I wish I were the type of person who could get angry instead of depressed.  Depression aches like a sharp dagger pointing at my heart.  It makes it hard to breathe.  It is impossible to get the tears to stop.

The confidence that we will be parents again is there.  That is unwavering.

But the disappointment that this is not our time, AGAIN, that this frozen embryo transfer did not work, despite all of the love and the prayers and the positive energy that each of you sent to me, to us, is baffling, overwhelming, and just plain painful.

I had to save this document right now under the title of this blog posting, and without a moment’s hesitation, I decided to name it, “Failure”.  That is really the best way to put it, isn’t it?

The problem is, when something fails, someone is accountable, and I refuse to be held accountable for this.  My husband and I did every fucking thing that is medically and spiritually possible to allow for this pregnancy.

We prayed, and we held hands, and we created the best energy possible to allow for the baby.

I have bruises and welts on my butt from the progesterone oil shots that Craig stuck me with every night.

I gained weight, I suffered insomnia, I had night sweats, and yet I still woke up every day and did my job so that we as a dual income house-hold could stay the course and deal with the incredible costs.

We have paid over $12,000 in fertility bills in ‘13.

We paid $58,390.89 in ’12.

(And I don’t feel like going through the other years at this moment.)

That sort of dedication SHOULD be rewarded. That sort of commitment to the idea of loving, protecting, nurturing, dancing with, playing with, tickling, and hugging a child SHOULD be achievable.  It’s not like I’m praying for a new car.

And it will be rewarded. I know that. Craig knows that. But for fuck’s sake, when?

We move into a new home this Friday. It is 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. We have been gathering our items to move, which includes all of Finley’s baby items, from the area in the closet that I typically refuse to acknowledge.  We have plenty of clothes and carriages and cute toys for Finley’s brother or sister, just waiting.  (Well if we have a girl, actually, I imagine we’ll have to get lots of different clothes.)

I have had to hold pre production meetings with corporate car clients while having a high fever and sweating the whole time. I have been on commercial film shoots with severe colds.  I have had conference calls during which I ran to the bathroom to throw up because of a crazy flu that made me hallucinate.  – You know the saying: The show must go on.

But today, the pain is so great, the depression so overwhelming, that I have to work from home. I had no choice, really: My typically blue eyes are blood shot.  My noise is swollen and red.  My complexion is puffy.  And my sadness is palpable; I imagine if anyone besides Craig saw me, they would not be able to focus on what I might be saying, because they would be sidetracked by the incredible depression I am both showing, and feeling.

We will be OK.  The baby will come.  There is more than one way to become a parent.  But for today, I am sad, and because you have all become a support group to me, and let me know that I am not alone, I wanted to share this.

To be continued.

The Waiting


I can’t help but think of the lyrics from the Tom Petty song “The Waiting is the hardest part.”

I mean it is not the hardest: holding my infant son as he took his last breath was the hardest.

Seeing the words “Not Pregnant” on the pregnancy tests I’ve taken almost every month for the past 3-years has been debilitating.

But the waiting in between embryo transfer and the day that I will know if I am pregnant is – while not the hardest thing I’ve endured – very, very hard.

As always, I read signs into every single feeling in my body. I have a friend who constantly tells me how in touch she is with her body, and I understand that to an uncomfortable and hyper degree.

I feel my blood going through my veins.  I imagine my arteries all around and leading into my uterus as a freeway with no traffic; like those pictures people would post on Facebook as the first cars to be driving on the infamous 405 after it was closed for construction on what we Los Angeleans referred to in that witty play off words as Carmegeddon.

When I have a successful bowel movement (pardon my graphicness), I practically congratulate my body for doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing.

I have felt sensations in my uterus; I haven’t felt the latching of the embryos like a pinch – but the last time I felt that pinch, I didn’t get pregnant; I didn’t feel it the two times that I was officially pregnant, so perhaps that pinching sensation I remember was the embryo detaching, because it wasn’t chromosomally normal? – which means that not having felt that pinching is a good thing.

I have other symptoms that could mean I’m pregnant, but since I am on Estrogen, Medrol, and Progesterone at this point, which are all supplements which are meant to help keep the pregnancy, it is impossible to know if the symptoms of fatigue or occasional awareness of my uterus or being highly emotional are because I am pregnant, because I am about to get my period, or actually caused by the medication.

I like to use a trick my friend Lisa taught me.  (Lisa also struggled with fertility and now has a full house of three little boys (one set of twins) – and she also used Dr. V and referred me to both my acupuncturist and my special $100/month pre natal pills.)

Lisa says, “I would tell myself I am pregnant, until I knew I wasn’t.”

So for all intents and purposes: making sure to eat well, to not carry anything heavy (10 pounds is the maximum I will carry right now, no small feat since I lug around a computer every day and am in the process of preparing to move to a new home), and trying to rest (even though it was 3 AM as I typed this, with less than 4 hours of consecutive sleep) – are highest on my list of priorities right now.

I take breathing breaks during the day, per the advice of both my therapist and acupuncturist.  Sometimes it means a 10-minute walk around the block; sometimes that means stepping outside for 3 minutes; sometimes it is as little as taking a little longer while in the bathroom to breathe in – to invite oxygen to flow through my body and make its way to the beautiful embryos who will have attached by now – 5 nights after the transfer.

Since we transferred 5 day embryos, who thawed at 95% capacity, which is the highest mark that Dr. V’s embryologist will ever give to thawed embryos, science theorized that the embryos could have latched onto to my uterus immediately, or within up to 48 hours of the procedure.

I was mandated to be on bed-rest directly after the transfer, which was a fantastic reason to be lying in bed and having a date with my DVR.  I had work to do that day, but taking valium as prescribed both before my transfer and as I lay in bed calmed my body down so that I did not get anxious or tense or do anything that would possibly expel what I hope will turn into a child.

I saw my spiritual healer the day after the transfer, for one of my favorite sessions with her ever.  I won’t use her name, and I will explain at another time how this woman has come to be in my life, serendipitous indeed, but I will say that she is definitely a beautiful angel who is gifted and able to shift energy fields and rely on her relationship with G-d and my own faith and guardian angels to invite my true spirit to enter my being.

Very immediately, upon her gently touching her hands to the bottoms of my feet, as I lay on what is equivalent to a massage table at her house, I felt energy rising up from my feet to my uterus.  There was warmth and tingling in particular areas, and in her very calm, gentle, loving voice, with a hint of true joy, she said, “There are both with you, just hanging out.  It is very strong.” She was referring to the spirits of the embryos.

My understanding is that the spirits hover over and make sure that they are ready and that their parents are ready, and sometimes they know you from a past life, and sometimes it is a spiritual contract, and that at this stage, they know who you are, or in this case, who me and my husband are, and that once they are born and brought into the physical world, they have no outward recognition of who that spirit is, unless of course they are enlightened individuals, which can certainly be the case.

She told me that she sensed a boy, and that he felt holy. She told me that the boy spirit said to tell me that used to be good friends with Craig and he couldn’t wait to see him again.

Me, with my head resting on the other end of the table and my spiritual healer at my feet, lifted my head quickly, “Perhaps it is his friend Tom who died almost two years ago?”

“Maybe, but more likely it is someone he knew in a past life.”

Now if you don’t subscribe to this sort of thing, you don’t subscribe to this sort of thing.  But like many people whose faith has increased due to things going wrong (why do you think there are chapels in hospitals?), I entirely accept that my healing experiences with this woman are real.  

I lay my head back down and cinched my eyes closed so that I could see the energy shifting through my body.  I felt blood flowing, I felt peace, and most importantly and uniquely, at the thought that she felt this presence of my spirit baby this strongly, I experienced joy.

She shifted positions after awhile, and came over to my right side where she put one hand underneath my chest and her other hand above my heart.  In her quiet whisper, she said, “Now I am working on healing the pain you felt when you were an embryo at the same stage.”  (She was referring to when I was an embryo in my mother, very early on – as early on as the embyros that are hopefully forming into my baby or babies as I type.)

I responded not intellectually or even emotionally, but sort of as if I was in an altered state, since during these healing sessions I am conscious yet not in a linear way.  “My mother didn’t know what she was doing.  She was overwhelmed by the idea of having three kids.”

Now I don’t know this to be true from my mother directly, though I need only think of everything I know about my family and how she was a young mother caring for three little children while my father was busy working very hard in his career to support us, but when I responded that way, it was almost as if I was responding from a place of forgiveness for what I must have felt spiritually, when I was in vitro.

There are many studies that indicate that when babies are forming in the womb they sense what their mother is feeling.  In my case, a baby forming inside me would feel love, be reminded constantly that he or she is wanted, and be told daily that any stress I feel has nothing to do with them; that they must not take on any of the stress my body and mental state has from my work, from fertility efforts, from marriage; from anything in my life. I am constantly telling them that their only job is to grow strong, and stay.

In many cases with women who are not in touch with them selves, these embryos at an early stage could begin to inherit the DNA of the stress the mother feels while they are in the womb.


In my mother’s case, according to this healing session, when I entered her womb at this early stage, because my mother was not connected to her self, because she was perhaps so overwhelmed with motherhood; with her life, I was not comforted, I was not reminded that her stress was not to be mine, and thus, I felt abandonment and inherited that into my DNA.

(Interestingly, I have inherited much of my father’s emotional DNA as well over the years, as a young child and way into adulthood.  And of vital importance, neither of these theories is being communicated with any sense of blame on them.)

At the end of my session, I opened my eyes, and as always, I could see her hands raised over my body doing the last of the cleansing for the morning.  We locked eyes, “I’ll be right back,” she said.

Always when these sessions are over, she leaves the room for a couple of minutes, to let me re-group.

Immediately and always after these sessions, I stretch and get up and walk over to the mirror to look at my self.  My eyes are never more clear and my spirit never more obvious and my face never more beautiful than when I am done with these sessions.  I have a very nervous energy on any given day, and yet the moments after these sessions, I feel serenity, and inklings of joy.

My healer returned to the room to have what I think of as our ‘spiritual debrief’.  “Tell me everything,” I said.

She told me that the last part we worked on was some pain of abandonment that I felt early on in the womb; that typically this is work that she does with a person much earlier on (we had been working together for over 13 months by now), but that we had to clear out other paths and issues from early childhood before we could get to this.

She said that she watched my angels wrap me in a cocoon to protect me, which was made of gossamer – which usually means something light and delicate. She noted that she thought it was particularly sweet of them to wrap me in a cocoon, because of my affinity for and relationship with butterflies.

I later looked gossamer up, to learn that Lycaenidae are the second largest family of butterflies in the world, whose members are called gossamer-winged butterflies.  I have confirmed with my healer that she didn’t know this association.  Magical.

I asked her more about the spirits of the embryos. She said there was a boy who was very strong, and that later a girl came.  She said that she didn’t know if she was supposed to tell me about the boy knowing Craig from a past life, but that the spirit prodded, “Tell her!”

We hugged and I thanked her and we locked eyes and I asked her the question that only G-d and time can answer:  “Is this going to take?”  She said right now they are very strong, but anything can happen, but she is hoping this is it, too.

That was last Sunday, one full week ago now, and the day after the transfer.

This morning I saw her again, anxious and full of fear and palatable nervousness about the pregnancy test I will be taking soon.  The session went great.  She did more work on the healing that I needed help on from when I was an embryo, and when we had our spiritual debrief, she told me she felt a little girl snuggling into the left side of my uterus. The left side of my uterus, I must tell you, throughout this hour long session, was tingling and heated and very active.

I don’t know what will happen when I take this test. I do know that no matter what, Craig and I will be fine; we will be parents to our next child or children soon – it is just a matter of when.

To be continued.

IVF #13


It’s almost the end of February, 2013, and I recently had my 13th egg retrieval.  I had gone in on day 3 of my period thinking that we would proceed and ready my body for the transfer of my two frozen embryos, who are still waiting for us patiently, on ice, in a state-of-the-art refrigerator in Tarzana – wrapped warm, I like to think, in the blanket of our love for them, but when the doctor saw that I had 6 follicles on day 3, we decided that we should stimulate my ovaries instead of transferring the embryos we already have.

The progress was fine along the way; there were the moments of concern that my estrogen was too low at first, and then it rose appropriately.  If the growth of the follicles wasn’t impressive, the estrogen comforted my doctor with the knowledge that yes, my follicles were growing appropriately. There were cysts, as there always were, but they weren’t growing that much, and so would not interfere by polluting my estrogen count with false hope.

- my belly after several days of medication

– my belly after several days of medication

I ended up on the medication for 11 days.  I think that is my new personal best.  By the end of the cycle, my belly was bloated to the max; it was bruised, terribly and grotesquely bruised from the daily shots of two to three medications.  My senses were heightened in the most uncomfortable way; the side effects always made me irritable or sweaty or increase my insomnia, but after 11 days, the anxiety I was feeling was irritating, and painful.  But I have gone through enough that I am able to separate normal anxiety from that which the medication causes.  I can feel the pain and anxiety, and close my eyes and remind myself how powerful the medication is, that this feeling will not last forever.

There was one round of a screaming match between Craig and me during the cycle.  This was not unusual; in fact, it was downright predictable.  My senses were heightened and I was feeling the pressure and he said the wrong thing, at the wrong time, and since I was feeling overwhelmed by the 3-times a week doctor visits to the valley in the middle of an insanely high pressured post-production and the invasion of my vagina and the drawing of the blood and the scrutiny that I fell under as a woman as I was measured and judged in terms of follicle size and estrogen amount, coupled of course with the deep and soulful longing to hold my child, I had a breakdown.

This time we fought about my weight, and the fact that the only thing, very truly, the only thing I haven’t done “perfectly” in regards to my efforts, was lose it.  Of course I have multiple excuses why I should not have to diet:

I have asked multiple specialists if being overweight could interfere at all with my fertility efforts. The answer was no.

I am sober for coming up on 7-years.  My remaining vice is food.

I have more pressure on me than any one person should have, between professional stresses and being responsible to help achieve my husband’s and my personal dreams.  Adding restrictions on food requires great intent, and that to me feels like another full time job.

Oh, and overweight women get pregnant all.the.time.

Still, he is right; that is the one health area that I have not perfected, and of course an area I am highly sensitive about, so I broke into tears and we screamed at each other for a bit.

And then the next day I had my egg retrieval, and they got out 3 eggs.  I was thrilled.  And then the next day only 1 of them had fertilized.  I was disappointed that more hadn’t fertilized, but happy nonetheless. And then the next day I learned that instead of being at 4 cells, my embryo was only 1 cell.  I was concerned; that was not good news.  On Thursday it was still at 1 cell, and so we knew that we would have nothing new to transfer.

11 days of medication.  About $10,000 in medical costs on this round alone.  And no egg to add to my basket, my lovely, frozen embryos basket of two.

Devastated, but not defeated, I made an appointment to chat with the doctor.  We spoke, and he was very clear that just because I had a bad cycle, didn’t mean that this was the sign of bad things to come; it was not as if I was going into pre menopause; I just had a bad cycle. Hell, only 2 months before I had produced eggs that upon meeting Craig’s sperm became strong enough to create 1 Blastocyst and 1 Morula that made it to the freezer.  (Blastocyst is an embryo at 5 days of development; a Morula is where the embryo should be at 4 days, which means that this one was either just a little behind, or would not make it once thawed.)

Dr. V, my Israeli fertility specialist, among the top 3 in Los Angeles – high praise indeed, whose expertise and knowledge I trust academically, and who is very committed to Craig and I emotionally, and I came up with the plan: wait for my period and prepare my body for the frozen embryo transfer (FET). We went over all of the details of how this time is different: I’ve never transferred embryos that have been frozen. I have always done transfers right after the magic poison courses through my body, which some scientists theorize is a reason that frozen embryo transfers are often more successful.  We did poor man’s genetic testing, in the sense that we let the embryos grow to day 5, as if they hadn’t made it, we would not have frozen them.  (Many doctors believe that if an embryo doesn’t last until 5 days in the laboratory, it won’t last in the woman’s uterus.)

We had a plan.

But still, the nagging thought came into my mind what Craig said: What if losing some weight could change things? What if my love for Lindt chocolate is interfering with the embryos attaching?  What if?

I contacted a peer who I knew had experience with cleanses, and was put in touch with a woman who would help me.

The task:  reduce the inflammation.  I couldn’t lose significant weight in two weeks, but at the very least, I could reduce the inflammation, which is the number one side effect of Follistim, that magical poison that has been stimulating my ovaries every other month for about 3-years.

The solution: have a woman prepare all of my meals for 4 days, done 2 days at a time so the organic ingredients remain fresh.

The cost: $360

My period came like clockwork, something I do not take for granted, and so I made my appointment to see the doctor on a Saturday morning.  I hiked first, which required me to wake up at 7ish on a Saturday to head to Malibu from Venice, before I drove from Malibu over Topanga Canyon to Tarzana for my 9:30 appointment.  The lovely female specialist at my doctor’s practice confirmed my uterine lining was exactly where it should be.  I let her know that it had to be perfect, absolutely, in order for us to proceed, and put me on estradiol, which I was prescribed to make sure that my estrogen would be regulated for the next several days; to encourage my uterine lining to develop.

I had never had issues with uterine lining development in the past, but needed the assurance that we were operating under optimal physical conditions to proceed. I’ve gone through too much, lost too much, to keep on taking such enormous risks, and I’m not even referring to the measurable risks.

My own hope has become a risk.

Once assured that everything was exactly as it should be, I proceeded to start the estradiol, twice a day.  Already an emotional woman, I was now taking tiny blue pills that made me even more emotional.

I did a 4-day food cleanse. The thing about me is that once I commit to something, I really commit, and so even while working in post production, with people seemingly dedicated to bringing me lattes or juices or sushi or cookies or anything I could dream of at multiple junctures of the day, while I am glued to my computer or to conference calls or to watching special effects done on the best television monitors imaginable (which often feels like watching paint dry), I stuck to the menu provided.  There were delicious smoothies, and there were juices that made me gag because there was too much of some healthy, weird ingredient that was unfamiliar to me and unfriendly to my taste buds.

On the 4th day of my cleanse, I returned to the doctor’s office, to see my specialist who I sometimes refer to as the wizard, to confirm that everything was developing exactly as it should. We talked about the perfect day to do the transfer, and I let him know that if at all possible – without risking an ounce of the probability of this working, I would prefer to do this on a weekend.  He thought about it for a moment, and then said yes, we could do it in a week, on Saturday, March 2nd.  “Seriously, if by doing it Saturday this decreases my chances like point 1 percent, we can’t do it.  I just don’t want to be stressed with work and want to create the best environment for myself.”  “The only issue is that now I have to work on Saturday,” my doctor responded.  “Do you mind, Dr. V?” I asked; “If we do it Friday and I have to take work emails and this doesn’t work I will wonder if that’s why….”  He interrupted, “I would not do it for anyone else, but I will do it for you.”

There are not a lot of benefits to being a repeat customer in the fertility realm, but him knowing me and being willing to change his personal schedule to accommodate me is definitely one of them.

I drove to the specialty pharmacy in Westwood to pick up about $350 in additional medication, progesterone oil, which helps keep pregnancies safe.

I kept thinking of the percentage of chance Dr. V had uttered to me in a previous conversation: A Grade A embryo like mine allowed a 35 – 40% chance of resulting in pregnancy.  But women get pregnant all of the time with less than Grade A, too.  I would just have to stay calm and outstretch my arms and pray.

I decided not to continue the cleanse officially, but to take that learning from those 4 days and apply it best I can, so I went to the market and bought some of the teas and a few other fresh ingredients, and have committed this week to keeping the chocolate down to 1 square a day, at the most, not eating pasta even if my husband is eating chicken parmesan right next to me; to just do the best I can to decrease the inflammation.  Shortly I’ll be having some sashimi and seaweed salad and having a green juice as my snack later, with salmon in the fridge for dinner, so I think I’m doing pretty well!

And more than all of the ‘actionable’ things that I am doing, I close my eyes, and invite those beautiful little spirits who I KNOW are out there waiting to be my child or children, yes, children, and take the biggest risk of all:  I hope.