Wednesday, 30 June 2010

That warm fuzzy feeling...

It just isn't there anymore.
Between me and the Swedish clinic that is.
It seems the more questions I ask, the less love I'm getting back.

I sent an email about a week ago to Dr. Boss Lady and haven't heard back so today I decided to call. My favorite Nurse Inga answered the phone and was happy to hear we're looking at joining the circus again this fall. She immediately gave me the tentative run-down of "wandings", "shoot-ups", "pick-ups" and transfers, but I stopped her in her happy ramblings by saying:
- I do have a few questions before we commit to anything.

She asked me to go ahead, and I started down my list of questions for Dr. Boss Lady:

• Our first round of IVF gave us four blastocysts. The fresh transfer resulted in a miscarriage. Our first FET was negative (with a faint second line that disappeared the day after). Our two remaining blasts did not survive the thaw.
Do you have any theories about why we had a statistically bad outcome? Egg, sperm, and/or embryo quality? Immune problems or a combination? Any suggestions to improve the stats this time is greatly appreciated.

Nurse Inga: - You realize we have very high standards for the embryos we freeze here, and there's an 8% risk of embryos not surviving the thaw in spite of being top notch.
Me (thinking, not saying): - Um, yeah, but last time I checked 2/3 is more like 66%. If this happened in any other situation I'd assume the team responsible would at least have an internal discussion of what went wrong.

• Do you believe that we can increase our chances by going through additional testing? Karyotype and immunology testing.
Should I have a hysteroscopy to look for polyps since I'm experiencing similar symptoms as before my polypectomy in Feb 2009?

Nurse Inga: - I'm writing, immune testing, polyps...

• I've heard of positive effects of using baby aspirin in combination with IVF, I also understand that there's no studies to prove it. My question is: Can it hurt?

• Egg retrieval of my left ovary was complicated because of its location and required the pain management nurse to assist the doctor by pressing down on my abdomen, leaving her unable to administer more meds. Can I request an additional person in the OR?

Nurse Inga: - Oh my, I'm sorry to hear that, we'll make sure a third person is available for your retrieval this time. You shouldn't be in pain.
Me, (thinking): - You think! (saying): - That would be great.

• Diver Dude's planned PESA turned in to a TESA when they were unable to find a sufficient amount of sperm. Is there any reason for a back-up plan such as donor sperm?

Nurse Inga: - Well, we don't have a donor program at our clinic...
Me, saying this time: - What? so what happens if there's no sperm? We just pack up and go home?

• Can you send my prescriptions here, or can a family member pick them up at the pharmacy for me?

• If necessary can I have some of the evaluating ultrasounds done locally?

• Could you please send copies of our medical records, electronically or via snail mail?

When I finished my list of can-do?'s the other end of the line was quiet.
- Hello? Are you still there? Nurse Inga let out a small sigh and asked me if I would like to schedule a phone consult with Dr. Boss Lady. I told her it sounded like a good idea and we agreed that August 11 would be a good day. After Nurse Inga promised to send our record promptly we ended the conversation.

Now I've got a bad taste in my mouth. I shouldn't feel like I'm inconveniencing them by calling. I shouldn't feel pushy or rude for not wanting to be "just a patient" and demand personal attention. Should I? This clinic in Sweden has one of the best statistics in Europe and the their prices for treatment is about half of what it is here in England, and oceans away from american IVF costs... Should I just trust that they know what they're doing and go with it?

I could get a second opinion, but I'm not sure we could really afford going anywhere else. Possibly another clinic in Sweden... I don't know, I don't think that I have much of a choice.

Any success stories you have of pregnancy in spite of a less than perfect relationship with your clinic and/or RE would be greatly appreciated. Or, I guess, success stories of changing clinics/REs would be helpful too.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Glad Midsommar!

Today in Sweden, my family and friends are celebrating Midsummer. It's a holiday originating in pagan times to celebrate the summer solstice and to sacrifice in the sign of the norse godess of fertility, Freya. It's a celebration of the longest day of summer, a day to dress your maypole (or in my family's tradition, an old lamp post in the front yard) with flowers and dance around it, a feast when you eat new potatoes, herring and freshly picked strawberries, and a time when all the girls put flowers in their hair. Ever since I was a little girl it's been my absolute favorite holiday.

One of the traditional things to do as a young, unmarried girl is to go out in the midsummer night in silence and pick seven different flowers. You then place the flowers under your pillow and that night you will supposedly dream of the boy whom you'll marry. I have many memories of me and my sister picking flowers after dark trying not to giggle and break the silence, but I can't remember any dreams of a future husband.

In 2004 on midsummer's day I married Diver Dude for the second time. Surrounded by family and friends, standing in front of a dressed maypole, we repeated our vows to each other. It was a perfect day. It rained a lot, and the priest was so nervous about speaking english he nearly forgot to bless our rings and pause for my sister's solo, but it was perfect. 

I may never have dreamt about who my husband would be, but every day I wake up next to him I know he's The One. 

Today we celebrate our sixth anniversary of our second wedding and in spite of being in England I'll put flowers in my hair, eat some good traditional swedish food and possibly also dance around some kind of phallic symbol :)
Glad Midsommar! Happy Midsummer!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Perfect Moments

What can be better than this?
Walking around the fields of wheat on a sunny day with my dog as only company.
K-boy getting whiff of something interesting and taking off in a frenzy. Watching him disappear for a second in the tall straws only to see him bounce back up the moment after. Down. And up. And down.
Finding my two babies snuggled up together at the end of an exciting day.

Life is pretty good.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Father's Day

Diver Dude,

I wish I get to experience a day when the disappointment in your eyes, after realizing the voice on the other end of the line doesn't belong to any of your daughters, is softened by a smile when the child in your lap cups its hands around your ear and whispers "Happy Father's Day Daddy".

All my love,
Circus Princess

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

It's all about love

I honestly don't know what made Diver Dude turn the corner. I could speculate and say Lady Merlin helped us communicate better or that he found a window to my thoughts through this blog. I could thank my lucky star or four leaf clover. But in my heart I believe that he was finally strong enough to re-discover the part of him that wants this as much as I do.

The turning point came Sunday morning. Diver Dude woke up early and went upstairs to make coffee and left me snoozing away in bed. A couple of hours later he came down, laid down next to me and woke me up with a soft kiss. "I think we should talk" he said and my heart missed a beat. I feared the worst, braced myself for him to tell me he'd come to the conclusion we should go our separate ways. Instead, he said: "I don't want to loose you. I miss you, I miss my best friend, my confidant, my wife and lover. What's important is you and I, everything else comes second. I want to grow old with you." 

Suddenly there he was. My strong, beautiful, fantastic husband. He had come back to me. I felt drunk with happiness. Tears and laughter came in sudden bursts of joy. He kept going: "If it's OK with you, I think we should stick with our original plan of three IVFs. We'll do two more fresh cycles, use the embryos we get and keep our fingers crossed it works." I struggled to say something coherent and failed to say anything but "Thank you". He smiled and said it was a strange thing to say. I looked out through the window, towards the sky, and said it again. Thank You. 

Although we're now back to our original plan of three IVFs I feel enriched by this experience and know that a few changes need to be made. I need to focus on a fuller life. I need a job to find a different self worth, continue my education to expand my mind, and grow the budding friendships I've made to expand our social network. I need a life that's fulfilling and can make me happy with or without children to complete it. 

I know that I'm a very lucky woman. I have a husband who loves me with all his heart and who wants to journey with me through this life. Come what may. That's what it's all about.
Yggradsil - Tree of Life in Nordic mythology

Saturday, 12 June 2010

It's a brand new beautiful day

Diver Dude has come around.
He's ready to move forward in our relationship and give us another shot at having a family.
He chose us after all.

I can't tell you how relieved and happy I am.

It's like waking up from a really scary dream.
Waking up to sun shining through your window and your husband pulling you closer and kissing your neck.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Wonderous Wordless Wednesday

Small miracles happen every day. All around us. 
We just have to remind ourselves to look for them. 
Here's a few I managed to capture on "film" this week.
After a long day of gray skies and pouring rain. 
Sunshine is reflected in drops of water.
After a seemingly endless journey. 
A finish line is reached.
After a long winter when all seemed lost.
 Life finds a way.
After grasping for something to get you through the day. 
A four leaf clover is found.

One day at a time. With eyes wide open.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Thank you

For your overwhelming response to my last post "An impossible choice". Most of your comments were kind and supportive with wishes of peace. Some offered new angles to look at the problem, some shared  life stories of similar choices made, and some thought it necessary to defend Diver Dude's right to his dream of a childless future. Some angry, some sad, some seemingly based on that post alone with insufficient background knowledge, but all good. All wonderful. All valid.

I wrote my last post from a place of disappointment and a feeling of entrapment. Of course the choices entail more possibilities than described, and naturally I have no idea what the future holds. None of us do, right? This blog is also a place where I try to sort out my thoughts. The good and the bad. The positive and negative. The sane and the crazy.

Tamsen pointed out in her comment that Diver Dude is willing to give up our relationship to not have more children - he has already made his impossible choice.
And he didn't pick me.
It hurts more than I can explain.
But he made his choice when in a hurt and vulnerable state. I have a hard time accepting that this is what he really wants and not just a reaction to a different kind of pain that stems from guilt over not being more involved in his daughters lives. His choice was not to follow a dream of living child free, but to give up on the dream of having a second chance. A shared dream we had in fact worked towards for almost three years.

Another reason why I have a hard time accepting Diver Dudes choice is the agreement we made when moving to England. He was to pursue a new career and I was to "focus on having a baby". We knew that there would be medical involvement, we knew it was going to take a lot of time and money, and in order to be able to have treatment in Sweden I would not be able to take a job. Economically it made complete sense. We also agreed before starting any treatment that we would do three rounds of IVF, and if it hadn't worked by then, that would be it. We did one round.
One pregnancy.
One miscarriage.
One possible chemical.
One hell of a circus and more emotional pain than any of us were prepared for.

Regardless of what choices I'm forced to make in the near future, I've promised myself (and Lady Merlin) not to make them in a state of sadness, hurt or anger. For now, I'm making other life changes. I'm looking for work, researching art schools and getting the rest of my life in order and shifting focus. It's not been healthy for me to have a future child as my sole purpose. It's exhausting to work towards a goal that is so elusive. I need to define myself in independent terms again.

And while I'm taking one day at a time, I'm hoping that tomorrow will be a better day.

Friday, 4 June 2010

An impossible choice

I had a beautiful post filled with hope already written in my mind about the story of Pinocchio and how Diver Dude picked one out for me in a quaint wood shop in Rome. But events have taken a different turn since Wednesday night.

The past few weeks seemed to be moving in the right direction. We talked, laughed, made love and truly connected the way we used to before this circus started. I felt stronger and more confident than I have in a very long time. Our weekend in Italy was icing on the cake. One perfect night in a small bar in Rome,  Diver Dude took my hand to the sound of the italian version of Bob Dylan, looked me in the eyes, and said: "You know sweetie I think we'll get through this, and even though I'm not ready to commit to having a child yet, I really want you to know..." I stopped him with a kiss and asked him to please not say anything before he was ready. And in my heart hope started spreading its wings.

Wednesday night after a single session with Lady Merlin, Diver Dude came home in an agitated state of mind. I turned the TV off and asked him what happened. He told me how hard this all is for him and how much he loves me, but that if he's being true to himself he does not want any more children. That he can't. He may have thought for a moment he could, but he can't. The flutter of hopeful wings grew quiet and instead I felt dark sadness pour back into my heart.

If he has made this final choice and is willing to take the consequences for it, he leaves me with an impossible choice to make. 

I could stay with Diver Dude knowing that we will never have children. I will never be a mother. He won't be the father of my children, simply a father to his. I stay with a man I'm madly in love with knowing that it denies me the chance of ever having a family. I'll be with the man I love. Some people search their whole life for true love. I'll have that. But he's a lot older than I am and if nature takes it's course I will be a fairly young widow. I will be alone.


I could leave the man I love in an effort to have a child and pursue donor sperm IUI. If it's successful I'd be a single mother to a child I wish had a father like Diver Dude. Is it fair to let a child shoulder the burden of his mother leaving the man that should've been his/her dad just to get a chance to become his/her mother? It seems wrong on so many levels. 
If it's not successful I'll live my life childless and without Diver Dude. Regardless of the outcome, and possibly in a different way, I will still be alone.
I may find somebody else to love and maybe even have children with, but I truly believe that love like ours come around but once in a lifetime. 

It is an impossible choice to make. No matter what choice I make, I'm afraid I'll end up resenting myself once it's too late. No matter how I look at it I don't know what to do. 

I'm not a fool. I know that even if Diver Dude against all odds decides to give IVF another go, we might not be successful. I may stlll end up childless. But at least we'd give it a fair chance and that's a risk I'm willing to take. It's the risk I agreed to when I married a man that had had a vasectomy.

For now, I pray for a miracle. I pray for guidance. 
And I will get down on my knees.

The beach in Sweden where I grew up. 
Photo taken the day I found out our last blast didn't survive the thaw.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Mostly Wordless Wednesday - Rome, May 2010

The Colosseum - Flavian amphitheatre completed 80AD under Emperor Titus
Piazza Navona - Fountain of Neptune by Antonio Della Bitta 1878
The Pantheon - temple of all the gods - 126AD
Tre Scalini at Piazza Navona - Scrumptious pasta
View after climbing the 138 steps of The Spanish Steps
Original Caffe Latte
Street art
Tre Scalini waiters
The Pantheon at night
The Trevi Fountain - I threw a coin for all of us but wasn't allowed to do a "Dolce Vita"
Sunday morning stroll along the river Tiber
View of St. Peter's Basilica from the river Tiber
St. Peter's Basilica
Nuns in St. Peter's Basilica
The line to get in to the Vatican Museum
Raphael's School of Athens 1511
Michelangelo's Creation of Adam inside the Sistine Chapel - NO PHOTOS ALLOWED heeheehee
Anti Pasti
View of the Alps flying back from Rome

I love Rome.