Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Golden Egg

In all of the IVF/fertility groups I belong to online, everyone talks about the Golden Egg. This is basically the belief that no matter where you are on the fertility path, no matter how old you are, if you’re still ovulating (ie producing eggs), getting pregnant is just a matter of finding that one perfect egg. That egg which is surely there somewhere. This is the hope that everyone clings to, through 1, 2, 7, or 17 IVF cycles. Yes, 17. Some people just keep trying – people who are either very rich or have an amazing insurance policy.
I’m in neither of those categories (rich or amazing insurance), so, to say the least, this shit is expensive. So far around $25K out of pocket, and I haven’t done half the stuff I need to yet, like the mock transfer, etc. So yeah, at those prices…..there’s a lot riding on BFU.
Having said that, I had no idea how long the chromosomal testing (PGS) would take, so imagine my surprise when I got a call from ORM on Sunday. Now, the only people who would be calling me on a Sunday would be the embryology lab, because that’s the only thing that’s going on right now: testing BFU. Omg! A call! NEWS ALREADY! What’s the verdict??
I had no fucking clue of course, because they called while I was in the shower. Yes, the shower. Fuck.
It’s kind of appropriate though that I have a history of this kind of thing. It oddly parallels CancerLandia, when I went out with friends the night I was supposed to get a call from my breast surgeon to let me know whether or not the lump was actually cancer. I wasn’t home for THAT call either…..and my answering machine (this was back in ye olden days) cut off RIGHT BEFORE he told me his number at which I should “call (him) back whenever I get in.”
Sometimes, the pattypan gods just like to mess with me.
I proceeded to completely lose my mind, as one would imagine. I left a message with ORM’s answering service. I paced. I watched the clock, thinking of the likelihood of them calling me back. I attempted to use backward induction and a decision tree to figure out if it had been good or bad news.
“If the news was bad, they wouldn’t call on a Sunday, because they’d want me to come in to hear it from the doctor. Unless they just don’t care and are used to crushing people’s hopes and dreams over the phone. But if it’s good news, they won’t call either, because, well, I don’t know. They didn't leave a message, so it must be bad news - unless it's just their policy to never leave messages on the phone. So it could be good or bad. Oh fuck.”
Right, along those lines. Then I pulled out the boozy cherries and started making cocktails, namely one I christened the Cherry Jubilee FTS (aka Fuck This Shit). It was fizzy and cherry and perfect, and helped me get to a state of Zen whereby all my worries floated awa…..oh, screw that, no it didn’t. It was perfect though, and helped me make it to 8PM, at which point I took a sleeping aid and went to bed, like a Dickensian urchin on Christmas Eve, wanting the next day to come as quickly as possible.
Finally, Monday. Unfortunately, I had a 5:30AM call, and it seemed unlikely ORM would be open at that hour. Fortunately, I had a shit-ton of work, so the morning zipped by. But then it was 8, and no call. 8:15. 8:30. Where the fuck are those slackers? Maybe they weren’t calling because no one wanted to be the one to crush my delicate soul?
I called. And of course, all of the embryologists were, well, busy in the lab. Imagine that. FUCK!
Thank god, a lovely woman with a British accent called me a short while later, and we had the following conversation:
Lovely British Embryologist: Hello, is Tasha there?
Me: Yes?????
LBE: I’m calling about….
Me: Yes?????
LBE: Well, I have good news for you, your embryo is norma….

I think ORM’s Lovely British Embryologist is probably still deaf, but oh well, it happens. We then had a wonderful conversation, because I could tell she was genuinely delighted for me, where I tell her that I’m planning on more IVF cycles so I don’t have everything pinned on just this one embie, and during which I found out that my little BFU is……..a boy. Though as I told her, at this point BFU could have been a hermaphrodite and I’d say okay, I can work with that.
Omg. A boy. A normal baby. Omg.
In case anyone still doesn’t get the import of this, let’s put it in terms of me being the Queen of Bizarro Odds and Shitty Percentages. My chances of getting breast cancer at my age were .06%. My chances of having a normal embryo at my age?
Then the chances of finding that one good egg on my first IVF cycle?
Conclusion: I have one badass fucking unicorn on ice. Clearly.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Team BFU for the win!

To update the tens of readers out of my nineteens of readers who aren't my Facebook friends.....

There I was yesterday, fretting and pacing and imagining dire scenarios as to why the embryologist at ORM wasn't calling me. Clearly she was hesitant to give me the bad news that she knew would crush my soul, that my little BFU hadn't made it to blastocyst stage.

Or maybe she was taking an extra-long lunch, totally oblivious to my anxiety. Psycho.

Or maybe....oh, phone!

Me: Okay?
Shannon, Embryologist: So we've been watching that one embryo...
Me: AND?
SE: And the little guy grew like gangbusters (or maybe she said like a gangster, I'm not sure)...
Me: AND??
SE: So since the embryo made it to blastocyst stage....

I think Shannon, Embryologist, might still be deaf from my shriek of joy. Shrug. It happens.

I was so relieved that I completely forget to ask what grade BFU was or anything else relevant, such as how long it would take to get results from the chromosomal testing (aka PGS). But that's where one cell went, while the rest of BFU has been frozen for hopefully future use.

The wait begins anew.

But in the meantime, whew. Big whew.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

BFU Watch 2014

So last Friday I went into egg retrieval as usual: with a pan of homemade brownies to give to the nurses, so that they don’t accidentally kill me. Okay, chances of this might be slim, but it’s worked so far with all my surgeries, so why mess with success?
And I knew it would be a great day when I walked in and saw the whole of ORM decorated JUST FOR ME. Oh sure, some people mumbled things about “Halloween” and “always decorate,” but I know the truth.
Anyway, things got off to a great start, when Awesome Nurse started telling me about the procedure and afterward.
AN: …..and then take it easy when you get home, no driving or operating heavy equipment, and no drinking for 48 hours…
Me: Wait, what? What fresh hell is this? It’s going to be a stressful weekend, and I was planning on having a jar of boozy cherries at my side the whole time.
AN: Well…..I don’t…..
Me, firmly: Boozy. Cherries.
AN to Dr. Crankypants: Dr. C, do you think she can do 12 hours instead of 24?

Now, at this point Dr. C. had not yet been christened Dr. Crankypants, but that was because this was all before we had the Versed discussion.
Dr. C: I suppose 12 would work. Now, let’s talk anesthesia.
Me, with my standard directive: No Versed.
Dr. C, nonplussed and stern: What? Why not?

I go into my usual explanation of why I hate the stuff, that in my first surgery I was given it and was thereby deprived of my witty banter, etc. Usually the anesthesiologists accept this willingly, because hey, why give out more drugs than you have to, right? No.

Dr. C: I don’t understand that. You know you’ll still be put under for the surgery, right?
Me, patiently but impatiently: Yes yes, that’s what we want for the surgery. Not beforehand. I don’t want to be awake and not remember it.
Dr. C: As long as you know you’ll be out for the surgery.


We hit our second snag when Dr. Hesla comes in – not my usual doctor, but hopefully he’s been warned. Or not.

Me: So, I know I have 6-9 follicles, but I’d really like to see 13 eggs today, m’kay?
Dr. H: Heh heh.
Me: I think 13 would be a great number. Please make it happen. So it has been spoken and all that.
Dr. H: Uhh, I’m going to go prep now.
Me, cheerily: Remember, 13!

He seemed very eager to go off and prep, or have some brownies, or something.

The surgery goes smoothly, though Dr. Hesla failed in his mission and only got 9 eggs. I shake my head, but there’s just so much I can do. And at least I remembered to ask the important questions afterward.

Me: So… do we guarantee that someone won’t be walking along and oops, trip, and there go my eggs?
AN: We have tight security and locks and etc and so on…
Me: That’s great too…..but what about the clumsy people? How do you screen for that?
AN: …..
Me: This has been giving me nightmares, you know. Someone carrying my eggs in one hand, a brownie in the other, then tripping and deciding to save the brownie.
AN: …….
Me: And oh yeah, what happened to Shithead? Did we get rid of him?
AN: Let me ask. (to other nurse) Say, did we get rid of that cyst? You know, Shithead?
Other nurse: Yep, no more Shithead!
So I have that going for me.

Kim then drove me to her place, after which I drove home and worked the rest of the day – you know, like self-employed people have to do. Oh, and then since it was Halloween, the girls and I had cocktails and pelted urchin trick-or-treaters with large candy bars, and everyone was happy.

Since then, I have spent the last 5 days highly medicated. And by “medicated” obviously I mean “with a jar of boozy cherries at my side at all times.” I found out the next day that out of my 9 eggs collected, 8 were mature but only 4 fertilized. Grr. But after all I do just need one baby unicorn, right? Then of course that one embie will split into 3, and voila, The Damians! Hey, dream big, right?

- - - - - - - -

So today I got the call from ORM, updating me on the status of the Fab 4. Of which only one seems willing to go to blastocyst stage, so basically all of my hopes and dreams are now resting on a clump of stubborn cells which have been christened BFU: Badass Fucking Unicorn. BFU is hanging in there, and according to the embryologist is looking “chunky,” which is apparently a good thing in EmbryoLand.

Then if BFU makes it to blast stage tomorrow, a cell will be sent for chromosomal testing. Still a long road ahead, basically. But at least it’s not over……