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:

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

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


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. :)