Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reaching Out

This past week, in an effort to find conversations with people who understand where we are, I reached out to two women who have struggled with infertility.  Although I would not consider either of these women close friends, they both graciously shared with me and encouraged me this week.  The "end" of infertility looked very different for these two conceived and carried to term healthy twins using injectables; the other never conceived at all, and she and her husband are beginning the adoption process this January.  Despite their different situations, they each shared jewels of wisdom that I am clinging too during these excruciating days of waiting.

The woman with infant twins reminded me that it's okay to cry and worry, but it is imperative to remember that I am not alone.  When babies come, however that happens, we will appreciate them much more than if they had come easily.

While talking to my friend who is soon to begin the adoption process, it was like I was hearing many of my own thoughts spoken aloud.  She admitted how much it hurt when people refer to children as a gift from God...if God is handing out babies as gifts, why is He withholding them from us?  She explained that even though she has accepted their new path, it still stings to see a pregnant woman, swollen in beautiful anticipation.  But most importantly, she shared with me a breakthrough she had while coming to terms with never being pregnant.  She said that she once believed that the worst thing that could happen to her would be for someone to tell her she could not have children...but she now realizes that the worst thing that could happen is for someone to tell her she could not have her husband.  The love they share is what fuels the desire for children, and that love can be shared with a biological or adopted child equally.  A beautiful thought to carry us through this two week wait!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Superman...Part 2

A couple of things to add to my last post....

1) Thank you all for your encouragement and well wishes as we head into this IUI.  Blogging has been such a great release for me, and I treasure each comment!

2) Just to make sure that no one thinks my husband is evil, here's a portion of the email A sent me after reading my last post:

"....please do not blame yourself anymore for all of this.  We are in this together.  It is not "my sperm" and "your eggs."  These are "our sperm" and "our eggs."  We are going through this with the cards that we are dealt and they are our cards, not my cards and your cards.  We are playing the same hand here. 

WE have a good sperm count....that is a good thing.  WE have a good estrogen level as of yesterday.  WE had good HSG results last week.  WE are now trying IUI."

Have I mentioned yet how much I love him? 

Happy Friday everyone! 


When I arrived yesterday for our IUI, the nurse who was running A's sperm came walking from the back of the office to greet me.  She was shaking her head and asking whether A was with me, so dread began to fill my stomach.  Her first words were "my machine won't even count his sperm."  How could this be right?  A had an analysis about eight months ago, and everything looked perfect.  Now we were adding sperm trouble to our list of hurdles?!?  I guess she could tell we were befuddled, so she quickly explained that her machine could not count them because there were too many.  Too many sperm!  Superman sperm, she called them.  In our 1/2 cc that they inserted, instead of the 10 million that they prefer, A had produced 52 million.

Don't get me wrong, this is wonderful news, and we are more than grateful...but it is also further confirmation that either my eggs, my tubes, or my uterus are truly sub-par.  If A had married a "normal" girl, he would have knocked her up months ago.  Instead, he and his superman sperm are stuck with me.  Here's hoping there is no kryptonite anywhere in my reproductive system.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hello little follicle!

Today we had our ultrasound to check my follicles.  On one side I had two, one measuring 23 mm and one measuring 13 mm.  There were two on the other side as well, but they were both fairly small.  Based on the ultrasound, we went ahead with the hCG trigger shot and will inseminate tomorrow!  I know that the IUI success rate is not great, but am really trying to be positive about this treatment...I have been giving my follicles little pep talks all day.  IUI round one, here we go!

Monday, October 25, 2010

a full time job...and then there's work

I am an attorney.  I consider myself to be honest, nice, and loyal, but I am an attorney nonetheless.  When A and I first began trying, I was a young litigation associate at a large law firm.  Translation: I worked countless hours, including most nights and weekends, in search of the billable hour.  Granted, I was well compensated, but I was more than overworked.  Before our baby-dancing commenced, I was already a bit disillusioned with my job...I often spent my days trying to save large, wealthy companies a few extra dollars.  But soon into our reproductive journey, I realized that being an associate and becoming a mom were simply incompatible for me.  A and I knew that we might need expensive treatments in the future, something that my lucrative salary would help support, but we also knew that having to schedule sex between document review sessions was probably not helping our efforts.  So we took a leap and I took a new job.

I am now the first ever General Counsel (actually first ever attorney on staff) at a non-profit in our city.  This organization serves the disabled and disadvantaged in our community, and I was lucky to find a position in an organization with such a remarkable mission.  The hours are great, the people seem nice, but being the first at anything is never easy.  The responsibility of shaping this position into something useful to the organization falls solely to me.  I am usually the first to volunteer for a challenge, but lately I feel completely spent.  I want so badly to be a good new employee, to create a position that will endure beyond me, but my heart and energy are elsewhere.

I have heard from many women that their job is an escape from the TTC journey, somewhere they can get lost in something other than baby-making.  For me, however, it feels like the tests, monitoring, appointments, hope and heartbreak are literally a full-time job.  I cannot find the capacity to commit to both fertility treatments and lawyering.  Taking a break from work is not a real option for me right now, so I am trying to take work one day at a time and be as committed as possible under the circumstances.  Hopefully between google searches about "ways to increase the success rate of iui," I can produce enough legal mumbo jumbo to appear useful for now.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Still a guest room...

To all women trying to conceive, I am fairly certain that the title of my blog is self-explanatory.  We all have that one room in our house that continuously reminds us that we are still childless.

When A and I bought our little 1940-built cottage two years ago, we immediately deemed one room the future nursery.  It's a beautiful is one of the rooms that still retains the original hardwoods and intricate molding.  It has two large windows that fill the room with gorgeous natural light.  Plus, its just a step away from the master, a truly perfect nursery.  I have spent countless hours pondering where the crib would fit best and exactly which pieces of furniture we will need to buy when the time comes.  But today it remains a guest room/office, with no baby gear in sight.

A loves this room--he studies (almost finished with his Masters, so proud!) and works at the desk in front of the window overlooking the front lawn.  He spends a considerable amount of time in the "future nursery" each week.  I, however, tend to avoid the room.  For me, it holds a tinge of sadness.  I look at the daybed and think that it should be downstairs by now.  I look at the walls and remember that the time to have them painted a beautiful baby-appropriate shade has not yet arrived.  So for now, I visit the guest room/office on an as needed basis and dream about the days when I will spend sleepless nights in this precious place.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A little good news....finally!

We had our HSG yesterday, and the x-ray showed a normally shaped uterus and clear fallopian tubes!  This felt like the first time in quite a while that we had gotten good news from a reproductive endocrinologist.  We are relieved by the good news, and I am thankful to have this test behind me.

The HSG was the first time we had seen our new doctor since the failed pregnancy last week.  While my tubes looked clear, he still has concerns that they are not working properly.  He mentioned, almost in passing, that if we have another pregnancy that tuckers out quickly he would recommend we move ahead to IVF.  The reality of that statement did not hit me until much later in the day, so I am now trying to process exactly what that means.  For now, we are concentrating our efforts on the IUI scheduled for next week and hoping for the best!

On a lighter note, we have learned to ask for copies of everything as we go through this journey.  Before leaving the test room, I asked a nurse if I could have a copy of the picture from my HSG.  She said she would bring it out as soon as she could print it.  A few minutes later, a nurse brought A and I a huge, full size x-ray scan.  We felt pretty ridiculous walking out of the hospital with a life-size picture of my uterus, and we are seriously considering taking it to our next church group meeting in case anyone else wants to play show and tell with their ultrasound pictures!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Last year, A and I helped begin a young married couples group at our church.  We thought it would be a great way to meet people in our age bracket.  The group has resumed meeting this year, and out of the five regular couples who attend, two are pregnant...very pregnant.  We had a get together last night, and A practically begged me to sit this one out.  I had felt overwhelmed all day, and he tried to convince me that a night at home with the dogs would be more beneficial to my mental health.  Not wanting to let my fertility issues rule my like, I declared that I would be attending, that it might actually be good for me. 

The pregnancies have never been a central topic of discussion at our meetings before.  Last night, however, was an exception.  Our priest had invited an engaged couple to join us, and almost immediately upon walking in, the bride-to-be exclaimed, "There must be something in the water, you're all pregnant!"  Not all, I wanted to point out (though not for lack of trying).  A few minutes later, our new associate priest walks in and begins chatting.  Less than sixty seconds into the conversation, he asked if this was the group for people having kids, people raising our future parishioners.  Surely this is it, I think.  No more stabs in the gut tonight.  Not so.  As we were eating, I tried to politely disengage myself from a conversation about which birthing classes are best, and how they just hope their babies don't decide to come early and muck up pre-made plans.  Then, trying to be polite, I ask one of the fathers how much vacation he is taking when the baby is born.  He quickly responds with "Two weeks, since it's at Christmas.  We planned it that way."  Well, isn't that nice...planning exactly when you want to conceive to give yourself a convenient due date!   The final, and probably worst moment, came at the end of the night.  One couple had brought their 3-D ultrasound pictures.  I saw the dad standing there with them and tried to back away quickly, but I was too late.  "Don't you want to see our ultrasound pictures?"  So there I stood, one week to the day after learning that we lost our second pregnancy, looking at an ultrasound picture of a healthy baby girl.

To be fair, these two couples have no ideal that we just lost two pregnancies.  And I usually like these people...they are intelligent, fun, and have many of the same views on our church as A and I do.  But last night I was certain that they were little demons sent directly from Hell to rip the newly forming scabs off my fresh wounds.  The moral of the story is simple....I should listen to A more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Substitute Child

When I graduated from college, I received the most fabulous gift from my parents....a precious little yorkie (Big C)!  Big C is truly the best little friend ever.  He weighs about 3.5 pounds and is cuddly and playful at the same time.  He even wakes my husband A, who has Type 1 Diabetes, up in the middle of the night when A's blood sugar goes low (not sure if Big C is worried about A or just wants to steal a few crackers).  As Big C grew, I worried that he was lonely and repeatedly pestered A about getting a little sister.  A made valid points...what if the Big C didn't like the new dog, what if the new dog had a terrible personality...but still I pestered.

Then came the end of birth control and the beginning of our quest for a baby.  Although I didn't know what our journey would look like, I knew we wouldn't immediately have a baby to cuddle.  So, I got the next best thing--a baby sister for Big C, a yorkie poo named Little S.  A had adamantly opposed the addition of another dog, but suddenly a little furball seemed necessary to complete our family. 

We have had Little S for a bit over six months now, and though she is not a newborn, she has brought great joy into this time that can feel overwhelmingly sad.  She has invigorated Big C--it warms my heart to see them racing and playing with their toys together.  She has the sweetest face, and although she is not the brightest dog ever, she is a master at loving well.  Although I hoped to be decorating a nursery by now, somehow picking up the stuffing she has just removed from her teddy bear is soothing for me.  Our family of four is still missing a little one (or two or three), but our substitute child has helped make the wait a little easier to withstand.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Do you ever just feel like you are following your treatment path, not really stopping to ask for directions, towards a goal that gets fuzzier and fuzzier all the time?  Don't get me wrong, I am an empowered patient.  I read up on treatment options and diagnoses, and I ask a lot of fact, asking too many questions actually got me kicked out of one fertility practice.  But sometimes I still feel totally overwhelmed, like I am riding some conveyor belt rather than actively walking this path.

Over the next week and a half, we have two new procedures scheduled.  First, on Thursday, we are having an HSG test.  Hopefully this will show completely opened tubes and a beautifully normal uterus.  In the meantime, I am taking higher doses of chlomid in the hopes of doing our first IUI next week.  If the HSG shows open tubes, then we will have an ultrasound and (if the follicles are ready) hCG shot to induce ovulation next Wednesday, followed the next day by the insemination.  (The act of typing this makes me realize just how unromantic this all sounds!)

So here's to several firsts coming up for us....first time to actually see my fallopian tubes; first phone call with an internet pharmacist; first shot being delivered to my home; first attempt to get my body to produce multiple follicles; and, as always, hopefully our first little one!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Round Two

I despise cliches, but I now have a deeper hatred for one in particular: "Lightning never strikes twice."  I can tell you from experience that this is a lie.  When A and I lost our first baby, we were left with no doctor and no real plan.  We had an appointment with a new reproductive endocrinologist and were taking the six week break between doctors appointments to heal and regroup.  We were by no means "trying" to get pregnant, especially considering that we had been told it would be virtually impossible for us to conceive on a natural cycle.  I continued to monitor my ovulation, though, so I would know approximately where we stood.

We met with our new doctor on Monday, October 4th, and we were more than pleased with our new helpers.  A new plan was set into motion, and we were set to begin IUI on my next cycle.  I knew that I should start my period sometime between Friday and Monday, and for some reason on Saturday I decided to pee on a stick (I am fairly certain that this is because peeing on sticks is my new vice).  And there it was again...a faint second line.  A was doing some weekend work at his office, so the stick and I quickly jumped into the car to get his opinion on whether the line actually existed.  He saw it too, and a couple hours later a second test showed a darker line. 

We were completely overjoyed.  We knew that we should remain cautious, but this just seemed meant to be.  We had conceived on a natural cycle when we were not even trying!  Surely this was the baby we would bring home from the hospital in eight months!  Although I tried to remain guarded, my heart was full.  The baby would be due in June, which was mother-in-law would be off for the summer, our family has no birthdays in June, I would be through the pregnancy before the hottest months of the year.  I could not have written a better script.  I even sewed a little green sleep sack on Sunday night (sewing is a new hobby I am attempting to use to de-stress).

Our first blood test was this past Monday, and despite being certain we would get a good number, my hCG was only 33.  Although this was low, we knew that it would be fine as long as it doubled correctly.  Plus, I chalked up the lower number to not knowing the exact date we conceived.  We went back on Wednesday, and as I waited at work that afternoon my stomach sank.  Although I had no physical reason to think things had gone wrong, I feared the worst.  At around 3:00 p.m., my fears were confirmed.  The nurse called and said my hCG had dropped to 8.  Two ovulations in a row had resulted in conception, and for two cycles in a row we had lost that precious promise of life.

I have always felt empathy for couples who suffered miscarriages, but I had no perspective on how such a loss truly felt.  It is an invisible one can look at you and tell you just lost your child.  For me, at least, this invisibility is burdensome.  No one knows the reason for the vacant look in my eyes.  People are confused when I, who am normally outgoing, am quiet at a dinner party because I feel completely alone at the full table.  The loss of these two precious ones stings with a pain I have never felt, a pain with which too many women are familiar.

In a bit of irony, A and I were scheduled to go on a trip to the desert Thursday.  We decided to go, hoping that some time away from our normal surroundings would be helpful to our healing.  So I now sit in the desert, both literally and metaphorically, wondering what our next path will be.     

Friday, October 15, 2010

The beginning......

In December 2007, I began having "problems."  They were not life threatening, but they were bothersome enough to seek medical intervention.  For the next year and a half, my husband (who I shall refer to as A) and I heard words like endometriosis (confirmed through surgery) and interstitial cystisis (unconfirmed through surgery), and ended up being diagnosed with a mystery reproductive ailment.  Because no one knew exactly what was going wrong, we were told several times that my fertility could potentially be affected.  Though it was a frightening thought, I was sure we would be able to produce a bouncing baby when we were ready.  After all, in 2008 we were only turning 25, and we were both relatively healthy.

Fast forward a couple of years.  Baby fever set in late in 2009.  We kept holding off for "the right time to start," then had a bit too much to drink one night and tossed the pills.  April 2010, both 26 years old.  I was so certain that we would have a baby in nine months...I began researching crib safety and seriously contemplating what color we should paint the nursery (green is most practical since it would work for a second child of the opposite gender).  Since we were treating with a reproductive endocrinologist already, he decided to monitor me as we began trying.  He also gave A a quick test, who of course checked out perfectly.

My doctor quickly determined that I had serious hormonal issues/deficiencies--namely, my body refuses to make progesterone.  Within a few months of trying, we were already beginning our first chlomid cycle.  My head spun...What if chlomid doesn't work?  What would we try next?  How much would this all cost?  How could I manage fertility treatments and my full time job?  It all seemed to be going downhill so quickly.

Then, on our second chlomid cycle, something miraculous happened.  I saw two lines.  I had spotted a bit the week before, but there were two lines on the stick.  This was it--I was officially becoming a mom.  The next two weeks were the most stressful days of my life.  First the doctor said it was a chemical pregnancy, a term I despise.  Then as levels continued to rise, we thought everything was okay.  Then the word ectopic began floating around.  After two and a half weeks of tests and a traumatizing experience at my doctor's office (which included this doctor mocking me and cursing at A), I was given methotrexate to "treat" a failing pregnancy that was believed to be ectopic.  I spent 8 hours that day being shuffled to three doctors, and at the end of the day I had lost the baby I desired more than anything, the doctor who was supposed to be helping me, my sanity and my hope.  I was exhausted and felt clueless as to where to go next.