Monday, November 28, 2011

Trying to be thankful

AF showed right on schedule: Thanksgiving. So, I called to make my SHG appt: the procedure is scheduled for this coming Friday; what a fun way to spend my lunch hour! I went on Saturday to get my CD3 bloodwork & will go back on CD21 to check ovulation & hormone levels.

Was I thankful to get my period? Not really. But I am thankful for:

1. I am thankful (I guess) that I have a predictable cycle so I don't often ruin undies.
2. I'm thankful Vid's insurance pays for 80% of the crap I've had to go through trying to get pregnant.
3. I'm thankful my work offers a flexible medical account (a.k.a. "the baby fund") so paying for IVF isn't as daunting as it would otherwise be.
4. I'm thankful my job, although incredibly stressful & poorly paid, gives me some flexibility when it comes to coming in late or leaving early for RE appts.
5. I'm thankful that even with horrible traffic my RE's office is only a 20 minute drive from work.
6. I'm thankful my sister is not rubbing her pregnancy in my face & is so far still very much "herself" personality-wise.
7. I'm thankful to have a therapist who specializes in infertility because as a therapist myself, I can tell you unless you've been through IF (as she has) you have no business treating someone dealing with it, no matter how good your training supposedly is.
8. I am thankful for my dog & cat who are snuggling next to me on the couch as I write this.
9. I am thankful for my husband. Although I often threaten to kill him, the truth is I can't imagine going through all of this with anyone else.
10. I'm thankful for the interwebs: for the folks who've reached out on my blog, for the blogs I've read that have touched me & the support of other infertiles on the message boards I frequent.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year (or is it?)

In case you live under a rock, you're aware the holidays are now upon us. Ugh. We are skipping Thanksgiving completely this year. I already planned on laying low since Vid just had surgery this morning. So, we have a built in excuse, which is a good thing since my sister just told us she’s pregnant & I'm sure all the extended family will be congratulating her while I will likely be "riding the cotton pony". Chinese takeout & wine sounds like a possibility! Not sure about Christmas yet; we'll be local since we're going on vacation the 1st week of January. We'll see how it goes.

Since I took today as a personal day to play nurse maid to my dear hubby I had several hours to kill when he was knocked out. Since we live all of 20 mins from the hospital I went home & did some housework. While doing laundry, I ordered our holiday cards using a Living Social deal I bought last month. I had my mom come over & take photos of us with the pets last week; getting the dog & cat to look @ the camera @ the same time is probably as challenging as getting kids to do the same. Not that I'd know anything about that, right?

Don't get me wrong: I love, love, love my pets. I refer to my dog as "my 1st born"; they are most definitely family. But this is the 4th Christmas card we've sent out since starting TTC & there's still no human bundle(s) of joy smiling along with us. I actually debated sending out cards @ all this year, but then I thought: either with or without kids, we're family. Are we not worthy of sending out cards? And who doesn't smile when they see a cute little doggie or kitty?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Game plan

Even though neither of us slept well last night due to my sister's news, Vid & I managed to make it to our appt this morning with RE #3 today, henceforth known as Dr. W. She seems nice enough & I love the nurse we'll be working with who, when I told her about my sister, quipped, "Of course she'd tell you the day before an IVF consult, right?"; I chuckled a bit.

Anywho, the plan for me: when Aunt Flo comes to town (due on or about Thanksgiving) I go in for CD3 bloodwork & have another HSG somewhere between CD 5-12. She also wants me to chart (going back old school) so she can do some additional bloodwork later in my cycle to see if I'm a "weak" ovulator. She agrees with RE #2 that I likely have some sort of egg quality issue or perhaps empty follicle syndrome. Although my FSH has risen a bit from when we started TTC 3.5 years ago, I'm not in the scary zone. Still, when I had it tested almost a year ago it was 14, so it's worth looking into. Hey, at this point what's another vial of blood?

The plan for Vid: repeat SA which has been scheduled for 12/16 as he is having umbilical hernia surgery next week & needs a few weeks to recuperate. His last real SA was in 12/10 but they also looked @ the lab reports from our Hail Mary IUI this past spring. There appears to be a downward trend in motility over the past several years which I was unaware of. Dr. W is thinking although his count is ok it still could be affecting things so she's going to set up an appt with the reproductive uro in addition to just doing an SA in case it's continued to get worse.

What we're doing for the IVF cycle: since next cycle is all repeat testing, I will start my BCPs 2 cycles from now, meaning likely the week before Christmas. We will be ICSI'ing all of my eggs given our issues. Dr. W plans on doing your standard long Lupron protocol, which means beta will be somewhere in the early February range. Happy anniversary to us? We shall see.

Total cost to us: roughly $3000, or a month's pay for me. And we're lucky it's only that much because we have 80% coverage. I want to throw up just thinking about the fact I could be out $3k & have nothing to show for it since success rate for people in our category are on the 45% range. Not horrible but sometimes I think we'd be better off using it to wipe our asses. It's just so hard to be positive when all you've ever seen is negatives.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dear universe: FUCK YOU!

My sister is pregnant. My sister, who is 4.5 years younger than I am, is pregnant. My sister, who just got married in July (4 months ago) is 9 weeks pregnant. My sister, who wasn't even trying, is pregnant. My sister, who I should be happy for but am not, is pregnant.

There's not enough Zoloft in the world right now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm looking @ you, J-Lo!

A fellow infertile on a board I frequent posted a link to a story from The Today Show on the myth that getting pregnant is easy for women over 40 because of celebrities who aren't open about their struggles (I'm looking @ you, J-Lo!).

Even though I'm not in the over 40 club yet, this quote had me nodding my head in total agreement:

In a country where sex education focuses primarily on avoiding pregnancy and preventing sexually transmitted diseases, most women believe that having a baby is inevitably easy.

But that neglects the reality that infertility affects some 7.3 million women in the United States, or 12 percent of the child-bearing female population, and about 1 in 8 couples, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After about age 35, fertility plummets, Schoolcraft said.

So when women decide they want to get pregnant and can’t, they’re stunned. Some of the shock is because of advances in health and beauty that allow women to look — and feel — younger, even as their reproductive systems march on.

True dat. And this is something I said even before dealing with infertility: women don't know how their own bodies work. Clearly sex ed in the US is a miserable failure if you look @ our teen pregnancy rate versus most of the rest of the 1rst world. Ironically, the country with the lowest unplanned pregnancy rate & lowest STD rates happens to be The Netherlands, which also has legalized prostitution & marijuana.

I'm what most would call a Libertarian politically & it aggravates me to no end when people get all "ZOMG where r ur morals?!?!?11?!? about my thinking that we need more & better sex ed in schools. I'm sorry, but sex encompasses so many scientific disciplines: biology, chemistry, psychology. Knowledge is power. And J-Lo is a liar (sorry, but I REALLY don't like her).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Let's talk about (infertile) sex

Despite this blog being 99.99% about my long, winding journey towards successful conception, I don't think I've ever had a frank sex talk on here. Granted, if you're reading this chances are you too are dealing with infertility so don't worry: I won't try to teach you about the "birds & the bees" or insinuate that perhaps you"re "doing it wrong". Rather, I'm wanting to know how other infertile couples deal with issues surrounding sex in the relationship.

Back story: Much to the chagrin of our parents no doubt, Vid & I did not wait til we we married to do the deed. Vid was a stereotypical Indian male grad student when we met (meaning: had barely kissed a girl) & I was his first, or as he says "You took away my innocence". LOL. Anyways, it's not like I was a wild child by any means; my husband's actually the only man I've ever had sex with sans condom. And we didn't even go sans condom until after we were engaged. So we were doubling up (condoms & BCPs) because even though we both wanted children relatively quickly after marriage, we did not want to deal with the possibility of shaming his parents back in India with a bastard child (his words, not mine).

Vid & I started TTC not long after we were married. I went off BCPs, started charting & was pleasantly surprised that I had a very predictable menstrual cycle. Knowing it can take a healthy couple up to a year to conceive I told myself as long as I was pregnant by my 30th birthday (then about 10 months away) I would not make myself nuts. In the meantime, we had sex when I was fertile according to the OPKs & whenever the mood struck us.

Then, I turned 30. And I started freaking out. I began turning into what Vid termed an "intercourse Nazi", making him have sex multiple times in a day. You'd think a woman that demanding in bed would be any guy's dream but the reality was sex was becoming more of a chore than a fun thing we got to do as a couple. Poor Vid ended up with performance anxiety a few times & I ended up hating myself for turning into "that woman".

And just after we hit the year mark of TTC, a miracle occurred. Or so we thought. I got a positive pregnancy test. It was on a Saturday morning, the weekend before Father's Day. I remember Vid asking me "What is that?" & me wanting to smack him because wasn't it obvious? We were pregnant!

I planned on calling my PCP on Monday morning. Ah, those were the days: when I had only 1 doctor looking @ my lady garden, & then only once a year for a routine check up. Those were the days! But I never got to make that call on Monday. In the wee hours of Monday morning I woke up from a sound sleep to the most horrible cramps ever. I went to the bathroom & saw bright red blood. It was over before it had even began. And so along with the pair of ruined underwear I also threw out my cutesy plan of telling my parents with a "Happy Father's Day, Grandpa" card the following weekend.

The following month we had our first visit with an RE & Vid was referred to a uro for a work up as well. My husband is not the greatest with medical procedures: I have to hold his hand when he gets bloodwork done as he starts sweating & you can see his color drain; he's Dravidian & therefore pretty dark skinned so it's quite amazing to watch. Anyways, much to his chagrin he also had to "do it in a cup", but his "guys" (I love his way of looking @ things) were ok. On my end, I was found to have borderline IR & some borderline PCOS bloodwork but then again my cycles were super normal & besides obesity I didn't fit the PCOS profile.

An answer! Yeah, no. But @ least now we were doing fertility treatments so surely we'd get pregnant soon. When we started doing IUIs we kind of laid off (ha! very punny!) the sex for a bit. It's not like we weren't having it, but it certainly wasn't as often as before. About once a week, plus the day after an IUI for extra insurance.

After a half dozen IUIs leading to no pregnancy I begged, pleaded & practically cried for an exploratory lap. Besides a wee bit hanging out behind my left fallopian tube, no endo was to be found. At this point, I was *this close* to checking myself into a padded room. And I was pretty much an ice queen when it came to sex. Vid didn't say anything but I'm sure it bothered him. I felt bad about it because I obviously love my husband, but I just felt like such a failure as a wife that I could not give my husband a child even with medical intervention, so why bother trying anymore?

Fast forward a year & another 2 failed IUIs & here we are: once Vid has his surgery later this month & heals up, we're heading into IVF-ville. We had a period of time earlier this year that we didn't have sex for about 3 months between having to deal with my mom-in-law in India & Vid's hernia issue. We survived so I guess I know we can make it should we ever have the pleasure actually having a baby & needing to abstain post-partum for a long period of time.

Right now we're getting busy a couple times a month. Not great but not horrible I guess. I could use the excuse of our schedules being incredibly out of synch & I would not be lying since we both work full time & are in grad school as well. Some nights Vid doesn't get home til after 10 & some nights I don't. On those nights, I just want to shower & go to bed.

The funny thing is even though we aren't having sex as often as we probably should according to most, I don't feel deprived of love. We do have "snuggle time" several times a week where we set the alarm 15 minutes or so early & just lie together in bed, snuggled tight.

Still, I can't help but wonder "what if". What if we could get pregnant by just having sex? Would we look @ sex in the same way? Sex is now a disappointment, not in that I don't enjoy it with my husband (I do) but in that I know it will never make me a mom. I no longer associate it with procreation. I don't worry about avoiding my fertile times if we didn't want to be pregnant because I could hump day & night & never again see 2 pink lines. I will never have to worry about having Irish twins; at this point I'd welcome them!

But the reality is we're likely 1 & done @ this point. If IVF works & we end up with twins (BOGO free) that'd be awesome. And yes, I am aware of the risks that come with multiples, but having a guaranteed sibling would be great. I know many only children end up perfectly fine socially but I feel like I'm denying my kid (if I ever have one) this experience. If I had any frozen embies I'd try to use them but I'm not counting on anything anymore. I'd like to count on us having a more "normal" (regular?) sex life but maybe the damage has already been done. Something else to bring up in therapy perhaps? What say you?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thought You'd Be Here By Now

Found this randomly while looking for another song (not about infertility) with a similar title; beautiful:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On All Souls' Day

Today is All Souls' Day. For the non-Catholics reading this, it's basically a day where we remember those who have died in the past year. As I sing in choir, I went to Mass this evening. Granted I'm not the most observant Catholic (though I go to Mass most every week I was not married in the church & am soon to be undergoing IVF among other things) I absolutely believe in an afterlife. During All Souls' Day Mass, it is common practice to read the names of all parishioners who have died in the past year. Additionally, we ask for the intercession of God during the Prayers of the Faithful. These are usually written by the priest or requested by a parishioner. Tonight, one of the prayers was this:

"For all the children who have been miscarried, stillborn or aborted, their parents, & for those experiencing the pain of childlessness."

I almost lost it. In all the years I've gone to Mass or services @ another Christian denomination I've never heard anyone utter a public prayer for those experiencing loss & infertility. Granted, there are numerous examples of childless or infertile women in the Bible but I've never heard a priest offer any opinion on this issue at all. I'd love to know if Father came up with this prayer himself, or if someone requested it. Regardless, it was nice to be remember when so often I feel forgotten.