Kind of a Big Deal

So in the frustration of my insomnia, I forgot to update y’all on something big that happened recently. 

Finally, after nearly five years of marriage, I’ve assumed my wife’s last name.

The decision to do this did not come lightly, and for years now, I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of the whole thing. But with Dumplin’ on the way, and our desire to travel as much as possible with him, it made practical sense to all share the same last name.

Now, what’s in a shared name really? Well, it conveys a family tie. I know that lots of people do not share the same last name as their kin, but for us, and especially as a same-sex family, it allows a sort of convenience especially with things like daycare or school matters, as well as travelling as a family or as a parent with our child(ren). 

How did we decide whose last name to share?

Well, in our case, we had to weigh the pros and cons of both last names, as well as the different allowable permutations of them.

DW’s last name:

– is Scottish in origin

– is easy to pronounce, phonetically

– is not very common

My last name:

– is Chinese in origin, with Taiwanese spelling

– is a phonetical nightmare, so no one ever pronounces it correctly (to no fault of their own), and people always assume that the spelling of it is wrong (I’ve actually had people tell me that the spelling of my last name must be wrong- imagine how that makes a person feel about themselves!)

– is not common at all (the only people in my hometown phone book with my last name are actual relatives of mine)

Growing up with my last name, I was always embarrassed of it, even though my grandpa wore it with pride. To this day, I hate the reactions and looks of confusion when people are surprised that a last name like mine even exists. People make stupid jokes to cover up their discomfort with it, which makes me feel even worse. To. This. Day. 

So it was kind of a no-brainer that I would never want to do this to our kid. So we had decided that Dumplin’ would have DW’s last name. For a while, we considered hyphenation too, but having friends with hyphenated names, I knew it was a pain in the ass for things like forms and scantron cards. So we decided against that.

Professionally, as a chiropractor and as a teacher, I have always gone by my last name, and have built up a good reputation within that identity. So professionally, I will continue to be Dr. (My Lastname). 

In my personal life however, I will be known as Mrs. (DW’s last name), and while I do feel some sadness over no longer having my last name in my name at all, I know that my origins are traceable via my birth certificate. For some time, we considered moving my last name to the end of my middle name, as is the tradition in my mother’s culture, but that kind of name change is considered a legal name change here, so I would have to have the change made on my birth certificate too- which I did not want. Like I said, I want my origins to be traceable, and keeping my birth certificate untouched somehow makes me feel that way.

So now, I have a crapload of updating to do due to this name change:

– Service Canada to update my SIN 

– New passport photos and application (ugh, huge pain in the ass)

– Service Ontario to update ownerships for our cars

– all credit cards and bank accounts

– all auto payments coming from my credit cards or bank accounts

– Revenue Canada

– Costco membership

– Gym membership

– Health insurance provider

– All health care providers

– HR at work

Did I miss anything?
With Dumplin’ on the way, I wanted the name change done before his birth so that my new name is on his birth certificate. 

We like to travel, and plan on travelling as a family, so we wanted to all have the same last name. I have friends who have different last names than their children, and have to provide a signed and notarized document proving that they are in fact the child’s parent, and that they have permission from the other parent to be travelling with the child alone. Going through that shenanigans would suck, as would having to “out” ourselves every time we do it. “Yes, he is my child. Here is permission from his other mother. Here is our marriage certificate.” Ugh. Keep in mind that most countries do not have a human rights code like Canada’s, and customs officers can make your life a living hell with no justification required.

So that’s that. The change has been made. I have a temporary paper drivers licence and health card until my new plastic ones come in the mail. 

Did you change your last name when you got married? Why or why not?

What last name will or do your children have?

Do you have small children that you travel with? What is your experience like- with a different last name, or as a non-conventional family? 

I’d love to hear your experiences.

IVF#2: 10DP5DT: Beta HCG

Just a quickie right now to fill y’all in. We drove to the clinic in a near snowstorm this morning, but we had the awesomeness of each other’s company, and good tunes. I fell asleep in the car on the way home, and have been on the edge of a nap ever since.

Finally, a few minutes ago, we got the call. I know that in this process there are many permutations of “the call”- “the call” to let you know you’ve been cleared to start a cycle, to tell you it’s time to trigger, to tell you when you will be egg collecting or embryo transferring, to tell you how many embryos survived to day ____. But today’s call is the one that has had me glued to my phone. Good thing we don’t live in the 80’s or at a time without call waiting.

So here we are, 10 days post embryo transfer, and my beta HCG level is….

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Thank you for your continued support, especially those of you who are also waiting for “the call” that brings good news- at whatever stage you are at. I know how hard it can be. These are exciting yet scary times for us, as you can probably imagine. But right now, in this moment, I am PREGNANT.

Day 6: My Partner’s Best Quality

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I’m laying next to her in bed right now, her asleep, and me struck by some of the worst insomnia yet. I feel like my neurons are buzzing. I’m trying not to disturb her with the light from my phone, as she has had a really long day today.

You see, I had a panic attack early this morning. A full-on gasping for air panic attack. It was less dramatic than Kelsey on the Bachelor’s two weeks ago, but way more real. Ever since the panic attack, I’ve been wired and super anxious. I needed to see my family doctor, and the only appointment that was available was for this evening.

I didn’t feel like I could go on my own, so my wonderful wife dropped her after school commitments and drove me two cities away to see my doctor. By the time we got home, it was an hour before bedtime, and she was wiped.

I could tell because she basically had no energy for dinner, and sufficed with peanut butter on toast. I felt terrible, but when I really needed her, she came to the rescue.

My wife is super thoughtful and supportive. She is like this at work too, which is what made her an amazing department head. Through the super shitty TTC challenges during the past couple of years, we’ve actually formed a stronger relationship. I believe it’s because we have supported each other so much through the bad news and the losses. I say we, but more recently it’s been she that has been picking me up off the floor, reminding me to breathe, assuring me that in the end, we will be okay.

My wife is strong enough for the two of us, and is the most thoughtful person I have ever met. I am so grateful for her. Sometimes I think that I used up all of my luck finding her.

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IVF#2: Embryo Transfer

The sun was shining this morning as I woke up to my beautiful wife. Lazy mornings with her are my favourite. She is an early riser, but stays in bed and reads the news until I wake up.

The pace of the morning was very relaxed. It was a nice contrast to the stress and anxiety that I felt all day yesterday. DW came home last night after a long day at school, as she volunteers to open the workout gym for the kids for a couple of hours. She hadn’t even changed out of her work clothes before I was sitting on the carpet, bawling my eyes out.

The stress of two plus years of actively TTC, four failed IUIs, four failed embryo transfers, three miscarriages, and one last IVF which was proving to be less fruitful than the first IVF finally broke me. DW shared how she feels lost in all of it too. Together, sitting in the middle of the floor, dogs licking the tears off of our faces, we both admitted that we’ve reached our limits. Infertility has sucked too much happiness and enjoyment out of our lives.

After that session with my wife, I felt tremendously better. We decided that whatever happens to our embryos on day 5, happens, and that we will be okay. We will roll with it. DW also said though, that she has a good feeling about our transfer tomorrow.

Fast forward to today.

I started the morning with awesome dog cuddles.

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I wore a lavender dress with black tights and my Tretorn boots.

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I was way more relaxed for embryo transfer today than any other transfer, which was ironic because today’s was a fresh transfer and all of my other ones have been frozen ones. What I mean is, I just had my vagina stabbed multiple times just five days ago, laying on the same table! Whether it was the awesome songs playing on our drive to the clinic (Uptown Funk, Riptide), the sun shining outside, or the fact that we’ve been through so many transfers now that it has become like a routine, I felt super chill. I was chatty and joking around all the nurses, I didn’t cry when the phlebotomy nurse spent several minutes rooting around in my arms trying to find a vein, and I wasn’t rushing around or impatient.

The transfer itself went great too- I practiced some deep breathing during the insertion of the catheter, and took a moment to welcome the embryos into my body before they were transferred. There was no pain or cramping, unlike all of my other transfers.

We transferred these two beauties:

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Here they are in my uterus:

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Our beta isn’t until Feb 21st. I hope we get some good news. Now to keep my mind occupied until then…..

Thank you all for your continued support. Each and every single one of your likes and comments means a lot to us. I feel so much gratitude right now.

IVF#2: Embryo Development Day 2

(Image from: http://www.advancedfertility.com/4cell.htm )
On day 2 of development, embryos should have 4 cells. The grading of them depends on the level of fragmentation.

Of our 13 fertilized embryos:
7 have 4-5 cells, and are graded as good
5 have 4-5 cells, and are graded as average
1 has 2 cells, but is still alive and could catch up

I asked the embryologist to give us daily updates, which they don’t normally do. I am so grateful that she is doing this for us, and appreciate the time she takes to answer our questions.

OHSS watch:
Weight: up 0.2 of a pound
Waist measurement: up 1 cm

How I’m feeling: Ovaries are still sore, especially with movement, peeing and pooping. The Dostinex is still making me super nauseous despite taking it at night and with food. DW made me a great breakfast in bed: GF grilled cheese and soft boiled eggs, with a side of Gravol.

Today, I start all of my embryo transfer meds:
– prednisone 10mg
– endometrin (progesterone suppositories)- 100mg x 3 times a day
– prometrium (progesterone orally)- 300m at bedtime
– Fragmin injections

*TMI Warning*
Shoving the Endometrin in my vagina was a real treat this morning (not!). My vagina is clearly still in the early stages of healing after all the egg retrieval punctures. I couldn’t get the suppository more than two inches inside, because everything was clenched and hurt.

I’m a little worried about the Prednisone, because last time (failed FET) it caused major comfort food cravings, as well as water retention. This time, I’m trying to stave off OHSS, and the last thing I need is to crave bad food and retain water. However, a nice therapeutic effect of the prednisone is that it made my digestive issues go away. Honestly, my usual IBS and Celiac issues seem to go away when I’m on the Prednisone, which is wonderful.

IVF#2: Day 1 Fertilization Report

So remember my post about fertilizing our eggs via conventional IVF vs. ICSI? Well last year, we had 19 mature eggs, and opted for 1/3 IVF and 2/3 ICSI. Last year we had 14 fertilize.

Today I got a call that out of our 21 eggs collected, 13 were mature, and all 13 fertilized via ICSI.

Now I’m a little upset that only 13 of the 21 were mature. I was hoping for more. However, I am so glad that I posted my dilemma about IVF vs. ICSI, and that with your support and sharing of experiences, DW and I decided to go all ICSI.

I am also glad that I spoke to the embryologist yesterday, and asked her how they select when eggs get IVF’d and which ones get ICSI’d. Apparently, they can only do ICSI on mature eggs, but immature eggs can be fertilized via IVF. So if you choose to do a “split” of ICSI and IVF, they choose the mature ones first for the numbers you’ve designated for ICSI, and the remaining (including immature eggs) are used for IVF. So if you choose to do a split, you may have a greater yield of fertilization because they can utilize those immature eggs, which are still capable of fertilizing. However, if you choose to do all ICSI, you can’t use those immature eggs at all.

OHSS update:

Weight: same as yesterday
Circumference at umbilicus: same as yesterday

I have been in progressively more pain as time passes since the retrieval. I have been popping extra strength Tylenol every four hours, which works, but wears off after about three hours. I woke up in the middle of the night with searing abdominal pain (meds wore off), and had to pee, which hurt like hell. I have been asked by the clinic to track my liquid intake and output, which has been very difficult for me. We have a measuring cup in the bathroom for that, and I always forget at the time I start to pee. Plus, the perfectionist part of me hates not having a very accurate system for measuring liquid from things like vegetables. I also dislike how I’m measuring my intake in millilitres, and my output in cups. I know it’s a simple conversion, but it still bugs me.

Things that hurt: walking (a bit), rolling over in bed, changing position, twisting, putting on pants, putting on socks.

Things that really hurt: coughing, sneezing, peeing, pooping.

So far, it just feels like my ovaries are inflamed from having holes poked in them. However, thankfully, my belly isn’t more distended than on retrieval day. From what I remember though, the OHSS didn’t really show until a couple of days after the retrieval.

Anyways, more salty snacks and soup for me!

IVF#2: Egg Retrieval Part I

Last night before bed, I re-read my egg retrieval post from our first IVF. I remember most of it, especially the pain. It’s crazy to me that some women report it to be painless, as my experience was that it was the worst pain that I’ve ever experienced in my life. Now, let me explain. I metabolize anaesthetics very quickly. When I go for dental work, they always need to give me two to three times the dose of anaesthetic. During last egg retrieval, they didn’t believe me, and after seeing me writhe in pain during the procedure, the RE told them to give me “more of the cocktail”. I clenched my jaw, squeezed DW’s hand, but still, I felt every single stab into each ovary. After the second dose of anaesthetic, things just went hazy and I woke up after it was all over.

Currently, I am sitting in a medical gown, ass exposed, waiting for an IV. DW has lovingly packed me snacks and coconut water, as well as a puke bag just in case. I’ve been fasting since last night, and was up at 7am, so I’m starving right now.

Anyways, here goes round two! Wish us luck!

IVF#2: After 9 Days of Stims

DW and I had a nice date night yesterday. We started off the evening at Whole Foods (always a delight), and then headed to my favourite Thai place. This restaurant is 100% authentic Thai. The women who own it are sisters, and actually purchase most of their spices from Thailand themselves because for some reason, a lot of Thai products aren’t approved for import into Canada. My favourite dishes are their made-from-scratch (and not from a powder) tom yum soup:

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And their tilapia keang som, which is a non-coconut milk based curry. It has a base of tamarind paste:

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DW tried a new dish, called Pad Ped Pla:

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The dishes were served with jasmine rice, and were sooo delicious. We saved some for the next day’s lunch, but by 10pm the same night, we inhaled the leftovers.

After dinner, we hit the movie theatre to watch the new Johnny Depp movie, Mortdecai. We enjoy Depp’s silly humour, and kind of picked this movie without knowing much else about it. However, we were quite pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it was. Several times I found myself literally laughing out loud. We got home in time for my nighttime Gonal-f injection, and a couple of episodes of the Walking Dead, which we are catching up on on our PVR.

Today, I had monitoring this morning.
Here are today’s stats:

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The ultrasound tech was funny today, saying, “uh oh, Dr. ______ isn’t going to like this- so many follicles!”. Ahh such is my life.

She was right. This afternoon one of the nurses called, and I’m supposed to lower my dose of Gonal-f again tonight, down to 200 units.

Monitoring again tomorrow!

Instagram

I’ve recently joined Instagram (yeah, I’m a bit behind the times).

So follow me if you want: @mamaetmaman

My profile is public right now, but I plan on making it private by the end of the week, so that I can post more personal pictures.

I took my first selfie, which was interesting. I like all of the neat filters. I won’t post it here, but once my Instagram goes private, I will post it there.

Limbo

Wow, I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been cooking up a storm, adapting new recipes, and washing lots of dishes. Yesterday I made my first gluten-free (GF) turkey meatloaf, and today I made GF turkey meatballs, and tomato sauce with produce from our garden. I plan to serve it for dinner on shredded spaghetti squash (also from our garden). Props go to DW for growing me all of these amazingly gorgeous organic vegetables and herbs!

Time seems to be moving at a very strange pace for me. Being home every day means that my sense of time is dictated by my daily chores, appointments, and the return of DW from work. I have been running errands, hiking on the conservation lands with the dogs, preparing elaborate dinners, and probably not cleaning as much as I should be. We have been relaxing at the cottage on weekends, so my routine is kind of messed up in this way too.

Obviously, in many ways I’m glad that I’m not at work. I suffered from an alarming level of anxiety from being dealt a ridiculously unfair schedule, a lack of support from the people that are supposed to be supporting me, as well as doing my best (and failing) at trying to provide meaningful learning moments for kids that are the most challenging in the district. I was not eating. I was not sleeping. I had fleeting thoughts of self-harm. My family doctor insisted that I take a break from all of it to regroup and grieve our loss. I am currently about one third through my leave of absence, and I am terrified of going back.

I feel like I’m just beginning to heal physically. I’m still spotting daily, and I definitely notice my athletic limitations compared to pre-pregnancy: lower cardiovascular endurance, core strength is gone, and my strength has severely decreased. I have been lifting weights again every other day for the past week and a half, and my energy and motivation has been lacking. Pre-pregnancy, working out has always been a treat and a stress-reliever, but now I feel like I’m dragging my heels and my body just won’t do what I want it to do.

Interestingly, my eyesight has significantly changed as well. I had an eye exam two days ago, and my vision, which has been stable since 2007, has gotten worse by almost 2 diopters in both eyes! I suspect that all of the pregnancy hormones have messed up my body in many ways that I am unaware of.

Emotionally, I am really struggling. Part of me wishes that I was back at work (I really enjoy my career- just not at this particular school and schedule), as I miss the kids, routine, and socializing with my colleagues. In particular, I miss the first two schools that I was at. The kids were amazing, and the staff made me feel like family. Even the administration were very personable and supportive. However, my past two schools have been really difficult- due to the administration (lack of support and disciplining of students), and the particular classes that I have been assigned (the classes that nobody wants because it involves teaching the most difficult content to the most poorly behaved students). Unfortunately, being in a union (don’t get me wrong, I am so appreciative of unions) so much of where you teach and what you teach is dependent on seniority, and being a relatively new teacher in a school board that is shrinking, I am at the bottom of the food chain. So the most experienced teachers can choose to teach the easiest students and their first choice of subject, and the new teachers with the least experience get what nobody else wants. Not to mention that I get paid half what they get paid, and end up working extra hours at home prepping every night.Makes sense right? Ugh.

Look at me. Three weeks off from work and I’m still bitching about it. Now and again I have to remind myself that I am so lucky to have job security and benefits, and an (unpaid) summer off.

In happier news, I came home to a gift today:

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A friend of mine sent it with their condolences on our loss, and for a moment I was so touched but also so frustrated that miscarriages are often such a hush-hush secret. I know they are common, but given the lengths that we have gone to make a baby, our repeated losses seem even more tragic. For example, we can’t just have sex a ton more times and get pregnant (though- this should not dissuade anyone from trying this strategy ;)). We apparently can’t even get an IUI to work. Very frustrating.

In the meantime, I will wait for DW to get home before diving into these:

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I saw a new Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine this week. He lectures annually for the acupuncture program that I used to teach for. He is a fertility specialist, and until now, I haven’t been able to see him because he only treats on weekdays (teacher schedule). The appointment went well. He is very thorough and has a three-phase plan for me. The first phase is getting my natural period to come and flush out all of the stagnation in my uterus (and what energetically remains of the pregnancy). Then, we work on building my yin, which is quite depleted in me, and what likely causes my long follicular phases (eggs need more time to mature because my yin is too weak). Lastly, we will work on lengthening my luteal phase, which is super short. He says that even if I were getting pregnant naturally, my luteal phase is so short that proper implantation can’t even occur. Sometimes, regulating the follicular phase also fixes the luteal phase as well. He’s got me on some herbs right now, which are in the form of high potency granules. While I’m very proficient at acupuncture and general TCM principles, I was not trained in the healing properties of herbs, which can have incredible synergy with the acupuncture treatments. I am glad he is healing me through the use of both. He suggests that I sit this next cycle out, and try again the following cycle. So essentially, I’m in limbo for another 9 or so weeks.