Tuesday, March 27, 2012

on our way.

Saturday, after much drama from my clinic, we started stims for IVF #3. My doc had me on 375 units of Brav.elle, 7 units of low dose HCG, and 5 units of lu.pron. I'm not feeling much. And, actually, on Saturday I had my best run of my post-partum life. I ran 4 miles in 45 minutes and, actually, had one 10 minute mile. Woop woop. I sure hope that's my last 10 minute mile for a while ;).

Anyways, he started me out at 375, which didn't surprise me. It's a dose more commonly seen in women in their thirties, but my ovaries are clearly not spring chickens. (no offense to you women in your thirties, clearly my body thinks that's how old I am). I have had a feeling all along that this cycle would work, but that we would not have stellar numbers. Or rather, I would not have stellar numbers. The nurse called with my new instructions and my levels and confirmed what I was thinking. After 3 days of stims my estradiol was only 117. It's no shock that the doc upped my Bra.velle dose to 450 units. The nurse was very sweet and assured me that things are looking very similar to our successful cycle... My estradiol at this point last time was 145. So, yes, very similar, but it's still looking like it's going to take a lot more for my body to get going. In case you aren't familiar with the cost of IVF, taking 450 units a day of injectable medications means that I am spending roughly $372 a day JUST on that medication. That's a whole lot of money I am dumping into my body on a daily basis.

My blood results really sent me into a funk. While I know deep down that my body is just not performing like it should (meaning like a 26 year old), I still keep holding out hope that somehow I'm going to start having amazing results. The delusional part of my brain keeps thinking that maybe I'll end up with 10 mature eggs and 2-3 5 day embryos that are perfect. In all reality, I will be LUCKY if I end up with 5-6 mature eggs and THRILLED if I had 2-4 embryos on day 3. And I will probably collapse (out of shock), if I have several 6-8 cell embryos on day 3. And I am so scared that I will have nothing on day 3 or that I will only have 1 or 2 mediocre quality embryos. And part of me is scared of a BFN, but not really. Am I making any sense? I really don't want another BFN, but I'm at peace and really praying this all works out and I get my BFP.

All this IVF stuff is just so exhausting. I'm already tired of shots. I'm already tired of blood draws and I'm really dreading my ultrasound on Thursday (appointments with the vag cam just really get old). BUT, I am thankful that we can afford IVF. Thankful for a shot at another baby. And thankful that I have Piper smiles and giggles to keep me going.

Now can I just fast forward to the day I get my positive test?

What is your least favorite part about TTC? Do you have decent veins for blood draws? What do you wish was different about your fertility?

Friday, March 23, 2012

the next ten years.

(Hi there if you are here from ICLW! If you're looking for background on us and our story, feel free to visit the tabs at the top of this page. Basically, my DH and I are headed towards IVF #1 for baby #2. Infertility sucks.)

This week has been tough. MBL has been in Belgium for work. He left Sunday afternoon and he doesn't come back until late this evening. I had to work two ten hour days this week on top of taking care of Piper. And I am on lupron. I'm in a fragile state to say the very least. The last three days have involved a lot of crying.

It all started on Wednesday when I had my baseline. My last antral follicle count was 21 back before my February cycle. The nurse on Wednesday was supposed to do another count and when I asked her how many she saw, she shocked me by saying "8". I didn't pay too much attention while she was doing the scan, except when she pointed out that I have two cysts on my right ovary, so I have been left wondering how my count be only 8. She was supposed to measure all of the follicles that were between 2-8mm. She told me she saw 4 on my left and 4 on my right. That doesn't even begin to make sense to me. I saw more than that for sure. Did she just count the bigger ones? If my antral count really is just 8, that's bad. Like heartbreakingly bad. I still have options and, obviously, my count has fluctuated from month to month, but my time is clearly running out. I was questioning the ultrasound all the way back to work. If MBL had been there, he would have been able to affirm the fact that she didn't count what she should have or that he saw more, but because I was alone I have no idea if my gut reaction of "that isn't right" is accurate.

I've spent the last 48 hours reeling. Trying to figure out what this all means. Wondering if my cycle is going to be cancelled. Wondering how many eggs we'll get, how many will be mature, and how many will become embryos. I'm so worried about spending all this money on something that has no guarantee. The odds are in my favor. They really are. My chances of this succeeding are still around 62%, but that number is still pretty far from 100%. I'm scared.

I told my mom and MBL that I'm dreading the next ten years. I think both of them were shocked by that statement, but that's how I'm feeling these days. I am BEYOND excited to see Piper learn and grow and change. It's amazing being her mom. Yesterday she mastered climbing the stairs in just two tries and I just stood there in amazement. I am excited to see how we grow our family. I can't wait to be pregnant again, to have a newborn again, to see all the "firsts" again. The truth is, though, that growing our family will not be easy for us. We can't just decide we want another baby and make it happen. We will probably have to do IVF multiple times and we will be lucky if it works with my eggs. We may have to look into donor eggs or donor embryos. None of this is easy, especially when I am surrounded by people who feel like they have the right to tell us to "just adopt" or "maybe this is God's will for you" or "just pray about it". Especially when those people just hop into the bedroom and nine months later have a perfect newborn. My point in saying the next ten years will be tough is that is, realistically, the amount of time I will be subjected to pregnancy announcements and people's insensitive comments. In ten years I will be 36 and most of my friends will be done building their families; MBL and I will (likely) be done as well.

In ten years I won't have to worry about how my babies are going to come to me because they will be here. And I am certain that I will be perfectly content with my family at that time. The journey to that point, however, will likely be full of emotions. I will have more BFNs, I will probably have more problems arise, we may have to face choices that we don't like... It is going to be HARD. And because infertility is something so many people just don't get, it is likely that I will feel judged for my choices, judged for having a DISEASE, judged for having my body totally betray me. And I am just so sick of the judgment and I still have ten more years to go!!

Don't get me wrong, I vow to enjoy this journey. I vow to love on Piper, to enjoy these little years. I vow to learn and grow from every obstacle thrown in our way. And I vow to educate people on infertility, even if it means opening myself up to judgmental and hurtful (awful) comments. I vow to make it to the other side ALIVE. I just don't vow that I won't cry or have bad days. And today is a bad day. Am I 36 yet :)?

When was your last bad day? How did you cope? I'm thinking I should buck up and put a few miles on my treadmill!

Monday, March 19, 2012

a big and difficult decision.


While we were on our trip to DC, I got a call from my supervisor at work. It turns out that one of the full time people in my office is now gone. I knew when I got the call that it would mean some sort of change for us (meaning MBL and I). When I got back to work on Wednesday, the talking and computing began. I knew what my options would likely be, so I started doing the math based on that. I did not like my calculations.

For a little background, I currently work 20 hours a week. Because I work ten hour days, it usually ends up being only one weekday and one weekend day. This is great for our family. It means that we maximize my time with Piper while minimizing our daycare costs. The situation is ideal.

So... What is the problem? Well, with the third person in my office being gone, lots of changes are coming. For starters, they are making everyone go to 8 hour shifts. That means that if I stay at 2 days a week, I will lose 16 hours of pay a month. That's significant. I did the math for staying 16 hours, moving up to 32 and going the full 40. The math was clear. If I moved up to 32 hours/week, I would only make an additional $3000 a year. If I moved up to 40 hours/week, however, I would make an additional $10000 a year. That's huge. That's the cost of ONE cycle of IVF (without meds). I HATE that reality. I had 24 hours to make a decision and after talking it over with MBL, the choice I had to make was clear. Starting April 15th, I will be moving to full time, 40 hours/week at work. And I HATE it. The morning I had to make this decision I had a total meltdown at work. I ended up crying in my office. I do not like this new reality.

The situation we are in, however, is that it cost $25,000 to get Piper. We are lucky to not have any debt from that. We do have debt from me getting my Master's. About the same amount as it cost to make Piper. We have already spent $1500 on trying to make baby #2 and now that we are headed towards IVF, that number will end up being closer to $12,000. Even with MBL's decent income, those are big numbers. Heartbreaking numbers. If we didn't want #2 so badly or if we had more time to try cheaper methods of TTC, I wouldn't have to work full time. The truth of the matter is, though, that my AMH is on the very low end of normal. The only thing that worked after TTC for 21 months the last time was IVF. And, if we want more kids, we need to get going. And, if we are truly looking to our family's best interests, then we need to achieve the size of our family with as little debt as possible. We can only do this if I take advantage of the open hours at work.

I prayed and prayed over this decision. I do not want to give up my time at home. I do not want to give up my flexible schedule. I do not want to give up all my Piper snuggles. I am beyond pissed at the fact that infertility has forced me to this decision. The only peace I have is that I am certain that this decision will be hardest on the adults. Piper will be fine. She will be at daycare 4 days a week from 8:30-3:00. I am hoping this will still leave me with 4-5 hours of awake/play time at home. She will still have lots of time with her mommy. Also, this situation is temporary. We are hoping that I get pregnant very soon. That means that I will only be full time for 8 months before going on maternity leave. It also means that because I will be a full time employee, I will be paid 60% of my salary while on that maternity leave. I will only have to return to work for 30 days after my leave and after that point I can quit. There are so many positives to this situation (financially), that I really can't be selfish and decide that it's too much for me to handle.

I'm not going to lie... I'm probably going to be a little bitter for a while over this. I know I am freakin' lucky to have this opportunity. To have a job. To have money to spend on IVF. BUT, I wouldn't have to face any of this if we could just make our babies in the bedroom like normal people. Freakin' infertility. Freakin' lack of insurance coverage.

Let's just hope this IVF works and I have a true deadline for working full time.

Have you had to make sacrifices in order to grow the size of your family? What's the worst thing you've had to give up in order to have (more) babies?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

defining myself

Lately, I have been trying to figure out who I am. Or, rather, who I want to be. Or, maybe, who I am in this whole IF world. It all started rather innocently with the blood tests I had for our upcoming IVF cycle. I didn't think anything of the results when I got them, but when I later posted about them on a fertility board, I discovered that something was amiss. My results were: AMH, 1.0; FSH, 7; and LH, 13. I thought those numbers seemed fine and I was SO thankful to see that my AMH was still in the normal range and that my FSH hadn't suddenly gone up. Apparently, though, having an FSH level of 7 and an LH level of 13 is not good. I mean, it's not awful, but it generally suggests PCOS. WTHeck? And having an unbalanced FSH to LH ratio can impede embryo quality. And that's exactly one of the problems we've had in our previous two IVFs. I've felt for a long time that there was a problem for me and now I'm beginning to think that maybe I'm the biggest problem in this IF equation. Now, I'm just trying to figure out what exactly my diagnosis is. What "room" I fit into. Infertility doesn't define everything about me, but it sure plays a heck of a role in my current life. And I want to figure out who I am in this IF world. Do I have PCOS? Do I have diminishing fertility? Do we have male factor? Are we unexplained? I just wish I knew.

Oh, and just for kicks and giggles in the diagnosis department, my RE found something surprising during my hysteroscopy. You see, I tried to get in for a hysteroscopy with my OB so MBL and I wouldn't have to drive to Chicago to see our RE. Our trip, however, kept us from being able to get in with her, so we were left with no other choice than driving to Chicago straight from the airport Monday evening. My OB thought that a hysteroscopy was overkill, but we wanted to make sure we covered every possible base before our IVF. We got up bright and early Tuesday for our appointment and I started chugging the required amount of water. I also took a vali.um because my last hysteroscopy hurt quite a bit. We got there right on time and the doc was able to get things started on schedule as well. It didn't hurt that much and I was thinking we'd been in and out in seconds without a hiccup. When he finally got the scope in, however, I saw that things were not as they should be. Instead of seeing a normal uterus, we saw what MBL referred to as "balloon animals". Apparently that's not normal. Boo. And apparently those balloon animals are called polyps in the medical community. Great. Another problem with me. Our RE said that he sees polyps in about 5% of patients and that he doesn't know why they happen. He then gave me several options: I could do nothing, I could have my OB scrape me out, I could come back for anaesthesia and have him do it, or I could have him scrape it right then and there. The last option would ensure that our IVF cycle would still be able to start on time. After some hemming and hawing, I decided to let him go ahead and do it right then. But not before telling him I took a vali.um (to which he gave me a very disapproving look). Basically, he gave me a D&C while I was totally conscious and without any anaesthesia. I'm so glad I took that vali.um. I should now have a totally smooth and hospitable ute for our upcoming transfer. I am so glad I went ahead with the hysteroscopy because a mock transfer probably would not have revealed my inner balloons.

We are now all set as far as pre-IVF testing goes. I started lupron on Wednesday and took my last birth control pill this evening. A week from tomorrow I should be starting stims. I have my baseline ultrasound on Wednesday... I'm hoping everything looks good and I'll be able to start on time! IVF this time around has been full of surprises (not good ones), but I'm really hoping that everything from here on out will be complication (or nasty surprise) free!

What was the worst surprise you've received? What about the best?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

a little R&R.

Last Thursday, MBL and I left on our first post-baby trip. Well, our first real post-baby trip. I joined him at a work conference for 4 days back in July, but we spent most of that time apart. This was our first real opportunity to spend loads of quality time together. We went to Alexandria, VA on this little trip:

We stayed right in Old Town which is SOOO cute! I had originally planned on going on this trip alone as I was visiting one of my good college friends, but, after some prodding, I convinced MBL to come along. And I'm so glad he did! We had so much fun spending time with my friend and her husband. We went out late and slept in until 9:30. We packed our days and nights with eating out and walking around the town after dark. We could have easily managed the trip if Piper had come along, but there would have been no going to dinner at 8pm or walking around the monuments at midnight. We love our daughter to the ends of the earth, but the break was wonderful. Plus, she got to spend 4 whole days with MBL's parents and they were beyond tickled to have her! Win win in my mind :).

One of the highlights for me was taking an accidental long run on Sunday. After an afternoon of walking around Mount Vernon, MBL decided he wanted to go for a massage and I decided I wanted to take advantage of a trail that runs along the Potomac from Mount Vernon out past Alexandria. I told MBL that I thought I could do a max of 2 hours/8 miles. After a beautiful, but exhausting 9.5 mile run, MBL finally picked me up :). I seriously felt like I could have done more, but I didn't have water and the warm weather dehydrated me. This was my view for most of my run:

All in all, it was an amazing opportunity for MBL and to spend time reconnecting with each other and investing in our marriage. I would go back and relive those four days in a heartbeat!

Have you ever visited the DC area? If so, did you enjoy it? If not, where is your favorite place to vacation?

Friday, March 2, 2012

stress... eating? shopping? running?

Ever since I started the birth control on Monday, I've been feeling "off". I haven't done well on the pill in the past and it appears that nothing has changed. It's hard to put into words, but being on it really messes with my hormones and my overall attitude. I tend to look on the negative side of everything and walk around with an attitude of dissatisfaction. This is not helpful in my marriage and it certainly isn't helpful when I am trying to remain optimistic about our upcoming cycle. So, I try to find things I can do to de-stress.

The thing I want to do most is eat this:


I love Chipotle. I always get the vegetarian burrito bowl with guacamole. YUM! I would seriously eat it every day if it weren't for the number of points plus I would have to use to do that! And now that I am trying to avoid carbs and eat loads of protein, I'm steering clear of it for the time being. It would seriously be so easy for me to eat my feelings, but since that won't get me any closer to fitting into my size 8's, I refuse to do it.


Another thing I tend to do when I am stressed is go shopping. I guess that makes me a stress shopper. The dress above is one I am eyeing from Tar.get. So cute! I love the tie waist and the coral color! And it's not that expensive ($27.99). BUT, we are really counting our pennies in order to afford IVF again. PLUS, I'm hoping that I won't need to buy non-maternity clothes.

I would much rather have a reason to buy this:


Earlier this week I was feeling completely hopeless. I was convinced that this cycle would not work (yes, before it's really begun). Now, I'm looking at it with complete optimism. I even went ahead and purchased two maternity items that were on mega clearance from Old Navy. Talk about a 180! Now I'm just hoping that I'll have a reason to purchase the cute number above!

What I should really be doing with all this nervous energy is pounding the pavement:


I used to be so disciplined when it came to running. When I was a sophomore in college, no matter how busy I was, I always found a way to sneak in a good run at the gym. I could run 6-7 miles on the treadmill easily. Now? I struggle for the motivation and energy to get in 3. But, I keep doing it because I know that it is good for me. Good for my body and good for my mind. (although I would rather just sit on the couch and eat a burrito!)

What do you do to de-stress? Are there any specific foods you crave when you're hormonal/stressed? Any good habits you care to pass along?