#Microblog Mondays: Blink

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Time goes by in the blink of an eye. With infertility, time crawls in the moment but looking back time passes so quickly and you can’t believe how much has gone by.

Blink. An hour gone. Blink. A day gone. Blink, a week, a month, a year.

Blink. Two of my birthday passed by since we started trying to conceive. Three of J’s.

Blink. Multiple family gatherings, the birth of other people’s children, the death of loved ones.

Blink. 28 cycles, and 28 failures. 3 IUIs, one round of IVF, 0 transfers. 0 pregnancies.

Blink. 2 and a half years of my life gone in the blink of an eye. And what do I have to show for all my efforts besides a depleted bank account, and a weary soul?

The only thing keeping me moving forward is the hope that the next time I blink, when I open my eyes I’ll have another set looking back at me. The eyes of J and I, intertwined. And I’ll never want to close my eyes again.

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Bend and Not Break

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The past few weeks have been very difficult, and that’s saying a lot given what we’ve been through this year (and the past two years). We’ve been trying to find a renter for our condo since we just bought a new one. The thought of carrying two mortgages is a terrifying prospect and it’s been making J and I miserable. We have been stressed out about the money, that maybe we made a bad decision in doing this, all manner of negative thoughts. We initially thought “oh, this’ll be easy, we live in a desirable area, vacancy rates are at an all time low, and our place is beautiful.” Well yes, all of those things are true but trying to rent this time of year is statistically the worst. Maybe we were just being impatient but we started to panic a little. We dropped the rent once…and then again. It’s been pure torture. But this past weekend we finally found someone, they seem like an awesome couple. Although we are getting a bit less rent than we hoped, they only wanted a 6 month lease and then month to month after that so it gives us the opportunity to re-rent our place in the peak time of summer, or fall when university goes back (we live a few blocks from our city’s uni). I was so ecstatic after we signed the lease and got cheques from her. One less thing to worry about just before we leave for Las Vegas.

Last week we were still interviewing prospective tenants, ordering flooring for our new place, trying to find a painter that could start ASAP plus J and I have both been rather busy with work. We have so much going on and with the stress of this rental, and our FET cycle not cooperating, some days I’ve felt as though I am at my wit’s end, and can’t take anymore. But I always wonder, what would that actually look like? Would I cry, scream, go catatonic? I could do any one of those things, momentarily, but then I would pull myself together and go about my regular business. It would be a release but not a total mental breakdown. Some days I just don’t want to get out of bed, but I do, because I have obligations. No matter how sad, frustrated, depressed I have been I don’t completely fall apart*.

It’s a bit scary to wonder what it would take to truly hit that breaking point, and what that would look like. I truly hope I never find out, but what I have found is the depth of my strength is deeper than I could have imagined.

I’ve had to draw on that strength as we found out yesterday that our cycle is officially cancelled. My lining had thinned very minimally since my ultrasound last week, my cyst had doubled in size to 25mm, and my estrogen levels were way too high. Ultimately I wasn’t responding properly to my suprefact, and not being down reg-ed sufficiently. I stopped all meds yesterday, and am to call the clinic upon the start of my next CD1. They will be monitoring me more closely, and possibly changing up my protocol to make sure the same doesn’t happen again. They will check me on CD3 to see that the cyst has resolved itself (if not, it will have to be surgically removed, and that’s a whole other ball of wax), make sure my lining is thinned and I also have to redo my SHG as it will be more than 6 months from my last one.

There is a plan moving forward, which is all good and well except for a few small items. Based on my tentative upcoming cycle dates I would be looking at a transfer right around Christmas (if everything goes smoothly). This is not a total disaster as the clinic has skeleton staff for just such circumstances. The bigger issue is we are supposed to be in the mountains with J’s family for Christmas (about 4 hrs drive from where we live). If we had to cancel, we would have to tell them why. Which would mean we would also have to tell my mom as we would then be attending Christmas with my family instead. I know this doesn’t seem like the be-all and end-all, but I don’t want to tell them, and if we were to tell them I would want it to be on my terms, not because we have to break plans. But obviously if it comes down to it, I will do what I have to.

The bigger problem comes if my cycles are long, as they have been recently. This could then potentially push our transfer into the beginning of January. We leave for Hawaii on Jan. 1 and don’t come back until Jan. 13, effectively ruining any transfer cycle that falls in that time. As was the case of our Vegas trip, I could try and shift the Hawaii trip around to fit the FET schedule, but again we will not give up even more to infertility, besides time I suppose. So there is a possibility that we may not be able to start the transfer process until after we are back, putting a tentative transfer in late February or early March. I didn’t think I would see my next birthday (in Feb.) before even having attempted a transfer. It would mark 1 year since our last failed IUI. We’re so close, yet so far at this point.

I’m disappointed and sad, but for some reason I don’t feel as devastated as I thought I would and I don’t really know why. It’s pretty awful, and upsetting but I just haven’t really reacted all that much. I guess I am taking the unexpected hits from infertility better now… I am sort of just waiting for the other shoe to drop and have a breakdown or something, like I did when I thought my IVF cycle was cancelled. I guess because I know it’s not a failure, it’s just a delay. A really shitty delay, but it’s not costing me any embryos. Knowing that I have them gives me some semblance of peace I think. Maybe I’m just more malleable now, less rigid and expecting things to go just as planned. I have to be able to bend and not break.

*I know this is not always the case for everyone, especially those who suffer with depression due to chemical imbalances, not situational depression which I experience.

I’ve Got 99 Problems, and My Womb Is One.

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So far this week has been a lot of ups and downs, I am feeling rather emotionally unstable. My patience has been pushed to its limit with infertility lately, and it’s making me pretty cranky in other aspects of life. Let me rewind the week for you.

Sunday we had dinner at my in-law’s house, my brother and sister-in-law came to town, with my two nieces as well. It was nice to see everyone, but again any time spent with my nieces is bitter-sweet. They are a timeline of my failure, and a reminder of what I don’t have and it breaks my heart that I view them this way. Monday, we had Thanksgiving dinner with my family, and it was a fun, full house. My cousin and his wife were there with their twin boys, and of course they were a big focus. When grace was said before dinner we were thankful for the miracle and gift of those two boys, and hope for more (directed more so at my cousin than anyone else, as it was her Uncle on the other side of the family that said it). I hate the feelings towards my family that infertility has created. It is so unfair that I cannot enjoy them purely, without pain.

Tuesday morning I had my baseline monitoring appointment for my frozen embryo transfer (FET). Normally they don’t do any monitoring until you’ve been on estrogen for about 2 weeks, just before they are about to switch you over to progesterone to prep for the transfer. But because my protocol was slightly modified due to the fact that I would have been away for the transfer they wanted me to come in just to make sure everything was looking good. Frankly I don’t know why they wouldn’t do this for everyone; if there is a problem, do they really want to get all the way to 5 days before transfer before finding out?

So, it had been about 2 and 1/2 months since I’d been to the clinic and I’ll admit the break was nice. Not that I wasn’t still under the burden of IF, but the lack of constant appointments serving as a reminder was nice. It’s like I had been on a long hike with a very heavy backpack. After the egg retrieval it was as though I put the backpack down. I still had a long way to go, but some of the weight had been lifted. Yesterday, I turned a corner and there was the backpack, waiting for me all along. I have a Pavlovian response to my clinic. On the day of any appointment, no matter what it’s for, I wake up feeling nauseated. My gut is upset, and I generally experience some pretty intense GI distress. Tuesday was no different, proving time has not yet healed that wound.

My clinic changed their ultrasound protocol a bit, so now they are accepting the first patient at 7:15am instead of 7:45am which is good because it gives a little more time between my ultrasound and getting to work, so long as I am one of the first people in. Plus, it seems not as many people come quite that early so the waiting room was much less busy than usual. So by the time they started calling people back there were only 3 of us in the waiting area and they took us all back at once, assigned to cubicles to change, and then put in the ultrasound rooms to await our wanding.

The doctor that is now doing the morning ultrasounds has just recently retired from full-time RE duties. I had only ever met him once before, for my very first IUI in November of last year (holy shit that was nearly a year ago now). I didn’t particularly like him, but he was friendly enough. He checked my uterus, measured the lining and then checked my ovaries. I didn’t catch the lining measurement but when he checked the right ovary there was a little white bubble. I’m on down reg right now, so there should have been nothing over there. He mentions that there appears to be either a follicle or a cyst on my right ovary and asked me if I know “what the plan is”, as in why was i there? Umm, you’re the doctor, you tell me. I told him that the nurse said since my protocol was modified and I am on suprefact longer than normal they wanted to do a baseline check to make sure I didn’t have any cysts (which I do, awesome) and that everything looked ok. He tells me I can get dressed and he will go speak to a nurse.

I headed back across the hall back to my little cubicle to put my pants back on and wait for further instruction. The nurse called my name, and took me around the corner to a consult room. I find this strange as they generally give verbal instructions, or a printed sheet at the nurses station and are rushing off to the next patient. As I was sitting in the consult room my stomach was starting to feel nervous and nauseous again. I sat there for a few minutes and then I could hear the nurses around the corner. I couldn’t catch all of what they were saying, but the one nurse was telling the other to come talk to me, trying to figure out why my protocol was different, and something about me starting prometrium. It was a very strange situation, being down the hall while they talked about me.

I sat a few minutes more after the nurses discussion about me, before someone came in to talk to me. It was a nurse I hadn’t dealt with yet. She sits down with my chart, and uterine ultrasound photos. She asked me if the doctor mentioned that my lining was still quite thick, and I told her no. I guess that would explain their discussion of me possibly needing to start prometrium. She explained that it was not where they needed it to be, and wondered if I had a normal period. I told her yes, it wasn’t light, or really any different from normal except that it was late. She asked if I was still flowing, which I sort of was but barely, mostly just spotting tapering off to nothing.

Apparently the doctor had also noticed some fluid in my uterus as well, which could have still been residual blood but was also not ideal conditions for my FET. Not to mention the fact that I had a cyst on my ovary. The nurse said it was a cyst and not a follicle because I am on down reg meds and should not be producing follicles, but I suppose this was just her assumption, not a known fact. She did say it was small (12mm, I caught that number) and not a major cause for concern. Apparently my estrogen level was slightly elevated as well, which could be due to the cyst (or follicle?).

So nothing was very clear at this point, she asked about my cycle delay, and confirmed when my CD1 was. I explained to her that I was going to be out-of-town at the end of the month, and that I was told to start my suprefact later to delay my transfer. She misunderstood, and thought I was out-of-town when I was supposed to start my meds, and had to delay them because I was out of town. She explained to me I should always just fill all of my meds prescriptions so I have them ready. I told her I was following instructions from the nurse and Dr. M so that I could transfer later. She wasn’t following and at this point it didn’t matter because my uterus wasn’t where it needed to be anyways, so moving on I just left it alone. She told me I should continue with suprefact and delay starting my estrogen for now. I am to redo my bloodwork on Sunday, and I have another monitoring appointment on Monday.

I was sort of in a state of disbelief with everything that she was telling me and I kept asking her questions about what was going to happen, and she didn’t really seem to have many answers for me. I was trying to determine if this cycle was a bust entirely, or still salvageable. She didn’t mention anything about prometrium, and I asked her since I wasn’t really having much of a flow anymore if my lining was going to get any thinner. She just replied with, “we’ll see next week”. She asked if I was planning on going out-of-town in November, as if that was the case we may as well just scrap the cycle now. I told her no, it was just this one trip that was causing all of the issues. Apparently Dr. M is away at the moment, and he is going away again in November but if my lining cooperates then he should be here to do my transfer. He’s not the only one who does them but I would definitely prefer it be him. I think this was part of the reason for the nurses lack of information or direction for me (and the reason she didn’t want to have to deal with me) because Dr. M was not there to provide guidance, as he is the main IVF doctor.

Normally when I leave after having an ultrasound I don’t have to walk past the hall of babies, but because I went to the consult room after the ultrasound I had to route back out into the waiting room past that dreaded wall. I really felt like punching it, or ripping a handful of photos down as I hit yet another roadblock in this journey. I called J on my way to work to tell him the unexpected, and disappointing news and I could tell he was caught off guard. Instead of feeling sad, I am mostly just frustrated, and tired.

I had a fairly distracting day at work, and left early as Tuesday was the day we got the keys to our new condo. It was an exciting time, after all the scrambling for paperwork, with lawyers, and the bank we finally got access to our latest huge decision. It has been so hard for me to wrap my brain around it, because all along it just felt like this pipe dream, like it wasn’t actually going to happen and someone was going to pull the rug out. But here they were, keys in hand we let ourselves into our new place. It’s not entirely foreign to us, as it is in the same building we already live in. Our new unit is a mirror of our current place, but it also has a loft that adds extra square footage and is on the top floor of our building so it has gorgeous 16 ft ceilings. We wandered around freely, and introduced our dogs to our new home. We still have a long way to go, we’ve already ripped up the carpets, we have painters coming in for a quote tomorrow and hope to have them start on Monday. New flooring coming in next week, and this weekend we have to go pick light fixtures. There is a ton of cosmetic stuff to do, but we did it to our current place and we are excited for the challenge, and to see the transformation in the end. And on the plus side we think we found some tenants to rent our old place, though they can’t move in until Dec. 1 so we have to carry two mortgages for a month, which is, to quote Jimmy Fallon, “Ew”.

As we were packing up our current place, standing in our spare bedroom, J mentioned that it was sort of sad that we never did get to change that room into a nursery. After more than two years, instead of finally having a baby, we are moving and that room with forever be just a spare room. Now we have a room upstairs and the hopes have been pinned on it instead.

Yesterday when I got into work I was greeted with an “oh-shit” email, wherein I had buggered up a file, and the client hadn’t notice it before confirming it, so now we were both to blame. Not to mention my client was my brother-in-law, putting us both in an awkward position because either way it was going to cost one, or both of us some money. After having a freak out about that, my 11am alarm went off for my next suprefact dose. It was at that time, I pulled out my purse only to find that I forgot to put my suprefact in it. My pharmacy is luckily about 15 minutes from my work, so I excused myself for an early lunch to dash out to the pharmacy. I had to pay for part of it as one of my coverage only allows me to fill the prescription every 5 days, and seeing as I was just in a few days earlier picking up my estrogen and antibiotics as well as more suprefact, no full coverage for me. Luckily, it was only $12, so I would gladly pay that instead of missing two doses. So having spent my 30 minute lunch break at the pharmacy I only had time to grab a smoothie for lunch and head back. I nearly broke into tears at my desk because it was all just too much.

I composed myself to get through the rest of the day. I told myself this morning, today was a new day. But it was a new day with the same problems as yesterday. My cycle is still delayed, I’m still not pregnant, and I can’t believe it’s taking so fucking long. I was snappy and impatient at work today, which compounded with how busy I was today, was not a great combination. Luckily, this evening I had a great night out with my girlfriends, and we toasted the bride-to-be, whose wedding I will be attending in Las Vegas next weekend. Cannot wait for that.

For now I am holding out for Monday, hoping my lining is magically thinner, my cyst is gone (or at least not growing) and that we can get this show on the road. I cannot imagine the devastation that will ensue if this cycle is, either cancelled or fails. And at this point, that is seeming like the most likely outcome. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I don’t know how much more strength I have left. I feel so close, yet so far.

#Microblog Mondays: Giving Thanks

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Today is Canadian Thanksgiving, also known just as “Thanksgiving”… I am very thankful for so much that I have in my life today. Things could definitely be worse and there are those that would envy what I have. But rather than list the things I am thankful for in a somewhat humble brag-ish way I’ll say I’m aware of what I have and feel gratitude for it.

On the flip side of that coin, things could be better. I have some major stressors in my life at the moment, infertility being the biggest/worst. I’m not going to say that just because I have gratitude for the good in my life that I don’t feel sad for what I’m missing. I know things could be worse, but sometimes they feel shitty enough as is without trying to slough off the grief because I am fortunate in other parts of my life. There are many many lucky people who will never have to experience the pain of infertility and I wish I could have been one of them.

All in all it’s about balance. I try not to take for granted the good I have in my life, but I allow myself to acknowledge the shitty aspects of my life as well. Trying not to let either side win out, getting buoyed too high, or dragged too low. I give thanks for the clarity and insight to see my life for what it is, imperfect.

A Lesson in Organization and Infertility

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I’ve realised throughout this process that I need to be excessively organized, always looking two steps ahead, anticipating problems and not trusting anyone to get something done for me, or getting it done right. Case and point, the past few days trying to coordinating the next steps in my FET protocol, and the days to come.

I started my period Wednesday, called the clinic to advise them of such (around 11am) and asked that they call me to review my next steps as my cycle is slightly modified due to me going out of town. I received a call back on my cell phone (when I specifically left them my work number) at 3:30pm telling me to please call them back tomorrow, on the reception line and ask to speak to a nurse. I couldn’t call them back that same day because the phone lines close at 3:30pm. There is an IVF message box that I normally call… because I am an IVF cycler. But anyways she told me to call reception instead so that was the game plan.

Then yesterday morning just before 8am the clinic calls me (they get points for not making me call them). The phone lines don’t open until 9am so I couldn’t have called them this early anyways. The nurse tells me to get my schedule (they had sent me a fill in the blanks sort of sheet with treatment start day, CD8 in my case) and goes over what I’m to be doing on each day. They need me to come in for a baseline ultrasound on CD7 (Tuesday) before I start my meds. They also need bloodwork done to go with the ultrasound but for some reason this bloodwork will not be done in the clinic as per the norm. Not sure why, I did verify with her that they will not complete my bloodwork, and she said not this time.

The nurse explained I’ll start estrace and an antibiotic on CD8 (Wednesday) and continue with my suprefact and ASA. I will admit, they are very efficient in sending everything over to the pharmacy so it is always there when I go in. I’ll also need more suprefact because I am running through that stuff like nobody’s business. With 10 (two in each nostril, five times a day) sprays a day from a rather small bottle it’s no wonder. The nurse also tells me that there is an RX for antibiotics for J as well. “For my husband?” I asked her quizzically. He’s done his part, what does he need antibiotics for? She delicately explains to me that they assume we are having “intercourse” (her word, not mine) and it is just a prophylaxis so he doesn’t pass anything to me. Ah. Ok, that makes sense, moving right along. She tells me that generally I will have another ultrasound 14 days after starting estrace which would put us at Oct. 29, but she said that may change after they’ve done all of my baseline stuff on Tuesday. She misspoke several times during the conversation so I would repeat things back to her to clarify because I knew what she was telling me was wrong (based on what my timetable said and the notes I have from the last nurse I spoke to). I have worked with this particular nurse before and I have to say she is not my favorite, nor does she inspire confidence. I’ve learned to write everything down when I am speaking to any given nurse so I can verify it against my next set of instructions.

She initially told me I could get my bloodwork requisition when I came in for the ultrasound but then called me back shortly after we spoke to advise me I’d need to do the bloodwork the day before the ultrasound as they need the results the day I am coming in to the clinic. Ok, fine. She tells me she can send it to a lab convenient for me, so I tell her the approximate location of the one I’d like (I couldn’t remember the exact name of it, but it is a part of a “chain”), lab A and she tells me no problem, she’ll fax it over to them.

It’s later on in the day that I realised the bloodwork has to be done on Monday, which is the Thanksgiving holiday in Canada, so there are only a couple of labs open for limited hours that day. I quickly hopped online and took one of two remaining appointments at a lab that is open for the holiday, lab B. I called the fertility clinic back and asked if they could send the requisition to lab B instead of lab A that I initially asked for. The receptionist asks if I could just go and pick it up from lab A as they were very busy at the moment and didn’t want it to get missed. She apologized and said she didn’t mean to be rude but it wasn’t something that was going to be a priority at the moment… Fair enough, if they’re not going to get it done I may as well do it myself. So I hang up the phone with the clinic and think to myself, the labs can probably just transfer the requisition saving me a trip in to them.

So I call lab A telling them my requisition has been faxed over from my Drs office, could they please send it to lab B instead, but she can’t find my requisition. I then realise my clinic probably sent it to lab C which has a similar name to where lab B is actually located. You still following me? I then call lab C to ask if they have my requisition but I get a recording saying they are closed and to call back during business hours which they then list. I am currently calling them during their business hours. Humph.

I then call the main switchboard for city wide lab scheduling. The woman who answers asks me for my phone number, proceeds to pull up my file, starts to ask me when I’d like to book an appt for when she sees I already have one. I tell her I am trying to get a requisition transferred but when I call lab C I get a recorded message, and wonder if they haven’t forgotten to turn off their messaging system. She puts me on hold to try and get someone at that lab. She eventually succeeds and patches me through. I find that my clinic did in fact mistakenly send my requisition to lab C. I ask them to please transfer it to lab B as I need the bloodwork done on the holiday Monday. No problem.

Not trusting anyone to complete a simple task, I call lab B about an hour later to confirm that lab C did in fact forward my requisition. They tell me they do have it. If it goes missing between now and Monday, so help me I may lose my marbles.

So then I needed to coordinate getting to my pharmacy, which has rather limited hours of operation, to pick up all the meds for the next week or so. They’re closed weekends and holidays (so Saturday through Monday this week) and their business hours coincide pretty closely with my own office hours. I can’t go Tuesday as I have to go to the clinic for my ultrasound and then directly to work as I am on the opening shift and they are closed by the time I am off work. I need everything for Wednesday because I start my estrace at 8am that morning, plus I may not have made it through the weekend without anymore suprefact. My only window was today. I had to get up at an ungodly hour to go to our lawyers office on the way south side of the city and officially sign off on our new home (eeeek!). Luckily I was on late shift today so I didn’t need to be at work until 10am and it gave me enough time to drive all the way from the south side where the lawyer is, to the north side where the pharmacy is located (because my clinic deals with one pharmacy that specializes in IF meds). Luckily the pharmacy is very close to my work and I made it in on time.

Now that I have antibiotics and estrogen to add to the mix as of Wednesday I’m going to need some new reminders in my phone. Currently I have alarms at 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm for my suprefact. When I wake up in the morning I have to take my synthroid (thyroid medication) on an empty stomach. I also cannot take any vitamins or minerals within four hours of synthroid which means I have to wait until around 11am to take my omega 3, vitamin B6, and the first half of my two part prenatal vitamin. When I start estrogen there will be one pill at 8am and one at 8pm for the first four days, it then increases to two pills twice a day, and then four days later to three pills twice a day. I have to fit the antibiotics in once a day (only for five days though) and lastly the second part of my prenatal, plus my ASA and vitamin B complex just before bed. If you’re keeping count by the time I am up to three estrace pills twice a day, that will be a total of 13 pills and 5 nasal sprays a day. It’ll be a wonder if I find time to work with all of this pill poppin’.

Now all I have to do is count on my clinic to get my uterus primed so I can switch from estrogen to progesterone at the end of the month and snuggle my embryo in for 9 months!