Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I heart progesterone {take 2}

I just have to say it again: I love progesterone!

After taking it for a day and half the spotting stopped completely. This is a wonderful and amazing turn of events for a chronic spotter like me. I was unsure if the progesterone would do anything because the spotting started at such an odd time, but it did. I'm spot free.

I told DH that I wish I could get a permanent prescription for monthly progesterone for the rest of my pre-menopausal life. That's how much I love it.

Going strong at 3dpo - but the first week is always easy. ;)

We're off to Sa.n Fr.ancisco on New Year's Eve for a wedding and long weekend trip - yippee!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Our Christmas IUI

Merry Christmas! I am so thankful to say that in the midst of infertility - and smack in the middle of an IUI cycle - we had a wonderful past few days celebrating the birth of our Savior. I hope you did, too!

On the morning of Christmas Eve I went in for my monitoring appointment. I had 3 follicles (yay!), but only one would be the right size (boo). One was too mature at 28mm, one was too small at 12 mm, but the last was just right at 22mm. I'm thankful for that one nice follicle! I was instructed to trigger at 9:15pm on Christmas Eve, and the IUI was scheduled for the day after Christmas.

I made a delicious butternut squash lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner with my family. After dinner we were watching some TV at about 7pm, and I suddenly felt the very distinct ovulation cramping that I have gotten on all of my medicated cycles. I started to worry that I was ovulating too early, but as I sat there with my family God gave me the perspective I needed. On the one hand I could have been totally wrong about the cramping feeling. On the other hand, if I were correct, what could be done? What would be the point of worrying about something that I could do nothing about?

A couple hours later I snuck into our bedroom to do the trigger shot. I was quite nervous that somebody would barge in on me, so I moved very quickly and thankfully made it through the injection with no mishaps. As I stood up to leave the room, I felt the all too familiar gush that accompanies spotting or my period...and after heading straight to the bathroom I confirmed some serious spotting had occurred. I think it was just a coincidence that it happened at nearly the exact same time as my trigger shot, but it definitely freaked me out a little. Again, by the grace of God, I was able to not panic. And although the spotting has continued since then (2 days now with yesterday supposedly/ hopefully being ovulation day), I have felt a tremendous sense of trust in God. He knew the timing of ovulation and our IUI, and is in control of my spotting.

Our IUI yesterday went very smoothly, and we we almost matched our best ever post wash count (details below). As we waited in the waiting room, I got a text from a friend letting me know she was praying for me. I do feel so lifted up in prayer, and I know that is how I can feel so calm.

I think it also helps that this is our fourth IUI. Despite the fact that the stakes are higher and we may move on to IVF after this, I feel less pressure. The earlier cycles were filled with more anxiety about the what-ifs...but now those have come true to some extent. And I think I personally handle the reality better than the what-ifs.

I started the progesterone this morning, and am hoping this stops the spotting. I do wonder what in the world it could be - ovulation spotting? I have never had that before, and it has continued for 2 days now. Oh well. I asked the RE at our IUI, and he didn't have much to say about it other than he didn't see any fresh blood on my cervix, and that I would have the progesterone support during the luteal phase. I didn't ask about the potential early ovulation - I didn't want to pay for an ultrasound to check. :)

We're still praying for a miracle Christmas baby, but I confess with the possible ovulation timing and spotting I am not very hopeful. I am in planning mode for IVF, and we hope to meet with our pastor next week to discuss it. I have also crunched some numbers and how we will pay for it. Crazy. I hope all of my planning turns out to be unnecessary, however!

****

In case you are interested (and I like having everything here for my records), here were our SA numbers from this cycle:

Pre-wash:
Count: 49 million/ mL (wow!)
Volume: 3m/L
Motility: 17%
Progression: 1-2

Post-wash:
Total motile: 11.2 million
Motility: 39% (but I think this was already factored in to the total motile number)
Progression: 2-4 (we've never had 4 before - that is a great thing!)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On injections

I'm doing my second Menopur injection tonight, and (I'm guessing) will do my HCG injection late tomorrow. In the spectrum of infertility treatments, my 2 or 3 injections per cycle are nothing compared to what others have done. And, fortunately for me, I really don't mind needles. Never have. I have no anxiety about giving myself an injection, and the process is over before I know it.

But still.

As I stood there last night, aiming the tiny needle at my belly, I hesitated. I wish I didn't have to stab myself right now...I thought. And the anticipation of actually doing it caused my heart to skip a beat. But before I could psych myself out, I jabbed the needle in. And as I slowly pushed in the medication, I felt the burn and wanted the whole thing to be over already. But I forced myself to continue, slowly and steadily, and then withdrew the needle. The look of the needle puncturing my skin was gross.

The things we do for infertility treatments are pretty amazing, huh? I look forward to non-needle days ahead with (hopefully) a baby in my belly!

I have my monitoring appointment tomorrow morning, and I am hoping all looks good with the ovaries.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

For once, no waiting!

I am still so happily surprised and excited that we got to jump right into another cycle. I realized that we have always, always had to wait for something in this past year...and I am so thankful for this gift. Our first "no waiting" cycle!

However, many of the waiting periods were gifts as well, and God gave us abundant rest when he knew we needed it. Other waiting periods were just plain difficult, and I know that God was working on my heart and trust in him in those times. Either way, I am very thankful God is in control of the timing of everything.

I am praying that despite our low sperm counts, our lowered odds after trying to conceive for this long, my cysts at the start of this cycle, and the fact that this is our 4th IUI...our God who can and does perform miracles will bless us with conception this month!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So..IUI Cycle #4 has started!

Thank you for advice and encouragement yesterday! You ladies had some great suggestions that I hadn't thought of, and it totally cheered me up to remember that there were ways to work around things and I didn't have to throw in the towel for the next couple months. :)

That said, my appointment this morning went well. I do love my RE - he took time to chat with me and see how I was doing. He also said he thinks we should try one more IUI, and he is always optimistic and realistic at the same time. He is hopeful that it could work, but also maps out the big picture that points to IVF with ICSI if the IUI's don't result in a pregnancy.

I did have two cysts, BUT they checked my E2 levels and, based on those results, they said I could still take the meds and cycle right away. I don't really understand the cysts - how do I have two when I only had one follicle/ egg last month? How can I be "good to go" when they are 14 and 19mm? Why are some cysts problematic while others are ok? I need some time to google these darn things! But I trust my RE that I'm clear to cycle....

I also asked about the Christmas day schedule/ possible IUI. They are open only for IUI's that have to happen that day, but also suggested timing things through the trigger shot so I could come in on the 26th and just do one IUI (assuming I'm ready to trigger on cycle day 10 like I did in the past). I like this idea, so if my body cooperates we may do this.

The med schedule is almost the same as IUI #2: 50mg clomid days 3-7, and 75ius Menopur days 8-9. A number of you suggested asking about an injectible only IUI, but my RE and I are being conservative. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable with more than 3 mature follicles. I know this might seem a little silly to be so cautious about high order multiples when I have never ever been pregnant, we have MFI, etc....I mean, what are the chances? But I would not selectively reduce and just don't want to take the chance of putting my babies at risk because there are too many of them in there. But I'm a very cautious person in general. :) Plus, the Menopur provides some benefits of potentially developing multiple follicles (just not too many), and my RE says there are higher success rates than with clomid alone. Whew. There's my two cents for you, sorry that answer got so long!

I also have some thoughts swimming around in my head about IVF - DH and I talked about it some more on Monday. I look forward to sharing with you all where we're at with that, but it will have to be another post.

Lastly, I am SO SORRY that I am terribly behind on commenting. Please know I have been reading (since I can read blogs in reader and post to my blog via email I can do that on my breaks at work!), and I hope to catch up on some commenting soon. xxoo

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cycle Day 1 - Cyst Questions

Cycle day 1 today - glad it came quickly.

I'm trying to prepare myself for the fact that I will most likely have a cyst again and have to sit out this cycle.

Anyone else get cysts after every medicated cycle? Does this say something bad about my body?

Also, I've seen other girls take birth control pills when they've had cysts. Is there any advantage to doing this? One worry I have is that I actually still had a small cyst at the start of this last cycle, which turned into a dominant follicle so I only got one follicle. Are the BCP's more effective at eliminating the cysts? Also, if you were on BCPs for cysts, how long were you on them for?

If I don't have any cysts, it looks like our IUI part 1 would fall on Christmas Day if my body responds like it usually does. I would be so sad to have a cyst and have to sit out again, but I also just don't know if we can swing an IUI on Christmas Day. Technically we could, but the thought of explaining having a doctor's appointment on Christmas Day to my family who doesn't know much about our infertility is really unappealing. So I'm not sure what we'll do.

I also got sad as I counted ahead to our Januray cycle that we very well might be out of state for a wedding around ovulation time. It's hard to predict the timing that far ahead, but my body is fairly consistent. It makes me cry thinking about having to sit out two cycles.

As DH and I talked about the timing last night, he said, "Maybe it's time for IVF." Wow. That possibility has always been in my mind, and it has felt more and more like it could become a reality. But it is so daunting and depressing.

Sorry this post is such a downer - thanks for all you sweet encouragement the last couple days!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Not pregnant

I tested again today, and I'm not pregnant. I had no real symptoms to tempt me to hopefulness, so I didn't fall too far.

But I long.

And wait.

I'm tired.

My heart hurts.

I get scared about what lies ahead.

I feel stuck.

I keep praying.

And tears flow.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

10dpo: I tested

BFN.

It's still early, and you should probably save your condolences for the real test date at 14dpo.

But, the downside of testing early is that even though I know in my head it's still early, I feel like the BFN today points to the direction this cycle is going. This cycle feels over already.

I had the most vivid dream last night that I tested and saw the second line pop up instantly. It appeared so fast that I thought something was wrong with the test, so I took another one and, again, that second line popped up immediately. It was such a happy dream, but was not predictive of this morning's events.

The upside? I'll test again tomorrow, and assuming I get another BFN I think I will be able to go on all the rides at Dis.neyland without worrying, just like my RE said to. (That's why I tested early)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dis.neyland dilemma

First of all, I have to say what a treat it was to read your comments on my spiritual musings post! It was funny, though, so many of you said I have so much faith, but I saw my lack of faith woven throughout the post - like how I try to 'outsmart' God! Haha! But by his grace he is giving me faith each day, and I thank you for your encouragements.

Now, onto my dilemma. There's some background info, so bear with my while I explain.

I have a half-brother who is quite a bit older than me (12 years, to be exact). He and my dad (and thus, my family) were not in contact with him for a ten year period while I was in high school/ college, but he got married 5 years ago and our connection was re-established. Needless to say, with such limited contact, he is my brother but he is also like an acquaintance. DH, my parents, and I went out to visit him & his wife 2 years ago, and now they are coming out here to visit us this weekend. It is so good that we are all re-connecting (especially for my dad & brother's relationship!), so I am thankful they are coming out. But it's also a little nerve wracking, if you get my drift. :)

All that to say...we are going to Dis.neyland with them this Friday, since they live out of state and that is something they want to do. Normally, I would be so excited to do this - I love Dis.neyland but don't go very often, and it will be so pretty and festive for Christmas! It will also be a fun way to hang out with everyone. But there's one thing...

I will be 11dpo. And there are rides there that say not to ride if you are pregnant. What the heck does that mean for somebody nearing the end of their tww who could be pregnant but is also infertile so is probably not pregnant? It's such a mind game!

I asked my RE about this at the IUI, and he said to go on any rides I want and that it won't effect the cycle. He was very kind but I'm sure he viewed my question as one of those "crazy-infertile-lady-over-thinking-ever-little-thing" questions. But wouldn't you guys think twice about this, too?

So here are the options I can think of....what would you do?

1. Follow my RE's advice and not worry about it. Go on any ride. (Downside: I can't help but fear causing the embryo to not implant or something if there was an embryo!)

2. Take an HPT at 11dpo. If positive, don't go on any of the risky rides. If negative, go on whatever rides I want. (Downside: I don't really want to test at my parents' house and then have to spend the day at Disn.eyland with everyone if it's negative....or positive for that matter. Plus, it may still be too early and thus not accurate, and this still allows for the downside from option #1)

3. Don't take the risk. Sit out from all the risky rides. (Downside: Um, how do I explain this to my family? We haven't told them about all of our IF stuff. This would be awkward, but maybe I would just have to fess up?)

4. Some other idea??

Am I being a ridiculous infertile? Help! :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wonderful weekend

I love the Christmas season! I was nervous it would be a difficult season this year in light of our infertility, but, so far, it is has been incredibly joyful. My DH teases me about how excited I get about the little things, and lately it has been yummy hot drinks, Christmas music, putting up our decorations & Christmas tree, and holiday parties.

And what makes me most giddy of all? Putting up our Christmas lights! DH's parents came up to hang out with this weekend, and DH & FIL worked on adding an exterior wall outlet to make it easier to put up lights. It took much longer to do than expected (most of the day on Sat!), but the lights are up and plugged into our new outlet. Now, every time we drive up to the house and I see our lights twinkling I smile.

On Sunday we went to church, and the advent series continues to refresh my soul and fill me with such joy that Christ came as a baby, AND he is returning again! We also had hot chocolate on the patio after church. :) The weather here in CA has been COLD (for us - in the 50's - haha) so I have loved wearing sweaters. Today it is even raining!

After church we got our Christmas tree, and then went to a choral performance of Handel's Messiah. It was a beautiful performance in a beautiful theater, followed by a stroll downtown, which was beautifully lit up and decorated for Christmas. We ate a lovely Italian dinner, and then went home and trimmed our tree! We all had a fantastic day.

I'm also thankful to be halfway done with my two week wait. The first week is always much easier, but we have had such full days that the time is going by quickly. Our next week is BUSY, so I'm hoping that eases the second half of the two week torture.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, too!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spiritual musings (or, crazy thoughts revealed)

Lately, I have been trying to read God's mind.

I know he has a plan and a purpose to our infertility, and lately I have been wondering if his purpose has been accomplished. Have I seen God's faithfulness and glory? Have I learned enough? Have I grown in faith and trust? Has my character been refined? I'm sure there could be many other or alternate purposes, but these are the general ones that I imagine God has in any season of suffering.

And while I would say the answer is "Yes!" to all of the questions listed above to some extent....I wonder if I am there. Some place of complete trust, faith, and surrender, or some amazing path that God leads us down. I don't know. And do I have to get there before God builds our family?

Or, in other words, in my own twisted musings I have wondered if I have suffered enough. That more suffering would get me there - a place with some set quota of suffering I must endure before God will answer our prayers. Even typing that it sounds silly to say! But if I were blessed enough to conceive a healthy pregnancy this cycle, I would suddenly be on the other side of this journey. And what would my infertility look like from that side? A long season of waiting (but, really, in the scope of eternity only 20 months), a couple surgeries, many tears, and "only" 3 IUI's.

And when my mind goes down the path, I wonder if God would actually answer our prayers with a yes this "early." I actually made myself really discouraged that this cycle will not result in a pregnancy through this line of thinking!

Ok, before you think I am going crazy here trying to second guess God and figure out if and when he will answer our prayer with a pregnancy....these musings have made me so THANKFUL to serve such a gracious God. He does NOT answer our prayers based on any of our own merits (and, in a sense, I am counting suffering as a merit). I do not have to walk this infertility journey by figuring out some way to do it "right" and "learn" and "have faith" in these certain mind game ways in order to have God notice me over here. God is so gracious and he blesses his children in his timing. And his timing and purposes are GOOD, even when I cannot see the big picture.

I can look back on my life already and see how difficult seasons unfolded into beautiful landscapes. And I know he is creating one now somehow, and that could mean conceiving THIS cycle. Or it could mean never conceiving. But I do trust his plan.

I read this verse recently, and it really touched me:

"For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:10-13

I am asking God for a pregnancy....and while I know he may not give me that, I can rest assured that he will not give me a serpent, or some other awful thing. And one thing I know for a fact he will give me is the gift of his Holy Spirit! This has been comforting as I battle all my crazy thoughts. And while it is comforting to know that God's work in my life is not dependant on me, it is also good to know that my suffering does, in fact, grow me in my faith and hope:

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5: 3-5

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Infertile humor

The other day in church we were singing the following verse to the hymn, "My Jesus, I Love Thee":

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I love Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.


As I sang the word "follies," my first thought was of all the follies I'm always trying to grow to produce eggs for my fertility treatments. It made me giggle as I sang. :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

IUI #3 Part 2

Whew, we made it! There's such a nice feeling of relief after that last appointment, despite the fact that I've now entered the challenging two week wait. But from where I sit today I feel relieved and thankful we made it this far.

IUI #3 Part 2 had lower counts and motility: 4.7 million post wash with only 29% motility. Of course we had hoped and prayed for higher numbers, but I think we've accepted that DH's SA's are generally not very good and to just expect it. Yesterday's 10.7 million was a pleasant surprise.

Thank you for your kind prayers and encouragements - I am feeling much more emotionally stable and hopeful today. Last night our church started our Advent series, and the message was about the hope we have as we wait for Christ to return, and the promises that were fulfilled when Christ first came. God is so faithful. I have a feeling that this Advent season will really minister to my soul while I am in such a place of waiting. Even though I have been a Christian for quite a few years, I think I am just now starting to grasp this deeper, beautiful message of Advent.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

IUI #3 Part 1

Part 1 was this morning, and I am thankful to report better post-wash SA numbers! 10.7 million post wash (compared to 5.5 million last time)!! I didn't catch all of the numbers and the break down, but that bottom line number is decent.

Despite this good news, I have been crying off and on since last night and feeling particularly blue about our infertility. As much as I pray, hope, and try to imagine this cycle resulting in a pregnancy, I feel like we are "walking the plank," so to speak, towards IVF. I laid on the table after the IUI with tears trickling down my face, one after another. I want to be positive and hopeful but I just feel sad.

If this cycle is negative we only have 1 more IUI before we max out on the "statistically recommended" number of IUI's. However, we may do 2 more since I don't feel like the first one with the old RE counted, and I don't know if we're ready to just do one more.

We are praying for God's will in our lives. God, how far down this path will we go? How long will we wait? Will you eventually take us down another path to build our family?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vindicated :)

I went in for my {early} cycle day 10 appointment. They didn't think I needed to come in until Monday (cycle day 12), and this morning were a little bit confused as to why I was there. The RE was happy to accommodate and do a check, though.

Turns out, I had one 24mm follicle ready to go. I couldn't help but smile at DH and say "See..." with my eyes. In the hallway I overheard two nurses discussing that I was waiting for my blood work, and one said to the other, "Yes, she came in early because she feared ovulating too early. Turns out she is ready to go. I guess she knows her body!" DH leaned over and said I must feel vindicated, and I confess I did. :)

I am *a little* disappointed that there is only one follicle, and feel like this cycle wasn't as "nice" as the other in terms of my response. The side I had the follicle on is the same side where the small cyst still remained at the start of the cycle, and I guess that turned into a dominant follicle right away? He had me do blood work to confirm that I actually had a mature follicle and not just a large cyst, so I was glad to get the call a few hours later that I do in fact have an egg to ovulate.

Melissa had a funny blog post title last week that made me smile: Guess who thinks she knows more than her RE? Don't you feel like that sometimes?? I mean, I know that in the big scheme of things he knows WAY more than me, but when it comes to me and my body I think I know more. This cycle feels like confirmation of that. Not just in terms of the early ovulation, but I also questioned him starting me on clomid and Menopur a day later (cycle day 4 for clomid, and cycle day 9 for Menopur). I wonder if the later start made me have a dominant follicle, and I only ended up getting in one dose of the Menopur. Really, this turned out to be just a clomid cycle.

I know "it only takes one," and I am so very thankful that I do have one and didn't get canceled or anything this cycle. There are no problems this cycle, I just don't feel like this cycle was as good as the other. But God doesn't require perfect cycles with two eggs on cycle day 14 to create life, so I am still praying hopefully for a miracle!

IUI part 1 will be tomorrow morning, and IUI part 2 will be on Monday. I'll keep you posted on the post wash counts, which are the last mysterious piece of the puzzle each cycle.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The note

Thanksgiving day is almost over. As I got ready for bed a few minutes ago, I realized I didn't get out our camera to take any pictures today. No pictures of my family at my parents house for lunch, no pictures of all the food I made there, and no pictures of our dinner at DH's parents' house. I was a little sad to realize that there will be no photo record of Thanksgiving 2009.

Do you any of your notice that you take fewer pictures while dealing with infertility? Maybe it's just me, but I have noticed a lack of 2009 photos stored on our hard drive in general. I have an entire album devoted to college, tons of pictures from when we were dating and engaged, and then, of course, the million wedding pictures. Our first year of marriage was filled with all the "firsts" to photograph: our first dinner together, apartment, Christmas tree, dinner party that we hosted, vacation, Easter, and the list could go on. The firsts got less numerous as the years passed, but photo worthy milestones continued to occur. We bought a house and set to painting, painting, and more painting to transform each room. Trips to visit friends and family across the country. But now the photos are slowing down.

And I know if we had a baby this Thanksgiving, or even if I were pregnant, the camera would have been flashing all day long. A baby brings another lifetime's worth of firsts and milestones to record, I imagine. Not to say that DH and I won't have noteworthy, meaningful, and memorable things to record...it's just different. And less frequent.

But, as I wrap up Thanksgiving 2009, I do have one very special memento from the day. It brings tears to my eyes just to write about it. My dear, sweet brother gave DH and I a card with a handwritten and heartfelt message of thanks to us. My 24 year old single, cynical, reserved, and sometimes hard to read brother wrote us a note that conveyed a tremendous amount of love. I always have known him to be very thoughtful and loving....and I feel close to him in one sense....but we do not live like we are close. We don't call or talk often, and while I know that loving side of him is there, he doesn't express it very often. This note was quite unexpected and out of the blue.

This year was a Thanksgiving that I thought would be just like all the others, but it turned out to be such a special day thanks to my sweet brother and his one small - but huge - act of love. And although I don't have any photos of today, I am incredibly thankful to have that note to cherish always.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The little things

I am constantly amazed at what a roller coaster of emotions infertility, and especially infertility treatments, are. And I am constantly surprised at my own reactions. Last week as we were finishing up our break month cycle I felt like I was in such a good place spiritually. I was trusting the Lord and experiencing his amazing peace and joy that surpassed my circumstances.

And then I went to my baseline appointment, and felt like that all went suddenly out the window. I was a stressed out basket case worrying about all the little details of my cycle. Why is he starting me on meds later? Why is my first monitoring so late? What if I ovulate early? What if I get too many follicles? AHHHH!!

But really, why is it that I can trust the Lord in the big picture, but when it comes to the "little things," the day-to-day things, I don't? Or are these moments a reflection of how much I am truly trusting the Lord?

However, there IS an important element of using my knowledge and resources to be a good steward of where God has me. I do need to pay attention to the details so that I don't waste my time and money, which may mean calling my RE to get an earlier monitoring appointment. Being on top of my cycle is a good thing, I think. But the worry is where the problem lies.

I want to find a balance in being able to trust God even in these little things. I want to be proactive, informed, and seeking God in each day-to-day item, but I want to do so without freaking out. :) I'm praying about this.

*****

I got an earlier monitoring appointment for cycle day 10, which will be Saturday. It was actually really easy to do and makes me feel extra silly for my feelings of panic and despair on Friday.

Today is cycle day 5, and I'm about to take my second dose of clomid in an hour! Again, I am thankful for the fact that I have never experienced any side effects from this often hated drug.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Long day

My cysts are gone!! Well, mostly. I had one small one still, but the RE said we could proceed anyway and that it was of no concern. Good news - IUI #3 is on!

However, I must confess I left the office today unhappy and concerned about the protocol for my cycle. The RE did the ultrasound and spoke in general terms about the cycle, but then I met with a nurse who went over the meds. I was surprised to find out he wants me to start clomid on cycle day 4 (50mg), take that for 5 days, and then take 75ius of Menopur cycle days 9-11. I've heard of the starting days are typically 3 or 5, but 4 doesn't seem too strange. However, for somebody like me who tends to ovulate really early, I started to feel worried that my body would start doing it's thing before the meds and throw off the cycle.

Then she wants to schedule me to come in for my FIRST monitoring appointment on CYCLE DAY 12. Alarm bells went off in my head and I started freaking out.

Here's my history:
  • Without meds, I have been ovulating on cd 10 for the last year.
  • IUI #1: I was on 100mg of clomid cd 3-7, had a 22mm follicle on cd 8 so I was triggered that day.Ovulation, therefore, was cd 10.
  • IUI #2: 50mg of clomid cd 3-7, 75iu's of Menopur cd 7-9. However, I was so nervous about ovulating before my first scheduled monitoring appointment that I begged to go in on cd 9, found out I had 4 potential follicles ranging from 12-16mm, so he had me skip my third/last dose of Menopur (coasted). Went back the next day on cd 10 and triggered that day with 2 mature follicles, and I ovulated on cd 12.

Do you see the pattern?? Do you see how going in on cycle day 12 freaks me out that I could have already ovulated before even getting to the doctor? *sigh*

My other concern is that I had 4 potential follicles on the same dose of meds. He coasted me on the last night so only 2 matured. If I go in on cd 12, I could have 4 mature follicles, and I don't think I would be comfortable doing an IUI with that many.

I couldn't help but wonder if they were conveniently attempting to push my cycle back so I won't come in over Thanksgiving weekend??? My first monitoring appointment is schedule for the Monday after.

I tried to ask the nurse about all of these things, but she just said this is what the doctor wanted and gave no specific answers. Their office was packed this morning, so I figured I would call the RE himself at lunchtime so he could call me back in the afternoon when things were slower.

A nurse ended up returning my call and said the RE had already left for the day - boo. She said starting on cycle day 4 is just fine, and not to worry about ovulating early since the clomid will delay ovulation. *sigh*

After getting out of the RE's at 10:15, I had so much to do..... I had two big projects (one at each of my jobs) that HAD to get done today. We are also trying to refinance our mortgage right now, and the stress of talking to the loan people, gathering papers, and bargaining for that low rate could be an entire (boring) post of its own. It was a looong day.

Needless to say, I am so glad it is Friday. I'm just going to start the clomid on Sunday (cd 4) and then call next week and insist I get an earlier monitoring appointment. Part of me feels guilty for not "trusting" the RE on this, but I just can't shake it the feeling that the timing could be problematic. Worse case, I get an extra u/s to confirm things are moving along nicely, right?

Sorry this post so long and boring - thanks if you made it through! Happy Friday!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cycle Day 1

Yeah! Finally (says the girl with notoriously short cycles after a whopping 25 day cycle)!

AF arrived at around 8:00pm last night, so my RE is counting today (Thursday) as cycle day 1. I go in tomorrow for my baseline ultrasound....PLEASE let there be NO CYSTS! I am praying.

I am also thankful that, assuming there are no cysts, the timing of my appointments and IUI's will most likely be over Thanksgiving weekend but NOT on Thanksgiving day. It would have been a little stressful to figure out how to explain a doctor's appointment on Thanksgiving day. :) But it's also nice that we may not have to miss work and can 'leisurely' go to our appointments over the weekend.

Thanks for all your well-wishes about AF's arrival!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Doesn't it always seem true that whenever you want your period to arrive, it doesn't? And when you don't want it to arrive, it does?

Well, I'm in the hoping-for-it-to-come-quickly camp today at what I think is 14 dpo. If my period doesn't arrive in a mere 3 hours, it will be "late." Typing that word made me want to get hopeful, but I have learned in these last 23 cycles that "late" can mean nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Or, it could mean that I didn't ovulate when I think I did....which is very possible. I did get a positive OPK, but I did not chart or verify things. So I could be wrong.

Or, it could mean that I didn't ovulate at all. Maybe I got a positive OPK because my LH was surging to try to ovulate, but then ovulation never occurred. And now I could be in nebulous anovulation land.

Or, it could mean that somewhere in all of this spotting (that lasted from cycle day 1 through today, cycle day 24!) I did actually have a very light period and didn't know it. I really hope it's not that option.

This maybe kind of a little bit "late" business makes me feel like I should test tomorrow. I guess I will, but it is more to rule out the one possibility out there that can actually be ruled out than out of hope.

Maybe peeing on a stick will remind my period to come out from hiding!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Infertile? Who me?

I haven't "felt" infertile during this break month. I don't know why or how - I've had plenty of other waiting periods that were tough - but these past few weeks I almost forgot I was infertile. I did not pray for this or expect it, but as I look back I can see what a sweet gift God has given me. A true rest in my soul. Thank you Lord!

I think my period should arrive within the next few days. As much as I have enjoyed this month off, I am more than ready to jump back in to treatments. I have started doing "infertile math" where I am counting days....if AF arrives on this day, my appointments would probably be on these days.... and my IUI's would probably be on those days.... and I would test around that date. I'm ready!

I am praying, praying, praying that those cysts are gone when I go to my cd 2/3 appointment!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Giveaway winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered! Of course, I wish you could all win, but two cute notepads going to one lucky winner tonight:

True Random Number Generator
28 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Commenter #28, Hope.Faith.Patience!! We have followed each other's journeys for almost this whole year (I think), and Hope.Faith.Patience recently got her BFP after multiple IVF's and FET's.

Congratulations, I'll be in touch to get your address. :)


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Creme de la Creme and other news

I realized that I never updated all of you about DH's sickness last week. Thankfully, it proved to be really mild and he only had a fever for about 24 hours (which we medicated so he wasn't literally fevered that whole time). It felt like a miracle! DH is one of those people that tends to get sick more often and worse than others, so we were so, so thankful this was as mild as it was. So maybe it wasn't H1N1?

****
In other rather mundane news, my spotting continues endlessly. It got quite heavy at the end of last week, so I called the RE's office to talk to a nurse. She said my hormones are off because the cysts are releasing estrogen. This is a different explanation than my old RE's nurse from when this happened after my last clomid/ progestorone cycle, but both make sense and it could probably be either (or both).

I think I am just anticipating that after every medicated cycle I will probably have cysts and I will probably spot the entire time. At least it won't be as much of a shock from here on out.

****
Have you heard of the Creme de la Creme list? Mel, the organizer of our ALI (Adoption, Loss, and Infertility) community, puts this together each year to celebrate the wonderful blogging that is happening. She has a great explanation on her blog if you click over, but I would just encourage any of you who have a blog to submit a post! I do not think of myself as a writer, but I submitted one - so you can too! It will be such an amazing compilation of posts to read through on or after New Year's.

Here's the logo:


Creme


The Best of the Adoption/Loss/Infertility Blogs of 2009

Hope to see many of you on the list with me! And if you need help choosing a post, let me know - I'd be happy to look at some with you. :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy blogoversary giveaway

As of today, I have been blogging here for 1 year. Happy blogoversary to me! :)

It seems most fitting on this anniversary to thank you all. Thank you for reading, for listening, for sharing, for caring, for praying, and for supporting. Thank you for commenting and letting me know you're out there, and thank you even for lurking.

I have "met" so many lovely people through this forum, and am so thankful for each one of you.

On anniversaries, people often exchange gifts, right? So I want to give one of you a gift through a little giveaway here...a gift that will literally only be to only one of you, but will figuratively be for the plural "you."

My giveaway will be for 2 super cute, handy, and awesome notepads from Knock Knock. I am a planner who enjoys making lists, so I love owning these and hope you will, too.

The first one I have hanging on my fridge at all times (and *most* of the time it is updated). It's called "What to Eat" and is perfect for meal planning:


The second is called "Pack This!"and helps you to not have the "I must have forgotten something..." feeling as you leave for a trip!:


To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment by Wednesday, November 11 at 9:00pm PST. ANYONE is welcome to enter, even lurkers! I was a blog lurker for a long time too. :) I will choose one commenter by randomly selecting a number.

Thank you!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A year ago today...

...we found out we were officially infertile.

DH had gone in for the first of what would be many SA's on Halloween. Early in the next week he got a call from his primary care physician to come in the following day to go over the results. I remember wondering if the fact that DH had to go over the results in person meant there was a "problem," but didn't know enough about doctors and how things worked to actually get worried.

A year ago today, DH called me as he was driving home from that momentous appointment. It was about 11:00 am, and I was alone in the office at my work. He repeated what the doctor had said, that everything looked normal except the motility. It's funny to look back and remember that I didn't even know what motility meant (it's the percentage of how many sperm move, in case you're wondering)! DH didn't sound too worried, and he had gotten a referral to a urologist.

After we hung up, I tried to resume my work. But my mind was racing with this new piece of information, and I so badly had the urge to google. But how could I could about sp.erm at work!? I tried to keep working. But the unknown was filling me with such anxiety and dread, that I gave into temptation and started googling. Pretty quickly I saw the seriousness of our situation, and sobs formed deep in my chest.

I left work and met DH at home for lunch. We laid on our bed and DH held me while I cried. We prayed. I didn't go back to work that day.

As I look back on that day, I am amazed to say that I feel like I am in a much better place than I was then. On some level that is so strange to say because it's been an entire year and I am still not pregnant, and the reality of potentially never conceiving is that much closer. On many levels I think I should be worse off right now than I am.

But - I am well.

My life in this season is marked with deep sadness and intense moments of fear that I must give to the Lord. I struggle with the frustration that my life is not what I had envisioned or hoped it would be at this point. I wrestle with trusting God and his plan for my life.

But - I am well.

And, finding out we were infertile felt like a piece of God's plan had, indeed, been revealed in my life. I found comfort in that this past year that I did not have prior to our diagnosis as we were unsuccessfully trying to conceive. I never would have chosen it, but he has set DH on this infertility journey. And if this is where God wants me to be for his glory, this is where I want to be. Even when it is hard and it hurts.

I am well.

My cup does overflow. My soul is well - I am saved! I have a relationship with my Creator, my heavenly Father. And I have many earthly blessings: a warm, vibrant, and loving church community, old friends who know me so well, new friends who have been wonderful to grow in friendship with, a ministry that is both a challenge and a joy, and, most significantly in this season, a loving, Godly husband who walks with me.

I am well.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I think DH has H1N1

Let me start by saying that he has not been tested for H1N1, nor has any doctor "diagnosed" him. This is purely my own non-medical opinion. But at lunch time today DH called me to tell me he was leaving work because he was chilled and achey with a fever. Sounds like the flu to me.

Before I sound like a hypochondriac alarmist, this is what I have heard: Doctors in my area are not usually testing for H1N1 unless things gets "serious," but one doctor told a friend of ours that anyone they have tested with flu symptoms did have H1N1. Apparently, it is the flu virus going around town at the moment.

Thus, I am guessing this is what DH has. Thankfully it has been a relatively mild version (so far). His fever was about 100 when he first tested, and as the Tylenol wore off it was at 99.7 this evening. He has chills, body aches, and a stuffy nose. He said the last time he had the flu two years ago was worse.

Overall, I'm not too worried. He called his doctor because he has asthma and this is a "higher risk" group, but his doctor said to drink fluids, rest, etc. and just call if he has any respiratory problems.

I hope the fever is not effecting his sp.erm. There is no way to know if it does or will, but I do wish DH would stop getting these fevers just in case!

One silver lining to not being pregnant at the moment: if I do get H1N1 from DH, at least I will not have to worry about our baby or be in the "high risk" group.

Do you know people with H1N1, or have you had it yourself?

Monday, November 2, 2009

spotting and Halloween

Just like my last post-medicated cycle, I have been spotting continuously since my period stopped (and last time that happened for the complete 19 day cycle). It is incredibly annoying, but I am trying to count my blessings that I am healthy, and not in any pain or discomfort. I can handle annoying.

Unlike like last time, I got a beautiful and positive second line on an OPK yesterday (cycle day 8). I might get another, more positive one today....we'll see. I keep meaning to start taking my temperature so that I can really know what's going on this cycle and if I do in fact ovulate, but I never seem to remember when I wake up in the morning. I used to be such a diligent charter, and LOVED having a complete and accurate chart. Now those few temps around potential ovulation are somewhat problematic to obtain.

****

We had an action packed weekend, and I am thankful that this cycle continues to fly by. We hosted a Halloween party on Saturday night and it was so.much.fun. I love hosting parties. I made chili, cornbread, and cute Halloween cupcakes and we had about 25 people over. There were 4 kids who came and we had The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for them the watch, followed by a game where they had to eat a mini donut with no hands that was dangling from a string. It was hilarious to see some 2 and 3 year olds attempt to do this - they were so adorable!

This was our 2nd annual Halloween party, I guess. We never intended to necessarily make it a tradition, but it just might turn into that. Everyone seemed to appreciate having something to do on that night, and hopefully they had as much fun as I did.

I hope you had a great weekend! Did you do anything for Halloween?

ETA: Yes, we did dress up! We were an Am.ish couple....a little strange, I know. We got the costumes for another youth group event earlier in the year and re-used. :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

small freedoms

After the initial disappointment of a forced break this cycle, the week as flown by. It's amazing how much faster the days go by when I'm not counting cycle days or days past ovulation.

I also think I am enjoying the freedoms of a non-treatment cycle:
  • The day of the cyst discovery, I drank a diet coke. And had a piece of chocolate.
  • The day after I found out about the cysts, I enjoyed a nice warm cup of coffee. Two, actually. (Although I did ask my RE on Monday if I should avoid coffee while cycling, and he said one cup a day is ok. I don't even drink that much, so apparently I was depriving myself for no reason).
  • I skipped two prenatal vitamins. It was an accident, but it just dropped of my radar. And, honestly, I am a baby about swallowing pills, so after the fact I did take some delight in not taking them.
I know, I know, I'm such a rebel. :) It is just nice to live life "normally" sometimes.

Another interesting thing is that I am way less stressed about DH and his sp.erm. I think we've done all we can do, and we have seem some improvements to his SA numbers as well as some drops. They are all over the place, so if DH forgets to take his slew of vitamins one night, is it really going to make a difference? I think we both feel a sense of freedom in that. We can't control it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

CD 2 update - Boo

Went to the RE this morning on cd 2 for my baseline u/s. He found a cyst on each ovary.

Boo.

No medications for me this cycle. He said we could do a natural IUI if we want, but my initial thoughts are it wouldn't be worth it. I might have a weak ovulation and then all of my spotting...I think I need to the meds to get and stay pregnant.

What would you do if you were me - sit it out (with timed intercourse) or do a natural IUI?

I haven't gotten a chance to google the cyst issue yet, but I have read about it on a number of blogs. The RE said it's common, and the only "bad" thing is that I can't take medications. He said most go away on their own after a month. Anyone have any experience with this? What if they are still there next month?

Also, I am a little freaked out because I had such a wonky cycle after my last clomid cycle. I was switching RE's at that point, so I never had an ultrasound. But...I had a normal period that shifted to continual spotting. I bled/ spotted for 19 days straight and then got another period. Now, I know I normally spot like crazy, but that was extraordinary even for me! And based on temperatures, I also did not ovulate that cycle. So....maybe I had a cyst or two then too? Am I going to get cysts after every medicated cycle?? Ugh.

I cried more today than I did the day of the BFN. I think the fact that I could turn around and get right back on the horse to keep trying was such an encouragement to me last week. I have always had to wait for one reason or another, but I was excited that I could finally just get going on back to back treatments. Bam, bam, bam, one IUI after another until a BFP, you know?

But, here I sit.

Before I sound full of despair, I have to share with you a sweet moment I had with the Lord this morning that has comforted me so much today. As I drove down, I listened to this sermon on the way to the RE this morning. This is not from my church, but it is a pastor that DH discovered and we really like his sermons. So, DH had listened to this one and told me it was really encouraging to him in light of our infertility. Ironically, one of the two parts is about Hannah, who prays to God after suffering through her barrenness. And as I listened to it this morning, I wept. It touched all the sadness in my soul and pointed me to the God who hears my cries and works in the middle of difficult situations to show his glory. At one point the pastor said something to the effect of, "Are you in a difficult situation? That's God's main platform to work in." I'm not expressing it as well as he did, but feel free to listen to the sermon and be encouraged like I was.

As I drove home after finding out we're sitting out this cycle, I cried again. I prayed and cried and told God all of my desires and fears....like Hannah did. I poured out my soul to my loving Father. What a blessing that God had me listen to this sermon on this day, and I am so thankful he hears my prayers!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wow and thank you

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the outpouring of love and support. Having your comments pop up in my email all throughout the day brought some sunshine to an otherwise dark feeling day. Thank you for all of the prayers. I am humbled that there are people out there praying and caring for me whom I have never met. Thank you - I cannot say it enough!

I tested again this morning to confirm the negative result. Today was the day my RE instructed me to do so, and said if it is negative to stop the progesterone and call in when my period arrives. They don't do blood pregnancy tests for IUI's (not sure about IVF). As long as we get the green light, we plan on doing another IUI cycle right away.

I continue to trust in the Lord and wait on him. Hear my cries, Lord!

*****

Last night DH and I went out to dinner at one of our usual spots that is familiar and cozy. We talked about our infertility a little at the beginning, and DH got really sad. Each cycle I see a little more sadness in him, too. But we moved on and had a really nice night.

In fact, I ended up laughing harder than I have in a long time - it was such a fun blessing! I don't know if it will be as funny written out here (maybe you just had to be there), but it was too funny to not share with you.

Background: I've mentioned before that DH and I are volunteer youth leaders at our church. Our students are turning 16 this school year, and one of my girls and one of his guys each got their driver's license this week. That led to us talking about how many of the kids seem to get cars pretty quickly, while DH and I didn't have our own car until we graduated college. I asked DH if it was a difference in "our generation" or were we just the exceptions?

DH: Most of my friends had cars in high school.

Me: Huh, I guess we were the weird ones then.

DH: No, I wasn't a wei.ner. I had all my friends to drive me around.

Me: Wait, what did you just say?

DH: I said I wasn't a wei.ner. I was cool.

Me, starting to laugh: That's what I thought you said...but I said we were weird, not wei.ners!

DH: Oh, I thought that's what you said.

Me, laughing really hard now: Seriously!? When have I ever used the word wei.ner to describe someone!? And you said it like it was totally normal...!

Thus began my laugh out loud fest in which I laughed so hard I saw people looking over at me from other tables. Fun times!

(Ok, even as I typed that up I started laughing out loud. DH asked me what I was laughing about, and I told him. He said it wasn't that funny! Ha! So sorry if I am the only one so greatly amused by our miscommunication!)

PS- Somebody a few posts back asked why I put periods in the middle of some words (like wei.ner). It just prevents people from finding my blog using that word in a search engine. I usually use it for body parts since, well, there are a lot of gross things and people on the internet. I've seen other people use it for brand names or people's names, too. Hope that helps and sorry I forgot to respond to your comment sooner!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One line

BFN. :(

I woke up at 5:30am and had to pee, so I decided to go for it. There was no way I'd be able to ignore the urge to pee and the possibility of knowing if I were pregnant or not.

Peeing on a stick is such a funny thing. This morning before doing so I would have said I was not pregnant. But as I stood there for those long 3 minutes, all of the hope I had suppressed throughout the cycle resurfaced. A miracle can happen, you know, and maybe this is it, I thought. I prayed while I stood there that God would help me to trust him whatever the outcome. I imagined waking up DH to tell him our wonderful news, driving to the drugstore to get one of those fancy HPTs I never spend the money on, and celebrating together this morning over a multitude of positive pee sticks. All of that in those measly 3 minutes that ended with only one line.

I crawled back in bed and resorted to one of my coping mechanisms - sleep. But it was a restless, unsettled sleep filled with thoughts of strange, negative things. I pressed against DH and he instinctively spooned me, which comforted me without him even knowing.

He woke up an hour later.

"Hey, isn't it time for you to take a pregnancy test," he said.

"I did already," I responded.

"Oh," he said flatly, "It was negative."

Then he wrapped his arms around me tightly.

****

Thank you all for your amazing support! You all remain so hopeful for me even when I cannot. Thank you. And I'm still expecting to see some positives from those of you wrapping up your cycle as well!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The end is in sight...

Thanks for all your support these last few days! The second week of the two week wait sure is emotional. I went from excited and hopeful one evening to absolutely certain I was not pregnant the next morning. The end of the wait was actually easier once I just started assuming I'm NOT pregnant. Not that I want to be pessimistic, but I couldn't handle the hopefulness mixed with uncertainty. I just figured I would be very pleasantly surprised if I were pregnant, and a little prepared if I weren't.

That said...I honestly don't think I'm pregnant. I don't feel pregnant at all. My bre.asts have completely stopped hurting and I have no symptoms whatsoever.

I'm testing tomorrow morning (13dpo) and will let you know if the test agrees with my assessment of the situation.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New strategy

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and randomly felt like my bre.asts were not as sore. I laid awake in bed for awhile sad and on the verge of tears, feeling like I was already "out" for this cycle.

In the morning as I got out of bed, they painfully reminded me that they are still, indeed, nice and tender. Resume blind hopefulness.

However, as obvious as it is, this little lesson reminded me that symptoms cannot tell me if I am pregnant. Nor can the lack of symptoms tell me I am not. I can't stress about everything my body is or is not doing.

Of course, I still had sad, stressful, and hopeful moments today that relate to this pending pregnancy test thing. But I am trying to pray when anxious thoughts fill my mind.

And I am going to wait until Thursday to test, if my period has not arrived by then. I will be 13 days past ovulation and will be able to feel fairly certain the test will be accurate. If it is negative, I will only have one day to wait to confirm those results and then stop the progesterone.

I am praying for the rest of you in this craziness that is the two week wait! Hang in there!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Two week wait crazies

Nine days past ovulation tonight, and I have to confess I'm now going crazy in the two week wait symptom over analyzing department. Ugh.

Honestly, it is partly because my "symptoms" feel different. My brea.sts are always sore around 10 dpo....but this cycle it started at 7 dpo. However, I started taking progesterone at 1dpo (last cycle I didn't start until 7dpo). So there is a logical explanation, but still....

And then today I have felt like I have an icky stomach off and on. I wouldn't call it nausea, just stomach discomfort. But maybe the logical explanation is that we were out of town and I ate a bunch of junk...?

Or maybe because I want to have symptoms so badly, I psychologically make myself have them.

I told DH that I didn't know if it would be better to just start testing or hold out until Friday. He said, "Just test tonight" (9dpo). He's no help. I think I need to wait, but I don't know if I'll be able to wait all the way until Friday. We'll see.

Tonight at church I just kept praying and telling God that I trust him whatever the outcome of this week's test is.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halfway there

Today is 7 days post ovulation, so I am half way done with my two week wait! The first 7 days have been completely uneventful. No spotting at all...I like that kind of uneventful!

However, I do have a list for you that I have compiled in this past week.

Top 5 Ways to 'Pretend' You Are Pregnant During Your Two Week Wait:

1. Get up really early and have house guests for a week, so that some days you are completely exhausted.
2. Eat chili one night, and get heartburn later that evening.
3. Get gas the next day from said chili.
4. Drink a cup of tea right before bed so you have to get up to pee during the night.
5. Do all of the above before 7 dpo so that there is no way it can be "true" pregnancy symptoms. Repeat as necessary.

Have a great weekend, and feel free to use my little list if you need some extra hope in your two week wait!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When pregnancy announcements don't hurt....

Remember my friend Grace? A friend who I found out last spring has been struggling with infertility for 3 years? Who, the last time I had spoken with her, was on her sixth medicated cycle and wasn't sure if they were going to pursue more treatments?

She's pregnant.

I rejoiced at the news! Pregnancy announcements from infertiles are much, much easier for me. Any pregnancy announcement is a joy and miracle, but many from seemingly fertile people can ofteb hurt my heart. But this one....was sweet. And happy. And special.

I actually had not had a very significant conversation with her in awhile. Plus, I kept getting the feeling that she didn't really want to talk about infertility. Subconsciously this was a little sad for me - my one in real life infertile friend, and we weren't even talking about it!

But now it all makes sense....she didn't want to talk about it because she was pregnant but not ready to share the news. She told me at 12 weeks (which was last week), and since then we have exchanged a few emails and had lunch together today. Understandably, she has struggled with a lot of fear in her first trimester. But praise God her baby is growing healthy at this point!

And it truly is a miracle. It was her seventh (and last) medicated cycle before they took a break and potentially ended their fertility treatments.

It's beautiful to see how God's plan in her life has unfolded. I am thankful.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What a week!

Wow! This week six - count 'em SIX - bloggers that I follow posted their amazing and wonderful BFP news. Congratulations to Barren and Believing, Finding Joy in Every Journey, Life Happens When You're Making Other Plans, Loveliest Days, The Non-Housewife Wife, and Wanting, Waiting, Praying for a Miracle! (and....sorry if I missed any...there were almost too many to keep track of)

And then, my prayer partner on a message board I am a part of got a positive pregnancy test on IUI #2 with a post-wash count of 6 million (sound familiar?!). I was blown away!

With each announcement, each pee stick picture, and each amazing description of how they discovered the happy news I truly had tears of joy. So many of these ladies I have walked with for almost year...wow and praise the Lord!

Can I join the BFP bandwagon? :)

******

Mixed with those tears of joy, I do have to confess my own tears of longing. Hopeful longing, as my blogging friend A put it so well today. I think that streak of hopefulness led me to walk through Gymboree this afternoon.... *sigh.* But that just made the longing outweigh the hopefulness.

Lord, hear my prayers! Thank you that you give your children good things when they ask. I wait expectantly for your plan to unfold in my life.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mellow weekend

After all the early mornings, driving, and busyness of a week full of appointments at the RE, we have had a perfectly restful weekend at home. It's amazing how utterly exhausted I was after all of the madness!

I baked some delicious pumpkin muffins, slept in, read, drank tea, went out for {decaf} coffee with DH and talked for a long time, slept in, went to church, made a nice dinner, rented a movie, and slept in. Did I mention we enjoyed sleeping? :)

The beginning of the two week wait is deceptively easy.

I hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Part 2: We made it!

Whew, the second IUI is done and I feel so relieved that we made it. Now I can sit back, relax, and wait those looong two weeks. :)

DH's counts were abut the same today. Count was a little lower and motility a little higher, so it averaged out to 5.75 million post wash at 56% motility (versus 5.5 million at 53% motility yesterday). Good news for us - there was a chance they could have dropped significantly since there was only 24 hours of abstinence.

I meant to say this yesterday, but we are rejoicing in the improvement of DH's pre-wash motility! Pre-surgery (a year ago now!) his motility tested at 3% and 5%, 4 months post-surgery at 10%, and 6 months post surgery was at 15%. And at the IUI's, it was at 23% and 38% -- the highest we have ever seen! To go from 3% to around 25% is quite an improvement in our minds, and is good news.

The "bad" news was the significant drop in count, which led our post-wash numbers to be lower than expected. DH's count usually tested around 70mil, but like all of these numbers has fluctuated some. So to drop to only 12 mil was quite a decrease....and I can't help but wonder about the fever? Or should we allow more days of abstinence? A weird fluke and SA's are just completely unpredictable?

There seem to be so many unknowns in the world of MFI. We are thankful for the good news we received, my body's response to the meds, and are hoping and praying for a positive test next week! And if not, we will try again with a new batch of sperm that could be significantly different from this one. We are hopeful either way!


***

Pre-wash SA:
Count: 10 mil/ mL (I think)
Volume: 3 mL
Motility: 38%
Total motile: 11.4 million

Post-wash SA:
Count: 5.75 mil
Motility: 56%

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Part 1: Success

So you know how yesterday I said I would be happy if DH had at least 2 million sperm post-wash? As I went to bed last night I realized that was quite low, and that I was setting that parameter to protect myself so that I would not be disappointed at today's IUI. I actually thought 2 million post-wash was unlikely and we would have much better than that, since DH's counts have always been good and his total motile number have been decent.

Today's post-wash IUI numbers were 5.5 million with 53% motility, grade 2-3 progression. And although it is above the 2 million cut off I set, that was much lower than I was expecting. Statistically, the odds are certainly not in our favor with numbers like that.

BUT, I did not feel anxious or scared. Praise God for the grace he has shown me in helping me to trust him! And as we heard those numbers, I knew that God is in control of every detail, including post-wash sperm counts. And we have been blessed with a cycle has gone so well thus far - who am I to complain? This is a far greater chance than we have ever had any other cycle, so I am rejoicing in the fact that we get to do these IUI's!

And our RE was so reassuring! He said he believes we will get pregnant and that IUI is a good route for us at this point, but that it may take a few tries. He said he has seen dozens of IUI successes with numbers like ours, and the lowest sperm count he ever had a positive on was 700,000. So we are trusting him and remaining hopeful.

After the IUI was complete, the RE left the room to let me lay on the table a few minutes and then get dressed. As I laid there, I stretched out my hand to hold DH's in mine. I asked him to pray, and as he did tears streaked down my face. Happy, relieved, and hopeful tears mixed with all of the pain and waiting of these past 18 months. Good tears that felt like part of the prayer.

****

Just for my record-keeping - and any other MFI ladies out there who may find this helpful - I want to record DH's actual numbers:

Pre-wash:
Count: 12 mil/ mL
Motility: 23%
Progression: 1-2
Volume: 3 mL
Total-motile: 8.28

Post-wash:
Count: 5.5 mil
Motility: 53%
Progression: 2-3

We get to do another IUI tomorrow. I have read that some studies do not show a much greater chance of success with more than one IUI per cycle, but I'm glad we are doing a second one. In my mind, we might get to double the amount of sperm we have in there to fertilize an egg or two!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I triggered!

Today I found myself locked in the single-user bathroom at work, reconstituting a vial of HCG. Just before I stabbed my stomach with the needle, somebody jiggled the door knob as they tried to enter the restroom to use it in a more conventional way. "I'll be just a minute!" I called, and then stabbed myself with an ease and efficiency that amazed me. This was my third injection, and they really are pretty simple.

Thank you all for sharing your own shot stories, tips, and encouragements as I mastered this new skill!

I'm triggered and set to go! This morning my two lovely follicles that the RE thinks will ovulate were at 19mm and 18mm. I had two more under 16mm that he said wouldn't make it, which is a good thing in this case. My lining was at 9 and triple striped. Can you tell I'm excited?!

Now, the final element that is unknown will be DH's SA tomorrow. I am slightly nervous for 3 reasons: 1. DH's SA's have never been great, especially the motility. 2. DH had a fever back in June, so if it does negatively effect his sperm this is the window of time in which that would happen. 3. I thought our IUI would end up being later in the day on Thursday, so we had s.ex last night. Now that only leaves a 34 hour gap between ej.aculates.

BUT, while I do have these thoughts in the back of my mind, I can honestly say I am not worried. I am trusting God, and I think as long as we have more than 2 million post wash sperm I will be thrilled with this cycle. And if we have less than that, I will still seek to be content and trust the Lord, although I may cry a little. :)

IUI, here we come!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thankful!

So many things to be thankful for today!
  • For the first time, I entered an RE's office with peace and calm. So many people are praying for me, and I feel like God is truly helping me to trust him and take each day of this cycle without fear!
  • For the first time, I left an RE's office excited and hopeful. With the old RE I left feeling anxious and stressed. What a great contrast.
  • I am not going to ovulate as crazy-early as I did on my previous clomid cycle (and in general). Nobody has told me that my early ovulation is a problem, but it makes me feel better that it won't be happening on cycle day 10.
  • I have multiple follicles! Last clomid cycle I only heard about one huge one. Granted, that RE didn't really communicate with me, so there may have been more smaller ones that he didn't mention. But this cycle I have 3 follicles in range to potentially ovulate in a few days, and one more trailing behind. The RE only wants me to ovulate 2 (which sounds very reasonable to me), so I'm probably going to trigger tomorrow. BUT the exciting thing is that I had a good response to a low dose of meds!! Yeah!
The plan is that I'm coasting tonight (no meds) so that I don't mature too many of those follicles. Tomorrow morning I go in for one more follicle check, and I will probably trigger later in the day. Then, we're set for back to back IUI's on Thursday and Friday! Wheeeee!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

First shot complete!

Yesterday was the big day: injection #1 of Menopur! Leading up to the injection I was more nervous about mixing the liquid with the powder and setting up the needle correctly than actually doing the injection. DH & I watched a youtube video demonstrating the injection twice, and read through the instructions sheet and did everything step by step. It's funny how things can look relatively simple, but when I'm new to something random doubts and questions come up. Is that a bubble in the liquid? Did I get the right amount? Is the powder dissolved all the way?

But we made it. The syringe was loaded up with the medication, and we were ready to go. DH asked me if I was nervous to inject myself and I said, "Not really. I don't mind needles and this is really little." But even as I said the words I knew my apprehension was growing. I think I didn't really know what to expect - the feel of the needle going through the layers of skin, how much it would burn, how long it would last. So I immediately added, "Actually, I'm getting freaked out. You want to do it?"

DH excitedly agreed. After seeing the video he thought it would actually be really easy, and a unique experience to say the least. So he aimed at my belly, pinched my skin, and told me he would count to 3 and insert the needle. However, as he said it I knew he was trying to trick me and would insert the needle before he got to 3, so just as he went for it I started giggling. My abdomen bounced as I giggled with the needle in there!

It really didn't hurt much. I think the actual feeling of needle through flesh disturbed DH, and when he pulled the needle out I did bleed a little. Poor guy felt so bad then, like he hurt me or something! I don't think he enjoyed the experience as much as he thought he would.

Tonight, I think I'll be ready to do it myself. With DH's moral support, of course. :)

Tomorrow, I'm off to a monitoring appointment with the RE! If this cycle is anything like my last medicated cycle, I could be about ready to trigger!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Protecting the 'family jewels'

Yesterday morning DH went to play soccer with a group of guys. He set off just before 9am, and when he hadn't returned home by noon I started to wonder if they were playing the longest game of soccer known to man.

About a half hour later, DH called me.

Me: Hi, how was soccer?

DH: I got injured.

----> My first thought: Crap, I hope it wasn't his tes.ticles. (I have a one track mind these days.)

Me: Oh, no! What happened? Are you ok?

DH: Yeah, I'm fine. Another guy and I ran into each other and his head busted my cheek open. There was a guy playing with us who was a doctor who thought I might need stitches, but I'm just leaving the urgent care and they said I only needed steri strips.

----> Whew, the goods are safe. And, of course, DH is ok and it doesn't sound serious. Relief.

Me: Glad you're ok! Are you on your way home?

DH: Yeah, I'll see you in a few minutes.


***************

Today, DH was trying to think of something fun to do with his youth group guys tomorrow night. He ended up calling one of the parents and asking if the group could use their house to have pizza and hang out. I overheard the conversation, and could tell the mom offered for them to use something at their house that DH was excited about. He kept thanking her and told her that would be a lot of fun for everyone.

Me, upon hang up: What did she say you guys could do?

DH: She offered for us to use her hot tub! That will be a great night, all the guys hanging out together in the hot tub.

----> Red alert! Red alert! DH cannot use a hot tub under any circumstances. And he knows this.

Me: Um, you're not going to use the hot tub, right?

DH, after being quiet for a moment: No. But then what am I going to do, sit in a chair next to them while they're all in there? Maybe we just shouldn't do it all.

Me: Or you can sit on the ledge and hang your feet in?

DH: Well, I guess 8 guys probably won't fit at one time anyway. I'll just act like I'm letting them all have a turn.

-- --> Whew, problem averted. But then I started to wonder if DH would actually be able to ward off the temptation and not enter the warm goodness of the hot tub. Before our TTC days he always loved hot tubs so....what if he gives into the temptation??

Me: I'm sorry you can't go in, love. It sucks and hopefully in a few months I'll be pregnant and you can go in all the hot tubs you want to. But, please, DO NOT go in tomorrow. We'll probably have our IUI this week, and if you damage your sperm it effects us for 3 months!

DH made eye contact with me, and I could tell we were on the same page. He said ok, and I think he will do just fine tomorrow night.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In an instant

If I was sick, I would be praying to get better. And, in most instances, I would see signs of improvement. Fever begins to dissipate, appetite gradually returns, and some energy is restored. A brief, two day illness with a gradual and welcome return to health.

In a way, I am "sick" with infertility. It is a medical condition, and it makes me feel under the weather in many senses of the word. But this sickness lasts much longer than your average virus, to the point where my identity has begun to wrap around the word. My day to day life, thoughts, emotions, and decisions are all enmeshed with my infertility.

I think of myself as infertile. I am infertile. I am not just a person suffering with infertility, but it is a part of who I am. And as I have read so often before on other infertility blogs, I will always hold this in my heart - even if I am blessed with a pregnancy.

I am feeling so much hope and joy as this cycle begins, and am praying for a miracle. I have imagined what it would be like to see that elusive second line, and have allowed myself brief moments of enjoying those joyful, imagined feelings. But what about the moments after that initial moment? When you're suddenly not infertile in the original sense of the word?

Today I suddenly realized just how strange this all is. That, really, in just an instant, one can go from infertile to pregnant. One day you're expecting the arrival of your period, and the next you get a positive home pregnancy test. There is no transition, no warning. Month after month I hope and pray, and for the vast majority of those months the results are negative. But I am not looking for a 'majority win' here -- only ONE positive out of however many negatives counts.

It's mind boggling, really. And beautiful. And oh-so-hopeful.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The protocol

I have a protocol. Doesn't that sound so official and exciting!? My appointment went well today, and I am very thankful.

Dr. H is really winning me over. He does the ultrasounds himself! And more importantly, I just felt like he was so present with me. It was a brief appointment, but I felt like I could have asked any questions I wanted. I did forget to ask a few questions I meant to (I get so spacey due to the excitement/ nervousness while I'm there), but he even made a point to stop me before I was leaving to let me know to call the office with any questions.

Everything looked good on the ultrasound, and he said I have lots of nice baby follicles on my ovaries (hmm...does this mean I was really going crazy when I thought I had a lowish antral follicle count? I wouldn't put it past me). He said since I'm "so young," have all those baby follicles, and just had bloodwork in July I didn't need to do baseline labwork.

I was surprised about the meds protocol. I think I was expecting a course of Follistm since that is what I read about the most. However, I will actually be doing 50mg of clomid on cycle days 3-7, and then injections of 75 iu's of Menopur cycle days 7-9 (with more meds to be determined depending on my monitoring appointment).

Dr. H wanted me to come in on cycle day 10 for my first monitoring appointment, but I explained to him that I had had a 22mm follicle on cycle day 8 on my previous clomid cycle, and I was worried about ovulating too early. He seemed really doubtful that that would happen, but said I could come in on cycle day 9. That appeased me. :) Plus, I can't help but wonder if he will be surprised at this whacked out body of mine -- we'll see! And I don't mean that in a pessimistic I-hate-my-body sort of way, just that I know my body. Well, I should clarify: I know my cycles act strange at times -- not that I can predict it...

I then met with a nurse who gave me my protocol, went over when to take what, and gave a very brief little tutorial on how to do the injections. Very brief. I might be freaking out on cycle day 9 when that 1 minute lesson feels nearly forgotten, but it didn't look too difficult and I've seen there are tutorials online as well.

So tomorrow I pop that first clomid pill. I'm thankful I experienced no side effects last time, so taking the clomid sounds like a piece of cake to me.

I am praying for that God would use this doctor and this medication to open my womb! And I of course welcome any of you to join with me in that prayer!

Monday, September 28, 2009

And we're off!

She's here, she's here! AF arrived today! I called the RE's office and they want me to come in tomorrow (cycle day 2). I wonder why that day rather than 3? I actually feel better about coming in earlier since I ovulate so darn early....I feel like each day REALLY counts. Maybe my body will trick them with a lower E2 than I would have had on cycle day 3, hehe. :)

Tomorrow begins my regular treks down to the RE (about 2 and a half hours round trip). I'm not looking forward to getting up extra early, driving, and getting in later to work. But it's worth it and fortunately my job is incredibly flexible.

I got two things that will hopefully help improve these commutes. One is that I recently (and finally) purchased a bluetooth headset to go with my cell phone. This past January they passed a law here in CA that you have to use one of these to talk on your phone while driving....but I never got one. And, er, I never talked on my phone while driving. :) So now I can {easily, safely, and legally} call DH after each appointment....and whoever else wants to talk to me early in the morning. Secondly, this afternoon I went to the library and got an audiobook -- The Memory Keeper's Daughter. It looks like it might be a tear jerker, which is a risky choice considering I will be hyped up on fertility drugs and plain dealing with infertility, but the selection was rather slim and I've heard good things about it. And if I'm crying in the car at least I'll just be driving by myself.

I'm so excited! Here we go!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daydreams

Today marks the day I earnestly begin the wait for my period. After a year and a half of trying to conceive....21 cycles...I have mostly done away with the fleeting, "Maybe I am pregnant!?" thoughts that I had at this point in my cycle in the earlier days. Instead, I now want my period to arrive so that we can start our IUI cycle. C'mon, AF!

However, I do catch myself still daydreaming about being late. And then, on a whim, taking a pregnancy test. And then seeing a second line. And then, while crying joyful tears, showing DH the second line and rejoicing with him. Really, the day dream is the same each month and continues cycle after cycle.

The dream is almost the same as it was in those early days of trying to conceive, too. I would probably have tested before I was late in all my excitement, but the scene would play out much the same...same pregnancy test, same tears of joy, same celebration with DH.

But....so not the same. Incredible surprise, miracle pregnancy test. Huge, gasping tears of miraculous joy. Amazing, deep rejoicing with DH. No, if we are blessed with a positive pregnancy test it will not be the same as I once thought it would be. We have prayed, we have waited, we have suffered, we have longed with great longing....the joy, therefore, must be more profound.

Friday, September 25, 2009

So scary

Today I witnessed something that was incredibly scary. I will start by saying that, as far as I could tell, everyone seemed to be ok and nobody appeared hurt. I don't want you all to get as freaked out as I did! But I will warn you that this was a terrifying moment that involved a baby, so if you're feeling fragile you may not want to read... :(

I was entering a parking garage, and a few feet behind me was a mom with her very young baby (I would guess around 4 months old) and the baby's grandma. Mom was pushing a stroller and grandma was carrying the baby in her arms.

Suddenly, I saw the grandma start to slip, and turned to see her crash face forward on the ground -- HARD. So hard that even had she not been holding a baby I would have been worried about her. But she was holding a baby! The baby in her arms looked like he both hit the concrete and was crushed underneath her, and I honestly thought that the baby could be dead. It was horrifying and my heart felt like it stopped beating for a moment, and a surge of adrenaline rushed through me as I tried to figure out if there was anything I could do to help. I immediately got my phone out and was ready to call 911.

The baby's mom swooped down, grabbed the baby, and as she pulled him to her chest he let out a shriek. And although it was a frantic cry from the babe, I was so very relieved that he was conscious and able to cry. The mom tried to simultaneously comfort him while being pretty hysterical herself. The grandma got up (looked ok) and was so distraught and full of apologies.

They rushed out to find their car, and the mom was practically yelling, "Where's our car? Where did we park?" as she half sobbed and tried to comfort her shrieking baby. I saw them get to their car, and as I reached my own car and could no longer see them I heard the mom's sobs come out full force.

I sat in my car and my hands were shaking. I prayed for that family and that they all really would be ok. That poor mom and grandma. If I thought it was terrifying, they must be in shock over what happened! I called DH because I just had to tell somebody, and as I described what happened I started crying. He prayed for them, too. I just felt like that could have been me or any of us in that situation - it was just a nice little family and a freak accident. Wow.

It's been a few hours now, but I still feel a little out of it and blue. I am praying they took the baby to the hospital to make sure he is ok. Maybe the grandma's arms shielded him more than I could tell -- I hope so.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy fall!

Yesterday marked the first day of fall....a date I actually have noted on my calendar. Like many people, I absolutely LOVE the fall. Since I live in Sou.thern CA, the weather itself doesn't change a whole lot....so I think I try to compensate for that in my home. I love the smells (candles and soap), colors (some seasonal decor), and, most of all, flavors (pumpkin, cinnamon, apples, pears, butternut squash, hot drinks...I could go on). I love to cook in the fall.

So yesterday I kicked off the new season like it was a holiday. I woke up and happily said to DH, "Today's the first day of fall!" All day I looked forward to "celebrating" when I got home from work. The only downside of the day was that it was HOT here (still is). I wish my state could figure out that it's FALL and show some excitement by cooling off!

Evening came and I got home, pulled out my fall bin, and cheerily put on music. DH got home from work with some fall flowers in his hand and greeted me with, "Happy first day of fall!" I giggled and jumped with glee like a school girl!


I decorated and did some cooking to prepare for tonight's dinner. We invited some friends over with their 2 year old daughter to "celebrate fall" with us tonight. My friend loves the little things like I do, so she didn't think I was too weird. :)

We had a fun dinner with great company and lovely flavors melding together. I started with an appetizer of rosemary bread (store bought from Costco) with gooey brie to spread on top, and a glass of chardonnay...

And then a salad of mixed greens tossed with a blush vinaigrette and topped with apple, crumbled goat cheese, and candied pecans (from Trader Joe's....these make any salad heavenly)...

For the main course, I made this Risotto with Butternut Squash, Pancetta, and Jack Cheese (although, I substituted Parmesan cheese) from Cooking Light:

I should have taken a picture of MY risotto, but didn't think of it as I was serving everyone. Plus this picture's prettier, anyway. And I must say, this risotto recipe was easier than others I have made before because it did NOT require constant stirring. This was soooo yummy, and I think the Parmesan was a good switch because the jack cheese would have been too mild. Also, if you are intimidated to cut a butternut squash up, Costco sells a huge bag that's already pre-cubed for a reasonable price (at least they did last fall...).

Lastly, we finished our meal with Nutty Apple Spice Cake with Quick Butterscotch Sauce, also from Cooking Light:
Yum, yum! I used caramel sauce instead of butterscotch and rum extract rather than rum, since that's what I had.

*Sigh* I love the fall. Wouldn't it be lovely to conceive in the fall...? A girl can dream. :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thinking ahead

This morning I woke up and started thinking about my next cycle. Usually these thoughts come with excitement and hope, since I at least feel like we're moving forward. However, as I laid in bed anxious thoughts started to fill my mind.

Yesterday, I read a post on a message board I frequent in which most people said their RE liked to see an E2 level less than 50 on cycle day 3. I read the post and had the casual thought, "Huh, mine's never been below 50" but didn't think much of it.

This morning, for some reason, that sunk in. Why is my estrogen so high (ranges from 50-68...not terrible, but not below 50)? Will my RE cancel my cycle? What do they do about high estrogen?

Shortly after this I saw a lovely blog post by my friend Andrea, who is newly pregnant after her 4th IVF. Last week she had a bleeding scare, and her post today was about the amazing gift of peace that the Lord has given her. She is not scared. Her words and the scripture she quoted settled my troubled spirit.

God is in control. I cannot be shaken.

And to steal a verse she used in her post:
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.  The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.  The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore (Psalm 121:2-3, 7-8).

Thank you, Lord, for calming my heart. Help me to trust you, and forgive me for my worry. Use my next cycle as you desire. Amen.