Oh hai, EWCM! Nice of you to show up TWO YEARS TOO LATE!

So, it seems quite a few of us ladies in the blogosphere are sitting here on our pretty asses waiting for January to start an IVF cycle (Ms. Expecting and Ms. Non Sequitur come to mind, as well as a couple of others). This means we’ve gotta stare down December like it’s got no right to be here, like we don’t even care about dusting off our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and putting Bailey’s in our morning coffee BECAUSE THAT IS TOTALLY LEGITIMATE DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON. Basically, if we could start snapping our fingers all West Side Story-like to make the next month run along now, we would.

Having done a biopsy on my uterine lining, I now have to wait for the results, which means I’m currently stuck in the middle of a “natural cycle” (ie. a waste of time). Except, just when I was starting to think I could forget about fertility this month and focus on other important things in life — buying a water fountain for my cat; watching the fifth episode of Homeland; discovering how gin and watermelon juice were made for each other — that force of evil known as Hope decided to show up, in the form of EWCM.

For some women, this isn’t anything special, but I’ve read study after study declaring it’s the only REAL sign of fertility, that it’s the best indication you’re ovulating and that your body is jonesing for spermies. I’ve had EWCM envy for years — the last time I remember seeing it was as a teenager, but since going off the pill, it never returned. I’d given up on ever seeing it again, but then yesterday, at 8 a.m., there it was!

And where was my hubby? A 2.5-hour drive away. I wouldn’t be able to tackle him until at least 8 hours later, probably missing my window. Is it crazy that I tried to think of a way to go about my work day while in a headstand to prevent it from escaping?

In any case, we did the deed, and while I have zero expectation of it leading to anything, I’m again in that annoying position of letting Hope in the door and allowing her to stay for the next two weeks. I’m keeping her in the basement with our mouldy carpets and rotting shower curtain, though, because she does NOT deserve to be here.

Wearing my infertility on my sleeve

Whenever I learn that someone I know has been going through infertility treatment, I’m always so surprised, as if it’s a rare condition that only myself and a handful of others in this world are suffering from. After all that I’ve been through, and all the blogs I’ve discovered, my automatic reaction is still usually, “Wow, but she’s so healthy!” or “Wow, but she’s so young!” or “Wow, but she just looks so fertile!”

All of this is COMPLETELY ridiculous, and I deserve to be reprimanded for continuing to harbour such thought patterns. But it also frustrates me, in a way, because there really is no surefire method of determining who, in my various social circles, is going through fertility treatment. Yeah, I can look at a couple who’ve been married for years, who have said they want children and maybe suffer a few stress-induced eye twitches at other people’s pregnancy announcements — but that’s still going out on a limb, and it’s certainly not polite to ask, “Hey, you look like you’ve had a couple full-bladder ultrasounds and back-to-back blood draws recently; anything you wanna reveal?”

A friend of mine who endured a year of IUIs and a bunch of other crap before finally getting pregnant once said to me: You can always tell a fertility patient by the needle marks in the crook of her arm. Since then, I became slightly obsessed with scanning the inner elbows of every woman who looked to be in her 30s.

There’s definitely a knowing look, too, that women give one another as they pass through the rotating doors of a certain office building in this city at 8 a.m. on a Sunday, bleary-eyed and messy-haired with cotton balls taped to their arm crooks. I used to make a point of ripping mine off right after the nurses stuck it on because I feared people asking me about it later in the day or somehow being identified as an infertile when I didn’t want to be. But one day, I tore it off and forgot to keep applying pressure. My arm ended up bleeding through my shirt and, inadvertently, I ended up wearing my infertility on my sleeve.

So now I just embrace this dumb trademark and treat it as a kind of infertility gaydar system. I actually hope other infertile women going through this shit pick up on what that piece of cotton might mean and feel bold enough to ask me about it. Because, at this point in my journey, I’m happy to share and it sure as heck will not prompt some lie about how I needed to get my Vitamin D levels checked for 10 days in a row.

Why don’t cotton balls come with complimentary bunnies??

First impressions

Seeing as I’m new to this, meeting bloggers for the first time and trying to make a good first impression on the Interwebs, I figured an appropriate topic of discussion might be that first visit you make to a fertility clinic and the impression it leaves.

I’m going to write a separate post about our specialist and his personal office, because that’s a whole other chestnut involving sperm-shaped stress balls, so for now I’m talking strictly about the clinic itself. I don’t know about you kids, but I’ve become fascinated by fertility clinic decor, at least in the private system. (Despite all the awesomeness of Canadian healthcare, fertility treatments are only covered in certain provinces — Quebec? Bingo! Ontario? Not so much). To cut to the chase, we’re at a private clinic in downtown Toronto, which means the following:

Pastel colour scheme. Halogen lighting. Sleek birch furniture maybe one step up from IKEA. Subscriptions to fashion and cooking magazines. The occasional framed piece of art — usually a boring photo of Venice or Tuscany, definitely no babies. A penthouse suite (well, the top floor of an office building). And a huge plasma TV in the waiting room.

When hubby and I first walked in, we looked at the TV screen and saw what appeared to be a fairly significant semen sample in a stainless steel dish. We both thought, “Oh, maybe they’re showing what this spermwashing process involves…” Then suddenly a whisk came into the picture, and we were all, “Isn’t this supposed to be a more advanced procedure?” And then it panned up to Jamie Oliver and we realized this was the Food Network and those were egg whites in a mixing bowl. Phew!

Aside from the decor, we were both impressed with the demographics of the waiting room. There were women of all kinds: thin, fat, tall, short, black, white, older, younger, etc. Clearly, infertility doesn’t just happen because you ate too much junk food as a teenager or grew to be five-foot-eleven and stretched your reproductive organs too much (I was seriously starting to think such things).

Overall, our first impressions were pretty solid and we’ve been mostly happy with the treatment we’ve received. The only shocker? That I haven’t yet bumped into someone I know. In this city, women in their early 30s living and/or working downtown are usually only one or two degrees of separation from each other, so I’m waiting for that day when I finally recognize a name on the ultrasound sign-in list.

What about you? Good or bad feeling walking into your clinic for the first time?

(You can SORT OF understand, right?)

I really hope these don’t fizz

I’m sure many of you ladies out there have become well-acquainted with Endometrin — and by well-acquainted, I mean shoved it up your private parts. There’s a lot that gets shoved up our private parts during fertility treatments, of course, and I’ve already dealt with many of these things: Speculums, catheters, HSG fluid, progesterone-in-wax suppositories, ultrasound wands, etc. But when I received my box of Endometrin for my mock cycle, I was a little confused to see the description:

“Does that mean they’re fizzy?” asked hubby.

I really, REALLY hoped it did not. Although, that would at least give me the semblance of something going on up there. Normally, you place your ear to my womb and all you hear is crickets. Dead crickets, which are probably blocking my fallopian tubes.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that the Endometrin wasn’t fizzy, but did fizzle its way out of me pretty quickly much like every other suppository. Bye, fancy underwear!

“The Soil Test for the Endometrium”

Before we go ahead with IVF, which is gonna cost us approximately $12-million-zillion, Dr. No Nonsense (that’s how I’ll refer to my specialist) feels it’s worth making sure my uterine lining is actually capable of receiving an embryo. Because of my ectopic, we know there isn’t an issue with fertilization, but we’ve never had anything actually growing in my uterus, which means there’s a good chance something ain’t right with the chemistry, and apparently you need dozens of hard-to-pronounce proteins lining up PERFECTLY, in nice little layers, at the right time in your cycle, for an embryo to even consider making a home there. It’s like the embryo’s all, “I need three coats of primer, then a layer of Martha Stewart’s ‘Rolling Pin Beige’, then a fresco of the Last Supper, then a glossy finish,” etc.

All this to say, I had to do an endometrial biopsy this morning at 9 a.m., which is not a very pleasant way to wake up. But this is only the beginning — I have to pay my clinic about $500 to send that precious little chunk of my uterine lining ALL THE WAY TO YALE UNIVERSITY, so it can be analyzed by this dude.

Part of me is thrilled that my endometrium is going to Yale… this is the closest I’ll ever get to an Ivy League education, and I’m really tempted to put it on my résumé. But another part of me became slightly concerned upon receiving this educational DVD that explains how the lab will be analyzing my lining and why it’s so important:

Let’s just say, the opening sequence involves a woman in full-length Laura Ashley holding a seedling with her husband (yes, four hands trying to cradle one seedling), then walking awkwardly together toward a patch of mulch in a garden and planting it. At the very end of the video, we return to where the couple left off, except now they’re PULLING A LIVE BABY OUT OF THE SOIL. And it’s pre-swaddled, of course. If you don’t believe me, you can watch the video for yourself (skip to 7:40 for the Oscar moment).

Because nothing ever happens quickly in the infertility world, I have to wait four weeks for the results to come in, so that’s yet another cycle where we’ll be “trying naturally” (read: “wasting time”), and then our clinic closes for two weeks over the holidays, meaning my lady bits will get to rest up before I pummel them with drugs all over again. Yay!

Because the world REALLY needs another infertility blogger

I have to admit, I’ve been hesitant to start this thing… I’m not one of those girls who’s starting a blog after one failed cycle trying to conceive naturally. I keep thinking, “Don’t start blogging because, as soon as you do, you’ll end up pregnant and have to shut the whole thing down.” Of course, now, I’m going into my first round of IVF after six failed IUIs and one lousy ectopic to show for it, after a year and a half of trying and failing to make a baby. So I guess maybe I do need an outlet for all this stress, actually…

Stay tuned for what I hope will become one of those IF blogs that’s heavy on piss-taking and sarcasm, less heavy on schmaltzy pontificating.