Monday, March 31, 2014

Let Me Begin With...

I'm sorry.
^^^ That is my pre-apology if this post is TMI for you. My intent isn't to gross anyone out, but one thing I noticed, from the beginning, is how hard it was to find fertility blogs that went into detail about the ins and outs (no pun intended) of infertility treatments. I walk a fine line of informative and offensive sometimes, so if it becomes too much, just remember, no one is making you read this ;)

Backing up a bit... last time I blogged it was less about this month’s course of action and more about the mental hardships of infertility, so allow me to catch you up on where we are this month. I completed another cycle of Letrozol this month, after a clean cyst check. Praise God! After that, we waited for the medicine to do its job and last Tuesday I went in for a follicle check. I had one "lead follicle", which is ideal, measuring at about 13mm. Perfect for where I was in the cycle. They had me come back on Friday for hormone testing and another follicle scan. This time I was measuring at about 19mm - steadily growing! They want the follicle (egg) to be right in the 20-23mm range before you ovulate, so Saturday they checked to confirm one more time and gave us the go ahead to do the HCG shot.

Mike was out of town Friday night and Saturday so I was waiting for him to get home and play nurse. We did a different brand of HCG this month - last month was Nuvarel (spelling?) this month was Ovidrel. I don't know what it was exactly, but this month's shot was a cake walk compared to last month. The needle was smaller, the medicine was pre-loaded, and best of all it didn't burn like the other did. I was a MUCH better patient this time too!

When I spoke to the nurse on Saturday, she encouraged me to try IUI, or Intrauterine Insemination, this month. So I tentatively made the appointment. She said if we decided we didn't want to do it, I could just call and cancel with no problems. The main benefit to IUI is that the specimen is placed directly into the uterus, whereas with intercourse it has to travel up through the cervix. Many sperm die off in the journey and other factors can play a role as well, decreasing the chances so it's just a more guaranteed way of getting them where they are supposed to go. We were back and forth, unsure of if we wanted to take that next step or not. Some of the big factors for us were cost. With my doctor, the IUI procedure costs $450. That's a lot of money to us, so that was one issue. Next, we just weren't sure if we needed to do it. Our issue has always been getting me to drop an egg, and an IUI won’t fix that. However, it WILL increase the chances of fertilization if my egg cooperates. The
more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of IUI. It takes some stress off of me, in that, I don't have to make sure we are timing intercourse constantly. There is no wondering if we did it enough, or on the right day.
That's all in the doctor's hands now. That being said, we are still trying naturally as advised by the doctor, but for now, it can go back to being about us instead of the focus being on... uhh... mating. ;)

So... our appointments were today! After confirming with my insurance company, the procedure was fully covered - I just had my $25 copay. Mike had to go in at 9 and me at 1. He gave a sample, they tested and washed it and the IUI commenced at my 1 o'clock. I hadn't done this before, so I didn't know what to expect...
Here's how it went... The nurse called me back, she made me answer some questions to verify she did in fact have MY husband’s specimen, and we went into the exam room. She then went over the results of his deposit and told me how strong his swimmers were. Not to brag on his behalf but she said she rarely sees them come back that healthy, which is of course good news. Anything we can check off of the worry list is a bonus. Although, if you asked him, he was never worried. Ha! So after that the doctor came in, inserted a uterine catheter, and bam. We were done. I had some funny questions of my own as well as from a few
friends so here are my answers:
Did it hurt? No - it was just like a pap.
Did they use a turkey baster? - No, they used a syringe and a long tube.
How long did it take? - 2 minutes, not that different from intercourse. HAHAHA just kidding. I couldn't resist.
Did I have to lay there? - Yes, they told me at least 15 minutes, I did for 20, with my legs elevated.
Everyone I talk to about this procedure is really intrigued, and I don't blame them. I was too. I
still can't put into words how amazing all of this is to me. How precious life is, how complex our bodies are, how brilliant the doctors are, and of course, God's hand in all of it. Things have gone really well for us this month, and I continue to thank Him every time a new door opens. It's all just amazing, and I feel very lucky to be in a place where we can continue to move forward in our journey to have another baby.

The real issue now will be getting my egg to cooperate. In the past, it has proven difficult. I pray that my ovary
released it properly and that it was able to travel through the tube and enter into the uterus. We are so close. I just know it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Year of The Baby...

First things first - forgive me, this post is probably going to drag out and be a little lengthy. I have had a lot on my mind these last two days in regards to fertility and since this blog is my outlet, there is no better place. Secondly, I probably won't take the time to check this post for typos, so read with patience...

2014 is certainly shaping up to be the year of the baby! I can't tell you how many friends of mine are just due, or announcing a future addition. I am really hoping a little of that good luck rubs off on us this year. It is so exciting to hear of a new life, and I love all of the creative ways people announce their pregnancies. I wish I could promise you some grand plan I have worked up when we find out, but I know I will be so bursting at the seams, that their won't be time for a clever announcement. My plan, honestly, is to shout it from the roof tops! I know a lot of people have felt a little awkward about telling me their baby news. I get it. They don't know what to say and they don't want to feel like they are "rubbing it in". Am I jealous? Of course I am. I would be a liar if I said I wasn't. It doesn't make me resentful. Their are no negative feelings towards my fertility blessed friends. Of course I want that to be me, of course I ache for the day I hear a healthy heartbeat or see the outline of my sweet babes face on an ultrasound... After every thing I have been through, I would NEVER wish that anyone have issues getting pregnant. It doesn't mean I don't feel pain when I hear of a pregnancy, it just means that it doesn't have anything to do with the other person. That being said, there is a lot of 2014 left, and God-willing, I pray my time will come!

Next topic -- One of the hardest struggles of infertility, and especially 2nd child infertility, is feeling like you've let down the ones you love. Even though I know it's out of my hands, it doesn't change the fact that I have a lot of guilt about my inability to become pregnant. First and foremost - my husband. In the begining, us trying for baby #2 was more focused on my desire. Since Jake was about 2 I wanted another child. We both grew up with siblings (Mike 2, me 3) and I knew I wanted that for Jake. Mike wanted more children as well, but was concerned more so about our ability to provide, etc. After my surgery (almost 5 years ago) we started playing around with the idea, becoming more comfortable with the timing and where we were in life. About a year later is when we began "trying". Honestly, I didn't think much of it and just assumed we would get pregnant right away. Obviously that didn't happen, and as time has gone on, I have seen Mike's desire for another baby grow. I can't tell you how happy that makes me. I never wanted to be a wife that forces children on her husband, or even that he agrees because it makes me happy. I wanted it to be something we both really wanted. Mike is the greatest father I have ever known. He is so patient and loving, a wonderful role model and an excellent partner when it comes to discipline. I can't wait to see him with our 2nd baby in his arms. There have been many nights where I have cried myself to sleep over my inability to not only fufill my wants, but his as well. He constantly reminds me that this is our struggle, not just mine and that he is right by my side the whole way. I know that. I know he has my back. It doesn't change the fact that I feel like I am letting him down.

Secondly - Jake. Anyone that knows Jake, knows he loves being with other kids. He has wanted a sibling for a while now and each year of his life, he has gotten more and more vocal about that. I know some of my friends think we are crazy with Jake and his sports schedule, but for me, what they don't see, is that Jake's teammates are the closest things he has to brothers. He has been playing soccer with this group of boys for a few seasons now, and he loves those boys. He talks about them all the time. Every where we go it's "Mom so-and-so would love this" or "can I take so-and-so with us". They get into arguments with eachother - they go through spats, just like siblings do, but at the end of the day, those boys (and their siblings) feel like family to him. I can't put into words what that means to me. He is always asking if they can come over, or if he can over to their houses, and I have a hard time telling him no. Not because I want to have a free afternoon, but because I know what it means to him. When they all go home, they have siblings, when Jake goes home, he's stuck with us. Granted we are super cool, like as cool as it gets... but we aren't 7 and 8. In Jake's eyes, we're old people. This past weekend I felt like I barely saw him. Friday he was out of school for the begining of spring break and he spent the day at a soccer mate's house. They ran the neighborhood and he spent the day playing with a pack of kids... Saturday morning, he had a game and afterwards got invited to go over to another soccer mate's house. I should have made him go home and take a nap, but he so badly wanted to go and I let him... That afternoon, all of the soccer team and our families got together for an afternoon cook-out/day in the park. The boys ran around wild, we played games, we ate, he had a blast just running with his buddies. That night, another soccer family invited him for a sleep over.. at first I said no. Selfishly I missed him, and I knew he had to be exhausted, but again he begged so we caved. Pick your battles, right? Sunday, I planned to go get him in the morning, but the family called and asked if he could spend the day with them at a local zoo that has an adventure course... and... you guessed it, I caved. We picked him up at 7:30 last night and he was exhausted from his weekend of fun. The whole way home he talked and talked about how much fun he had. We got him home, bathed and ready for bed. As Mike was tucking him in, he was crying a little and told Mike how much he wants a brother...
I had to pause just now, because I always start to tear up. I know not everyone understands, but for Jake it's so much more than just hanging out with friends. Jake feels like those boys are his brothers. When he leaves them to come home, reality sets in and he gets sad. He sees that they all have siblings and they all have eachother. I know one day he will have siblings too, and I am sure there will be times where he wishes they weren't there, but for now it's something he wants, and I haven't been able to give him. I have a lot of guilt about that. I can't put into words how thankful I am for the families that have become dear friends on our soccer team. The families don't realize what it means to us when Jake gets to spend a night out or a day with their children. It really has been such a blessing to us and to him, and I just hope they know how appreciative I am.
I know I shouldn't harbor guilt about my fertiltiy issues. I know I am currently doing everything I can to increase our chances, and that is all I can do. It doesn't take the guilt away though. So much of why I write this is for people going through something similar, to know they aren't alone. As well as, for those who don't know what it's like to get an honest, emotional sense of what infertility feels like. It also helps me to get it out and let go of how I feel. The stress, the sadness, the guilt - those are the hard parts of this - but the patience, the hope, the faith, those are the parts of this that have helped me grow to a better wife, mom, friend, human. There are nights I cry, there are times I want to give up, but they are brief. I am so so lucky to have the support system I do and overall I am happy. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2 Appointments in 2 Days...

Mike and I had a consultation appointment today. Over all it went really well and, for me, it was good to sit down with Dr. Jaffe and evaluate where we are in all of this. I haven't actually sat down and talked to her in quite a while. After going over all of my history a few new (to us anyway) things came up. 1. Dr. Jaffe firmly believes all of my fertility problems center around that crazy cyst back in 2009 that blew up and landed me in the hospital for a week. Clearly I am cystic; although she isn't sure I am a true PCOS candidate. 2. I have endometriosis. I heard her mention this briefly before but never directly. Today she told me I for sure have that. It basically
just means lesions/obstruction/scar tissue around the tubes, uterus, ovaries,etc. It makes it really difficult for the eggs to safely travel into the uterus. While she was able to significantly clear much of it during my surgery last October, it wasn't 100% and it doesn't mean the tubes are functioning properly all of the time. This is a bummer, because at this point there isn't anything that can be done further to repair that. It is what it is at this point. It doesn't mean I can't get pregnant, but it does increase my chances of ectopic pregnancy which results in miscarriage or even loss of the ovary itself due to damage. Those are scary words to hear. 3. She dropped the IVF bomb on us today.- She doesn't think we are there yet, by any means, but given the endometriosis, it is more of a sure-fire way of getting pregnant. My heart kind of dropped hearing that. IVF is expensive, it's complicated, and it isn't guaranteed. All in all, I am really praying we don't get there. Aside from that stuff (which seems heavy) she is confident we are close. Each month my levels, ultrasounds, etc. look more promising. She told Mike today, "We just have to get her ovulating". She is confident that we are right there and that once my body is ovulating it's a matter of timing.
I am currently taking Letrozole and will continue for 4 more nights. Then I go back to the doctor next Tuesday for a follicle check. HOPEFULLY - I will have a decent sized follicle or two ;) and they will have me do the HCG shot. (BTW - I think I mistakenly called it an HSG before TOTALLY wrong) HA! At that point Mike and I will make a decision to proceed naturally or add IUI this month. Sorry this isn't full of grace, but in case you don’t know, IUI is affectionately known in the infertile world as the turkey baster. Nice, right? I will let you figure that one out on your own. Feel free to google it - just DO NOT image search, whatever you do ;) We will probably choose to try naturally again, and if it doesn't work next month we will add the booster shots and IUI. I got a little eager yesterday, so talking to the doctor today was just what I needed. She sees I'm getting impatient and she completely understands, but she isn't willing to put me at risk and THAT is why I adore her. While twins would be amazing, her job is to help you get pregnant not pump you full of liters, the next level of drugs can cause over production and if I produce too many follicles in a month she will cancel that months attempts.
No octo-mom here, please and thank you!
So here we are, another month, another few weeks of anxious prayer and waiting, waiting, waiting. I am just so thankful that through our jobs and our insurance we are able to continue on in this quest like we have been. God is so good, even if it isn't my time yet :)

I also noticed today that I am at the one year mark from my miscarriage. One of the hardest things I've delt with in my life, while also being one of the biggest lessons of my life. Had that pregnancy worked out the way I would have liked, I'd be holding a sweet babe right now. I take comfort in knowing that wasn't the baby God planned for me to hold. I may not know why, and maybe it's better that way. If you have someone you love that's been through this, dont just reach out to them when it's current. Pray for that person, remind them that you are thinking of them. Getting over it does get easier with time, but random days will bring back all of the tears and emotions. It's so nice to hear that your friends and family love you and are there. <3

Monday, March 17, 2014

A New Month...

So I briefly posted this weekend from my blog app and figured I would do a follow up.

Last month I did a round of Letrozole (an oral medication intended to assist in follicle production) along with a
"trigger" shot of HSG (an injectable hormone used to trigger your body to release a follicle = manual ovulation) and we went from there. Well, Saturday morning I woke up to get ready for Jake's soccer game and felt horrible. I was nauseous, cramping, sore and achy. I knew my period was about to start at any second and sure enough, it did. Saturday was a rough day for me. I had a feeling I wasn't pregnant, but as anyone fighting infertility knows, that cycle day one feels like a battle lost every time. More so, it was one of my more painful
cycles. I felt so bad, but forced myself to get up and head for Jake's game.

The pain was coming and going so one minute I would feel fine, and the next I felt like I may faint from the pain. I was so relieved that late that afternoon I began to feel "normal" again.
Fast forward to Monday morning - cycle day 3. I took Jake to the bus stop, and while waiting, called my doctor to make my last minute appointment for my ovary check. Each month, on day 2 or 3, I have to go in for an internal ultrasound, so when I called this morning we scheduled an appointment for 10:15. In the past 6 months I have done this every single month. They are the determining factor on if I get to take my fertility meds or not, so a lot rides on them. Basically, they go in and check each ovary. The goal is to not see a whole lot. If you've read my blog before you know most of the time they see big black cysts sitting comfortably in the left ovary. When this happens, all plans go on hold and I have to wait the cyst out. This is, in some ways, harder for me to hear then starting my period. I know that sounds crazy, but being told I can't even try - a whole month, wasted - is more difficult for me then trying and not getting pregnant. I think it's because when I CAN try, I do what I'm told, we follow our instructions and then I am forced to let go. I can breathe, and know there isn't anything else I can do. When we can't try, I feel helpless, I get angry with whatever part of me causes these cysts to form, it's become a bitter pill to swallow. So, back to the appointment today, I walked into my office telling myself PMA PMA PMA (positive mental attitude) - being that it IS St. Patrick's Day, I was hoping for a little luck... and bam! My four leaf clover came in the form of two, cyst free ovaries. Ready for meds, ready for babies, ready for a new month! The nurse even said, this is your month girl. This is the first month back to back with no cysts. Maybe just MAYBE my body is finally getting back on track. So, tonight I will start the Letrozole again, like normal. I will be on that for 5 days, taking it each night. Tomorrow, Mike and I have an appointment with Dr. Jaffe. I haven't seen her in several weeks, so it will be nice to sit down and chat with her about where we are in the process. We also will be talking about the decision to move to the next step in our plan. Originally, she told me she would like us to try each phase for 3 months before moving to the next, but given my delays due to cysts, I am hoping she will be supportive of us moving on. The neat thing is, the next step still requires me to take the Letrozole first, so as soon as this month we may kick it up a notch. This entails me going on a new
drug, either Gonal-F or Follistim. Both are administered by injection, so being excited about this and wanting to move on is a big deal for me. As I've mentioned previously, I hate, no no hate isn't strong enough, I loathe needles. That being said, our desire for a baby reminds me that pain is temporary and facing your fears makes you a stronger person. If this is what is required, I am willing and able. I just hope Mike can stay patient with me as I work through my tantrums. I thank God every day for him and especially his sense of humor. Shoot, by the time this is done, I may get a tattoo. SIKE. Never. I couldn't do it. I would have to be sedated. :)
This month will require a lot from both me and Mike. If we are in your prayers, please pray for patience, strength, courage, humility, peace, and pray that Mike gets really good at shootin' me up ;) No seriously, last time there was a little stutter and I felt myself nearly faint. HA! I continue to learn so much more from all of this than just the medical side. I feel so blessed to call Mike my husband. I have learned I have some of the most caring people ever in my circle and on our side. I know that when we announce our pregnancy so many people will be celebrating with us and that brings me so much joy. Even then, my fight against infertility won't end.
It is a badge I will wear for the rest of my life, something I will use to connect with people that I may not have otherwise. I refuse to be ashamed of it, or to feel less because of it. Even when my desire to have babies has been filled, I hope I am able to continue reaching women that are still fighting, or just beginning to. Pregnancy is a miracle, I feel so honored to have done it once and I pray every day I get to do it again. This time, I will relish in every bit of it. I won't take one minute for granted

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Cycle Day 1...

Yep, I started :/ so here we go, all over again. I have a doctors appointment Tuesday so after that I will do a more lengthy post about what's going on. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers this month. I could feel the love ❤

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Post Shot Update...

Let me start off by saying, I hate needles. Always have. Ask anyone that knows me and they will tell you that about me. I know it isn't that painful, I know it is "just a tiny needle", but needles are my kryptonite. I feel like I have a relatively high tolerance for pain and honestly, it has zero to do with pain. It's the thought of a needle driving into my skin that makes me feel weak in the knees.

Mike, bless his heart, did a really good job of tolerating me. He was patient, and serious, and kind -- all the things I needed him to be. Regardless, it didn't stop my [not so] mini meltdown...

I got home from work that Friday and shockingly enough I didn't feel too nervous. I was expecting to be hiding in a closet when he got home, so I felt like I was doing pretty good. I prepped the area, mixed the medicine, read the instructions (3 times) and got myself ready. He came in, watched a video and we were off. Sort of. I had originally planned to put a pillow over my head - enter panic attack numero uno. Apparently, I have a fear of not being able to well as a fear of being restrained. So, Mike being ever patient waited for me to figure out what made me most comfortable. After a bunch of tears and begging him to "not make me do it" he got real with me. He basically told me to stop it. Stop freaking out, stop stalling, and let him get it over with. He would tell you I'm not giving my panic justice here in this brief paragraph, but let's just go with I wasn't.... uhmm... full of grace. ;)

In the end, he essentially told me he wasn't stopping, counted to 3 and popped that thing into my stomach. The needle was small and it wasn't awful - no more than a bee sting - but holy medicine burn! Almost instantly my stomach felt like it was on fire. I wasn't prepared for that (probably a good thing). I tried to hop up and get busy to distract myself but it hurt. For the next two days my stomach was sore and the area from the shot was red.
The doctor had instructed us to "have relations" for the next 3 nights... now I knew we would have to, ahem, relate ;) after him darting my stomach fat, but I didn't think it would be post meltdown with a puffy, cry face. I am a hot mess. A hot mess, who inspite of her heat found a man that loves her regardless. Thanks God.

I won't go into detail about the post shot events other than to say, for the first time, in a long time, I had some serious ovulation symptoms.

So here we are, just about a week and half later. waiting. and waiting. and waiting. If I am being totally honest, I don't think I am pregnant, but I'm not sure why. It's not like I've been pregnant a lot and just know. It's probably that little part of me thats trying to set my self up for a let down. If I'm not pregnant we will certainly try again. I am not giving up now... but man oh man would I love to never have to do that shot again. Mike, I swear, if we do, I will be better this time!

For the record... I know a lot of people don't think you should share pregnancy news until you're three months prengnant... but I don't think I would be able to do that. While I may not share instantly on my blog - immediate friends and family will be told privately first - I feel like keeping it a secret goes against the very idea of my blog. If I start a new cycle, I would share it, God forbid I get pregnant and miscarriage - I would blog about that too. I absolutely understand why other people choose to keep that information private, but I am not those people. I feel like this blog has been such and avenue of support for me. Hearing back from people that read it and love it has gotten me through some dark days so once I have medically confirmed, happy news, it won't be a secret... <3 <3