Sand Shifting Underfoot

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So much changes, seemingly rather quickly, over the course of time and treatment with infertility. At first it was just “taking a little longer” for us when we were trying naturally. Then we were onto IUIs and then ultimately IVF with ICSI. As we moved through the paths of treatment I formed different bonds with different people and felt connected with a certain tribe along each step. Obviously the overarching connection is infertility in general, but there were the sub categories too, of what stage of treatment I was in at the time.

Through this blog I’ve connected with some awesome women, one of which lives in my same city and became my IVF buddy, if you will. Her and I ended up going through IVF near simultaneously, with me doing the stimming and retrieval before her, and her doing the FET before me (though my FET protocol differed slightly). It was so nice having someone who not only understood what I was going through, on a general level but literally went to the same clinic at the same time as me. It was great, we closed down many a coffee shop chatting about infertility, and life.

Unfortunately our IVF cycles had pretty drastic differences in their success and her FET did not work, so when mine did I know it was a punch to the gut (for her, and for me because I wanted this for her as much as I wanted it for me). I emailed to let her know my transfer had worked, and how shitty it was that we were now seemingly on opposite sides of the fence. IVF may not be the solution for her, so it’s not just a matter of trying again. It was a bit like Sliding Doors, my cycle went one way, and took me down a path, and hers went the other, leading her on a different journey.

In response to my email, confirming my positive beta, I received a heartbreaking response from a woman clearly in the throes of agony. In light of the different directions we have ended up in, it seems our friendship may be discontinued for her own self preservation. And it sucks, but I get it. I don’t know how I would have handled it had the situation been the other way around. I have always been happy for other IF ladies when they finally succeed, but previous to my own positive beta, admittedly, I would unfollow a lot of people. It was too hard to see their happiness and read their updates without my green eyed monster making snarky comments in my ear.

So I’m heartbroken for my friend, and really sad that I won’t be able to walk beside her and help her through what is most likely going to be a continuation of a difficult journey, possibly about to get worse. I’ll send her all my love from a distance, and hope that there is something great on the horizon for her.

And just in the way that every turn around a corner in infertility holds so much unknown, so too does pregnancy hold those dark forbidding areas, lurking just out of sight. On Tuesday morning we were packing up at our hotel in Oahu, getting ready to head to Maui. I was in the shower when I saw red going down the drain. It startled me but upon further investigation it seemed to be just a little spurt. Concerning, but didn’t seem to be continuing. After I turned off the shower and started to dry myself I notice my red on the pristine white hotel towel (sorry to the Hyatt). I wiped and there was more blood, a lot more. I came out of the bathroom and said to J, “Don’t freak out, but I’m bleeding”.

I think I was trying to get myself not to freak out more than anything. I remained eerily calm, yet shaky as I kept checking, and more blood kept coming. I asked J to go down to the store in the lobby of our hotel and buy my some tampons (I know, in hindsight, bad choice but I wasn’t thinking). I called my clinic because I didn’t know what else to do, and left them a message to please call me back. When J came back upstairs and gave me the tampons, he hugged me and I burst into tears. I was convinced I was having a miscarriage and for all of the ambivalence I have tried to force on myself in regards to our little embryo, it clearly hadn’t worked.

We went to the airport and caught our flight over to Maui. Not long after leaving the airport in our rental car, I received a call from my clinic. I told the nurse I was bleeding, and that I was in Hawaii. She told me there wasn’t really much they could do (obviously, but who else was I going to call??). She asked how much bleeding there was and I told her more than spotting, and bright red. I hadn’t had a chance to go to the bathroom since we left Oahu so I hadn’t checked the status of the blood so I didn’t have many answers for her in that regard. She told me to take it easy and if I soaked through a pad in a couple of hours to seek medical attention.

By the time we got checked into our hotel here in Maui, I went to the bathroom to see what was happening. Some more red blood, but had turned to brown at some point. There was more red than brown but it wasn’t super heavy flow, and seemed to be tapering off. J had googled bleeding in early pregnancy and tried to ease my mind showing me how common it could be, and especially with IVF-ers but in my heart I just felt it was bad. Over the course of the next few days I mostly just had a brown discharge along with the progesterone suppositories. It has pretty much gone back to normal now, just the white of the suppositories.

I have zero symptoms at the moment, there are a few things that could potentially be attributed to pregnancy, but overall I feel no different, and rather un-pregnant. I have this awful feeling that there is nothing going on in my uterus and that the progesterone is just holding off the inevitable. I have a mentality to expect the worst and hope for the best. I think infertility has taught me that, because with so much going wrong, I’d rather just believe something isn’t going to happen, or work, than get my hopes up and be crushed every time. To be fair it’s all rather crushing but when I get used to the idea in advance it’s an easier pill to swallow.

But at this point there’s no way to know if there is a little pea sized thing growing, growing, growing until we can physically see it. So for now it is pretty hard to believe it is there. I just have to hold on until Friday… We’re almost there, but the wait is excruciating.

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Ushering in a New Year and a New Era

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New Years is never really a big deal to me, I find there is too much lead up, anticipation and time spent on trying to find the perfect thing to be doing. I also don’t do resolutions because I probably wouldn’t follow them and, I’d rather just make a change when I’m good and ready. But this time it seemed a bit more significant; this could be the year we bring a child into the world.

The past couple weeks have been crazy, with busyness at Christmas, being out of town with J’s family (and avoiding drinking, which I did, hopefully unnoticed). I managed to get a bunch of prenatal bloodwork done, as well as another beta. I had a bit of a scare when the walk in clinic called and told me the Dr wanted to discuss my results with me. They won’t give the results over the phone so it was very cryptic and ominous. They called at 8:45pm and as soon as I hung up the phone I got in my car and headed over there.

Being that it’s a walk in clinic, I saw a different Dr this time, so when he came into the exam room he asked what he could do for me. I gave him a brief explanation of my situation and that I had just done a bunch of bloodwork for early pregnancy. He looked over my results, ticked everything off, said it all looks normal and that I am indeed pregnant. He also gave me my beta, it was over 2000 and my fertility clinic told me it should have been over 1000 by that point so that was a relief. My best guess is that the walk in clinic didn’t realize I had already done a blood test for pregnancy and that’s why I got called back in. But I was glad to go, and find out my beta. It gave me some reassurance.

When I first got the positive test, and then beta confirmation I was elated, walking with my head in the clouds. I was trying to not get overly excited, and know that it is still early days. But I couldn’t help but let my mind skip forward. After letting things sink in for a while the excitement is definitely still there but it is more guarded and cautious. We’re not telling family until around the 12 week mark (as pretty much none of them know we went through IVF anyways). I did break down and buy a pregnancy journal. I’ve had my eye on it for ages. It has a page for the circumstances in which conception happened, and it has boxes for IF treatments. Won me over right away. I haven’t written anything in it yet. Probably won’t until our first ultrasound. Which speaking of that, we have a 7 week ultrasound booked for Jan. 16, and it can’t come soon enough.

It’s such a tricky place, this after IF limbo. Will I have a baby to show for at the end of this or will I get kicked back too soon, thrown back into the land of IF? I’m certainly not just a regular pregnant lady now. We went to a hockey game this past weekend with one of J’s longtime friends, and his friend’s wife. J failed to inform me that his friend’s wife was pregnant until a few days beforehand (and this outing had been in the works for at least a month). I was taken aback and at first thought didn’t want to go anymore. Then I remembered I’m pregnant too, not that we would be sharing that information with them. She is showing quite a bit already and due in April. Luckily she was very gracious and our visit did not revolve around her burgeoning belly. She was telling us how when her and her husband went to NYC when she was newly pregnant it was the worst. She felt so crappy and she cautioned us not to go on vacation during the early days of pregnancy as it was just awful. Yet here we are, sitting in an airport lounge, waiting for our connecting flight to Hawaii.

This trip was planned well in advance of our FET and though we hoped we may be pregnant by the time it rolled around, that was often the thought with many of our past trips. So we booked it, and decided we would just roll with it no matter the position we found ourselves in. Physically, I feel fine. No sickness (yet), a bit tired, my face has broken out terribly (I have problem skin to start with) and I had to manage my progesterone suppositories in an airplane bathroom. My mind is still reeling, and I hesitate from getting too far ahead of myself. I am grateful and elated, apprehensive and worried but mostly I am just trying to take it a day at a time.

I think of all you ladies still stuck in the land of IF and it sucks. I am so thankful for all of the love and support I’ve received. I hurt for you, and I wish nothing but the best for everyone this year, no matter what your circumstance. Wishing you all peace and strength to get through, the trials as well as the clarity and wisdom to know what’s best, for you and your situation.

Happy 2015.

One Bitten, Twice Shy

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“Hello, Lupron”…[said in the tone of Jerry Seinfeld to “Newman”].

Today is the first day of our second attempt at an FET. I begin my Lupron shots this morning, and will await the start of my next cycle when I will be adding estrogen, and the progesterone to the mix. I’ve been somewhat worried that this day was going to be delayed again, as I was having some concerning spotting last week around CD11 – 13, and then some unusual pelvic/uterine/ovarian pain Friday and Saturday. I told myself I would call the clinic this past Monday if any of the prior symptoms continued, but fortunately everything calmed down. My best guess is that I was ovulating from the same side as my cyst and perhaps the rupturing of a follicle in the vicinity aggravated the cyst. That is a totally uneducated guess, but allows me to somewhat rationalize…

I am trying not to get too far ahead of myself in case there is some roadblock that I have not yet anticipated. My goals right now are to take my Lupron at approximately the same time every morning (7am). It’s not specifically in my instructions, but probably best for the sake of continuity, and routine. I also want to get to bed between 10:00 pm – 10:30 pm (which I failed at last night, not turning in until well after midnight). Limit my intake of caffeine (I’m going to be realistic here and not cut it out entirely), as well as attempt to get to the gym more (meaning more than never). I pretty much stopped going to yoga entirely after my retrieval…which yes, was back in July (the end of July to be fair). Take it one day at a time, try not to make myself do things I don’t want to (beyond reasonable tasks). I am trying to limit my stress, and by not doing obligatory or unenjoyable tasks I hope I can be more peaceful (or at least less stressed).

Life is still pretty hectic after the move, though we’re pretty well settled in our new place, but we’ve not had a lot of downtime since. Our new tenants are moving in this weekend, as well our new appliances are being delivered. We have quite a few social engagements coming up, Christmas shopping, holiday activities, parties, ect. It’s a bit of a tricky time to try and reduce stress. Although the holidays are an enjoyable time, they are busy. In a sort of divine intervention I found out I am over my allowable limit for vacation time to be carried over into the next year, therefore I have 6 days off in the middle of December. If we make it through the whole process, my time off will coincide with the transfer. I don’t plan on becoming couch bound after the transfer but at least the time will allow me to get organized for Christmas (since we will be spending it in the mountains with J’s parents), and then our holiday to Hawaii on New Year’s day (so looking forward to that).

I am going at this with cautious optimism, as nothing with infertility is a sure thing, not even the chance to make it to transfer. So here’s hoping for FET 2.0 to be uneventful, besides getting that embryo home, and keeping it there for 9 months.

No Rest For the Weary

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So much for getting any rest on vacation, although that’s probably too much to ask from Las Vegas. We flew in last Friday (Oct. 24) and it was a whirlwind weekend spent seeing the sights, walking the strip, and eating. Our friends got married on Saturday (Oct. 25) and it was a lovely, low key but intimate wedding. We indulged too much and slept too little. I found I was very moody all weekend. I would be having fun one minute and irritable and grouchy about something the next. I had a little fit the morning we were leaving for Vegas because I couldn’t find my phone. I would get hungry and tired during the day and it made me crabby. I still had a good time but I was having a hard time controlling my mood swings.

I stopped my suprefact last Tuesday and the nurse told me my next period should start a week or two after stopping the meds. I hoped it would come sooner rather than later so we could make our next plan. I woke up Saturday morning in Vegas to find my period had started, the day after we had arrived. I had been feeling sort of off ever since I stopped the suprefact, and more than likely due to the fact that my hormones went on a bender after the suprefact stopped suppressing everything. I was surprised and a little bit annoyed at getting my period so early. So much for any fun hotel romps.

I also realised that I needed to call the clinic and advise them of CD1. Needless to say I wracked up some long distance while I was away. Once I called the clinic and left my info on the IVF message line I counted the days and noted that my CD3 was going to be Monday, and we weren’t due to arrive back until just before midnight on Monday night/Tuesday morning. I told the nurse my predicament when she called me back and she said she would talk to Dr. M and if it was going to be a problem she would let me know. They wanted to check my lining and my cyst to see that I a) did indeed shed all or at least a majority of my lining and b) to see if the cyst was gone. From there we could determine the new plan of action.

So after a long weekend in Vegas, and a late flight home I got about 4 hours of sleep Monday night before I had to get up to be at the clinic for 7am Tuesday morning. I was the 4th person to be monitored so I had to wait a little but not too long. When I went back the monitoring doctor looked at my chart to see what it was he was to be checking for. I don’t like this doctor, I may have mentioned him before, he’s retired but still just does the monitoring ultrasounds. He just irks me for some reason. Anyways, moving on; he checked my lining and it was looking good and thin beside a bit of blood that was still being shed. Then he moved to my left ovary, all quiet and over to the right. The cyst was still there, and not diminished in size. Fuck.

He made some measurements printed them out, and when he was done he told me I could return to my change room and the nurse would be with me shortly. The change rooms are open on the top and the bottom, and the nurses station is maybe 10 feet away so I could plainly hear them talking when I was getting redressed. The doctor was telling the nurse the cyst was still there, and she was discussing the fact that my doctor (Dr. M) had suggested a natural cycle, but that it may not be possible due to the cyst.

I was put in one of the other exam rooms so that the nurse could come and discuss the next steps with me. This was becoming a bad habit, being the special case who gets put away in a room for further instruction. I waited probably around 15 minutes, as the nurse was finishing with the other patients still waiting for ultrasounds. The wait was painful, I was exhausted and felt kind of ill because I had been chugging water on the way to the appointment in anticipation I would need to do bloodwork as well (I have slim veins that get smaller when I am dehydrated), only to not have any bloodwork after all. (I am now wondering if that was an oversight, you’d think they would have wanted my estrogen levels…). When the nurse finally came in, she sort of seemed at a loss for words, tsk-ing and shaking her head. She told me that Dr. M had left me two choices; either to do a natural cycle (if the cyst was gone) or try a medicated cycle, possibly with different meds. But, she said it would not make sense to do a natural cycle with the cyst interferring, and she wasn’t sure what Dr. M’s plan of action would be for a medicated cycle, again because of the cyst.

I need to redo my SHG, because my clinic needs an updated one every 6 months (and me being an eager beaver did mine back in May when we decided to pursue IVF, in August) so the nurse booked me for an SHG on Sunday (as in today, now) and she said her and Dr. M will discuss “what to do with me”. Great, that sounds really hopeful. So not only do I get to have my uterus accosted (again) I may very well be getting the bad news that they are going to delay me another cycle, and surgically remove my asshole cyst. To be honest I sort of hope I don’t have to do a natural cycle because I believe it would probably end up requiring more monitoring, and more stress due to the fact that we would be relying on my body to do it’s job, correctly and in a timely fashion (yeah, right). We’ll see how that all plays out.

Besides dealing with the unknown of our next transfer cycle, we’ve spent the rest of the week continuing renovation on our new place. After a long days at work, it was evenings spent working on paint, and flooring, trying to reassemble everything so we can move soon, as our new tenants take possession Nov. 15. I am utterly exhausted, both physically and mentally.

Occasionally I have a feeling of heavy, deep sadness for all the time lost, and burden carried. When we were shopping in Vegas I had a moment of pain as I had previously thought we would be pregnant by the time we were on that trip. Before we found out we weren’t doing a fresh transfer, I had hope that we would even know the gender of our baby by the time we went to Vegas (I am planning on doing early genetic and gender testing) and that I might be able to purchase a few baby items. I think it was lurking in my subconscience and sprung on me when I realised what I wouldn’t be buying that trip.

Having said all of that, I am feeling eerily calm (about the uncertainty of our cycle at least). I didn’t flip out when they cancelled my cycle, I didn’t have a breakdown with my untimely period, I didn’t cry at my bad news monitoring appointments. I don’t know why, because I am certainly frustrated that nothing is working according to plan, that it is further and further delaying our transfer. Our imaginary due date keeps getting bumped ever forward. I mostly feel ambivalent, which is weird.

Here’s hoping for some good news today, though I won’t hold my breath.

Return from Hiatus: It’s Go Time

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Yet again I took a brief, unintentional hiatus from blogging. Mainly because I’ve been too damn busy, not because I’ve had nothing to say. I just returned this past Sunday from my Alaskan cruise that I went on FOR WORK. Yeah, I have to admit, sometimes I have a pretty sweet gig. It wasn’t all fun and games, I did have to attend a few seminars, and J doesn’t get to come with me on these trips so I had to room with someone I had never met before. We got on well enough, but at times I went off on my own because I needed a break. It was a bit lonely, but overall, a pretty good trip. Alaska was very scenic, but a bit chilly for my liking. Especially seeing as the weather back home was fantastic while I was gone. I managed to bring a cold back with me, so I’ve been sick since I got home and it makes me miserable.

Just before I left J and I submitted a formal offer on the condo unit we want to buy. As of today, the offer is accepted, our mortgage is pre approved and the paperwork is pending. So for all intents and purposes, we expect to be taking possession in mid-October. We then have two weeks to renovate the new place and move upstairs so we can get a renter into our current unit… I’m thinking the renos are not going to be finished in time, so we may have to live in it while we redo the floors. I am looking forward to a blank canvas, we are looking at paint colours, flooring samples, light fixtures and more. It is fun, and exciting but the situation itself is a bit stressful as we are trying to make it happen very quickly, and have a million other things going on at the same time.

Even though I just got back, we leave for Vegas in a month. I’m excited for a getaway with J, and a bunch of our friends will be there as well since we are going for a wedding. Although, it will cut into our precious reno time, being away right before we have to be moved out of our place. Tomorrow is J’s 34th birthday, we have no big plans but I am excited to give him his birthday present; tickets to Jersey Boys while we’re in Vegas…and yes, it is for him not me. Jersey Boys would not have been my first choice. I also got him a new special edition Seahawks cap. Go Seahawks!

The woman who runs our condo building is finally back next week. There have never been so many issues as there have been this month while she’s been away. Can’t wait to turn everything back over to her.

Probably the most important thing that is coming up for us is our frozen embryo transfer. I got my schedule in the mail a couple of weeks ago, I picked up my Suprefact on Monday, and I start using it tomorrow (CD21). It is a nasal spray down reg. medication that I have to use 5 times a day (7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm, 11pm), for close to a month. Not looking forward to that. For now that is all I am on, but once I start my next period I am to call the clinic CD1, and they want me in for a baseline ultrasound around CD7. On CD8 I will start Estrace, the normal start day is CD3 but they are pushing it back so I can make sure the transfer happens after we get back from Vegas. I will have another monitoring appointment just before we leave for Vegas to check my lining, and most likely I’ll have to start Progesterone (suppositories) while we are in Vegas. Yet again infertility will put a damper on my ability to have fun hotel sex.

At the moment my focus is being pulled in so many directions that I have not spent a lot of time fretting over our FET (yet). I am hoping that the distraction of moving, renovating, ect. will continue to distract me throughout the whole FET process and help during the dreaded wait for beta. Although who am I kidding, I’m going to POAS well before the beta. So here we go, the Summer of IVF has continued into the Autumn of FET.

The Lucky Ones

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This week two of my IVF buddies have had less than stellar news, both to do with the quality of their embryos. Both had stimulated well, and had high hopes for the number of quality embryos they might have only to find out this would not be the case. In an instant my perspective changed; am I the lucky one? Throughout this journey and in life I’ve never considered myself “lucky”. Lucky to have suffered through a year of trying naturally with no success? Lucky to have been diagnosed infertile? Lucky to have tried, and failed 3 IUIs? Lucky to have had to endure IVF, as my last resort for biological children (still with no promise that that will be the result)?

In my mind, those that get pregnant in the first month are the lucky ones, or just as they are seeking IF treatment, those elusive two lines make their appearance. Even the ones who have success with IUIs, although I wish no one had to get to even that point. But then there are those who see me as the lucky one, to have five good quality (one perfect) day five embryos waiting on ice for me, when there are others who end up with four, two, none? There are those who have to do multiple rounds of IVF, suffer through OHSS, end up with no viable embryos, learn that IVF will not be the solution to their infertility. Not to say that my battle is over, my embryos do not promise me a flesh and blood baby to take home (yet), but I do have them for now. Others may see my cycle and see me as lucky.

Puts things into perspective. I suppose although there are people I look to thinking “I wish that were me”, there are people that look to me and think the same. I try and remember this as I wish I had more embryos, that I wish an IUI had work for us, when I wish we had succeeded naturally. Maybe I am one of the lucky ones?

*I won’t count my chickens though, for all I know, all my of embryos could be crap.