Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Odds and Ends

We decorated our Christmas tree today. That wraps up all of our holiday decorating, and our house looks great! This house is really quite beautiful. I'll miss seeing it all decked out for the holidays once we move (no movement on that yet, but I still think it will happen), but am very much ready to say goodbye to it. Now I just have to wrap my gifts, as I finished up my shopping in November.

I've been feeling the baby move every day or two for several weeks now. It's very cool, but also kind of creepy in a way. Feeling another being squirming around inside of you can be very unsettling at times when you think about it.

The one house that we found that we could have seen ourselves living in is going into contract. There are no other houses on the market that we can really see ourselves living in, so it's kind of sad to see that one go. Hopefully when the new year comes there will be a flow of new houses for sale, and we can find one that appeals to us. Since we don't have any offers yet, there's really no rush, but it's a bit unnerving to not have any appealing options.

I hope everyone is doing well and keeping warm! Good night!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I've Been Neglecting My Blog!

I know, I'm sorry! lol! I should write more! Things have been busy . . . what are the highlights?
  • Lots of "morning" sickness - hopefully it's going to pass soon!
  • Fatigue is waning - I've been going to bed closer to 9:00 again lately.
  • No noticeable belly yet, but that's expected with a first child.
I had an appointment yesterday. They're going to see me every 4 weeks for awhile now for the most part. Even though I'm not technically 14 weeks until tomorrow, they called yesterday my 14 week appointment. The intent was to check my blood pressure, check for protein in my urine (both of those screen for pre-eclampsia, which I'll talk about more in another post), and listen to baby's heartbeat. Well, baby wasn't being very cooperative, and the doctor couldn't get a good read on the heartbeat. She thought she hat it a couple of times, but it was gone again right away without her getting a good listen to make sure it was strong and steady. So, we moved to the ultrasound room! I'd just like to point out that I've already had twice as many ultrasounds now as most women get in their entire pregnancy! In any case, I was able to have an ultrasound on my abdomen - the first one! Yay! And baby was in there doing juuuuust fine! S/he was doing flips and rolling around and just being a squirmy little squirt, which is why the doctor couldn't get a good read on the heartbeat. The doctor said that s/he was looking great - the development was right on for the baby's age. She pointed out the spine to me during one of his/her flips. She also pointed out the ribcage. Then baby lifted his/her had up and it looked like s/he was waving to me! Of course, baby was probably just saying "Quit poking at me!", but I like to think s/he was waving. I also got to see some adorable little fingers with each one (except the thumb) very prominent. It was so neat!

After the appointment, I went back to work. I had to take a potty break a little later, and all of a sudden I was absolutely overwhelmed with the fact that this was real. It's really happening. My life will be completely and absolutely changed forever soon. There will not be any more nights of laying on the couch and playing video games all evening. I'm going to have to stop swearing so much. I'm going to have to prepare nutritious and thought out meals for a family now, rather than just grabbing whatever works for myself. There is going to be another human being that needs me, needs my attention, needs me to teach it things, etc. What have I gotten myself into?!?! I haven't completely calmed down quite yet either. I'm scared to death. But I certainly don't want to not be a mom to a human child. I'm just terrified of it. I hope I have enough patience to raise my child well. I don't want to be impatient or shout with the child like I do with the dogs. I yell at them a lot. I've been trying to be better about it, but they just don't seem to respond to anything else. Will that happen with the child? I really hope not. I don't like being a yeller. Well, I must go now. I promise to write more later. Soon later too, not later later. =)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

H1N1 - November 10th, 2009

I was *finally* able to get my H1N1 vaccine yesterday. I've been trying to get one since they were first released (about a month ago). I'm glad to be protected - there have been several women on my pregnancy boards who have been just laid out with the virus. I can't afford to spend 4 weeks out sick, with one or two of those being in the hospital. No way! So now it's no longer a concern - hooray! That's one less thing to be stressing out about.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I'm Still Alive - November 8th, 2009

Just a quick note to say that I'm still alive, and all is still well here! I've been sick as can be for the past several weeks, so aside from working and taking care of my home, I've been sleeping pretty much all the rest of the time. I *think* things are starting to get better though, so hopefully I'll have more energy to partake in my hobbies (such as posting here) very soon. I am a now twelve weeks and four days into my pregnancy. According to some medical professionals, I'm in my second trimester now, though there is hardly consensus on when each trimester ends. Others say it ends after 13 or 14 weeks. Personally, it's not that big of a concern for me. =) I'm just happy to still be pregnant and to know that things are progressing. My little munchkin is about the size of my thumb right now. Isn't that cool?! OK, off to bed with me. It's past my bedtime. Yeah, bedtime has been between 7 - 8 PM for awhile now. Pathetic! Ha!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2nd Ultrasound - We have a heartbeat! - October 6th, 2009

Today we had our second ultrasound. I was so nervous going in, I thought I might just fall over. We were called back to the room right away, but then waited for what seemed like an eternity in the ultrasound room. In reality it was something like 15 minutes, but it felt like hours to us! Luckily the hubby was able to be there with me today. When Dr. RE came in, I was wound so tightly that I was surprised that he was able to do the ultrasound (ewwww). At first, I didn't see anything come up on the monitor. My heart dropped - I was certain that the pregnancy was just gone. Then it came up and I could see the black circle that is the gestational sac, but nothing in it. Then he turned it a little more, and there was my baby, plain as day. He steadied the sensor, and at first I couldn't see the heartbeat. Then it became clear. A little pulsing, throbbing, flickering spot in the middle of the baby. It was amazing to see it. I had watched countless videos on YouTube of other people's 7 - 8 week ultrasounds and the little heartbeats, but this was different. This one was my baby. Then the doctor took a couple of measurements from head to rump. Both measured 7 weeks and 6 days. I am currently 7 weeks and 5 days pregnant, so that was great news! Last time the results showed that the baby was one day behind size-wise, and now it is one day ahead. Yay for making up 2 days worth of growth in 2 weeks! Then the doctor let us hear the heartbeat (which I believe is just an audible representation of the visual image at this stage of the game). It was amazing to hear. A good heartbeat at this point is between 130 and 160 beats per minute (with higher being better). Our little munchkin came in at 150 bpm! So I don't know if this is just a new old wives' tale, but I've heard that a higher heartbeat (>155) is usually a girl, and a lower heartbeat (<145) is usually a boy. So this little booger is right in the middle at 150. No clues on the gender! Ha!

So all is well now. We are being released to Dr. OB, and can now be treated like any other pregnant couple. Wow! So if you'd like, take a look at these videos and see and listen to the heartbeat. We made it to this crucial point - we can tell the world now. We're as safe as we're going to get that this pregnancy isn't going to fail, so there's no reason to keep it a secret any longer. I think I'll probably wait until next week to do the big facebook announcement, just to savor the secret for a few days, but then we'll go public. Thank you all for reading along on this crazy journey. I'll still be posting, but now I can do so a bit less nervously. Now I can enjoy this pregnancy, even the exhaustion that I have and the vomiting that is still to come (only a little so far, it'll probably get worse before it gets better). So thank you, thank you, thank you! Hopefully you'll continue along with me on my new unexpected journey - that of pregnancy and motherhood!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Second Ultrasound is Tomorrow - October 5th, 2009

Tomorrow I go for my second ultrasound. We're supposed to get to see the baby's heartbeat. If we do, we're really in the clear. Dr. RE will release us back to Dr. OB and we'll no longer be monitored so closely. That's something I'm both looking forward to and frightened of. The good part is that I won't have to come in early, work late, and/or work evenings from home to make up the time that I miss from work. The bad part is that I won't have reassurances that everything is going well on a regular basis. I guess in a couple of months I will start to feel movement, and that will help me feel better about the whole thing. I just need to be patient and trust that all is well. That's hard to do after everything we've been through though.

Meanwhile, I find it very interesting that I've not gained a pound yet, though I have gained over an inch on my waist. Actually, the waist measurement is two weeks old - I wonder if it's more now. The weight is only 2 days old though, but after last night and today, that may change. I had to have a second dinner last night! I was just hanging out and winding down around 9:30, and I just HAD to have some chic'n nuggets (soy-based) with hot sauce and some cheese. I guess I was craving protein! Then today with lunch I just had to have an ice cream cookie! YUM! I'm still regretting it though. That's the first huge dose of sugar I've had in awhile, and it really upset my tummy. Bleh. I guess it's bland food for dinner for me tonight.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nuh-Uh (Part 2) - September 22, 2009

The following takes place this morning, approximately 8:45 AM
*ring ring*
"Hello Pixnlil. This is Nurse M from Dr. RE's office."
"We have the results of your lab work in."
*thinking: sure, lay it one me, I just hope this is over soon* "Yes?"
"Your hCG was 3335."
"I'm sorry, what?"
"Your hCG was 3335."
"Nuh-uh. Really?!"
"Yes, really."
*slightly irritated* "Yes, really. There's a problem. With numbers that stall out and then jump like that - your recent doubling rate is quicker than 2 days - there is a good chance that it is an ectopic pregnancy. You need to come in right away for an ultrasound to make sure it's not tubal."
"Really? That's . . . I mean . . . I was expecting you to say 200 or something!"
"Please don't get so excited yet. We need you to come in today for an ultrasound to make sure it's in the right place."
*we proceed to work out a time a few hours later after my meetings were over*

What the doctor found was a lovely little fetus, right in the uterus (where it should be). He saw the yolk sac as well as the gestational sac, and they measured at five and a half weeks - precisely how far along I am! So the pregnancy is not tubal - it's just right. And it's not small - it's just right.

I am in so much shock right now, I cannot even adequately describe it. I was supposed to be miscarrying any day now!!!!! But I won't be. In fact, everything looked so right, that I don't need to have any more blood drawn. I go back in two weeks and Dr RE expects to see a fetal pole and a heartbeat. Right now we are 70 - 80% certain that I won't miscarry. Once they see the heartbeat, that will jump to about 95% certainty. From being 99% certain that I would miscarry. Wow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Waiting to Miscarry Sucks - September 21, 2009

Last night I had some pretty intense cramping, but it only lasted about 20 minutes. I thought for sure that the miscarriage was starting, but there wasn't any blood. So as of this morning, I am still just waiting to begin miscarrying. I go into the lab shortly to have my blood drawn again to see where the levels are now. Hopefully they fall fast so that we can get this over with and start looking forward again. This just sucks. I hope the pain isn't too bad. I've heard mixed reports about the amount of pain, but consistently I've heard that the amount of blood is just unbelievable. I also discovered that 1 in 4 of all pregnancies - not just those of infertile couples - results in miscarriage. That's a startlingly high number. It has never impacted my family or any of my friends that have had babies, so it seems so odd to me that the number is so high. My heart goes out to all of those women who have been through this, and all of those who will go through it in the future. It just plain sucks.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Different Kind of Waiting - September 18th, 2009

I'm on to a new kind of waiting. A very unpleasant kind. I am now waiting for my baby to detach from my uterus and pass from my body. My level barely rose - only 10% in 3 days to about 670. The thought is that it probably topped out a few days ago and is now starting to decline. I will go back on Monday to confirm that. One more needle stick to go with all of the holes and bruises on my arm, since only one vein shows itself anymore. I honestly never dreamed that this would happen to me. I thought that once my husband's swimmers were successful at reaching and penetrating my egg, we'd be home free. That is not the case it would seem. There isn't any reason that they can give me for why this is happening. It just happens. Why does all the bad stuff "just happen" to me? I feel so beat up right now. One week ago I had to take the day off of work because I was so elated that I couldn't focus. Today I am so far from elated, that I barely even remember the meaning of the word. Why me? I know, a stupid, pointless question that really doesn't have an answer. But still, why me?

Waiting - September 18th, 2009

I am waiting to get my results back from my last beta test. I've been dealing with the wait fairly well up until this morning. Now I'm a bit of a wreck. I couldn't sleep very well, so I've been up since 3:30 this morning, with a brief 30 minute nap after that. My husband is off to Japan on a business trip, which thankfully will only be for two weeks instead of the original four. I hope I get my results back in time to call him with the good news before his flight takes off. I'm starving, nauseous, and exhausted, yet I can't eat or sleep. Fun. I just hope they call around 7:45 like they did the first time I was waiting for results rather than waiting until nearly 9:00 like the second time. I just might call them if I don't hear anything by 8:00. I hate to be pushy, but I really need to know so that I can eat some breakfast!! I really could use some peace of mind about now.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thoughts - September 17th, 2009

Just a few things to mention. Today is my 4th anniversary. Happy anniversary hubby - I love you and I hope that we get good news tomorrow that our family is going to grow for sure.

Next, I'm feeling hopeful today. Why? Because I threw up this morning! Yay! Hooray! Huzzah! I know, it's such a strange feeling to take vomiting as a positive sign, but for me right now it really is. It wasn't much - I am normally a marathon vomiter. I know, TMI right? But honestly, I never throw up just once. So this morning it was just once, and just a little, and all water, but still! I threw up - yay!

Last point that I wanted to make is that I apparently cannot count. The amount of time lapsed between Monday's blood draw and today's blood draw is 3 days, not 4. So, the count that we're looking for when I get the results of my third beta back tomorrow is 1836 (which was the minimum number in four days from before). The minimum number that I can accept and still be hopeful that this is a viable pregnancy is around 1250. As long as the number is over 1000, we will be scheduling the first ultrasound for next week. We'll be looking to make sure that the gestational sac is attached to the uterus and not somewhere else, to make sure there is a good yolk sac, and that there is a gestational pole (aka my baby!). If thing have really improved, or we wait until very late next week for the ultrasound, we just might see a heartbeat. It would still be early to detect it, but it is certainly a possibility. So everyone keep your fingers crossed for me, or toss a coin in a fountain, or stand on your head, or whatever lucky superstitious thing you do. I'll keep you all posted!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2nd Beta Results - September 15th, 2009

The results of my second beta test came back this morning. The results were not good. I was at 233 before, and the doctor would have liked to see my numbers at least over 700, preferably at 800 - 1000. So coming in at 612 was not good. They want me to do another retest on Thursday. At that time, they'd like to see a minimum of 1836, and preferably closer to 2400 to feel confidant that the pregnancy will continue. As long as the results come back over 1000, they will schedule an ultrasound to take a look and see if they can find out what is going on in there. I'm so afraid right now. We beat the odds by getting pregnant, but that doesn't mean it's OK to lose it. I'm so scared.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thoughts -September 14th, 2009

Ugh, so the seed of worry grew quite a bit overnight. I could hardly sleep - I laid in bed awake listening to my husband snore for most of the night, thinking about all of the worst case scenarios. I finally fell asleep a little after 1:00, but then woke up at 3:00 and didn't fall back to sleep until nearly 4:00, then again at 5:00 until nearly 6:00. So I am exhausted today, but that has no relationship to whether I am still pregnant or not. That simply has to do with a lack of sleep. I can hardly eat today too. The quesadilla that I just got from the cafeteria is sitting like a rock in my stomach, and I couldn't even finish it. I wish it was tomorrow morning already - then I could at least know one way or the other. I really need to know so that I can stop worrying. Well, OK, worry less.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thoughts - September 13th, 2009

Hmmm . . . I feel less sick today than I did last week. I have more energy than my husband - he sleeps nearly twice as much as I do normally, and that has continued into my pregnancy. I'm supposed to be sick and exhausted, but I'm not. It worries me a bit, because it's supposed to be the high levels of hCG that make you sick and tired during pregnancy, so if I'm not sick and tired, does that mean my levels of hCG aren't as high as they should be? Luckily I get to have a second beta test done tomorrow. They will draw my blood tomorrow and I will get the results back on Tuesday morning. I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully the numbers are going up, up, up and I can stop worrying about it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

First Beta Results - 9/11/2009

My blood was drawn yesterday to check my beta levels. This test checks the amount of hCG you have in your system. hCH is the pregnancy hormone, FYI. At 4 weeks (like I am now) anything over a 5 indicates a pregnancy. A low result (less than 50) is something that you should consider worrying about, since it can indicate a weak pregnancy that might not be viable. Anything higher than that is great! The real check comes though, when you have a second test to compare it to. The level should double every 48 - 72 hours. My first beta was Thursday 9/10, and the result came back this morning at 233! That's indicative of a good strong singleton pregnancy! Yay! That's my first hint that I probably just have one baby in there. Usually, if you have multiples, the level is significantly higher (probably 300 - 400+ on a first beta). Of course, it's not completely ruled out until they do the first ultrasound, which for me will be in 2 or 3 weeks. I guess I can ask them about it on Tuesday when I get the second beta results back.

I'm so excited now. I can barely believe that this is happening, but it's starting to sink in. I couldn't even focus or pay attention today, so I had to take the day off work. I guess I'm saving 5 vacation days this year that I would have been taking for the IVF, so I have to use them or loose them! More to come later, I need to go get some food!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Still in Disbelief - September 10th, 2009

I'm still in shock. I cannot believe that this has happened. I had to take a third test tonight, just because. I know, I'm silly! I had my blood draw today for my first hCG beta level. I should hear the results tomorrow. I hate waiting! =) I'll get a second beta test on Monday to make sure my levels are doubling successfully. They should double every 48 - 72 hours, so here's hoping! Then, about 2 to 3 weeks from today, I will go in for my first ultrasound of the gestational sac. The intent there is to make sure it's in the right place (the uterus and not a fallopian tube) and to make sure it's not an empty sac. In other words, to make sure it's a viable pregnancy. I feel very confident that it will be a viable pregnancy. Our challenge was getting to this point. Now I'm going to go and enjoy my pregnancy. Yep, every bit of it. Even when I'm vomiting my brains out, I'm going to be happy as a clam. Or so the saying goes. I wonder if clams can feel happiness. Hmmm . . .

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm All About Confirmation

So there's this! =)


I don't believe it. Nuh-uh.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Blood Draw Numbers - September 4th, 2009

I received a call from my RE's nurse on Friday morning. She had some interesting information for me. First, my Progesterone level went through the roof! It had been approximately 9 and 11 before (I'm not sure what units these are, sorry!). This time it was 28.6! Now, this caused me to get my hope up. I shouldn't let it, because a high progesterone level is not a guarantee of pregnancy - it can simply indicate a strong ovulation. However, when a woman is pregnant, her progesterone level shoots up to provide the embryo with nutrients. The general rule is that the numbers double from what is normal for the woman in the first trimester, normally putting the level between 15 and 90. So this result really excited me, as it was 2 - 3 times what I've had before!

The other test that was done was a check of my Thyroid level. I have hypothyroid syndrome, meaning that my thyroid isn't active enough, so I take medicine to regulate it and keep it functioning normally. Ideally the thyroid level should be around a 3 or 4 (again, I don't know what units these numbers are in), but as high as a 5 is acceptable. In any case, my result came back at an 8.51 this time. Waaaaay up! Not good. So my RE's nurse told me to call my family doctor right away (the one who prescribes my thyroid regulation medicine) and get my prescription changed. The problem here is that a hypo active thyroid can cause miscarriage in pregnancy, so if I ever manage to become pregnant, I could miscarry if this isn't fixed. I called my doctor right away, since there is a possibility that I'm pregnant now (however slim) and proceeded to play phone tag with them on Friday, resulting in no information. I decided to just double my medication at home until I heard otherwise. I get my prescription in a 90-day supply, so I have enough medicine to take two pills a day until I am able to talk to my family doctor. As of today (Tuesday), I'm still playing phone tag with the nurses. Fun.

So, mixed news. Some good, some bad, but nothing spectacularly so. The real downer is that yesterday (Monday Sept 7th), I started to get pre-period cramps. I went from being very hopeful to about 99% certain that I'm not pregnant in the span of about 10 minutes. Meh. I guess I'll be on to IVF-ICSI after all. I'm really not looking forward to it. And I'm getting very bitter about the whole thing. I just can't seem to be positive about things right now, so I'll stop talking before I get myself in trouble. Goodnight folks.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thoughts - August 28th, 2009

If this cycle was successful, I would now have a two-celled zygote floating around inside of me, working its way down the fallopian tube.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thoughts - August 27th, 2009

I was just thinking that if this cycle works, the little swimmer would most likely have already penetrated the egg, as the window of opportunity is timed so precisely that it's within 4 hours of the IUI. I might have a zygote floating in my fallopian tubes right at this very minute. Then again, I might not. I prefer to think about the might part today though.

IUI #3 - August 27th, 2009

This morning I had my third IUI. This was the first time that I've had one without my hubby there with me, as the other two have been on Saturdays. I was nervous to go it alone. I'm wondering if my RE is just a figment of my imagination, as Dr. Shortstick did the IUI again (that's all three times that she's actually done it for me). In any case, here's the cool part:

- Count was 18 Million!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our highest count so far was 9 million, and the highest on an IUI was 8. Yippee! That is so super high for us (still very low, but hey, for us it was awesome)!

- Motility was 22%, which ties with our highest so far on a semen analysis, and again the highest percentage for an IUI for us yet (also still low compared to what it should be, but really good for us)!

That means that we have a much higher percentage chance this time than the last two times. It's more on par with a couple that normally does an IUI, which isn't great at 8 - 12 % or so, but still! I'll take 8 - 12% over the 1% we've had in previous cycles!

I'm cramping horribly, and have to make it through the work day, but at least I have this hope to hang on to. 8% seems like such a high figure to me right now compared to where we've been, but I know that it means that there is a 92% chance it won't work, so I'm trying to keep my excitement in check. It's just the first good news we've had in such a long time, it's hard not to get excited.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bedtime Thoughts - August 26th, 2009

Tomorrow morning is our last IUI. We will not be doing another one if this one fails. This is our last shot at a less invasive (ha - yeah, because it's been sooooo non-invasive so far) procedure. We have 2 big follicles. It only takes one.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

IUI #3 Ultrasound - August 25, 2009

Today is my ultrasound to see how many follicles I have, how big they are, and the thickness of my uterine lining. Wish me luck, and I'll post the results here tonight! I also have a dentist appointment right after. Bleh. =)


Update - I have just 2 follicles this time. I guess it's better than 1, but still not the 3 or 4 that will maximize our chances for success. On the bright side, they were very large - 22 & 26mm. And the uterine lining was good at 10.1mm. So we trigger tonight and go for the IUI on Thursday morning. This will be the first time that the IUI didn't fall on a weekend, so I'll have to go into work instead of laying around on the couch this time. I wonder if that will make it easier or more difficult. Hmmm.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Not Quitting My Day Job - August 21, 2009

OK, so I'm a really, really bad farmer. This thing was growing in my garden right where I had planted a couple of things side by side, and it was big and round and green. It had some stripes too. It grew and grew over the course of about a month. Then the stripes started turning orange, and I read on the internet that stripes of the sugar bush baby watermelons (the kind I had planted) would lighten when they were getting ripe. So, two days ago I cut it off the vine to stop it from becoming overly ripe. The orange stripes spread and spread in the two days it has been in my kitchen. "Oh no! We have to hurry up and eat it soon!" I said. "I really want to have some watermelon before it goes bad!" So tonight for dessert, we sliced into the watermelon. Yeah, the pictures tell it all. Again, I'm a really bad farmer. I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon.
In case you can't tell - that's an underripe pumpkin. Not good for much. =\ I'm going to try and roast the seeds, but I don't know how they'll taste being so young. Also, see my nifty monster?! That's from G.Silva! She rocks! We had mentioned that we were doing our nursery in a cute monster theme, and she saw this and thought of us! Isn't she awesome? Thanks again, G.Silva!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Decision Time: On to IUI #3 - August 13th, 2009

So today is cycle day 6 (CD6). We decided last week that we are going to do a third round of IUI, since we can fit that in before my hubby leaves for Japan. Since last month only had one dominant follicle (the same as I would have on a non-medicated cycle), my doctor upped my dosage of Clomid. I'm now on 100 mg of Clomid. So far the side effects have not been worse than in previous months, but they're definitely still there. I was very worried that they would be more severe this month, so it's been a relief that they haven't been. Next Tuesday I'll go for the ultrasound to see how many follicles I have and what size they are, and then we'll do the trigger shot sometime next week. If I had to guess, we'll be doing the trigger shot on Wednesday night and the IUI on Friday morning.

I'm not optimistic that this cycle will be successful. Many people have told me not to think negative thoughts. I just don't feel that it's realistic to think that this will happen for us, against all odds. It's not that I'm being negative - I'm simply being practical. We have a real medical reason for our inability to become pregnant, and wishful thinking will not change that. There is a chance, however slight, that this will indeed work for us. And I hope it does, but I try very hard not to let hope override practical thinking, because that only results in a bigger drop in mood when it doesn't work out. In all probability, we will be moving on to IVF-ICSI very soon. In fact, in just about 3 weeks I will very likely be getting started.

That awareness scares the hell out of me. IVF is it. That's the big enchilada. That is our very best chance to have a child with our genetic makeup. And we're almost there. I don't like coming to the end of the road. I'm not ready to give up on my desire to experience pregnancy. Not yet. I've realized that, for me at this point in time, I want to experience pregnancy nearly as much as I want to be a mom for a human (I'm a mom to lots of furry & feathered kids already). Does that make me a bad person? I have several friends who have either already adopted, are in the process of adopting, or are planning to adopt in the future. I respect them so very much for the decisions that they have made, and their desire to help a child in need. I think it is so wonderful that they are enjoying/will be enjoying the joys (and woes) of parenthood with their children, whom they love so much. So it makes me feel a little guilty that I still cannot see myself adopting a child of my own. Not yet. Does this make me less of a good person? I honestly don't know. It might. It might not. All I know is that I want to experience a successful pregnancy that results in a child. It seems so strange to me that this is too much to ask for, and yet apparently it is. How odd that I am here, in this situation. How very, very strange it feels.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

IUI Cycle #2:Failure - August 13, 2009

My next cycle began today with the start of my period. I knew a few days ago that my body was preparing for it to start, so I'd already begun to grieve. I've realized that some words that I read in an article or book somewhere along the way were very true. At some point along the infertility journey, it ceases to be just a disappointment when a cycle turns out to be negative. It becomes more than disappointment. You begin to grieve the loss of each cycle. Each negative cycle is one more month of your life spent without your children. It is one less month that you will get to enjoy your children as adults, and your grandchildren when you are old. It is not just one month spent doing other things - it is truly a month lost. So I'm going to finish grieving for this loss, and try to look forward to the next cycle, where I just might have a chance to bring those children into existence.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

IVF Counseling Appointment Scheduling - August 5, 2009

Part of the IVF process mandates a counseling appointment due to all of the stresses of the process. We were given a name and phone number of a counselor that is not employed by Ohio Reproductive Medicine (ORM), but who comes out there two days a week to hold appointments. In any case, for some reason, I thought that the appointments were in the evenings. I suppose that I thought that because the clinic holds appointment hours until 7 PM nightly. They're used to working around their client's needs. So when I was offered appointment times of 9:30 AM or 2:00 PM, I was pretty surprised. I wasn't planning on it being a daytime appointment at all! So that left my husband and I with the choice of missing work or missing work. Hmmm, that's a great stress reliever! Glad we have this mandatory session that we have to attend during work hours that is not near either of our places of work. What a relief! For a second I thought that stress relief would be convenient!

Update - The counselor called another client who had a more flexible schedule and moved her appointment to 2:00, so we are now scheduled for 3:15. It's still not perfect, but my husband can flex his schedule an hour earlier without too much trouble and still make it out for this appointment time. I, of course, will still have to miss some work, but my job allows for a bit more flexibility. So all's well that ends well. Or something.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Strange Cramping - August 5th, 2009

I had some intense cramping earlier today, localized on the left side. I need to do some research and see if that might be good sign. I've already ovulated, so it's not that. And it's much too early to be pre-period cramps. I suppose it could be a cyst. That would not be good.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

IUI #2: A Little Hope (but not much) - August 1st, 2009

My second IUI was this morning. With the follicle debacle (heh) on Thursday, I wasn't feeling so hot going into today. Hubby and I had determined that if his sperm counts were over 10 million (they haven't been yet, but we were hopeful), we'd allow ourselves to feel a bit hopeful. The results came back at 8 million pre-wash, and just 1.8 million after the wash. Between that and the lack of known follicles this month, I feel so sad. We're on the fence about whether to do another round of treatments next month or not. We'll have time to do it before he goes to Japan in September, but I'm not sure it's worth it. It feels good to know that we're trying something, but it's costing money and not giving us too much of a chance. But some is better than none, right? Maybe? I dunno.

I've heard lots of suggestions to "Take a month off and relax." Those people don't know me very well. I think I'm at my worst when I'm supposed to just wait for something to happen. I need to be working hard to make it happen or I feel like it won't happen.

Anyway, I'm feeling awfully crampy again. There isn't any blood this time (so far at least), so I guess that's good. So now we wait. Two weeks. Hmm . . .
Edit - OK, now there's some bleeding. Meh.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Follicle Disappointment - July 30, 2009

Today was my pre-IUI ultrasound to see if this cycle is a go or a no-go. It dawned on me today (thanks to a friend's questions) that when I mention these ultrasounds that I'm going through, people tend to think of spreading goo on top of your belly and rubbing a device around on it. Sadly, this is wrong. Think an uncomfortable wand and where it would go to look at ovaries. There you go. Fun.

Today I saw Dr. Shortstick again, as Dr. RE is away on vacation. Lucky man! Unfortunately, due to a lack of vacation time remaining, my hubby was unable to attend this appointment with me. Many women go to these types of appointments alone all the time. I prefer having my hubby with me, but you deal with the situation as best you can, and today that meant going it alone.

So last month I had three nice mature follicles, which is just the right number (3 - 4 is ideal) for getting pregnant. This month, I have only one. Well, we think I have only one. My left ovary has given me problems before (it hid during the HSG causing all of that fun, and it was hard to find during my last ultrasound, causing cramping from a procedure that really shouldn't), and this month decided to be even more difficult than in the past.

Dr. Shortstick couldn't find my left ovary at all today. When she asked "Do you have a left ovary?" I felt a twinge of panic. "Oh no," I thought, "Did it fall out or dissolve in the past month? Oh lord, are we getting further from success instead of closer?!" I shit you not - intelligent, well-educated people do have these irrational fits of panic where the most ridiculous things seem plausible, even if only for a moment. Once I fought down that wave of panic, I responded that it has been difficult to find in the past as well. She continued to dig around for another minute causing horrible cramping - I mean really, imagine a long wand shoved up inside of you into tight quarters being twisted and turned in all directions looking for something elusive. Can you imagine a time when this wouldn't cause significant cramping?! I thought not. In any case, Dr. Shortstick decided to give up. It just wasn't worth it, as we were going to move forward with the IUI anyway, since I had one mature follicle on the right side (22mm for those keeping score at home) and a good thickness to my endometrial lining (10mm).

I'm pretty disappointed to have only one mature follicle. I mean, I ovulate normally, producing one follicle each month without any medications. For as crappy as the Clomid makes me feel, I really feel that I deserve to have multiple follicles. I suffered the nasty side effects, I deserve the reward for it! *sigh* It's too bad that life doesn't really work that way. With our already low chance for success from this treatment, we need all the breaks we can get. At least with the multiple follicles last month I felt like there was something working in our favor. This month, not so much. It's hard to feel positive right now. I just want to move on toIVF. Actually, I just want to spontaneously pop up pregnant so that I don't have to go through IVF or wait any longer.

Tonight I get the trigger shot. Last month my butt was sore for several days from the injection. I'm going to make my hubby massage the injection side this time, as I've heard that it can help it to not be so sore afterwards. Yep, hubby's going to rub my butt. Heehee. Well, wish me luck. Tonight I get a shot and the IUI is set for Saturday morning, bright and early (7:30 AM).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Confidants and Intrigue Series: Confidant #2 - June 2008

Confidant #2 came about in a rather interesting way. I had my first confidant and was really, really planning to stick to not telling another person until we turned up pregnant. I knew my hubby didn't want a lot of people knowing, so I was trying to respect that. We were still on our first cycle at the time, so it hadn't even been that long yet!

Every year we go to several gaming conventions. For those of you who don't know what I mean by that, think massive amounts of geeks getting together to play all kinds of games. I prefer role playing games (RPGs) most of the time, with a few others mixed in for variety. These conventions are all over the place, but we usually stick to the ones that we can drive to in a few hours. We've developed many friends over the years, and some who have become very close friends.

So last June while at one of these conventions, we were sitting at a table in the food court at one of the convention centers having some lunch, when one of our friends mentioned that they were adopting a child from China. I looked up at her with all sorts of thoughts and questions rampaging through my mind and, trying to act nonchalant, I think I stammered out something lame like, "Oh yeah? That's interesting." Nice. Way to show your support.

She wasn't even phased. Between her and her hubby, I found out that they were torn between looking for a boy and a girl, and that they really just wanted a child, however it worked out. Special needs would be great, because she and her hubby have the ability, patience, and love to care for and help a child in need. I also found out that the adoption process is a long process, with lots of ups and downs, tons of paperwork, and more waiting and uncertainty than you can shake a stick at (I really have no idea how much uncertainty or waiting you can shake a stick at, but this process has more).

After hearing all of this, I just looked at my hubby, and although his look said "keep your mouth shut woman!", I ran off with my friend to spill the beans to her anyway. We went to the bathroom, and on the way back I stopped her and the words just gushed out of my mouth, "We're trying to get pregnant and I think I might be now because I'm sure it won't take long for us and I'm really excited and nobody knows yet and I just feel so close to you because of what you just told me about and are you adopting because you've tried everything else and it didn't work or is this something you've always wanted to do and it feels to good to talk to someone else about it and oh man my hubby's going to kill me and you have to keep this a secret, OK?!" *huge gulp of air*

I can't remember much else about the conversation after that, but I do remember feeling all warm and fuzzy, and that I was really glad that I had confided in Confidant #2. Although we're on opposite ends of the spectrum today - she has no desire to do what I'm doing now, and although I do keep the option of adoption open as a possibility in the future, it is not the right choice for me at this time in my life but is the perfect option for her - we have such a similar desire to love, cherish, raise, nourish, and teach a young person that we do not yet have to hold, that I cannot help but feel a kinship to her as we each take our steps toward bringing that additional person into our family.

Confidant #2 has been there for me as I went from my first cycle (where I just knew I was pregnant!) through all of the rough times of uncertainty, and is still there for me now as I work through all of these medical treatments (which are truly not her favorite thing) in hopes of having a child. And I know that if these treatments do not work and I need help navigating the world of adoption, she will be right there with me then too, guiding me when I need it and helping me stay steady when the weight of it all might bring me to my knees. Thank you Confidant #2 for listening to me babble on ad nauseum about things that I know squick you out! Thank you Confidant #2 for being a friend.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Still Waiting - July 25, 2009

I go for my ultrasound next Thursday to see how many follicles have grown. I'm done taking the Clomid for this cycle (thankfully - that stuff sucks). So for now, we're just still waiting.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just the Blues : July 22, 2009

I guess I just have the blues these days. I've started creating more posts about various confidants, but I just haven't had the energy to do the stories justice. So, here, have an informational update instead. =)

We have to wait awhile to move on to IVF-ICSI. It kind of stinks, because we've decided that we want to go there ASAP. Unfortunately, it's a very long process, and we won't be able to start until September or October because the hubby will be in Japan on a business trip at a very bad time for our IVF to work out. Meh. So we've decided to do another round of the IUI this cycle. I'm on my third day of the Clomid today. I'm having all of the same side effects as last cycle, but nowhere near as intense. I go on the 30th for my ultrasound to see how many follicles are maturing. I hope that I have 3 again, along with a nice thick lining for embryo nourishment. Not that I really think I'll have any embryos to nourish, I just like the idea that everything is functioning at a healthy level in there, just in case. The Clomid is known to thin out the lining though, and my period this month was very light for me, so I'm actually a bit worried about it. Only time will tell.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Confidants and Intrigue Series: Confidant #1- April, 2008

OK, so I'm really not a good secret keeper. I guess, when I really stop and think about it, I started having confidants before we even started trying. Funny how I thought it was for-evvv-er before I started sharing this information with anyone. When I reflect on it at this point in time, it's really pretty funny how bad I am with keeping secrets.*

At one of the last class sessions for completing my MBA, I overheard another girl in my class who was talking about starting prenatal vitamins soon, as she and her husband were planning to start trying as soon as they sold their condo. I already had the prescription for my prenatal vitamins at that point in time, so I couldn't help myself! I turned around in my seat (yes, this was before the session had actually started, to all who would be aghast that I might chat in class) and exclaimed, "Me too!" We started chatting, and I discovered that they would probably not be starting to try for another few months. I also discovered that she had moved to the same suburb that I live in - just about a 5 minute drive away. And did I mention that we work for the same company? WOW! We started gushing about how great it would be to have our pregnancies be close together and have time off work and walk our babies together. It was fantastic! I hadn't even begun trying yet, but here was my very first confidant. Funny enough, she remains one of my closest confidants to this day. Oh, and my husband didn't know that I had told anyone about us trying for at least 7 months. Whoops, I guess I just spilled the beans! Sorry dear.

In any case, Confidant #1 started trying to conceive about 5 months after I did. At that time, I thought she would travel a road similar to mine. I thought I was being all helpful and big-sister like when I gave her this advice:

"Don't let your body fool you and get your hopes up. You'll think you're having symptoms of pregnancy, but that's just your body adjusting to being off of the birth control pills. I know it's hard not to read too much into every little thing you feel happening with your body. I felt that way too. You have a bit of a road to travel first though, but it'll happen in good time - for both of us!"

Pfft. Boy did I think I had it figured out. As it turns out, she was pregnant. On her first cycle off the pill. She is due to give birth to her little boy in four weeks and four days. One month from now. She started five months after me, and she is due in one month. And here I am, starting my period today. I'm happy for her, I really am. I wish her the healthiest and happiest of babies. I'm just so sad that we won't be together in this. And that I'm still waiting. I don't wish that she wasn't pregnant (I know, double negative - deal with it), I just wish that I was pregnant too. Even if I was just one month pregnant.

I'm so tired of waiting. I'm tired of always having to work so hard for what I want. I wish things would just be easy for me. I've busted my ass to be where I am in my career and in my life. I've made difficult choices, and make good decisions for the long-term. I've thought things through and made wise decisions. I don't take risks. I play it safe. I make sure I finish what needs to be finished and accomplish what needs to be accomplished before moving on. Somehow though, it always feels like I get the short end of the stick, despite working hard and making good choices. I'm ready for my break. I'm ready for something good to fall into my lap without a struggle. I'm ready to get preferential treatment in something. I don't want to work any harder right now. I'm tired of working so hard. I'm just tired. When is it my turn?

*note to friends - it's really only my own secrets that I cannot keep. I keep the secrets of others quite well actually.

IUI Cycle 1: Fail. - July 17, 2009

Sorry that things have been quiet around here. I've been filled with such conflicting emotions these past few days, that it was easier to say nothing at all. I began my period about an hour ago, so I guess at least I have my answer for this cycle. It started with a huge wave of cramps that nearly took me off my feet. I was walking to the bathroom, and my lower-left abdomen and into my leg started to throb, and I almost couldn't finish walking to the restroom. They were very odd cramps - not like normal menstrual cramps at all. Then, 30 minutes later, I started bleeding. I think it's going to be a hell of a period. I'll post more this weekend about all of the other stuff going on, as well as some other stories from the past 14 months.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quick Update - July 14, 2009

Just a quick update and prediction. I'm having some decent cramping today. I would normally start my period on Thursday of this week - cycle length of 27 days. I think I will start right on time, and that I will indeed start. I just heard back from my RE's nurse: My progesterone and prolactin were good this month. Not sure what the prolactin is or should be, but the progesterone was 11, which is right in the good range of 10 - 15 that she said I should be. So next month we will be doing the same dosage of Clomid with the IUI again. I don't know if I'm really up for more than two rounds of this before we move on. We'll have to see how we feel about doing rounds 3 and/or 4 before moving on to something with a better chance for success. This kind of just feels like wasted time and money.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Added Waiting - July 13, 2009

Today I found out that though my normal cycle length is 27 days, I can expect to wait 30 days this month because I normally have a short luteal phase (the time between ovulation and the start of the menstrual period), and the Clomid that I took this cycle will extend that phase. That means that I need to wait until Sunday to test rather than Thursday. Grrr.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Grandpa - July 12, 2009

This past weekend we said goodbye to my grandpa - my father's father. He was 96 years old. He was a hell of a man, and hearing the stories of the lives he touched was inspiring. Yesterday there was a memorial service for him in an old church right up the road from my grandparents' home. The church itself was a plain building - just one room with several rows of pews, many windows, and a raised area in the front with chairs and an altar. It didn't seem like much to me, but apparently there is a considerable amount of history there for my dad and his family, and that made it kind of neat to be there for me. It was blazing hot, and the building was not air conditioned, so we were all sweating like sinners in church, or however the saying goes. I was moved by the stories that were told by my family at the service, but any emotions that I feel at events such as these are always overshadowed by the bloviating of the priests/pastors/reverends/whatever. The whole "this day is all about god and not about the person who died, so think about jeebus" shtick always makes my blood boil. It's the same thing at weddings and funerals that I've attended throughout the years. You'd think I'd just be able to ignore it, but it seems so disingenuous every single time that it just gets my heckles up. This afternoon, however, I was able to feel pure emotions, not tainted by such things. At the very last minute, as we were heading out the door for the 3.5 hour drive home, my dad and his two sisters decided to spread the ashes of my grandfather in my grandma's garden, next to Grandpa's favorite dog that he buried there years ago. At first, each of his three children and his widow took a handful of ashes and began to sprinkle them. Then a few more of us came in and took a handful to spread. My little 4 year old cousin took a handful that apparently had some sort of token with information to identify the ashes as my grandfather's if something happened. My grandmother took it out of my cousin's hand, and at first, I thought it was a bone chip or something like that. As my grandma spread the last of the ashes, she began to cry. She cried for the first time since Grandpa died. Her daughters joined her, and my dad looked on until Grandma was ready to move out of the garden. Dad took her arm and led her to the patio to sit in the shade, as she had done every summer with Grandpa for the past 67 years. Something that, for the first time, she would do alone. I cannot even begin to imagine how that feels. I cannot begin to understand the sense of loss and sorrow that she must feel. That home that he built with his own two hands is filled with memories of him. I don't know if that will ultimately be a good or a bad thing for Grandma, but she has made the choice to continue to live there. I hope she has peace. She saw Grandpa live a good life - he served in World War II, was the father of three wonderful and unique children, lived to see some of his great grandchildren (though unfortunately not from me), saw his children marry wonderful spouses who love them so much, built and ran a hardware store, built his own home, and just enjoyed the simple things of his life. His life was rich and full, much like his personality. He was such a sweet and hard-working man. This world is richer for having had him in it. We miss you already Grandpa. Goodbye.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Quick Update - July 10, 2009

This morning I've been feeling nauseous. It could be because I'm rushing around to get things done. Time will tell. This morning we went for a blood draw to check my progesterone level, something that I think was called Prolactin?, and to check for toxoplasmosis (since I volunteer at a clinic for stray cats and do lots of cleaning there, and have several strays in my own home as well - we're really suckers for animals!). The nurse had trouble finding my veins, which isn't abnormal for me. They love to hide. She stuck me and had to move the needle around trying to find the vein, but it was in vain. =) She had to try again on he other side, and was successful right away there. Now we're waiting for my parents to arrive at our house and then we're going to carpool over to Pittsburgh for my Grandpa's memorial service this weekend. I should have the results of these tests back early next week. I don't know if they tell me much that I want to know, but I guess every little bit of good news helps these days. Have a good weekend everyone - I'll post again when I'm back and have internet access again.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Waiting Game - July 9th, 2009

The waiting game continues. It's terrible, but every little thing that happens to my body makes me wonder what it could mean. I had some light cramping earlier today. There's a good possibility that my ovaries are swollen from the super stimulation of follicles earlier this cycle. Or it could be that my body is just starting down the road to PMS. But I cannot help but feel hopeful, which I find upsetting. I don't want to be hopeful. It's such a long shot, and I don't want to set myself up for disappointment again. I've had so many disappointments already, I hate to set myself up for failure. I really can't help it though. And earlier today I had some light spotting. It was only one time, and it was very, very light - but it was definitely there. Spotting and light cramping can be signs of implantation. They can also be signs of many other things. But I'm not hoping for other things, so my brain won't squash this little hopeful twinge I have, no matter how much I wish it would. I have a feeling it's going to be another long week.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

IUI Round 1 - July 4, 2009

The morning of the 4th of July, we were supposed to be at the lab with our sample in a cup, ready to go at 7:30 AM (note that during periods of no traffic, Dr. RE's office is about 30 minutes from home). The sperm wash would take about an hour and a half, and we were to be back at Dr. RE's office by 9:00 for the procedure.

Apparently my hubby was pretty much feeling like a piece of meat, just told when do perform. When you're a 20 year old guy this might be cool and desireable, but as a 34 year old husband, this actually wears on your self-esteem. I have a feeling that he is about as tired of that as I am of getting poked, proded, and showing my nether region to vast quantities of people. This resulted in us having problems obtaining the sample. We didn't leave our house on time because he was trying to get the sample, but to no avail. At 7:35, we left our house (yes, that is after we were supposed to be there, which was half an hour away).

The entire ride was in silence. I didn't trust myself to speak, because I could say nothing helpful. I was filled with negative thoughts and energy, and even expressing the slightest negativity would have only made things worse for my hubby. I was so afraid that we were too late - that we would not be able to have the procedure that day. It was a holiday, a Saturday to boot, and these people couldn't wait around all day for us! All those hormones from the Clomid and from the trigger shot were whirling around in my body. I had endured hot flashes, the sweats, headaches, exhaustion, and more all month and it was about to be for nothing. If you miss the small window, you're done. And I didn't know if the doctors would wait for us. I was pretty sure that we were late enough that they wouldn't.

We arrived there just after 8:00. The lab technician was surprised that we didn't have the sample, but neither of us could stammer out an explaination. I have a feeling she's seen this before. After a brief scuffle over the use of a fresh container, I left my husband in the lab and went out to the car to cry. I cried for about 10 minutes, then collected myself and just sat there.

I was swallowing everything at that moment - I had to collect myself. I finally did. My hubby came out at 8:30, and informed me that we were still on, and we should come back at 9:00. I was very surprised - with as late as we were providing the sample and they would still keep the original timeline - it just blew my mind! This further reinforced in my mind that Dr. RE and his staff and supporting lab are just top-notch. We are in really good hands with Dr. RE - he knows this business.

We ran to a local coffee and pastry shop and managed to choke down some breakfast, then ran back across the street. I was surprised when we got there to see six other patients and their mates in the lobby. I thought there wouldn't be many of us, but I was wrong! That was interesting. We were the last called back, which made sense.

We were waiting in the room for about 20 minutes. It was a similar room to the one we had been in for the ultrasound, but without the equipment. There was a little packet of something taped to the wall, which we both thought was awfully funny. We later realized it was smelling salts, in case someone faints. Interesting.

A different doctor came in to actually do the procedure, let's just call her Dr. Shortstick (for having to work on the holiday). She came in, put a piece of paper on my lap, stuck a vial in my face, and asked me to confirm my husband's name on the vial. I was taken aback, but quickly confirmed that the name was that of my husband. I looked at the sheet and quickly tried to figure out the information I was seeing. There were numbers and formulas all over the place - this was my hubby's semen analysis results! And look at that! 8 million sperm, 1.8 after the wash! Yay! I guess it was worth the wait for the sample to make its entrance for those results. They weren't great, but they were much better than the 2 million with 7% good ones that our chances for success were based on!

On that good news, I laid back and got in the naughty-bits-reveal position. First was the speculum, which I'm used to, but still don't like. My husband was next to the table, holding my hand. Dr. Shortstick informed me that I was about to feel something that some women don't like, but can't really explain. She asked me what it felt like to me. I told her it felt like burning in my belly. Apparently she hadn't heard that one before. She stopped talking for a second, and apparently my hubby saw concern in her face, just before he saw me blanch and my eyes roll back in my head. He thought I was passing out, but I wasn't. I guess it was just some more mild shock - not nearly as bad as the HSG, but certainly not fun. And there continued to be burning in my belly. Dr. Shortstick told me to lay there for 5 minutes or so, and then I could just get up and go - we were done. I laid there for nearly 10 minutes, because my belly really hurt. It slowly went from burning to cramping. That unpleasant feeling was with me for the rest of the day, and a few hours later I had bleeding which lasted the rest of the day. I spent the rest of my 4th of July laying on the couch and researching the IUI procedure and experiences that others have had with it. I have found a few new boards on infertility forums that have been a really helpful place for finding information and support. I may invite some folks from those forums over here, as I have a feeling that we'll have some things in common. ;-)

I was now officially entering the dreaded two week wait (2ww), the time during which you just don't know if the treatment worked or not. At the end of the 2ww, you either begin your period and thus a new cycle of treatments, or you don't. If you don't, you test for pregnancy, and hope for a positive result. Two weeks is an awfully long time to wait. I feel like a child saying that, but it's true. As I write this, I am ending my 5th day of waiting. 9 days to go. Nine days seems like an eternity to me right now. I'm going to go pet my puppies and kitties and be thankful for the quiet time that I have with them for now, k? kthxbai. Good night!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

IUI Round 1 Ultrasound - June 30, 2009

On the afternoon of Tuesday June 30th, we headed in for an ultrasound of my innards. We were taken back to a little room with only one chair, and a small changing closet (I really can't call it a room). I stripped my lower half and walked over to the table with my bum hanging out. My hubby was too nervous to make any snarky comments about it. We looked at all the big fancy equipment and both of us started to eye the "wand". It had a condom over it to keep things sanitary. That would have been funny if the thing didn't look so damn scary. I took a deep breath and tried to relax. Dr. RE came in quite soon thereafter, and things happened quite fast. He started poking around, which was crampy and unpleasant, but not really too bad. He immediately saw a good thick lining in the uterus, which was already thicker than a safe minimum thickness even several days out from ovulation. He then saw my right ovary right away. It had two nice big follicles maturing. He had to do some poking and twisting to find the left ovary - the same one that gave me the trouble during the HSG. Damn shy little bastard. He did find it, and took measurements on one more nice big follicle on that side. He estimated that they all needed a few more days to be "ready", so we were told to wait until Thursday night for the trigger injection and then we should come back on Saturday, the 4th of July for the IUI procedure.

All in all, this appointment couldn't have gone better! I had three mature follicles (which I later found out is the optimal number for success), and a good thick lining. I was all ready for things to go our way! But we still had the minimal chance for success looming over us. Our excitement at how ready my bits were for baby was dampened by our wondering if we'd have enough healthy sperm for the journey. We left the appointment slightly optimistic, but knowing better than to be hopeful.

The RE Initial Visit - June 23, 2009

June 23, 2009 was an eventful day. It was the last day that I worker prior to a short vacation. It was the day of my initial visit with my new doctor, the RE. It was also the day that my grandfather died.

He was 96 years old, and had lived a long, full life. He had dementia for years, but it wasn't that bad. Yes, he was forgetful. Yes, he slept quite a bit. But he was still full of life and living on his own at home. He had wonderful stories to tell, and he appreciated our company. We visited in late summer of 2008 and brought our three dogs with us. Grandpa just had the best time playing with and petting the dogs, and just telling us stories of his life. We were happy to sit with him and listen. I will always remember him that way - full of stories, appreciative of those around him, and happy with the simplest pleasures of life. Then about six months ago or so, he took a very steep turn for the worst. His last few months were lived in clouds of forgetfulness, with ever-decreasing independence. I thankfully did not see him during his last few months while he declined so rapidly. I truly prefer it that way. My last memory of him is when we were pulling away last summer, he was smiling and waving, wishing the dogs could stay longer (he really loved dogs). His memorial service is this coming Saturday, July 11th. I am looking forward to seeing my family, but is a shame that it will be under these circumstances. Grandpa, you will be missed.

Now on to the other experiences of 6/23. We were able to get a late appointment (6 PM!) with the RE, which was great! It allowed me to work all day and not take time off work for it, which I am sure that I will appreciate having the time to take later. =) We headed back to meet this man who shares a first name with my husband. There was a quick joke about it, and then we dove right in. We'll just call him Dr. RE. Dr. RE walked us through the numbers that we already knew, but for the first time someone took the time to explain more about what the numbers actually meant! It would have been great, except that the picture is so bleak. With the severely low sperm analysis results, we have only a 20% chance of ever getting pregnant without any help. In all likelihood, if it ever happened, it would be years away. =\ meh. So we have just a couple of choices.

Option #1: Intra-uterine insemination (IUI) with a sperm wash is the less invasive method. With this method, I take medication to boost my ovulation, preferably producing multiple follicles, thus increasing the chances of one of them being fertilized. An internal (read vaginal) ultrasound is done shortly before the probable time of ovulation to see how many follicles have matured, how big they are, and how thick the uterine lining is. The doctor then makes predictions for when the follicles will be ready to release their mature eggs, and the IUI procedure is scheduled. 36 hours prior to the IUI procedure, my husband injects me with a hormone "trigger shot" to cause the follicles to release their eggs on cue, so that the timing can be perfect for the IUI. Then, my hubby produces a sperm sample just before the IUI, which is then "washed". This means that the bad sperm and all of the other fluids and nutrients in the semen are stripped out, leaving just a tiny drop of the lively, moving, most spunky sperm, which are inserted directly into the uterus (bypassing the cervix and the long swim through it). All of this is to give the little guys a shorter swim, and to put them as close to the eggs as possible so that they have the energy to penetrate the egg and get their DNA where it needs to be!

The second option is In-Vitro Fertilization -Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection which is abbreviated IVF-ICSI. IVF-ICSI with the related hormone treatments is pretty much as invasive as a treatment can possibly be. In IVF-ICSI, I would undergo hormone treatments even more intense than the ones for the IUI, causing me to produce lots of eggs. I'm not sure exactly what 'lots of eggs' means, but it seems to be standard to mean 15 - 25 eggs all at once. The doctor then surgically removes those eggs from the ovaries and a sperm sample is produced the natural way. The eggs are held with an itty-bitty instrument, and a single sperm is pushed into each one, forcing fertilization. Then the eggs are given a few days to see which ones turn into little zygotes and which ones die. The ones that make it are either implanted into my uterus, or frozen. Or if I'm feeling octo-momish and Dr. RE is a very irresponsible doctor, I can have all of them put into me at once, so that I can have tons of children that I cannot possibly hope to provide for without everyone else paying my way or me exploiting them. *ahem* Sorry, enough political commentary for the day.

So here are the chances Dr. RE gave us: IUI over the course of 3 - 4 cycles, he gives us a 3 - 4% chance total. Not each cycle, but total. If we opted for IVF-ICSI, he gave us a 44% chance of success per cycle of treatment. Think about that for a minute. We have less than a 50/50 shot at pregnancy no matter how invasive the treatment, no matter how expensive it is, no matter what we do. I was pretty floored by those numbers really. I was expecting something like 15 - 20% for each IUI cycle and at least 50% for IVF. The good news of the appointment was that he was ready to start right away. He figured that there was no reason not to try a few cycles of the IUI first, even if it was a long shot, it was a good place for us to start. I had already started on the Clomid from the OB/GYN's suggestion, so why not? We scheduled the IUI ultrasound for one week later - 6/23 and headed off for our vacation.

Getting to the Bottom of it Part 2: The Semen Analysis and Progesterone Test (June 2009)

So riding high on the fabulous results of the HSG, my hubby headed to a lab for a semen analysis (well, actually he headed over the day before, but this is my story, dangit!). He had to go to a lab and produce a sample while in an impersonal little room, so I felt pretty sorry for him. That seemed like it would be really degrading. He took it well. Then we began to wait for the results. After a few days, my OB/GYN's nurse gave us a call. Actually, we tried to reach her several times first - it took nearly a week to get the results when we were told to expect three days. In any case, she ended up reaching me and providing me with the results. The analysis checked for several components:

1. Sample volume - this was normal. Good news, yay!
2. Sperm count - this was low. A low end of normal count is 20 million of the little guys, with 40 million being preferable. We had 9 million. Hmmm, that's not great news.
3. Forward Progression - also quite low. They like to see greater than 50%, and we had 11%. Ugggh, that sounds really bad.
4. Activity - also low. Should be 2+, and we had 1+ (I have no idea what this measurement is, just that it's outside of the norm). Meh.

The conclusion: Any man can have one poor test. Go back and try again in a couple of weeks. Mmmmkay. I'm sure it was just a fluke - the next one will be better!

Fast forward a few weeks. Hubby goes in for analysis #2: the retest. I also go in for my blood draw to check my progesterone levels on day 21 of my cycle. A few days later, I get a call from the nurse again. I headed over to a conference room for privacy. First, the progesterone level results. They like to see levels of 10 or higher, and I was at an 8.8. Based on the information that I had provided earlier about the LH Surges and specifics about my period, she was 99% confident that I was ovulating. They figured the test may have just been off by a couple of days, as I usually have my LH Surge later than would be expected (usually around cycle day 16 or 17). Just to be safe, she gave me a prescription for Clomid, a drug to encourage ovulation, oftentimes of more than one follicle. More information on follicles and ovulation later. The important part at this point is that I was almost certainly ovulating, but it wouldn't hurt to give me a boost with some hormones.

Now on to the semen analysis retest results:

1. Volume normal again.
2. Sperm count was 2.7 million.
3. Forward progression was 7%.

Wow. That was a really a blow. Not only were the results not better, but they were significantly worse. This means we officially get dubbed as "Male Factor Infertility". I began to pummel her with questions. What does that mean? What are our chances now? What can we do? What happens next? She had no answers for me. She said that we needed to go see another doctor - a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), and that she couldn't provide me with any other information at this time, except that my OB/GYN suggested a procedure called IUI, whatever that was.

I felt so confused. I was tired of waiting, tired of mystery and of cryptic information. I wanted some answers, and I didn't want to wait any more. I just felt like we kept getting shuffled around. It started to hit me that this wasn't just a silly exercise that we were being put through when everything was just fine. This was really happening. We actually have a cause, a reason that we haven't gotten pregnant yet. And we have no idea how to get around it, or if we even can.

Pregnancy Timing - May 2008

So when we initially started trying, we wanted to be into the second trimester before we told anyone that we were pregnant, if we could hide it that long. We initially hoped to make the announcement at Thanksgiving of 2008 (maybe before if we got pregnant right away). That timing then changed to Christmas 2008. Then we thought that as long as we had a positive pregnancy test confirmed by a blood test by Christmas, we would announce it, even if we were only a few weeks along. I remember laughingly telling my hubby that there was no way that I would see my 30th birthday before getting that positive pregnancy test. I turned 30 in January (of 2009). Meh.

Getting to the Bottom of it: Infertility Testing (May 2009)

Finally, some progress (well, sort of). We were finally referred to see an OB/GYN to begin infertility testing by our doctor's office. It was sort of a fluke how it happened, really. I went in for some back pain, and saw another practitioner at my family doctor's office. While there, she made the mistake of asking me if I was pregnant yet, since I had been on the pre-natal vitamins for so long. After I whined for a few minutes, she told me that there was no reason to wait the full year, as it had been more than 9 months already. She gave me a name and number and advised me that it may take some time to get in to see the OB/GYN, so to call and get something on the calendar. I was so relieved! I called the very next day and scheduled the appointment for about two months out. In retrospect, I could/should have scheduled it for only about a month out. I felt that waiting two months of the three that I "should" to wait was a pretty good compromise. In any case, on May 19th, 2009, we went to see the OB/GYN for the very first time. I thought that I was nearing the end of my journey to get pregnant. For some reason, I thought that there would be some magic about entering her office and I would become pregnant almost instantly. I was very wrong.

I had to wait for my next cycle to begin, but when it did, I immediately scheduled several tests to attempt to determine the cause of our infertility. The first test up was an HSG. HSG is an abbreviation for hysterosalpingogram. Let's agree to just call it an HSG, OK? In this test, dye is injected into a woman's vagina through a very uncomfortable tube while taking an x-ray of her reproductive organs. The point is to see if the dye works its way up through the uterus, into the fallopian tubes, and then spills out. If there are blockages or growths, they would be seen in the images. I had a bit of trouble getting things ironed out to have the HSG done. It was on the calendar for a week, or at least, some sort of appointment was (you have to call on the first day of your period and it is scheduled for sometime between day 7 and 10 of the cycle). Mine was on the calendar for my cycle day 7. When I got to the appointment, the nurse took me back for my routine pregnancy checkup. Yeah, read that again. After I finished blinking in shock and stammering in discomfort in the hallway at her announcement of this, I got her to understand that what I was supposed to be scheduled for was an HSG. That was a fun conversation. She then said, "Oh, sorry. That has to be done at the hospital, not at our office (which mind you is inside the hospital building). We'll just set it up for next month." Next month? NEXT MONTH?!?! Five minutes later after I had finished bawling in the hallway and realized that I had crumpled into a chair (I don't recall willing myself to sit), she came to understand (through my blubbering) that although this was a Friday, it was my cycle day 7. That meant that my cycle day 10 (still within the cycle date range for the test) was the following Monday, another business day. She took me back to the waiting room, which was now empty as it was about 3:45 on a Friday afternoon, and had me wait there. It took her nearly half an hour to come back. In the interim I tried to stop crying, really I did. It wasn't much use though. As I sat there, I just imagined the gap of yet another month of just waiting and wondering and delaying the start of treatment even further. After the mental and emotional buildup that I went through just to get ready for the HSG - renown for being an unpleasant test - the thought of having to wait a whole month to build myself up for it all over again was simply too much. Thankfully, she came back with some pretty good news. I was all set for the HSG the following Monday. I stammered out a few expressions of gratitude, and made my way out to my car. That weekend, the last weekend in May 2009, was a very rough weekend for me emotionally. Let's just fast forward to Monday, shall we?

Monday came, and I had decided to take the day off work for my personal sanity. I was such an emotional wreck; I didn't trust myself in the office. I think it was a pretty good decision, even though I had to miss some meetings that I really should have been at. In any case, my appointment was at 1:30 in the afternoon, and of course, I showed up at the hospital very early. That turned out to be a good thing. After filling out my paperwork, and talking with an administrative nurse who collected some additional information from me, I was taken back to a changing room. I changed into my lovely gown, locked up my belongings, and paced around this new waiting room, which I had all to myself (thankfully). After about 10 minutes (it seemed like much, much longer), I was taken back to the x-ray room by a very nice radiologist. My OB/GYN was there waiting for me, so we got things rolling. The test was scarier than I thought it would be. The room was dark (I really didn't expect that - I'm not one who has had extensive experience with hospitals, x-rays, etc!), and there were lots of machines. I'm not sure what I expected, but this was not it. I lay down on the table and got into the "female bits examination" pose, which is always lots of fun. The tube was put inside of me, and I was told to slide back on the table and lay down, which I did. I turned my head to watch the screen that the radiologist was watching, and braced myself. I started to feel some cramping as I watched the dye move up in the image on the screen. Apparently I have a picture-perfect uterus. How's that for TMI? My Right tube popped up immediately on the image as well, with spillage almost immediately. Again, perfect. My left side was being a little stubborn for the camera. I was given the order to roll a bit to my side. So I did. The next thing I knew, I was blinded by pain. I heard the doctor talking in the distance, apologizing that she had put in too much dye at once. I heard the radiologist, from miles away, telling me to talk to her. I saw my left tube and ovary displayed on the screen - perfect again, I might mention. I saw the radiologist looking concerned. She asked me a few more times to talk to her. It was all foggy, and I remember thinking that I didn’t really feel like answering her at the time, but I’d consider it later. I finally managed to stammer out "ow" in response to their pleas for me to talk. There was some relieved giggling. Apparently I had gone into mild shock. My pupils had dilated rapidly, I had broken out in a cold sweat, and I had become non-responsive for a minute. The cramping was horrible for that minute, but then it subsided into a normal level of unpleasant cramping. After a few minutes, I got up and moved to a private bathroom to clean up some of the dye, which is actually clear, but very sticky. And that was it! I had a clean bill of health on my bits. They were just right and perfect for baby-making. Whew!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Pre-Pregnancy Checkup - May 13, 2008

Being a responsible person, I figured that I should go to the doctor, get some bloodwork done, have a physical exam, and just generally make sure I'm a healthy person before getting pregnant. So on May 13th of 2008, I headed over to my family doctor for a rundown and to ask her what I should be doing to get my body ready for pregnancy. She ran a variety of tests, checked me over, and gave me a prescription for a prenatal vitamin. Being an overweight individual, I asked her if my weight would be problematic, as that was one pretty major concern that I had. She told me that losing a few pounds are never a bad idea for someone of my size, but that I should not try and loose a large amount of weight at this time. 10 pounds would be good and could only help, so that's the insight that I kept in the back of my mind. She also told me that when I did get pregnant, if I could limit my weight gain to 15 pounds or so, that would be really healthy for me and for baby. Good enough, at least until my hormones are telling me that I MUST eat chocolate every day, with every meal. Heh. So I set out to eat healthier, but not to try and crash-diet. Good enough.

A few days later, my blood results were ready. There were a couple of pieces of unpleasant news there. First, though I had always been borderline anemic, the test showed had crossed over the threshold into full-blown anemia. I had been taking an iron supplement, but not always regularly. The doctor informed me that I could not miss a day - I needed to take my supplement every day without fail, and we'd check my levels again in 60 - 90 days. Fair enough. She also informed me that my thyroid was out of whack, and put me on some medication to regulate it. Apparently that's a pretty big deal for pregnancy. Again, good that we found it early! So, now with three mandatory pills to pop a day, I headed into the trying phase knowing that I was taking care of any issues that may have harmed my baby! Good!

A few months later, I went back for a re-check of my levels. This was after a few months of trying, and after all of those nasty fake-out cycles that I mentioned before. I think this was around August of 2008. My thyroid had regulated (yay!), but my iron was still off a bit. The doctor's orders? More iron-rich foods, less tea, and stop forgetting to take those pills! Somewhere in there I also got several immunizations as well (measles, mumps, & rubella I think? Something with three components to it). I actually had a big angry red lump on my arm from the immunization and we were at my sister's house for something shortly thereafter. I think it was in late May or early June for my niece's birthday party, and I was in short sleeves! I had to make up some story on the fly about the big lump on my arm, and I am a really bad liar. Somehow though, I managed to fudge my way through the time with my family with no one the wiser. Whew!

So the months ticked on, relatively uneventfully, but with us getting more and more frustrated with each cycle that passed by, and each test that came back negative.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summary background - May 2008

My journey through infertility - though unknown at the time - began in May of 2008. I graduated with my MBA, had recently obtained the job I had been reaching towards for several years, had a great house, and just generally felt that everything was finally in place. My husband and I were planning on waiting a few more months to start trying, as we were certain that pregnancy would happen right away, but decided "What the hell!?" and stopped taking the pill. We immediately started trying. Those first few months were quite a rollercoaster - my cycles took about 40 days at first, and I had many of the traditional early signs of pregnancy. I had the headaches, sore breasts, nausea, bloating, and exhaustion. I thought for sure that I was indeed pregnant - but why did those pesky tests keep coming back negative? Well, they came back negative because I just wasn't pregnant. I wasn't really worried at the time. It was still early on in the process. Most couples don't get pregnant right away, right? No worries.

But the months ticked on, and still the tests came back negative month after month. I began tracking my ovulation with over the counter ovulation predictor kits, which test for a hormone surge called the LH Surge, which is the trigger for ovulation that occurs about a day before you ovulate. Every month that I used one of the kits, I had a surge, which indicated that I was ovulating. And we'd get the timing just right over and over, but still no luck. About 7 months in, I went to my doctor, as I was so frusterated with our lack of success. I knew that it was normal to wait 12 months before seeking help, but I wanted to see if there were any tests we could do early, or if we could just put a plan in place - something, anything to put my mind at ease! Unfortunately, she just told me to wait. Meh.

My husband and I had agreed to keep the fact that we were trying a secret, but I'm not very good at keeping things to myself. I'm a venter, and I desperately needed to vent to maintain my sanity! We really had thought it would happen quickly, so keeping it a secret at first was kind of fun and exciting. We actually made off-hand comments to try and throw our friends off the track - we really wanted it to be a surprise! Turns out that the joke was on us. I'll talk more about the secrets, our confidants, and all of this intrigue later. It's really an interesting tale with many interesting twists and turns. For now though, just keep it in the back of your mind.

Hi There

Hi there! This is my first attempt at a blog. I decided that I'd give it a try, as I know that it's been therapeutic for some of my friends. I'm going through quite a lot in my life right now, but nothing quite so unexpected as my journey through infertility. I never really thought in my wildest dreams that I would be unable to have a child when I decided that I was ready for one. I thought that it would happen very fast - in that first month really. My husband is such a worrier that we used two forms of birth control - every time - for years and years. Hell, talking him into quitting with the condoms and relying on just the birth control pill took nearly two and a half years after marriage! So it feels quite strange that we are knee deep in our 14th month of trying to get pregnant without a hint of success.
I intend to fill in bits and pieces of my background story, while also detailing my journey moving forward. I'll try to explain where each story comes in chronologically. I like to tell stories, just ask my friends or coworkers. =) Hopefully I'll be able to express my feelings in a way that you find informative and/or entertaining. I'm pretty open and like to share details, so feel free to pass over any of the squicky details if they aren't your cup of tea. So thanks for stopping by, and I hope you gain something for having read my blog.