Birds, Bees & Petri Dishes
A while ago I wondered aloud on this blog how I was going to answer Keegan's eventual curiousities. More specifically, where babies come from. More specific than that where did Keegan come from. I did see a book recently that covers all different types of familes in one glossy page. But that isn't exactly the approach I am looking for. I want to celebrate our journey but not lump him together in a general "special babies/families" category. So I decided not to worry about it because that by the time it becomes an issue, surely someone will have written the books.
It turns out that they already have. I am not endorsing them because I haven't gotten my hands on one yet. But I am definitely thinking about it.
I got this reference from Daddy Types. He makes mention that "If you need more than one, you should probably be on the Today show." Which is funny because for the next pregnancy I might need the separate, "The Story Of A Frozen Embryo."
Reading tonight over at Chez Miscarriage struck a chord. I have a friend who was an egg donor several years ago. It was way before I ever knew that we would face infertility struggles ourselves. She did it simply because she could. Because she really wanted to give someone the chance to carry a child. I never fully appreciated what she went through and the sacrifices she made. Somewhere in the middle of giving myself numerous shots last year it hit me. That she had done this for someone else, for strangers without any thought of personal gain. I don't think I have ever been able to tell her how proud I am to know her. How she changed someone's life by giving them hope. Because when you are in the middle of those treatments, hope is the best gift of all. So she manipulated her cycle to sync with another woman's and then she passed along those follicles. She gave enough so that not only could they have one baby, but perhaps even have a true sibling too.
I want to tell her, "I love you." And, "Every time we talk and you hear the joy in my voice over having my little guy. It is most probably echoing the joy that you gave that couple."
Bless the donors, especially since it is something I couldn't even do myself.
Peek A Boo
I have been so tired lately. Now I know why they say being pregnant is like the flu. No matter how much sleep I get, I still feel run down. No other symptoms yet so I can't complain too much.
We had our first ultrasound this morning. I am not even four weeks until Thurs. I was nervous but there it was. Tiny but clear as day. They said everything looked great. We will go back next week to see the heartbeat but Tom and I saw a little white dot moving today. Mindblowing really. So we proudly carried our picture home. And probably no one else can see the magic in it but we know.
The other day my brother called me "Mommy To Be." It's funny I had thought about being pregnant but not the obvious culmination of the pregnancy. Wow somebody's mommy.
I had the last of my blood tests today. That makes six in two weeks and I was running out of good veins. But my results were excellent and hearing the numbers gives me faith that everything is going okay in there. They scheduled us for an ultrasound next week. I can't believe that we get to see something this early. According to My Yahoo Pregnancy calendar, the embryo is the size of an appleseed and has a poppyseed sized beating heart. That blows my mind. I have already started talking to it. I know it can't hear but I want it to know we love it. I want to send strength to help it grow. I want it to know how much it is wanted. That we were willing to go through anything to have it in our lives.
So last week when I got my blood test results I used a home pregnancy test anyway. I wanted to finally see two lines appear. So I left the test which Tom & I affectionately refer to as "the pee stick" on the bathroom counter. It is still there. Tom keeps asking me when I am going to throw it out. I patiently explain that I need to keep reminding myself that I am pregnant. Besides I put it on my side next to my sink. And I am sure all of the actual urine has evaporated by now. Eeew. That is kind of gross. But you know what? I don't care. I'm keeping it as long as I wanna.
I am pregnant. Pregnant. Pregnant. Pregnant.
(I wonder how many times I have to type that until it feels real.)
We beat the odds and IVF #1 worked. I have actually known for almost a week. But I wanted to wait and make sure my HCG numbers were still going up. I truly believe that all of your support and positive energy got me here. That's why I wanted to tell you now.
I know I said before that I would wait until it was safe. But I changed my mind. I want to celebrate this wonderful thing. No matter what happens I don't want to overshadow it with pessimism and worry. This is a good thing. A very amazing good thing. And that is what I choose to focus on now.
Pregnant. Pregnant. Pregnant!
You ever realized that no matter what we do in life there are some things you go through alone? Tom is as close to me in this as anyone can be. But he can not feel what it is like to carry these embryos inside. To wonder if my body is going to fail me on this one. To know that no matter what everyone blames the woman for infertility problems. I tell you these past few days I thought I knew what to expect. That I would while away the hours waiting until I can find out if I am pregnant. But it has been totally unexpected. The way people have reached out to me. Strangers and friends alike.
I made my daily trip out to the mailbox today. I could see a package hanging tantalizingly from the mailbox. I hoped it was my candles I ordered from Liz and it was. Even the box smelled good and I love the way she always throws in some tarts to try.
But there was more inside the mailbox. A little box from some place called Heaven and Earth in California. I had no idea since I hadn't ordered anything. Inside was a scroll that read, "Thinking of you sis, Scott." Aha something from my brother. I tell you people as I unwrapped those tissue paper forms I had no idea.
There they were. Two botttles of OPI "I'm Not Really A Waitress" nail polish. The sheer thoughtfulness of it brought tears to my eyes. I mean he said that he was trying to stay up on my life lately. He told me he reads every day. But I didn't think he was really soaking it in. But when I needed something from him. Something to show his love here it was. It might sound silly or trivial. Trust me it means alot.
This is the first time I have been near the computer since Fri. I really needed a break to deal with everything.
No bad news or anything. On Sat. we had to leave at 6am to get up to Dartmouth. They transferred two embryos. That was our original decision on the number we wanted this try. I was expecting the transfer to be pretty simple. The procedure itself was but the whole thing was very difficult for me. We got our fertilization report right beforehand. I think that brought me down some. Of the 15 eggs harvested only 5 made it to cell division. The others were either too immature, didn't fertilize or didn't make it through the ICSI process. That day one of the other eggs degenerated. So we had two implanted and two frozen. The two implanted were given grades of B and B-. So typical of me that I was expecting A's. We joked that it was Tom's influence, they had potential but just needed to buckle down and focus. The good news is that 3 of the 4 that made did so through regular insemination. That means that Tom's sperm were able to get the job done on their own. This bodes well for the future.
They couldn't see my uterus during the procedure and decided that my bladder needed to be filled using a catheter. I think that the 32oz. I did drink hit me at the same time. The worst part was the ultrasound tech who really had to dig into me to get a good picture. My already sore ovaries were killing me. Poor Tom got my nails dug into him the whole time. I don't feel too dramatic saying it was agony. The hardest thing was that I had really wanted to enjoy that moment. To enjoy the thought that they were putting my embryos inside. That at that moment I was the closest I had ever been to being pregnant. If I had only been prepared for it I know I would have been able to handle it better. Afterwards I had to lay still for thirty minutes.
I spent the rest of Sat. laying down with Tom waiting on me. Yesterday I moved around some. I feel like such a bum doing nothing. They don't even know if there is a correlation between bedrest and positive results. But I'm not taking any chances. I am bored out of my skull too. Now there is the waiting and the not knowing. We already have a plan for what happens if we get a negative result. I tell you now I have no idea how women do this more than once. The whole cycle was so much more than I imagined it would be. Of course it will be worth it. But it's hard to cling to that when you cry at the drop of a hat and want something more than you've ever wanted anything before.
No Toe Touches
I am feeling much better today. After all I did have twelve hours of sleep. I haven't had to take any painkillers. I am still moving slow but have been able to do some household chores. I can't wait until I can bend over enough to paint my toenails. Ah, vanity will be my undoing.
The clinic wouldn't give me exact numbers on my embryos. They say that things can change a lot over the next few days. I would have needed a minimum of 13 to fertilize in order to wait until the embryos are 5 days old. But with only 15 eggs we were pretty sure we wouldn't make the cutoff. So we will be transfering back two 3 day old embryos on Sat. Then I have to play it cool for a few weeks until we find out if they stuck. We chose two embryos because I am fairly young and we're okay with the concept of twins. The odds of having more than twins are extremely high because one or both of the existing embryos would have to split. But we have definitely thought about it. Tom would probably pass out. I find myself thinking about my little petri dishes a lot. The hardest part is having no control over their fate at all. I had to learn to turn that over to someone else.
Thank you all for your support. I have been grinning ear to ear at your comments!
We'll Call Him Petri
We just got back from the hospital. I feel way better than I hoped I would. Tired and moving kind of slow but otherwise pretty good. I was the most afraid of the anesthesia (sp?). The doctors were awesome and kept chatting with me and I went right to sleep. They gave me a medication that gives you amnesia so you can't remember anything during the procedure. When I woke up about 25 minutes later they were all done and gone. Someone put my good luck bear on my chest so I would see him. Then my mom was there and then Tom. I had to wait an hour to make sure I was okay. During that time they removed my wires and IV and Tom picked up my prescription for Tylenol 3. Then I got a progesterone shot in my bum. They came back and told us they got 15 eggs out. I was hoping for more but I am happy to have that many. They put them in 5 dishes, three in each dish. They will do ICSI (inject sperm) into 6 eggs and the rest will go to whichever sperm gets there first. I am supposed to call tomorrow and they will be able to tell me how many fertilized. I felt well enough after getting dressed to even have a sandwhich. Then I slept the whole way home. I am getting tired again. So that's all for now.
Fetch Those Eggs
You know when you have to pee so bad your kidneys hurt? Anyone, anyone? Well that is what my ovaries feel like. Yow. I think they do that on purpose so that you look forward to the egg retrieval. Which for me is tomorrow morning. They will go in vaginally and suck the little buggers out with a mini vacuum. Sounds like fun. Each follicle doesn't necessarily contain an egg. But they examine them through a microscope and collect them all. Then they each get their own petri dish and sperm companion. Talk about taking the romance out of it. They will call the next day to tell me how many successfully fertilized.
I feel really positive about this. I allow myself such thoughts as "why wouldn't this work?" But maybe my journey isn't done. Maybe I still have lessons yet to learn. I mean after all if someone had asked me before if I was a strong person I would have said yes. But apparently fate, life or whatever felt like testing that and building me up even more. The best part of this so far. The people. You guys here with you unwavering support. My family's thoughtfulness. My husband's willingness to conquer his own fears. The companionship of my bulletin board friends and fellow infertility soldiers. Those women have met more adversity and pain in their journeys then you can believe. There is a whole world out there I never knew existed. I hope that our journey will end soon but I am thankful if I brought comfort and understanding to other couples like us.
I will try to post tomorrow when I get home. But I will be put under for the procedure and probably will be out of it for the rest of the day. My mom is skipping work to come with us. I didn't want Tom to be alone in case anything happened to me. Then my mom will stay with me the rest of the day here at home. The timing of this unfortunately has Tom back at work afterwards and late into the night. He has a program due for a customer on Thurs. But I figure if I get the laptop upstairs I can still get online. Tom says if only I'd done more drugs I wouldn't be so effected by them. There is a lesson for the kiddies.
They called and want me to do the human chorionic gonadtropin (HCG) trigger shot tonight. This will signal the eggs to get ready for the retrieval. Picture this. My poor needle phobic husband has to put a big one right into my delicate derriere. I wish I could do it myself. But this one is intra-muscular so it is long and must avoid blood vessels. He paid really close attention during injection training. I have faith in him. No really.
A rainy day drive back and forth to Dartmouth. Then a 45 min delay in the ultrasound department. Where I got to spend time with a very immature pregnant 16 yr. old and her very immature boyfriend. And listen to their mundane conversation about stretch marks. Stuff like that kills me.
But the great news is that I am bursting with nice follicles. Fifteen in total that are measurable and five of those already to mature size. So they have to call me this afternoon with my bloodwork results. But it looks like we'll be having the retrieval on Wed. or Thurs. I am guessing it will be Thurs. I am getting excited but also nervous. I am so happy just thinking tonight could be my last hormone shot. My tummy will not miss the bruises and little dots all over.
I will now be depending on the kindness of strangers.
I had this idea on my drive home from Dartmouth. Basically because I can't get any good radio stations. I really need a good mix to listen to. And not just any mix.
So I am asking you my beloved blogger friends to help me out. In the next few weeks I will be going through more injections, egg retrieval, embryo transfer, progesterone supplements and the dreaded two week wait until my test results. Please mix me some music to help me through. Be as creative as you want.
I can't find a way to give you my address without broadcasting it to the world. So if you wanna participate comment on this entry and I will give you my mailing address. Thanks.
In The Hopper
So I'm just back from another early morning jaunt to Dartmouth. My phlebotomist this time was not as good but no harm done. I had my ultrasound and let me say "damn!" My left ovary is kicking ass and taking names. They gave me the thumbs up to continue on the same dosage. It will be a few more days until I go back to get checked again. I can't imagine how I will feel then. Right now I feel ready to burst.
I saw this same couple from last week. You can tell because all us IVF gals carry the same blue folder. You can also tell an infertile couple because they can carry on entire conversations in voices so low the people next to them can't hear. We smiled briefly each time we popped up at the same places. When I left they were gone. I wish that she had felt comfortable enough to talk to me. I am dying to talk to someone in person who is going through this too. Clearly she and I are neck and neck in our cycles. I wanted to see if she felt the same. I wanted to see if her protocol was different. But I didn't push it and she seemed content to sit in silence. I must remind myself that not everyone handles this the way I do. I am an information junkie. The more I know, the better I feel. I want to know every detail. Then I will know what to expect. But really everyone's experience is uniquely their own.
Filled With Potential
I apologize in advance for those of you without ovaries. Or those of you who are squeamish (ie. Erika).
I swear I can feel the eggs growing inside me. I know the hormone shots are working. I feel different. Like a tugging on both sides of my stomach. Is it crazy that I was talking to them while I was doing the dishes? Can you imagine what a loon I will be with an actual baby inside? This is the closest I've ever been to actually maybe being pregnant soon. Do you see how even the littlest hope gets me going?
Got to do 3 vials of meds last night instead of 4. Less burning. Yay for small victories.
Can't Have Just One
So in my pre-pregnant state I have been trying to develop more healthy eating habits. Now I have always been pretty good about not eating too much junk. I prefer healthy foods actually. But I have become obsessed with limiting myself once I am pregnant. I figure I will do it now and it won't be such a shock to my system. I stopped buying soda and only have one if I am out somewhere. I am limiting my Chai tea intake to decaf or one/week. I have increased my water and juice drinking. Candy and cookies are also going by the wayside.
Last night I loaded my cart up with pears, oranges, pineapple and strawberries. I wanted to get mangoes but they looked a little sketchy. I also bought veggies and tomatos to snack on. Unlike the rest of the world I don't really love chocolate. Sometimes however I do crave it. Like now. I'm not a saint so I did get stuff to make cookies. Besides Tom loves fresh made cookies so much. I was doing pretty good until I stopped to get his chips.
Bravo to Lay's potato chips for their brilliant marketing scheme. "Tastes of America", "limited time" is all I need to hear. Into my cart jumped the latest offering, "Chicago Steakhouse: Loaded Baked Potato." I'm trying right? It's almost like they know my weakness. I mean once I'm pregnant I'm quitting cold turkey. Yeah, right.
It appears I have been lax in my posting and reading. I have been really tired the past few days and have beeen trying to get to bed earlier. I started my nightly shots this past Sat. These are the follicle stimulating hormones (FSH). Which basicaly are putting my ovaries into overdrive. They take forever because I have to mix several vials together using a large needle. Then I switch to a smaller neeedle for the injection. When the meds enter my skin they burn like crazy. So I try to go bed right after and when I wake up it is all better. I still do a smaller dose of the morning shot but that doesn't hurt at all now. I am combatting the headaches with constant water and it helps as long as I remember to eat too.
I go back to Dartmouth this week to check how the shots are working. I should have a better idea then of when we will have the retreival. I am not a big fan of these shots but it will all be worth it. When I get that positive pregnancy test, they will be a blur. But I will always remember what I went through for this. I will always remember what other couples went through too. I am so thankful for the medical technology that has made this possible. What a world we live in.
How come a nap always sounds good but when I actually have time I can't fall asleep? And of course I have my now daily meds related headache to contend with. I woke up at 5:30am to leave and get to Dartmouth for my 8am appt. (See Erika it's possible for me to get up early, but why would anyone want to?)
All my baseline tests went fine. I got the best phlebotomist and I didn't feel the blood draw at all. The ultrasound was fast and then I had to sign pre-operative paperwork. Now I wait to call back between 3:30-4:30. They will give me the thumbs up on my bloodwork. That means I start the second set of shots on Sat. These will kick my ovaries into high gear so I can produce lots of eggs. I have another appointment next week to check the progress. It's all so strange to read this post. I mean who ever thought I'd be cheering to produce a nest full?
I also changed my mind and decided to keep the regular and ICSI eggs separate. I think it will be interesting to see if the embryos fertilize and grow differently. Then if several are good quality we could pick which ones we want to use. I know it seems so clinical to think that way. But emotionally I need to remain as detached as possible.
This infertility journey is harder than I thought. Lately. Although bouyed by actually feeling progress towards our goal. Stress is constant. Go to sleep with it, wake with. Creeps in when I think I am focused on other things. Shots are giving me marathon headaches. Having trouble getting things done. This is not like me. Admitting this to other people is not like me. I feel like I am walking on a beach. The waves keep lapping at my ankles. No matter how fast I run, they still make upward progress.
Talking about it helps, acknowledging it helps. Allowing myself to be in this and not feeling guilty helps. I am one woman. One woman pushing back the ocean. But just in case, I'm also a strong swimmer.
Heads Or Tails?
More good news on the infertility front. Trust me all the baby steps really are a big deal. We got the full lab report on Tom's sperm analysis. His morphology (shapes) has gone from 1% to 7%, which is in the normal range. Will wonders never cease? So we spoke with our embryologist on the phone. We have decided to only do partial fertilization with ICSI. This means a portion of our eggs will be allowed to fertilize "naturally" by whatever spermie gets there first. The other portion will have one individual sperm inserted in each egg. Hopefully this will give us more options for embryos to transfer.
PS Did day 6 of Lupron shots this morning. This was the first time it hurt. But I think I hit a little vein because it bled too. So far I haven't had any side effects. I was kind of hoping for the hot flashes, it is still chilly down here in the computer room.
Fine Gauge Needle
Thanks everyone for your support. I feel like there are so many more people in this with me now. Today was the day for my first shot of Lupron. It will basically suppress my system creating faux menopause. I will be doing daily morning shots for the next couple of weeks.
I got all my stuff out and was ready to go. Some of my online TTC friends suggested icing the area. Which totally worked. I didn't feel the needle at all. And I feel fine so far around the injection site. So, one more hurdle that needed to be leaped.
The Twelfth Hour
This is why I am a half full kind of gal. If you read my last entry you can see I was tipping towards the empty side. Then an hour ago I got a phone call from Tom's doctor.
Now this doesn't change anything about our IVF cycle. But the results from yesterday's semen amalysis are in. His count has gone up multiplied by four. They think the meds he is on for Addison's are working. Well atleast in regards to this aspect of his endocrine system. We will still proceed with IVF but this may change whether we do ISCI or not. It improves the chances that on the day of retrieval they will get enough good sperm. It means that if his count keeps improving some day after this first baby maybe we can conceive future children naturally.
Tom couldn't understand why I was crying. But I was so happy to get a phone call that was finally good news. It means that there is hope. Hope when mine started to waver.
PS This is my 200th entry!
I called Dartmouth today and confirmed the date of when I will start taking my Lupron injections. I suspect it will all seem to move rather quickly after that. I was really excited after our last appointment. More accurately I was feeling positive. Positive enough to start planning the rest of the year around being pregnant. Can't fly at this time, vacation close to home, where we will spend the holidays. I rarely let myself get that far ahead when it come to this. This last week has brought a lot of negative pregnancy test results for my online friends who just went through their IVF cycles. I'm now thinking why should mine be any different. Who says I should get to be successful on my first cycle when these other women have been trying so long? I am still excited about this try. Just not as sure of it.
I don't usually get effected by news outside of our situation. I am genuinely happy for other people who are pregnant now. I can be in a room with babies and be fine. But lately the sight of little boys has caught me on the edge. Like the one on Fri. sitting in front of his dad on the lawn tractor scooting around the yard. Or the one on Sat. holding his dad's hand and in the other clutching his Easter basket intent on the hunt. They are in my sight line for the briefest moment and then my eyes fill up. The sharp pain spreads from my heart into the pit of my stomach. And then I wipe the tears and keep on driving.
That's the hard part, never knowing when it is going to hit me. When I will be on the other side of this and those visions will only make me smile. Instead of making me long for the feeling of that little hand in mine.
Erika is right about needing to also focus on other things besides loss. In the spirit of moving on with life. Here's the scoop on our latest visit to Dartmouth this past Tues.
You gotta love them for making our 3 hour drive worth while. They really pack in the appointments. We saw the genetic counselor, embryologist and got our injection training. They teach you how to mix the medication in vials and how to handle the needles. I feel a lot better about the shots. I will be able to give almost all of them to myself. They have these itty bitty needles to use. Tom will have to give me the big giant one. Okay maybe I am exaggerating a little. But it seemed huge poised in his hand. He was really paying attention to the instructions and practiced several times. I think we'll do fine. They even gave me a folder with everything spelled out and I can follow along with each appointment. They are so amazing at helping us. For now my big box of meds waits in the guest room and a couple of packs are in the refrig. I am anxious to start in a few weeks.
Sign Here Please
A big fat packet from Dartmouth was waiting for me when I got home. It is the paperwork we need to review before our appointment with the Embryologist. It consists of a IVF procedure description and a participation release form. I have obviously been reading a lot about IVF and ICSI and injectible drugs. And I felt pretty well informed. I know the sucess rates and have accepted that we may not get pregnant on the first try. These are all things the you put in your head. Meanwhile your heart is saying, "I can do this, I would do almost anything for a child and it will all be worth it when I see our baby for the first time."
There's nothing like cold, hard facts to snap you back.
"Of those particpants who do become pregnant, only 65-75% will give birth. 20-25% will suffer spontaneous miscarriage in the first twelve weeks; 3-5% will experience non-viable pregnancies; 3-4% will suffer miscarriage after the first twelve weeks or deliver a stillborn baby. Roughly 10% will have pre-term infants. Statistics compiled at the IVF Program indicate that approximately 70% of pregnancies have resulted in the delivery of one or more live, term infants."
What better way to remind us that getting that positive pregnancy test is only the beginning. I have dared to think beyond that moment. But mostly in a positive way. Like imagining Tom's face when I tell him. Giving up sugar, caffeine and anything else deemed non-nutritious. The idea that by next year at this time we could have a baby. Like finally being able to refer to the extra room down the hall as the nursery, without my stomach tightening.
So I think I will return to my original plan back when we never dreamed we would have trouble getting pregnant. I will not tell anyone beyond a close circle if our IVF works yet. I can not gamble on being that 20-25% of first twelve week miscarriages in front of everyone. We will keep it close until it's safer.
Busy, busy day. I'm gonna have to post about it in two parts.
First things first. Trekked up to Dartmouth and while driving followed these instructions. "Drink 32oz of any fluid one hour prior to your appointment." I had a harder time with this one. "Do not void before appointment." Void meaning piss like a racehorse. The snow slowed me down and by the time I got into the room I was dying. Then they made me change. In the bathroom. That really killed me.
The mock transfer went fine and they discovered a little "s" curve in my cervix. So they'll be ready for that when we go for the real thing. They let me pee after that. Whew! Then I had the sonohistogram (SHG) and my uterus was just peachy. For good measure they decided to take a look at the ovaries too. So weird looking at those potential eggs hanging out and waiting to roll down the chute.
After I got dressed I took my chart up and met with our IVF coordinator. She was able to take a look at the calendar and sketch out an approximate time for the meds and the procedures. Hopefully we'll be able to take our first shot in May. I am so excited to have atleast an idea of when everything is going to happen. And even though I am trying to be cautious, I can't help but think that our child would be born in Feb. of next year. I get teary-eyed at the very idea.
Big Fat Negative
For a couple days this last week I thought by some miracle I might be pregnant. But alas, it is not so. I was waiting for my home pregnancy results and wishing for two lines. And I thought, "How random is to go from praying for your period to show up, to wishing it would stay away?" It's a weird road we travel my friends.
So now I am scheduled for my day 3 bloodwork and sonohystogram (SH) which are the last two tests before starting the meds for IVF. The SH is basically an ultrasound of your saline-filled uterus so they can check out it's quality. I am sure that mine is going to be gorgeous.
I grew up an Army brat. It was just simply a part of who I was. A few years ago, I discovered there is a whole community of brats out there. I also discovered that there are books about us. Books that tell my truth and explain facets of my personality, it was eery. But I felt like a member of an exclusive club. A club where only fellow members can truly understand. Infertility is like that. A special club that you can only join by happenstance
I have been thinking a lot today about infertility. It is probably because I am approaching the time for my cycle to end and we will move on with bloodwork and further tests before IVF meds. When we first started having trouble last year I told Tom that in my heart I knew something was wrong. That conviction helped me push my doctor to do testing before they wanted to. I was right, there is something wrong that keeps us from conceiving naturally.
Today I said to Tom that I just know I will be pregnant this year. A part of me is worried about superstitious jinxing. But the louder part of me (the positive side) really believes. I believe in the doctors and the IVF/ICSI process. I believe that we have a really good shot. I believe that somewhere inside me is the strength to get through the shots, the tests and the procedures. I believe in the place deep inside that only became known to me in the past few years. The part that can almost hear my child's voice say my name, and all the imagined days ahead when I teach my child how to navigate the world.
It's not the pregnancy or the idea of a baby. It's the idea of creating a child from myself & Tom. The idea of a family made more by the sum of it's parts.
The following is a story I read on one of my Trying To Conceive (TTC) bulletin boards. It's a great metaphor for what it is like inside infertility.
Different Trips to the Same Place
Deciding to have a baby is like planning a trip to Australia. You've heard it's a wonderful place, you've read many guidebooks and feel certain you're ready to go. Everyone you know had traveled there by plane. They say it can be a turbulent flight with occasional rough landings, but you can look forward to being pampered on the trip.
So you go to the airport and ask the ticket agent for ticket to Australia. All around you, excited people are boarding planes for Australia. It seems there is no seat for you; you'll have to wait for the next flight. Impatient, but anticipating a wonderful trip, you wait, and wait and wait.
Flights to Australia come and go. People say silly things like, "relax, you'll get on a flight soon." Other people actually get on a plane and then cancel their trip to which you cry, "It's not fair."
After a long time the ticket agent tells you, "I'm sorry, we're not going to be able to get you on a plane to Australia. Perhaps you should think about going by boat.
"By boat!" you say. Going by boat will take a very long time and it costs a great deal of money. I really had my heart set on going by plane. So you go home and think about not going to Australia at all. You wonder if Australia will be as beautiful if you approach it by sea rather than air.
But you have dreamed of this wonderful place and finally you decide to travel by boat. It is a long trip, many months over many rough seas. No one pampers you. You wonder if you will ever see Australia. Meanwhile, your friends have flown back and forth to Australia two or three more times, marveling about each trip.
Then one glorious day the boat docks in Australia. It is more exquisite than you ever imagined, and the beauty is magnified by your long days at sea. You have made many wonderful friends during you voyage, and you find yourself comparing stories with others who also travelled by sea rather than air.
People continue to fly to Australia as often as they like, but you are able to travel only once, perhaps twice. Some say things like, "Oh, be glad you didn't fly. My flight was horrible; traveling by sea is so easy." You will always wonder what it would have been like to fly to Australia. Still, you know God Blessed you with a special appreciation of Australia, and the beauty of Australia is not the way you get there, but in the place itself.
This Woman Can't Be Stopped
I'm freshly back from our latest trip to Dartmouth. We met with the social worker today because New Hampshire law requires that of couples doing IVF. It went fine and was more to make sure we have strategies for handling the stress. Also they want to make sure we have considered the ethical decisions that are inherent to the process. What about multiples? The status of frozen enbryos? Things that can be difficult to grapple with when I'm all hyped up on hormone shots. (Gee..that's gonna be fun!) My blood tests came back good and now I have to wait for my next cycle to do the next round. They have been so great about keeping me on the fast track and making sure all our ducks are in a row. I can't wait to get started. Well not that I am looking forward to injections, but well you know...the rest of it. The social worker was also really supportive of how upset I was about losing my job. She said it's kind of like the child I had all this time. Which is basically true since we put off even trying to have a family until I was done with school and started in my career. But this is okay. When we get to the end of this journey no matter how it turns out I know it is happening this way for a reason. Mark my words, we will have children one way or another. And if you stick around my blog you'll be there for it too.
How's that for irony? Yesterday I spent on the phone getting a prenatal care appointment and vitamins for a 15 year old. Today I spent hours talking about a procedure that will cost $12,000 for the chance at us having a baby. We are so lucky that insurance will cover most of it.
The appointment today went great. I'm almost getting to where I don't mind the 3 hour drive. I had nine tubes pulled for my bloodwork evaluation. We met with the Reproductive Endocrinologist and the nurse who will guide us through the process. I have an appointment with the Embryologist in 2 weeks. All of Tom's previous tests came out really well. They seem very confident about this working for us. It is so amazing that until they developed this procedure 8 years ago we wouldn't have had any options. We won't get our first shot until closer to April by the time we go through everything else and start taking the medication. So it looks like a 2004 baby for us. I am so excited about being on the path towards results. The hardest part of infertility is not knowing. There are no guarantees with this and a 35% chance each try, but I feel really good about it.
Casting The Net
PS I have not been able to find anything about Addison's and male infertility. I was hoping to find someone else that is going through or has been through this. But so far nothing. Maybe someone else out there looking will find me here and find comfort and support in our story.
The Whole Story Part II
It is time to update on our doctors visits last Monday. It always takes me a few days to absorb and recover from everything we go through there. In between our tests and appointments we stopped by the endocrinologist's. His nurse showed me how to give Tom an emergency shot in case he is hurt while we are away from medical treatment. We also got the prescription for the injection. I gotta tell you it felt weird carrying syringes in my purse. In all likelihood, we'll never have to use them.
We waited to see the doctor and he gave us the results of Tom's thyroid scan. He told that it showed that Tom has Graves' disease. Another autoimmune disease where the thyroid is over active. The good news is that it is very mild right now. We have three choices for treatment. 1. Surgery to remove the thyroid and then meds for life. 2. Swallow a radioactive pill that kills the thyroid and then meds for life. Or 3. Take medicine to treat the overactvity for a year for a 50% chance that it will send the Graves' into remission.
Tom chose the last option because we have nothing to lose. If the odds are on our side then we are doing awesome. If it doesn't help then we are still left with the first and second choices. He will start his new meds tomorrow. I am sure he is down about beating the odds twice with two rare endocrine diseases. I think he is waiting for the other shoe to drop. We have his CAT scan this Friday and then the testing should be over. This is to confirm that both of his adrenal glands are basically gone because of the Addison's.
The other appointments had to do with our infertility issues.
I had been wrestling with what to do next. I asked the urologist if we should wait to see if his sperm improves or move on to IVF. His urologist really weighed my question and finally said we should move on. He said we might get pregnant on our own before then but there are no guarantees about when or if his sperm will ever improve enough to conceive naturally. He then called up to see when we could get an appt., figuring they were probably booked pretty far up anyway. We lucked out with a cancellation and will be going for our consultation at the end of this month.
So of course since its me, I've been scouring the internet for info. I think I've learned all I can that way and will have to wait to discuss our particular situation with the doctors. I keep reminding myself that the most important thing is to have a child. Not how it is conceived. I am thankful we even have options. I never knew before about all the incredible advances. We are also so fortunate that our insurance coverage is so good. Massachussetts state law requires coverage for infertility and IVF. Otherwise it would cost us around $15,000 for each try. In fact we just signed a petition at RESOLVE supporting a House of Rep Act to require coverage in all fifty states. I can tell you that I never thought we would be in this situation. But I can't say I would have changed anything about the way we did things either. So we'll keep taking the next steps one at a time until we find a resolution we can live with.
The Whole Story
When I first started to blog I made a promise to myself to only reveal info about family with their permission. I know I would want the same consideration. I talked about this with Tom and he agreed. So far he has been fine with my writing about our infertility. But I haven't yet written about what is also going on with him. A couple of days ago he told me to post about if I wanted to. I decided I wanted to in order to keep a more accurate record of what is going on in my life. This way our friends and family can read any updates here instead of having to wait for phone calls with reports.
Through this infertility process I have felt that we are going through this for a reason. I'm a logical person in most ways and I truly believe that good people get good things. I also believe that bad things happen to good people too and that there is always a way to grow from it if we look closely.
A month ago we began to learn what the reason might be.
My husband hates the doctor. I mean HATES it. He is also amazingly stubborn. The only way he would go to a doctor is in a dire emergency (ie. decapitation) or to help us have a baby. So he begrudgingly accompanied me to our first fertility specialist appointment and was fairly queasy throughout. We knew at that point we had bad news in the sperm department.
We were then sent to Dartmouth Medical Center to see a urologist. He was really great and ran some more tests on Tom. At the time he commented on Tom's unusually dark skin tone. Curious more because Tom works indoors and its the middle of winter. He decided to run an extra test on a hunch.
His hunch paid off and he called to tell us that Tom might have an adrenal problem. We were then setup with appointments with an endocrinologist. So a few weeks ago we went back up to Dartmouth. This doctor was fantastic. Really informative and helpful. He was fascinated by Tom and confirmed that he has Addison's disease. He showed us some classic symptoms which I have never thought were unusual because Tom slowly got more tan over the years. The other thing is that he doesn't have any other symptoms. None. The doctors were amazed.
The next step was to find out if the autoimmune disease was effecting any where else. So earlier this week Tom had a Thyroid scan. They said it is mildly overactive but we will talk to the doctor on Mon to get more specifics. I questioned the possibility of benign tumors but the doctor said they would have to be on both adrenal glands which is almost impossible. But he did decide to order a CAT scan for later this month. Tom is blaming me for that extra test. But we have a sense of humor about it.
He likes to tell me now that he needs to eat extra junk food or he is too weak to do the dishes because of his disease. Funny guy.
We don't know how much this may factor into our infertility and it will take 3-4 months for the sperm to be effected by his medication. We aren't sure if we'll wait or go ahead with other options.
But I can tell you that I have been so proud of the way Tom is handling this. He has subjected himself to many bloodtests, shots, scans, consultations and questions. Not to mention that he will be on medication for the rest of his life. He nonchalantly picked out his Medic Alert necklace and kept on going. We will have to carry an injection kit for emergencies and I will be learning how to give him the shot he would need until we could get medical attention. He has shown me a side of himself I never saw before. We have also grown closer as a couple. I feel like we are facing this as a team. My job is to ask questions, keep up with appointments and push for the best medical treatment. I'm totally in my element with that and he has told me how valuable that is. I know even more now that we can face the infertility journey better as well. So all this so we could find out about his illness in probably the best way possible. As opposed to him suffering through weakness and fatigue and possibly passing out without us having a clue. This has been our gift.
Mr. Stork Stop Here
Well I slept in (my last post being 3am, yikes). Now I am trying to catch up on other blogs I haven't had a chance to read in a while. Got a link to a great article from Cheryl about dealing with infertility. I haven't written about it in a while because we haven't made too much progress on that front. I think the next inevitable step maybe IVF. I have been caught up with the holidays and things with Tom. Also, I think I keep waiting to still get pregnant naturally. It its strange concept to admit that it probably isn't going to happen that way. So I am not depressed about it, but not a day goes by when I don't think about it either. I joined a bulletin board and am hoping to learn alot and go back into the Dr's armed with info.
Butter Side Up
A few years ago when I was in Kenya I got really sick. I was so afraid that I had gotten some freaky tropical disease. Our american guide told me not to worry and she was sure "my bread would land butter side up." I remember thinking at the time it was such a random thing to say. She was right, I recovered in a few days. I've always been a brighter side of life kinda gal and after all I named this blog halffull for a reason.
This morning I went to my appointment and one cheesy hospital jonny & robe later I had my x-ray. It was so surreal. I spent the whole time telling myself there was nothing to worry about. But inside I had my doubts. The process was not horrible, but also not something I'd want to repeat. The pain was hard to describe, not sharp but achy and deep. I was surprised by it and glad I took ibuprofen beforehand.
So I got to watch the dye move up my fallopian tubes and knew then they were open. I was so thankful for that as I feel we have about all the hurdles we need right now. I drove home and laid down for the rest of the day. That definitely helped me feel better. I decided work was out because it is so active and I never know what is going to happen there. Not the best place to be when you are feeling kind of unfocused.
Now we are on to the next step which comes after getting the test results from our appointment yesterday and consultation with our fertility specialist. I will be glad to return to work tomorrow and get back into my life. I am really trying to keep everything in perspective while we explore our options. One of my oldest friends told me that hearing what we are dealing with has made her appreciate her two kids even more. I know it has made me think differently about the importance of family and how even when you made plans with the best intentions you need to also be open to the idea of change. I can say that this experience so far has brought me closer to Tom in a way I never felt before.
So now I can throw myself full speed into the holiday season and prepare for hosting Christmas here. Which I am actually very excited about!
We are finally back from PA. Can I say how much I hate Connecticut? We were cruising along and then switched to me driving at the NY border. Upon reaching Conn we are at a dead stop. What the hell? I darted in and out of lanes and then gave up. We went 20 mph until Hartford. No accidents, construction or cops. Nothing to explain the traffic.
We then proceeeded up 91 to Vermont and it was totally clear. I have never driven on that side of Mass before. I guess I never knew Springfield was actually a real city. We want to go back next summer to go to Six Flags. We got to White River Junction and had dinner then hung out at the hotel.
We arrived at Dartmouth-Hitchcock for our appointment at 9am this morning. Everything went okay but they did indicate most of our future infertility procedures will probably be done there. So it looks like we'll be spending a lot of time up there in the future. Its about an hour & 45 min drive. Not too bad. Ironic that my parents just sold their condo where we would have been 45 mins away.
Tomorrow I go for my HSG which is basically an x-ray of my pelvis to watch whether dye travels up my fallopian tubes or not. Word on the street is that it can be painful, but I am keeping the hope that I can go to work after. Its one more step in the path towards figuring this whole thing out. The great thing is there have been so many medical advances, that we have many options ahead. Keep your fingers crossed.
PS Is it bad that I eyed the woman with triplets and the man carrying twins with jealousy? I mean jeez I'd just take one for now. :0)