Fertility Vacation // Down But Not Out

I woke up tired with a general low level of pain and a lingering sinus cold. The last two days I’ve had a really hard time waking up. I think my body misses the hormones. Mike thinks it could be psychological, or from the surgery, or sightseeing too much every day.

My hands hurt and my arms are heavy. It doesn’t seem coincidental to feel like darkness is slowly surrounding me from behind like a shroud. I’ve been down this road before, I can handle it. The sun is out and spring is here, but I’m not getting the usual spark from the sun.

I miss the eggs being inside me. It’s absurd because they are obviously in the most capable hands, but I really miss having them so close and wishing good things for them.

I’ll choose to be positive all the same and separate my physical self from my mental self.

Meditation is good for the soul. Whenever I remember, I use the Headspace app and it makes me feel more peaceful. Today I meditated in a garden at the Prague Castle. Real or imagined, there were hedges shaped like eggs in the garden.

Fertility Vacation // Day Three of Injections

I’m feeling fine. Who would have thought? I am a little tired and think I have a slightly bigger appetite. But overall, I feel fine. I can’t tell if I’m actually happier or if it’s the sheer relief of not falling apart or having a scary reaction to the hormone injections.

I remember the naturopath saying one of my hormone levels was slightly low and that we would need to address it while I was trying to get pregnant.

I wonder if my body needed this hormone and that’s the root of this joy. I’ve noticed that I’m feeling my highs with greater intensity. It’s a crazy, beautiful, traveling, vacation, amazing landscape, inspiring architecture, good food, long conversation kind of elation. I’ve been having the type of days you wish for with friends that you love and support. I’m always searching for clues of how I feel. How I sleep, what I eat, the weather, my candida; the root cause of what I feel is wildly illusive.

So I’m happy now, and I can’t help but smile while writing this. Even though I’ll take another hormone in a week and this could all wear off tomorrow. Either way, being happy right now feels profound.

Fertility Vacation // The First Injection

There we sat, the carefree girls from 8 hours earlier, now on the apartment couch, overcome with fear. In a brave moment of, "let’s just get it over with", I grabbed everything out of the fridge. Jenny and I set it up as fast as we could, just as the nurse had explained.

I pinched the skin on my stomach and pointed the needle at my skin. I didn’t want the medicine. I didn’t want to willingly hurt my own body. Logically, it made sense, but a part of me felt like I was betraying the universe and the gratitude I work to cultivate. I recognized this as the fear talking and remembered the greater purpose.

I pictured the nurse looking at me and I heard Jenny's helpful voice that felt steady and determined. "Is this the right number? Then push."

I pushed the needle in. The pain was small and only at the beginning. I awkwardly pushed until everything was in my body; exhale.

The three of us congratulated ourselves and drew on some shrinky dinks to distract our minds. 10 minutes later I was coloring the mane of my shrinky dink horse and my eyelids were suddenly heavy. I laid down.

The translator mentioned I might get hungry, tired, and feel a deep swell in my lower abdomen. I closed my eyes wondering if I would be out for the night.

I noticed an odd feeling in my belly and drifted in and out of consciousness. After about 20 minutes, I slowly sat up on the couch and felt myself waking up; as if I had been asleep all night and had to transition to being awake.

The rest of the night I surprisingly felt a general ease. I enjoyed chatting, eating tacos, and sipping the smallest amounts of tequila.

I can’t really tell how I feel in the end. Do I feel balanced and relaxed because nothing other than an unrequested nap happened? Or do I feel good because my body somehow needed those hormones?

Either way I’ll take the win. I feel good, normal, and balanced. Really good actually. I have exactly 7.5 hours until my next injection so I will see how it goes.

I’m actively choosing activities and thoughts that feel beautiful and in alignment with positivity.

Fertility Vacation // 8 Hours

We walked around Prague laughing and taking pictures. Three seemingly carefree tourists with tiny bottles of alcohol in our winter jackets. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

8 hours of freedom. 8 hours before my first injection.

My happy place is walking around and falling in love with a new place. It makes me feel positive and at peace. I feel a deep sense of contentment knowing that I’m not taking my life for granted. One of the easiest ways I can show gratitude for my life is to travel to the world’s meccas and pay tribute to how beautiful the world is.

Hi Universe, I see you. I'm profoundly grateful for your accomplishments and these pockets of peace that you have created all over the globe. I see your light and I'm doing my best to reflect it in my images, my open heart, and the soft, happy smile I pass to others enjoying your beauty.

We wandered into Shakespeare's old book store and took photos of the picturesque buildings. We asked tourists to take our picture in front of the river with the Charles Bridge behind us. We saw the Lennon Wall which felt peaceful and open. Alongside us were families, school groups, travelers, Instagrammers, Facebookers and lovers from all over the world, all walking by and talking pictures.

We stayed a while, sipping whiskey and indulging in Vanessa’s deep love for St. Patty’s Day (she’s from Chicago). We had a pub lunch. We passed the river again and saw a boat pulling a life-size inflatable pastel tank with a giant sign that read #MakeLoveNotWalls. I'm glad that someone felt like making floating art with that message. I didn’t let it cast any shadows of reality.

I still had two more hours until I would willingly give myself a shot. Two more hours before I would find out how the hormones would affect me. Two more hours to not be afraid of the possible disruption in my mental stability.

Medicine and I don’t typically get along. When I was in Africa, the malaria medicine made me hallucinate spiders. I took antibiotics 10 years ago and my GI tract has still not recovered. In fact, one of the effects of the antibiotics was temporary infertility, which is why I'm waltzing around Prague in the first place.  Why would I willingly shoot hormones two inches to the right and one inch down from my belly button?

Eventually we made our way back to our Airbnb apartment. About a block away, time ran out.  As always, I’m able to completely ignore something until a few minutes before it happens, and then panic sets in. All of a sudden my mind was shouting, “No, no, no, don’t do it!”. My head was shaking back and forth as I told Vanessa and Jenny that I didn’t want to do it. I really didn’t want to do it.

As we approached the door, my heart was running a full blown hundred-meter dash.  I knew it was unreasonable, but I had no idea how my body or mind would respond. Neither were interested in finding out.

Vanessa was sweet and tried to think of calming techniques. She told me to focus on my belly because one day, it might grow a baby.

My mind desperately tried to find something to hold onto. “The sooner you do it, the sooner it’s over”.

That I could get behind.

Fertility Vacation // Relax

I went to the clinic to meet with my doctor and pick up my hormone shots. The doctor seemed generally a bit cold. He told me that there was nothing I could do to increase my chances of getting pregnant, other than positive thinking. He then smiled strangely, as if smiling wasn’t an everyday occurrence. As if, he only smiled in this type of an instance.

It was funny and a little unsettling, but I’ve opted for positive thinking.

At least he didn’t say relax.

Well meaning people say to relax all the time. The little stick figure in my head violently punches them repeatedly in the face while I smile and nod, knowing they have good intentions. If relaxing is a criterion for something, I’m unlikely to sign up. If consistent effort and hard work is at play, put me at the top of the list.

Eventually after mapping out an estimate of my schedule for the next couple weeks, he sent me to the nurse’s office. The nurse, I liked immediately. This was not her first rodeo. She is the kind of lady I want on my team. An Eastern Bloc type of mom with no nonsense. I could feel a mutual understanding that we were surrounded by ineptitude, but that she would make sure my ship stayed on course.

She demonstrated the procedure to me, while my translator, whose entire outfit I have pinned at one time or another, made sense of her words. It was clear that the nurse had zero confidence in my translator and made her explain it to me several times.

In all fairness, I was a little distracted by my translator’s vibrant outfit amidst the stoic environment. I would totally wear that to a bar. I wonder how comfortable it is to wear a leather jacket indoors? I want to ask her where she got her shoes. Maybe it was the nerves about willingly giving myself a shot that had my mind wandering. Luckily she translated everything several times and my trusty friend Jenny was there to witness the procedure.

// Insert a vile. Dial it to the correct number. Insert a needle. Lean forward and relax my stomach. Pinch a “muffin top” (her words) and insert the needle two inches to the side of my belly button and once inch down. Push the pen until it won’t push anymore. Do this every night, between 6pm-8pm. \\

I looked at the nurse. She looked at me. The gravity of the situation passed between us. The translator mentioned something about YouTube videos, but I didn’t break my gaze with the nurse. We both exhaled a small sigh. A deep resolve and understanding that despite the incompetence of others, we’ve got this.

I shook her hand. It felt like we took this first monumental step together. She made me feel like everything was going to be okay. I felt grateful to have found someone who gave me strength and made feel grounded.

She was the type of person who would never tell someone to relax.

Fertility Vacation // 10% and all the Emotions

Today I had my first IVF appointment where the clinic re-did a few tests, including checking my current hormone levels. The doctor said we actually have a 10% chance of getting pregnant, not a 30% chance like we had understood on the call, because I’m 41. I was told to come back in two days to pick up the injections and learn how to give myself a daily shot. Yikes. She said that some follicles were visible which is good for our chances.

I left the clinic and walked for an hour to the Old Square. When I got there I realized I was hungry. I sat down to order and felt that I was near passing out. Not exactly fainting, just falling asleep without control. Is there a difference? I think I was a little bit in shock. 10%?

There is always a delay with me. My natural reaction is to be strong and say, “I can handle this”. What follows is an unexpected falling apart.

We had planned for 30%. We would try three times in the next 12 months with a 30% chance. I realize now that we actually have a 10% chance each time. How do I have hope every day in the process? What’s it like to keep going?

After lunch I walked around some more and then posted up in a lively cafe. I peered out the window, drawing, writing, collecting my thoughts, and wondering, how do I feel?

I’ve entered some kind of beautiful dream full of uncertainty and perhaps some inevitable heartbreak. This dream has the potential to burst my heart wide open by putting one or two more Ofeldts on this earth. It’s a dream I am absolutely made for.

I’m vacillating between feeling incredibly strong and heroic, and feeling like I may have a panic attack right here at EMA Espresso bar. A duplicity that seems to be the new normal.

I wonder about the people I’m watching and drawing. I wonder about their story. Do they have something exploding out of them as big as invisible sunbeams, or are they just having a regular day where all of their emotions are in the normal range?