Category Archives: General Infertility

Oh, So We’re Doing This…Again.

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7.57 beta HCG on 9DP 5DT.

Not negative.  But not really positive.  Probably a chemical.  Again.  I go back Tuesday for another draw to find out how it resolves, but I’ve been down this road.  I know how this goes.

So, I’ve cried a little.  But I’m at work, so only a little.  And I emailed my trainer to set up a workout for Monday morning.  We’ll do a light workout, just in case.  No regrets, and all.  But, I know how this story ends.  

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So…

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Tomorrow is D-Day.  And I would be lying if I didn’t say that part of me thinks there’s a chance this really worked.  I’ve tried hard to be realistic about the chances of this working, but I am human.  And my heart is in it.  And I want it really bad.  I had a crazy wave of nausea tonight, and I remember that happening with my son.  Of course, it could have been anything.  It could have been the unholy stench practically growing off of my child’s feet.  Maybe I was dehydrated.  Maybe I was hungry.  Maybe it was a side effect of the PIO.  But, it’s hard not to think everything means something when you are in The Waiting.

I did, however, today manage to go all day without thinking about the fact that tomorrow is D-Day.  I kept busy at work, and it wasn’t until I was leaving and realized I needed to let people know I would be in late tomorrow because I have a doctor’s appointment, that I remembered.  Right.  Tomorrow.  9DP 5DT.

 

Back-Up Plan & Healing

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Today a friend told me that she was impressed with all of the work that I did mentally and physically to prepare for this FET process, and that she wasn’t sure that she would have been so dedicated to getting healthy for it.  The interesting thing is that my mental and physical work on myself was never about trying to get pregnant again.  It was actually about recovering my life and myself from 3 years of being emotionally, physically, and financially destroyed by infertility and pregnancy loss.  It was about moving on, and moving forward.  It was about finding a point of control again and not feeling like everything I cared about was slipping through my grasp and I had no way to change that.   It was about conquering the encompassing  the depression that owned me after 3+ years of infertility treatments, failures, and losses.  It was about healing, and becoming whole again.  It was about taking back control of something in my life.  Because I took the time to heal, I finally felt like I could try this without falling back into “The Dark Place” if it does not work.  Don’t get me wrong, I will be distraught, sad, disappointed – I probably can’t come up with enough of those words to describe how I will feel if this didn’t work.  But I won’t fall back into “The Dark Place”, where the feelings own me.  And I was relatively sure of that before I started the process this time, and that was the only reason I went forward with it.  I had finally healed enough to not be broken by it again.

That being said, with the dreaded beta looming on Friday, I realized I need a back up plan.  I know, most people are excited about their beta day, but I have just had too many bad ones to think of it as exciting.  I dread the idea of having my hope smashed, it makes me a little sick to my stomach to even think about it.  But, I’ve had so much history with even getting a positive and then loss, that I know I won’t stop being worried even if it’s positive.  Hell, I’ll probably worry even more.  Because then there’s really something to lose – not just hope.

So, I need a back up plan in case this didn’t work and I don’t have additional worry to keep my mind occupied.  My back up plan will not involve making babies.  I was thinking about what I could do to challenge myself.  To occupy my mind and body, and have something to work towards.  I also know I need timelines.  So, I have decided my back up plan will be training for a 10K in January.

I was always the fat girl who thought that I could never possibly run a 5K.  Those were for other people.  Not for people like me.  But then the running industry got smart, and decided to make these events fun, low pressure, and accessible to people like me.  So, I did it.  And I’ve done several of them now.  It’s not problem – I could do them multiple times a week, and there for a while I was running about 5K about 4 nights a week.  Since I’ve been on the fertility drugs that has slowed substantially – my side effects from these things are intense.  These days I am lucky to be able to stay awake until 8:30 PM – I’m pretty sure the PIO shots have knocked me on my ass.  I have to set an alarm in the evening to wake me up so I can do my shot – all I want to do is sleep from about 7 PM onward.  But, I digress.

Since I conquered my fear of running, and being around “skinny” and “fit” people, I think this would be an excellent challenge for me.  I’m not intimidated by gym regulars, or people who are skinnier or in much better shape than me.  Who gives a flying fuck what they think?  And chances are, they don’t think anything at all – I’m just projecting my own insecurities.  So, a 10K it is.  And after that, a half marathon.   That’s going to be quite an accomplishment for a formerly painfully insecure, self conscious, fat girl.  I may still be a fat girl in progress, but my self esteem is recovering from a lifetime of negativity about my body – both externally and self imposed.

Back-up plan.  Check.

Chowchilla, CA

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I forgot how these drugs impact me, but now I’ve been reminded.  I started Lupron, and within 2 days was thoroughly settled into the sulking rage that I had so conveniently forgotten that Lupron brought me.  That lasted about 7 days until I added the Vivelle dot estrogen patches.  Within a day, I slowly emerged from the sulking rage phase into the uncontrollably weepy phase.  Ahhhh, yes.  Sweet uncontrollable tears,  I had forgotten about you.  Look at me – I cry.  Breathe near me – I cry.  Shoelace tied too tight – I cry.  Unruly piece of hair that just won’t behave?  You got it – I cry.  I have to drink at least one extra bottle of water a day to rehydrate from all of the tears.  SAnd there are two other side effects from the Vivelle this time.  One oldie I had forgotten, and one new one.

I’ve never gotten sore boobs with Vivelle before, but holy crap!  They are big and achy!  I can’t even find a sports bra tight enough to keep these things from hurting.  That’s the new one.

But, the real other side effect is one I have never told anyone about except my wife. I feel like it’s time.  Because somebody, somewhere, needs to know that she is not alone.  Once, about 4 years ago, I was in this process, and I was in this same phase.  5 units of Lupron daily, 2 Vivelle estrogen patches changed every 2 days.  I was in the car, driving to a business meeting in Fresno.  The drive from Sacramento to Fresno is long and boring.  About 5-6 hours.  It’s directly down the middle of the state, on small roads, through farm country.  There are not a lot of stops, not many places to pull over, take a break, etc.  Just farms and countryside.

So, I’m driving to Fresno, all dolled up in a business suit for a fairly important meeting.  Well, about 4 hours into the trip, I have to go to the bathroom.  NOW.  It hit and needed to instantaneously be let out.  But, there was no option for pulling over, there were no exits.  No restaurants.  No gas stations.  No convenience stores.  Just fields as far as the eye could see.  5 minutes pass.  10 minutes pass.  Still nothing.  I started running scenarios in my mind on how I could pull over and go in a field….no.  I could not find a scenario in which this could be possible on this flatland as far as the eye can see.  But I had to go NOW.  I held it for like 20 minutes.  My colon was spazzing.  I was sweating, periodically groaning out loud, squirming in my seat, clinching as tightly as anyone ever has – it was seriously the most desperate I have EVER been to get to a bathroom.  And then I saw an exit…for Chowchilla.  Yes – they had a McDonalds!  There had to be a bathroom.

I jet off the exit, get into the parking lot, open the door and stand up.  And my ass explodes.  Explodes.  Not a little.  Explodes.  Not knowing what else to do, (I can’t get back into my car), I head into McDonalds, shitting my way through the restaurant, all the way to the bathroom.  It took me a good 20-30 minutes, and I did have to dispose of a few articles of clothing, but I eventually was able to get cleaned up.  I resumed my trip, significantly worse for wear, and held a successful meeting.

I had not forgotten The Chowchilla Incident.  It was such a substantial moment in my life, it has a name.  But, I had forgotten that it was Vivelle that caused The Chowchilla Incident.  So, this time around, I wasn’t as careful as I should have been.  You can see where this is going.  I was sitting at my desk at work, got the urge, and thought, “Well, I’ll just finish these last two sentences in my email and then go to the bathroom.”  Nope.  Big mistake.  I Chowchilla’d.  3 steps outside of the office bathroom door (which is incidentally no more than 25 feet from my office), with a co-worker about 4 steps behind me also headed to the bathroom.

So, other than the rage, the tears, and the pants shitting – I’m great!

And now you know my deepest, darkest, secret.

Just a Little Anxiety….

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First off, I have lost 45 pounds this year.  BAM!  Party for me!

Second, we are on our way to frozen embryo transfer.  Our donated embryo from Boston is days away from reaching it’s new cryo-tank home in California.  It should be here within the week. That’s not exactly step one, there have been a LOT of steps to get to that point.  But, it’s a big milestone in this process.  I’ve been super relaxed and focused on other things, which is a great mental approach to this all.  I am thoroughly invested, but I have a more healthy attachment to the process than in the past – less desperate, more hopeful.

But, last night I could tell some anxiety started creeping in.  I dreamed that my friend sent me a picture of the embryo – the kind the clinic takes with their microscope.  And that was cool.  But then,  the dream shifted and the clinic that currently has the embryo decided to thaw it to check on it before they shipped it.  Their plan was to thaw it, check it’s viability for 24 hours, then re-vitrify it and ship it to my clinic.  But they didn’t tell us this, they just did it.  And so, out of the blue I got an email from my friends who are donating the embryo, and they said the clinic had just called and the embryo had regressed to the morula stage and was not likely to survive being re-frozen.  And then she explained using a very long equation that looked somewhat like this: 2(x-y)= 46(z-y)/(x-z)*10<46x(y+zx)  and on and on for like 7 full lines.  I could not understand, and didn’t much care, about the math-iness of it.  All I cared about was no more embryo because some dumb ass decided to thaw it when they shouldn’t have.  My friend felt bad and wished the clinic had told her they were going to do it, too, so she could have stopped them.  And then I woke up.   So, yes, I suppose underneath my collected outer demeanor, I have a nervous streak building about this.

I’m already in the process of prepping my body for the transfer.  I have had a batch of bloodwork, a saline contrast ultrasound to make sure my uterus looks pretty enough, and an endometrial scratching procedure.  I wasn’t actually prepared to have that done even though I asked for it, because the most recent information I had was that the doctor doesn’t do that procedure because he doesn’t think there is enough science behind it.  I knew my nurse was advocating for me though, and that she had done them before with another doctor in the practice, I just didn’t know it had been resolved.  So, both were done – and the saline contrast ultrasound was just a little pinchy, but otherwise just fine.  The scratching, however, that one hurt.  I’ll take “Things I Don’t Want to Hear My RE say for $1,000, please”  – “This catheter is thicker and more rigid than the ones we usually use for other procedures and it’s getting stuck on the ridges of your cervix when I try to push it in.”  Yeah, I could feel all of that.  I did need to go home and take a pain pill and sleep it off – it left me not feeling so great. But, it’s over and I’m fine.  I’ve never done PIO shots, and I am going to do them this cycle – I’m guessing they are going to be WAY worse than the scratching was.

At the RE office there were many jokes by the nurses about the baby being born with a Boston accent and a Red Sox jersey… I’ve been through too much in the past to let myself actually think of this as actually being a baby at some point, so that was a little mentally jarring.   I mean, I know that’s the desired outcome here, but we still have miles to go before we get there, and I haven’t been able to make it through all of those miles in the past and get one of these to actually turn into a baby, so I’m hesitant.  And self protective.  And I don’t count my chickens…errrr, frozen embryos…before they hatch.  Or something like that.

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I keep thinking about this journey, and the reality that it is almost over is an incredibly hard pill to swallow.  I have days where it seems easier, but every time I am confronted with the reality of it, I freak out.  I mean, this is a life changing decision.  Everything, everything I have ever hoped for, planned for, and wanted – changes with this being over.

I have career goals, of course, but at this point in my life, those are secondary and really insignificant compared to this.  My plan has always been to position myself professionally during these years so that when my kids were grown and out of the house, I would be ready to take over the world.   And I think I am on the right path for that.  But these years – these years were for family.  And more of it than I have now.

This changes my vision, and expectation, and experience for what my life will be like.  For what my kid’s life will be like.  I have never wanted only one child – I have always wanted, and knew I would have, at least two and maybe more.  And yet, here we are – this idea and vision of my life that I’ve had since I was a kid is crumbling right in front of me.  You walk your path, and mine is being washed away in front of me as I go.  So, I am feeling lost.

This is not a crossroads.  There are not clear ways to proceed, there are not defined paths to choose.  This is my identity.  This means I have to remake myself, remake my life plans, remake so many of the things I know about myself.  And how do you get OK with not fulfilling something that feels like such a fundamental and core part of who you are and have always been?

Look, I know it’s easier for me than for people who have not been graced with kids at all, but who desperately want them.  I am grateful every single day for every ounce of joy, frustration, laughter, exhaustion, curiousity, and everything else that I have because of my son.  Grateful beyond belief.  Frankly, he seems like a bit of a miracle.  As I have gone through all of the losses and failed cycles, it has put this feeling of awe into me that he ever happened.  It has made me understand what a fragile process this can all be, and how lucky we are that things happened just right to bring him into the world.

Back to identity – I don’t necessarily understand who I am as an adult, right now, if we put this behind us and move forward without this working.  In my 20’s it was all about preparing my life and getting pregnant, and then it was about raising a baby and getting pregnant again because that’s what was next.  And then that turned into 2.5 years of trying to get pregnant.  And it consumes you.  Injections, patches, suppositories, ultrasounds, pee sticks, and more injections.  The ups, the downs – I’ve been on hormones of one variety or another for over 2 years.  Everything has been about building a family up to this point in my adult life.

I always thought I would know when it was time to move forward because my family would be complete and I would feel whole.   I had no idea that was a fairy tale ending.  I had no idea that I was going to have to figure out that it was time to move forward because I was hollow and broken into a thousand pieces.  I guess it’s hard to go forward when you have to pick up the pieces and figure out how to put them together first.

This is my pity party.  I will stop having my pity party in the coming few days, but for now, I am sad, stressed, apprehensive, uncertain and just blah.  And I think I just need to be these things before I get on gettin’ on.

Lean Into It

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I’ve reached the end of the road financially, in terms of having choices in how we pursue IF treatment.  After 2 rounds of IVF, 8 IUIs, and 4 FETs – I am almost out of money.  And there are no other sources I can tap.  I would really love to do one more round of IVF with our last vial of sperm, but there’s just no more money.  I’ve been looking for IVF grants and such, but there’s nothing that will work for us.  I suppose I have to be resigned to one more IUI and then we will really be out of money.

I’m going to my regular doctor tomorrow to get the referral I need for my second opinion appointment at the other clinic on the 18th.  I doubt there will be anything else they can say or do.  I will ask my RE about endometriosis this time, but I am otherwise at a loss.  I don’t have any more ideas, or theories, or solutions.

This morning when I tested, I was using my son’s bathroom.  And I swore I saw a VERY light line.  I held it in several different positions and I still saw the line – I mean it was SO light, I thought my mind could be playing tricks on me.  So I took it into the other bathroom to look and made The Wife check it.  She saw no line.  And when I looked at it in that light, there was no line.  That was annoying – I didn’t expect to see anything and then there was just the slightest hint of something and then there was nothing.

I have a distant friend who is dealing with some hardship in her family right now.  And she’s also on a life changing fitness journey.  She posts periodic videos documenting her journey – the good and the bad.  Her latest video is here: 

One of the things she talks about in this video is emotional eating.  She is working on conquering that battle, and as such is learning to lean into the pain instead of trying to mask it with food.  Although I often don’t recognize it, I have the same problem with emotional eating.  It struck me in the shower this morning, as I was struggling with the negative test results, the fact that we are pretty much out of money for another IVF, and the idea that we might really only have one IUI left and then it’s over – that emotional eating is a big thing for me.

But, I think the hypnosis might be helping a bit.   I realized that I usually do use food – sugar, in particular, to help soothe my nerves and mask the pain of all of this.  But as I was thinking about it today, I realized that I don’t actually have the craving or inclination to do that today – but I also don’t know what to do instead.  Sugar is like lidocaine for those raw feelings.  And without my lidocaine, how do I deal with that?

Which is what brought me back to Cynthia’s video – lean into the pain.  I’m not sure I know exactly what that means, but if I can’t run from it, and I can’t lidocaine it with sugar, what other choice is there, really?

I wanted to run through it this morning, to just run – run it out of my head.  Get my frustration out, exhaust myself – run until I cried.   Maybe that’s leaning into it?  I don’t know – a freak AM thunderstorm kept me from getting outside, so I’m just sitting with it today trying to figure out what to do with it.

 

Relax, Relax, Relax

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IUI tomorrow morning.  I have 4 follies.  I wanted more.  I wanted 6 or 8.  But, we got 4, so we go forth and hope for the best.

I started hypnosis.  It’s a bit new agey, so if you can’t be down with new agey stuff, I’m not sure how well this would go for you.  At least the hypnotherapist I am going to is fairly new agey, I can’t say if it’s all that way.  I had to really force myself to be open to this because I am a skeptic, and then I heard some of the things she was saying to help bring me into hypnosis, it was a challenge to keep at it.  Things like “Wisdom Center, allow her to remove obstacles from reaching her goals” – I had a bit of a hard time with it at first.  But I told myself to stay open to it, and I did.  I have had 2 sessions, and both were different experiences.

The first session, I was excited and interested, and then weirded out by the new age stuff.  But, after just accepting that for what it is, I did relax.  I heard and was aware of everything the hypnotherapist said, although afterwards I could not recall some of it.  I just know for sure I did hear it and it was all in line with what I am wanting to do here in terms of weight loss and calming and stress reduction around all of the fertility stuff.  I recall feeling heavy in my legs, and in my chest – a bit of a tingling feeling in the legs.  Then I recall calm, and her talking- but this is the part where I don’t recall what she said, and then she said to come back up, come back to the room and open my eyes.  And I know how weird this sounds, but it really did feel like coming back up into my head.  The only other time I had a similar mental feeling was when I was in childbirth, natural – no meds – and I was there and aware of everything, but mentally I was not in the room until something caught my attention and it felt like mentally I was being pulled back to conscious awareness and participation in my life.

I was a bit taken aback by what a powerful experience it was, and how unexpected that was.  And for the rest of the day, I was energized, rested, and I felt more mentally and emotionally buoyant.

The second session didn’t seem as easy for me.  I was really distracted by a garbage truck beeping outside, hearing my phone vibrate in my bag, etc.  I also had a small work crisis happening and had some difficulty getting my mind off of that.  But, at the same time, when those distractions came,  I could feel them pulling me mentally from a place of relaxation and quiet, to a noisier mental place.  So, I would guess that it still worked.   There was more guided imagery in this session than the first, and although at the time it was happening, I was certain I would recall everything she said, some of it is still hazy.  The real reason I think something was working right here is because I do recall her talking about a stress free insemination, a welcoming body, a healthy pregnancy, etc.  And anytime someone even mentions that about me, in my presence, I burst into tears.  But I didn’t – I didn’t cry.  And it wasn’t because I was biting back tears – it just didn’t happen.  So, while I can’t say for sure if I was hypnotized, I am led to believe that I probably was despite the distractions and the feeling that it was a bit harder than the first time.  I also left feeling more energized and light.

In terms of outcomes, it’s very hard for me to say if it’s working.  I happen to be having some major intestinal issues at the same time as the hypnosis started, so I am not sure some of my restraint is attributable to the hypnosis or to the intestinal issues.  Here’s what I can say:  there’s a big bag of jelly beans in my pantry and I have hardly touched them.  And that is unusual because I. Love. Jellybeans.  But I haven’t actively had to restrain myself from eating them, I just really haven’t wanted them.  When I do eat, my portion sizes have decreased significantly.  And not through any effort – I’m just not so hungry and food is less of a tasty joy than before.  So, maybe these are things I am seeing?  I sure wish I had a clean baseline to judge from and it wasn’t happening in conjunction with the intestinal issue.

I do, however, love the process of hypnosis.  I love acupuncture because it relaxes me, and the hypnotherapy appointments seem to do that at least three times better!  So,  I am going to keep going and see what happens next!

Full Circle

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It is almost exactly 2 years now since we started trying.  2 years ago, I had an IUI just a few weeks prior to the conference my company puts on every May.  I POAS in my hotel room, by myself, and got my BFP at that conference.  And then I miscarried on Mother’s Day.

Here we are, 2 years later.  It’s about a week and a half before the big conference my company puts on every year, and I had my IUI.  I will POAS while I am away.  Yet another hotel housekeeper who is going to find a pregnancy test lying on the sink.  It must seem scandalous.  Last time I was so excited I tested every day and I left my tests on the sink to come back and see throughout the day.  2 years later, my excitement has been tempered by a big, painful, dose of reality.

 

Today’s IUI was anything but uneventful.  Dr. Z had mentioned that when we went in today to do the follicle reduction, they might be able to freeze the eggs they remove.  And then later if we needed/wanted them, they would thaw them and try to fertilize them.  I agreed that we would like to do that if it was possible, and he said they would not charge us because they do not typically freeze eggs, so they would view this as a chance to practice.  From my perspective, if we get an embryo out of the deal, then great.  If not, there’s nothing to lose.  The other option was to just throw them away anyway.

So, when we got there today, they got me ready for anesthesia – a follicle reduction is the same as an egg retrieval, so anesthesia is necessary!  Then the embryologist came in and explained that they were going to do the egg retrieval.  They would then freeze them and about an hour later, thaw them.  At that point they would ICSI them, using a bit of sperm from the vial that was thawed for our IUI today.  And from there, it’s just like IVF, you wait for fertilization reports, embryo growth reports, etc.  They would also leave several follicles intact in me, and do the IUI while I was under anesthesia.

So, because we allowed them to freeze the eggs, we basically got a free IVF cycle out of this.  They retrieved 13 eggs, and left in 4 follicles for the IUI.  I had 17 eggs on half the meds I was taking with IVF – and I have never had that many before.  This was our last try to get a genetic sibling for our son because it’s the last vial of sperm from our donor, like anywhere.  But because they decided to fertilize the eggs today, in conjunction with our IUI, if anything comes from it, we will have some additional chances.

I need to send them a card or something and thank them.  Everyone was so incredibly nice today.  Beyond nice.  Nicer than nice.  And they gave us this awesome opportunity to maybe get some frozen embryos to use in the future.  So, now we get through the 2WW and see if anything comes from the frozen eggs.

So, it was an eventful day.  I guess this cycle ended up being a combo IUI/IVF?