Friday, September 29, 2006

Eight Week Wait

Last night was our IVF consultation. They gave us a handout to read and a video to watch before the appointment. The video was a little cheesy, but I loved seeing the examples of ICSI and assisted hatching. Amazing stuff.

Our RE told us again that we're great candidates for IVF. He said he's almost sure that we'll be using ICSI and that they can't determine the need for AH until the embryos are developing. We learned that all four doctors at the clinic work together as a team, making it easier to get in and out of the clinic for appointments. Assuming our embryos are of good quality, they will only put two back and the chance of twins is ~20%. If the embryo quality is poor, they will talk to us about placing three back.

So if I get my period next week, I'll call the clinic to set up the initial round of appointments - bloodwork, physical, trial transfer, financing, etc. Three weeks later, I would start injections. The entire cycle takes about seven weeks. I have about a week left in this cycle and then a seven week treatment plan, making this a potential eight week wait.

Once again, the doctor was great. Even though I knew just about everything he said (thanks to all of the other Stirrup Queens out there!) he explained things clearly and concisely. He also made some jokes that relaxed B a lot. I appreciated that.

B continues to freak out about the idea of injections and anesthesia. When Dr. C said the nurses will teach him to inject me, I immediately asked if I could also learn. The thought of a nervous husband wielding a needle of drugs scares me! He laughed and said most women do their own shots until it come time for progesterone. It's easier for someone to assist with those.

I joked with my Mom the other day about how my desire to have a child has trumped my long-standing fear of needles. I told her that I remembered how, when I was little, they had to hold me down to get blood. She was amazed that I remembered this because I was barely two. I guess that a bad experience with needles is one of my earliest memories. B asked me how I could possibly not be going crazy at the though of daily injections, bloodwork several times a week, and being put under. Honestly, I don't care. I feel like the doctors can do whatever they want to me as long as we have a chance at success. I actually like the idea of having everything controlled by doctors. For some reason, when we watched that cheesy video, I felt like crying. The miracles of modern technology absolutely amaze me.

So for now I'm waiting this cycle out. I really hope that we get lucky, but if not...I'm ready for the next step.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Announcement(s) Complete

Last night two of the couples made their official pregnancy announcements. I had a few weeks to prepare myself for it, but it was very hard.

After my SIL and her husband made their announcement, the men started high-fiving him. "Good job!" "Taking care of business!" "You're the man!" I can't get the vision of the pain in B's eyes out of my head. I realize these are "typical male" comments, but it just reinforces B's feeling that he's not a "real" man. I have stated this before - I know that dealing with infertility has made us a stronger couple. There were many months before we told anyone and we had only each other to lean on for support. We could have turned against each other, buckling under the strain. Marriages end all the time for lesser reasons. But we turned to each other, grew stronger, and are now battling together. I've stated it before in this blog and I'll state it again - I firmly believe that dealing with MFI makes you a stronger man. I don't care that other men can get their wives pregnant easily. How many men could deal with the stress and pain that we deal with every day and still be a kind, caring, devoted husband? So you have a lot of well-formed sperm and they know how to swim. Do you know the exact right thing to say when your wife breaks down after another failed cycle? Do you know how to make her laugh when the only thing she wants to do is stay in bed all day? Are you man enough to share your feelings of pain and sadness? I wouldn't trade my marriage to B for a whole ocean of perfect sperm.

No one actually asked us when we were going to have kids last night, but I noticed many sidelong glances at my stomach. I received a lot of comments about how "thin" and "great" I look followed by comments on how happy they were for the two couples. Sometimes I think indirect comments are more painful than getting to the point.

But at least it's over. We have our IVF consult this Thursday and I'm holding on tightly to my last bit of hope for our final IUI. Our small chance for success with IUI is still greater than our chances alone. It was perfectly timed with over double the motile sperm of last month. And if it comes down to IVF, we'll deal with it. If we're ever lucky enough to have a child, he or she will surely benefit from the strength and love we developed as a result of our battle with IF, right?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Second IUI

Just a quick post before I start getting ready for the first night of Rosh Hashanah. Our second IUI was today and B had an amazing 3 million sperm with 13% motile. That might not sound amazing, but considering we had only 750,000 on day two of our last IUI, I'm really happy. We ended up with just over a million motile sperm this month. It's far from the 5 million minimum they like to see, but...I'm still hoping.

And I like my RE more each time I see him. He has a very quirky personality. Today he asked if I was able to schedule the IVF consult. I told him it will be next Thursday, and he said "Good. I hope that making that appointment will be enough luck to get you pregnant this month." Now, I hate the people who tell you "Just relax" or "Just adopt" to get pregnant. But somehow, I felt like he said the exact right thing.

L'shanah tovah!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

IUI #2

So, today was the first day of my second IUI. The count was about the same as last month - 3.8 million sperm, 17% motility. As my MIL said, "At least he's consistent!" I asked the doctor about only abstaining for 36 hours versus the suggested 48, and he said it would probably only have made a 10% difference. When I told this to B, he was relieved. Since the follicle hasn't collapsed yet, I go in tomorrow for another procedure.

He mentioned that we'll probably need to move on to IVF with these consistently low numbers and I asked him if I could schedule an appointment before I get my period. He thankfully replied with, "Of course!" So our consult appointment is next Thursday evening. They gave us a video to watch before we go and a pamphlet of information that revealed the cost - about $14,000 depending on how much our insurance will cover and how much medicine I'd need. As far as I know, they participate in the state grant that helps cover IVF - I'll definitely be asking about it when we go.

On a sad note, the clinic was absolutely swamped this morning. I witnessed a few heartwrenching events. A woman was waiting for a nurse to talk to her about her bloodwork and when she came out and went to the check-out area, her eyes were welling up with tears. I felt so bad for her. While I was in the exam room, another woman was screaming at the staff about not wanting to see them anymore, and she left and slammed the door. And while I was waiting to check out, there was another woman sobbing in the waiting area. The receptionist was trying to console her. I don't know what happened. Even without these occurrences, the clinic is kind of somber. They decorated it nicely and did everything they could to make it relaxing, but you still sit in a room of somber, worried women. I wish we could all be positive and hopeful, but this journey isn't easy.

Now we wait until next week to see where we go from here. I'm bouncing back and forth between happiness that we're moving forward and sadness that we need treatment. Tomorrow and Saturday are the days the three pregnant couples will be making their official announcement...I hope I can make it through. I keep having dreams about holding my baby and I really hope that this next step brings us closer to making the dream come true.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

So much for Monday!

I got a positive OPK this afternoon. It was so clearly positive that I didn't have to squint and try to decide. I used a digital anyway and got the cute little smiley face. As an aside - I wish there was a line of OPK's without smiling babies on the box. We need some IF-safe supplies! At least HPT's are more neutral because not everyone wants a positive test result. But OPK's are pretty much for one purpose.

So the IUI is tomorrow at 9:00. This isn't ideal - we thought it would be Friday or Saturday and thus will only have abstained for 1.5 days. B is disappointed because he tried three new things to improve his count - vitamins, boxers, and cutting out artificial sweeteners. Now he feels he won't get as true a result tomorrow. Sigh. We'll see what happens.

On a positive note, I made major progress on my first sock. I've always heard that turning the heel (the part of making a sock that makes the cup part of the heel) was difficult, but it was a breeze. The next part, picking up the stitches to continue making the foot of the sock, threw me. It took me a good hour to figure it out, and in the end I just made it up and it worked. I was probably overly happy, but I felt so accomplished. And I'll take what happiness I can get!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Small update

I went in this afternoon for my baseline ultrasound. I have one follicle on the left side - this means my husband won our bet. I asked him what side he thought it would be on, and he was right! The doctor said he's 99% sure I'll ovulate either Friday or this weekend, but I start the dreaded OPK's this afternoon just in case. If I don't ovulate by Monday, he'll give me a trigger shot and I'll have the IUI that day and the next.

I asked him about the results of my bloodwork - everything is perfect. I also asked him how we start IVF if our numbers come back as low as they did for our last IUI - we had less than half a million motile sperm after our two inseminations. He said we would schedule an IVF consultation appointment that takes 30-45 minutes and go from there. I really hope that the office will let us make the appointment before I get my period so we don't have to waste any time. I realize that there's always a chance even with low numbers, but I also am pretty well acquainted with this funny thing called reality.

So that's that. I'm not freaked out by the process of IVF. I'll give myself shots. I don't care about being put out for retrieval. I'm fine with frequent bloodwork. Bring it on! I guess I'm more freaked out by the thought that it might work. I don't know how I will deal with success after trying so long. It's been a long time since I've imagined myself pregnant and I think it will be hard to transition from putting all of my energy into TTC to thinking about being a mother. I'm full of bitterness and anger and I don't expect that seeing two pink lines will be the magic wand that takes those feelings away. I'm a long way from needing to worry about this, but it's scary to think about how much IF has changed me and my perspective on the world.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dealing with it.

I emailed my SIL yesterday to express my happiness over their good news. I also thanked her for the sensitivity she demonstrated towards us...letting my MIL tell us privately helped so much. Not everyone thinks about how their news impacts those struggling with IF. I feel like she understands that our sadness has nothing to do with our happiness for them. She wrote me back to tell me that she has so much hope for us and a good feeling about the next few months...and that she's excited about the idea of us having kids close to the same age. I really appreciated her encouragement. I am so blessed to have such wonderful inlaws.

I think I've mentioned that I love to knit. I actually dye and sell yarn for a living. I've somehow never managed to make a pair of socks. I started a pair this weekend. My plan is to wear these socks if/when we make it to the IVF stage and I have my retrieval. Knitting is like meditation to's repetitive, calming, and something I can completely control. And did I mention that the name of the colorway is "Crazy Woman"? How appropriate. Maybe I should name one of my own colorways "Bitter Woman" or "Infertile Myrtle" or something along those lines.

We're hanging in there and taking things one day at a time. Our first ultrasound for IUI #2 is on Monday. We're either going moving one step closer to being pregnant or towards IVF...either way, I just want a baby already!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Shell Shocked

What a weekend this was.

I've suspected for some time that my oldest SIL is pregnant. There was the incident a month or so ago when we all got together for Chinese and the smell of the food made her sick. A few weeks later we got together again for a BBQ and she spent the last part of the evening on the couch, exhausted. And then when we met up last weekend and she said she couldn't have wine with dinner because she was taking antibiotics.

So when we went to see my MIL this weekend and she said, "I have something to tell you" I knew what was coming. And I was right. But there's more...not only is my SIL pregnant, two of DH's cousins are as well. They're all due in the first weeks of April. So all family events for the next seven months will include three happily pregnant women.

Honestly, this news made me feel like some kind of freak. This will be my SIL and one cousins first baby. It took almost no time for them to conceive. The other cousin already has three children and only has to think about wanting another baby to succeed. It's like I forgot that people actually have sex to get pregnant. I can't imagine a world like that - no temping, no OPK's, no checking cervical fluid...waiting all the way until your missed period before confirming with a HPT. Meanwhile, I have to do all of those things and get the added bonus of being propped up in stirrups for another month of IUI while working on plans for IVF. This news brought me back to the time when I assumed it would happen just as easily for me.

And the news really hit my husband hard. Knowing all of these men got their wives pregnant so quickly just makes him feel inadequate. I really felt like much of the progress we've made towards understanding that MFI does not mean you are less of a man just evaporated. I would argue that dealing with the issue actually makes you a stronger man. But last night we were talking and I said something like, "Where would I be without you?" and he said "You'd probably be on your second kid by now." That really made me sad for him. I've never once wished I was married to someone else. I know he knows that, but hearing him say that hurt.

On the way home that night, I felt numb. My head and heart were racing. It wasn't until the next morning that the tears came. They surprised me. I've tried so hard to fortify myself against these kinds of events and I didn't expect that my little fortress of protectiveness could just vanish. So I spent the day first feeling sad, then guilty for feeling sad (I really love the three women and their spouses, and I want to feel unfettered happiness for them) alone, scared, and bitter.

I'd like to say that I sincerely appreciate my MIL and SIL. They knew how much this would hurt, and did everything they could to lessen the blow. It was my MIL who told me, and I didn't have to face my SIL telling me the news. They plan on announcing their news when we all get together for Rosh Hashanah, and wanted to make sure we knew in advance and weren't bombarded at the party. My MIL also told us that if trying to qualify for the New York State grant for IVF was going to force us to delay treatment, to not worry about it - she will help us out. That was so kind of her to say. The love and support of our families helps, but this. Is. So. Hard.

So that leaves us as pretty much the only couple in our family who isn't pregnant or aren't already parents. And we've been married for over five years now. I'm going to have to come up with some answers for all of the people that are going to ask when we're going to be parents. I want to be honest, direct, and maybe even a little biting. I've smiled and stayed silent for too long.

Infertility really keeps on giving, doesn't it?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Moving On

I've learned from 21 cycles of charting that two days before my period starts I get a dramatic temp drop. That happened this morning, confirming my suspicion that our first IUI didn't work. Why should it have worked? We had less than a million motile sperm, giving us roughly a 1-5% chance. Still, I tried to cling to the belief that we might be in that lucky statistically improbable group. So, assuming tomorrow will be CD1, I will call the RE's office and set up the first appointment for IUI #2.

Which means, of course, that I move closer to IVF. Our doctor isn't optimistic about our chances with IUI, and I'm all about thinking ahead. The thought of IVF both thrills and terrifies me. I might have a chance...or I might end up in debt from a failed gamble.

This weekend I thought about a line from a poem I've always loved, T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." The line states, "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons" and when I thought of it, I reflected on the whole TTC mess. I feel like this whole TTC journey forces me to measure out my life in small two-week spoonfuls. There's the pre-ovulation phase, filled with OPK's and the anticipation of a new cycle. This last cycle introduced the wonders of vaginal ultrasounds and inseminations. Then there's the post-ovulation stage, where every twinge and pain means something significant and your morning temp gives you something to contemplate for the rest of the day. Then before you know it you're back in the first your life in small two week doses.

What I can't imagine is that this will ever end. Even if I am lucky enough to succeed through IUI or IVF, I can't imagine getting my previous self - optimistic, hopeful, cheerful - back. I don't want to measure out my life in miserly little doses. I want to measure it in gulps...better yet, not measure it at all. I'm just not sure how I will ever make that transition. And I'm tired of figuring out how it will happen.