Monday, November 29, 2010

My Belly, My Pin Cushion

So whether or not you take the book of genesis literally, I find it interesting that the part that speaks to reproduction speaks to traditional and non-traditional reproduction.

After Eve eats the apple and Adam has a snack too, God comes along and finds them and, along with other things, says to Eve “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe" (Gen. 3:16). Now I could talk about all the psychological pain people who go through non-traditional reproduction face, but right now I'm keeping it real, keeping it light, and keeping it physical!

The other day I received a box. A REALLY BIG box. And in this box were a gazillion different medications (ok, only about 5, but it seems like a gazillion), and around 200 syringes and needles. Why? Because it's time to begin the IVF cycle fertility meds! Woohoo! And, because of Eve and her darn apple-eating ways, all of these are giving via shot. OK, so Eve's probably not exactly the one to blame for the way these meds are taken, but I've got to have someone to blame, right???

The deal is, I'm not really afraid of needles. I don't hate shots. I mean, every 3-4 months I get about 30 Botox injections, so I've gotten used to it. But what I've never had to do is give them to myself! There's something about that that is oh so wrong. I mean, from the time we're kiddos we learn, if we see blood, something not good has happened. Skin breakage=not good. Scissors are for paper, not skin (and not your sister's hair...but that's another story). Pain is not fun. We take Advil and Tylenol to get past a headache. For bigger pains we take bigger drugs. And we consider those who purposefully harm themselves in need of psychological help. And yet now, in the wonderful, miraculous context of having a baby, I am supposed to purposefully do something I am unequivocally evolutionarily programmed against...cause myself pain and pierce the protective barrier of my skin with a sharp object and then shove clear liquid into a body that is already in a happy state of homeostasis. Does anyone else see the conundrum this poses?

The other day I went in for injection lessons. And then it gets better and better. These lovely suckers are going to go into my belly! My lovely, soft tummy! Of course, this is precisely why the shots go there, they go into fat, not muscle and my tummy has a healthy amount of it. So there we are in the office and it comes time for me to try it myself. Swipe with the alcohol, pinch the fat, plunge the needle in (apparently if you do this fast it "doesn't hurt as much." lovely.) and push the plunger. It sounds so easy. Yet I sit there, the needle poised over my pinched fat, and every muscle in my body rebels against what I am trying to do. Although my brain keeps signaling to my arm to "Just do it already!" I can't bring myself to do it.

I had brought Aaron with the idea being that if I couldn't do it, then he can just give me the shots. But then, as we sat there, I had second thoughts about that one. First of all, Aaron gets up and leaves for work at crazy hours, like 6:00 am. I can think of few more lousy ways to wake up than with a kiss from my husband (ok that's not so bad, but wait for it...) and then a sharp object stabbed into my belly. Then another thought crossed my mind. What exactly will it do for our marriage if he stabs me with 3-4 needles a day for the next month? If I'm suffering cognitive dissonance at the thought of giving myself shots, then what's going to happen to my psyche if this person who I love dearly starts jabbing me with needles several times a day? I don't know if there are any published studies on that, but that can't be good for a marriage. I mean, I complain about the way he takes bandaids off of my back after my botox injections. If I complain about bandaids good gracious what will I say when it comes to multiple stabbings a day?

No, it's time for me to put on my game face and just do it. So, with one deep breath, I closed my eyes (which isn't all that great for accuracy, but not bad for the initial plunge) and did it. wasn't too awful. OK, my hands were shaking, but I blamed that on the dystonia, even if maybe that wasn't the total cause of the tremors. ;)

And now I've been at it for several weeks now. And it has gotten easier. My hands no longer shake. But the meds I'm on now (the ones that stimulate the ovaries to produce extra eggs) kind of burn going in. And I've got quite the bruised belly. You could get a really cool dot-to-dot picture by connecting all the marks.

And, if all goes as planned, the eggs will be retrieved between the 4th and the 7th, get their petri dish groove on with Aaron's swimmers, and be transferred to Lisa 5 days after that. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Signed, Sealed, Delivered!

Woohoo! Another major hurdle crossed. On Monday Aaron and I made a monster trip down to Portland, down on the 7:30 train, back on the 4:30 train. 7 hours of travel is A LOT in one day, but during our 4 1/2 hours there we accomplished a lot, and if you're going to have to travel 7 hours in one day, the train is TOTALLY the way to go.

The shock-and-awe-commando-raid-zip-i-and-out-before-they-even-know-what-hit-'em trip had two main objections, meet with a midwife at Oregon Health Science University hospital to decide if we wanted to go the midwifery route, and SIGN THE CONTRACT (big dramatic music). Once the contract was signed we were free to keep moving and proceed with the baby-making business.

We began with the trip to OHSU. And, can I just say, Portland has amazing public transportation. From the train station we took lightrail to a stop, hopped on their other streetcar/light rail system, walked about 1/4 mile to a tram, and took the tram to OHSU, all for free! Seattle could learn A LOT from that.

Both Lisa and Liam were able to be at the appointment which was really nice. It was the first time we got to meet them without kiddos in tow, and since we had to wait quite a bit, it was a really great time for us to talk more and get to know each other better. I had scheduled this meeting because I was really nervous about using a nurse-midwife. Maybe its because I work in Pediatric OT and I see a lot of results of "births gone wrong." I admit, sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and knowing everything that can go wrong with a birth, or with a baby tends to lead one in the direction of using all the latest medical gizmos and gadgets to try and ensure 100% that nothing can go wrong. And the idea behind midwifery is to let the woman's body do what it knows best. Lisa has used a midwife for both of her children's births. And she has delivered without medication. She and Liam both very much believe in natural childbirth. OHSU has a level IV NICU and pediatric neonatologists, obs, etc in the building 24/7. Using a nurse midwife at the hospital seemed to be a good compromise, if Aaron and I ended up feeling comfortable with it.

During this meeting, I also realized something significant. The vast majority of births go very well, and require no intervention. The midwife said, "I'm a specialist, I specialize in normal pregnancy and birth. The second I feel something isn't quite right, either in a prenatal appt or during the birth, I call for MD assistance." And it occurred to me that, medically speaking, over the last 3 years, very little in my life has gone "right" or "normal". I mean, let's face it, they still can't figure out what is wrong with me! And in this whole baby-making business very little has gone right or natural there either. We've got YFCF21C and all of its parties, a surrogate, a lawyer and so many other people involved. There is nothing up to this point that has been normal or natural. And I had a "Tipiphiney" (a Tiffany-ephiphany) during this meeting. I'm expecting something to go wrong with the IVF. I'm expecting this pregnancy to go wrong or have complications. And truth be told, why shouldn't I? As I said, nothing has gone "right" or been normal. But we're entering a new paradigm here. Lisa has had 2 perfect pregnancies and births. She's had no complications. And although IVF is complicated, there's nothing to indicate that ours will be particularly difficult or wrong.

Awhile ago Aaron was facing some challenges at work. Nuclear medicine was drying up and he was getting very few hours at work. He thought about completely switching careers to something else in healthcare. But after prayer and discussion we remembered something. God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of hope. We don't want to make decisions out of fear, but out of trust and love. I thought of a verse while we were talking to the midwife, John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." This is not a decision or process I want to be afraid of. I don't want to spend the next 10-12 months in total fear. That's not what God calls us to do.

So at that moment, as I recognized my fear, I named it, and released it. I talked about it with the midwife, and with all 4 of us ;> who are going to be pregnant, Aaron and I, Lisa and Liam. Lisa said that hearing me say that made her understand a lot more where I was coming from, and understand me. Naming and sharing my concern brought us all closer. And it let us all decide that we want to go with a nurse-midwife.

Of course, Tipiphanies take time, and with all of our conversation and processing we realized we were late for our appointment to sign the contract. Our lawyer is great, so kind and accommodating, and she had agreed to meet us at the train station so that we could sign the contract there and then hop on the train. Now, these contracts are no little thing. 39 pages of legalese defining everything from what happens if Aaron and I die while Lisa is pregnant to how the payments get distributed to how our communication should be during the pregnancy. pagesandpagesandpagesandpagesandpagesandpages. Fortunately, Aaron and I had spent one entire evening going over the contract with a fine tooth comb and sending our corrections to our attorney. So by the time we met with her it was merely a formality of signing the contract. All 39 pages. Initialled. Individually. Half an hour later, writer's cramp setting in, the legal process was completed. We are now good to go!