Month: June 2013
Status

Hurry Up and Wait

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013.  CD18, 2DPO.

Howdy, friends.

I hope you all had fantastic Summer Solstice SuperMoon weekends!  …I know I did!

I’m drowning in work these days, so this will probably be a pretty short, stream of consciousness-type update.

Here goes…

I wrapped up the follicular half of my cycle over the weekend, which was a blessed relief.  I actually got a positive OPK – a blaring positive! – without a trigger and everything!  Despite the length and multiple hardships of this journey, it’s nice to know that my body occasionally knows what to do on its own.

Based on OPK results (I had positives on Saturday and Sunday mornings), and temps (they stayed low all weekend and SHOT up on Monday morning!), I am guessing that ovulation took place sometime on Sunday.  The husband and I timed things fairly well over the weekend, despite the fact that we spent Saturday night sleeping on an air mattress at my parents’ house.

Speaking of which, we had a nice weekend out in The Homeland with my family.  We had some family photos taken on Saturday out at the property where my grandma lived when she was alive.  It’s nice out there… it feels like home.  Very nature-y and full of wildlife, like deer, foxes, owls…

…Coyotes, bobcats… and bears.

Yeah.  Bears.

Apparently my dad has seen a black  bear in the area on and off over the years.  We were lucky not to encounter said bear while we were out there taking pictures, but our idiotic dog found a large pile of bear crap and immediately rolled around in it.

Seriously.  He went from frolicking in the wildflowers like some Laura Ingalls Wilder shit, to rolling, and covering himself, in bear excrement.

Oh, and for the record?  Bear shit is possibly the worst-smelling thing you can imagine.  Probably worst than you can actually imagine.  It defies logic how badly our dog smelled after his odoriferous roll in the grass.

Luckily enough, we weren’t terribly far from my parents’ house and bathtub, and after a ten minute long, very smelly drive, we were able to give him a bath in every chemical imaginable and defeat the horrifying odor.

Thankfully, or it would have been an exceptionally  L  O  N  G  four-hour drive home!

So that was my weekend.  Wildflowers and bear shit and rolling in the hay.

This was the idyllic scene just before my dog bounded through  here, covered in the excrement of a large omnivore.

This was the idyllic scene just before my dog bounded through here, covered in the excrement of a large omnivore.

Gooooooood times.

Now that I’m back to reality, I made a call to Dr. F’s office today, attempting to move up my laparoscopy…

No go.

My meeting with the good doctor still stands at July 25th, a whole month away, and at that time, she will schedule my lap surgery.  The nurse I spoke to today thinks that it will be in August, but she couldn’t be sure.  I expressed my need to have this surgery completed before the summer ends, so I’m hopeful that they get the point.

I’m eager to get this thing over with, and I keep getting told to wait a little longer.  Gah!

Of course, I’ll continue to call for cancellations.  I’m not one to give up, you know.  😉

So that’s that.

The rest of June and the first week in July will be spent in TWW Hell.  I’ll probably attempt another Femara cycle in July since I have nothing better to do than wait around.  And hopefully August will bring a surgical solution to the mystery issues with my girly bits.

Yay, summer!

Blerg.

 

Image

The Western Front

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013.  CD11.

Howdy, friends.

All’s quiet here… No surprise, I’m sure.

I wish I had more to report on these days, but I really don’t.

And you know what?

I’m okay with that.

As for reproductive updates, I have few, but here they are:

I just wrapped up five days of Femara, complete with the lovely letrozole headaches to prove it.

I have a teensy amount of Gonal F left in the fridge from last cycle that expires liiiiiike… today.  I’m probably going to take it tonight, because hey – why not?

I’m not having any medical monitoring – blood work, ultrasound, or otherwise – this cycle.  Just good ol’ fashioned temping and OPKs for me.

I don’t have a whole ton of hope that five little pills and a miniscule amount of FSH are going to help me conceive, but for what it’s worth, the taking of the pills has done what I hoped and helped me to feel like I’m doing something to further my cause.

Unrealistic though that thought may be, it works for me right now.

I’m having some trouble with my diet lately, and therefore I’m also having some trouble taking the Metformin as I should be.  Some days I skip my lunch dose because I forget, or some days I skip my dinner dose because I eat too late at night.  It’s not healthy, but I’m working on getting back on track.

I’m also doing that self-defeating thing again where I forget to take my vitamins.  It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that sometimes I don’t see the point.  Sometimes I forget.  And yeah… sometimes I just don’t want to.

I’m working on that, too.

Other than that, it’s been a fairly laid back week since I last updated.  Work has been keeping me extremely busy, I got my hair cut and colored last night (some people go blonde for summer… I go ginger!), my garden is in and prospering, and the husband and I are traveling out to my homeland this weekend to have family photos taken with my side of the fam.

 

The only thing stressing me out a bit is that I’m waiting on pins and needles for my doctor to call me.  She is the only one who can schedule my laparoscopic surgery to look for endometriosis, and once I have a date in hand, I’ll be able to start planning around my recovery.

Speaking of lap recovery, I’ve heard anything from two days to two weeks… Does anyone here have any insight?  I’d really like to not be laid up for a fortnight (Ha!  I’ve always wanted to use that word!), but if I can plan my work around a tentative recovery time frame, I might be able to swing it.

Also, can anyone provide input on what cycle day(s) your doctor/surgeon recommended having the surgery?  Mine is recommending before cycle day twelve, but after the bleeding stops.  For me, that leaves probably around five days to work with, likely the second week of July.

I’ve heard that others have had their surgery during the very start of their cycle, and have gone on to have a normal ovulatory cycle that month.  I suppose it would make the most sense to me to have the surgery done as close to Aunt Flo’s arrival as possible, as that would be when any suspected escaped endometrial tissues would be the most inflamed…

Then again, I’m not a doctor.

I just play one on the internet.  🙂

Do you have any advice or insight on having laparoscopic surgery?  Please comment below – I’m all ears!

 

Status

Drifting Forward

Apologies, again, for yesterday’s heap of venting.  Sometimes you just need to put it all out there, read it over a few times, and become accountable for your own life.

And sometimes you just need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, put on your big girl panties, and deal with things.

Which I am now doing, thankyouverymuch.

My doctor is on vacation, which I know isn’t easy for her to do… I would hate leaving my patients in the hands of others; luckily, she works in a large practice with several other very competent physicians, and they are helping me work through all of the WTF?, NOW WHAT?!, WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?!! crap I’m currently spewing into the universe.

More accurately, the lovely nursing staff at the University of Michigan Center for Reproductive Medicine is fielding my emails, running around and asking doctors to make decisions for me, and generally just patting my hand and giving me virtual hugs to make me feel better about being a crazy person with busted junk.

I love them.  I need to send them flowers or a fruit basket or something.

Anyway, they talked another of the doctors there into letting me continue on with a Femara-only cycle.  No monitoring, no trigger – just pills and OPKs and old-fashioned mattress-dancin’.

(And shhhhhhhh… don’t tell, but I have a teensy bit of Gonal F left in the fridge that will spoil if I don’t use it.  So I probably will.  It’s too small an amount to make much of a difference, but hey… why not, right?)

Based on past results, I have very little faith that this will be my miracle cycle.  About that much, I am realistic.  I’m not doing this because I think it will get me a baby…

I’m doing it because it feels like doing something, and I  need that right now.  It’s something to hold onto, and a way to feel like I’m less drifty and floaty in the miasma of space and time.  It gives me a bit of an anchor, and something to obsess over for the next month.

Next  month is going to be a whole different story…

July will be my laparoscopy month.  When my doc gets back from vacay, she will call to schedule my surgery for me.  I estimate that it will be scheduled for around July 12th, but I’ll know more in a couple of weeks.

I’m super nervous about having surgery.  I haven’t had to be put under for anything since I was like four, and that freaks me out.  I have faith in the doctors, though, and know that this is one step I have to make, regardless of where I’m headed next.

Worst case scenario – they find nothing, and the surgery was a waste.  At least I will have gotten it out of the way, as most  docs require it before moving forward with IVF.

Best case scenario – and I know this sounds twisted – they find some serious endometriosis in there.  I don’t want to have endo, believe me, but if they find it, they can remove it.  If they remove it, there’s a good chance that I will feel so much better physically.  Maybe my periods won’t leave me gasping and sobbing on the floor for the first three days of each cycle, and maybe – just maybe – removing the potential escaped endometrial cells will help my hormones shift back to normal and let me go on with the business of making babies.

Maybe.  It’s a gamble, but there’s no way to know until I try.

I suppose that’s why they call it an “exploratory surgery”.

So that’s where I am.  Not so much adrift as I was yesterday, because now at least I have a distant shore in sight.  I don’t know what I might find there, but it’s the only bearing I have, and I’m taking it.

Ahoy, bitches!

I know how you feel, Tom. One day at a time.

Status

Adrift: A Novel

Monday, June 10th, 2013.  CD3.

Warning:  Word Dump to Follow…

Business first, I guess…

If you follow the blog’s Facebook page then you probably already know this, but my last-ditch effort IUI hybrid injects/Femara cycle was a bust.

If you’re keeping tabs, that’s five IUIs, four inject cycles, 15 medicated cycles, and Godknowshowmany natural cycles that have failed.

That all comes to fifty months of failure under my belt.  That means that if my baby-making efforts had been successful at the start, I’d have a preschooler at this time.

My infertile journey is a walking, talking, potty-trained small person with a personality at this point.  Beat that, suckers!

Aside from the high levels of crazy I’m currently emitting, I’m also reasonably devastated.  I had a lot of hope for the countless changes in diet, lifestyle, and medication to make enough of a difference for this to have worked.

Maybe it’s too soon for all that change to have kicked in…

Or maybe it just won’t ever make a difference.

As the husband and I laid in bed on Saturday night talking about how shitty it is that we’re in our fifth year of progeny non-production, I could hear the frustration in his voice as he asked “When do you think these doctors will figure out why this isn’t happening?”

Oh sweetie.  I wish I knew.  And it breaks my heart that you’re now feeling what I’ve felt for so long…

I don’t know where to go from here.  I still haven’t heard back from the nurses on what Dr. F would like me to do now, whether that be further testing (which I’ve requested) or more medicated cycles (which I doubt, considering my track record).

I’m adrift.  No direction, no solutions, no options.

Well, not exactly NO options…

I’ll tell you what I told the husband:

At this point, every test I’ve had in the past four years has pointed to me being the problem.  For most of that four years, we didn’t know why.  At least now we have a vague idea, but thus far we haven’t been able to resolve anything.

In my mind, this all comes down to an egg quality issue.

No matter what the cause, something is happening with my eggs that’s causing them to either develop poorly, release weakly – or not at all, be of a quality so poor that fertilization doesn’t occur, or be of a quality so poor that when they do fertilize, they don’t develop properly into healthy embryos.

The basis for this hypothesis comes from a few things I’ve picked up through the years.

First, during natural cycles, I tend to ovulate weakly, if at all.  That has been proven with a combination of temping, varied OPK results, and ultrasound monitoring.  For this, we use a trigger to help force the mature follicles release the eggs, resulting in a stronger ovulation.  As to why I am not ovulating in a normal, healthy fashion… Well, that points to some sort of hormonal imbalance, and likely a poor quality egg that’s not triggering the body to ovulate on its own.

Second, even during medicated cycles wherein I am monitored closely and respond perfectly, pregnancy does not occur.  It stands to reason that the odds of anyone getting pregnant in any given month are between 20 and 25%, but considering the number of good-response medicated cycles I’ve completed, I should have seen some results by now given those odds.  That leads me to believe that the healthy sperm are just not finding anything worth fertilizing, or that there’s something wrong with the egg itself that causes it to not be able to be fertilized at all.

Third, I have had one cycle that resulted in pregnancy, but also ended in miscarriage.  During this hybrid Femara/Menopur cycle, I didn’t respond as well as expected, taking twice as long with the injects as I was led to believe would be necessary.  It’s true that not everyone responds the same way in every cycle, but that month felt a great deal like forcing my body to do something it was patently against.

Now, in that cycle, I spent five days taking Femara, ten days taking 75IU shots of Menopur, triggered with one decent-looking follicle and one just-okay follicle, and managed to get pregnant with the good ol’ mattress-dancin’ method.  Aha!  The swimmers can swim, and they can do what they’re meant to!  Check one unresolved question off the list.

My first beta was very low, which was a warning sign in retrospect, but I was told not to be terribly concerned.  Second beta was also low, but had doubled in the appropriate timeframe.  Then, at just before six weeks, I had some minor spotting that lasted only a few hours.  Again, I was told this was no big deal, and all was well.

A few days after that, I had what I can only realistically describe as a panic attack.  I don’t know what brought it on, I just knew that something was wrong and that I felt… off.  The doctor saw me right away, and found that my heart rate was high.  I was sent into the ultrasound room for a quick peak with directions to stay hydrated.  The ultrasound didn’t show much… that was the third warning sign.  By six weeks, a heartbeat is usually visible, but at 5wks6days, there wasn’t really even a definable embryo there, only a black spot where it should be.  I was sent home with instructions to come back in a week for my regular ultrasound, and not to worry, as my uterus is tilted in such a way that I might have some trouble with early ultrasounds.

Everyone knows how this story ends – the next two ultrasounds show little, if any, growth.  Development was not on track, and eventually started to revert.  No heartbeat was ever seen, let alone a fetal pole.  I miscarried, given the diagnosis of a missed miscarriage.  I think, to this day, that it may have been more accurately diagnosed as a blighted ovum, though I suppose a missed miscarriage can BE a blighted ovum.

Basically, a blighted ovum occurs when a fertilized egg implants, but development is slow, stops, or never starts due to a chromosomal abnormality.  This typically occurs in either the sperm or the egg, and since we know that the husband has super-swimmers, we can reasonably assume that this is the fault of my shitty eggs.

In order to prove this hypothesis, we need to complete an IVF cycle.  In order to examine my eggs closely, we would have to go through the whole process of stimming, retreiving, fertilizing, and observing the growth of the embryos.  If I have truly shitty eggs, they may not even progress into viable embryos, but there’s no way to tell until we’re fully invested.  It’s a big risk, both emotionally and financially.  To dump nearly $15K into something that has only a 50 to 60% chance of working is like savings account Russian roulette.  And that 50 to 60% is only if my eggs manage to fertilize properly, develop appropriately, survive a few days in a petri dish, and then implant in my uterine lining they way they’re meant to.

That’s a whole lotta really pricey ifs.

And so, that’s where we are today.  I have great sperm at my disposal, we know that my body is hospitable enough to carry a pregnancy, at least in the very early stages, and I respond well to medications.

I also have a mystery hormonal issue that is causing my eggs to stew in an imbalanced mixture of stuff that’s causing them to mutate into worthless cells that kill my chances at pregnancy month after month.

I’m doing everything I can to help my body make better eggs.  I’ve improved my diet, I take like thirty vitamins a day, and I regulate my insulin levels with dietary changes and medication to help balance my hormones as best I can.  I get plenty of rest, I stay hydrated, I relax as much as possible.  I am proactive with my health, and make sacrifices left and right to get my body into fighting shape.

I realize that most of what I’m doing takes time to make a real difference in egg quality.  Studies show that Metformin itself takes four months or more to see a noticeable improvement in quality, and I’ve only been taking that for 2.5 months – and at that, I have only been taking the full dosage of the original formula Met for one month.  I may not see improvement in my eggs until early July at the earliest, realistically sometime in August or September… Or possibly even later.

Another concern I’ve had is with my recent estradiol numbers around ovulation.  They were rather low, and I have heard that can be an indicator of low egg quality.  Would I be a good candidate for estrogen priming?  Maybe.  Do I want to bring this up to my doctor and sound like a crazy person so early in our relationship?  …Maybe not.

Anyway, I’m obviously spinning out of control here, which we have all learned happens when I have no set plan in place.

This is why I am attempting to get my freaking doctor on the phone – I need a plan.  I need details, and a schedule, and a PLAN.

Here’s what I have so far:

Laparoscopy – I need to have one.  More and more, I think that this pain gets worse each month, and even if they find nothing amiss in there, I will likely need to have had a lap to start the IVF process anyway.  Might as well get it out of the way during the summer months.

DNA Karyotyping – The husband and I both need to do this.  I don’t know whether insurance will pay for the testing, but it’s getting done one way or another.

Genetic Screening – I especially want to have this done to find out whether I have some form of MTHFR.  That, and I probably need to do the CF screening to move forward with IVF, despite the fact that there’s no family history.

Autoimmune Testing – I’d like to have this done locally, but I know that most doctors don’t want to touch immune issue infertility with a ten foot pole.  I’m going to ask my current RE, however, if she can run the basics at least.  From there, I can at least get an idea whether I need to pursue further testing or treatment with one of the immunology bigwigs.

So that’s where I am.  I have very little information at hand, but I do have a lead.  I’m going to continue to take care of myself, and to press my doctors for more information and more testing.  I’m going to keep trying, month after month, whether it’s with IVF, plain old Femara, or just the good old fashioned bump n’ grind method.

Apologies for the giant word dump.  Sometimes you just need to take one.

 

 

 

Status

Trigger Progression – 13DPIUI

Friday, June 7th, 2013.  CD27, 13DPIUI.

Hey folks.

Here’s today’s batch of tests… The last one is from today – 13DPIUI/DPO, 15DPT.

As you can see, not much to write home about.

921143_10151531535374164_843363981_o

That last test has a very faint, gray second line on it (which you may be able to see if you possess a healthy amount of the Crazy Line Eyes), but it only showed up after sitting on the bathroom counter for a half hour or so.  I’m guessing it’s an evap, just like the test from yesterday that’s above it.

Anyway, as you can see, it seems as though I’m fighting a losing battle against time.  The Prometrium is keeping my dear old Auntie at bay, but only temporarily, I’m sure.

As for symptoms — pregnancy, PMS, or otherwise — all I can tell you is that I’m cranky, hungry, exhausted at night and having trouble staying asleep in the very early morning hours, have ouchy boobies, and have been a little gaggy in the mornings for the past three days.  My temps are also still nicely up.

Again, none of this is shocking, and none of it points clearly one way or the other, which is frustrating.

It could be the Prometrium…I’ve taken it before and not felt this way, but I took it orally before and the side-effects were much less severe than they have been this time around.  That could also be the sole reason for my high-ish temps this late in the cycle.

It could be that the Aunt we love to hate is waiting around the corner to ruin my life… I do have some digestive involvement, such as I usually have during the first few days of the cycle, and the rest of that list could easily be attributed to PMS.

And, I suppose, it could be pregnancy.  But I wouldn’t bet on it.

During my one and only pregnancy cycle, I didn’t have any early symptoms.  I got a positive home test at 10dpo, and so from then on, anything I felt, I attributed to pregnancy.  Much of what I felt then was exactly the same as I might have felt if I were just a PMS-y wreck.

And much of what I felt then is what I’m feeling now.

Is all of that due to a pregnancy that just hasn’t made itself known yet, or due to elevated progesterone?

I don’t know at this point, and sadly there’s nothing I can do but wait and see, and wait some more.  I’ll continue on with the progesterone for another day or two, and of course I’ll keep testing.

Obviously if nothing shows up positive by 16dpiui, I can assume this cycle has failed.

I sort of already assume that it has…

…And I really don’t know where we’re going from here.

Status

If I Had a Million Dollars…

This morning, I was chatting with a coworker about this story of an elderly Florida woman who won a HUGE lottery jackpot.

I just love to hear about old ladies winning huge sums of money, because the part of me that believes that all people have good hearts hopes that she would donate to a favorite charity, her church, and leave every last cent to her kids and grandkids.

Part of me also believes that there are those people out there who would leave 590 million dollars to their shih-tzu, but I’m really hoping she’s not one of them.

That got me thinking… What would I do with that kind of money?

Buy frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser-beams on their heads, obviously.

But seriously…

I’d give most of it to my family, probably.  And some friends.  And some deserving strangers in anonymous envelopes of cash like some kind of modern-day Robin Hood, but without the thievery part.

I’d donate to my old high school, which has been voted an exemplary school many years in a row, and yet is still suffering from painful budget cuts to the point where teachers’ salaries and benefits are being cut, and they are given $150 per student per year, and told to make due with all necessary textbooks and supplies.  It breaks my heart.

I’d donate to charities, my parents’ church, and of course pay off my bills.

But even then, that would really only scratch the surface of 590 million!  I could give a million dollars to every one of my Facebook friends and still have 100 million leftover!

Can 100 million dollars buy me enough treatments to have a baby?

Perhaps…

It could definitely help me afford adoption, and although I don’t feel it some days, I’m still young enough to try several IVF cycles, should I become able to afford them.

Even after giving millions away to friends, family, strangers, donating to education, church, and charities, and funding a family for the husband and I… I’d still have quite a lot of cash leftover.

A butt-load, to be exact.

What to do…

Oh, I know!

Start my own foundation.  Offer grants to women who can’t afford fertility treatments.  Work with drug companies to secure low-cost or free medications for those who need help.  Create networks of doctors and clinics who agree to donate some of their time and resources for a worthy cause…

I know there are foundations out there doing this.  Maybe I’d donate to them instead.  Maybe I’d quit my job and donate my time and money to a foundation like that…

All I know is that one day, if I’m able to give back, I know where I want to direct my time and energy.

And my money.

For now, though, I don’t have much, and what I do have is going toward water, food, electricity, and fertility drugs.

Maybe one of those charitable foundations would like to give me some funds to proceed… That way, I will have my child and will no longer be spending half my income on medications.

And that way, I can spend that half of my income on lotto tickets.

I’m hatching  a plan here, folks…  😉

So, what would you do with a ginormous lottery windfall?

Status

Trigger Happy

Monday, June 3rd, 2013.  CD23, 9DPIUI.

Hi folks!

I just wanted to check in and let you all know how the trigger-testing is going.

That is, I wanted to let you know that as usual, the trigger is being stubborn, and really isn’t testing OUT as I had hoped.

I’m currently nine days out from my IUI, which puts me eleven days (or ten and a half, technically, since I triggered in the late evening) out from the trigger.  I’m still throwing faint second lines, indicating that the HCG is still in my system.

Here’s the test progression thus far, for your viewing pleasure:

trigger progression may/june 2013

As for side-effects, it’s of course still far too early to tell much of anything.  Anything I may be feeling right now can easily be attributed to the Prometrium, and I suspect that I will continue to feel this way until I stop taking it.

The list of side-effects is fairly extensive at this point, but the biggest annoyances are a random skin breakout, debilitating exhaustion and fatigue, and maddening hunger.  The fact that I’ve suffered from the latter two of these for well over a week point to Prometrium as the cause, though they can also be caused by pregnancy and PMS.

Lovely contradiction, eh?

So that’s about that.  The husband describes me as a narcoleptic T-Rex, tearing through the house all cranky-like in search of food, and then passing out as soon as I’ve eaten it.

Insulting though that might be, it’s not entirely inaccurate.

This week stands to be a busy one, so I’ll update more if I can closer to a realistic test date, though I may opt for Radio Silence as in previous cycles.  Either way, by this time next week, I’ll have an answer.

And so will you.  🙂

 

 

 

Beauty Clean and Simple

Searching for simple beauty with Natalie Schultz

Madison Shelby

Figuring out life, one glass of rosé at a time.

Enchanted Crystal Moon

Magical Happenings

Destiny Tuning Secret

Manifestation Miracles Today

Curly Hair Gurl With A Blog

Ohhh,gurl,she Blogs

Alexandria Sure

Coffee. Cocktails. Complex Characters.

Late Bloomer Press

Growing out of that awkward stage is highly overrated.

Nuala Reilly: A Writer's Journey

I'm just a girl, standing in front of chocolate, asking it to love her.

Whole Milk and Half-Crazy

Excerpts from an exceptional(ly ridiculous) life.

Motherhood & Everything Else

pregnancy, motherhood, marriage, and life after miscarriage

adultyish

hello, please advise

Summertime Sadness

A safe space where I discuss the racing thoughts in my head, personal struggles, and day-to-day activities while struggling with mental health and mood disorder issues. My personal goal is to reduce the stigma that comes with mental health and mood disorders, by talking more about it.