ll be similar to the prep I downed for my recent colonoscopy.  The way I can best describe it was that it turns anything still left in your system into liquid and then makes it feel as if a fire truck hose is hooked up to your mouth only to shoot out the opposite end.  Exciting, I know.  I still have ¾ of the bottle left and I’m happy to share!  If only I had poo to fling, I’d be one happy girl.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In the Light of Day

Yesterday needs to be an all's-well-that-ends-well memory as it sure as heck wasn't fun or easy. Objectively, the surgery was a success - the doctors were able to harvest healthy eggs and, through ICSI, create six embryos that are now growing in the lab. Subjectively, it was a physical and emotional strain on Shannon (and me too, but there's no comparison), a process we'd have to think long and hard about before ever considering a second go-round. Shannon's dealing with some really bad abdominal pain and is essentially on bed rest - though we did pull off a waddle pool-side earlier today. Thankfully, relatively speaking, she is feeling a little better - her energy level is up and her email-response addiction is in full swing.

In this Men are from Mars installment of the blog, I'm going to reenter list mode, try to make some lemonade out of these lemons and share a few take-aways for folks considering or about to go down this path. Should Shannon and I ever have to go through this process again, we'll be sure to remember the following. (Far as I can tell, this advice applies to any city in India, not just Mumbai.)
  • IVF drugs are known to increase a woman's sensitivity to taste and smell. It sure did for Shannon. (Shannon found our lost hotel room key the other night just by sniffing the air.) When preparing for the hospital trip, bring lots of familiar, bottled water. Sure, the hospital has water, but it's warm and tastes funny and you never lose the thought that it's India water, it's going to make us sick. (Food can not be brought into the hospital and, even if you could, there's a nil-by-mouth order before surgery and a nil-by-mouth window after surgery as well. The hospital does have a cafeteria. What's it like? It's like a hospital cafeteria.)
  • Seems most women don't need laparoscopic retrieval for egg pick-up (aka EPU or OPU for 'ovum pick-up) - the vaginal procedure is fine - so the anesthesia used is lighter and the recovery much quicker. Nevertheless, bring some cough drops or sucking candy to soothe a ragged throat. This would have been very helpful for Shannon.
  • While we're at it, bring laxatives and strong pain medicine. Extra Strength Tylenol seems to be a safe bet for pain meds as ibuprofen products like Advil aren't always permitted after surgery.
  • If at all possible, consider a hotel relatively near your hospital. A ride that takes 20 minutes at 5:30 in the morning takes about 75 minutes between 6:30am and 10:00pm. There's just too many people going too many places. The last thing you want to do is walk out of the hospital and sit in a car for two hours. Worse, though many of the roads are in decent shape, some are decidedly not, resulting in an off road-like adventure that's not incision-friendly. (The Novotel's been perfect for us.)
  • Bring an iPod, walkman, whatever for both you and your spouse. You will not have a room to yourself and you can not expect silence. There is no mobile phone ban in the hospital and phone calls - sent and received - are frequent. Conversations of any kind are common. Now I don't actually believe the volume of conversation is any louder here than in the west but the use of a foreign language tends to amplify the disruption. Your only escape is through headphones and some familiar music or interesting audio book.
  • Socks are considered no more sanitary than shoes when it comes to entering the surgical area. India hospitals supply flip flops for folks walking into sterile areas. Just a heads-up that if you're going to make an appearance in the operating area, you'll need to go barefoot and then put on previously worn sandals.
  • Don't rule out striking up a conversation with other families. It has been our experience that the locals are extremely friendly and not remotely shy about personal matters. If you're ok with the accent then you can expect an interesting, candid conversation. As Shannon had mentioned in her last post, a few very pleasant minutes were spent speaking with the sister-in-law of our roommate, a mother of twins through IVF. This sister-in-law literally walked up to Shannon, who was lying in bed, and asked, "So why are you here?" [Of course, be sensitive to why those families are in the hospital. If a loved one is on his/her deathbed, that may not be the best time to pry.]
  • If at all possible, arrange to have someone handle registration and other hospital minutiae. Our clinic, SI, uses Heena and she's a lifesaver. I won't even try to picture how yesterday might have gone without her.
  • Verify everything; assume nothing. This isn't about not trusting your doctors or the hospital or anyone else. It's just that mistakes can be made and ultimately you need to bear the responsibility of ensuring all is in order. Educate yourself about the process, question guidance, think through implications and hold folks accountable. We're reading every line and are likely pains in the butt with our endless questions but the doctors understand and respect the attention - not to mention that we prevented Shannon from taking an antibiotic she's allergic to.
  • Watch this commercial, playing on India television, if you ever need a pick-up. Shannon can't get enough of it and wears a big smile every time the little boy and girl wish each other a happy holiday.
Today, Thursday, was a rest day. We head back to Lilavati Hospital tomorrow afternoon for the transfer and for a check of Shannon's bandages and sutures. (The bandages are some sort of waterproof, super bonding plasters that pull on the skin and are thus fairly uncomfortable.) This means we'll know around 5:30pm (Mumbai-time) how many embryos will be placed in our carrier and how many will be left over for freezing. Hard to believe that with all we've gone through, there are still no guarantees. This'll be an anxious few hours!

As always, thank you for your attention, prayers and good wishes. We feel far from alone out here.

E - Day

[I wrote this post after I got back to our hotel room from the hospital. I’m beyond exhausted, should be asleep and shouldn’t be posting entries when I have this many blazing thoughts, but I’m so determined to get this post out tonight that I ask for your understanding that it’s still a raw, unedited draft.  To reiterate, before you read on, please know, I’m thrilled beyond words to know we now have embryos growing in the lab but the process was a difficult one and I’m still in the moment.]

Thank you to all who sent emails, posted comments and were thinking of us today!  It was the toughest day yet and I’m ecstatic it’s finally over.  I think Geoff and I each slept for all of two hours last night due to the anxiety – an emotion we’ve come to know well this trip.  We were up at 4:30am, out of the hotel by 5:30am and didn’t arrive home this evening until 8:15pm.  The capper was that the 12 minute ride this morning was a full hour coming home.

If you can believe it, we arrived at the hospital before admissions opened and left after it closed.  Heena, the  sweet SI assistant, met us this morning to help us navigate registration and thus ensure we had a room on the 10th floor, the floor on which my procedure would occur.  If I never have to see room 1014 again, I will be perfectly okay with it!  I shared this room with another woman and her family………………all 12 of them.  It was a revolving door of people.  As if we weren’t there they laughed, talked, answered cell phones as loud as car horns and, I swear, did their laundry in the sink because there were a few pairs of skivvies hanging in the bathroom.  Eeeewww.  The thing that made me overcome these shenanigans was that later in the day we found out the patient had given birth to twins the night before and they were all celebrating.  Actually, one of the family members spent a fair amount of time chatting it up with us and even gave us some sweets that are celebratory treats in India.  Geoff found these delectable!

Anyway, I headed into the bathroom (a.k.a. my roomy’s laundry room) to change into my sporty gingham johnny and pants.  The bathrooms here still spook me a bit and although they may be clean for some, I find them pretty gross and smelly.  There’s always 2-3 buckets and a sprayer next to the toilet instead of TP.  No, not a bidet, a sprayer like I have attached to my kitchen sink.  How the heck does one wash with that thing without soaking all of their clothes?!  Note to any woman traveling to India….I’ve been carrying around a cushy roll of Charmin in my purse and it has definitely come in handy.  When I resurfaced from the bathroom Geoff saw the look in my eyes and tried his best to make me laugh by singing a rendition of Hip to be Square, offering his best Bollywood moves, which we’re both captivated by each time we see it on TV.  After his performance, we waited and waited with just a couple interruptions by the anesthesiologist and nurses checking my vitals.

At 11:15am, it was go time.  They stuck a hairnet over my head, asked me to remove my socks and walked me into the surgical suite.  I hopped up on the gurney and tried to deep breathe with my heart pounding out of my chest.  I knew no one, Dr. Yash had yet to  arrive and everyone around me was speaking Hindu.  After sticking me with a needle that looked like a samurai sword, they got me off my gurney and walked me into the “OT” – operating theater.  Even more masked people were in this room and the huge spot lights shining down magnified the foreign medical equipment they quickly began hooking me up to.  WHAT THE HELL DID I GET MYSELF INTO??  I felt so alone and still no Dr. Yash.  I was more scared now than I had been the whole trip.  Tears streamed down my face and this alerted the nurses and surgeon closest to me.  He leaned over and in a thick Indian accent said, "don’t worry - everything will be fine.  Ha ha, that’s easy for you to say, Mr.!  He summoned the nurse to get Geoff, thinking this would make me feel better.  Geoff appeared in the entrance of the surgical suite’s doorway to see me sprawled across a table with my arms out to the sides as if I were making a crucifix.  Over the hustle and bustle Geoff yelled out, “I love you and I’ll see you soon” which of course made me cry even more!  I tried to make him out but without my glasses on I was even more out of sorts.  Dr. Yash came in at that last minute and apologized for being stuck in traffic.  After that, the last thing I remember was them placing an oxygen mask over my face and injecting something into my IV.

I awoke just outside the OT in the surgical suite again and I will admit, I was in a significant amount of pain.  They retrieved my eggs laparoscopically leaving me with three very sore incisions.  In addition, my throat then (and still now) is killing me from the tracheal tube they put down my throat.  On a good note, from approximately twelve follicles, they retrieved six mature eggs – all of which were fertilized today with a fresh batch of Geoff’s sperm through a procedure called ICSI.  For two days the embryos will grow after which the doctors will decide which are the best three to implant into our carrier this Friday.

After the surgery, we waited and waited and waited………….for almost seven hours.  Seriously?  SERIOUSLY.  I’ll admit, we were both disappointed that neither Dr. Sudhir or Dr. Yash visited us in our room today.  Thank goodness Heena was there to check in with us and to translate when needed.  With her much needed help, I was discharged at 7pm and given prescriptions she helped us fill at the on site pharmacy.  Unfortunately, despite me confirming the one medication I have had an allergic reaction to with every nurse and doctor today, that is the antibiotic they prescribed - so we then had to deal with that.  We left the hospital by 7:15pm only to sit in a car the size of a match box in bumper to bumper traffic on horrible roads for another hour.  Gggrrr.  The good news is, it’s over and I’m now resting on clean sheets in bed at our lovely hotel.  The incisions are much more sore than I anticipated, but I’ll deal with it knowing the surgery is behind me and the transfer is ahead.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Getting By

I’ve hit the feeling-lousy stage of IVF so part of me looked upon Sunday, a day with no medical appointments whatsoever, as an opportunity to do something to get my mind off things and to simply relax.  Our driver, Ajit, has very good English and clearly knows the city of Mumbai quite well so we decided to take in a quick tour of the major sites – Gateway of India, Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotelGandhi house (stirring), Queen’s Necklace, Haji Ali Dargah mosque - and to tackle a little haggling with street vendors. Turns out Mumbai itself isn't much of a tourist destination. The two big beaches are really just for locals and the downtown architecture looks more British than Indian. If you’re in the banking business or part of the Bollywood scene, come on down. Otherwise, look elsewhere to explore the two thousand year history of this country. (Don't get me wrong, the sites are amazing but, museums aside, it can all be covered in a day. Well, with the exception of Elephanta Island and its amazing caves which we hope to visit  at the end of this week, depending on how I feel.)

Today (Monday) by 9:30am, was already a difficult day and I could only assume the day wouldn’t get much better. Not so good, I know. I stood holding the first of my two morning injections and just couldn’t do it. I cried, took a few minutes to regroup and then finally got it done. Once the needle is in it’s not bad, but until then the anxiety weighs heavily on me. I am overjoyed to say that today is the last day for my Lupron and Gonal-F injections!!  I'm really feeling the side effects of the medications now and that’s a bit frustrating as I have been doing so well up until now. We heard horror stories from others and I’m grateful it hasn’t been that bad for me. As Geoff wrote earlier, I have a headache here and there and I may be a little achy, but the two most noticable things are how tired I am hours after the shots and my stomach is surprisingly distended which, as much as I wish it were true, makes it look as though I have a baby bump.  In addition, I constantly feel like I have to pee and understandably, my abdomen is tender. After my injections, Geoff and I went down for breakfast and I really didn’t eat all that much. I did manage to cry again and this time, in the hotel’s restaurant. Nice. I looked down at my waffle and it reminded me of my Nanna who for years had made homemade, fluffy waffles. I miss home. I miss my Mom. I miss the comforts of our immaculately clean home.  I miss cooking in my kitchen.  And I miss my cleaning frenzies, which occur weekly…..okay, sometimes daily. 

We were due at Lilavati Hospital for a 10am pelvic scan I was not looking forward to and which, no doubt, added to my morning emotions.  We only had to wait a few minutes before a smiling, sharply dressed Dr. Yash appeared.  Happily, she only wanted to see the progression of the follicles in my left ovary which, as Geoff mentioned, is extra high. This means it can only be seen by an abdominal probe, not the transvaginal, and this greatly improved my day's outlook. Waaahoooo! Follicles are plumping up nicely and it appears I have a good amount in each ovary. Again, waaahooo!  We left the hospital and headed back to the hotel to relax for the afternoon. (A quick hello to Douglas from Melbourne, a really funny, kind Aussie we met by the pool.)

Tonight’s the trigger shot and Geoff is on needle duty.  Tomorrow is a purely lazy day as my ovaries kick into overdrive and I'm told to rest all day.  Next stop:  E-Day (egg retrieval day) - please keep us in your thoughts and send lots of baby dust!

Tokens of Conception

During our first meeting with the doctors, Geoff and I were presented with a couple of gifts we would like to recognize and share with you. (How great are these doctors?) The first is a beautiful, silver jewelry box decorated in local Indian symbols that will forever conjure our trip east. The second is our favorite and will be our mascot during this trip and throughout the process. It is a wood-carved elephant with a latticework torso in which one can see a second, baby elephant. The elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha is, among other things, the Lord of Beginnings and thus often called upon when starting a new adventure. Our new elephant conjures thoughts of Ganesha and will be our source of good luck! Thank you, SI!