Friday, November 27, 2009

the end of a lost cycle... and the loss of a family member

We are now nearing a most challenging month, both with infertility and with the family.  Last Wednesday the 19th, we got the call that Jeff's uncle had passed away. The blow was not so hard to bear knowing how ill he was and that he is no longer suffering. But any loss forces you to look at life through new eyes. The rose colored glasses come off and you again are reminded of how fragile and fleeting life is. We went to the calling hours this past Monday and Jeff was planning on going to the funeral the next day while I went for the laparoscopy/hysteroscopy. In the end though, it seems everyone felt his place was by my side.... so that is where he was. It was a tough decision and I struggled with simply canceling the surgery, but no one wanted me to do that either.

The procedure was successful... nothing major to report-almost as if it was just not necessary in the first place. It gives me peace of mind, but at the same time... we have lost a cycle and had to miss a funeral for it.

Now we must choose what our next step is. Jeff is now on testosterone treatment and it remains to be seen how badly that affects his count. The doctor believes the morphology is related to the low testosterone. Hopefully the count will not suffer to much for the prospective improvement in morph. This next cycle is out due to recuperation falling right at the border of both cycles. At least we are set with insurance no matter what route we take-except for IVF-no one covers that!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

silver linings are a myth

So here I am thinking to myself "Damn- two gravely ill relatives- gotta keep a positive attitude for those around me. They will need my support." It all sounds well and good... and not too over the top. Seems karma disagrees with my "keep-it-together attitude" and has been doing its best to get me down. Now I know I was only going to focus on our fertility journey here, but I feel the course of events is relevant and necessary to mention. I want to list the last several weeks worth of events in order to be able to find the positives that may come out of this cluster of a mess:

  1. Jeff's uncle (on his mother's side) was diagnosed with end stage esophogeal cancer with a prognosis of 1 year just a month ago. He is not responding to chemo and now has a prognosis of no more than this Thanksgiving.
  2. Jeff's uncle (on his father's side) ends up going to the doctor who never calls him back to say they believe he has pneumonia. By the time he has his follow up appointment, he needs to be hospitalized where they find it is not pneumonia at all... but a failing heart valve-which they cannot operate on due to his liver thinning his blood too much. His lungs are filling with fluid from the bad heart and will continue to fill since they cannot repair the problem. They place him in a nursing home where his prognosis is unknown, but very limited.
Those events were by far the most devastating, but I did my best to keep composed. Then the smaller hits started coming in:

  1. Our first failed IUI
  2. Our little chihuahua needed immediate medical attention from what we believe is a strained back that rendered her a crying mess on the dining room floor. And as usual, when calling our local vet, they were not available to see any animals as they were at a conference. So off to the emergency vet for an incredibly expensive visit where they did not know what the problem was, but now she is a drugged up little dog who has been sleeping for the last 48 hours.
  3. Jeff had to leave for a business trip this week and on this trip he has had to share a hotel room with a complete stranger that works for the same company, but a different location, and is now coming down with an unexplained illness.
  4. My job will no longer be as of the end of this week with the closing of the company.
  5. Our insurance will no longer be due to the closing of the company.
  6. My laparoscopy will still happen, but will be the final hurrah in the attempt to assist our fertility until I can get a new insurance plan.
  7. Jeff has learned he has low testosterone which may be a factor as well in our fertility. Prognosis for that is not so hot either. He cannot simply take testosterone. It will raise the levels, but odds are it will also lower his sperm count-possibly to zero. There needs to be another way out there, but it seems nothing has been proven. Now on top of the uncertainty, we need to figure out how to address this issue with no insurance.
  8. The IRS decided that, even though we are working on fixing a mix-up when we moved out of state, they still wanted their money... so they went ahead and simply took it out of our bank account. We live paycheck to paycheck like many people do right now and that just doesn't matter.Who needs to eat anyway right? What is our measly $388 dollars going to do in the grand scheme of the how many trillion dollar debt the government has? The colorful words I want to use are simply not appropriate for this blog, but believe me, I am thinking them!

So somewhere in here is supposed to be a silver lining... a reason all these challenges have been presented to me. Should I embrace these challenges and do something amazing? Or should I take the less difficult path of hiding under the covers and not coming out until it is all over? I like the hiding part... but I know it is just unrealistic. It is so hard to continue to be composed. It feels like the world is crumbling below my feet and I just can't move fast enough to keep a steady footing. My next post will be to take this list of crappy events and see if there is in fact a silver lining. I am sure there is, but with all the B.S. piled on it, I am just going to have to work really hard to find it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

looking for a little hope

After a grueling 36 hour wait, the office finally called me and said my blood test came out negative. I said I already knew.

It is a good thing I did know... 36 hours of waiting for a simple blood test?

They apologized for the oversight blaming in on their fully electronic medical records telling them I was already notified. Whichever... it's all in the past now. I am now confirmed for the November 24th laparoscopy and I cannot wait to get it over with so we can get back to business so we can present our families with some much needed good news in a time where it seems we are losing so many close family members to cancer and the like. A little ray of good news can't hurt us right now.

Jeff got a bit of positive news when he went to yet another doctor to discuss his issues with pain in the male areas. He has been bounced from doctor to specialist and specialist to doctor for the past twenty-something years with no answers or relief.

A little background on the situation: When he was 15, he had a torsion of the testicles, meaning one of the testicles twisted around (tangling the spermatic cord) and caused an incredible amount of pain and had to be untwisted at the E.R. They sent him home and instructed him to take painkillers if needed. They opted not to do the orchiopexy (where they anchor the testicle so it will not twist again) because they felt it would cause fertility problems later in life - how ironic right? Since his first attack years ago, it has been a persistent problem that no one seems to want to fix for him.

The last urologist literally said that if he can get through a normal day and can get it up "when it counts" then he would rather NOT do anything to alleviate the almost daily pain he has. How is that a good quality life if you are in pain for 90% of it? So we took a chance on a doctor at our family practice who was not only shocked it had gone on this long, but was willing to help in any way possible. He said he will do what it takes to resolve it. He even offered to do the orchiopexy that should have been done years ago that no other doctor will do for him. He started with a testosterone check which, if not normal, could be a huge factor in our fertility. We are anxiously awaiting the results of that test. A testicular scan is in the works for the next time he experiences a strong episode... then they will go from there. Such a relief, but so long overdue we just don't know how to react. It is a light at the end of the tunnel for him and it is my hope this can be resolved for him so he does not have to be in pain all the time.

Monday, November 2, 2009

unwelcome visitor

You would figure the start of my next cycle would at least put me out of the misery of the two week wait. After all, I had a record short cycle of 23 days from start to finish. I was completely blindsided by the witch-a nice relaxing Sunday night obliterated by a simple trip to the bathroom. I can't recall the last time I completely broke down at the end of a cycle, but this time, I just could not help it. I tried to regain my composure and join the husband downstairs who quite accustomed to my moods and signals. He immediately asked what was wrong and tried to be supportive. He tells me he is sure it is his fault and he is sorry he can't give me what we want. It really is heartbreaking to see him think he is to blame. Of course I cannot stress enough to him there is not reason to blame anyone... it is our problem to work through. Once the last tear was shed and numbness took over, we grabbed a quick dinner of McChickens and Cheeseburgers, watched one of our many movies from our extensive movie collection.

We are both raw and defeated and the thought of losing this next cycle to the Laparoscopy on 11/24 and then the following cycle to recovery only multiplies the sense of helplessness. If there is anything I dislike more than being helpless... it is when time is not used wisely. I, for the life of me, still cannot figure out why the lap is even necessary. My HSG came out with 2 clear tubes, a good shaped uterus and blood work revealed normal hormone levels... what the hell else could be causing problems?! And just for formality, I get to have blood drawn tomorrow to quantitatively be certain there is no pregnancy prior to commencing the next cycle of wasting time. I am no stranger to the land of failed cycles. I know what a period and a negative home pregnancy test looks like.

Here's to a wasted cycle 25... and perhaps a better outlook tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

thank you to a lost friend from the past

Such a beautiful Autumn day. I remember being a kid and running and jumping in the huge piles of raked leaves. It seemed so much fun. But then I also remember the last Autumn I felt like a kid. It was the introduction to the death of an animal. My best friend at the time, Becky, mourned the loss of her cat that day as I watched from a distance from the leaf pile. That was the last time jumping in those colorful leaves seemed appropriate.

Becky taught me a lot in the short time I knew her. She was a proper young lady that, while I was playing in the sand and making mud pies with her little brother, she would sit on the swingset and watch so as to not get dirty. But every once in a while, she would join us in our games of "Hotel" (our verion of running an imaginary hotel in the most perfectly formed set of pine trees), "Father Bigfoot" (our play on Smurfs where we had to stay away from the evil character chasing us) and "Save the World" (a game one summer we created to keep eachother safe... when one of us needed help, the others came to the rescue with their own unique powers. Mine was a magic wand that gave people energy and it was fueled by our long driveway that served as a fantastic "river of strength"). She knew she wanted to be a dancer when she grew up and I envied her ability to dance and that she already knew what she wanted to be. We learned how to troubleshoot arguments... and found forgiveness was the most powerful moment... even for young girls such as ourselves. Beyond that, she taught me how to let go and heal.

There are those moments you look back on and you can remember the sounds of the TV and the feel of the blankets covering you like it was just yesterday. I was in my parents water bed alone watching TV most of the afternoon as Becky was off to camp cross-country skiing for the weekend. I watched Rainbow Brite, Punky Brewster, and Fame. The preview of the news after Fame was over said a 9 year old girl had died. I remember thinking to myself "I wonder if I know her?" I waited to hear the news story out of curiosity... and once I heard her name, I hid under the covers and plugged my ears so hard, I can still remember the pain. Everyone said I was so strong-such an adult young lady. I barely cried and was back in school days after it happened.

I look back at our final summer together and I now see how important "Save the World" was to us. We tried so hard in our imaginary ways to keep everything safe and happy-and it always worked. I so wished I could use my powers for real. We were forever changed that winter and come the following summer, no imaginary games were played. We did try, but our young minds and hearts grew up that year and we now knew what adult fears and responsibilites were. Nothing was ever the same. I may have seemed to adjust well, but only I knew the truth. I was obsessed by it. I re-enacted the layout of the funeral home with legos and imagined I could see her in the clouds. In my teens, I spent hours by her grave talking to her as if she were right there with me. I shut down from nearly everything in fear I would lose more and I simply could not handle that. Her loss permeated everything I did. It was many years before I realized that life was not fulfilling when you don't allow others in. But it was a long journey to get there.

I never thought I would find any silver lining, nor did I think this story had a place in this blog. I don't like to think things happen for a reason every time (what the hell reason would there be to let a 9 year old die?), but I do think that she has stayed with me these past nearly 24 years and the lessons and coping skills I gained with her help gives me some solace as to why it happened. If her death shaped me into who I am today... I imagine she affected every person she touched in their own way.

My journey today to have a child has been a challenge and I won't lie-it has reduced me to tears on more than one occasion, but I think I am strong because of my past. She has helped me learn to cope and take nothing for granted, especially those around us. She came into my mind today during my two week wait for a reason. I believe she is still doing her part to stay alive with me... and I thank her for that...

Monday, October 26, 2009

where did "me" go?

I have been thinking about the past several weeks and thinking to myself that I feel like I am standing outside of a box looking in at myself. So many things have changed so quickly that I simply don't know myself right now and I am simply so far out of my comfort zone that I don't have the capability of processing it all and getting back to "me" again. I am fully aware that this journey can leave one a changed person-raw, sometimes empty and at a loss of where to go next. There is yearning to go back into that box... the one where I was "normal" and nothing was broken-including but not limited to our physical inadequacies and spirits. It seemed easier and more innocent there... I knew who I was and where I wanted to go. My dreams were clear and I didn't lose sleep over choices I had to make and figuring out where we would get the money for the next procedure. My life wasn't based on my cycles-and it certainly wasn't based on keeping track of when to take my next pill or give myself my next injection.

I layed on that table in the sterile doctor's office and let a nurse insert a speculum, shine a spotlight on the event in front of her, and inject the sample into my uterus. This event should have taken placed in private-with 2 participants-one NOT being a stranger with a spotlight and a catheter. I feel robbed of the most natural and basic rights we should have had-and that leaves me raw.

It's funny I feel like I am outside looking in, because Jeff has felt the same way. At least we are in this together. I know we can never go back to before. We are different people because of this and hopefully in the future, we will be able to find ourselves in this mess and will come out the other side stronger for it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

today i give thanks for...

...a beautiful warm and breezy fall afternoon. Although a bit sad I have to work tonight as well, perhaps it will put people there in better spirits, making for a much nicer night!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

and now for the two week wait

The goods have been deposited... and much to my surprise, the motility is much improved from his original analysis. There are 37.5 million strong motile swimmers in there waiting for the impending ovulation tonight. Sadly, I had to go on my own as the husband had to get back to work due to a little mishap with a car he was working on. It felt so empty and sterile. The nurse was great and she kept chatting with me to keep the mood light... but once she left me to lie down for the allotted time, I felt so alone. So many people have been on this table in the same situation... did they feel as defeated as I do? One hurdle overcome-I am now a veteran to a medically stimulated cycle.

As much as I want to be excited, I just can help but remain reserved. If his numbers are so good this time... then what is the problem really? Do I have a hostile environment? Are my eggs impenetrable-or worse yet... are they not viable from the start? The worst thing I can think of to be labeled is "unexplained infertility"... where do you go from there? No idea why it is happening equals no idea how to fix it. It is a crap shoot every month in the hope one thing changes to work in your favor.

Listen to me... I just had my IUI and I am already feeling down on myself. I need to get into a positive frame of mind here. In just two "short" weeks, I will be having my blood drawn for a possible positive HCG test... and that would be a first ever for us. A positive test is a foreign concept that I would also like to become a veteran of.

Monday, October 19, 2009

IUI tomorrow morning

No pictures today or measurements. But all of the follicles increased in size... and another one magically appeared today as well. But they are concerned that my one follicle (my star follie) is getting a bit "too big" to keep that egg from releasing. they decided tomorrow is the day. Three follicles look ready to go, and another day would probably yield two more. They just don't think it is worth it to hold out for the others. Tomorrow it is then.

An ovidrel injection tonight and an early morning date with a catheter... and a good sense of self and humor :) Glad the husband is able to take off part of the morning to spend the procedure with me. The moral support is much appreciated given the sterility of the situation...

Friday, October 16, 2009

today i give thanks for...

...the possibility of IUI 5 days sooner than we anticipated this cycle.

the numbers please

I never imagined seeing so much action going on in those little ovaries of mine. Today's appointment went well... really well in fact. It is entirely possible I figured my cycle would run the normal 28 day gamut. Now I know not everyone has a textbook cycle, but I am fortunate mine works out like that usually (not that it has done a bit of difference right?). The nurse took a look at the follicles and I apparently have 4 little follies developing... well, one star follie and 3 following slightly behind the star. She informed me that based on the development, she figures I will be ready to trigger Monday pending my appointment that morning-and the IUI Tuesday. MUCH sooner than I anticipated! I figured 14 days worth of injections and testing were in the works. I am very relieved of course, less injections is a plus. The numbers are a bit hard to read as all I could get out of them was a photocopy of the images, but I will be sure to elaborate below :)

May I introduce a nice 7.45 mm thick lining... thats the uterus there in the center. However, I was enlightened by my artistic and imaginative brother-in-law, it looks a bit like a smiling clown with the dark circle above it being the nose...

Here are the three smaller follicles that they hope will catch up by Monday. Follicles sizes are 12.78mm, 10.74mm and 9.58mm respectively.

And finally, my star follie measuring at 15.61mm which I hope does not crowd out the other three. It would be nice to have a few to work with this month you know?

Be good and do your thing little follies... some of you could soon be considered a first photo for the baby album. If nothing else, this process allows us to see the very beginnings of possible conception... and that puts it into an amazing perspective.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

is it cold in here...

I can't decide if the exhaustion, chills, mild headache and slightly achy knees are because of the meds... or my hypochondriac tendencies.

I vote the latter...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

not so bad

So I got to do my first set of injections last night: 150u of Follistim and 5mg of Lupron. I will also get to do exactly the same tonight. Quite honestly, if you can get over the shock of watching you stab yourself with a piece of thin metal... it isn't so bad. The sting was quick and the dull ache after the injection went away after a few minutes. I can't say as much for the wave of nausea that overcame me as I realized exactly what I was doing-to myself! It think at one point I was horrified with the needle stabbed straight in my gut. Now that the initial shock is over, I am sure tonight will not be so disturbing.

No true side effects yet. Well... nothing out of the ordinary. I am utterly exhausted which I think contributes to the dizzy feeling I have-but no sleep (characteristic for me to not sleep lately) can do that too. Not sure if chills are a side-effect, but if the heat were on here at work, I may not have chattery teeth any longer.

My RE is very spiritual and chalks up this journey (or any challenge in life for that matter) as a "gift" that makes us better and stronger. I used to think he was full of it... but it is growing on me as a philosophy. It takes a strong person to overcome obstacles and challenges. This journey to having a child has tested me in way I never could imagine and has taught me more than most women will ever know about themselves. It is a learning experience every day. Hardships come to everyone... but it is how you deal with it that exhibits that necessary growth.

Oh how much more grateful we will be for our little one because of this journey.

Monday, October 12, 2009

the IUI begins.. and so does the family health troubles

I had a virtually sleepless night worrying about my early morning appointment, all the pretty needles... and the cancer that seems to be taking over Jeff's side of the family. Three family members on chemotherapy with two responding well. Another was just diagnosed about a month ago, was given a prognosis of one year with chemo, but now may not make it through to see this Christmas as he is worsening by the day even with chemo. Sad and concerning. It is a lot to deal with for everyone involved with it - and incredibly frightening that this cancer may be genetically predisposed. Here we are trying desperately to bring a life into this world while so many around us are suffering with facing their mortality... and others are facing saying their goodbyes to them. It makes our journey feel so trivial right now. I know the bitter reality of life is that it is a circle of life and death. I want to be the one to bring some new life into a family who seems only to see misfortune. That is the only part that seems to make it ok for us to continue our journey.

To top it all off, Saturday kicked off my cycle 24 with a side of IUI #1 and injectibles. Nothing like a rendezvous at 7:30 am for a baseline ultrasound with the vagina cam to wake you right up. On a positive note, there are several good follicles on the right ovary and two on the left. Good thin uterine lining and no cysts. We now have the green light to begin the drugs this evening.

Now it is up to me to limit stress and think positive. In light of all that is going on, it will be a huge undertaking...

Friday, October 9, 2009

today i give thanks for...

...being on the cusp of new possibility with such high hopes and "butterflies in the stomach" anticipation.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

the last installment of meds... finally

For anyone waiting with baited breath for the final of my 5 meds for this next cycle, look no further! My follistim has arrived-sans pen. Yes, that's correct. I have 4 cartridges and 40 pen needles, but was provided no pen for injection. Of course, in my frenzied "I have only 2 days left to get this all in order" panic, I left a message at the doctor's office, full knowing they close well before 5:30 on any evening. This morning, a nice nurse returned my call to ask if I had received the blue pen with the cartridges and needles. I said "no-no blue needle." She informed me to just ask at my next visit after I call on CD1 and they will give me a pen. It should look a little like this:Crisis averted...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

surprising result (read in sarcastic tone)

So I decided to take an HPT today for two reasons:
  1. I am constantly curious, yet realistic of the impending result of a test taken too early. Oh! And because in the last 23 cycles I have seen negatives every.single.time. anyways... why would it be any different this time.
  2. The last thing I want to do is go to my local pharmacy after work and pick up yet another pricey injectible for this next cycle if I do not need it. Thankfully this will be the last one for me to get. Nearly $200 later, I am ready to get the actual expensive part underway!
And the test... came up negative for anyone wondering. Those unholy damned things... work for once!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

chronicling of meds for my benefit

I seem to be plagued by a bit of absent mindedness lately. Can't imagine why. My meds continue to multiply and it is making my head spin. For my own visual reference, my drugs that I obtained yesterday were Lupron (leuprolide), Prometrium and Doxycycline. And for the visual person I am... the images please:
Not thrilled with the needing to fill the syringes myself. I was hoping it was a pre-filled pen, similar to what the gonal-F should be when I pick that one up. Lupron is used in women to treat symptoms of endometriosis (overgrowth of uterine lining outside of the uterus) or uterine fibroids. Next up-Prometrium:
Mine is the bigger one on the right. Although most of my drugs say it may cause dizziness and possible sleepiness. Sounds like a great way to go through work right? Below are the pretty blue pills-Doxycycline:
The Doxycycline is a simple antibiotic that outside of some crazy digestive tantrums, is fairly benign. I know these will be taken beginning the night prior to the IUI and will continue for a couple more days following.

Nothing else in my arsenal yet besides the vitamin and DHA supplement. Just waiting on the Gonal-F and then I will be good to go!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

holy injections!

So after much correspondence among myself, my doctor, the specialty pharmacy, the retail pharmacy and the insurance company... I am the proud owner of my first prescription for the upcoming IUI. It is a single ovidrel injection.
Seems harmless enough to me. The needle seems fairly short given the pre-packaged syringe that does not allow me to see the gauge. I did notice the liquid in the syringe seems rather thick... almost syrupy. That made me wonder about the hidden needle. For your viewing pleasure - the needle:
I sooo cannot wait to pick up the next of my series of medications (this afternoon another will be ready and one should be arriving via mail from the specialty pharmacy). The anticipation of each new medication prescribed to me heightens my apprehension. And I am supposed to do this injection myself? Ah.... what we will do for our kids right?

Friday, September 25, 2009

sleep won

So it looks like I may have ovulated 2 days early this month. My OPK was clearly negative on CD 10 and CD 11, and nearly positive on CD 12. By CD 13, it was negative again? Leave it to me to have indefinite results that will plague me until the end of the cycle! That and working 2 jobs is taking its toll. I came home at 10pm last night and was out cold right after I hit the pillow... and I was so interested in bookending ovulation just in case the OPKs were wrong.

Oddly... I am fine about our poor timing. After all, it only takes one time and one well directioned sperm to do the job. I guess it is ok because we will be doing the IUI next cycle. The office called me yesterday to confirm my insurance will cover all but the Tier 3 prescription payment for the FSH injections. Although getting them to cover it was a bit of a pain. I did use clomid in the past while on a different insurance than my current one. This new insurance would not cover injectibles until I tried clomid. So off to call the family doctor I went to obtain proof of clomid usage. A call to the pharmacy and a fax to the RE later and all was set... painful injections approved!

Don't get me wrong. It is terribly exciting to get ready for the next step. I feel confident and ready for anything.

image credited to yes

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

today i give thanks for...

...IUI cycle #1 to start in October!

needles and the odds

Much better appointment with our RE than the Urologist. Looks like we have the green light to go ahead with IUI. I am to call with my next cycle day 1 (which I might add seems like forever away) so they can begin monitoring and (gasp) FSH injections. I hope I can muster up the courage and the ability to administer that needle to myself. Of everything we talked about at the consultation.... nothing made my heart rate rise, my palms sweat and my stomach to turn like talk of needles. I should really be less concerned about it. There are plently of more painful procedures to go through. Besides... it will be almost exactly like Jeff's insulin needles. No big deal!

The RE suggested the laparoscopy/hysteroscopy should a cycle or two of IUI not work. Just a few small incisions... a little exploring... possible removal of scar tissue and obstructions. Even this does not phase me like the injections. Sad really. Our odds of a successful pregnancy with IUI/injectibles is 10%-20%. Seems depressingly low... but a regular cycle posesses those same odds for a naturally concieved baby. He mentioned Jeff's SA was actually pretty average and not as poor as we were lead to belive. That is nice to hear. I think it helped Jeff see there is no need to constantly blame himself. On the flip side, if that is not the issue... then what is? All of these unanswered questions.

My next cycle is slated to begin 10/10/09. A well laid plan... let the games begin!

image credited to

Sunday, September 20, 2009

the heart is louder than logic

This weekend I was told by my aunt (who is currently battling bone cancer) that it would not be the end of the world if we could not have a baby and that there are worse things that could happen. She also asked us if we looked into adoption since fertility treatment is so expensive.

I know she is just trying to help us gain perspective and I appreciate it. It truly helps to see that things are not so terrible. My mind knows the truth-that it will happen if it is meant to happen. But my heart is not so easily convinced. My heart is screaming for the chance to have the experience, feel the life grow inside me... and nurture that soul. My heart simply cannot understand.

Friday, September 18, 2009

personality and bedside manner

So Jeff's urologist appointment was less than stellar in my opinion... and the bedside manner needs a bit of work as well. After waiting over an hour to be called in, the doctor decided that even though he has struggled with chronic intermittent pain for 20 year now... there is little he is comfortable doing right now in fear it will make his situation worse rather than improve it. Since the pain usually is tolerable and he can usually go through an average day as usual, doing anything invasive to correct the problem is not advisable. (as long as he can "rise to the occasion" successfully, we should leave well enough alone) Not to mention that he thinks Jeff is a medical anomaly with several issues at play that are hard to diagnose in one visit. An invasive prostate check later, the doctor believes it may be an infection in his prostate causing the frequency of the pain to increase lately. So he is to take antibiotics for 30 days and have a follow up appointment to see if it made any difference with the pain.

After all, he has dealt with it for twenty years... what is another month? Doctor's words-not mine.

No need to address the varicocele or the hydrocele as it is minor, no blood drawn.... nothing. He got his temp and blood pressure from the nurse and a five minute exam with the doctor.

When asked about fertility issues, the doctor promptly stated that not only is he not interested in the fertility aspects of the problem, but he does not believe any medical intervention on his part will improve his morph/motility. "You should consider artificial insemination at this point," he said. Artificial insemination? Obviously he has no interest in it. I haven't heard it referred to as artificial insemination by a medical professional in... well ever. But I nodded my head like a good girl and mentioned we are already in the process of pursuing it. He mention he will be happy to refer us to a male fertility specialist if we would like, but he cannot help us there.

So here we are, another specialist appointment under our belts, half a day lost and we are nowhere closer than before. His numbers are not likely to get better, his pain will be chronic and we will need IUI. Although I appreciate to good doctor's opinion and have no reason to think he is not trying to help, but wow... the personality needs a little work. Perhaps some compassion even is in order.

Who do I make the check out to?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

today i give thanks for...

...learning I am in fact not alone in my struggles. Good friends I went to school with also have similar fertility challenges I do.

the one year standard

I just found out a friend of mine will be having a baby in 9 short months. They got married almost one year ago This is not the first time a friend has announced excitedly (coincidentally on their one year wedding anniversary) that they will be adding to their family. I can recall off the top of my head three recently. Don't get me wrong-I am thrilled for all of them. But at the same time, it hurts my heart. Maybe my "one year" happy new baby announcement got swept under the rug?

Then of course there is the one year standard when it comes to trying to concieve. If you are under 35... you need to try for a full year before pursuing fertility testing and treatment. Blech-I wish I had just lied and said we had tried for a year.

On a side note... every time we go to Walmart, it costs us $50. Perhaps this is a standard as well. Seems we adhere to that one easily!

image credited to

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

today i give thanks for...

...a place where I can write what I feel and will not be judged.

support groups

I am incredibly fortunate that I live nearby my fertility center where I can opt to spend one monday a month with others sharing in the journey. Last night's meeting helped me center myself again (apparently I need "centering" on a regular basis) as I tend to lose my way in the mess that is infertility.

Speaking of infertility... 23 cycles into this journey, with 22 past failed cycles, I somehow STILL cannot fully come to terms with the fact I am infertile. Typing it is even a challenge. After last night and the previous month's meeting, I literally was reduced to tears on the way home trying desperately to accept this blatant fact. I never wanted to be that person... as I am sure none of us do. But it seems that no matter how many times I set foot into the center and tell my story and hear other stories, it just won't sink in. I guess I still hold onto the dream I had when I was growing up - to fall in love and be a family - a right we all should have. Somewhere along the way, it was my fortune to be presented with this more complex and emotionally charged method of seeking my dreams. Perhaps when we meet with the RE on Monday and plan for our first IUI it will sink in.

It's time to come out of the closet and make my intentions known to those around me...

I am infertile and I will do what it takes to get pregnant!

I will make it my mantra :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

welcome cycle 23... the witch...

It is getting to that point if I don't record what cycle I am on... I forget. Sad that there are so many cycles to account for that I cannot even remember how long it has been. I originally started this blog attempting to think positive (I hear that helps) and being thankful for the little things. I had no idea how difficult that really is.

Jeff and I went to a harvest festival this past weekend. Can I just say I caught myself staring at young children, babies and pregnant women with a little envy and jealousy ALL.DAY.LONG. Ok... a lot of envy and jealousy. I gotta work on that. I do not know their stories. Maybe they have struggled too and this is their miraculous end to their journey. Or it could be they just stand down wind of their partner and they get another kid. Either way, pregnancy agreed with most of them and I was jealous. I wanted to know how it felt. I wanted to touch their bellies and feel the life move inside them. I want to be able to experience it... and my patience is running thin.

It is our 2nd wedding anniversary coming up next week and I so wanted our gift to be a successful month. My Saturday morning greeted me with raging cramps and the expected end to a cycle. I guess we will have to settle for a nice dinner instead. I look forward to my support group meeting tonight to get me some positive perspective... and then next Monday, we will have our appointment with the RE to commit to our next step in the process.

In the meantime, I will think of a good thing I am thankful for post...

Friday, September 11, 2009

little ticker

Today I am staring at my nice little ticker. It says "Day 29 of a 29 day cycle. A home test may work today!" Although I do appreciate the confidence "little ticker" has to offer since optimism is terribly important... it taunts me. Not only do I know this cycles outcome, but it also makes me want to run out and pee on something. I am quite proud of myself for having not peed on anything since my positive OPK for this cycle. That takes restraint in my position. But I am noticing that every cycle makes me feel less needy of the pacifying ways of the HPT.

I remember graduating from the obsessive temping every day of my cycle. I would wake up at the same time each day just to temp. I soon realized that temping is a crappy wake up call - pun intended - to a day. I nixed that part of my morning regime many months ago.

It seems odd to not need these litmus tests to track my fertility. I can't decide if it is that I am simply confident I know my cycle and do not need daily reminders... or is it that I just can't take the daily reminders anymore and I have submitted to knowing this will not happen on our own. That step was one of the hardest to take... knowing we need help. Optimism is far less frequent, so the next best thing is to divert the attention. The less I focus on it... the less it eats at me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

struggling with choices

I truly never thought I would be one of those who needed to pursue ART. Not only that... but I would never have even had a clue what ART meant.

Why yes... I took art in college! Painting, photograpy, graphic design, etc!

Now that I do, it puts a whole new twist on mortality and fate for me. Not that I enjoy the added doctor appointments and tests we must endure... but this is what we chose to focus on. I love my family dearly and I know they are looking out for me, but sometimes it is harder to see than others. I'm sure there are plenty of you out there that can share in this "mini war" that can occur:

Infertile Couple vs. Religious Family

RF: So... are you two thinking about kids?
IC: We are working on it.
RF: Oh... so soon then huh?
IC: (with little detail of course) It is not as easy as we thought it would be, but we hope soon.
RF: Oh don't worry. It will happen when you least expect it!

Simple enough. Basically neutral... and the clever usual lines made their appearance. Months pass and we attempt to mention the testing that will commence:

IC: We will be getting some testing done to see what we can do to make this all work.
RF: Really? What kind of tests?
IC: Basically to see if all my insides are in working order, hormones are where they need to be and his count is good. Then we can come up with a plan from there.
RF: Well, even if there is a problem, you can always just give it more time right?
IC: We don't plan on stopping trying while the testing is going on. We just want to know if this will happen on our own.
RF: It will happen when the time is right.

A little more emphasis placed on the "leave it to nature" camp. Once testing is complete, then things get sticky:

IC: Well, it turns out his morphology is really low possibly from his diabetes. It could also be other things given the trouble he has had with his chronic pains.
RF: Oh! So even though his morphology is bad, it will improve if his diabetes gets under control! That's great!
IC: Possibly. It may not be the only factor for the low numbers, but I hope a few months will make a difference.
RF: So I don't understand why you had to go through all the testing if you already know the problem.
IC: We did not know until we had the bulk of the tests. Either way, if things do not progress on their own, this information will help us figure out our next step.
RF: Why don't you just give it more time and when his numbers get better, then it will work...

At that point, I nod my head and leave the room. Clearly, the possibility that that will not be the answer is not an option to them. The infertile couple has stopped mentioning testing. It is best to just do what needs to be done sans support from the family. We have heard so many times that it will happen "when the time is right," "in God's time," or "when you aren't even thinking about it." Although we appreciate the support they try to offer in the best way they know how, they are just not open to seeing that there is another possibility out there for us that we may have to pursue.

In my opinion, if there is a God out there... he/she would say to us:
"I gave you all I can give you as individuals. It is up to you with the knowledge and abilities you have to do wonderful and amazing things. After all, your abilities were created by me and nothing is more fulfilling to me than to see you use those abilities to become stronger."
I do not believe he/she would see our triumphs over tragedy as showing disrespect or "playing God." I truly believe we also need to play a big part in our own destiny. God may walk with us... but we ultimately choose our path.

Perhaps this is me just trying to justify the fact that my choices fall on deaf ears with little support, but I like to believe there is more out there for all of us if we just put our minds to it and persevere. I completely respect others' belief systems and do not deny them the opportunity to embrace those beliefs. All I ask is that you do the same in return... we desperately want and need the support, no matter the path we take.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

today i give thanks for...

...a kind and compassionate husband who understands me even in my rarest and most difficult moments.

quiet times

Not a whole lot to talk about right now. Things are busy, but it keeps me going. Our scheduled urologist appointment was canceled from Sept. 4th... not sure why, but now it is rescheduled for Sept. 18th. Terribly frustrating when all you want to do is find out what is wrong and make it right... and then one rescheduled appointment costs weeks more time. Lets hope the newly scheduled appointment sticks!

Closing out another cycle in the next couple days here. I feel no different than normal, so I suspect it will be a normal end to a normal cycle. On to the next I suppose. We are not strangers to this...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

today i give thanks for...

... being able to let my feelings out in a place where no one is burdened by it.


What a great little application. I have already hooked up with a lot of old friends from high school and college. It truly is nice to see where they are all at. It is also an amazing test of humility. I was never at all reduced to jealousy to see my friends with families... until I was put on the roller coaster of infertility. I am now facing the awkward moment where I need to not think about what they have and I do not. And it is very, very challenging. I just found a friend who I was in her wedding a few years back. Just a year after that, they announced thy were pregnant. At the time I was thrilled for them. Their daughter arrived on New Years Day of 2007. We lost touch a bit after that, but through the miracle that is facebook, I caught a glimpse of her today... with two children. Granted I am still happy for them, but I just can't shake that feeling that I am missing out on something so natural and amazing. Why is it I am forced to work so much harder for it? Perhaps the photos of all my old friends smiling for the camera with their beautiful children are not all sunshine and roses. Maybe they struggle too.... with infertility or finances or whatever it is that might be their skeleton in the closet. Not that I wish anything other that good fortune for each and every one of them, but assuming that they do not struggle at some point is a bit narrow minded. The reality is that nothing is perfect, but that is what makes us and our bonds better and stronger. It builds character.

I must work on my humility and Jeff needs to focus on his pride. We have a long ways to go and to be burdened by these things will only make things more difficult than they need to be.

Sometimes it is just too hard to see the end of the journey for fear the journey will never end.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

today i give thanks for...

...two clear tubes. Enough said.

the joy of instant gratification

Nothing is more gratifying than the instant results you get from the HSG procedure... well, as long as the results are good. All we ever do is wait in this journey and it is nice to have something confirmed right away. Both tubes are clear as I had hoped and it is a go to have a follow up consult for IUI commencement. How exciting!

Just in case anyone stumbles upon this blog and has no clue what an HSG is...consider yourself fortunate. This is an indication you are not facing infertility or other female related issues. My first HSG resembled the illustration above (click image for more detail). One side would not allow the dye to exit through the fallopian tube while the other side flowed freely. My new procedure today showed both tubes flowing. If you were in my position, not only could you feel the dye being injected, but you could see the uterine cavity fill and then watch the dye follow the tubes out similar to the image on the left. In retrospect, it is a little surreal to get that personal with the inner workings of your own body. Surreal and oddly captivating. Yay for open tubes and no more HSGs!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

today i give thanks for...

... my two little puppies who shower me with affection and love no matter how I am feeling.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

today i give thanks for...

...the upcoming thunderstorms. They are beautiful and relaxing and renew my sense of who I am.

follow up hsg

I finally decided it is time to go back for a second HSG since the first one showed a "possible" blocked left tube. The doctor stated it was not conclusive... however, a second would be. My hope is that it was just a spasm considering the nurse had to root around in there to unsuccessfully locate the opening in my cervix (not overly comfortable). Once it was located, I would have (if I was not laying down at the time) doubled over in pain after the catheter was inserted and expanded. Of course, then the catheter decided to come out (no wonder it felt fine after that!). So it was back to inserting and expanding for a second time... it felt no better that time. Once everything was in place, they dye was injected and expanded the uterus until it went out the right tube (also a bit painful). He injected one more burst of dye to check on the second tube with no luck. I cannot describe the discomfort I went through for that procedure.

and reliving it right now really makes me second guess my choice to get it done again...

But it is my hope my left tube spasmed with all the poking and prodding and that if I take a muscle relaxer prior to going in, I will be less apt to tense up as much. That is my hope. Otherwise, I am subjecting myself to a great deal of pain with a hefty price tag... for nothing. I certainly hope things will be more productive this go around!

Monday, August 17, 2009

today i give thanks for...

... realizing there is much greater power in being positive than dwelling on things that cannot be changed. Remember the past, but look towards the future.

my realization

As I enter into my 22nd cycle in the seemingly relentless and never-ending journey towards having a child... things are just now starting to come into perspective. During this journey, many emotions have been felt - and many assumptions have been disproved. Since we are so far into our journey with no history recorded, I will attempt to make a brief synopsis of the events that have transpired:

Jeff and I got married on September 22nd, 2007 at which time we knew we wanted kids, but were not quite ready to start at that time. Within a few months, although we did not discuss it, the birth control was no longer a priority by January 2008. I thought perhaps that first month would have worked for us. Clearly, but much to my surprise, it did not. That is where it all started...

The excitement begins as we decide it is time to start trying. I join a site that helps me track my cycle (which I know like the back of my hand today) and I get a lot of support and advice from others who have been trying for several months (who naively felt sorry for and simply could not imagine being in their shoes). I diligently chart and temp and record every sign my body gives me from a twinge here to a headache there. My OPK and temps point to my ovulation day perfectly and the first thing I learn is that I am fortunate enough to have a clear and consistent cycle nearly every month.

Three cycles pass and I am still oddly shocked it has not worked...

Cycle six comes and goes. I sadly graduate to the thread on my fertility site designated for those trying six months or more. This is the threshold where everyone is told if all is well they "should" be pregnant by. I am now more humbled and less shocked each month that test shows negative.

At cycle nine, I am
humbled, but still in the running. After all, it can take up to a year for some couples. We still have a chance. But I can't help but cry each time my cycle greets me.

Enter lucky cycle thirteen. This is the cycle that marks one full year of trying. Now we have become a statistic... we are infertile. Doctor
visits and specialist appointments confirm this. I have what appears to be a blocked left tube revealed by an HSG. Jeff's count is good, but morphology (93% abnormally formed... yuck) and motility are lacking terribly. We are told his numbers could be off due to his uncontrolled diabetes. This gives us something to work towards... getting healthy and improving our odds. My battery of tests leads us to one blocked tube-but one clear one. Not all bad I suppose.

Cycle 14 to current has been dedicated to getting Jeff's diabetes in a good place which thankfully we have done. But just as one thing is addressed, another one arises. Back when Jeff was a teenager, he had trouble with his testicles. The doctors were able to alleviate his pain back then without any surgery and he was sent home with the advice to take ibuprofen when the pain returns. Over 20 years later, he is still self-medicating this chronic pain and he spends more time in pain than not. Just a couple weeks ago, he goes to the doctor and he finally gets an ultrasound which reveals a varicocele. Not only can this affect fertility, but it can also be the root of his chronic pain. I am thrilled to hear there is a fix for his pain, but at the same time disheartened. Even after a procedure to fix it... fertility may not return. Only time and a repeat SA for him will tell the tale. The negative tests are so expected now that after an evening of mourning another lost cycle, I pick myself up and dust myself off.

Never did I expect to know what charting and clomid was. I am shocked at what I know now about HSG, SA, IUI (with and without injectables) and IVF... lots of letters that most people never need to think about. It is a painful and costly road we are on.

So that brings us to today. We are now actively pursuing the fantastic medical intervention called IUI. Our visit on Sept. 21st will be the start of what we hope to be the answer we need to close this journey. My realization is that this is our journey and no one else's. This has been given to us to grow as people and be better for it. I cannot spend my time feeling sorry for myself and being angry at how things are not progressing. We will be better parents for it.

On to the next cycle, one cycle closer to the one where all the points converge perfectly and the miracle of conception will happen.