IVF round 1 : 3. The first IVF appointment.

Saturday, February 16th, 2013
Jul 22, 2011
We sit and wait for the doctor – who’s probably 10 years my junior – to be ready for us.  I ask the through-looker nurse, ‘Izvinite,’ and pause since she’s looking down at her papers. Before I could finish my question she motions towards the bathroom, ‘Izvolite’, without so much as a glance. Meh. I go pee and I’m happy. Not really – I’m cramping and anxious, but at least I don’t have to pee, too.The doctor sees us and says she’ll do a sonogram – love those when I have my period – it’s not the first one I’ve had. She looks around with her magic seeing wand and finds my ovaries, both looking fine and dandy. She re-confirms that my hormones all look fine and normal. She says that she’s going to start me on the lowest dose of Menapur, a follicle stimulating drug (that’s actually made from the uterine lining of post-menopausal women…I believe…interesting – but how do they get so many of those? Is there a post-menopausal uterine lining warehouse somewhere? Sounds pretty Mengele to me. Something to research later).  After the follicle stimulation, they’ll suppress my natural hormones so I don’t have a spontaneous ovultion – that would really suck.

The Menopur is an injection, and although I did Follistim injections when we tried the natural cycle back in November 2010, I was anxious about this injection. After all, this is Serbia, and I was sure they wouldn’t have a nifty ‘pen’ that would allow me to just dial a pre-mixed dose and inject. Nope.  One vial of saline or some watery liquid, 2 vials of powder which is the menopur. Insert needle into saline, extract, retract, insert into menopur 1, inject, shake, extract, retract, rinse and repeat. THEN the easy part – injecting my belly with the needle.

So between 6-8pm, starting tuesday and ending Friday night, I was instructed to do this injection. The nurse explained how to mix it, and we were happy. Not really, it was 40 degrees C and we were both anxious and tired and still had to go meet Kuma L to get some papers for mama because of her fall, because now she’d need to go on a new medical leave, just a half a day after she’d returned…

The driver knew of our plan, and zipped us over to the pharmacy, with the help of the chick-in-the-box that announced when to turn. We went in, without a ‘recipe’ but with the instructions from the doctor, and they retrieved the meds and the price. 42k dinars. Now I know that’s alot, but I don’t really have a good grasp of the conversion rates. I always turn to Gordon and ask, ‘How much is that?’ which really should annoy him, because he has to calculate it just as I would. For some reason I think that because it’s his native currency he can do it faster.

So naturally this pharmacy doesn’t have a machine to run a credit card. We planned on using our bank card to pay for this and the IVF, and signed papers at the bank so that the borders and credit limit wouldn’t be an issue. Would have been super had they taken credit cards. So now we’re off to find an ATM, which she says is right across the street, and it was.

Stepping up to an atm here is always a little nerve-wracking for me.  Will it eat my card? It’s like ordering at the drive through…you don’t really know when you pull up what you’re gonna pull away with, regardless of your intentions. (or how much money you have. A lot of times the machine is out of money (yes, even the ones inside the bank). Sometimes it just doesn’t like you (American paranoia). We managed to get 20k, but when we tried for another 20 we were denied. We figured the machine was out of money, or close to it, so we tried 3k. No dice. Must be the machine. So we traipsed down the street to find another ATM (all with the pressure of a cab waiting on us, not to mention Kuma L., who was standing outside their workplace waiting for us to arrive). We found another ATm that still told us no. we managed to get another 2k and we went back to the Apoteka with what we had. We knew it would at least buy us enough to get us through until Friday night.  We planned on getting more Saturday when we returned.

So off we went with our little baggie of follicle stimulating powder, and found our driver. Darko. Dinsko. Dudio. I don’t know his name now. Something with a D, I’m sure. He’s not really thrilled about running us around Belgrade (again – last trip we made several stops, including one so we could buy a fan that’s not allowed to blow directly on us or we’ll die an awful, painful, wrteched death). Gordon passed him an extra 500 dinars for his trouble, and I sat quietly trying to figure out ‘how much is that’, since it would be kind of rude to ask out loud, even if Dudio didn’t understand me. Then I’m figuring it’s like $8…and then I think, erm. woot? It’s a strange country. I’m sure Gordon did the right thing, and I’m sure the guy’s hesitation wasn’t because he was thinking about being insulted, but wondering how to politely accept this ticket for an extra carton of cigarettes, which I just realized he barely smoked on that trip – likely because we weren’t with mama, who can smoke the best of them under the table (and I’ll leave that in english because that would be way so potentially rude in serbian).

I actually do love my mother in law. She just drives me a little crazy most of the time, and a lot crazy some of the time.

we met Kuma L. and made a pretty quick sweep there getting the papers and heading out of Belgrade, just around rush hour. We sat holding hands in the back seat, with the air going because Gordon asked the driver to put it on to keep these medicines cool, and he held them dangling from the back seat in front of the little air vent that pointed at us from behind the arm rest between the front seats.  It was really blazing hot outside, so it was tricky keeping them cool,  but I think we managed pretty well. As soon as we got home, after I kissed the ground (kidding) I rushed to the fridge to put them inside.

Mama was doing good. The neighbor cooked us some stuffed peppers, and we were happy. Not really, we were exhausted and sweaty and dirty, but we were finished running… and we know that we might be pregnant next week.Yes, next week. Doc said that I would take this injection, come back Saturday morning to have my estradial measured to see that the drugs are working right. If not, they’ll increase the dose. Then we go back on Tuesday for another blood test (?) and sonogram to check out those follicles that are growing… wow. I just realized that if this goes well, as I’m writing this I have the beginnings of what will be our baby(ies).

I had to pause for a minute and think about that.

After Tuesday, depending on the size of the follicle(s), she said she expects we’d go back on Thursday or so for them to retrieve the eggs, and then return at the end of the week (Saturday I’m thinking) for it/them to be returned.

I think that means we’d have a May baby(ies). Maybe April. April is a pretty name.

Names. We have some. We figured we should pick 3 boy and 3 girls names, just in case. We have Kayla, Aleksandra, Anika, Anja (okay 4), and – well the boys are still rough sketches at the moment, but we have Aleksandar and gosh another name that escapes me now.

Have to admit I am getting tired…

So after we got home, showered and ate, we prepared for the injection. Gordon was so nervous – which he chalks up to all his medical history. I guess I haven’t had many or at least, not many bad ones (pu pu pu).

Gordon couldn’t manage to pop off the top of the saline mix, so he got a knife and we sterelized the blade that he used to open it. We got 2 types of needles in our goody bag, ones that were big and fat and ones that were short and skinny. we should have used the big fat ones to do all the mixing, but didn’t realize it until later – when I barely managed to get the needle to go in my belly. I did manage to get it in, after quite a bit of coercing. Not enough to make my husband faint, thankfully.

Mmmmmm my delicious husband just brought me some delicious Noisette Milka. Gosh, I’m in heaven.

IVF round 1 : 2. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Friday, February 15th, 2013
 Jul 21, 2011
Goin with the flo…Well I was due on Thursday of last week, but nothing came. We even took a pregnancy test, or as we call it now, a period summoner, to help things along. No luck – only because this time we actually were looking forward to it coming asap. Friday, nothing, Saturday, Sunday…nothing. Monday morning Gordon’s mom was heading back to work after a brief medical leave.

When I got up, there she was in all her glory – aunt Flo, that is. So, it begins. At this point, you can literally feel the panic and chaos settle like an early morning fog over a still November pond.

The first thing we had to do was call the doctor to get an appointment for the next day for a sonogram. Gordon called, because I can barely get through a brief polite conversation in Serbian – I’m nowhere near ready to make a phone call and survive it. First, before calling the doc, he would call his mom and let her know our ‘joy’.

I listened to his replies in Serbian, understanding enough of the words (helped along a bit by his body language and facial expression) to realize something wasn’t right. He motioned to me as he ‘o boze mama’d that she’d broken her leg.

I was dumstruck. Numbstruck? Dumbfounded. That’s the one.

So the Serbs have what seems to be a natural flair for drama – my husband not included (unless he’s facing a spider more than an eighth of an inch long hanging from the bathroom ceiling).
He got off the phone and called his brother, who said mama broke her toe.
Sooo then he said he was to meet her at the bus stop, which she’d reach soon. All this and he still needs to talk to the doctor, who he had called twice and was busy both times.

So I’m thinking no way she broke her leg and she’s taking a bus home from Belgrade. I wouldn’t even do that. She’s gotta either have just sprained her pinky toe, or she’s in a cab.

Turns out it’s almost a little of both.  She was in the cab, and hadn’t sprained her toe, but fractured a bone on the side of her foot. Unfortunately, she was also in a cast which she’d have to wear for a month.

Now we’re waiting for the doctor to return our call, because Gordon finally got through and she was with a patient.  As the cab pulls up to the front of the apartment building, I holding the phone and Gordon halfway between the front door and the car, the phone rings and I look at him with the ‘ne govorim srpski’ eyes and he comes back for the phone. I go to his mom and she’s really upset, and sitting with a big fat cast halfway up her calf. Poop.

We wait for him to get off the phone and come back to help her out of the car. The two of us help her hobble halfway to the front door and a young neighbor guy comes along and takes my place. They get her just inside the stan and she asks me to get the office chair with the wheels, and I do. They wheeled her to the living room and helped her plop into the armchair.

I decide, though I’m cramping pretty badly, that I don’t know wtf to do with myself, so I go start washing dishes. That is, until Gordon comes in and points to the floor and says, turn it off!! I look down and I’m standing in a small pool of water, coming from underneath the sink. I look underneath and see that the drain pipe has come undone and quickly shift it back into place to catch the few drops of water that hadn’t escaped.

Gordon starts laughing. I laugh, too. It’s all just too much and if we didn’t laugh we’d have to cry or go ballistic.

Since Gordon’s mom also likes to tell her dramatic stories over and over, she entertained herself with the phone for the next 2 hours while we sopped up water from the tile floor. We moved rolled up the rug underneath the table so it didn’t get wet.  Every pot under the sink was full of murky, nasty dishwater….thankfully, I guess, I hadn’t washed very much at all. It made me realize how much water we use when washing dishes. I used this as a teachable moment for my husband, who I’m always nagging at to turn off the water. He loves me anyway.

After most of the water was off the floor, I washed a load of dishes. I had to fight to do it, of course, because we’re always fighting each other to do things so the other doesn’t have to. I washed as much as I had hot water in the boiler above the sink.

Another weird thing about this country is that every bathtub has a boiler propped up and hanging from the ceiling to heat the bathwater that you better remember to turn off before you take a shower or you will have at least 2 people in the house freaking out about you showering without turning it off.  The other boiler is over the kitchen sink. Naturally we turn the boilers off before bed, or before going out…so in the morning, you wait for the bathwater to heat up (especially in winter), and you won’t do any dishes for an hour, at least. Not that anyone is doing dishes until long after coffee, anyway.

Anyway, after that load of dishes, I let my stubborn hubby continue cleaning, while I think I went to work for a bit. We have been working on a pretty big project that pays us pretty well. The employer is someone we worked with on a few other projects, and he asked me to run this project, so I was pretty attached to it.

After working and helping mama figure out how to get to the bathroom (Gordon pushed her on her makeshift wheelchair to the bathroom door and deposits her, where she holds on to the handle, the wall, the washer and finally plops onto the toilet), and getting her to bed, he decided to fix the crutches that the neighbor brought down for her to use, since they were too high and he really, really, really would benefit from her using them.

I helped him disassemble and reassemble them.  After working on that, she asked that he remove the rug that lines the hallway, so she could roll more easily to the bathroom (or more like, he could roll her more easily to the bathroom). So he did. He’s a saint. And I? I’m just silently impatient and slightly aggitated. It was 3am and we had to be up at 11 to leave for the doctors appointment.

Finally, we got to bed – only we slept with the door open so mama could call for help when she had to get up to use the bathroom through the night. Gordon barely got any solid sleep. I woke up at some point in the morning and had to go, but didn’t want to move because he was finally sleeping…besides, if I went and flushed, she’d surely hear and then have to go herself (I know I would).

Tuesday morning came and we got up and ready, amid helping mama up and around. I wasn’t looking forward to leaving her alone – the few times she tried the crutches, she’d get huffy and whip around and nearly fell every time. I was sure if we left her alone she WOULD break something strashno.

Thankfully, the neighbor came and kept her company while we were gone.

We have this driver who his mom was using and paid for several trips in advance for us, so that we wouldn’t have to take the bus to Belgrade in the dead heat of the summer – which was super of her. Now, I guess it’ll sound like I’m bitching about a gift, but I’m not – I do appreciate it, I just…Serbian drivers scare me.

There are lines on the road. There are signs. There are driving schools and there is surely a manual. Nobody follows any of them. Solid line and a bus in front of you in a 2 lane road on a bridge? Go around it as fast as you possibly can. Double points if you can do it with a bus heading at you, too. Curbs are not just for people. Parking spots are wherever your car will fit, as close to the door you’re entering as possible. Breaks are for sissies and lights are suggestions. Even if you have an air conditioner in the car, you prefer to open the windows – and even though it’s windy, it can’t paralyze you even though the oscillating fan in the bedroom will if it’s pointing right at you. The rules of promaja don’t apply, for what reasons I don’t understand. I wonder if there is a promaja handbook. Not that anyone would follow those rules, either.

Serbian GPS sounds pretty funny. Okrenite levo. I don’t see the harm in a machine being on a ‘ti’ basis with you – they should be sort of drug that way, I’d think. Anyway, we dodged a bunch of things but arrived in the same 2 pieces we left the apartment in, and went in for our appointment.

I had the ‘ne govorim…’ look and let my husband announce my arrival, while standing right next to him. It’s interesting that some people will look at me, intrigued, like a cute puppy who has much to learn that they want to interact with, while others look through me and have no desire to have anything to do with the amerikanka.

IVF round 1 : 1. Medical Travel IVF

Thursday, February 14th, 2013
Jul 14, 2011
We left the US on July 4th for Serbia, still stupidly hoping that we would find out shortly after we got here that I was pregnant, and we could save our money and not go through the IVF. Alas, you know how that goes, too. We waited until yesterday, the day before my due date, to test (we’re affectionately referring to the pregnancy tests now as ‘period summoners). Another BFN – I think they only come in one flavor – but still no period today. As soon as I start, we’ll go to the doctor in Belgrade, Dr. Jovanovanivanica (or something), who looks like she could be my kid sister. Argh.Once I start my cycle, from what we understand, I’ll be on ‘hormone calming’ injections for up to 6 days, and then the follicle stimulation will start. She said she expects the cycle to be a total of about 12 days. Sounds good to me.

I don’t know how we’re doing it, really. Mostly we’re okay and not insane over it all, but we both have our moments – naturally I more than he. We are focusing on work, mostly because we have to – there are clients waiting in line as far as the eye can see, and we don’t have the ‘luxury’ of moping around and drowning in our anxieties. Most of the time. Sometimes it just pops its head out regardless of our situation.

As odd as it is to say, because I always think we are as close as possible, I think we’ve grown even closer over the last month or so. I’m not sure what gets him loving me more and more, but I feel so lucky – I realize how much he wants this, and that he’s willing to sacrifice it if it’s not something WE can do…it’s sort of beyond me. I stopped trying to understand it, and I just appreciate it.

His mom has been great, and I am getting to know her better. I think a lot of my misgivings about her were because of the language barrier. It seems every time we come, I’m learning more stuff just a bit faster than before.

As I sit here at 5am – our inner clocks have been on Illinois time since we got here – I feel a pinch and a poke around my left ovary. I am so focused on what’s happening that I think I could probably feel the blood running through my veins if I listened for it. I guess I’m anxious to get the show on the road and find out what’s going to be, one way or another.

I sure miss my mom.

1 month before IVF : 9 almost there

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
Jul 14, 2011
I meant to keep this up close to every day, but you know how that goes.My birthday was awesome – I can’t believe I didn’t get to write about it (actually, I do – everything has been so insanely hectic). Gordon really went above and beyond to make my birthday special. It’s not the ‘stuff’ but moreso the effort he put into it, shopping for just the right things, giving them to me in just the right way at the right time, even baking me my very own carvel cake 😉

Work has been really extremely busy – but that’s nothing new really. We’re talking about expansion, so that we can pay some grunts – erm – employees, so we can do more and maybe work less. Maybe. It seems like the only way for us to grow at this point is to expand.

1 month before IVF : 8 Birthday

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Jul 3, 2011
What an amazing 39th birthday I had. Gordon went to so much trouble to make it special. He is so thoughtful… He kept telling me about the pony he got me. How surprised I was when I opened the box and there was a little stuffed pony inside! I was so tickled. He also got me a kindle…well, i suspect that’s more of an ‘us’ gift – as the mugs were too more of an ‘us’ gift. What’s mine is his and his is mine, though, so its all good with me. Can’t complain after my ass has been filling the chair that I bought him for his birthday 2 birthday’s ago, almost ever since!

1 month before IVF : 7b Alone

Monday, February 11th, 2013
Jun 25, 2011
This weekend I’m probably going to spend working on this big project we’ve been working on. I really want to get as much done as possible before we start going through the IVF. I don’t know what my mental state is going to be, and I’d rather have as little stress as possible. Maybe, though, it’s more stressful now than it will be later!I got an invitation to my niece’s wedding. She never responded to my facebook message after I got the announcement. She learned well from my sister, I guess. I don’t hear from her either – haven’t since my mom died. Some big sister. Anyway, the thought occurred to me that it might be good to go, because it’s very likely it’s the last time I’ll see my brothers and sisters…like, ever. With mom gone now, there’s really no reason for us to get together except for weddings, and the single niece/nephew pool is running low. I don’t know why I even consider it – nobody even bothers with me, so why would I go through the trouble to go see them? I’m an idiot sometimes, I think. I still crave that sense of family, I guess – but I know I will never get it from my biological family…just can’t stand the feeling of aloneness that comes over me sometimes.

1 month before IVF : 7 Chaos

Sunday, February 10th, 2013
Jun 25, 2011
It’s been a few days, and I don’t know where I left off, but the chaos has been building. The incompetence of the medical field here has been amazing. First, I got a cervical swab at the ob/gyn for several tests. Naturally, they rushed SO much through the ‘exam’ (probably could have clocked it at 3 minutes, swipe included), that they didn’t collect the specimen properly and I had to go back and do it again. Naturally when I got the call I had already started my cycle, so it had to wait until this last week.  In the meantime, because my cycle day 2 was on a Friday and my ob/gyn phlebotomist isn’t in on Fridays, I called my general dr to see if they would do it, based on a list that I brought in. God knows that’s hairy business. So I had to wait for a call back from the doctor’s nurse. She called later in the day and said it would be fine. I went in on cycle day 2 – or maybe it was 4 since I started spotting 2 days before it really came – and got my blood drawn. I counted 7 tubes in the pile on the counter by the time it was finished…and then got the call on Tuesday of this past week that one of the tests wasnt done because it had to go to a separate lab frozen, and there was only 1 frozen vial…no choice to get it redone since it was a cycle day 2-4 test. I got the results for the rest of the tests in the mail yesterday – and surprise, but the other frozen test wasn’t done either. I guess they couldn’t decide which to do so they didn’t do any.  Hurah.

1 month before IVF : 6 Father’s Day

Saturday, February 9th, 2013
Jun 19, 2011
It’s a sunny Sunday Father’s Day afternoon, and after a late night of just doing anything and nothing for a change, we got out of bed late. I’m lazily sipping my coffee, searching google for “no family how do i stop feeling so alone” and I realize that this battle with infertility is likely the cause – or is the infertility problem compounded because I feel a lack of family around me? A chicken or egg dilemma – no pun intended. *sigh*Part of me can’t understand how I can feel a desparate need for family, when I have such a strong marriage. My husband truly is my best friend, and I so love and adore him as he does me…so ‘why isn’t that enough’?  For as long as I can remember I’ve had the desire to be part of something bigger, a larger unit, a collective of some kind… and I’ve never been able to find that. Not through work, not through church, and certainly not through family even though I grew up in an enormous immediate family.

I believe most people in the western world – or at least those I’ve come to know – are so self-absorbed that they don’t really know how to be a friend or be empathetic in the truest sense of the word. Through life it’s seemed that I’ve always been the giver of emotions and care, but ever so rarely on the receiving end. I think this day of Facebook and Twittering personifies the general personality of today. It started with the MySpace mentality, which actually was such a success, I think, because it brought technology to the then-current intimacy level of society, rather than requiring people to adapt and assimilate a new mindset via technology. It was, and still is, a tool for spreading a social disease in which people befriend other people to build a faux network of friends that will go as deep as posting a thumbs up on your latest major accomplishment. Maybe it’s just me, but if someone I care about does something, or goes through something that’s fairly important to him or her, I’m going to have more energy to express interest, compassion and/or empathy than the energy it takes to click the ‘like’ button.

But that’s me. Surely there must be more ‘mes’ out there.

Naturally, I am ‘on’ facebook, and I can be followed on Twitter, but it’s unlikely I’ll post anything that is important enough to me to be diminished by asking for a ‘like’.

1 month before IVF : 5 Feeling Lost

Friday, February 8th, 2013
Jun 18, 2011
And so, it’s Saturday afternoon, and I feel sort of at a loss for what to do with myself.  Sure there’s work – including more interview invitations than I have fingers and ‘foot fingers’ combined. Then there’s housework, yard work, paperwork – just that they all end in ‘work’. I feel like I need a mental health day, to just do nothing…but I don’t know how to do nothing.I’ve been thinking that I need to mentally prepare for this trip somehow, to ready my emotions and my emotional threshold for whatever might come – blaming the lack of time for not having accomplished it yet. Today I have time, and am facing the fact that there really is no way to prepare.

I keep wondering if there will ever be anyone reading these synopses of my small world that wasn’t around when these things took place.

Yesterday I took a trip to the doctor to get some blood drawn for my cycle day 2 hormones and thyroid. They ended up taking 7 or more vials. I felt pretty okay, though. I guess I had some left! This coming week we have dentist appointments and I have to go back to the ob/gyn to have the cervical swab redone that they messed up. Joy. Im getting kind of tired of baring my wares (and getting them poked and prodded, to boot).

Tomorrow I think I’ll mow the yard.

I weighed today, and I’m still cracking the scales at 213. I guess it’s better than 214. Can’t complain too much because I haven’t been zumba-ing for the last week. I’m eating knoxx gelatin in my yogurt for my crackly knees. Hopefully it’ll help.

Wish I could turn off my brain. Maybe it would be more restful to work.

1 month before IVF : 4 Life is hard.

Thursday, February 7th, 2013
 Jun 16, 2011
Life is hard.
I guess I never got used to it. It seems just a little harder now, when I look at him and his eyes are darkened from stress, from working, from pushing, constantly pushing. I feel like I brought it to his world – had he married someone else, someone younger, someone luckier, someone richer…he wouldn’t be so tired. I know he loves me though, why, I don’t really understand, but I know he does. And I know he’d rather be tired with me than anywhere else. How lucky am I.Today is period day, after 2 days of wondering if it was really coming or not…waiting in frustration after a pregnancy test, knowing it WOULD come, but toys with us still, nonetheless. Tomorrow I’ll go for blood tests to bring with us to Serbia. What a juggle even THAT has been…