IVF-iversary

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This day last year, we began the stop-start journey of our IVF cycle. It was CD3 and I had gone in for my first monitoring appointment in preparation to start my stims. My estrogen levels were initially deemed too high to start and they told me to call back on my next CD1, until the nurse spoke to my doctor and he ok’d it with a slight delay on starting my stimming meds. It was all a bit of a gong show, and that’s how it felt for the rest of the stimming process. I had two runaway follicles that got way too big and threatened to derail the whole cycle. My estrogen levels topped out over 20,000IU forcing us into a freeze-all cycle. I was mostly ok with this at the time, because I felt physically and mentally exhausted with all of the stress on my body and the meds jacking up my ovaries. I would have preferred not to be delayed any further but wanted the best possible chance for our embryos.

Little did I know that delay was going to stretch another 6 months. After waiting for my 2nd period after the retrieval, some ill-timed travels, a cancelled FET, a new protocol, an extra long (almost cancelled), drawn out FET cycle (including having two cysts drained) we finally transferred one of our five embryos to my uterus on Dec. 13. On Dec. 20 I got my first faint positive pregnancy test, and on Dec. 22 a positive beta confirming that pale pink line.

After a little over three years to date we have nearly reached the next stage in our journey. A year of trying naturally, a year filled with testing, waiting, interspersed with 3 failed medicated (unmonitored) IUIs and finally a decision to pursue IVF, we then spent the next six months in IVF/FET limbo hell, finally receiving our desired outcome. But once the test is positive it is a new game, worrying about the next beta, the next ultrasound, viability and ultimately a fresh baby in your arms.

When you’re living it, it is so awful, and you can’t believe it each time the seriousness level ratchets up; trying naturally to seeking assistance which turns into IUI, then IVF, potentially multiple transfers or multiple rounds and for some, beyond that. It seems never ending. I will admit that getting (and staying) pregnant has eased some of the immediate pain but it can’t undo the scars that infertility has left. I was “lucky” in that I only had to endure one round of IVF and one transfer (it’s sad that I’d consider myself “lucky” but there are many who have been through much more and much worse). I can also say that pregnancy is no bed of roses, though I have had it relatively easy for the most part. I can’t say it is really enjoyable being pregnant, I do not love feeling like a whale, and all of the physical discomforts that come along with it (though feeling a living person inside of me, and knowing that they are growing and thriving because of me is pretty powerful stuff).

But (huge emphasis on the “but”) I am deeply grateful, because I know I am one of the lucky ones. Even though we went through hell and back, it’s all been worth it. While we were in it, I wasn’t sure we’d survive, if it would work, if would I have regrets. It’s hard to keep going when you don’t know what lies ahead. And I can’t say that ART is going to work for everyone, or what the best stopping point is. My biggest measure of whether or not to keep going was “will I regret it if I don’t?”. Because initially (when we first started seeing our RE) I was against pursuing IVF, but as we began to run out of options I knew I would regret it if we didn’t give it a shot, no matter how scared, or mad or frustrated I was at our situation.

So I’m not going to tell you to never stop trying, because eventually you may get to a point where you have to, for your sanity, and physical well-being. I don’t know what that point would have been for us, as we, fortunately, never had to consider it (not too much at least, beyond deciding to pursue IVF). Take the path of least regret, therapy and time can help you deal with the aftermath, whatever it may be.

Looking back, year over year, it is amazing where we’ve been, and now, where we’re going.

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#Microblog Mondays: Looking Back, and Looking Forward

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Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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One year ago today, I had my first IUI. I was stressed because the day before, I couldn’t tell if the line on my ovulation predictor test was darker than the control. I was used to the ones that either have an empty circle for no ovulation, or a smiley face for imminent ovulation. I like my predictor kits fool proof, what can I say. But my clinic suggested a particular brand, so I did what they said. Held their word as gospel, if I just followed their instructions to a T, maybe they would make me pregnant. In any case, I decided the test was telling me I was about to ovulate, and went for my IUI the next morning. I was happy that it fell on a Sunday and I didn’t have to miss any work, and also thankful that it wasn’t any later as I flew out of town that same evening, and was gone for 9 days on a work trip. In hindsight, I’m fairly certain that the OPK wasn’t quite positive, and had I checked the next day it would have been, but then I wouldn’t have been able to have my IUI and the Clomid would have been all for naught. Obviously it did not result in a positive pregnancy test, and probably wouldn’t have no matter what the timing, but I was rather distraught over the whole event.

Looking back at how worked up I was over the whole thing makes me realize how far I’ve come. Not that I don’t stress over every tiny detail still, but I have come so much further than I could have imagined, and I’m still standing. Now I am looking forward, with hope to the future, and knowledge of the past. No matter what comes, I have it within me to carry on. Life does not stop, even when dreams change, shift, or all together end.

No Wasted Tears

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I have to admit I am not a terribly emotional person, which unfortunately sometimes gives off the vibe that I am cold or uncaring. I get a little choked up, now and again, usually at something stupid that catches me off guard. Like a tv commercial. I sometimes cry when I get really frustrated with something, but I try really hard not to cry in front of other people. I don’t like it, it makes me uncomfortable, and it makes them uncomfortable.

I know a lot of people have shed a lot of tears over infertility, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cried over our situation. I’m not necessarily proud of this fact, like I have some sort of heart of stone, it’s just an observation I’ve made. Although infertility has probably been one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever dealt with, it’s a slow, long burn, it doesn’t generally come all at once and make me burst into tears. I don’t purposely stuff down my feelings, and I don’t necessarily think that’s what I’ve been doing but when tears bubble up at very random times I wonder where they came from.

I’ve never cried when my period arrived or when I get yet another BFN. I’ve seen that single line so many times, I’m not sure I even believe in the second line, perhaps it’s just some mythical unicorn. I just throw it in the trash and walk away. I didn’t cry when Dr. M told us we would have to do IUI (until J started crying). I didn’t cry at our first failed IUI, or our second. I do feel sad about the whole situation but I think I am more mad than anything. It just seems so unfair, J and I have had other struggles in our life together, can’t one thing just go our way for once.

I can be a bit of a pessimist, which in this instance may be a way of protecting my heart. I will admit I have let my hopes float up too high a time or two only to be disappointed but it’s always a cautious hope. I’m never certain of the outcome each month, so it keeps that ember of doubt glowing in the back of my mind. So I am usually pretty quick at picking myself up, and moving on.

But every so often, some little thing will set me off. Whether it be something sad on TV, or something my dear J says that maybe hurts my feelings or makes me mad. And I just break. I lose all composure and I sob until I feel as though my chest is going to burst. It’s as if all those little things snowball together, the slow burn rises up to an out of control fire and it all becomes too much. A cleansing cry does sometimes help me get it all out, and off my chest. But does it solve my problems? No.

To me, infertility is like a bad ex boyfriend, doesn’t deserve my tears. That may not be the most logical line of thinking, but I have lost control over so many things in my life because of it, the least I can do is try to control my emotions. But this cycle, no matter the outcome, I feel as though the tears will flow. It’s the end of an era.

Relationship Challenge: Day 16

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So glad Friday is almost here. It feels like it’s been a really long week. I’m still feeling pretty chill, but that’s normal for the few days after the IUI, because at this point it’s not like I would have any inkling what’s happening in my body anyways. Today and yesterday I’ve had a bit of discomfort in my abdomen (mittelshmerz?) that I’ve had previously around ovulation time, so I’m hoping my ovaries are doing their thing. I found out today that Best Friend is having another boy. And now I feel bad for even saying that it would be hard for me if she was having a girl, because her baby has nothing to do with me. But I mean, she’s having a baby, so she’s happy regardless.

J and I have been in a really good place lately. We’re getting along really well, and feeling rather affectionate as well. Not that we are normally all scrappy and pissy with each other, but things just feel good right now. I think we’re both ready for a new chapter, and we’re so close that we’re just enjoying the last moments before we thrust ourselves into the “new”. Sorry, I don’t have a lot to say today, so here is Relationship Challenge: Day 16

Respond to the Spirit of a Gift

Gifts often strike odd chords with us. As Andy Warhol observed, “You can never predict what little things in the way somebody walks or talks or acts will set off particular emotional reactions in other people.”

Someone give you a big plant, and you worry about killing it. Somebody gives you a cookbook, and you feel guilty about the fact that you haven’t been cooking much. 

On this subject, I was struck by something from Story of  a Soul, the memoir of my spiritual master, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. One day in 1897, when she was in her early twenties, and weakened by the tuberculosis that would soon kill her, Thérèse was sitting in her wheelchair in the garden of her convent, and trying unsuccessfully to write:

“When I begin to take up my pen, behold a Sister who passes by, a pitchfork on her shoulder. She believes she will distract me with a little idle chatter: hay, ducks, hens, visits of the doctor. . . . Another hay worker throws flowers on my lap, perhaps believing these will inspire me with poetic thoughts. I am not looking for them at the moment and would prefer to see the flowers remain swaying on their stems. . . .I don’t know if I have been able to write ten lines without being disturbed. . . however, for the love of God and my Sisters (so charitable toward me) I take care to appear happy and especially to be so. ”

Saint Thérèse emphasizes the importance of accepting gifts in the spirit in which they’re offered, instead of responding to the gift itself. She doesn’t want to be distracted with chitchat; she wants to write. She doesn’t want a bouquet in her lap; she wants to see wildflowers growing in the fields. But she takes “care to appear happy and especially to be so.”

I try to remember this every time I get a gift that sets off some kind of internal bad reaction, to make sure that I respond with the enthusiasm that thoughtful gifts should provoke. 

(Of course, reacting to the spirit of a well-intentioned gift is not the same as reacting to a passive-aggressive gift. An electronic calories tracker is probably a gift that should only be given upon request.)

Resolve to “Respond to the spirit of a gift.” It’s a resolution that’s obviously right, but it’s often difficult to do. 

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p>When I first read this one, I thought how can I relate to this, it’s a bit of an odd one. But I got to thinking about all of the well meaning things people can say to an infertile that may be offensive/annoying/ignorant but they are well meaning. I don’t necessarily think it is “our” job to make people feel comfortable, or that what they say/do in regards to infertility is right, but isn’t it better to gently redirect someone that flip out at them and make them think we are a crazy infertile, or that we are being too sensitive/rude/difficult. I don’t discuss my infertility with anyone in real life,  so it’s a little harder for me to put into practice, but people ask me all the time when I am having kids, if I am having kids, and good-naturedly rib me about it, I should try and understand that they think that is something socially acceptable to ask. Tough to do, but might spare me some annoyed feelings in the future.

It’s the Final Countdown!/Relationship Challenge Day 15

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Well, IUI #3 is in the books now. I was trying to stay cool but I get sooo anxious the morning of the IUIs it literally makes me sick to my stomach (I have a nervous tummy). I tried to preempt the nauseau by taking some pepto bismal and a ginger tablet this morning when I got up. It helped a little but I still felt pretty ill. Couldn’t eat breakfast, and even the tea I had between the time when J gave his sample, and they called us back was churning my tummy.

We were both more outwardly calm this time, except when we got there I realized my wallet was still in my gym bag from last night, so J had to pay. Only, his credit card was maxed because he has a low limit and he just bought a really expensive camera. So we did a little quick online banking and moved money onto his debit card. Thank goodness for banking apps, and smart phones! I swear, there is always some sort of hiccup, every time we go to the clinic. But, this was rather minor and fixed quickly, it just set us on edge for a moment.

So anywho, he gave his sample (no blood in it, like last time. Yay!). So we went to get a coffee/tea and kill some time before they were done with the washing. So we left at 8:15, they told us it would be about 45 minutes but to come back in half an hour just to be safe. So we did, back by 8:45, waiting, waiting, it’s past 9, now it’s almost 9:30, what the hell is going on, is there a problem? So finally just after 9:30 they took us back, and apologized for the wait as they were using a different washing protocol and it took longer than normal. Ok, well at least nothing was wrong. His count was 16 million post wash, Not his worst, but not great either. I think she said it was 43% motility, and they were all at level 4 for forward movement (best score, out of a scale of 0 – 4).

We had a different nurse, yet again. The clinic is very large and they have a lot of different staff. The only one that stays constant is the receptionist. She is young (ok, like my age probably), black hair, and lots of tattoos. She doesn’t have the friendliest demeanor, she’s just very mechanical. It seemed as though she had a trainee today though, as a different lady checked us in today (under Tattoo’s watchful eye). We have never had the same nurse, or lab tech through all 3 of our IUIs.

The nurse we had today was really nice, and very thorough but she took the longest actually doing the IUI and it was the most uncomfortable one. I’m sure J hates that part because I scrunched my face at the pain, and try to just breathe, and I know he knows it’s hurting me. But, I told him he is off the hook now. He did his part, and now there is nothing more either of us can do but wait.

Before the IUI, the nurse asked me what cycle day it was, and when I got my positive OPK. I told her it was positive last night, and then again this morning still (yes, I tested again and both types of OPKs I used were positive). She didn’t scold me for testing again in the morning but she told me I didn’t need to do that. I said, I know I was just curious, and since we’re not doing another IUI I don’t need to be stingy about using them up. She said they’ve had patients who would get a positive one day and then not the next morning, and cancel their IUI because of it.

I knew even if it was negative this morning, doesn’t mean anything because yesterday could have been the tail end of the surge. Plus, prior to doing IUIs I used to test in the morning and I found that when I did that I seemed to always ovulate the same day as the positive OPK (based on BBT), so it makes most sense that I do it in the afternoon, as requested by the clinic to catch the beginning of the surge, so I go for the IUI on the correct day.

Anyways, I digress. Onto my final (for an indeterminate amount of time) TWW!

*I forgot to add, my beta is set for Feb. 14. How ironic…Lucky we don’t celebrate Valentines Day or that could potentially be a really shitty day. Alternatively, perhaps after this one we might want to celebrate it.

Relationship Challenge Day 15:

Consider Some Hard Facts about Shared Work
One obstacle to happiness? Feeling resentful when another person won’t do his or her share of work. Consider these facts about shared work:
Fact 1: Work done by others sounds easy. How hard can it be to take care of a newborn baby who sleeps twenty hours a day? To return a few phone calls? To fill out some forms? Often, daily work by other people sounds easy. This fact leads us to under-estimate how onerous a particular task is, and that makes it easy to assume that we don’t need to help or provide support.
Fact 2: When you’re doing a job that benefits others, it’s easy to assume that they’re aware of your work—that they should feel grateful, and that they feel guilty about not helping you.
But no! Often, the more reliably you perform a task, the less likely it is for someone to notice that you’re doing it, and to feel grateful, and to feel any impulse to help or to take a turn. You think, “I’ve been taking out the garbage for weeks! When do I get a break?” In fact, the longer you take out the garbage, the less likely it is that someone will do it.
Fact 3: If you care more about a task being done, you’re more likely to end up doing it–and just because you care about it doesn’t mean that others feel the same way. You think it’s important to clean out the basement, and you expect your spouse to share the work, but your spouse thinks, “We never use the basement anyway, so why bother?” People are much less likely to share work they deem unimportant. At least not without a lot of nagging.
Fact 4. If you want someone else to do a task, don’t do it yourself. This sounds obvious, but think about it. If you think you shouldn’t have to do it—don’t. Someone else is a lot more likely to do it if you don’t do it first. Of course, this doesn’t always work. Someone must get the kids ready for school. But many tasks are optional.
So resolve to “Consider the hard facts about shared work,” and see if these points alter the way you think about work you share with others.

I don’t have a lot to elaborate on this, because it is all very true. Basically, if you want something done right (aka your version of right) do it yourself, and if you don’t want to do it, don’t complain when someone else does it, but not to your standards. I find there are chores that J or I don’t mind doing, and ones that we each hate. We try and be fair, dividing things up but sometimes I do feel like I always cook dinner, or I always take the dogs to the the groomers. It’s not true that it is an always or never situation, but it feels like it sometimes. It’s good to keep in mind that there are probably things that J does that I don’t take note of. I can try and be appreciative of the tasks that he always takes care of. But overall, I think we have a pretty good divide.

3rd Time’s a Charm?

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Well, it seems the time is upon us again. I thought I wouldn’t get a positive OPK until tomorrow, but it appears that last month wasn’t just a fluke early ovulation. After being so busy all afternoon at work I didn’t even have time to pee, I took my full bladder to the staff washrooms and peed on my little magic stick, and wouldn’t you know there was a little smiley face staring back at me.

So tomorrow is the day, the day of my last IUI and the indefinite (but not final) break to my fertility treatment. I’m feeling a bit more zen about it this time. I went to the gym tonight, by myself I might add, which is no big deal but I can’t usually get my ass to the gym unless J is prodding me, and he’s coming too. But I just needed to run some energy off, and feel good.

I can’t really do anything more now. J will do his part tomorrow, in it will go, and that’s that. I was really hoping that the IUI wasn’t going to fall on Wednesday because I am the 2nd closer at work, and they will be rather screwed if I’m not there. Plus I have a buttload of work to do, so I am not going to call in sick tomorrow, as much as I want to just take the day for me.

With my little superstitions, I can be glad tomorrow is an odd numbered day, I don’t like even numbers and last IUI was on Jan. 2. I know, makes no sense. I have a lot whirling around in my head right now. And I sort of messed with my head by testing with OPK’s again tonight, and I didn’t get a smiley face again, but I did get two equal lines on the standard test. So I don’t really know what to make of that. I am going to hope that even if I ovulate overnight, that little egg will be waiting for J’s swimmers by morning. Fuck. I hate not having any control over this.

Also side note, Lindsay (sorry, can never remember if you are “ey” or “ay”, hope I picked right!) at Awaiting Autumn nominated me for a Leibster award. My first ever blogging award, I feel so thankful, and loved as a part of this community. I will accept my award in another post, but just wanted to put that out there because it made my evening!

Ok, so I’ll recap tomorrow, now to relax with my dogs, have my cup of tea and get a good nights sleep. Please keep me in your thoughts, and send me lots of good juju vibes if you can!

Relationship Challenge Day 12 & 13

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Ok, so apparently I am going to keep you in suspense about the daily relationship challenge by withholding a day and then doubling up. Seems to be a habit lately.

I am in the week of the IUI now. I started using OPK’s today, CD11 (negative), though I knew today would be too early. I am paranoid about missing it, since last cycle was my earliest positive OPK ever at CD12 (which happened to be the first day I tested). I think part of the reason is because I wasn’t really sure what to consider CD1 last cycle because AF came overnight. So I considered the evening before CD1 but I think that was a bad call and I started clomid too early and caused ovulation to be early. Luckily this cycle was more clearcut and I didn’t have to doubt it.

So I get to limit my liquid intake after my morning cup of tea, hold my bladder all afternoon and pee on a stick at work. Life is fun right now. I’m still trying not to get stressed out about it all yet, but my biggest thing is if the IUI falls on either Wednesday, or Thursday I am going to leave my office severely short staffed by calling in sick either of those days, and I feel bad. But at the same time, I feel like in the big scheme of things, isn’t my well being more important than a job? Or am I just being selfish?

I don’t necessarily need the whole day off but it will make me feel better to not have to rush to work afterwards and I am going to take it easy for the rest of the day in hopes it will give my body it’s best chance at making this work. Bedrest is recommended after IVF (I know this is not even close to the same thing) but it can’t be bad right?

So onto relationship challenge day 12 & 13

Day 12: Don’t Keep Score

One of my Twelve Personal Commandments—and one I struggle with constantly—is “No calculation.” This personal commandment is meant to remind me not to keep score, not to stint on love and generosity, not to keep track of who has done what.
It’s based on an observation by my spiritual master, St. Therese of Lisieux: “When one loves, one does not calculate.”
I have a real tendency to say, “I did this, so you have to do that” or “You had your turn, so I get my turn.” I remind myself, “No calculation,” when I find myself starting to start to bargain or trade or keep score.
It’s much more pleasant to feel grateful for a nice gesture, or to act out of love and generosity, than to squabble about the score.
Now, it’s true that every relationship involves some calculation. It wouldn’t be fair for one person to do everything, and the other person to do nothing. But if you’re in a relationship where things tend to balance out fairly, the atmosphere is much happier when you don’t keep score, when you don’t calculate, but just try to do the loving thing.
So remind yourself, “Don’t keep score,” and instead, act with love and generosity. 

This is so true. So so true. I don’t find that I do it as much, or at least not with big things. It’s more little things, like I cleaned the floor last time, or it’s his turn to make dinner. Minor things, but again, I shouldn’t be keeping score. But there was a time when we were in not such a good place and I would hold grudges. There’s the old adage that “holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha. And it’s so true, who is it hurting by me keeping tally of all of the bad things? I am much better at letting them go, and trying to think of all of the good things that I can appreciate.

Day 13: Ask for a Favor

As Benjamin Franklin recommended, “If you want to make a friend, let someone do you a favor.” Allow yourself to ask for a favor, for help, for advice, for suggestions.
Studies show that for happiness, providing support is just as important as getting support. By offering people a way to provide support, you generate good feelings in them. And on your side, asking for a favor is a sign of intimacy and trust. The fact that you’ve asked for a favor shows that you feel comfortable being indebted to someone.
So asking, and receiving, a favor generates good feelings on both sides.
One of my most helpful Secrets of Adulthood is “It’s okay to ask for help.” Asking for help is a very useful way of asking for a favor. I’m absolutely mystified by asking for help is so hard for me. So often, I can just solve a problem by asking for help—which is almost always freely and cheerfully given.
Resolve to “Ask for a favor.” It’s a surprisingly effective way to show affection and trust in a relationship.

I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. I am a very independent person, and generally don’t like to ask for help unless I’ve exhausted all other options. But it’s funny because reading this tip makes me think of a reccuring occurance between J and I. I will be looking for something (usually in the kitchen) and wonder outloud where said item is. J will immediately jump up and help me look. And sometimes he gets in the way, or he looks places I’ve already looked, or would have no idea where the item would be anyways. So now, a lot of the times, as soon as the words, “where is …” are out of my mouth, I tell J “Don’t move, I wasn’t asking for help, I was just wondering aloud!”. Perhaps I should let him help me, I’m sure it would make him feel good to be my knight in shining armour.

It’s going to be a big week, so look alive people, we’re on positive OPK watch!