Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Well that was a surprise...

Sorry I've been gone so long, but it was really hard to keep a secret!

We got pregnant in April and dodged the IVF bullet!  The only things I did differently - start exercising again and started a baby aspirin regiment, as suggested by a family friend who also went through unexplained infertility.

I'm currently 33 weeks and excited and nervous.  This is not the place for pregnancy talk, but I do think it's important to share that after 2 years of trying, we WERE able to conceive, without ever getting a diagnosis.

Although my doctor dismisses the role baby aspirin might have played, I'm convinced that it made a difference. I took the 81mg of aspirin through the first two trimesters, then weaned it down to every other day, and stopped at about 32 weeks. (My doctor wanted me to stop at 12 weeks, but she wouldn't run the test I wanted for anticardiolipin antibodies, and I wasn't willing to risk it, since the main negative of taking the baby aspirin is bleeding during delivery.)

This will hopefully be the end of this blog - unless we have trouble the next time around.  I'd like to summarize the main things that helped me through the hardest thing I've ever dealt with:

1. An amazing husband.
2. Friends who are understanding/sensitive.
3. My mom and sister.
4. A therapist who specializes in dealing with infertility.*** HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
5. Exercise - once I was able to climb out of the depression enough to do it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Finally waking up from the funk

I'm not sure if it's because we are now on the doorstep of IVF, or because of the timing of Spring Vacation, or because I really just grew completely fed up with hating the way I felt/looked on top of hating the infertility, but I have FINALLY started to come back to life in terms of taking care of my body.

In a very interesting exercise, my therapist had me "talk" to my body and my body "talk" back to was definitely uncomfortable, but it revealed to me that on some level, I might have been punishing my body for not giving me what I want.  I'm sure this is only one layer - depression just makes you a ball on the couch not wanting to do anything, let alone exercise, and comfort-food eating also played into getting me to this place as well, but I definitely think that was a tiny piece of it.

I'm hoping I really have turned a corner, and am thinking more about fueling my body than stuffing it, and exercise as being-nice-to-my-body and taking time for myself and my own well-being.  So I joined a way-too-pricey gym that feels luxurious and have enlisted a workout buddy for some positive peer pressure.  Hopefully these forces, combined with some results in the not-so-distant future, will let this be a jumping off point to a lifestyle change, leaving the cloud of depression in the past, and not a blip on the radar.  (Part of what makes me so angry about having fallen out of shape and gained 20 lbs is that I had lost and kept my weight in a healthy place for 8 years before I was swallowed up by infertility and the ensuing depression...but I'm trying to forgive myself for this - I am not weak; this is REALLY hard to deal with...)

I can honestly say, I already feel better having gone the last 3 of 4 days - nothing crazy, just 30 mins of cardio to try to get back into it without injuring myself, but enough that I feel like I have accomplished something, do not want to cause more work by pigging out, and want to keep going.

We have our appointment to talk about the specifics for the timeline of IVF with the doctor on 4/22, and I have to say that taking a month off from procedures and meds has been pretty amazing (might also have something to do with the exercise desires - I felt the same in February when we were meds-free...) In some way, knowing that the drugs will be starting soon makes me even more motivated to get in as good of habit as I can, before they start messing with my system, and hopefully, exercise can be one of my coping mechanisms, not something else I can't seem to get right at the moment.  More on my IVF thoughts soon...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Outside forces - Nonny and students

So, I had two thoughts today after therapy tonight. The first was a recurrent thought I've had in the women's room at the office - the wallpaper and pleasant potpourri scent remind me SO much of my beloved late Nonny's bathrooms in her condo.  Maybe she is looking over me during this hellish process?  That thought gives me warm fuzzies.  I know that if she were still here, she would stroke my hair with her elegant, manicured fingers, and hold my hand and tell me that everything was going to be OK.  It is a very comforting thought.

Another group of people who have an impact - both good and bad, are the students I work with.  They are so sweet and very interested in everything about my life - which is good...and bad.

"Miss, when are you going to have a baby? You'd make the best mom!"

"Oh, you're married?  When are you going to have kids?"

"Are you pregnant!!!!?" (That's my favorite when wearing perhaps not the MOST flattering outfit...)

"What are you waiting for? You're not that young anymore!  Don't you want to have lots of kids?" (Many of my students have young parents.)

I love their enthusiasm and care about me.  I am flattered by their faith in my untested parenting skills.  But...what a twist of the knife.  I'm just glad I don't work in a school with a high teen pregnancy rate...that might put me over the edge!

So basically, I believe that Nonny is watching over me, and I would prefer my students keep their baby wishes/questions to themselves.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

And again-hopes dashed.

Warning - this is a very negative post...

I had really thought this month might work.  Things had been different - we couldn't have timed the IUI any better...everything looked right on track. But all of the home pregnancy tests I took starting Wednesday were COMPLETELY without a trace of a second line, and then I got my period right as I'm going out the door to have the blood test at the clinic this morning.

I really hate the blood test.

It has always come after I've already found out on my own I'm not pregnant, but you still have to waste your time in the waiting room and suffer another blood draw to have your disappointment confirmed.  Couldn't they do it ONE day earlier??

Also, I was not really amused talking to the nurse practitioner this week during our "post-op" call.  I brought up the two friends of mine who had "unexplained" infertility that then found out they had something irregular auto-immunewise.  Her response?  Doing those tests would be fishing and we have no reason to believe they would be positive based on my medical history.  Umm OK - then I choose Go Fish!  There obviously has to be a reason we're STILL not pregnant - but there seems to be NO push on their end to find it out.  It's just as well, we still don't know a lot, and IVF is your best chance.

I've started reading about IVF...and all it's doing is making me really scared. SO many different hormones, timing that is SO important, tons of monitoring, invasive procedures.  I can't believe we're actually at this point - the last resort.

Worst day of the month.

But I'm trying a new tactic this month - instead of being a ball on the couch with tissues and movies, I'm going to go meet a friend for brunch...but still packing tissues in my purse, and tampons. Damn it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Well that was unpleasant

I'm hoping that maybe the fact that the last IUI was weird and painful means maybe it worked? Because it was miserable.  Cervixes are NOT meant to be lifted - that is what I learned as tears ran down my face and I probably left permanent fingernail indentations in my husband's hand.  I am even more comfortable with my decision now that that was our LAST Clomid/IUI cycle....

So now we're in the two week wait (tww).  I hate the two week wait.  It is just cruel.  There is NOTHING you could be actively doing to get pregnant...but don't know if it worked for TWO WEEKS.  A HALF A MONTH.  FOURTEEN DAYS.  It's way too long.

Here's how the TWW usually goes.
Day 1  - oh, thank God we don't have to have any more sex this month - the rest of it is just for fun
Day 2 - I don't think it worked. No. It probably didn't work
Days 3-13 - Was that a twinge? Am I having mild cramping or is that something I ate... Are my breasts more tender than usual?  To drink that one glass of wine or not... I don't feel different...I'm probably not pregnant.  What if I am pregnant? And so it goes..on and on and on.
Day 13 - (every month so far) Period starts before my pregnancy blood test at the clinic...hopelessness ensues
Day 14 - they MAKE you go get the test...even though you know it's negative - SO aggravating

Start the whole cycle over again.

At least I know I will NOT be riding the Clomid roller coaster again.  Who knows? If Spring ever comes, maybe I'll even get to exercising again...

Starting to research the IVF process/steps/medications for June.  Let me know if any of you have some IVF experiences!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Follicle Focus

So, I will admit I was a little worried/down after the monitoring results from Wednesday.  Every other cycle that I have been monitored on, the follicles were found to be a little shy of the mature range (they want 20mm or greater) by day 12 or 13.

This was Day 11 and there were 2 on my left ovary only measuring 13mm, and none on the right ovary - which was weird because I felt twinges on my right side the past week or so.  The doctor said he didn't want me back for monitoring until today (Saturday).  I was surprised and concerned - I know that the follicles grow about a mm per day, but I was worried that if we waited until today, I might have ovulated on my own already - according to past data.  Throw in a high-pressure day at work Thursday, and a crazy snow storm without a snow day on Friday, and a couple of negative home ovulation tests, and by last night I had convinced myself that this month was a bust.  It felt like all the crappy side effects from the Clomid had been for naught.

I grumpily got out of bed this morning to get ready for my 8:30 ultrasound/bloodwork appointment.  I much prefer the wee hours of the weekdays to the Saturday appointments - there are always more people in the office on the weekends, and today, with babies...which is always hard.  There is a family waiting room off to the side, but it seems no one uses it...

The ultrasound tech was someone I hadn't had before.  She wore a neon yellow sweater which seemed to match her sunny disposition perfectly. I almost forgot to close the bathroom door to get undressed from the waist down - modesty is so out the window at this point - who hasn't seen my lady bits by now?  She joked about how some women are so careful to cover up with the pitiful paper sheet. I liked her right away.  She even did the play-by-play while she was poking around in there....uterine lining looks great...let's look at righty - oh! There's one - 21mm!

I was shocked - there was nothing there on Wednesday.  I told her I had thought I was feeling things on the right side - she said, "See? You don't need us!"

She continued on and said that on the left one was 16mm and the other 18mm.  I told her I was surprised, that this cycle seemed weird.  She noted that maybe weird is a good thing - at least it's a change. I made a point of thanking her for the play-by-play and instant info.  She said that she understands - women going through this have no control over anything - at least they can know the stats before the nurse calls hours later.  New. Favorite. U/S tech.

I was smiling as I went back to the waiting room to be called for my blood work.  As I walked past the ... sperm production room? I noticed for the first time ever that there was a carefully displayed selection of mags and a specimen cup set out on the exam table - now I went from smiling to laughing out loud.  I wonder who has that job - can you please go set out the porn in an artful display?

I had the one male phlebotomist - he is now my favorite - barely felt a thing as the needle went in, and we swapped war stories about yesterday morning's commute. I left the clinic in a great mood.

The nurse called around 11 to say to do the Ovidrel shot tonight and the IUI tomorrow morning, as my LH surge had started, according to the blood work.  (I do so love the clinic's patient portal - as soon as we got off the phone, I could look at all the numbers myself.)  The estradiol measurement was more than 2x higher than it's ever been - this could just be because we are measuring so close to ovulation, but again, this is something different in this cycle, so maybe a good sign?  The other thing I am very happy about - the IUI, and thus the next round of blood work in 14 days, will both take place on Sundays - no more missing work this cycle!!!  Best mood in a week.

This is the thing about infertility I hate the most - the roller coaster - last night/this morning - low, 30 minutes later? Feeling great.  So now I'm hopeful about the IUI scheduled for tomorrow morning...but will that only make the two week wait worse?  I want to be optimistic..but then the disappointment is so biting.  I guess there really is no "good" way to go through this...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The mad dash to monitoring

People seem to think that when you work in education, you have SO much free time.  I honestly can't think of a worse profession for trying to schedule appointments.  True, I could make an appointment at 4pm without having to miss any work, but there is zero flexibility during the day, and to take a whole day off is a REALLY big deal and impacts your colleagues.  Apparently, there is even a note in my chart that says, "Teacher - minimize monitoring as much as possible."

The thing is that the IVF clinic really thinks they have a solution - they have appointments for bloodwork and ultrasound that start at 6:30 in the morning!  Ummm I'm at work by this does not help me out at all, in fact it is a cause for significant anxiety.

I've started, what I believe may be, my dream job this year.  It's new, exciting, challenging, and I'm definitely still learning the ropes and making mistakes, so I absolutely do NOT want to come across as someone who is slacking off or not meeting my responsibilities.  I hate missing work. Ever.

I made the decision to tell my boss earlier in the year what was going on, why I would need to come in late 1-3 times per month and possibly take 1/2 days without much notice due to the importance of timing and domino effect of each step.  She has been really understanding and supportive, but it is less than ideal, and if I didn't know my boss as well as I did before I even started working here...I can't imagine how hard it would be to make the decision to reveal your infertility struggles at work or cover it up/be secretive about all the time you need to be flexible/miss work responsibilities.  I am so grateful I can trust her and count on her support.

So back to 6:30am...I've figured out some tricks to be the absolute first person on the sign in sheet.

1. Leave my house at 6:10 to get there around 6:20 even with traffic (I'm so lucky our IVF clinic is 3 miles from my house and near the highway to get to work.)
2. Park as close as possible to the door - I haven't quite figured out if the # of spaces you are from the door is an unofficial order - today I chose to totally ignore that - I got out of my car first and was at the door.
3. Exactly at 6:30 the tiny light on the security pad at the door turns green (another woman showed me this today).
4. Walk purposefully to the sign in desk and try not to throw elbows.

Generally, they do blood first - which is good AND bad.  If you're the first on the list and you do blood first and WHILE you're in there they call the first ultrasound patient...that sucks.  There is only one ultrasound tech, and that process takes about 8-15 minutes per patient, whereas blood is under 5.  Today was my lucky day!  First for blood and was back in the waiting room by the time the ultrasound tech came out.  I was at work signing in before homeroom ended, though I had had to arrange coverage for my breakfast duty.

Having done this for 3 cycles now, I am definitely finding my favorite phlebotomists and ultrasound techs.

For the blood-takers it's all about who is the least painful and fastest - so far I love all of the phlebotomists at my clinic.  In all the testing and monitoring, I only ever had one not perfect stick, so I really cannot complain.

For u/s techs...while they have all been pleasant, I dread getting the silent one.  I had her today.  The other two have given me the follicle counts/measurements and lining thickness they observed, which makes my day MUCH better. Sure I still get the call from the nurse in the afternoon, and she gives more info as to what the numbers mean and the next steps, but at least I get a tiny reward of information for having messed up my work schedule.  The silent one says nothing...which I'm sure is what she's SUPPOSED to do...but you just violated me with a u/s wand for 5 minutes and I hear clicks and beeps and I know you see something...but no reward!  Fingers crossed that there are some good follicles.  So far each of my previous two monitored cycles, I have had 1-3 follicles that have matured.