Monday, November 30, 2009

Better Luck Next Time

So, the beta was negative. My doctor gave me the call today - during her lunch (how nice). She left a message that said "I was trying to catch you right after your students left and before my afternoon appointments!"

Of course we're bummed. But today was rough, with an increase in the amount of blood I was seeing and the anxiety... I was worried that if it was positive that there was something seriously wrong. I don't want the first moment of my pregnancy to be me panicking about some NOT-normal side effect. So on to the next plan.

I will be starting birth control at the end of the week, and will remain on that for about 5 weeks - to get us over the holiday hump. Then we'll start right back up with day 1 of that cycle. This time we are doing an FET - frozen embryo transfer. I have 4 frozen blastocysts, so they will thaw and transfer. I will update on that process as we near the time. It's only 3 doctor visits - (WHOA!) so I'm looking forward to this cycle for the simple reason that it's low maintenance. I will only have a total of 10 (or so) injections before the FET. Ah, the simple things...

For now I'm going to mourn our attempt for a moment and then enjoy the holidays with my wonderful husband and family. My body needs a break from all of these hormones! I'm thinking a nice glass of red wine will help my "detox." :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Unappreciated Side Effects

1. The need to decorate for Christmas "way too early."

2. Bleeding. Apparently "normal" and also accompanied by "normal" cramps. I hope by normal the nurse meant "do not panic."

3. Moody. I'm thankful for a patient husband who has perfected the dive to the couch to get out of my way, and for his support in my habitual viewing of the movie Elf.

4. The need to nap at any given moment in the day.

5. The label as the Designated Driver. No matter what. No drinking. No soda. I am far from a regular drinker of adult beverages, but you notice such when attending a wedding. With an open bar. I'd like to have a glass of wine. Or 10. This is stressful.

6. By far the most excruciating (TMI warning for Mom M.). No sex. Nada. Zilch. By far the most challenging and the least appreciated side effect of this whole process. And it definitely doesn't help with #3.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Caffeinated Bites

Dear Diet Coke,

Oh how I miss you. You were such a wonderful companion, especially when chilled or on ice with a straw. You knew how to please a thirsty gal. I'm sorry that my sudden abandonment has left you on the shelves of the store instead of the cozy confines of my refridgerator. The doctor said "no soda or caffeine," and, dear friend, you are both. The doctor is keeping us apart. I hope that during this time we find new loves, mine being non-caffeinated and non-carbonated in variety.

Good luck, ol' pal.

Love,
Jenn

This weekend I helped host a baby shower for a friend from high school. I will share pictures in a future posting, but let me just tell you.... I have been decaffeinated now for at least a week. Yesterday, however, at the shower, there was this bowl. This glorious bowl. Shiny chocolate coated somethings. I popped one in, thinking it was a peanut inside and I'd be able to resist future impulse. Oh, no. No such luck. It was a soft pomegranate seed. Chocolate covered pomegranate. I think I popped what turned out to be the equivalent of a 6 pack of soda. For the first time I could ever remember, I was wired when I was trying to get to sleep. I was exhausted, but stuck in "awake" mode because of these delicious caffeinated bites of chocolate pomegranate.

Finally, right around the time my alarm clock went off - I fell fast asleep.

PS: 7 day countdown for the beta test. Start now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And Now We Wait

Here it is, folks. The blastocyst transferred today. As funky as this image looks, the doctor said that this blastocyst looked "fabulous." So fabulous, in fact, that they only transferred one. We have one other "fabulous" blastocyst and 9 other potentially decent looking embryos that might be frozen for future transfer. Seems so strange, looking at this little image, to think that our life and our hopes and all of those appointments and shots... well, they are all resting right there.

And now for the dreaded 2 week wait. We have our beta test on November 30th. Until then, I'll follow the doctors directions. :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Great Divide

Saturday embryo update: ALL 11 embryos have made it to the next stage - dividing 2 or 4 times! Looks like I'll be having my transfer on Tuesday! (Day 5, blastocysts, and more likely to implant!)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Update

Dr. B just called (yep, the ACTUAL doctor!) and said how happy she is with the results thus far, and that my eggs are looking good! All 14 fertlized, but three of them were showing a second nucleus and therefore will NOT be used for implantation. So, we have 11 fertilized eggs at this time.

We'll get another call tomorrow to update us with how many have divided 2-4 times, b/c these will be The Ones.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lapse

It's been a few whirlwind days that have kept me from my wonderful blog. Tuesday G and I went in, and found that I had 11 follicles that were measured at 16mm up to 20mm. Dr. B and Julie (who was doing the probing) both remarked at how beautiful and wonderful my follicles looked. Hooray for my uterine growing ability, I suppose. What is the proper response to someone remarking about your ovaries and follicles?

Well, they printed off a copy of the follicle sizes for me to keep and sent me on my way. That same day they gave me permission to take the trigger shot - 10,000 hCG - that night. So, no more injections other than the massive one that G gets to aim at my tush. Exciting, right? Next step... and we were ready for the next phase.

We took the shot at 9:45pm Tuesday, and our egg retrieval was exactly 36 hours later - this morning at 9:45am. G and I got there at 8, as they asked, and got all prepped to go in. G turned in his sample, they hooked me up to an IV, and then we waited. At 9:45 exactly they led me into the operating room, where I sat down on the exam table. You can't even imagine the yoga I had to do to get myself into the pose they needed. But just a moment after I laid back, I had an oxygen mask on and... well, that's all I remember. I woke up about 30-40 minutes later back in the recovery room.

The good news: 14 eggs were retrieved!

The bad news: the "mild" discomfort they claimed was an understatement. I can hardly walk upright! I'm hoping that a good night's sleep will be just what my uterus needs to start rejuvenating.

We will get a call tomorrow between 12 and 3 to tell us about those precious eggs and how many fertilized!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day to Day

Yesterday I had another monitoring appointment in which they measured quite a few follicles that were approaching 10mm. They told me before I left that I'd probably be coming back on Monday and to make an appointment for then. Well, when they called me with my blood results in the afternoon, they said that my E2 jumped up, and that they wanted me to come back today - Sunday - for more bloodwork and ultrasound.

Well, today when they measured me, they saw that I had 10 - 10 follicles - that were OVER 10mm's each - their mark for noting in my chart. One person is working the ultrasound while the other enters the data into the computer - and when you hit the 10mm mark they say "5 over and 4 under" meaning that I have 5 follicles over 10mm's and 4 under."

So things are looking good. The bloodwork results showed only about an increase of 100 E2, so they have increased my meds to the original dose (I took a modified dose last night).

I go back tomorrow morning to check growth. Today the largest ones were at almost 17mm's- a growth of 6mm's overnight! So I'm hoping tomorrow will be the day they tell me to take the trigger shot. I'm feeling awfully "full" down there and am ready for the next phase.

Update soon!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Count

Today was my first monitoring appointment since starting the Gonal-F Pen and Menopur. I have been on it for three days (today will be 4), and so far everything is looking great!

The Doc said that my lining was starting to thicken up a bit, could use some more but we have time. He also checked out the ovaries - finding 10 follicles in the right and 8 in the left. 18 possible follicles so far.... hang in there little guys! Keep growing!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Delivery

Here it is. Baby-making in a box. This doesn't include refrigerated items, but you get the idea. Keeping it all straight is a full time job.

Yesterday was my Lupron evaluation, (beta, estrogen and ultrasound). Beta is negative, of course, Estrogen is 39 (expected), and ultrasound shows normal measurements of lining and ovaries. So far so good! I got the big OK to begin the HCG and Menopur. I am taking Gonadotropin pen injections at 150 iu, and Menopur at 75. I have lowered the Lupron from 20 units down to 5 units.

I go back to check progress of follicles on Tuesday. Here's to happy and healthy growing...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lupron-itis

So far so good. Injections every morning along with baby aspirin and prenatal vitamins. I have been sleeping like crazy, but from what I am reading online that seems to be a common "side effect." I'm sure that G is happy that sleepiness is my body's response of choice, instead of the moodiness alternative.

I am currently on 20 of lupron. I am expecting to start the cycle any day now. If I go until Thursday without starting a new cycle, I have to go in for monitoring to check my body's response to the lupron. The drug is supposed to suppress my production of estrogen by overstimulating my brains production center. I suppose that suppression of such things can stir up chaos in the brain and body, so I'm hoping that my cycle begins without a hitch.

Hopefully I'll report back with the med schedule soon. All hangs in the lupron balance until then!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Here's the picture of the items prepared for the Mock Embryo Transfer from the other day... G took the picture to kill time while waiting.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mocktober Activities

Today was a big day in our baby-making adventure. G and I both had off of work, so I scheduled 2 important appointments to celebrate our day off. What a better way than to wake up early, fill your bladder, then get probed and measured for a while, and then learn to inject your plethora of medications.

Stop One: Mock Embryo Transfer. Mock. Just for fun. Despite the horror stories I keep finding online, this experience wasn't too bad. It was actually quite similar to the IUI procedure. Here's a play by play:
First, you strip halfway and assume THE position. Dr. B makes good use of the speculum, then swabs the cervix with iodine. Then we slide in the catheter, which is empty, all the way to the tippy top of the uterus. Hint: When you feel resistance, stop pushing. Dr. B says "Well, that went in easily" and she shimmies out the speculum, leaving the catheter. This was probably the most uncomfortable b/c when the speculum is removed, the catheter shifts and pokes and generally just makes your lady parts uncomfy. A cup of water is then inserted through the catheter, filling the uterus. At this point Dr. B uses the ultrasound probe to make sure that the catheter is in the right spot and to see if the uterine walls are nice and smooth.

Then, and I have a feeling this was a "bonus," Dr. B then says "and let's take a look at your ovaries... well, because I like ovaries..." (and this is where it got silly)... "especially pretty ones like yours." Um, thanks? G and I got the giggles a bit... which, women, is not comfortable with a probe, catheter, and water-filled uterus.

So, that was done. Checked off of the checklist. Next on the list was the injection class. This is like the mixology of baby-making - vials and needles and mixing and creating medical cocktails of hormones.

The meds arrive in a few days, in which half of our fridge will become Operation Injection central.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Changing Runways

So IUI number 3 was a no-go. Strike 3, new batter. A few days before the results came in, G and I had a meeting with our doctor about options in case the IUI didn't work. During said meeting, we discussed IVF and decided that we would move right over to this method if needed.

So here we are. IVF needed.

They have me moving right on with it - and I will spend the next 20ish days on birth control pills (bleh). During this time I will be doing some testing of some sort - something about them measuring my insides - sounds really marvelous. Friday we have a new injection class - since some of my new meds will be shot into my muscle and not just subcutaneously. Also on friday we have what they call a "Mock Embryo Transfer." It's where they demand that I fill my bladder, and then do everything they can to make me pee myself while laid up in front of them. In all seriousness, I do have a full bladder, but then they use internal and external ultrasound to measure and "map out" my Land of Wonder.

Who knew baby-making was so romantic, right?

The current plan is scheduled down to the day - and it so happens that our proposed date for egg retrieval - the same day they petri those eggs up and add G's sperm - is our 6th wedding anniversary. I'm taking that as a good sign :)

What a good thought to leave you on...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Slow Days

Creep by as I wait for the end of a 2 week wait. Every motion, every feeling, every twinge of my body is scrutinized. I drive myself crazy. And, I'm sure that G is tired of hearing my play by play.

C'mon, Monday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Directions

The above is an image of the directions that our RE gave us today.

The car with the wheels at the top of the page... yeah... those are my reproductive organs. Vroom.

And no... I can't understand the words on that page either. Except that I was there when she wrote it - so I can pull out the salient points.

We had a meeting to discuss the "next step" if the IUI #3 turns out to be unsuccessful. Because of our great insurance coverage, our RE discussed the IVF option with us. Since I've been doing so many shots and so many many visits, she said that it really wouldn't be all that much more involved to move from our IUI to an IVF. The biggest difference would be the surgical procedure of the egg retrieval (I'd be sedated for all of 20 minutes). And a day of rest after the egg implantation. So, if Monday does not deliver good news, our next cycle would be IVF.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Baster


Well, in the effort to share in our whole experience, G decided to share the most significant item of the entire process: The Turkey Baster, er, catheter. This very long and, well, very long catheter nestles up in my nether regions and, we hope, drops off busloads of tourists.
So now we're waiting. 2 weeks. And, in the mean time, we have scheduled an appointment with our doctor that involves planning for both possible outcomes.

Here's to a very fast 2 week wait.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Butterflies

I'm getting a few butterflies about tomorrow. The big day... Insemination Day. Third time may be a charm!

I'm hoping that my cervix isn't doing yoga, and that the teneculum won't need the extension and that I won't hear something about the curling catheter or anything like that.

I've loaded G up with plenty of protein, and now we're headed off to get plenty of rest!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wand Wubbers


The item of the day today was the basket of "probe sheaths" that hangs out behind the sonogram machine. G and I, the marketing geniuses that we are, have renamed them to Wand Wubbers to appeal to a broader population.

It makes me giggle how they are just chilling there, in this basket, waiting to be smothered in blue goo and placed on a wand, er, "probe."

It's not all giggles in the office though - there's also some useful information. We have 3 follicles that are promising - 19, and 2 at 15. We are triggering tonight using Ovidrel, and have scheduled our IUI for Monday morning.

We have our cup, we have our meds... it's crunch time :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

One Thing


I asked G to pick out one thing in the room that I could blog about. Just telling the facts was getting dull, and I wanted a focus. And what sort of blogger would I be if I didn't give you a well-rounded reading experience?? Right?!

Well, the one thing that G picked was probably the most, er, inappropriate. But, readers, do not fear. I'm all about giving you the whole picture here. I'm sure most of my readers have encountered said item, but, dear blog-follower, let me assure you that at 7am on a Sunday, this item has a completely different effect on a person.

I, sometimes, get the giggles. It's not the wand that gets me... it's the goo. The blue goo hidden under the wand condom. Giggle Giggle Snort.

You have to laugh at this stuff... otherwise it's just too stressful :) Thank you, G., for the suggestion and for taking the image. We have bonded over the wand and goo.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ding Dong The Cyst is Gone!

Hooray. Simple as that. G and I went to the RE yesterday morning and, tada, all clear. A month on birth control pills (gross) was enough to convince my guest to vacate the premises.

So last night I began the injections again - 100 iu of Follistem every night for 5 days and then back to the RE to be measured again.

So let's talk about the BC pills. ugh. Let me rethink that. UGH. I could not wait to get off of those pills. While I'm sure that others who take them for more than a month experience a "leveling of symptoms" of some sort, when you are on a short-term plan they are not anywhere near pleasant. I am sure that my nurse is now screening her phone calls thanks to my constant interference in her work day. They are creating a "frequently asked questions" solely from my overly-descriptive voice mails from the past month. This list, however, will only be given to those who share my neuroses. It's hard not to panic when things just aren't as they once were in the world down under. But alas, I'm off that pill. And now I'm back onto injections. Oh, the comfort of a teensy needle puncturing my gut on a nightly basis.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pardon the Complaint

I will, one day, chalk this up to being something I have "experienced," but for the record, a cyst is NOT a comfortable thing. I am in pain, and my hands are shaking. I'm clammy and my legs feel wobbly.

Not cool, body, NOT cool.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Well, That Explains It

We last left off when G and I were waiting that dreaded 2 weeks to find out if round 2 worked or not. Well, sadly, it did not. I find that with each "try" it deepens the blow a bit, so this time around I definitely had a bit of a breakdown... a "well, this sucks" mini-bout of tears. If I didn't care about my downstairs neighbors, I might have just thrown myself on the floor and pounded my legs and fists on the ground. But, alas, acting like a 2 year old won't get us, or my ovaries, anywhere.

I did have a powerful new side effect though - cramping. Cramping so bad that it would wake me up at night. Tossing and turning and "accidentally" bumping into G. It's lonely being awake in the middle of the night - especially when you're contemplating whether or not your ovaries are exploding and at what point you should tell the man you're sleeping next to that he may or may not wake up to a puddle of goo where you once laid in bed.

The cramping sort of subsided, or was less frequent after a few days. I believed that once I started my new cycle that I would feel better and my body just needed to cleanse itself out. Ish. Today was Day 3 of a new cycle - so it was time for my baseline ultrasound and blood work. Turns out they weren't planning on taking blood - so I went skipping past the squeeze ball and butterfly needle - an right back to half strip and spread 'em. This is usually a very short visit, they make sure my lining doesn't have any polyps and that I'm getting rid of all that unnecessary lining crowding my uterus, and to check my ovaries. As it turns out, I the tech and doctor began measuring ovaries and such, and numbers/sizes were flying around the room. I heard the words "clear cyst" and "not concerned." But then I saw the doctor begin measuring something. Click. Click. Click. Click. She then turned the screen towards me to show me at 23mm (huge on that screen) cyst of my right ovary.

Dr. B said it was nothing too concerning, but in my eyes it was the explanation of all of that pain. That little (big) 23mm booger hanging out in my ovary was screwing up my ability to walk without a limp.

So, as it turns out, they took blood in order to measure if the cyst was excreting any estrogen. Indeed, my E level was elevated, which means that we take a month off. I will be taking birth control in order to level out a bit, and then we will start again in about a month with another new cycle.

The wait sucks, but my body is alerting us that we need it. So, another month to regroup and have some stress-free fun. :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Yoga Pose

The Shy Downward-Facing Cervix.

And things you don't want to hear in the assumed position: 

"This catheter keeps curling up on me."  

"Hold this." (referring to the catheter loaded up with, well, you know). 

"I'm going to remove this one and put in a speculum that will reach further."  Seriously? It can go further?

And, of course, the making of a new yoga pose:  

"Your cervix is playing shy today and is facing down."  Does not make for a comfortable experience, to say the least.  

That was yesterday.  Today is a new day.  Starting yesterday morning, before the IUI, I had really pretty significant cramping - but as it turns out, the cramping is probably caused by the release of multiple eggs.  Ovulation on overdrive. 

I have new symptoms this time around, in addition to the soreness and cramping, I have severe bloating.  I finally called the Dr. this afternoon to just be sure there was no need for concern, and apparently this is also normal.  

Thus, we have begun the 2 week wait.  G is out of town for a little over a week of it, which will either make it go faster or make it that much more excruciating.  I'm guessing the latter.  


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Almost TOO Good

G and I went to our appointment this morning with the hopes that we'd see one, maybe two, follicles that were ready to pop.  As the technician dimmed the lights, G and I had a front row seat to what turned out to be a very full party, er, ovary.  With swiftness, the technician measured 8 (eek, 8) follicles on the right side.  And, well, the left said was sitting this one out.  We got the "Wow, that's a lot" from the nurse, but they sent us home with the specimen cup and trigger instructions, and a "Hey, we'll call you later."  

As it turns out I had four remarkable follicles - 19, 17, 16, and 15 as of 7:45 this morning.  

I got the call from the nurse at about 6pm.  Her first words were "This is not an easy conversation, do you have a few minutes?"  My heart was sinking as she said those words, as I was fully expecting her to say that we were canceling the cycle.  My long, long cycle.  As it turns out, she continued on by saying that everything was great - almost too great - at this point.  My estrogen is over 1,000.  The only concern, of course, is that we're triggering multiple follicles.  And, as the nurse said, she had to have the "selective reduction" discussion with us, as their goal was to give us one healthy baby, not a litter.  (The litter part is my husbands phrasing).  

Healthy.  That's our answer.  We want a healthy family.  The rest is up for discussion.  

SO... I took the trigger shot tonight and we have scheduled an IUI for Tuesday.  Fingers crossed.  PS: I blame the multiple follicles on my ob/gyn who waved her magic fingers over my stomach the other day and said "Baby-making vibes."  

Friday, July 10, 2009

They Grow Up So Quickly

Click. Click. Click. Click.  Four clicks to measure one follicle.  Four clicks times 6 = six follicles. Uh-oh. 

My eyes were closed, almost afraid to look at the monitor.  All I could hear was the experienced clicking of the doctor, and the tapping of the nurse entering the information on my eFile.  

"Well," the doctor began, "we'll need to see you back in here... um... tomorrow... before these little guys get away from us." 

The largest follicle measured 15, so we are very close, which is why he has me coming back in tomorrow.  Hopefully there will not be an army of follicles, so let's keep our fingers crossed here, folks.  

IF, if, if, the follicles are ready tomorrow to be triggered, that would mean that our IUI would be Monday.  July 13.  My husband's birthday. 

I talked to a coworker (who I will miss dearly as she moves out of the country - temporarily) about how telling people when the IUI was taking place was a lot like telling people that I was about to go do it.  You know THE "it."  So, in a lot of ways - if we end up having the IUI on Monday, you can rest assure, that in some mechanical way, my husband will be sure to have sex on his birthday. If by "sex" we mean delivering a cup and rubbing my arm while I'm being injected with a sperm pellet. New meaning to birthday sex, for sure. 

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Another Day, Another Order

I just got off the phone with the pharmacy.  They called me.  Yep, that's right, we're tight like that - Freedom Pharmacy and I.  I have had a great experience thus far with them. I call one day and my meds are there, poof, the next day.  They called today because there was a prescription placed by my doctor for me that had not yet been filled, and they were concerned.  How nice.  The woman on the other end of the phone sounded like an adorable sweet-tea-drinking southerner, and followed every sentence with "hunney" or "babydoll."  I couldn't help but chuckle, even as I ordered another $1,000 in meds.  

Turns out the doctor ordered a cartridge of follistem.  I have been ordering from a previous prescription that provided 300 iu/cartridge.  The new order is a whopping 900 iu/cartridge.  Now that ought to last me. 

And when she confirmed my order and stated that she was sending me a new follistem pen, I stated that I already had one.  Her response:  "But they're free, dah-r-lin, no charge!"  So, of course, I'm also getting another pen tomorrow.  I suppose it's always good to have a back up?  This women should sell stocks. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Longest. Cycle. Ever.

Today was yet another appointment! Man is it tiring doing the whole blood work and ultrasound thing every other day!  I have been lucky enough to have my very own doctor at the last three ultrasound appointments... she's so calming and pleasant!  And she kind of looks like that girl from Growing Pains - the little girl that grew up to play in What a Girl Wants... (except my doctor is older and brunette). 

I find it remarkable that, without fail, the ultrasound tech will ask "Are you okay?" or "Is this uncomfortable?" with that ultrasound wand stuck up in there... along the same lines as the dentist asking questions with a mouth full of his hands... except a little more awkward. 

So, today measured well - they measured a total of 4 follicles, one at 11cm and the three others around 10cm.  They don't trigger until they reach about 18 or more - and hopefully only one or two will make it there.  More than three and we cancel the cycle.  

G and I spent today lounging by the pool, reading, and playing cards.  Once again we're up against a work trip for him - he was due to go out of town starting on Tuesday.  He has pushed it back to Wednesday night, but unless these little fellas start growing faster, then we might have to make alternative plans for the IUI (ie, use frozen - which is muy costly). 

And, my usual closing lines: another appt in 2 days! Hopefully these follicles will be up there at a reasonable size!  I am going through needles and alcohol wipes like a champ!


Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 16 News

Today is Day 16. Ho-hum.  Nothing new to report.  I took the follistem 75 ius for a week or so, then moved up to 100 ius, and I now take 125 iu/day.  I went in for another monitoring appt this morning, and while there are plenty of follicles, none of them are of remarkable size.  So, depending on my estrogen level from the blood work, they will most likely increase my dosage.  They won't increase it if my estrogen is above 100, apparently, as this indicates that there's a change about to happen and growth of the follicles would occur.  

Today my numbers were 14 follicles on the right, and 12 on the left.  Don't be alarmed... that's not how many we will trigger! Ha!

Next appt in 2 days!  I hope it brings good news, as G has to go on a work trip (again) in a week! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On to Round 2... Ding Ding

It's not so fun to post when you have nothing exciting to say.  G and I went in for the IUI on June 2.  This, in itself, is noteworthy for two reasons: 1. it's the potential making of a baby, and 2. the speculum.  You know that thing they crank in  your when your getting a pap? Well, think of that, PLUS an extension.  That's right, an extension.  One that reaches right on in there and holds a mini-speculum that twists open.  So, basically, they dump sperm in there using a small catheter after they crank you wide open and your face is a contorted mess.  Yeep. 

G and I waited the mandatory 2 weeks, and then went in for a beta pregnancy test. I'd like to say that I had the stones to wait those 2 weeks without doing an at home test.. but, well, I didn't.  My boobs were killing me, and I wanted to know if that was a sign.  Of course, when those tests came up negative, I found every blog online that told me that was normal and that I could still be, and probably was indeed pregnant.  Well, the 2 weeks was up, and I found out that they were true - I was not pregnant.  I didn't cry or anything, but I feel as though I grieved in some way.  It became very real the next day when a great friend of mine called to tell me that she was 9 weeks pregnant.  Hope and sorrow filled into one call - as she had gone through the same procedure.  

So, when they called with my results, I was told to stop taking the prometrium (no problem, that was not pleasant!)  A few days later I began the cycle all over again with day 1.  Today was day three, so I went in to start my 2nd round of IUI - the baseline ultrasound.  New protocol this month though - I will not be taking the clomid, which seemed to do nothing for me.  Instead I am starting the FSH injections today, and for the next 4 days, at 75 iu/day.  The doc said that this was like "getting started a little early," which I am grateful for since the injections lasted so long last cycle.  

So... I'm thinking in about 10-12 days I'll be complaining about yet another 2 week wait or "2ww" as they call it on the blogs... 

The skinny for those following the stats: 
I had one follicle at 18mm before the trigger, no more than that (safety first!); and G had a count of 35 million - which is miraculous! The doctor was impressed for sure.  

On to round 2... 
 

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Progress Feels Good

The usual every-other-day check up this morning... but my little follicle, that cute little thing, had grown! A 12mm follicle 2 days ago is now a plump 18mm! Which means it's WAY ready to make it's trek down into my uterus.  Thank goodness.  So, I was able to take the trigger shot (which has been waiting patiently for me in my fridge) tonight between the hours of 6 and 10.  Here it is:

The needle was the same size, but the injection was much longer because of the amount I had to inject.  Tomorrow is a "Day of Rest" - meaning no injections, no ultrasound, and no bloodwork. Then on Tuesday we have the big show - the IUI.  I'll tell you all about that experience!  For now I'm happy to see the new developments and move ahead. 

(Thanks, G, for taking the pic of the shot before you watched me inject it!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Redundant

Me and shots. So so so sick of them.  I am on day 7 of injections of Follistem.  I feel crampy, and have these thoughts that the cramp is my follicle bursting in my ovary.  Silly,  I know.  I have watched these little "chocolate chips" grow on my ovary ("cookie") for 7 days now. I take injections and return to the doctor every other day, minimum.  (Thanks to Dr. Perky for the chocolate chip cookie analogy).  

7am visits to the doctor aren't the greatest, but they get old when you have a bruise on your arm from the blood being drawn, and when you get more action from the internal ultrasound probe than your own husband.  Please, oh please, little follicles... please grow.  

The doctor said that once they "start" growing, they will grow quickly, so they are trying to keep this growth process from spiraling out of control.  I am ready. Have I said that already? 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Shots, Shots, and More Shots

Like I said before, I've been taking FSH via injection.  I started out on day 9 with 150iu.  Then, on day 11, 12, and 13, I took 75 (per day).  This was because my follicles weren't measuring large enough, or weren't present.  I learned today that They (doctors) are looking for at least 2 large follicles per ovary.  This morning, after taking these additional injections, G and I went back to the doctor to get monitored again.  My estrogen level is 77.7 and my lining is measuring 9.3. If you know what this means, please contact me.  What I know it means: everything is slowly trucking along.  I am taking the FSH for another 2 days at 112iu each day.  Slow and steady wins the singleton race.  

I go back in to be monitored at 7am on Wednesday.  This is when I will find out if we can finally schedule the IUI.  What I thought would be a fast paced cycle is turning out to be fairly lengthly.  Until today I hadn't really noticed much in terms of side effects.  I'm having all this hormone pumped into me, but so far I've been feeling okay.  Today I did notice some cramping and general discomfort-  and I am so so so tired.  G will have to tell you how I'm doing in the "moody" department.  Lucky for him he'll be out of town as I'm pumped full of meds for the next few days - and as my estrogen begins to peak (in this phase of the cycle).  

The above picture is my current nightly ritual.  I have a biohazard container, needles, injection pen, and medicine.  I can't wait for this phase to be over.  

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tests and More Meds

My cycle, ah, my cycle... 

Day 1 finally came, right on schedule.  I took the full 21 days of femcon, and my cycle started about 2 days after I completed the meds.  I went in for my baseline ultrasound and bloodwork, and everything looked great! So, we began the clomid on day 3-7  (100mg/day).  On day 9 I took an FSH injection (Follistem pen) at 150iu.  Day 11 I went in for a monitoring bloodwork and ultrasound check-in.  The doctor told me that while he could see some follicles, there weren't enough nor were they large enough.  So, back to the follistem.  The doc told me to take it for 3 more days - but only at 75iu each day.  Today is the third day, and tomorrow morning I go back in for bloodwork and ultrasound.  IF everything looks good (ie., the follicles are large and plentiful), then I will take a "trigger" shot (to release the eggs), and my IUI will be scheduled.  

On glitch is that G has to go out of town Tuesday (until Friday) and they IUI could possibly be on Wednesday.  So we're talking about using a frozen sample, or trying to manipulate the meds so that I can push back my IUI.  I'm not excited about the fact that I may have to conceive our child while G is away, but I am less excited about abandoning all of this work and cancelling this cycle.  I don't want to put my body through anything more than it has to go through.  I have serious mixed feelings through.  

Update tomorrow!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tick Tock

So last month I took the Femcon (birth control) to regulate hormones like a good gal... and when I suffered through the side effects and felt out of control of myself, I knew it was all for a good cause.  I reached day 1 with no problem, and schedule my ultrasound and bloodwork on day 3 like I was supposed to.  My nurse sounded excited and I was thrilled that I was done taking the femcon and was down to business.  
Then Day 2 came, and my nurse called me back.  She called to tell me that the insurance had not processed my first round of IUI, so I could not start this month, I would have to do another month of femcon and try again next month - hoping that the insurance would come through in the meantime.  (This could take up to 6 weeks). 
She had me start the 2nd month of Femcon immediately, in order to maintain control of the hormones.  Here we go again, I thought.  
The first round of Femcon was supposed to last for 21 days, but I started my cycle on day 17 of the pills - so I stopped taking them (nurses orders). This round I took all 21 days of the pill, and am now on the "off" week.  I'm predicting that tomorrow will be day 1 of my cycle... and I was panicking about it.  What if my insurance hadn't cleared yet? I'd be really disheartened if I had taken another month of pills for no immediate reason. 
Today, when I arrived home there was a letter in the mail from the Fertility office... my insurance was approved for 6 rounds of IUI (they only attempt 3, but I'm not complaining!!)  

So.. timing is perfect, and we are off to the races... c'mon day 1!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Clear the Way, We're Coming Through...

I promised that I'd document as much of this experience as I could. So here it is. My boobs are killing me. I couldn't sleep, because I sleep on my stomach and couldn't stand the pressure. I coached third base for a little league today and all of my signals had to have NOTHING to do with moving my arms laterally.  I jogged to the facilities during a break and had to slow it down because of the excessive movement. 

Seriously. Chop them off. And I swear to goodness, if they get any bigger I'm selling them on ebay. So far they're just sore... slight swelling (maybe)... but if they end up growing, that's it. I'm putting my foot down.

I am currently on Femcon, a form of birth control. I believe this to be the culprit of my current complaint.  I am also still on antibiotic from the HSG and have started up with the metformin again... but only the BC could cause this side effect... I think.... 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Can I Keep This Pink Gown?

I survived.  On the drive to the doctor, I had myself so worked up about the procedure I had to do breathing exercises to get myself to relax. G couldn't get off of work today, so I had my Grandma drive me up to my appointment.  You're supposed to have someone with you.  Apparently the potential to be pregnant in a few months leads us fragile women to need constant supervision. 

So, we arrived early, and I was immediately led back.  To the room, you ask? No.. to the desk in which you pay.  So, I forked over some cash, then was asked to have a seat in the waiting room.  The torture whoever is waiting with a horrible soap opera that you can hardly hear.  The TV has a "please don't adjust the volume" sign on it.  So I am forced to read the subtitles to distract myself.  

I waited in this room for about an hour, and then I was finally taken back to what looked like the emergency room at the hospital. There were beds lined up, lots of curtains, and these poor women with hospital gowns on and booties on their feet.  It was pretty crazy to see this... I mean, geez, this is a fertility clinic - these women looked really ill.  I still am wondering what they were in there for... I hope they're all okay. 

So, I am asked to pee in a cup and then leave the cup there. No idea what this is for, but I have a feeling it was a last minute pregnancy test (just in case I'm suddenly fertile?).  Then I am sent into a small curtained area to change out of my clothes and into a gown.  Ladies: I suggest wearing a dress to the procedure; 1. more comfy after if you have cramping, and 2. you don't have to take anything off other than undies.

I slipped on my booties, put the gown on over my dress, and waited patiently to be told my next step. 

Does anyone else think this sounds like a scavenger hunt gone wrong? "Here, sit here and we'll come soon with your next clue."

So, finally, I am picked up by a perky and probably completely fertile nurse - who takes me to a room with THE stirrups.  They were padded and the size of my entire leg. Comfortable though, even if the leather made my leg sweat.

By this time I was sweating.  I was so nervous, I think I was stuttering.  The great thing was that MY doctor (reproductive endocrinologist, or RE for short), was the one doing the procedure.  Women, if you have a choice - get this HSG done at your fertility clinic or through your RE!

Here's the skinny:  You get to experience the wonderful world of speculum.  Then, in order to make things go smoothly, your RE might also "clamp" open your cervix. This pinches. I said "Ouch" but it wasn't terrible, just surprising. Then my RE injected the small catheter (I didn't feel this) and started injecting the dye (I didn't feel this either).  I began to feel slight (very slight) discomfort as the dye travelled and filled up my uterus and fallopian tubes.  At one point I think she moved the catheter to extend towards one side, and that was uncomfortable.  She also distracted me at this point by saying "Almost done!" so I was more excited about that than anything.  I remember thinking at the beginning that I was afraid that she was going to try to talk to me throughout the whole thing, and how I was afraid that my conversation skills while I was propped open would be lacking. 

So, then she declared it was over, and she released the clamps.  I then sat up and was pretty sure that I was leaking all over the table - but the RE wanted to show me the HSG movie of the x rays.  As she replayed the movie on the screen, she would click to capture still images (or at least I think that's what she was doing).  She narrated the whole thing on the screen, which was really great.  "Here's the dye filling up your _______" for every part - it was really informative and great to see immediately.

Then, I changed out of the beautiful pink robe and took the booties off of my feet.  I was free. It was over. I was so relieved.  What about all of those crazy messages I read yesterday about how excruciating this procedure was?? I laugh in the face of you, crazy messages that filled my brain!  I shared my relief with my doctor and she confirmed that it would be best to have someone who does this procedure often. She said that I was her 10th of the day, and today is a typical day - so she's a pro.  Thank goodness for that. 

The news at the end for us - everything looks good. My tubes are normal, as is my uterus, so everything is a "go" in that area.  Now it's just getting me to ovulate! (Oh, and to check G's sperm).  :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

HSG Stress

I totally do this thing... I know you do it too.... I look up ailments and procedures on the computer.  Inevitably, it winds up meaning that I read far too much and I freak myself out about that rash, cough, or strange feeling in the left side of my stomach.  

Well, I did it again. I googled HSG procedures and OH MY did I find the gold mine. If by gold mine I mean a huge amount of women writing in with their HORROR stories about the procedure.  Now I am a bundle of nerves, which will only make it worse I'm sure.  I hope that I am getting myself all worked up for nothing, but still... what if all of those women were right and this IS the most excruciatingly painful procedure I will ever encounter?! 

So, from what I have read, here's my plan:

G and I both took, and will continue to take an antibiotic for 7 days.  We started this today. HSG has a low risk of infection, so this is to keep away the infectious germies.  

Tomorrow I will take 800mg of ibuprofen in the form of Advil about an hour before my procedure.  Others suggest I take a Xanax, but I don't have any of that just lying around. 

I will then lay on the table and allow a technician working at a branch of my fertility group to place a small catheter through my cervix and into my uterus.  They will then pump a dye, a clear dye apparently, into my uterus.  If all goes well, the dye will then travel through the fallopian tubes and spill out at the ends into my abdominal cavity.  

Then I will leak this dye for days.  How wonderfully awkward.

All the while I will be watching the screen to see the image, and hopefully I will not be in any pain whatsoever.  

So nervous, but trying to chill out...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mid Stream

G and I have been off all week together, and it has been both marvelous and strenuous.  We spent a lot of the time running around and getting errands done, including doctors appointments!

Friday morning I had the ultrasound and bloodwork.  This was to test my baseline levels, as if I know what that means.  I got a call from our nurse that afternoon to tell me that everything was normal.  My question is, if it was normal, what am I doing there? So, I believe that normal is subjective. 

So, the nurse told me the new plan... or really, the "first" plan we're attempting.  Last night, I began Femcon, which is a birth control pill, at her order.  Birth control? Right, well, apparently this is so I can get on a predictable schedule, a continuous one which can be predicted, etc... 

Greg and I have injection class on Monday at 10am to learn how to shoot me up with FSH when that part of my cycle comes around.  Friday we both had our infectious disease testing completed... I had to give 4 tubes of blood! Ack...

So things are starting to really roll.  In approximately 25 days we will begin cycle 2 - which is the first cycle that we add the meds to help me roll out my line of eggs I've stored up all this time... Greg seems to think that they will come out rapid fire. He made some connection to something in Battlestar Gallactica, but I have no idea what he was talking about.  

The good news: We're on our way.  

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Plan

Last week, G and I took a day off of work to go to the doctors office. The beginning of our joint journey...

While the doctor and nurses were very educated, willing to explain in "human" terms, and warm, there was still a lot of information being thrown our way. We have about 30 pieces of paper that explain every if, and, or but about the whole shebang - but even with all of that literature, we were still a bit confused as to our next steps. When do we start the plan the doctor talked about? Which avenue are we taking first? What should I be doing? Can we have sex? (Seriously, that was a question of mine). I heard Leah Remini on a talk show once - explaining her experience with her doctor. She said "Just tell me when to do it." And that is the stance I am taking now. There's so much flying around us, I just want someone to call me up every morning and tell me exactly what to do that day.

But, we're grown ups, and can figure it out. I did call the doctor today - my nurse, actually (they assigned 1 nurse for my husband and I to deal with. This is really our "go-to" gal, so to speak.)

So, here it is folks: The first month's plan after beginning a relationship with Dr. B.

Continue with Metformin, which I have been taking for 3 months now (don't even get me started about the GI side affects of this one). I will stop Metformin 3 days prior to my HSG (see below).

10 days of Provera to induce bleeding (I have needed this since I was 18. I have alternated between provera and prometrium, but lately prometrium just hasn't been doing it for me).

3-5 days after that, I should begin. On Day 1, I call the nurse to set up:
Baseline bloodwork and ultrasound between days 2-4
HSG* to be done between days 5-10 ("Call early, these book up fast!" - sounds like a sale)
*HSG, in all fairness, sounds horrendous. Not even remotely pleasant. They fill your uterus with fluid, and it spills out at the ends of your fallopian tubes. Where does it go? I'm wondering what color dye they use, and if this will match the color that I will pee for weeks after. "Slight discomfort" my ass... I bet it feels awful. But, thinking positive, I will imagine it is like a warm bath for my insides. This also has to be done at one office in particular, or through any radiologist. My doctor warned that radiologists might not be as "gentle" or savvy. That is enough incentive for me to make the 45 minute drive to the nearest office that performs said procedure. Also - G and I will be taking a 7 day course of antibiotic beginning the day before the HSG - as a precaution against infection during/after the procedure.

Also during this time, Mr. and I have to take infectious disease screening and genetic screening at a lab of our choice (or one covered by our insurance).

Also on "our" list: Injection classes. This is where I will get to know how to mix my medication and inject it (FSH injections in the future). Can't they create a lovely cocktail that I can just down at my leisure? Cosmo variety, perhaps?

Well, there you have it folks. So far, the preliminary stuff seems like the most complicated of the pack. Once we get all of our genetic screening and baseline tests complete, we'll be off and running.

Hooray for a start. I am currently on day 4 of the Provera, and can't wait to be done so that I can get a move on with the testing...

Until something happens...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Little Bit About US

For a while now, we have been trying to have kids.  Well, not kids - just kid - singular.  One at a time might be nice... and old fashioned.  Since it has been unsuccessful, even with medical assistance, we have been sent to a fertility specialist.  Dr. B will be helping us, hopefully, conceive our first child.  

Following suit, I have decided to start this blog about our journey.  Why air my private life, you ask?  For those women and future families out there that are in our position.  I have googled and read many blogs about fertility issues, and each one of them was helpful in some way to me, and us.  So, we are setting out to do the same thing for others.  Feel free to comment, and I will do my best to respond to any questions or comments you might have about our experience, or about us. 

More Than Two to Tango is in regards to the team of people that are currently surrounding us to aide in conception, now that we know it won't be happening just between the two of us.  

Here we go...