Friday, December 31, 2010

in with the new

First injection completed!  And I must say, for a girl who passed out getting a flu shot two years ago, I did extremely well.  I made it through the actual injection fine...when I started to feel a little tingle from the meds, though, I let myself think about it all and got a little queasy, but nothing that lying on the couch for a few minutes couldn't cure.  One down, somewhere around 30 to go!  And to top it all off, we heard the birthday announcements on the Today show this morning and Dr. Howard Jones, the father if IVF in the US, turned 100 today!

Officially beginning IVF seems like an appropriate way to end 2010.  This year has been consumed by the apparent successes and subsequent failures in our journey to add to our family.  As we start this new year and new treatment, I have great hope that things will eventually work out for us, whatever that means.  2011 will be a better year...we may not have a baby, but I believe we are more prepared and are more ready to make difficult decisions than we were a year ago. 

As a sign that things can change, I received a lovely email from my sister this morning.  It was short, just said she was thinking of us, but it was an acknowledgement nonetheless.  The same sister that failed to even call after any of our three miscarriages remembered that we were starting injections today.  Yes, things can change.  Things can get better.  Cheers to a different, better 2011 for all of us. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010


The countdown is on....I start my follistim injections in the morning!  Never thought I would be so excited to stick a needle in my belly.  Wish me luck and feel free to pass along any injection tips!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

melt-down moments

I've been trying to post positive things lately...I want as much positivity as possible surrounding me as I start my first IVF cycle (which is still really weird for me to say).  Over Christmas, though, I had a few "melt-down moments."  I debated over whether to blog about them--they are over, and rehashing them does nothing.  But because blogging often helps me process and close the door on things that are bothering me, I decided to put these out there.  Feel free to stop reading now.

1. Christmas Eve Mass: We purposefully went to 6:00 mass rather than 4:00 mass, since 4:00 is usually children's mass.  There I was, kneeling quietly waiting to receive communion, when out of nowhere the contemporary band stopped playing and a children's choir began to sing.  For some reason this hit me like a ton of bricks...I started literally weeping in my seat.  Not my finest hour.

2. The Night Before Christmas: A's family has a tradition that they read this book every Christmas Eve.  Since the youngest is now 15 and there are no grandchildren, it seems a bit out of place to me and I did my best to avoid it, even going to bed first on Christmas Eve. As we sat at Christmas breakfast, however, out popped the book, and my father-in-law proceeded to read the entire thing.  The appearance of a children's book felt very insensitive.

3. Presents: Let me preface this by saying that this is going to sound petty and entitled.  I realize that our families are not obligated to chip in for our treatment in any way.  Because we really only need help with treatment costs, though, we asked that instead of presents our parents give us money to put towards IVF.  This was our way of letting them know that any help would be immensely appreciated.  On Christmas morning, we got $200.  This was very nice, and we are grateful.  But A's little sister got a new iMac...the 27" screen iMac...the $1800 iMac.  It pained me to see this excessive piece of technology sitting there knowing that my in-laws, who have the means to do more, had not even given us enough to cover 1/3 of our follistim.

4. Traditions: A's family is a bit obsessed with traditions.  One tradition is to draw numbers to decide the order of opening presents.  During the number drawing this year, his little sister said something to the effect of this is how we do it and this is how we will always do it no matter how many people are in the family.  This was a special sting...I know that they value their traditions, but they were able to create their own.  I worry that his family will try to impose their traditions on us, rather than giving us the space and freedom to forge our own way.

5. Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Finally, in one of the few conversations where it was acknowledged that we are dealing with fertility issues (I brought it up everytime), we were talking around how everyone has an opinion about IVF.  A's mom said "Just don't tell anybody you are doing it," to which I responded, "I should be able to tell everyone, and I should receive nothing but support."  She didn't really respond, which of course made me feel that she doesn't agree.  I hate feeling like his family wants us to hide this, like it's some dirty secret.  We don't ask cancer patients to wear a wig and hide their chemo.  Why am I supposed to hide this very serious medical condition?

Sorry that these sound so whiny, but thanks for listening bloggie friends.  Sometimes you just need to vent.

Monday, December 27, 2010


We had our baseline appointment this morning and got our first look at my little follicles (very little right now).  I guess I missed some information along the way because I had no idea they would be giving us a follicle number today.  We had 8-9 on one ovary and 9-10 on the other, and my RE indicated that a few more might form but that this was basically what we were working with.  I must admit that at first I was a little disappointed.....I thought the number should be higher.  After doing a little googling and talking with a few women who have done IVF recently, I feel much better.  I'm also trying to remind myself that I cannot control the number of follicles, or eggs, that I produce.

We also found out that my thrombophilia panel came back with almost completely normal results.  The only thing that was a little off was that my MTHFR enzyme level was slightly elevated.  My doctor was not concerned.  He did switch me to a prenatal vitamin with more of the active form of folic acid, but he was confident that this had nothing to do with my previous losses.  If anyone out there in bloggie world has any insight on MTHFR, please pass it along.  I keep referring to it as mother f***er because for some reason when I see this string of letters that is the first thing that pops in my mind.  I'm pretty sure that is not what it stands for, but it's much easier to remember!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

sometimes there is a bigger plan

After a fairly pleasant Christmas with only one or two minor meltdowns, A and I decided to drive from his parents' house back to our own late yesterday evening.  The original plan had been to drive back this morning (the 26th), but I was finding it difficult to keep my happy face on, and since my in-laws will be at our house this evening A made the executive decision that we needed a break.  Our trek back home includes a pass over the Appalachian Mountains, so the in-laws weren't convinced that our returning home early was a good idea considering the snow that had fallen.  But off we went. 

The first little bit of the trip was fine, but then the snow picked up and night set in.  The mountains were dicey...neither of us were sure we were going to make it back, fearing a night in a dingy roadside motel.  We continued on the road though, slowly, and eventually made it back.  Sleeping in my own bed last night seemed well worth the somewhat dicey journey.

This morning we woke up and the news announced that many local churches were cancelled due to weather.  Our road seemed fine, though, so we decided to head to mass.  I converted to Catholicism in 2007 (I was formerly Baptist, Presbyterian, and non-denominational), and until our foray into infertility I found such solace in the Church.  Sure, I disagreed with many of the conservative views, but we attend a more liberal parish and I had made peace with negotiating my own path through Catholicism.  Once recurrent loss entered our life, I began feeling more and more uncomfortable in a church where I feel unable to share my whole story. 

So, in an unlikely turn of events that included coming home early through a snow storm and braving potentially icy roads in our Southern town, A and I attended mass at our home church.  And on this Feast of the Holy Family, I heard assisted reproductive technology mentioned from the pulpit for the first time, and surprisingly, it was in a beautiful way.  Our priest's homily was about the beauty of family, and how we should choose to be familial to those outside our family as well.  Towards the end of the sermon, he began discussing how there are different meanings of family and he parted with this: "Two of my nephews are gifts.  My sister conceived them using an anonymous donor's genetic material, as she likes to call it.  They are now 9 and 11 and have started meeting annually with other children conceived from this same donor.  It's a beautiful, new way in which they have found familial connections."

Involuntary tears began to flow from both myself and A.  This priest, who we are honestly not terribly fond of, gave us our sweetest gift this Christmas.  He gave us hope that many in our Church, even many in authority, recognize the miraculous gift reproductive technology affords families.  While I am not sure where my journey with the Catholic Church will end, I know that it was no mistake I was sitting at that specific mass this morning, and I am thankful that our priest chose to share his story on this beautiful feast day.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

may your days be merry and bright

I am heading to my in-laws this afternoon, but before I left I wanted to wish all of you, my newest friends, a Merry Christmas.  Most of us have not had the year we dreamed of, and the holidays are difficult when you are still waiting to share them with a little one, but I hope that each of you can find moments of joy and peace over the next few days.  You have all brought a little extra brightness to my life, and I wish that same brightness for you this holiday season.  Merry Christmas to you and your families!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

playing the odds

Like so many of you, I am having trouble with the holidays this year.  I am so focused on starting stims on the 31st...I just wish I could skip Christmas and get started with IVF.  I realize that's not going to happen (the fertility patient's life is full of waiting, after all).  I fear that I am putting too much hope into this IVF cycle.  I keep reminding myself that there is a good chance it won't work, but I know that my heart is extremely attached to the cycle.  As I wait to get started, I am being constantly reminded of the potential for wonderful success or gutwrenching heartbreak associated with our next treatment.  

I know that some people in the infertility world do not like Guiliana and Bill Rancic, but I have added their show to my DVR list and find myself waiting to find out what happens next.  Last night they found out that their second IVF cycle didn't work...they weren't pregnant.  I felt so sad watching this ending, but I also found it to be an interesting commentary on fertility treatments.  Even the best treatment money can buy does not ensure that you will end up with a baby.  I think there is a misperception in the world that many people go into IVF flippantly, often because it is most convenient for them.  This is so false.  I would venture to say that 99% of the people who undergo IVF have spent countless hours debating the pros and cons and have tried everything else possible to get pregnant.  I also think there is a misperception that if you try hard enough you will eventually get pregnant.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.

In my own life, I see people end at so many different destinations.  Two of the former patients I bought meds from both went to my doctor and both used the same protocol.  One is now expecting twins, and the other is still painfully childless.  When I read your blogs, I see so many stories of heartbreaking negatives...but I have also gotten to watch as some of you found out a child was joining your family (tasivfercalmly chaoticjennmrs. joerebecca).  I cherish the stories of success, as they give me hope.  But I also cherish the stories of not-yet-successes that are shared, as they help me keep some perspective and give me strength to continue.  Hopefully we will all have our own success stories to tell one day.  I so want that day to be on beta day after our upcoming IVF, but am trying to remember that it's extremely far from a guarantee.   

Sunday, December 19, 2010

investing in the future

When I graduated from law school, A and I took a fabulous trip to Italy.  I wanted to give him something special for his graduation, but due to the incredible amount of money we have spent this year on trying to get pregnant, Italy was not an option.  Instead, we went to a beautiful inn in the mountains for the weekend.  It was a perfect get-away...we had fires, games, wine, and delicious food.  Despite the great time, though, I definitely felt guilty that I couldn't do more for A.

While the emotional side of this has been grueling, the financial side has been incredibly difficult as well.  This year we have spent enough out-of-pocket on trying to get and stay pregnant to pay for a car.  If we get pregnant through this process, I know I will believe that it was the best money we ever spent.  I fear what will happen if we don't get pregnant, though.  I know that we couldn't have walked away from trying for a biological child without trying IVF, but if our fresh and frozen cycle don't result in a baby it will be hard to swallow the dent this has made in our financial situation.  I just hope our investment pays off!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

all is good...

Ready to start birth control on Saturday.  Of course my body decided to wait until a couple of weeks before IVF to perform a perfect 28 day cycle.  Now back to birth control...didn't think I'd be taking these again so soon!

pre-freak out mode

My body just won't cooperate, and I'm getting really worried that it's going to steal this January IVF cycle from me.  I was supposed to start my period this week so that I could do a day 3 start of birth control.  Well, today is day 29 of my cycle and there are no signs of the period cramps or discharge.  I know you're probably thinking that day 29 isn't even really late, but for me it is.  Previous non-medicated cycles have ranged from 21-25 days.  It should be physically impossible for us to be pregnant, but I took a test this morning just to make sure and there was no second line.  I was really relieved at that...the last thing I want is to deal with another early miscarriage or ectopic right now.

To add to my concern, I have a sneaking suspicion that I didn't even ovulate this month.  None of my OPKs ever came back positive, but I had chalked it up to them having been open too long.  Plus, I wasn't really testing religiously, just trying to keep a basic picture of where I was in my cycle. 

I've never wanted to start my period so badly in my life.  I am getting so excited about trying IVF, and now just want to get the ball rolling.  I have an email into my doctor, but am so anxious I can't stand it.  Any ideas out there?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I've read lots of inspirational blog posts/books/articles about how infertility made someone a better person.  I hope to get to that point one day--to be able to look back and see that my life was enriched in some way by all of this--but for now, I am at least ready to admit that our fertility issues have made me a different person. 

I am a more empathetic person.  I have always considered empathy to be a gift I possessed, but there's a whole new level now.  When I see someone in a difficult situation, my heart literally hurts for them.  I suppose this deeper level of feeling is due to the fact that I have real-life experience with deeper sorrow now. 

I am more careful with my words.  I have learned how the most seemingly innocuous words can sting, and try to choose the words I speak and write with greater concern for how they might affect their recipient.

I have fewer fights with my husband.  Don't get me wrong...I still throw an all-out, irrational tantrum once in a while (this past weekend, for instance).  In general, though, I pick fewer fights.  I'm not sure if this is because I have realized that most of what I fight about is irrelevant in the big picture or because I'm just too tired to get started.

I am much better at all things medical.  I can now get my blood drawn without my husband present and don't even pass out when they have to go to the veins behind my knees.  I still get a little queasy when certain procedures are being described, but am leaps and bounds beyond where I was a year ago.

I have decided that maybe the Duggars aren't so crazy.  Yes, 19 kids is a lot........okay, I guess they are still pretty nutty.

I talk on the phone a lot less.  We don't have a landline, and in November I used less than 150 minutes on my cell phone.  I just don't have the energy to engage in small talk anymore and thus have found myself avoiding phone conversations all together.

I'm not sure that these are all for the better, and I don't know how permanent they are.  It will be interesting to see how life continues to evolve if we ever get to the other side of this journey. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

here we go!

We officially started the IVF process today!  We had our injection teaching class and our embryology consult.  Basically, I got overloaded with information about all the different injections (I start stims on Dec. 31st...Happy New Year), then we had to sign lots of forms saying what to do with our embryos in every conceivable situation.  We only found one question difficult to many eggs we wanted (potentially) fertilized.  Before we decided to do IVF, our biggest hesitation was the thought of having lots of leftover embryos and having to make a hard decision about what to do with them.  After our losses, we were sure that, in our opinion, embryos are little lives.  Please understand that I am not being all judgy here...everyone decides what they are comfortable with, and I support anyone else's decision 100%.  Destroying our embryos at any point, though, is not really an option for us. 

We had originally thought we would only expose 8 to fertilization.  But the more I read the more I worried that if we limited the number exposed we would end up with no high quality embryos.  My theory in moving through all of this is that I don't want to have any regrets if we get to the end of trying biologically with no baby.  If we do not end up with a quality embryo, I know I would regret not fertilizing all the eggs.  So for now we have decided to have all the eggs exposed to fertilization.  Our clinic discussed the great need for adoption embryos, so we feel comfortable that there are some good options out there if we end up with more than we can use.

For those of you who have done one or more IVF cycles, is there anything you wish you had known beforehand?  Anything that helped you through the process?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thank You!

Yesterday was a fabulous day...A graduated with his masters degree!  This is the culmination of many papers, exams, and years of working full time while going to class.  I am so proud, and we were thankful that both of our families were able to come visit and celebrate with us.  After everyone left today, though, I was a little sad.  No one in our families mentioned or wanted to talk about our recent decision to do IVF.  They didn't ask questions or how we were feeling.  In fact, they went to pains not to refer to our current situation.  I know that discussing these topics makes some people feel really uncomfortable, but it's the most important part of our lives right now and I actually like to discuss it with loved ones.  When people act like it's not even going on, I start to feel like they don't care.  I know that I am unhealthily consumed with trying to get pregnant, but don't our parents even care? 

And thus another reason that I love writing and reading blogs.  This community is so's full of women who don't know me in real life but care about the mundane details of our struggles.  I can write about my test results and don't even have to explain what they mean.  You all understand the deep desire to talk about it all, the therapeutic effect of sharing your excitement and anxiety.  So many of the blogs I follow are currently going through an IVF cycle...I get so much comfort reading your words and learning more about what I can expect in January.  I long for a group of people I can be this honest with face-to-face, but I know that I am unlikely to find that.  So thank you, each of you, for being my sounding board and making this all a little more bearable.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

out of nowhere

Even when you think you are doing something completely innocuous, infertility and/or pregnancy loss sneaks up and bites you in the butt.  These unpleasant stings typically come in the form of questions posed by the outside world.

While walking my two precious pups, I met an older neighbor on the road.  She told me how much she loved Yorkies, how many Yorkies she has had, etc.  Then, suddenly, she looked at me and boldly asked, "Do you have children?"  "No, not yet," I was able to choke out.  She then proceeded to inform me that I was smart to not have kids, that dogs are so much better.  I quickly resumed my walk and ended the conversation.

I know that before we found ourselves here, I too asked insensitive questions.  I am sure that I questioned people about when they wanted kids or how many kids they wanted.  Now I cringe and pray that I never asked someone who was mired in infertility or who had just found out that a pregnancy was not to be.  When I step back, I realize that the questioners I encounter mean no harm...they believe they are asking innocent questions, simply expressing interest in mine and A's life.  The hard part, though, is answering the questions.

"Do you have kids?"  I hate answering that question.  No, I don't have children, but yes, I have carried three little lives for a short period of time.

"When are you guys going to have kids?"  It seems a bit like over-sharing to say "as soon as my medical team can figure out a way to make it stick."

Sometimes I just want to be extremely honest, but I know that would make the questioner feel bad and wouldn't really solve any of my problems.  So, for now, I continue to say that no, we don't have kids, and yes, we hope to have kids soon.  Hopefully those answers will be changing for all of us soon!  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

a useful second opinion

I had my phone consult with the out of town doctor today, and he was fabulous!  He had clearly reviewed my record beforehand and seemed very honest and knowledgeable.  He basically told me that recurrent losses are the hardest things he deals with, as you so badly want to give someone an answer.  Although every miscarriage has a cause, doctors often cannot pinpoint that cause, so you're left guessing.  You can do all the testing in the world and it all come back normal, yet the patient is still experiencing miscarriages. 

Based on my records, he said he didn't disagree with anything my current RE is doing.  He agreed with the testing we are having done and said the only additional test he would consider would be genetic testing, but that might not be necessary.  He said he thought IVF was a good option...or at least not a bad option.  IVF is our best chance at getting pregnant--if we were his patients, he would present that as an option and let us decide if we are ready to make that leap.  He said if we want to get pregnant quickly, that's what he would recommend.  He did say, though, that he would feel okay letting us try a progesterone protocol a few times.  If we don't go to IVF now, he said that if we experienced another loss he felt that "the writing was on the wall" and IVF would be his only recommendation.

In sum, he said IVF is a good option for getting us pregnant.  He didn't think it was nutters to go ahead and move to IVF, especially if we are exhausted from the ups and downs of it all.  He made me feel good about the decisions my RE is making, and he said to feel free to schedule another phone consult down the road if needed.  Based on all of this, I am pretty sure we are doing the January cycle.  Unless the thrombophilia panels shows something totally wacky (we get the results around Dec. 15th), we are moving to our "best chance" of getting pregnant.  Pretty exciting stuff.

Monday, December 6, 2010

a little bit of this...a little bit of that

Last week, kkasun passed along a Cherry on Top award to my little blog--so exciting!  The instructions told me to pass it along to five blogs that had that "little something extra."  The problem is that it is impossible to choose just five of my readers, commenters, or blogs I follow.  Every blog I follow is just incredible, and each comment I get is precious.  So to anyone reading this, I think you're a "Cherry on Top!" 

I was able to ask my doctor a few questions this afternoon and feel good about simply dismissing crazy doctor's "second opinion" about the methotrexate shot.  I also found out that my giant panel of bloodwork should be in around December 15th, and I am getting thyroid results back tomorrow.  These will allow us to rule out any off-the-wall causes for our pregnancy losses.  I have a phone consult with an out-of-town doc tomorrow, but unless something crazy happens we are on track for January IVF. 

The one thing that isn't working out terribly well is the financial side of IVF.  We can make it happen, it's just not a perfect situation.  This is making me really, really nervous.  I think that for this reason, I'm questioning whether we should continue "just trying" for a while.  We are definitely exhausted by our three losses, and I really don't want to set us up for more of the same.  Ahhhh...why is this never easy? 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

babies, babies

This has been a baby-filled week for me.  First, on Monday, I got the pregnancy announcement I already mentioned, the one that said the expecting parents were "surprised."  Then, Wednesday morning, I found out that a dear friend had given birth to her beautiful daughter.  Finally, Friday I got a text saying that a good friend's soon-to-be adopted daughter had arrived in the world.  For some reason, however, these constant reminders of babies didn't bother me so much this week.  Maybe it's because the friend who gave birth has been so incredibly present and supportive during our struggles, and the couple who are adopting have gone through three years of trying to conceive themselves.  But maybe it's due to the fact that I am feeling peace, and excitement, about moving on to IVF.

Our decision isn't technically official, but I am 99% sure that we are doing IVF in January.  I talked to a patient coordinator at an IVF clinic a few hours away (a friend of a friend), and she assured me that she had never heard the theory about methotrexate causing miscarriages and that they allowed women to being trying again one cycle after a methotrexate shot.  I am doing a phone consult with a regional clinic on Tuesday, then we are going to call our clinic Wednesday with our official decision.  I know I will feel better once the decision has been made and am excited to move forward.