Monday, March 14, 2011

Its Gotten Completely Out of Hand


Q: Since you work for Girl Scouts, do you get free cookies???

A: NO. And there is no secret stash in the office supply closet, either.


Q: Do YOU sell Girl Scout cookies? Can I order a box????

A: NO. Adults do not sell Girl Scout cookies (at least they're not supposed to!). But I have been around a LOT of girls this year who do. And I have been a good customer. A little too good for my waistline.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I am the Web Master

Today I felt like I could not possibly do our regularly scheduled house cleaning if my life depended on it. Luckily for me, I have a partner in crime who graciously stepped in and offered to do my portions of the chore for me. This is happening way more than it should this month - I have absolutely NO drive. So while Randy was toiling away on the house, I tried to make myself useful by completely revamping our Spotted Elephant website. It was my first time ever fiddling with the website and the MacBook Pro (we call him Mr. Macky because we tend to anthropomorphize EVERYTHING in our lives) made it super easy. I know the web site is not amazing or uber professional, but for our purposes I think it turned out pretty darn great. It also now features our newest staff member and male model - our nephew Daniel. Get used to seeing his face under our hats. :)

Go check it out.....and while you're there, order something (if you want to)!

Click here to go to The Spotted Elephant Website

Friday, March 11, 2011

First Photo Shoot

The Spotted Elephant had its first official photo shoot today! Its fun to have a model and to play with my new camera. Here are a few of the photos - some featuring SE products and some just for fun.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'd Blog.....

I'd blog and tell you about the eventful week we've had, but the estrogen is making me feel like a shell of a person who doesn't care about blogging. I have zero motivation for just about anything, including writing. So instead I think I'll just sit here and stare at the lovely lanterns Randy's parents (and brother and sister) brought over to help bring a bit of brightness to our lives during this dim period. They are helping. :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Estrogen: Invented by Satan

With no time to come up for air we have already started drug stimulation for our LAST IVF cycle - transferring the two frozen embryos that resulted from last month's egg retrieval. While the drug protocol is much simpler for a frozen cycle, it impacts me much more severely. I am taking estrogen three times a day to prepare my uterine lining for the transfer. Estrogen turns me into a stereotypical woman with PMS X 10.  I do things on estrogen that I never do under normal circumstances.

  • I cried while listening to a song in the car today. When the song was over I replayed it twice, crying the entire time. (A cover of Bob Dylan's To Make You Feel My Love) I don't cry at songs in real life.

  • Yesterday I spent two hours sitting on the couch trying to decide if I wanted to take a shower or not.

  • Today I really wanted a turkey and sun-dried tomato bagel sandwich from Bruegger's but settled for Arby's because it meant I didn't have to get out of the car.

  • Today I had to take frequent bathroom breaks not to answer the call of nature but to have a "cry break" in private.

  • This afternoon/evening my abdomen felt worse than it did right after retrieval/transfer. It felt like all my internal organs were bathed in acid and ballooning up to the point they were going to burst out of my skin and I didn't know why. Randy read that bloating and stomach pain can be a side effect of the estrogen.

Needless to say, I (and probably everyone around me) will be glad to to bid good riddance to this poison forever more.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Strangely enough, the baby commotion over the weekend was a good distraction from our failed cycle.  Who would have predicted that? But now that the party has died down we're back to reality and back to facing our failed cycle and all of the emotions that go along with it.

Empty Crib from

I feel like I've written until my fingers are numb about the emotional impact failed cycles have had on me - I'd link you to some posts here but there are so many - if you are curious you can click on Baby Envy in the categories to the right to see more posts than you'd ever want to read on the subject. So instead of writing the same post on a different day, I thought I'd present a wider perspective and tell you how failed cycles and infertility affects women/couples across the board. It sometimes helps me to see these statistics because it reminds me that my pain is valid when much of society is not set up to treat people experiencing infertility with the compassion they need. (You guys are all awesome  and very compassionate- but to see what I mean, just find any online news story about infertility and read the comments. You'll probably give up hope for the entire human race after a few minutes of reading those gems.)

  • 13% of women had suicidal ideation following a failed IVF attempt in a study by Baram, Touretelot, Muechler, and Huang.

  •  "It's like a death. Procreation is one of the strongest instincts in the animal kingdom."  -Dr. Alice Domar Ph.D

  • Women failing to conceive often have clinical depression rates similar to women who have HIV or cancer, according to Andrea Mechanick Braverman, PhD

  • A study from Uppsala University in Sweeden found that three years after the end of IVF treatment, most men and women were still processing and had not adapted to childlessness, indicating that the grieving process was still unresolved.

  • Emerging from fertility treatment babyless, broke and in need of professional support to get back on the rails is a common experience, according to the British Infertility Counselling Association.

  • After a failed IVF cycle, women experienced a further lowering of self-esteem and an increase in depression relative to pre-treatment levels, according to the MGH Center for Women's Mental Health.

  • Dr. Lisa Tuttle encounters many women who say they can't stop thinking about it, that it haunts them even while they're sleeping.

  • 71% of women experiencing infertility feel that they are flawed, according to a study by GfK Roper.

So please - the next time you are buying a gift or attending a shower or making a meal to support a happy, healthy, pregnant/new parent friend or family member- think about these statistics and try to also send out a little love and support to someone you know who is facing infertility's depression, self doubt, and grief rather than the anticipation and joy of a new baby.

I  have appreciated the support I've gotten during this time more than I can even articulate.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


We spent more time at the hospital today to give the new little sprout a gift that would have been ready as soon as he was if he'd waited until today to arrive, as the nurses had predicted yesterday.  We are excited to have a brand new model for Spotted Elephant items - babies make better models than the Styrofoam balls we've been using.

The hat is made of a bamboo/acrylic blend yarn and is topped with a stem and leaf.

We enjoyed getting to see the family again (including my grandparents), but the weekend has been emotionally exhausting for Randy and me. We're still grieving our losses, and though we're glad to get to know our nephew it doesn't take away the sting of wishing we were the ones in the hospital showing off the tiny being that is the melding of our two souls, or the very real fear that we will never get to.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Part 2: March Forth

Time marches on, unconcerned with grieving and readiness. Time will march on without you. Time has marched on without me for a while now. Today I'm catching up.

I became an aunt at 7:14 today. An occurrence the approach of which has terrified and exhausted me and entrapped my emotions for the past 7 months.  I've built it up in my imagination to mythical proportions and placed undue amounts of significance on the anticipated moment. My heart ached every time I thought of seeing my parents as first-time grandparents to a baby other than my own. I imagined the moment my mother saw her first grandchild as life-changing and able to be matched by nothing ever - not the birth of any future baby of mine and certainly not my adoption of a child. The latter fear gripped my mind for the better part of the afternoon, even as I was sending jovial texts back and forth to my sister as she was in her hospital bed waiting to push her child into the world.

And then it happened. And I lived. And reality was much less magical than my imagination. People were happy - it was a wonderful event - but it was not the mythical fantasy I had feared. I have a nephew. He's a real person who is a part of our family now. I'm one of only two aunts he'll ever have. He's not just someone else's baby - he's my nephew. He will never fill the gap left by my own lost children - he is not my child - but he will fit into my life exactly the way he is meant to. And I will be his Auntie Kimmie.

Me and Daniel

Originally I felt like the only way I could make a hospital visit was if Randy and I could be there alone with my sister, brother-in-law, and baby. I didn't think I could handle seeing my parents or grandparents there and possibly not even friends of my sister that i don't even know. I needed some privacy. Luckily, my parents are angels and understood this implicitly. They had me text them when we got to the hospital and they retreated to the family waiting room to give us the space we needed. After a while I felt like I could handle it, so I invited them in. We ended up staying for 3 hours. I finally felt a part of the family again, and it was such a relief. Infertility is hard enough, but having it rob you of family is a crushing blow. Things will never be the same as they used to, but today was a glimpse of how we might cobble together a new family reality.

I don't attribute tonight's success to any supernatural or magical forces. I think it is born of months of therapy, the support of an amazing family, and the transition from having a pregnant sister to having a sister and a nephew. I have long anticipated that things would get much better once the baby was born, as it has in similar situations with my pregnant friends. Every woman experiencing infertility has her triggers - the certain things that are particularly soul-crushing to her. For me, its pregnancy more than babies. This is not because I want to be pregnant more than I want a baby. I think its because a pregnancy is the first step down that road, my next step - my elusive goal. I can't even fathom the baby part because its so far away and seems so unattainable to me right now. Just getting to the pregnancy has defined my life for five long years. And also, now that the baby is born he's not just a reminder of my failures and struggles and illness - he's my nephew. He's here. And I'm going to get to know him.

Part 1: March 4th

Today is the day I may become an aunt. Today I am also mourning the loss of my children. I have so many mixed emotions - which is good - because for months I have had only negative emotions about this. But I'm still so desperately sad. I'm still grieving.

A falling star fell from your heart and landed in my eyes
I screamed aloud, as it tore through them, and now it's left me blind

The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
You left me in the dark
No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight
In the shadow of your heart

And in the dark, I can hear your heartbeat
I tried to find the sound
But then, it stopped, and I was in the darkness,
So darkness I became

The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
You left me in the dark
No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight
In the shadow of your heart

-Cosmic Love by Florence + the Machine

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Limbo Day: Insult to Injury

My period has started full force and I took one more test just to be sure. It was as negative as could be. My official blood test is not scheduled until Saturday. I will not let this go on until then - I need to move on. I called my clinic and left a rather snarky message at 8:30 a.m. that went a little something like this:

"My name is Kimberly Marksberry. My pregnancy test is scheduled for Saturday. It was supposed to be Friday but I am unavailable on Fridays so I tried to change it to Thursday but was told that Thursday would be impossible because its 'way too early'. Well apparently its not too early because I started my period. I need to move on and I am not waiting until Saturday to get my test. Please call me back as soon as possible to let me know what time to come in today for my test."

I waited until 10:30 with no response and called again, leaving another, similar but more desperate sounding message. In order to get same day results you have to test in the first half of the day so I was determined to get this resolved before noon. A nurse finally called me back about 5 minutes before I was going to call a third time and demand to speak to a person. She was very understanding and said I could come in whenever I wanted. I settled on noon so that Randy could come with me on his lunch hour.

For much of the day I felt oddly collected. I think the sadness of a failed cycle and loss of a potential child is tempered somewhat by the relief that at least we are closer to closing this chapter in our lives. As the clock brought us closer to testing time, though, my calm eroded away to reveal the raw pain underneath. Going to the fertility clinic where you are surrounded by so many hopeful faces (and sometimes kids that people experiencing secondary infertility bring along to their appointments - some clinics don't allow children at all and I often wish this was the policy at mine) to be subjected to another needle to test for a pregnancy you know isn't happening is like adding insult to injury. Though it seems counter-intuitive, the policy with IVF is that you have to have an official test no matter what for their records. I hate it. But that's the way it is. After 30 minutes of sitting in the waiting room for a simple blood draw (this wait did not make me feel better about my situation) we were finally called back. Thankfully, my vein decided to cooperate and we were in and out in five minutes with the promise of a call with results by 4:30.

I got the call at 2:30. Negative. So sorry. Do I want to start my frozen cycle immediately? I don't know - there is too much to think about right now. I request that the nurse ask the RE whether he recommended me losing weight and trying with the frozens in a few months or going now while my endometriosis is still somewhat under control. She said she'd call back with the answer before 5. In the mean time, Randy and I go to our previously scheduled therapy appointment. I surprise myself by not crying at all during the appointment. Randy tells me he has gotten a text with the news that my sister is being induced tonight. The perfect storm is raging around me and so far its not as bad as I had feared. Its sad. Its painful. But its endurable. So far.

We got the call back from the nurse about our frozen cycle as we wandered the aisles of Best Buy where we were shopping for a pity purchase: a replacement camera for my damaged one. The RE wants me to start as soon as possible with my frozen, while the endo is still under control. She calls in a prescription of Estrogen for me (yay - more hormones) which I will probably begin taking tomorrow to prepare my uterus for transfer in a couple weeks. I can't believe this is all happening again. Already. I don't know if I can take this again so soon. But on the other hand, doing it now will hasten the end of this period of our lives. And that will be worth it.

So tonight we sit at home with our new camera and make plans to go and use it in San Francisco in June. We need something to look forward to, whatever the outcome of this new cycle we're suddenly thrust into. Neither of us has much hope regarding the frozen cycle - frozen cycles have lower success rates than fresh, and we already used the best and brightest embryos for this fresh cycle. We are pretty sure we've got serious problems in the embryo department and its just not going to happen. But it could. But it probably won't. So I think this frozen cycle will be a lot more low key. Its certainly much less work (oral estrogen pills for a few days, then the transfer, then waiting for results - no injections or retrievals) and I think, emotionally, we're already done, already moving on.

So thank you to everyone who has embarked on this journey with us and sat through the tedious descriptions of medical procedures and the roller coaster of worry and hope. We have felt more supported than ever this cycle and I think its really helped us handle the bad news in a healthier way. We are so thankful to have all of you with us and so grateful that you have not given up on us yet. We'll keep you posted on our still enduring quest for parenthood, wherever it takes us.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Two Week Wait: Cut Short

Two Week Wait Day 9: March 2, 2011

For all intents and purposes, the two week wait has turned into a 9 day wait and is over today. I started lightly bleeding this afternoon around 3:00 in the restroom at a school. Since I have my classic PMS headache and since today is the day my period is due, this was not a good sign - though spotting can sometimes be a pregnancy symptom. I knew it was over and I tried to pull myself together in the ancient wooden and brass faculty bathroom that a student had to unlock for me with her teacher's keys. I still had 20 minutes left of class time to get through. On my way out a parent volunteer who was on her way to the restroom stopped me and told me a long story about how often she had to go to the bathroom when she was pregnant. Ugh. I somehow zombied my way through the last 20 minutes of school and was able to make it to my car before completely losing it.

I called Randy and since I was close to downtown he directed me to pick him up (he rode the bus in) so he could come home with me. Through tears and fogged up sunglasses I saw my way to his office and then retreated to the passenger seat so that he could drive home while I cried. We decided we'd test as soon as we got home to confirm what we both know - that my period is starting. At 14 days past ovulation  and with an impending period, the risk of a false negative is very low. Here's the test. There's only one line where there should be two. Story of my life these last 5 years.

We spent the night in bed cuddling, crying, and eating pizza (what can't pizza make better?). Initially we had no hopes for this cycle - it was just something to get through in order to move out of this phase of life. But every single step of the process went SO well that hope seeped back in. We DID NOT want to get attached to this cycle, but how could we not when it seemed so unstoppable? Now we have crashed down to reality - off of our hope-high. A fall that would have been much softer if it wasn't from so high. So it really makes us wonder - if things do happen for a reason and if someone is watching over us - why have everything go so well only to trick us in the end? It seems so very cruel.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Two Week Wait Day 8: To Test or Not to Test

Two Week Wait Day 8: Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It happens every cycle. I have testing fever. Until today I've been able to kind of stave off the testing urges by using a surrogate - my thermometer. Remember how I have had an actual fever since transfer? And how I was worried about it at first? Well it has since become my friend. I've decided it means I'm pregnant after doing extensive research on a couple of message boards where some women said they had elevated body temperatures throughout their pregnancies. And so I feed my testing addiction by taking my temperature about every 20 minutes - and I'm SO not exaggerating about the frequency. I've now begun to worry when it dips below 99.0. What has this process done to me!??

Though temperature taking has helped me prolong my abstinence from test taking, its effectiveness is beginning to wane and I now have a different kind of fever (no, not Bieber Fever) - testing fever. I have obsessed about it all day and have done what any hormone-crazed Two Week Waiter does: internet frenzy. I have practically set up an IV drip of where you can find charts on the risks of false negatives for each DPO (number of Days Past Ovulation) and where you can find the sensitivity levels for every brand of test imaginable. Once I had exhausted my test research (keep in mind, I do this EVERY cycle, so its not like I'm even learning anything new), I moved on to that elusive beast: early pregnancy symptoms.

The problem with early pregnancy symptoms is that they are mostly a fairy tale. A fairy tale which every single woman trying to conceive believes in at least a little. The truth is that in the time period before your period is due, its really too early to be experiencing much in the way of definitive pregnancy symptoms. And on top of that, early pregnancy symptoms mimic PMS symptoms - so there is almost no way to tell whether your sore breasts are a sign of a bun in the oven or a foreshadowing of a visit from Aunt Flo. AND on top of that, pregnancy symptoms vary widely from woman to woman and even from pregnancy to pregnancy in the same woman. For instance - here is a sampling from a list of possible pregnancy symptoms I found on Countdown to Pregnancy:

A feeling of abdominal fullness          A feeling of abdominal emptiness

Increased appetite                                Decreased appetite

Depressed mood                                   Feelings of elation

Hot flashes                                             Chills

High energy                                           Fatigue

Constipation                                          Diarrhea

Acne breakout                                      Decreased acne

Sleeplessness                                        Vivid dreams

Dry mouth                                             Increased saliva


Ack! No wonder I'm going crazy! I think I have decided to try and go one more day without testing. Maybe I'll get inspiration for what to do during my vivid dreams tonight....or maybe I'll be sleepless - I'm confused.


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