Category: CDaily
Status

Thirty-Three

Howdy, friends!

I know it’s been quiet around here (all of my recent posts seem to begin with some incarnation of those same words, I knooooow…), but I honestly just don’t have a whole heck of a lot going on right now!

Well, that’s not entirely true.

Since the last time I posted, there’s been a development.

I’ve AGED.

GAH!

Another year older, another year wiser smart-assier, I guess.  The thing about birthdays is that they used to be fun for me, a reason to celebrate.

Recently though, each birthday inches me closer to our wedding anniversary later in the month, which just reminds me that it’s getting closer and closer to that FIVE YEAR mark of trying, and failing, to build a family.

I want to point out that while I am feeling physically great lately, and have so much faith in the TCM treatments I’m receiving, there’s only so much confidence can handle before it starts to falter under the crushing weight of statistics and odds…

I guess I wouldn’t really care about getting older if it were just gray hairs and wrinkles I had to deal with, but each birthday I think about my poor, sad, aging eggs, and I wish on whatever birthday cake, pie, cupcake, or plate of bacon that they can just hang in there for ONE MORE YEAR.

Honestly, I just need them to feel all rejuvenated like they’ve been at the egg spa for the past few months, which is how I justify spending out of pocket for acupuncture treatments and gobs of Chinese herbs…  Those pampered bitches probably feel like some desperate housewives up in here, but it’s time for them to earn their keep!

Anyway, I know that thirty-three is not the end of the reproductive road, and as Doctor McStabby keeps telling me, I have time on my side.  At least part of me believes him, but the other, darker side of my subconscious thinks that I started this journey at age twenty-eight, basically on the later end of the average woman’s reproductive prime.  Now I’ve reached the final stretch…

Thirty-five is the point at which you start dipping your toes into the “advanced maternal age” pool.  If we’re looking at odds here, they get lower and lower with each year that goes by, and the more I age, the less chance I have at a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Sometimes it feels pretty bleak to think about the uphill battle I feel I’m fighting.  Sometimes it all feels like too much, as I see childless friends of ours living their lives to the fullest.  Sometimes that seems like maybe not such a bad life…

And then other times I see my friends who had kids when they planned to, friends whose reproductive capacities haven’t dictated the terms of every month of their life, and those friends are seeing their offspring off to school every day, working on their careers and their social lives, and generally just living a whole, full family life.

This is what I see all around me, and I feel like I’m in such a rut.  The worst part is that I feel like I’ve taken people down with me.  The poor husband, our families, all of our friends.  We’re in that awkward married couple tween phase where we’re not quite newlyweds but we’re not quite parents either.

And we’ve been in that awkward place for almost five years.

That shit gets old real fast, yo.  And not just for us, I’m sure.

Some days I wonder what we would even be talking about if we weren’t on this rabid pursuit of parenthood.  What if we had decided that we didn’t need to have kids?  What would we be doing now?  Traveling?  Climbing corporate ladders?  Spending every last dime on making sure our house is outfitted with the very newest of every Apple product on the market?

Maybe.  Except the Apple part… We’re Droid folks.

And what if we had managed to have a family right away?  Would we too be shuffling a kindergartener off to soccer and ballet and whatever else it is that the kids practice today?  Would we be potty-training and watching Yo Gabba Gabba and child-proofing our cabinets?  Would we spend that precious after-work time helping with homework and making a family dinner rather than cooking meals for two whilst watching Jeopardy in our sweatpants?

Maybe.  Probably.

But that’s the wicked What If’s leaking in… There’s no sense in going there, as it only leads to heartache and regret, neither of which are conducive to fat, happy, relaxed, and mature (but not too mature) eggs.

I suppose the best I can do is try to be happy with the life we’ve made for ourselves while living day to day on this seemingly never-ending path.

And by day to day, I obviously mean in two week increments.

*****

If you’ve been trying, failing, and living with infertility for some time, what are some of the “infertility milestones” you’ve reached? 

How have you dealt with them?  And have they caused you to reconsider your path?

At what point do you just say “Stop.  This is far enough.  It’s time to go back…”?

I’m not there yet, but I can see it in the distance. 

There’s light at the end of this tunnel, but these days I’m not entirely sure it’s the light of a resolved infertility journey, or the light of accepting a childless life.

Where are you in your journey?

Image

Acu-Believe It!

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013.  CD17, 1DPO.

Have you guys seen the movie Pitch Perfect?

Because if you haven’t, I don’t know if we can be friends anymore…

 

Anyway, this post is brought to you by my love for this movie.

And acupuncture, herbs, and all things TCM.

So really, a very strange combination of things…

Aaaaaaaaanyway…

Here’s the haps, gurlfrands.

Progress is being made in a big way over here, and I am about to get all OMG YOU GUYS HAVE TO TRY THIS on you for a minute.

So the first cycle I met with Dr. McStabby, I was about halfway-ish through the month, so his treatments couldn’t have had much of an effect on my cycle length at that time.  That was my August cycle, and I ovulated on cycle day 21 that month.  Auntie Dearest showed up ten days later.

September, the first full month of treatment, I ovulated on cycle day 19, and had an eleven day luteal phase.  Still not the greatest, but you know… progress.

And here we are in October, the second full month of my TCM treatment, and I just ovulated.

On cycle day 16, you guys.

SIXTEEN.

That’s amazing, right?!  I mean, in two months’ time, acupuncture and herbs, along with some dietary and lifestyle changes, have effectively moved my ovulation date up almost a WEEK!!!

Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked, both that this treatment path that I regularly refer to as “Chinese voodoo” is a legitimate, medically effective way to impact infertility, and that my body is responding – and responding well!

Now, I have to point out that many women need to follow the dietary and lifestyle guidelines, take their herbs consistently, and see their acupuncturist at least once a week for a good three or four months to see noticeable changes like this, so if you’re considering trying out the TCM lifestyle, plan on committing to at least six months of treatment.

Some women notice changes right away – there are several women in my FertilityFriend acupuncture group who became pregnant within a month or two of starting treatments!  That’s great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the norm by any means.  The average woman in that group who has gotten pregnant using only acupuncture and herbs, has done so in the third or fourth month of treatment, sometimes later, but noticed some differences, even small ones, sooner.

The fact that I’m in line with the rest of the class as far as noticing these differences makes me feel pretty spectacular.

Oh, and you know what else makes me feel spectacular?

NOT BEING LOADED UP ON HORMONES.

NOT EATING ALL. THE. THINGS.

NOT BEING HATEFUL AND RESENTFUL OF PREGNANT WOMEN.

FEELING SPECTACULAR MAKES ME FEEL SPECTACULAR!

Sorry for the OMGALLCAPS type-yelling.  I’m just excited.  You can’t be mad about that, right?

Right.

And if you are…

So really the reason for this post was to let you all know that if you’ve been banging your head against a wall with infertility treatments for a year, two years – God, four and a half years – maybe it’s time to give this a chance.

If you’re like me, and you have the horrifying plague known as Unexplained Infertility, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are very real, very effective treatment options.

Infertility isn’t always the end of the world…

…And Western medical treatment options aren’t the be-all end-all, either.

Look around, call around, and see what else is out there, especially if you feel like you’re not making any progress with meds and ART.

This could be the “silly little thing”, the “Chinese voodoo” that works for you!  You could be the girl in that story about “The Girl Who Tried Everything, and Then She Turned To Black Magic…”  

YOU COULD BE THAT GIRL.

Yes, ma’am.

Give it a shot (pun. intended.)… You could be a TCM success story!

And as always, thanks for reading!

Status

One Healthy Month

Sunday, September 29th, 2013.  CD30, 11DPO.

 

Hello, my friends.  🙂

I know it’s been quiet here, and I do feel a little badly about that.

I mean, it’s not like I think there’s anyone out there in Reader-land going “Oh sweet tap-dancin’ Jesus, what’s going on with Tracy??  I haven’t heard any TMI from her in AGES!  I hope everything’s okay!”

Well, in case there really is anyone thinking that, I’m here to reassure you, my one worrisome reader, that yes.  All is well here.

I also feel a little bad for the off-the-radar-ness of late, because I know that sometimes when mouthy infertility bloggers get quiet, it’s because they are harboring a fertile little secret.

Well, I’m also here to reassure you all that NO, I am not harboring any kind of alien creature in the depths of my pelvis.

As a matter of fact, I’m expecting good ol’ Aunt Flo to show up any day now.  There is one hundred and eleventy-nine percent chance that I am not pregnant, so please don’t be suspicious of my lack of communication…

However, let it never be said that I fail to update my loyal readership, and in that spirit, please enjoy the following review of the past month of acupuncture, TCM, and diet and lifestyle changes made per The Infertility Cure:

1.  I feel… better.  My digestion seems to be improved, and I attribute that to eliminating certain things like dairy, gluten, and sugar.  I’m also less bloated, less fatigued, and I wake up feeling more rested.

2.  I’m allowing myself to cheat.  As a rule, I don’t eat the above mentioned items, but I do allow myself to have a little of each thing now and then.  I’ve also taken to having the occasional glass of wine or hard cider (gluten-free, of course!) once in a while.  Nothing extreme, but a little chocolate after dinner won’t ruin all the progress I’ve made so far.

3.  I’m getting my life back.  I really do feel like even though I’ve undertaken some somewhat strict dietary and lifestyle changes, these adjustments are becoming part of my life, and not ruling it.  I’m no longer limited by having to work around appointments for blood work or ultrasounds constantly, and I actually enjoy my weekly acupuncture treatments.  I am able to see friends, and the husband and I can go out and do things when we want to, without having to plan around medications or appointments.

4.  I’m less obsessive.  This one I feel is the most remarkable difference, and one that can’t be contributed to anything but some sort of emotional shift within myself.  I did slip a bit and have been recording my temps again, rather than just letting Dr. McStabby have control over those, but I think I needed the buffer month to get used to the idea of letting it go.  I still write the temps down to bring to him, so it’s really hard for me not to notice a shift after having done this for so long.  I don’t spend all day submitting queries to Dr. Google, and I feel like I have more faith in the process than I ever have before.

More importantly, I have more faith in my body than ever before.  I feel like the changes that I’m making, and the good fuel I’m putting in every day, are really going to make a difference in the output I experience.  I’m already seeing those differences in my digestion and my energy levels, and I think it’s only a matter of time before other systems start to fall in line.  The hormonal system is the one that’s been impacted the most by years of general neglect and abuse, and so it only reasons that it will take the longest to come around.  I know it will, though.

5.  I’m focusing outward for a change.  For the past five years, I’ve been so focused on every little twinge or poke inside of myself, that it became consistently  harder to really have room for anything going on around me that didn’t have directly to do with my reproductive system.  That’s a fail as a wife, a kid, a friend, and as a person.  There’s so much going on in the world today that I can be a part of, and instead I’ve chosen to just focus on my empty uterus for so long.  I want to change that, and I’m trying to make a concerted effort every day.

One thing I’m doing is working with my amazing friend who had an idea to donate to RESOLVE.  You can read my previous post for details, but the gist of it is that if you buy some pretty goodies, all proceeds will be donated to supporting women with infertility.  That’s a direct impact.  I’m part of it, and you can be too.  Simple as that.

I’m also trying to be more involved with the people in my life.  It can be hard not to take things personally sometimes, and depending on your situation, you may feel a sense of personal betrayal when someone else, just living their life, does something you can’t do.

My coworker got a promotion, and I didn’t; dubya-tee-eff, mate?  Why not me??  My friend is pregnant – again – and I can’t even have ONE baby!  I feel so left out!!  My whole Facebook page is covered with pictures of my friends’ 5k races, and I’m told not to do too much because it’s not healthy for me to lose weight!  Why can’t I do what normal people my age are doing??

That kind of attitude has been getting me exactly nowhere but miserable for years.

No more.  I’m done.

Life is short, and if you have good people in it, then you’re one of the lucky ones.  Remember that they are in your life by choice, too.

Didn’t get a promotion?  Oh well.  Did you really want that particular job anyway?  Maybe there’s something else you’d rather be doing… maybe you should pitch your ideas to someone who can help you make a big difference, rather than take a tiny stair-step to middle management hell… Maybe something better is in store, and maybe you can make a difference for all of your coworkers by stepping up and saying something.

Not pregnant – again?  Boo-frickety-hoo.  It’s not like this is your first infertile rodeo, sister.  Get back up on that horse like you’ve done month after month for years.  And in the meantime, maybe that friend with two kids really needs some support, but is afraid to ask for it – especially from you.  You make that mommy a casserole, put on your big girl panties, and go hold that baby while she takes her first shower in a week.  You can cry when you get home, but it’s better to have been a friend have something to feel good about, than to have stayed at home and wallowed in your self-pity.  Plus, you now have leftover casserole.  WIN.

Can’t run a 5k?  Dude, really?  Are you sad about this?  Who likes to get sweaty?  Plus there’s the risk of thigh-friction-burn… Ew.  Instead, volunteer to pass out water to the runners, and after the race, you can take your runner-friends to get cheesecake.  You can always do some low-impact yoga when you get home, and how you’ve not only donated your time, been able to hang with friends while doing it, AND had cheesecake, but you can feel good about yourself, too.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve come to this insane epiphany that life isn’t revolving around ME, oddly enough.  Nor my uterus.  Weird, right?

I’m doing more, giving more, and getting more than ever, just by moving my focus outward.  I highly suggest giving it a try.  🙂

So anyway, that’s me.  It’s been quiet here, but only because I’ve been keeping busy with things that maybe have less to do with my reproductive system, and to be honest, it’s felt good.

Whenever Auntie shows up, that will conclude the first full cycle of TCM I’ve had so far, and to be honest, I feel better in so many ways.  I feel good about my life, and about those in it – you included – and while life may take me away from blogging from time to time, it’s really a healthy step for me.

Despite my occasional absence here, I do still read, listen, and observe.  You are all in my thoughts and prayers, and though I’m trying to keep my own fertility-challenged-ness off my radar, your struggles are always on my mind and in my heart.

Thank you all for stopping by, checking in, and thinking of me, too!

I shall love you all forever and always, and if the zombie apocalypse truly does occur, you can all come hide in my basement for at least the first week.  When the canned goods run out, though, all bets are off.  🙂

Have a fantastic week, my friends!

Status

Cycle Number Three Thousand Four Hundred and Eleventy-Five – BUST!

Friday, July 5th, 2013.  CD1.

Hey, friends!

Guess what!?

My random Femara + leftover injectables cycle was a failure!

Are you surprised?

I’m not.  🙂

Well, I should tell you the whole truth of the situation…

On Tuesday, I felt like CRAP.  Like, I was pretty sure Aunt Flo was lurking around every corner, just waiting to jump out at me.  I knew it was a little early for her to show, but I was so convinced, that I didn’t take my progesterone that night.

On Wednesday morning, she still hadn’t shown.  I decided to pee on a stick before jumping in the shower, because as we all know, nothing makes your period arrive like taking a pregnancy test!  *insert eye-roll here*

When I got out of the shower, I grabbed the pee-stick and started to toss it in the trash, because I knew it would be negative.

Something caught my eye, though, and I held onto it for dear life.

ERMAHGERD THERE WAS A SECOND LINE.

It was faint, and I couldn’t tell if it had color or not, but IT WAS THERE.

I took another one.

Same result.

I attempted to remain calm, finished getting ready for work, and left the house with plans to buy a store-bought test on my way home.

Over my lunch hour, however, I started thinking about evaps – evaporation lines – that can occasionally plague the frequent pee-stick-tester with false hope.

Thankfully, Dr. Google is helpful in that he pointed me in the direction of Wondfo lot numbers that have been associated with bad batches of tests.

My batch was one of them.

Not to be deterred, however – because I COULD be the exception to the rule, you know! – I continued to test throughout the evening on Wednesday, and every pee I took on Independence Day was into a cup.

All of my tests were negative, with the occasional evap.

I even tested this morning, to be safe, and of course got the same negative result I expected.

Aunt Flo showed up promptly an hour later.

So, yeah.

That happened.

Let this be a lesson to you all…

Early testing is your choice, but you should know the risks.  Evaps are a very real problem, and while not everyone experiences them, they do happen more often than you’d think.

The only real way to avoid evaps or false results on an HPT is abstinence from pee-stickery.  If you think you might be pregnant, wait until your test date to find out, or know that you run a very real risk of a false positive, false negative, or general heartbreak at whatever results are held therein.

Please learn from my cautionary tale!

(And if you’re a hardcore pee-sticker like me, just know that nothing shows you how much hope you’ve been shoving deep down inside like the prospect of a BFP…)

 

 

Happy Friday, my friends.

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

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

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.  🙂

 

 

 

Status

Woman, Control Thyself!

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013.  CD18, 4DPIUI.

I’m a patient person.

I guess I would have to be, right?  If this journey has taught me anything, it’s that things don’t always happen on the schedule you prefer.

Though, while I’m patient, I’m also very much aware of how little control I have over this process.

That itself makes me antsy in my pantsy.

There are some women out there who can go through an entire medicated cycle serenely following the doctor’s orders, taking each tiny uterine twinge with a grain of salt, and generally not over-analyzing the whole process.  These are the women who wait the full fourteen days after their IUI to bust out their one and only pee-stick, and accept the results of the test without question.

I AM NOT THIS WOMAN.

I ask questions.  I check up on things.  And double check.  And sometimes triple check.  I follow orders if I think they suit my situation, and sometimes alter them a teensy bit if I think I know better.  I assume any little gas bubble is my perfect little embryo implanting itself in my uterine lining like the itty-bitty allstar it obviously is.

I analyze.  And over-analyze.  I Google, and chart, and blog, and hit up the forums online.

I also don’t wait until The Safe Zone Test Day to find out if the cycle is a success or failure…

I test out the trigger like it’s my JOB.

If you’re new to fertility treatment protocols or the affects of certain medications, let me give you a quick rundown:

In some medicated cycles, after a woman has taken pills (Femara, Clomid) or injections (Gonal F, Menopur, Bravelle, Follistim, etc.) to stimulate their ovaries into producing mature follicles, the doctor will have them use a trigger shot to cause ovulation to occur within a predictable amount of time (36 hours, typically).

A trigger shot is usually a form of HCG, which is the pregnancy hormone.  Ovidrel, Pregnyl, and Novarel are common trigger medications, and these are usually injected with a short needle into the tummy fat, or with a bigger needle into the “hip” (read: BUTT MUSCLE).

When you inject HCG into your system, it causes ovulation, which is what you want, but it also causes you to give false positives on any home pregnancy test (HPT) that you might take.  This hormone in your system will wear off after a few days, but until that point, you should not consider any HPT you take to be a true positive.

There are some who “test out the trigger”, which means that they (I) take an HPT every day to watch the false-positive test lines get lighter and lighter until they fade to white completely.  Once there is no longer a danger of a false positive, the patient in question (ME) can assume that any positive test result she receives thereafter is a true positive, and not the effects of the medication.

This seems to me like the only possible way I can maintain any semblance of control over what’s going on with my body for two straight torturous weeks.

I usually wait to start till around 7DPO, knowing that trigger shots tend to stick around in my system for well over a week.  This cycle, however, I figured I’d go ahead and start early.  Like three days past trigger early.

Yep.  I’m that girl.

So that’s that.

I am a trigger-tester-outer, and I’ll not apologize for it.

It’s what I need to do to feel like I am participating in this process in some way… It’s a way to center myself each morning, knowing that my body is doing what it’s supposed to do in removing the trigger-caused HCG from my system to make way for the true HCG that would be caused by an embryo implanting in my uterine lining.

Some women float placidly along through their Two Week Wait, enjoying their days, blissfully unaware of what may or may not be happening in their uterine cavity at any given moment.  I imagine these are also the women who wear white yoga pants and dance on the beach during their periods, but I digress…

Other women pee in a cup every morning, and spend an absurd amount of time with their faces entirely too close to strips of peed-on paper, analyzing them and looking for any indication that their HCG level may have increased instead of decreased overnight.

I’m the latter, take me or leave me.

Happy Hump Day to you all, and I wish you all the mythical peaceful optimism that comes so naturally to some…

I also wish you realism, and hope that your pee-stick mania doesn’t lead to any awkward moments in the bathroom with your husband asking why there’s a cup of pee next to his toothbrush.

To each their own, just be sure to clean up your bodily fluids thusly.  🙂

 

Pee-Stick Addiction is a real thing, and its sufferers are real people. Like me. And this blogger here.

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