My Personal Journey

IVF round 1 : 12. Failed cycle

Monday, February 25th, 2013
Aug 10, 2011
Needless to say, the doctor called on Wednesday morning, and Gordon answered this time, with the news that the cells didn’t divide.  We went in to ‘consult’ (pay) on Wednesday afternoon. By then I wasn’t as sad as I was with the news on Tuesday, because I knew they likely weren’t going to do anything. At the end of our visit, Gordon took out our bank card to pay, and the nurse shook her head no. “The machine isn’t working,” I understood her say. My eyebrow raised. They continued to have a conversation of which I could only understand bits and pieces about how we could pay. Gordon explained we couldn’t get that kind of money from the ATM. It’s an American bank, and a small one at that, so no, they don’t have a branch here we can visit. And no, we can’t send them a letter to see if they will let us get the money. At this point I’m boiling, because I see how this is going, how it’s becomming OUR problem, how Gordon is just not confrontational, and how I can’t say a damned thing she can understand – naturally any words I know, anything I know how to say has gone south now because I’m livid.We left and went to an ATM at a nearby grocery store to take what we could, which is 20k. The total bill is 110k. Of course, because this is Serbia AND a grocery store, the machine did not want to give us anything. Not 20k, not 10k, not 5k.  G’s brother had 9k and he said that Darko offered his 11k. We went back, in 95 or so degree heat. We graciously took Darkos loan, and went back to pay our 20k, which the nurse politely stuffed in the desk drawer. I asked him to ask for a receipt. She can’t give us one because it’s not a full payment. If that’s not a crock of shit, I don’t know what is. It took all that I had to walk out of there without breaking something (or someone). I was so angry. We shouldn’t have to go through this – especially on this day, when we are already sad and disappointed. Gordon was especially feeling the sadness today – the eternal optimist was still hoping for a positive call on Wednesday morning, so he was even more crushed when it didn’t come.

Now, we are going to the ATM every day for a week, until we gather up our bundle of cash to return to pay.  They called here last night – on a Sunday night – like collectors. I was furious. Gordon’s mom called back. She said it good, as good as anyone that’s not ME could say (I was still frustrated), explaining that it was very unprijatelj and he was not a criminal…or something.  That we had the money and we’d come there tomorrow if their machine was working yet. Of course it’s not.I’m kind of fed up with the whole thing. I’m fed up with the idea of having to stay here 2 more months. I’m fed up with having to go out of the country after 90 days, or face the damned red tape at the police station like that other time. I’m fed up with not planning, or when planning that things just don’t work out as they should. I’m fed up with how I look. I ballooned since I got here, I think, or I just wasn’t aware how very damned fat I was before we left. I’m fed up with my body not doing anything right – except everything that shows it SHOULD be able to do things right.

Im just fed up.

What’s next? We do it all over again.

IVF round 1 : 11. Waiting for cells to divide

Sunday, February 24th, 2013
Aug 8, 2011
Sunday night we celebrated the idea that our parts may have just met for the first time, ever. The doctor said she would call on Monday, after noon. We waited anxiously for the phone to ring – my stomach with butterflies every time I’d remember between attempts at distracting myself with work. They came often. Finally she called and Gordon answered. She started telling him everything, but knowing I wanted to know first he passed me the phone. She talks so fast and continuously that she didnt even realize he passed me the phone. “Hello?…” and she’s still talking in Serbian, so she doesn’t even know I’m there.  “Hello?” I interject, only when she finally pauses for a breath.She continues to repeat in English what she told Gordon. We have a healthy egg. That was the bottom line. The sperm had been injected, but we had to wait to see that the cells would start dividing.  I was so relieved to know that my egg was healthy. When I got off the phone, I told Gordon and his brother and went with them to tell Gordon’s mom. I cried and she hugged me. I was trembling. I was so relieved.

The next few days wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding. She said she’d call back Tuesday and that we’d do the transfer Tuesday or Wednesday. When she finally called back on Tuesday evening, she said they were still waiting for the cells to divide. She said it was at some stage she couldn’t translate into English. Naturally this time I answered the phone so there wouldn’t be any phone juggling to contend with, and Gordon left the room. I hung up and was so frustrated that I couldn’t really know what was happening because she couldn’t tell me in English. Gordon tried calling back. Three times, each time he was told the doctor was with a patient, and to try calling back in 10-15 minutes. Finally he left his name and asked for a return call when she could.

Against our wishes, his mom called the doctor after that without our knowing it. She called Gordon to the terrace where she’s been propped most of the time now. He came back to call me, and I could tell he was angry. “She called.” he said, and I knew what he meant.  She told us that they said the cells still hadn’t divided, but they were giving it until Wednesday morning between 9-9:30. That was the longest they could wait.  I was so angry to feel like I wasn’t the first person to learn this. This is my body, and my issue. I really felt violated. Then I felt the sadness of the reality that it had already been too long, and that the cells should have started dividing by now.

IVF round 1 : 10. Egg Aspiration

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013
Aug 7, 2011

Sunday morning came and we woke up shortly after 4am. Since I couldn’t eat or drink until after the procedure, which would be sometime around noon, I tried sleeping more, and did. We left the house with Gordon’s brother at 7:30, and zipped to Belgrade on a sleepy Sunday morning. Darko was cranky when Gordon reiterrated what his mom told him the night before – that we would be several hours. I started wondering if we conditioned him to get cranky for more pay. We arrived earlier than our 8:30 appointment for Gordon to provide his ‘material’. They called him back around 8 and after he finished we had a long wait until 9:30 when I was supposed to be taken up to be prepped for the procedure. Someone had switched on VH1 – Gordon or his brother suspected they did that for the Amerikanka’s benefit. We laughed, because I probably prefer Pink more than anyone in the clinic.

The nurse called us in to the middle exam room, Gordon with his little paper bag of goodies that he tried repeatedly to make sit properly on the desk, but it kept falling over much to his embarrassment. Fragile-ly propped between us and the nurse with nothing else decorating the desktop, we continued the interview, paper-signing and small-talk about my ability to understand most of what is spoken in Serbian. My white blood count was a little high – this is the 3rd time in a row Ive had a blood test with a high white blood count, and Im not sure why. In any case I mentioned having a tooth that hurt and a bit of a sinus infection, neither of which were comletely true, so that they wouldn’t hesitate to do this aspiration.When we finished, we waited a bit longer and chatted about nothing much in the waiting area. At about 9:45 they called me to go up in the elevator with the nurse I hadn’t seen before today. Gordon came with me and we went up to the 2nd floor ‘apartmans’ which I thought to be ‘apartments’. I creatively decided previously that these apartments were for women who gave birth there, so they could spend a few days to a week there more comfortably than in the public hospital. Turns out ‘apartman’ means ‘suite’, and that’s just what it was. A beautiful, brightly lit, modern, spotless room with bright green bedsheets on 2 neighboring hospital beds with a skylight between them. The private bathroom had a glass shower with shiny silver handles and elaborate marble looking tile. The sink was a basin that sat on top of the counter beneath it. There was a compilation of small pipes, that I believe was a towel warmer, though it wasn’t warm to the touch (of course I did), I am guessing it might not have been turned on. It was really impressive and comforting. I felt like this place was new and must have the best there is to be had.

The nurse directed me to undress but to leave my bra on, and put on the nightgown in the closet, and empty my bladder. She’d come back for me in a bit. I undressed, and Gordon hung my clothes on the hanger, replacing the clingy leopardskin nightgown I slipped on. He took out white sliipes with colorful spots and propped them beneath my feet. I peed and sat on the bed some more next to Gordon who had pulled one of the rounded leather chairs beside me. We watched the wide screen TV, waiting.

The nurse called me and I kissed my beloved husband, leaving him to watch TV, read the kindle, or do whatever he could to relax during the procedure. The nurse and I travelled down on the elevator to floor ‘0’, and in the silence I told her “samo malo nervosna”. She comforted me and said it was normal, but that I was going to go, and sleep, and it would be over. I shook my head in agreement. What I was actually nervous about was the result, not the procedure.

I laid down on a table somewhat like those upstairs in the exam room, only this on didn’t have a place for my feet, but for my legs – it would be where they would strap me down. I was introduced to the anesthesiologist who was impressed I knew to say ‘drago mi je’ when I shook her hand. So many people have been – and to me I find this part of the very basic beginning conversational Serbian. I laid down on the table and they began to bustle around me, the doctor waiting below me, the anesthesiologist preparing me for sleep, and the nurse situating my free arm  inside my gown so it wouldnt dangle off the table, I presume. I felt a sensation similar to big blobs with little legs running up my arm, across my chest, up my neck and began feeling dizzy. “Uh oh,” I said, “bye-bye Meri,” said the anesthesiologist. I laughed and said, “Bye-bye!” and within seconds I was out.

I woke up with no time perspective. It was as if I just closed my eyes for a moment, and at the same time I sensed it wasn’t that near when I left conciousness. The doctor began explaining right away. “We have one egg,” she said. There were 2 follicles, but one was empty. I asked if it was the follicle from the right side that was empty. She confirmed it was. I wonder now if they actually keep them separated and identified so that she really had that information. She continued explaining that it was good they had a basis to go on next time, if we had to do this again, since they now know I react to menapur, and how I reacted to that dosage. I tried not to let it unsettle me that she sounded like she was already assuming we’d do this again.

I moved myself to the rolling bed, and we travelled to the elevator together. I was conscious, but not fully aware. I remember babbling on about how difficult Serbian language was, and that I knew French, German, Italian and Spanish, and by far it was the most difficult. I think at that time the doctor, nurse and anesthesiologist was with me, but I could be wrong. someone was saying how easy English was to learn, and that’s why it was so universal. I remembered my mom saying that English was difficult for foreigners to learn, implying those that did learn it were more scholarly than the typical undriven American. I missed my mom. The elevator doors opened and I was soon pulled alongside the bright green bed in the apartman, and I scooted over into it. The doctor explained again to Gordon that there was 1 egg, and one follicle was empty. The other follicles hand’t grown any since the last appointment. I felt his disappointment, or I guess more like a sad surprise that it wasn’t more fruitful. The doc said she’d be back to check on me in a bit, and left us alone. By then I was pretty fully aware of everything, and I told Gordon to call his brother to come up, and to text Kat.

I didn’t feel any pain at all, not even a cramp. The doctor came and pulled back the blankets and my legs, and said I wasn’t bleeding. G’s brother was there now, and we sat waiting for them to come again to let me leave. I still had a stint in my arm where the anesthesia was. Gordon kept yelling at me to stop flailing about as I talked. I felt positive, still, maybe just clinging to hope, I don’t know, but I kept trying to assure him one egg is all we need. He quietly wrestled with his feelings.

When we got home, I washed. SIL made me coffee and Gordon made me a sandwich. Little man kissed my cheek. This all has been easier to cope with having a network around me, as imperfect as we all may be. I’m sad to leave it behind when we go back home – especially with a baby coming, I know I will wish I had them around to share all this with.

I began taking antibiotics, one 500mg every 6 hours. I also started the vaginal progesterone, 2 pills 3 times a day. Soon after I was washed, fed and pilled, I was ready for sleep. It was about 4:30pm. We only wanted to nap a little, but woke up sometime around 9, when I was scheduled for another pill. We went back to sleep and I woke up at 3am for the next pill. I’ve been awake since, and am now drinking the coffee my dear hubby made me, watching the sun rise over the trees outside the terrace door. I wonder how our embryo is doing.  We’ll get the call today after 12. If the embryo is viable, we’ll go in tomorrow or Wednesday for the transfer. The total cost is 210k rsd (about $3k). If there is no embryo, we pay 110k for the aspiration and anesthesia. If we do hatching, which Im not sure they will because there’s only 1 embryo, it will be another 50k rsd (about $700). A positive result after all this is exactly $Priceless.

IVF round 1 : 9. Preparing for Aspiration – EKG

Friday, February 22nd, 2013
Aug 5, 2011
Friday was rainy and I had been sleeping almost constantly since Thursday afternoon. Though the doctor said the hormone therapy wasn’t the cause for my sleepiness, but rather the weather, I don’t believe it for a NY minute. Gordon managed to wake me up around 4:45 for our 6pm appointment with the old, crotchety doctor (his words). I wasn’t nervous, but rather oddly (and characteristically) intrigued to meet this old-timer. Just a few blocks away and we were at the office, a storefront with a small waiting room just inside the door adorned with old signs in cyrillic – surely the prominently framed one was his license or diploma, on yellowed oversized typing paper This ‘waiting room’ was furnished with a wicker table and chairs, and some other clutter in the corners I didn’t have time to catalog. There was no nurse, no secretary, just an open door to the back.  When he heard us arrive, an older man with glasses propped crookedly on the end of his nose came out, looked over them at us and he grunted before going back inside. Something was already happening back there, though I still don’t really know what it was. Another older man left an even further back room a bit later on, probably the patient before me.He called me back and Gordon came with me through the door, explaining that I was American and didn’t speak Serbian. We walked around his (much smaller) commercial metal desk with a typewriter that was surely from the 70s, and he motioned for me to get on the army cot as he secured the paper dinar folded and placed purposefully in the center of this exam room with his foot. Surely it was there for luck and financial success. The serbs are really superstitious folk, with some religious foundation in the mix. Lines are gray between the two and they are joined and crossed often when it comes to matters of the soul and well-being, and (mostly) good fortune.

I didnt have to take anything off for the exam, and he put the ekg receptors on my ankles and wrists, pushing my arms to my side – even though the left one near the wall was leaning directly on the radiator that reminded me of those in elementary school that were painted, chipped and repainted for years.

My EKG was good, and finished after he moved the suction cup all around my chest testing from one angle and then another. I didn’t know an EKG could be done that way. Gordon askd, “How much do I owe you, 1.5k?” and the good doctor agreed. I wondered how that part would go – I wouldn’t be all too surprised if Gordon left it open that the doctor would have taken the Amerikanka for a spin and charged much, much more.

After a few minutes of sitting on the cot and Gordon in the ‘waiting’ chair that was probably supposed to be on the nicer end of things here for patients and their significant others to be comforted in (that was exactly the crappier of our office chairs at home), the doctor finished typing up the ekg summary and approval for anesthesia on his old typewriter. Yes, he typed it out himself pecking away letter by letter. I noticed a dictionary of medicines on the shelf, the title dated 1998. I soaked in the environment like a sponge. This was a really neat cultural experience. Gordon takes me to all the nicest places!

IVF round 1 : 8. Preparing for Aspiration

Thursday, February 21st, 2013
Aug 4, 2011
She gave us information about what we needed to prepare. It was only then that we found out we needed further blood tests – for ‘sediments’, white blood count, etc. I would also need an EKG in order to get anesthesia. It was Thursday and had we been in the US I would have freaked about getting this done in a day. But not in Serbia.We left bolnica jeremerova (or some such)…and headed first to Biomedika where we went almost 2 weeks ago (that seems like forever) for our HIV and other blood tests. 5 vials, 1 fingertip and 1 ear prick later and we were done there. Next we headed to our usual pitstop – the pharmacy(s). This time, we had a laundry list of supplies to buy. Darko was cranky about driving us all around. By then we knew his mom was paying him 4k per trip. I told Gordon we should give him a little more, from us, for all the running around. It was only fair, I said, since she is paying him to drive us to and from Belgrade – not cross town to biomedika, and then this pharmacy and that one. When we stopped at the bank at pharmacy #2 we took enough so we could give him an extra 2k.

Armed with a bit more menopur, cetrotide, spritzs, big and small needles, iodine and progesterone vaginal suppositories and the all important sub-cutaneous ‘stop-injection’, ovitrelle, we headed home.We ate lunch, and his mom got up to see how we did. Gordon told her everything that transpired. At the conclusion she started making phone calls to find a place I could get the EKG. She found a place they were obviously already familiar with. When she hung up she explained how she talked to the Dr who would do it (!) and when she asked how much it would cost he said “We’ll make it easy for you.” She laughed (that’s serbia for you) and pressed for a number. He told her 1.5k (that’s rsd in case you’re wondering, equivalent to about $25). My appointment was at 6pm Friday.

IVF round 1 : 7. Follicle check 3

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
Aug 4, 2011
Thursday was take 3, only no blood test this day. The left ovary’s big follicle was around 19mm. The smaller ones were about 13. This day, she found the right ovary by pushing straight back. I recognized the angle by the discomfort. Surprisingly it had 1 large follicle and 3-4 smaller ones- just like the left ovary. We went from 3 follicles to 2 follicles, but the potential was good for the others to grow and catch up in the coming days. The aspiration date was set for Sunday.

How to administer the injections, exactly. (A fine time to ask)

We met with the older nurse – hyper but positive, and without circles – who we asked about administering the cetrotide. We weren’t sure we did it right, and were drawing back on the needle before injecting like the box instructions said. The first nurse told us to inject at 90degrees, and didnt mention drawing back…but the instructions should know better than her so we followed them. The problem was that both times we DID see blood when drawing back – the first time I think I even heard what sounded like a little balloon farting out air which, thankfully, Gordon didn’t hear. That, coupled with the blood that almost jetted out when I retrieved the needle was a little upsetting even to me, and he was already anxious about the needles. The nurse explained that we should draw back, but if I could lay down and administer the shot, I wouldnt have to. Further, these shots should be given at a 45 degree angle into the pinched belly fat area. We tried her method that night, and sure enough, no bleeding afterwards.

IVF round 1 : 6. Follicle check 1 & 2

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
Aug 1, 2011
It’s 333am. I can’t help but wonder if we have an embryo growing. I feel a strange peace about it all, with random bursts of belly twisting anxiety when I begin to wonder what lies ahead.Saturday last week came with our first checkup. We headed out early for an 8am meeting with the vampire. Darko arrived at 7:15 and off we went, zipping on, over and around the road to Belgrade.

I guess it had rained the days before, or at least it must have on Friday.There are places in the road – as we pass through Umka, I think it is, that get washed out with the rain, since the road sits nestled on the side of a hill, with village shops sprinked on either side, and village houses hiding behind them deeper up and down the hillside. We drove carefully around the washed out chunks of pavement (ie., swirved sharply over and around buckles that might break the car in half if we grazed them or rode over them at ‘normal’ speed). I was thankful I had my gallbladder removed here just a few month ago, because surely it improved my unfailing need to use the bathroom while on road trips, generally at the most inconvenient places. I sensed Umka would have been that place, that morning.The young nurse with circles under her eyes worse than mine greeted us when we arrived, and took me back to one of the 3 exam rooms to draw my blood for the Estradiol test. The room sits between a wide screen TV that usually pipes in Pink video channel, and a painting that shows a unicorn with a red ‘leash’ around it’s neck, having been lowered by said leash into the center of a coral that provides little room for moving around in, muchless running and frolicking like unicorns do. I try not to think about the psychology behind the paintings (or my interpretations), and instead usually listen to the TV that plays all Serbian music and has a scheme displaying at the bottom of the screen where viewers can call in with their name and the name of someone that catches their fancy to see if they ‘love me, love me not’. It’s been a great resource for sifting through potential baby names, and we watch it here sometimes during morning coffee or meals spent in front of the TV. I keep spotting the name ‘Dejan’, which I really like, and Gordon is really hesitant about because it reminds him of a big dumb Montenegran kid he knew.

After she took my blood she showed me back to the waiting room and said I should have a seat and wait for the doctor to see me. The nurse makes him nervous, and his anxiety was building from feeding off that nervous energy she carries. I smiled politely in agreement and sat with my collective. We ARE the ‘gmorg’, and it’s amazing how much we talk without uttering a single sound.  We wondered silently why the sestra was under the impression I was supposed to meet with the Doctor, but we decided it would only be to our advantage to wait and let her have a look.

Inside of an hour, the doctor arrived and the tired nurse invited us in to another of the 3 exam rooms. This one is the 3rd room, between the 4’x6′ painting of 3 legged unicorns that I guess are supposed to be happy.

The room is pretty big and is sectioned in half. The entry part has her desk which is a lot less than impressive, but reminds me of the standard commercial black desk with metal legs you can find in most office supply stores back home. Her computer monitor shields her from prying eyes outside the door in the waiting room.  That consultation area stands apart by the division of a small folding privacy screen in the middle of the room, just next to a sonogram computer, gynecology table, and another wide screen tv, this one doesn’t show Pink tv.

I undress my bottom half behind the screen while Gordon sits in the far seat of 2 chairs in front of the desk. He can see the monitor – it’s quite big. I slip on the white generic clogs for patient use to scurry over to the table, my naked butt following me, just on the horizon of my dressy blouse. I lay down and put my pretty painted toenail feet ‘here’ and ‘here’ on the 2 cushioned styrups. It’s probably the nicest gynecology table I’ve ever been on. And that’s saying a lot.

The doctor waves her magic wand to and fro inside, finding my left ovary pretty quickly – they always do. It has 3 follicles of comparable size, and a 4th that’s a bit smaller than the others. Yay, I am responding to the menopur! After measuring the 3, she moves to the right side and waves her wand to and fro, to and fro, to and fro again, “Loves me, loves me not” comes to mind as I watch the monitor for the right ovary to appear. I explain again that my right ovary is situated a bit behind my uterus. She pokes and searches but she can’t find it and she explains there’s no reason to dig for it now, so she won’t. When the follicles grow she’ll be able to find it more easily.

After the appointment we left to return to the pharmacy, with the cash Gordon had taken from the ATM in town when he went on Friday to the medical center for his mom with the papers she needed signed for her broken ‘leg’. We bought just enough menopur to get us to our next appointment on Tuesday. We got home well before noon and sat in his moms bed while he recapped our adventure and all that everyone said. Her cell phone rang, which we designated for the doctors calls, and he jumped up to answer it. How he hates the phone. When he hung up, he said my estradiol was good, and my level was 145, he thought, but he couldnt remember for sure. I pressed him to remember, in English, outside his moms bedroom door who sat wondering what we were saying with that blank look I sometimes get when the conversation is just too far beyond my ability to interpret. He bit my head off because he was feeling the stress of not being understood like old times, and was upset I was making him feel like he should call back and ask for the level again. Mostly, I think, he was aggitated because when I asked when and if ICSI would be considered, the doctor informed us it would be done now, and said it casually as though we were already aware of that. Thankfully I came to terms with that, and Gordon didn’t have real strong issue with it – so he was just annoyed that we weren’t informed or consulted and that the decisions were happening without us.

We slept and took the shot at the right time. Our next appointment was on Tuesday, which was basically a replay of Saturday, with an icrease in Estradiol to 395. The left follicles had grown, the right ovary still MIA. It was supposed to be the day she announced when the eggs would be retrieved, but we had to wait for them to grow a bit more. Today we would buy the Cetrotide to inhibit natural ovulation, and start that one on Wednesday night along with the Menopur.

IVF round 1 : 5. A day between appointments

Monday, February 18th, 2013
Jul 24, 2011
Today I worked a bit, though not as much as I have been. That big project I mentioned was put on hold – possibly indefinitely, because it was in response to a bid to NYS Dept of ed that my employer relied on being approved. It wasn’t.I haven’t spent a whole lot of time thinking about how I feel about all this. We’ve both been spending our time plowing through work and life to be able to be at this point, where we can actually afford to do this – twice, if necessary. I spent time talking about it a little here and there, but I haven’t really had quiet time for talking it out with myself.

I think I’m starting to feel a sort of acceptance of this from a religious standpoint. I was having trouble feeling like, IF we make more than 3 embryos, and IF the biologist needs to pick which ones are returned and which are frozen (because those that are frozen have much less chance of survival), then this is like giving the power of God to a man. I wasn’t feeling good about that at all. But then came Gordon – and he reaches me like nobody else can – and he said, how do you know it’s not God’s hand that is guiding the biologist? That put it in perspective for me – God’s hand is in everything, and will be in this too. He will make happen whatever should happen, and whoever he chooses to bless us with will come to us – now, through IVF, and again later with frozen embryos if we have any. I can hear my mom saying, ‘let go and let God’. she said it tongue in cheek to mock those that were ‘holier than thous’ but she meant it in a non holier-than-thou kind of way. We understood each other that way.

I try to push away the negative thoughts that come with this, and remembering what happened when I was a baby myself. How I cried in such desparation, wanting so much to keep that life inside me, even though I didn’t understand the repercussions of that kind of decision. I know my parents did the best thing for me. I still feel that ache, though, of losing that child. I am still crying in desparation – I suppose I never stopped. For a long while I convinced myself I didn’t want kids. It was easier that way, I guess, and I could stuff those feelings and memories in a dark corner of my mind and not have any reason to think about them again. Besides, who would I really want to have a family with? Until Gordon came, I never felt that desire that I always heard about other women feeling…that clock ticking, that pull towards motherhood, that feeling that some part of you is missing because your child(ren) havent joined you on this earth yet. Really, to think of a life that combines me and Gordon is just…beautiful.

There are so many ways that we’re not ready for a baby(ies). The house and our lack of a network of family and friends to help. We are quite alone there, and that scares me.

We’ve tried so hard, done everything right, measured, counted, been poked, prodded and turned inside out. I pray with all that I have that this works and we are joined with our miracle(s). My heart aches for it. If it doesn’t come to be, I don’t know how I will handle it. I know that without Gordon, I likely wouldn’t feel like carrying on. Even with him, I know there would be some moments when I wouldn’t be sure how (or more likely, why) I would.

I’m going to save those unwritten what-if words unwritten, because I really don’t want to consider the possibility that it may come to that, even though logically I know it may. I need to stay positive, I want to stay positive, and I do feel positive that this will come to be.  It’s a little scary feeling positive, because you leave yourself open to disappointment. This time, though, I’m willing to risk it – because that positive thought may make all the difference.

This morning we woke up around 5am – our internal clocks are all kinds of messed up. We stepped out on the back terrace to enjoy a little cool air, and a beautiful beginning of a sunrise. A quiet morning on a back street in the suburbs (?) of Belgrade…no one around except…except? Except an old man, scuffling down the street pressed gently down on his cane with every other footstep, and a bounce in his step having the chance to see another new day. He wore a pale pink robe, or so it looked to me through sleepy eyes, and likely nothing else. Shuffling along the road next to the goat-trodden median to the magical natural spring just down the street. A spring that lives right off the main 2-way road that brings traffic through this somewhat large town from Belgrade, and isn’t very far off from the rain sewer.

Strange place…but oh, so loveable.

IVF round 1 : 4. Mixing Merional

Sunday, February 17th, 2013
Jul 23, 2011
Today we did things a little smarter -maybe not too much – but we did use the big fat needle for the mixing, and the smaller one for injecting. It was still hard to inject… and we still had some trouble mixing. It makes suds, so you’re not dealing with 1 big air bubble you can push out like in the movies. You have lots of little bubbles…and you are standing in the bathroom sweating because it’s hot and you’re both nervous to do this right, and you’re poke poke poking at the needle to make the bubbles become one – but they just refuse. So you push a little and freak because some of the medicine comes out…but the bubbles start to go…so you push more and argh. You get the idea. It was stressful.Maybe tomorrow it’ll come even easier.

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.