Monday, December 31, 2012

I threw up in my mouth a little

Just when you think you have it all together, this happens.  Let's see...this chick became famous for making a sex tape that she leaked, married somone for ~70 days, and is STILL married to him when she gets knocked up.

I've decided anyone going through infertility should never read celebrity news.  Ever.  (Let's be honest -- I'm never giving that up.  But it's good to threaten it)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  And while this may sound more "Thanksgiving-like", be sure to take time to express your love and thanks to the people in your life.  I think we've learned recently that it can all change in the blink of an eye, so make sure your love is evident to those around you.

No major updates here.  I had my estrogen levels checked last Friday.  I never heard the results, so laid-back me this round assumes they were a-okay.  Hopefully, my lack of detail obsession will last in the coming weeks!

I start estrogen patches tomorrow.  I can't remember why I use them, so I tried to do some internet research.  Still don't know why I use them :)  I know it is to replace the natural estrogen I would have in my cycle, since it is suppressed...but normally the estrogen is in the first half of the cycle, and I will continue these patches through a positive pregnancy test.  So...shrug?  Wow, even writing this, I'm realizing how much I'm just smooth and easy this cycle.  Must be the acupuncture!

Anyway, have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends!  And a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Things I've learned...

I was better at posting at this through the last couple IVFs because there was so much going through my mind.  It was helpful to get it down on paper (screen).  But I'm pretty laid back this far at least.  I've been dutifully taking my pills and tomorrow I start the Lupron shots.  Generally, I'm just go with the flow for now.

So I thought I'd take this time to note some of the things we've learned over the past 1+ year of being infertility patients. 

(1)  Words are words.  If I was talking about my period in the past, I would take care to preface it with a "too much information" and lower my voice like I was telling a secret.  Now I can unabashedly talk about sperm, vaginas, sex, periods, the uterus, or whatever is relevant to the story.  I ensure someone wants to talk about infertility first...but if you opened the discussion, any of the terminology is fair game.

(2) Most people will never get it.  Nor do they need to.  I have not been closely exposed to someone with cancer.  I certainly sympathize with those it affects, but I can't truly empathize, because I simply don't get it.  I don't have the experience.  I don't personally understand the depths of it.  And while I'm not trying to compare infertility with a deadly disease, it is a disease that people don't get until they are neck deep in its shit. 

(3) However, most people who don't get it at least recognize that and don't try to pretend.  I love you for that.  Ask questions, talk to me, even tell me stories of others you know.  But I appreciate that you acknowledge your naviete.  No worries.  I had it too. 

However, there are those few that I will forever begrudge for their lack of self-awareness.  (Don't worry, real-life friends...none of these people were anyone I wanted to be friends with anyway) 

My word of advice:  if you don't have anything semi-intelligent to say, don't say it at all.  I do not want to hear "I know exactly what you are going through.  It took my husband and I THREE WHOLE MONTHS to get pregnant.  It was torture."  Especially while you are rocking your baby in your arms.  Have some common sense.

(4) Related to #3.  We (the infertile peeps) can say things that you fertile folks generally shouldn't.  Both T and I do believe God has a plan, and that helps us find peace with the outcome of our next foray into the assisted baby-making biz.  But we also believe that God's plan is for us to have children at some point.  Or if not, it is not reflective on my parenting abilities.  The comment  "God did not want you to be a mother" is possibly the cruelest thing anyone has said to me.  Even if true, God obviously doesn't play by those rules.  He lets anyone procreate.  I submit Honey Boo Boo's mom, Snooki, and pretty much any of the "Real Housewives" as evidence of this.  Sadly, you think I'm exaggerating, but this has been said to me before.

(5) I am not sad that we are going through this.  How weird is that?  Especially when I'll follow up this blog post with one about breaking down into tears in the elevator.  But it's generally true.  Yes, this is hard.  Yes, it makes both T and me cry.  Yes, it makes our hearts break.  But there is absolutely no doubt or fear at this point of our desire for our child.  We know that we are 100% committed, and that is a pretty fantastic place to be.  I think most couples that get pregnant right away (by choice) still can admit there was some nugget of doubt even if they are ecstatic.  We have none of that now.  We will get annoyed with our children.  There will be times, in the midst of the middle of the night screaming, that we may even laugh that we spent this much money and effort for a child that is literally driving us bonkers.  But we will never ever ever hear either of us say "YOU wanted this, not me" or "I didn't even want to be a parent". 

I am also more self-aware (see #3 again).  I was completely guilty of making stupid comments to others before.  I'm sure of it.  Not that I won't ever be stupid again on some sort of topic, but I am so much more cognizant of thinking before speaking.

(6) We will always be infertile.  Even if this next procedure works, it is not like we can say we're ready for another child and plan to be knocked up a few months later.  We will never feel "normal".  Which is okay, but is a strange realization to make.

(7) And lastly... (well, not really.  I could go on and on, but this needs to stop somewhere)  I am so beyond in love with my husband.  I've never been shy about that, but it bears repeating.    As we've both been divorced, I'm sure it would be hard for some people to believe we really know what we are doing this time.  And I wholeheartedly say yes, we do.  In a way, I feel like we have a stronger legitimacy to our relationship now.  The most common reasons for divorce are lack of communication, money issues, misguided expectations of the marriage, and commitment issues.  This turbulent time has made us face each of these challenges, and we've come out on top and stronger than ever.  He is an amazing father, and will be to our future children.  I have the ultimate faith in him.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Finally an update

Yep, I'm still here.

While I was fairly antsy to get this whole process started again, it was really nice to just take a break from drugs and pokes and worry for several weeks.  We were able to concentrate on each other, family, and the furbaby.

But easy time is over, because our frozen cycle is now underway!

I start shots (just the suppression kind this time) on December 12th.  I do, along with some other estrogen patches and pills that I'm taking now, until January 4th.  At that point, they do a lining check to make sure the uterine environment is looking fine and dandy.  If everything looks good, I start my progesterone shots (the ones in the ass -- yay?) and do the transfer on January 11th!  I can't believe how fast that is going to be here!

I'm pretty excited, if you weren't able to pick that up.  Finally, finally, finally, we'll have an end to this path, one way or another.  It'll be almost a year since we weren't able to hold onto Artie and Herkie, so we certainly hope Link and Zelda can fight to the finish. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Alterna-Transfer Day & Freezing Report

Since T and I already had planned to take the day off for the transfer, we didn't cancel our plans when the transfer was cancelled.  We instead decided to make an awesome day full of drinking and general debauchery - basically what responsible parents would NOT do on a Monday.  Hey - we're not parents today (it's not our day with T's daughter even), so why not?

The day started with sleeping in until NINE.  Seriously, I'm not sure the last time I've slept that late.  I have been on the couch the last couple nights.  That make T sound like an evil husband, but in reality, my APD (the progesterone allergy - same hormone, but unrelated to our transfer cancellation) was acting up.  Getting up multiple times in the night for trips to the freezer for my ice packs was pretty annoying.  So the couch is only a couple steps away from the freezer.  Blech.  I'll be glad when this part is over.

First order of business -- T made some phenomenal eggs benedict, I mixed up some bloody marys, and we settled in to catch up on last night's episode of Homeland (crazy awesome by the way).

After a little more relaxing, we went out to lunch at a local brewery.  Then went on to do what all classy people do on a Monday - GAMBLE!  :)  We had some twenties in our pockets and a casino calling our name.  I proceeded to lose it all, and T doubled his half, so we ended up even.  I call that teamwork at its finest.  We rounded out the outing with a trip to the roulette table with the plan to put some moolah on "2" (more on that).  We got confused with the betting process, and apparently did not put enough money on the "outside" when meeting the minimum.  Still confused on that, and she "cancelled" our bet after she had spun the wheel.  Sure enough, it lands on 2.  Dammit!  It would have been $1,000 if we had bet it all and had it count.  Oh, well.

Ended the afternoon with some appreciation for the fine weather -- and wine and cigars on the back deck.

Pretty sad to have to go back to the "real world" tomorrow.

The good news came while I was losing money on blackjack and slot machines.  TWO of our three embryos were frozen.  The freezing process the clinic has used for the last couple years is called vitrification, which is leaps and bounds beyond the "slow freeze" process used prior.  The process is still fairly new, so I'm excited our clinic uses it.  The old process had about a 50% success rate for frozen embryos surviving the thaw.  In vitrification, the success rate is around 95%.  Therefore, we'd have a great chance of both embies surviving the thaw.

In a way, we're happier with two than three.  If both survive, we are in the perfect situation of transferring both, as we'd be delighted with twins.  Three is a little more overwhelming, and I wouldn't purposely create a situation with triplets.  They generally freeze the embryos together, so we'd likely have to thaw all three if we had them.  And that would leave us in an uncomfortable situation with that last embryo.  Better that God decided it wasn't meant to grow anyway.

We weren't able to get a photograph before the freeze, which was unfortunate.  But we needed to name the two anyway, as we'll be thinking about them all the time.  Our mythology names didn't work out so well last time, so we needed something with a little more modern fictional oomph.  Multiple lives and surviving frozen situations doesn't hurt either.   So, if you think of us over the next couple months, be sure to think of Link and Zelda (from the Legends of Zelda video game series) as well!

I'll check in once in awhile, but certainly won't be posting often over the next several weeks.  It should be about 6-7 weeks before we can start the whole process again, so definitely check back by then at least!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

No dice

This will be short as I'm still really processing what we have in front of us.

Out of our 9 eggs, 5 were mature, and 3 fertilized.  That is actually the same proportion as last time (33% made it to fertilization).  Actually a better fertilization rate, since less were mature.

Given the overall low amount of fertilized embryos and my elevated progesterone, they cancelled my transfer.  We hope and pray that the three embryos make it until day 5.  They will freeze the good ones on day 5.  Then we hope and pray that the embryos survive the thaw when it is time to transfer.  Given all the rest cycles and suppression and other steps, the transfer would be sometime in January.

So....step 1:  make it to Wednesday with 2-3 embryos intact.  Step 2:  make it to January without having a nervous breakdown.  Step 3:  embryos survive the thaw.  Step 4:  ????????????????

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Retrieval Update

A pretty short message this time as the retrieval was fairly non-eventful.  Unlike our craziness of the first cycle!

We got 9 eggs.  I'm pretty neutral on that.  Definitely better than the 6 eggs from last time, but I was aching to get in that double digit camp.  The number is fairly meaningless until tomorrow though.  That is when we'll find out how many were mature and fertilized, which will be some number less than 9.  I'm hoping and praying for 6.

The results tomorrow will help the doctor decide between our options for transfer.  He didn't give specifics, like X scenario = transfer, Y scenario = no transfer.  But the fertilized eggs will help him make the decision.  He'll be deciding between a 3 day transfer (on Saturday), a 5 day transfer (on Monday) or a "freeze all" option. 

The weird thing is that I'm been categorized as "at risk" for OHSS, which is when your ovaries are too hyperstimulated.  Normally that is associated with people who get some crazy egg count, like 20+.  So, per usual, my body doesn't react normally.  I have to have a high sodium diet over the next couple weeks, monitor my weight gain (> 3 lbs in a day would be bad), and generally watch my health.  Fingers crossed nothing happens there!

So more to come when we find out tomorrow...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Trigger Day, Part 2: Revenge of the Progesterone

It truly is always something.

Retrieval is still on for Wednesday.  That in itself is definite cause for for celebration.

However, my progesterone is currently 2.  Apparently, they like it to be below 1 during the cycle (as in basically nil).  Although, I am reading that other clinics like it "below 2", so it appears that I am definitely borderline.  The progesterone is what communicates with the uterus to "be ready" for implantation.  So if it is elevating too early, my lining could be ready too early, and already on the downhill by the time the transfer/implantation would actually occur.  Therefore, it could interfere with a successful implantation.

We won't really know more about what they want to do until Wednesday.  The "Plan B" is to fertilize any retrieved eggs and then freeze them all.  I wouldn't transfer next week, but would rather have to wait a cycle or 2, and then do a frozen embryo transfer.  I will be SO disappointed if that happens, but obviously we want to do what gives us the best chance for success.  The risk is that the embryos don't survive the thawing process and our cycle is over without a chance.

I just feel like this is my worst outcome.  I was ready to be at the end of this path...either due to a success or a failure.  I figured something would happen that would just extend the path without giving a clear sense of how it ends up...and here it is.  Awesome. 

Anyway, please keep us in your prayers, and hope that the doctors do make the best possible decision.  Whatever that might be. 

Trigger Day!

Looks like we'll be triggering at 10pm tonight for a Wednesday morning retrieval.  It is funny how much more laid back T and I are this time, since we actually know what will be going on.  I'm so excited that everything is progressing nicely...and my gut is VERY excited to have no more Repronex shots.  Just two trigger shots tonight, and I'll be leaving the belly alone to move on to the "in the ass" progesterone shots.

We had about 10 good size follicles, so we're hoping that equates to 10 (or more!) good eggs!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 5

Day 5 Update for anyone following the science:  E2 (estrogen) was 1,080 and I had "more than five" follicles on each ovary.  Before I left (before they know the estrogen results), she told me they'd like the E2 below 1,000.  Since it was slightly above, we're going in on Sunday for an extra checkup before our normally scheduled one on Monday.  This is the same as last year, and I love the free look.  So we're in good spirits. 

My stomach looks like crap and I currently weigh more than I ever have in my life.  Hopefully it's just a preview of things to come :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 3 of Stims

T and I went this morning for my first bloodwork and ultrasound since stimming.  Like last time, I'm coming roaring out of the gate, which makes me nervous, as we want things to be consistent growth through retrieval.  I had about three measurable follicles on my left side, and about 5 or so on the right, along with smaller ones.  They don't do a lot of specific measurements and counts on day 3.  My estrogen level was 398.  Generally they like less than 100 at this point, but last cycle it was in the 500s, so I think generally we are better?  Especially since my dosages were actually higher to start.

Either way, they cut both my stimulation drugs down by a 1/3.  That's good news to my belly, as lower dosages hurt less. 

So that's that.  We go back on Friday and take it from there!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

IVF#2 = Cycle 25

I'm a little down in the dumps today.  I'm bruising from my awful Repronex shots (taking 225 IU versus 150IU last time isn't helping), I can already play connect the dots on my stomach from the other injections, I'm starting to bloat enough that it looks like I gained two pounds just in my stomach.  Just from 1.5 days of stimulation.  Our cash flow is very ouchy after paying $10k+ to start off the process last week.  And I figured out today that our IVF is cycle 25 for us.  To be fair, last cycle was on birth control, so it was not really applicable.  But I duitifully record when aunt flo comes to visit, and the nice software turns the number to 25 for me. 

So while it is not quite two years on a calendar basis, we're at two years from a number of cycles perspective.  And a full calendar year with our infertility clinic, whom we first visited on October 3, 2011.  A full year of thinking "professional help" would get us the answer we desired.  Thank goodness we are literally only weeks away from a turning point.  I'm ready for a bit of hibernation from all this.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Shots, shots, shots, shots!

Only in the warped world of IVF is anyone super excited when it comes time to start shots.  And due to having a pretty full social calendar through the time, we will be mastering the art of shooting up in a restaurant and/or bar bathroom.  Classy, right?

I wrapped up my birth control pills mid last week.  Unfortunately, my progesterone increased those last couple days (maybe I was making some naturally along with the exogenous progesterone from the pills?  I don't understand how bodies work during birth control - especially just taking a partial month).  Or possibly, my magic pill stopped working completely.  Either way, I had a couple miserable nights in a row where I was up every couple hours replacing the ice packs in my little booties.  Those booties are rock star, I tell you.  I just wish the ice packs would stay cold for longer.  I may have to install a freezer in our bedroom for the next month.

On a side note, there just is not enough information on APD out there.  It has been noted that it can cause early miscarriage in extreme cases, but generally it was because the body was suppressing the progesterone needed to carry a child, simply because it couldn't handle it.  That doesn't appear to be the case for me, as my progesterone was ridiculously high during the Clomid IUI cycles.  It was at levels that would carry you very safely through first trimester and even through the second potentially.  So it doesn't appear that it is causing issues, but if this doesn't work again, I'll always wonder if the autoimmune response would be connected to the implantation failures.  Maybe it will be one of those things where they find out more in the next few years, and we try again at some point down the road.  Who knows?

Anyway, we're moving forward with our thoughts on this cycle.  In the last cycle, I started shots about a week earlier, while I was still on birth control.  Those were the suppression shots to quiet my body down before stimulation.  This time, since I seemed to be oversuppressed, the docs were relying on solely the birth control to do its job.  I went for my baseline ultrasound on Thursday, when they make sure the ovaries are nice and sleepy.  Everything looked great, so it looks like the birth control was up to the challenge. 

So I started the Lupron (in a microdose version this time) just yesterday.  Rather than full suppression, at this point it is there to make sure I don't ovulate early on my own.  This whole thing would go to shit if all those follicles go out floating around without a chance of retrieval.

We went to out to dinner and to see a musical at our local civic center last night, so I was either going to need to do my shot in the restaurant bathroom or the civic center bathroom depending on timing.  We pre-filled the syringe before going out, so I was holding my purse gingerly the whole time scared that I would accidentally press down on the syringe.  Turned out we were still at the restaurant when I needed to shoot it in, so I appropriated the handicap stall to the dismay of the homecoming girls going to the bathroom in a group.  It was a lovely time.

Tonight we are saying good-bye to a dear friend that is moving away, so I will again get to take my Lupron with me and shoot up between bites of boar pizza.  Then I'll start stimming tomorrow, which I'm very excited about!  First ultrasound/blood draw on Wednesday, and ideally we'll be retrieving mid next week.  Grow follicles, grow!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

War and Peace

My mind is constantly at war with itself in these last few weeks leading up to the IVF.  Some days I'm so amazingly optimistic that it will work, as I consider all the changes we are making leading up to it.  Some days I'm more pessimistic (I prefer to label it as realistic), and know that most people out there have had at least some form of pregnancy by this point, even if it didn't result in a "take home" baby.  Ultimately, we'll just have to wait and see, but I think this wait has been more tortuous than any past ones.

But that comes to the peace part.  I'll ultimately be okay with the outcome, no matter what it is.  Not right away.  If we find out it is another negative, we will probably both be broken on the floor bawling.  I will need several weeks of therapy (although note I said weeks, not months, not years) to truly grieve for our loss.  Because we know we can make life.  We made Artie and Herkie and I think about them all the time in all of their perfectness.  But if my body just isn't made to carry that life, it is what it is.  I do believe there is a plan for everyone.  Not that you just sit back and the plan plays, you do still need to try and make decisions and put effort into your life.  But when you simply have done everything you can do, that is the point you put it back in God's hands.  And if this doesn't work, it does not mean our journey is over.  It just means we are at a fork in the road and choosing another path.  And I am very much at peace with that. 

That being said, it seems everyone around me is getting pregnant.  I'm now up to 7 announcements just in the last couple weeks.  For those of you that may read this blog, please know that I'm honestly ecstatic for you.  I'm so happy that you have been blessed in this way, whether it is your first or second or third (or second and third at once!).  But also know that it is hard for me, and if I avoid you for awhile, it is not personal at all.  It is just helping me work towards that peace that I know is around the corner. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Strength in numbers

On somewhat of a whim, tonight I attended a fertility "peer group" that my acupuncturist puts on monthly.  I really didn't know what to expect, but I met a group of lovely gals that are in various stages of infertility issues.  A couple were pregnant and able to tell stories on how they "got there", a few were just starting out, and a couple, like me, were in the midst of cycling for IVF.  I read different message boards a lot on the interwebs, along with blogs that I've stumbled upon.  And while those are comforting, it definitely was very nice to hear the stories of others live in person.

I have a horrible confession.  Sometimes when I hear that other people have an IVF failure, it makes me feel better.  Not happy, but a little relieved.   I just don't feel so alone, as it seems like it happens on the first try for EVERYONE online.   But I really would be very disappointed if it doesn't work out for the gals tonight. 

T and I are currently antibiotic-ing (totally a word).  He has two pills a day and I have four.  They totally make you sick and gassy, and just generally not enjoying life.  It is pretty sad that I can't wait until we start stimming, as I can't wait to not take this crap anymore.  On the good side, one of my other pills is my new allergy medication for the APD - and it works phenomenally.  It totally knocks me out, so it is very much a night time drug.  But as long as I take right before bed, I'm golden.

So the pill rundown for this week:

Baby aspirin:  standard protocol for my RE.  Helps thicken the lining for some nice burrowing embies.
Prenatal vitamin:  Helps for a healthy body and hopefully a healthy pregnancy
Extra folic acid:  'Cause everyone likes healthy fetal poles
Zyrtec:  This OTC allergy pill can get me through the daytime which is not usually as bad as the night
Flagyl:  A chalky, crazy icky antibiotic pill that is always hard to swallow.  Leaves a horrible taste in my mouth all through the day.  I have to take this sucker twice daily :(
Doxycycline:   Another antibotic that is a killer in disguise.  It pretends to be all pretty and easy to swallow.  But underneath that turquoise smooth exterior is a pill that wreaks havoc on my stomach.  Last IVF, I didn't eat enough one morning and was puking my guts out in the deli next to the elevators at work one morning.  Lesson learned.  Face now stuffed.
Hydroxyzine:  The magic wonder pill for my itchy feet
Birth control pill:  The trusty tool to any infertile.  Makes no sense, I know.  I get it , but I still just feel so counterproductive every time I take it. 

That's about it for the week.  T is so happy to be back on the bicycle, and is participating in his first cyclocross race this weekend (maybe - he's not sure yet).  I'm pretty excited for him, as long as he doesn't go breaking every bone in his body.  That seems like it would halt our IVF proceedings a bit.  After the IVF though, you know, whatever happens, happens :)

My husband saw me typing and just asked "is it going to be a good post?".  I wasn't sure what constituted a good post, and he said the ones that I say what a keeper he is.  So I guess this won't be a good one :)

(just kidding.  I was reminded at my peer group tonight what a fantastic husband and partner I have.  This whole fertility thing is truly a team undertaking.  Go team go!)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The seven-year (or in reality 21 day) itch

This blog gets about 30-40 hits a day.  That's actually pretty crazy to me.  I'm fairly certain I do not have 40 friends - or at least 40 friends that would read my rants on a daily basis.  Therefore, it must be people checking multiple times per day or to people who don't know who I am.  To either of which, I say welcome!  Stalkers and strangers alike!

The blog itself is still a weird concept to me.  At its core, it is a very vain and self-absorbed undertaking.  It's all me me me, all the time.  It's not like I can carry on a conversation with you.  Me:  "How are you doing today?".  Silence.  Me:  "Let's hear about you, what is going on?"  Silence.  Me:  "Okay, nothing then?  Back to me in that case!"

I don't think of myself as a self-absorbed person.  Although, I could be completely wrong, and my husband may gently point out tonight that I am, in fact, a selfish shrew.  Which I'm sorry if that's true!  But generally, I don't feel that way, so it is kind of strange to take time every once in awhile to say, "I really need to blog that.  Because EVERYONE will want to know."  Oh, well.  You do keep reading, and you must have figured out at this point that the blog is about me.  Sorry if you were looking for actual recipes on a cooking blog.  I'll have to add some recipes some time.

Anyway, here's the latest:

My APD is in high gear.  I started my cycle last Friday, so theoretically I shouldn't have any issues (as it flares before my period in the latter half of my cycle).  I started my birth control pill that kicks off the IVF cycle, so I even thought I'd get to miss it entirely.  I'm not fully sure how BCPs work, but I don't think you ovulate on them -- and therefore, my body wouldn't produce progesterone.  So when I was crying myself to sleep the other day, for a brief moment, I thought I was pregnant.  That my period was a fake-out, and my progesterone kept increasing to support my newly implanted embryo.  On an entirely natural cycle.  Reality set in pretty quickly, and it dawned on me to check what was actually in my birth control pill.  You guessed it -- estrogen and progesterone.  Duh.  So now I get 21 days of hell.

I was able to go back to the allergist today since her initial treatment really wasn't helping.  She's now prescribed me this super concentrated Benadryl-type stuff.  I'll try that tonight and hopefully get this crap under control in the next couple days.  My super husband also ordered me these seemingly awesome booties that have various inserts for ice packs.  Icing my feet while I sleep has helped immensely, but I never had a good way to really hit the right places and keep it iced.  I'm super excited for these!  And, of course, they are very sexy:

Good thing getting pregnant naturally doesn't work anyway.  Not sure my husband would be interested right now.

The only other major thing is that I have my endometrial biopsy tomorrow.  Hopefully, they scratch me a little spot for my upcoming embryos to nestle in nicely.  And, I'm an officially old lady with a 7-day, AM/PM pill box to keep track of my medications -- which will be TWELVE a day here shortly. 

Injections start the first weekend of October.  It is going to go by so fast!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Big girls don't cry

Well, we all know that big girls do cry.  And I think especially during infertility, when your body is raging with hormones at even given point, crying is even expected.  So I don't feel so bad for my breakdown last Friday, but it definitely consisted of full-out bawling at work.

When we had last met with the doc, he counted everything out from my expected first day of my cycle and proclaimed us good.  He was heading off to a conference in late October, but assured us we would finish our cycle before he left.

Therefore, when my cycle started the exact day I expected (last Friday), I happily called the nurses to let them know and request my calendar for the remaining 5-6 weeks.  I missed the call back since I was in a meeting, but she nonchalantly tells me in a message that I couldn't do my cycle this month, because it conflicted with the conference.  She told me to just wait until next month.  Um, this was NOT going to fly.  While even having to wait a month was going to set me on edge, waiting until mid-October to start would mean the retrieval or transfer would fall right in Thanksgiving week.  We already have plans to fly to Texas for the week and spend with T's father and his wife in a rented house on the beach in Galveston.  We haven't seen them since we got married, so this was not something we wanted to cancel.  I then figured out the next cycle would also be a no go - it would be Christmas.  The tears started to roll. 

After finally being able to connect with the head nurse, I blubbered about how stressed I was and how I can't wait three months, and we had to do in 2012 for tax purposes, and this whole thing was driving me crazy, and, and, and...I finally shut up long enough for her to tell me that she would try to figure something out.  Apparently, the doctor wasn't wrong, it was just that the week prior to the conference was already "full". 

Fast forward several hours, and T and I are leaving work to head up to Minneapolis for a getaway weekend.  She finally calls back and lets me know that the other doctor at the clinic agreed to do my transfer, which I'm actually excited about.  He's supposed to be really good and I know lots of people had success with him.  I honestly could feel the stress leave my body upon this news.  We are moving forward!

So our retrieval should be on or around October 17th and our transfer would then be on or around October 22nd.  Ideally we should know our fate by Halloween.  Here we go again!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Oh you get up, you get down and you try it again

And we're off...

I had a whirlwind day of appointments today.  Since I really wasn't planning to get a lick of work done, I officially took PTO and slept in until 8 today.  That on its own made today a winner!

We then had our latest touchbase with our RE doc.  We're officially on board to do IVF#2 next cycle.  Changes this cycle:

  • Endometrial biopsy:  he discussed this at our WTF appointment last spring.  Basically, he'll go in and rough up my uterus a bit.  Create a happy landing for our embies.
  • T will freeze some swimmers.  That way he won't have to worry about "performing" on the big day.  This is MAJOR news for T, because it means he can ride his bike again!
  • I will do the microdose lupron protocol.  I'll only take birth control pills for a couple weeks (versus the whole pack), then a diluted form of the suppression drug Lupron.  Then I'll stim my heart out for a week and ideally provide the doc a few more good eggs to work with.  We're hoping for two awesome embryos and ideally a few to spare as snobabies.  
The microdose lupron (MDL) protocol ends up being a little shorter than the other I did in the spring.  I should start my birth control pills mid-September, and then, if all goes well, my transfer will be done by October 15th.  We'll know by Halloween if we punched the lucky ticket this time.

I'm a little sad, because we're going to have to cancel a trip to Omaha to see Beach House in concert in mid-October.  But we decided to go to Minneapolis for a baseball game in September instead as a last little getaway before the whole process starts.

I then spent a nice hour with my therapist who has promised to keep me sane through this whole process.

Then...on to acupuncture!  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but ultimately it was pretty anti-climatic.  She stuck some needles in me and I laid back to listen to my newly created "acu" playlist.  Twenty-ish minutes later, we were done.  I did feel awfully relaxed on my drive home, but it could be because I got to take a nap in the late afternoon.  And no one would argue with that being a treat.  I do this through the retrieval.  On retrieval day, I go the night before, then I go the  morning of the transfer.  Another round right after transfer, then I'm on my merry way to get some embies sticking to me and don't come back for a couple weeks.

Ultimately, my goal is to feel no regrets if this round doesn't work.  No thinking I should have done acupuncture.  I should have limited my extracurricular activities/stressors (I quit my part-time job and backed off some volunteer work).  Nope - I'm just DOING it and will know that I gave this all I have.

My one major upset thus far is learning that I can't work out.  This wasn't an issue last time, because, well, I simply wasn't working out.  But I was motivated and raring to work up to a 3-4 mile standard by the time retrieval occurred.  I figured then I could keep up that pace if I did indeed get pregnant.

However, turns out that cardio and IVF do not get along.  Several studies have shown that someone who works out 3-4 times per week has a 50% less chance of success.  Somehow the activity changes your hormones or something like that.  This is even true if you've been working out regularly for up to 10 years!!  So my lazy ass gets to do light walking and eat full-fat ice cream (also recommended!) to prepare for this last cycle.  If you see me a couple months from now, and I look like I packed on a few, please don't assume that it is because I'm pregnant.  It very well could be Ben & Jerry's Phish Food finding a permanent home in my belly.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

We can only look forward

(Warning, this is another long one.  For the tl;dr folks:  we suck at making babies and are back to IVF.  Itchy feet should stay at bay.)

Great News
My visit to the allergist this morning was fabulous.  At first, I was a little unnerved by the nurse and her lack of ability to understand my concerns.  It took her about 6 tries to spell progesterone.  Then, she kept asking me when my last shot was.  "February -- I'm not allergic to the shots.  I think the shots triggered the allergy".  "So, where does the progesterone come from"  "My body"  "Because you are taking shots?"  "No, bodies produce progesterone normally.  Forget the shots." "So the shots, then?"  AARGH!!!  Enter the phenomenal doctor to save the day.  Not only has she heard of APD before, she has treated it and had successful pregnancies.  Yippee!!!  I am on daily Zyrtec and a prescription steroidal cream now (only for breakouts for the cream).  We'll see if that gets me through a natural cycle without concern.  If so, then we'll adjust the dosage as necessary for the IVF cycle.  If not, we'll experiment some more.  Her goal is to let me survive the square-in-the-ass progesterone shots for IVF.  If I can survive those, I can definitely survive pregnancy.  (So let's work on that pregnancy part!!!)  Which leads to...

Good News
We are on course for IVF #2 (aka IUI #4 = big fat bust).  I have to take off this next cycle (through mid-September) to get all the Clomid out of my system.  We meet next Wednesday with the doc to discuss the protocol for the upcoming cycle.  Ideally, it is not exactly like the last one, because it would make me fall into the four days annually that the doctors are not available due to a conference in San Diego.  Of course.  But since it seems I was oversupressed last cycle, I imagine there will be a shortening of my suppression period which will help me avoid the no doctor time.   More to come there.  Bring on the shots!!

I am also taking on acupuncture for this round.  I had my consultation a few weeks ago, and have my first "official" session this week.  This was recommended by my RE and my allergist, so I'm raring to go.  The goal is to get me nice healthy eggs and good implantation.  Ideally, we have some frozen embryos (official terminology:  snobabies) this time around.  I've heard that people have better luck with frozen transfers, as you have less drugs in your system.  Fingers crossed!!

Although, now I have on a regular schedule:  a reproductive endocrinologist, an allergist, an acupuncturist, and a therapist.  All for my body/our infertility issues.  I literally have to take PTO for almost a full day this upcoming week to see 3 out of the 4.  If this thing doesn't work, I've at least made a new set of friends.  I'll have to host a happy hour when this is all said and done.  Which leads to...

Meh News
This IVF will probably be the end of the line for us. If we are lucky enough to have snobabies, we will certainly leave no man (or baby) behind.  But if we have essentially the same result of last time, meaning a BFN and no more chances without a new cycle, then we will likely be hanging up our hats.

I have my books on adoption to prepare for that step.  I am generally okay with adoption.  I have no concerns with loving an adopted child like my own.   I will love that boy or girl more fiercely than some love their biological children.  That child will never lack for complete devotion.

I just can't shake the guilt aspect.  Again, I'm putting off a full post for another day, but I only feel guilt when I think about adoption.  In my head, I very feasibly could have placed a child for adoption if I had been pregnant in high school/early college.  I can't say that for certainty, since it didn't occur, but is very possible.  While I'm pro-choice, I don't think abortion would have ever been an option for me.  So adoption would have easily been at the top of the list, given I wasn't sure if I wanted children EVER until about mid-college.

But heart breaks every day that I don't have a son or daughter with T.  The pain that it brings to me, to T, is simply unbearable at times.  If I knew I had a child out there, I'm not sure I could survive that pain.  I DON'T KNOW THAT I CAN DO THAT TO SOMEONE ELSE.  Silly, I know.  If I don't adopt the child, someone else will.  It's not like my non-participation in the adoption world changes that.  But I am not able to currently separate that in my head, and it makes adoption a very uncomfortable place to be right now.

So that's that for now...treatment for my APD (the allergy), IVF#2 in Sep/Oct, and then a big & black unknown for us.  Thank goodness my teetotaler time hasn't kicked in yet.  This girl needs a big glass of wine.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Autoimmune Progesterone Dermatitis

I'm starting to get more answers than questions, which is something that makes me VERY happy.  I actually am able to see the allergist on Thursday after they discussed me today (versus late October, which was initially the "first appointment" they had open).  Apparently, I piqued their interest enough to get me in the door quickly.  Diagnose and treat me, please!

With my well-earned MD using Dr. Google as my tenured professor, I am about 99% certain of what I have:

Autoimmune Progesterone Dermatitis

Sounds kind of scary and awful, right?  In reality, it might not be that bad.  And something identifiable can be treated, so that's pretty great.   The allergist will need to either do a skin flap test or an antibody test to ultimately confirm my ailment, but I'm pretty positive that we'll be able to move on pretty quickly to treatment once that occurs.

Some key points from Dr. Google:

-Autoimmune progesterone dermatitis (APD) occurs as a result of an allergic reaction to a woman's own progesterone.

-APD may be caused initially by a woman taking birth control pills or another hormone supplement containing progesterone that results in sensitization to the hormone.  Like progesterone in oil shots!!!!

-APD can have a variety of different symptoms, although most, if not all, include skin rashes.  I am feeling my itchy feet and the breakouts on the rest of my body right now!

-Symptoms typically occur anywhere from 3 to 10 days prior to the onset of menses, and begin to resolve within 1 to 2 days after the onset of menstruation.  Mine have almost always started at 3 days past ovulation (about 10 days prior to my period) and clear up by my period.

And the good news:

-Treatment of APD may be successful with the use of antihistamines and oral or injected corticosteroids

And the BEST news:

-The cells responsible for this are the CD 19+5+ cells. By 10 weeks of pregnancy these cells are usually suppressed to normal numbers and the progesterone allergy is less of a problem.

One thing to note is, as with any condition, there is a wide spectrum of how the symptoms show themselves.  My itchiness seems to be at the more minor end.  Some people can go into anaphylatic shock due to their allergy and ultimately must have their ovaries removed as the only treatment.  I am VERY thankful I do not appear to be in that category and my heart goes out to the people that are.

So I'll update on here what the ultimate result and treatment was, especially for those poor folks that have been googling "progesterone allergy and pregnancy" in panic for days on end, and stumbled across this post.  It sounds like there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully this is just one more hurdle that we can conquer!

Friday, August 10, 2012

My own worst enemy

While not 100% confirmed, evidence continues to support a theory I have had for some time.

I am allergic to myself.

Awesome, right?

The story starts back to when I was blogging specifically about our IVF cycle.  As part of normal IVF protocol, you are put on progesterone support since your body is not making any on its own.  In a natural cycle, when you ovulate, the follicle evolves into something called a corpus luteum.  This corpus luteum starts producing progesterone.  The progesterone production peaks around seven days after your ovulation, then tapers off from there.  The complete reduction of the progesterone is what triggers the onset of your next period.  (Progesterone is also responsible for your increased body temperature during the second half of your cycle -- which is how I knew my period was coming when my temperature dropped).  If you become pregnant, your embryo starts producing the pregnancy hormone, and that signals the corpus luteum to keep on producing for the next several weeks to help the pregnancy.

I never had any problems, at least not that I was aware of, prior to IVF.  However, in IVF, you are not necessarily replicating the natural production of progesterone by utilizing the shots.  Rather, you are injecting very concentrated progesterone into your body, essentially hitting it all at once vs being a steady source. 

At the time of the IVF, I did have a reaction to the shots -- horribly itchy painful feet.  We assumed it wasn't the progesterone itself, but rather the medium it was delivered (sesame oil).  Switched to a vaginal solution, and the symptom did clear up quite a bit.  It didn't disappear completely until I was completely off progesterone, but I just figured it would take awhile for the sesame oil to clear out of my body.

Fast forward to the next several natural cycles....every cycle around 3-4 days past ovulation, the feet would start to itch again.  I say itch because I don't know how better to simply describe it, but it is essentially pins poking at my feet on the bottom and alongside the inside arches.  I noticed it, but it was very minor during these cycles, so pretty much ignored it.

Last cycle on Clomid, it was much worse.  I was putting gel Benadryl on my feet at night, which helped, but it further supported my theory that the progesterone was indeed causing this issue.  I studied the progesterone hormone quite a bit, and found graphs that illustrated the level in the body and different times of the cycle.  My symptoms aligned with that graph perfectly.  This first Clomid cycle, my progesterone was measured at 44 (15 is fairly normal for a medicated cycle). 

This current cycle has been horrible.  I can't sleep.  I'm crying.  I put ice packs on my feet at night to numb them, because the Benadryl doesn't do shit. .   I have to get up in the middle of night to trek to the freezer for a fresh one.    My sleep is then uncomfortable because of the numb feet and because of the weird contortionist way to sleep to ensure both feet are touching the ice pack.  My ridiculously awesome coworker suggested getting ice pack sleeves that I can actually slip onto my feet.  I'm definitely following that advice.   I figured my progesterone HAD to be higher than last time for these worse symptoms.  I asked the RE to get it measured -- if it was higher, it is only further support that this is a progesterone allergy.  If it wasn't, I'd have to reconsider the source.  It was 65. 

Anyway, my RE has referred me to an allergist.  The allergist herself was out this week, so the nurse talked to me and was pretty dumbfounded by my issue.  We're supposed to have a call on Monday to discuss further and I'm hoping that they can (1) officially diagnose me and (2) treat me.  The realization that this can occur is fairly new, but there are studies on the internet that show going a birth control is a great method to control.  Obviously that isn't the objective here. 

My biggest concern is that if you do get pregnant, your progesterone only continues to rise.  I"m worried that I will have 9 months of crying myself to sleep with ice packs.  Ultimately, if that is the case, I am up to the challenge.  I'm just really hoping that isn't the case, because if we are able to get pregnant, I do want the chance to actually enjoy the pregnancy without this staring me down from the start.  Another concern is that this is actually preventing me from getting pregnant, although research shows that miscarriage is more of a symptom then simply not implanting an embryo. 

So that's the update.   It is very feasible that the allergist and RE will agree that I simply shouldn't get pregnant.  And that will be that.  Please keep your fingers crossed that we can find another option than that.

Sorry this was so long, but I vented this story to a friend of mine last night, and needed some further venting today.  Thank you guys and gals for being my wonderful audience for my issues (or realistically, thank you Dad, T, and gals)!

Friday, August 3, 2012

I'm ready for IVF

We did our fourth (and last!!!!) IUI this morning.  I will officially let the world know that I unequivocally hate Clomid.  I hate IUI.  I hate monitoring sperm counts.  I'm not sure someone could pay me to do this again.  My body will thank me profusely when this damn Clomid is out of my system.

I'm still hoping for a miracle, as I do every other two-week increment, but I'm looking forward to our likely upcoming IVF cycle.  We'll take a month off after this cycle, and then start up again after that.  Ignoring the financial aspect, I really love IVF (relative to IUI).  There is more rigor behind it, and it appeals to my analytical side much more so than IUI.  The stages are better defined, and you can actually pinpoint where the issue may be (such as implantation).  That doesn't mean you can necessarily solve that issue, but the knowing aspect is a huge relief.   With IUI, I just feel that we throw a bunch of crap at the wall to see what sticks.

While this TTC madness is ridiculously life and relationship consuming, T and I do have an existence outside of it (although sometimes that is hard for us to believe).   We attended my stepdaughter's band concert last night, which was SO much better than the last one where we heard more squeaks than audible on-key notes.  She is an amazingly awesome and accomplished girl and I couldn't be prouder of her.  Her tween angst is starting to shine through though, so we'll have to keep a look out for that.   I only have to think back my own tween/teen years, and I then consider myself adequately forewarned.

Our August is chock full of family, friends, and fun.  We'll have multiple visitors over the next several weeks, are attending some concerts, and just are generally looking forward to some respite from the insane temperatures of the last month.  I'll be honest.  Sometimes, T and I have to consciously remind ourselves how truly good we have it.  Almost all of our friends are in the midst of baby mania of their own in some way or another, and it can be easy to dwell on the fact that we have been so unlucky in that area thus far.  In reality, our lives are so permeated with love from each other, our extended families and our awesome friends, that it sometimes seems petty to ask for even more.  But that one small thing that we desire is truly the biggest thing that would ever happen in our lives, so we'll keep on truckin'.

The most fabulous news on this Friday is that we have NO plans tonight.  We were meant to hang out with some friends, but switched it to a different weekend since we were unsure if our IUI would be today or tomorrow.  So, friends, while we love you, we are greatly looking forward to some T and C time.  Wine will be flowing, grill will be grilling, and big screen basement TV will likely be playing an awesome movie.

(On the movie note, we watched a REALLY good movie this week.  If you like creepy, but not scary, movies, and can handle foreign films, rent "The Orphanage (El Orfanato)".  It's in Spanish, and is a technically a ghost story, but is ultimately about how much a mother loves her adopted son.  I totally cried and thought it was great).

Have a phenomenal weekend!  I keep promising an adoption post, and I have one percolating in my head, but I'm not quite ready to get thoughts to paper (screen) on that one yet.  So sometime soon...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Clomid is an evil, evil wench

I'm not "officially" out yet, but my temperature dropped this morning over 0.6 degrees to my coverline.  That was probably only meaningful to like two people reading this.  Translation:  period is coming and coming fast.

I was noting to T all through this last week that it wasn't successful as I was having no symptoms at all.  He would be quick to remind me that early pregnancy symptoms (i.e. before a positive test) could be a bunch of hogwash, which is certainly true.  But I still figure I'd feel something.

Then yesterday, my body went a little crazy.  (This is where we enter the "too much information" section of the blog.  Move along if you don't want to hear about my boobs being on fire.)

I'll step back and note that I really don't get PMS symptoms.  Maybe a little cranky one day, but I'll get some very specific cramping about 12 hours before my period starts.  I'll maybe get some shooting pains in my boobs a day or so before.  Then once it actually starts, I'll have more generalized cramping for about an hour.  Then I'm on my merry way.

So yesterday, day of boobs being on fire, made me start thinking something was HAPPENING.  Hmmm...I is the "different" I was searching for.  I also had crazy itchy nipples, which I NEVER have, along with that generalized cramping I get normally after the period starts.  At this point in our "journey", I have definitely learned to not get ahead of myself, so off to the googles I went.

In all my preparation with Clomid, I read extensively about side effects while you were actually taking it early in the cycle.  I didn't read about (nor knew about) the impacts it can actually have on your PMS.

Boobs on fire?  Quote from random girl on internet:  "I never had sore breasts in PMS.   But with Clomid, I almost wanted them to fall off to just leave me alone."

Itchy nipples?  Whole post on one of  my websites entitled "Clomid sore and itchy nipples 2ww" with multiple respondents.

Crazy cramps?  Chalk up to Clomid as well.

So my moment of hope only lasted about 10 minutes.  I actually had a visual of the Clomid witch running away cackling while I chased her with a raygun powered by the Google engine.  God bless the interwebs.

The docs do test my ovulation after Clomid by taking a blood sample about seven days after the supposed ovulation.  They want to see the measurement (of progesterone) over 15 which simply means you ovulated.  Mine was 44.  I ovulate like a boss.

We're trying this one more time, but then I'm done with this IUI crap.  It's time to pull out the big guns of IVF again.  We'll probably end up exactly where we are now, but it definitely won't be without a fight.  Plus I've decided I like shots better than Clomid crazy as it sounds. 

Now I'm going to concentrate on the positive side of not being pregnant:  drinking.  We're going to St. Louis this weekend to watch the Cards crush the Cubs with my parents (my husband is a Cubs fan - ha!).  $9 beers for all.  And next weekend we have tickets to a dinner at a new brewery opening in town -- multiple courses paired with local beers.   I'm happy.  I like beer.  Life will be just peachy these next few weeks (and that was not sarcasm).  Have a good weekend yourself!

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's really a miracle anyone gets pregnant

If you have an hour to spare (and it really is worth it), check out this documentary entitled "The Great Sperm Race".  T and I consider ourselves somewhat experts in how reproduction works, and there were still some interesting tidbits here.  It's a very quick hour!

Friday, July 13, 2012

It's my birthday!

Looking forward to fun times with friends and family.  I'll ignore the fact that I'm getting older and my eggs are rotting even more :)

Please keep your fingers crossed for good news for us these next couple weeks!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

It's always something!

I almost had to go to the ER last night.  For anyone who knows me and my husband, that probably elicits more laughter than fear.  Between the two of us, we seriously go to the ER 1 or 2 times a year.  My stepdaughter has not been since I've known her (more than 4 years now).  But yet, T and I are intimately familiar with the nice new hospital near us on the west side of town.

Somehow I rammed my foot into T's foot while at a music festival last night.  At first, I just spewed out some expletives since it just hurt a lot - like stubbing a toe.  Then I made the mistake of looking down.  My big toe's toenail was flipped backward and blood was gushing out of my toe and pooling up on the ground and my sandal.  Awesome.  We found the first aid tent and they wrapped me up all nice (while the tech's girlfriend ran away screaming -- I'm serious).  They said if it still hurt, I should go to the ER because they couldn't tell if there were lacerations and I may need stitches.  It did hurt this morning, but I decided to just go to the walk-in clinic instead.  All's good and the ER was avoided, but I apparently won't have a big toenail for 6 months to 1 year.  And I had to get a tetanus shot, so now I have a super cute bandaid with butterflies on my left arm.  I'm guessing the hipsters at the music festival tonight will find it ironic, and I'll start some major trend.

Hopefully we'll be able to tell our kid someday that he/she was conceived on that crazy weekend where I almost lost my toe!  Since this was our first month on Clomid, we went in on Friday for an ultrasound to check out the progress.   Friday was cycle day 13.  Per my instructions, the ultrasound should technically be on CD14, but they won't schedule them on weekends.  However, when we got there, the nurse said that really they should be on CD15.  So she was concerned that the ultrasound would be too early.  Since we are paying out of pocket (an ultrasound is ~$300), she wanted us to consider coming back on Monday.  I normally ovulate on CD15 (Sunday this time), but wasn't sure how the Clomid would change things.  We hemmed and hawed and then said it's only money and went ahead with the Friday ultrasound.

The nurse immediately said we made the right choice, as there was no way we'd last until Monday.  They are looking for follicles on both ovaries to see how many eggs we could potentially have.  A follicle is considered mature around a size of 20mm and grows about 1-2mm a day.  We were hoping for two follicles -- or at least one REALLY good one that was maybe "better" than my prior natural cycles".

I had THREE follicles > 20 mm (one 25mm, one 22mm, and then one right at 20mm).  I also had one at 14mm that could feasibly have an egg, but would likely not.  So she called them 3.5 follicles.  She was shocked they only retrieved six eggs during my IVF while I was on the grandaddy of meds versus these 3.5 follicles on Clomid.  I think this definitely shows if we need to do IVF again, they will be changing my drug protocol, because I can definitely react to something!

T and I had originally said that we'd go forward with the IUI with three follicles, but not with four.  The 3.5 of course put us in the gray zone.  After some chatting with the nurse, she reminded us that the follicles may not all have eggs, and of course even if they do, all eggs may not fertilize.  We took a deep sigh and decided to go for it.

I had not seen a "smiley face" on my ovulation predictor yet, so she wanted to go ahead and schedule the IUI for Saturday morning since we were obviously ready to burst.  She was afraid we somehow missed the LH surge that gives you the smiley face.  We were supposed to wake up Saturday morning and test again -- if it was negative, we'd come in for the insemination on Saturday.  If we did get the smiley face, then we'll know it's working correctly and reschedule to Sunday (day after the surge).  We indeed got the smiley this morning, so Sunday morning (CD15 - right on schedule), I'll go in and give this whole crazy thing a try again.

We do always manage to get excited on cycles where "something" is different - whether a better sperm count or more follicles in this case.  So fingers crossed that this results in something fun (and ideally not quadruple the fun!). 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

another reset

Before T and I were even engaged and well before the vasectomy reversal, a person asked me about our intention to have children.  Very cheerfully, I said, “He’s getting a vas reversal.  If it doesn’t work, we’ll adopt.”  It was an easy answer in my head.  To me, it was a very simple dichotomous outcome.  Sperm = biological babies.  No sperm = adopted babies.  No in between.

The vas reversal worked.  We had swimmers.  I was not prepared for the “but…” that needed to append itself to that statement.  I was not prepared for the gray decisions, the heartache, and the now 20 failed cycles.  I am tired.  We are tired.  Every cycle, decisions need to be made.  Do we keep moving forward with this assisted reproduction?  Do we move on to adoption?  Do we stop driving ourselves bat shit crazy and just move to an island somewhere and open a sno-cone stand? 

T is definitely not ready for adoption.  I am also not ready, but certainly to a lesser extent.  Adoption starts involving people beyond yourselves, and I'm not sure we are in a good enough place for that yet.  I just don’t know how many of these cycles I have left in me.  But so far, it always seems that I have at least one more. 

I’m a numbers person, so I just sit on my phone and calculate probabilities with my calculator.  If we have an 80% success rate with IVF and two 4AA blastocysts, then we have a 99% chance of it working in three tries.  If we have a 10% chance with IUI, then we have a 35% chance of working in four tries.  If we do two IVFs and four IUIs, then we have a 97% chance of it working.  I try every combination of possibilities to give me comfort.  I love math. 

If it come down to just the numbers, the decisions are easy.  But of course, it can’t be that simple.   We are people, not numbers.  We don’t necessarily match the general population.  And I’m still worried that the unknown issues with me in my head give us a dangerously low chance of success no matter how many times we try.

Anyway, the question arises of when are going to stop with IVF/IUI and move on to something else.  And the answer is, we simply don’t know.  We’re down now, but not out.  We’re trying IUI again this cycle, but adding Clomid to the mix.  The Clomid should make me ovulate more than one egg (hopefully no more than two), thereby giving T’s swimmers more targets to hit.  I am a little leery of this, as I’d prefer multiple eggs to be in a controlled environment with IVF.  But, we’ll have ultrasounds to monitor and we can always pull the plug if it looks to be too much.

When I started this blog, I specifically said it was not an infertility blog.  I figured we’d nip that part in the bud pretty early and I could move on to bigger and better things.  So I’m sorry that this blog is beginning to sound like a broken record.  But, for better or worse, this is our life.  It exists in two-week increments, waiting for a procedure/ovulation and then waiting for the results.  Rinse and repeat.  At some point, we’ll say enough, but not quite yet.  I’ll still provide our fears with adoption another day and why we’re not ready.  But suffice it to say, just like when we started these decisions, it is a decision we make every time, every cycle.

“The minute you think of giving up, think of the reason why you held on so long.”

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Here we go again on our own... in without the lovely crazy drugs in my system.  We got our nice smiley face today, which puts us in the doctor's office tomorrow morning.  And luckily, T gets to be there this time.  We're pretty pumped it worked out to be tomorrow versus Monday morning.  Just a lot more relaxing to come home afterwards rather than trying to rush into work.

Thanks for all the heartfelt encouragement we have received, both recently and in the past.  I know you just think it is a simple text/email/card or whatnot, but I honestly go back and read them when I'm feeling blue.  And it makes my day each time.  I know I sound like a broken record sometimes, but holy bananas I am a lucky gal.

Speaking of bananas, it is a crazy small world - a coworker told me one of her FB friends posted something about doctor's visits and infertility.  My coworker was nice and messaged the friend to get some more details on my behalf...after showing the messages to me, we figure out her friend is one of my neighbors.  So we can meet up at neighborhood street parties and discuss construction noise, who doesn't mow their yard enough, and embryo transfers.  Go figure.  It does show that you never know what is going on behind closed doors.  They weren't necessarily secret about their struggles (similar to T and me), but obviously not something you talk about when you're just waving hello in the morning.

I've been asked by some well-meaning folks (who don't know our issues) when T and I are planning to have kids, now that we've been married over a year and are in our 30s.  "Planning".  Such an odd word to us now.  I'm totally stealing this response from a blog I read:  "They're on backorder.  I totally ordered them, like, forever ago.  I think they keep losing our order."  The nice thing is...things on backorder normally arrive eventually... :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Negative, Ghost Rider

Last night ended one of the most difficult, ambiguous weeks through this entire "journey".  Not the ending I wanted, but at least it ended.

As we said previously, T and I did not go into this round with high hopes.  We knew we were working against the odds.  We should have sailed right through these two weeks, and just shrugged our shoulders when it didn't work.

Except, I started getting almost every pregnancy symptom in the book last week.  Some of the basics, and even some of the more strange ones.  I have been through 20 cycles of trying to conceive.  I know what an unsuccessful cycle feels like.  And this did not feel like an unsuccessful cycle whatsoever.  I emailed my symptoms around implantation to the nurse and she thought it sounded extremely positive and was excited for me.  I took quizzes online that said that I was very likely pregnant, and to keep testing.  My charting app gave me 75 points out of 100 in my "pregnancy monitor" based on my temperatures (your temperatures follow a certain pattern throughout cycles and pregnancy), symptoms, etc.  I have never gotten above ~30 points before. 

So what did T and I do?  Exactly what you should not do when you are at this point.  We got hopeful.  We even tilted into all-out confidence. He bought champagne for that first positive pregnancy test (which really was just for him, but the man knows how to celebrate).  T discussed his concern that the baby would be due on February 4th, 2013 - a day after the Super Bowl.  He was genuinely trying to figure out if he would record the Super Bowl and watch later, or hope that we went early and would be back home by then?  We ignored the fact that I kept getting negative results on pregnancy tests, and told ourselves that some people just don't get them right away.  Even 30 minutes before our dreams were dashed last night, we were looking at cribs and crib bedding on different websites, and discussing how much we loved safari themes for little boys. 

I'm still not sure what happened this past week. It certainly was not normal.  It hurt us emotionally.  I have never seen my husband cry as much as he did last night (I noted the cracking in his voice sounded suspiciously like the time he called me when his favorite character on Dr. Who didn't survive.  I stand by my conclusion that he cried like a baby then, too).    Strangely, this cycle was even worse than our failed IVF.  That damn confidence gets you every time.

But we'll try again, because that's what we do.  We also turn a celebratory bottle of champagne into glorious mimosas during a Memorial Day breakfast at home.  We hug and we kiss and we move on.  I've said this before, and I'll say it every month --- I could not do this without T.  He claims I wouldn't have to do it if I wasn't with him.  Which may be true (although is not a proven fact), but I certainly wouldn't be happier in that instance.  *warning: mushiness ahead:  He is my rock and my best friend and I will do any of this, as long as we are doing it together.  *end mushiness :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two Week Wait

Any person ever trying to get pregnant has been subject to the two week wait -- whether trying for 1 cycle or for 22 cycles.  The two week wait sucks - you over-analyze every minute of your day.  Was that a twinge in my right side?  Am I extra tired?  Are smells really becoming more noticeable?

Anyway, fortunately or unfortunately, I found this website:  Basically, a bunch of women who got a BFP (positive pregnancy test) kept track of their pregnancy symptoms from the time of ovulation to when they got a positive pregnancy test.  Some are really useful in setting some sort of expectation for your own experiences.

And some are, well, not useful.  For your entertainment, snippets of the crazy that some women think while trying to get pregnant (fyi:  DPO = days past ovulation; PO = post ovulation):

-So I'm just going to tell you how I KNEW I WAS PREGNANT BEFORE MY MISSED PERIOD...I cried during a horror film.

-5/9 Tues- Day 2 PO - felt warm again and very full.. bloated all day burping with a knot in my throat (thought maybe it was from the broccoli I ate)

-7DPO-few light headaches throughout the day, fatigue, irritable, couldn't sleep, weird vivid dream, DH is getting acne on his face (he NEVER has acne on his face) CAM edit - how does your husband's body predict your pregnancy?!?!

-10 DPO: nothing new, jaw pain feels like a sinus infection, husband commented that I am happier than normal

-7 DPO - pimply, tired, dumb, and everything smells weird.

-5 DPO - I cried because my fiancé wouldn't go to Wal-Mart with me

-8-DPO came home early and my husband was asleep at like 2pm (weird because he NEVER takes
naps, ever and he was feeling kinda queasy) 

-11 DPO Woke up to a huge leg cramp in the middle of the morning.

-12dpo- same cramps, tired, food taste off, Took 1 bite of my dinner and tossed it out and had some
Cheetos instead lol

for whatever reason, this one is my favorite...
-8. dpo: Nothing except that I had a banana before I went to sleep and it tasted like shampoo and my hair got oily. 

So what are my symptoms you may ask? Oh, well, T thinks his neck hurts, my dog is extra clingy, and I had a dream about a baby.  That's a perfect sign, right :)  (Actually, the dog thing is real...and could mean something - look it up!)

Aargh, only another week until this wait is over! 


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Smiley face!

Whoo whoo!  We got our smiley face today (predicts ovulation based on measuring LH surges in the body).  Happy mother's day! 

This means that I go in at 9:30 tomorrow for an IUI.  Unfortunately, we need to dip into our frozen swimmer stash in that case.  T starts his new job at promptly 7:30 tomorrow morning, and therefore can't make the timing work.  But that's why we had a backup collection, so we'll make do. 

Anyway, chances are slim and we won't know for a couple weeks, but fingers crossed!  I think we'll give this a shot at least a couple times before I brave the drugs again, but I certainly hope it never gets that far. 

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What goes down...

...must come up!  That's how the saying goes...right? :)

We've had a pretty crazy last few days. 

T was offered and accepted a new job last Friday.  I know this was a huge stress relief for him, as we were waiting to hear for about three weeks now.  Add to that to the stress of baby-making, and being around him was not full of roses.  The super cool part from my perspective is that he'll be working at my company.  So I'll be able to track him down and blow raspberries on his face in front of co-workers.

(What T? -- you are giving your resignation already?  :) :) )

Another super cool part for the job makes me still feel somewhat slimy.  But rules are rules.  And apparently if you take out $6,000 in flexible spending from your employer, use it all up in January, and then leave that employer less than halfway through the year ---- you don't need to pay back the portion that hasn't come out of your paycheck yet! Free money!

Oh -- and T is excited, too.  Something about career advancement, developmental opportunities, and other hoity toity things he thinks are important :)  Whatever.  RASPBERRIES!!

Other craziness has ensued as well.  T went in for another swimmer check on Monday, and his count has increased again.  Now, let's be clear --- it is still pretty horrific.  But now it is more like Shaun of the Dead horrific versus 28 Days Later horrific.  A few more smiles had by all.

After they "washed" his sperm on Monday and got rid of the ones that swam too slow or looked like this:

he had 4.5 million/ml left!!  Party time!  We froze that sample up in case we wanted it later. 

For some context, he had 3 million a few weeks ago (post-wash) and about 1.5 million the day of our IVF.  Before IVF, the sperm wasn't washed, so the numbers aren't totally comparable.  But the highest we had PRE-WASH in the past was 5 million, so that would likely be about 1.5 - 2 million post-wash.

For the doctor to consider IUI possibility, we needed to have a minimum of 4 million.  So we just eked past that. And we're hoping it continues to improve, which unfortunately keeps T off his bicycle for the rest of the season.

Given all this, we are going to try IUI a few times before we try IVF again.  Since I ovulate  regularly, we'll do it non-medicated (nothing to make my cycle artificial).  I just use the ovulation predictor tests you can buy at the store and will call the doctor when it is positive.  We'll go in the next morning to shoot me up with swimmers.

There are huge pros and cons to this decision.  The major pro is the cost.  A round of un-medicated IUI is like $300.  Chump change compared to IVF.  There are no shots or anything that messes your insides up.  It is just really a souped-up natural cycle.  I can do it every month if I want to.

The con is definitely that the chance of success is honestly not that great.  While our IVF had a chance of about 80% of succeeding, IUI is more like 10% or less.  However, we beat the odds by NOT getting pregnant in the IVF cycle.  Maybe we can beat the odds again?

Strangely enough, despite the odds not being in our favor, I'm super pumped with this turn of events.  Whether it is simply because it is different, or I can do it this month, or I just want to not deal with the drugs again for awhile.  Not sure.  But I'm excited and ready to give his swimmers their own shot:

 Have a great week!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Easter is a phenomenal day to count your blessings.  And no matter what is going on in one's life, we can all always find a reason to be thankful.

We went to Easter service yesterday and the sermon (by Pastor Mike, so I imagine more than half of the people who read this blog know which sermon this would be) was one that really made you feel so full of life.  There was this string that was hanging all around the room, attached to the ceiling every so often, so it hung down like a string of lights would be.  The string then went outside the Worship Center, through the hallways of the church (and this is a LARGE church), even outside along the side of the building.  When it was all said and done, this string, if laid out straight, was likely in excess of a mile long.  The string was meant to represent life in total - not just our life here on Earth, but humanity before us and after us, as well as the eternal life we have when we die.

Pastor Mike, near the end of the sermon, pulled the string down by his head and made a mark about an inch long with a black marker.   This mark represented our earthly life.  He spoke on how small it was in relation to the string as a whole, and what a gift it was that God gave us eternal life.  It brought tears to my eyes, as I felt so extremely blessed and happy in my belief that my life is so much bigger than the struggles of any one period.

Now, no matter what your religious beliefs, I think we can all agree that life is short and limited here on Earth.  And while most people would also agree that actual immortality is not all that appealing, I think each of us wants to feel that we impacted humanity in some major way.  And I honestly feel that we do that through our children.   If we're not Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein, our most major contribution is the children we raise and nurture, who then continue the gift down the line.  And our ancestors will each make their mark in their own way, but they would not have existed without the parents that rose to the job throughout time (whether biologically or through adoption). 

So while his sermon made me happy, it also reminded me of why I do want children so much.  It is selfish; I want to live forever both here and in Heaven (ideally!) when I die.  I want immortality in as many ways possible.  Except the ones that involve me becoming a vampire or a zombie or something.  I can definitely pass on that.

So with all that emotion stuff out of the way, here is where we are sitting now.  T quit cycling after our WTF appointment several weeks ago.  He went in for a new sample last week, and his numbers doubled to 7.5 million!  Which still sucks in the world of sperm analysis, but is still a huge improvement.  The doctor was hesitant to call it a trend that could continue without further samples.  So T is staying off the bike through the end of this month, and will try it again to see if the number improved further.  It seems unlikely we'd get to a point where we didn't need medical help, but perhaps IUI would be an option.  If it isn't, then we'll start another IVF round by about the end of April.

We're a little peeved that the cycling issue wasn't pushed prior to our initial IVF, but we can't look backward and need to focus on our opportunities that are around the corner.  The good news is that they froze the last sample, so we're good to go on another IVF round should any issues occur between now and then. 

It is a fantastic, beautiful day here, and T and I are going to enjoy our new deck furniture, some leftover Soup from E!, and probably a couple of nice brewskies or glasses of vino.  No matter what is going on, it is certainly a great day to be alive :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ball Games

I noticed I referenced "whole new ball games" twice in my last post.  My love for March Madness and baseball must be coming through.  Carry on.
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