It’s not all about me! Except that sometimes I want it to be.

downloadYou guys, in case you’ve forgotten, infertility really sucks.  It’s changed me.  It’s changed my personality.  And sometimes, I don’t like those changes.  At all.

In some ways, infertility has made me more compassionate and understanding.  It’s made me realize that we all have things going on that may not necessarily be known, but that affect us.  If someone is acting rude or absent minded or just seems a bit “off”, for the most part now I don’t take it personally and just realize that as I am going through an issue, he or she may also be facing something private.  Infertility has helped me give people the benefit of the doubt.

In other ways, it’s really turned me into a one upping bitch (I hate that term but there is really no other way to describe it!).  You see, at first I didn’t see the seriousness of my situation.  I told a couple friends about my diagnosis, but I still had so much false hope that things would work out and everything would be fine.  Just like many people who don’t have an intimate relationship with infertility, I thought, this is 2013 (at the time).  There are so many advances in fertility treatments!  I got this!  I was so naive.  I did to myself what so many people do to me now – minimized my situation.

Fast forward to almost three years of shots, scans, blood work, and procedures.  I have come to realize that no, I don’t got this.  I don’t got this at all.  Nevertheless, like many other diseases, infertility can’t be seen, which leads many people to think I live a charmed life.  I have a wonderful partner (soon to be husband!) and I have a good job.  I have time to devote to hobbies.  I look outwardly healthy.  What in the world must I know about problems!  My life is perfect!  People feel very free to let me know this, and often!

And here is where the bitchiness comes in.  At first, I would just kind of smile and say everyone has issues and no one lives a perfect life.  The more time has passed however, the harder it has become to just leave it at that.  I am tired of my problems being diminished.  I’m tired of people thinking because I am single and childless that whatever I have going on in my life is not important.  Being 36 years old, many people I know are parents.  I have gotten to the point where it feels like parents are the only group of people for which it is socially acceptable to complain.  People without kids, sorry!  Your problems pale in comparison!  I mean I get that parenting has got to be the toughest job second to none.  People need to vent.  I totally understand this.  But sorry parents, you don’t have the monopoly on problems.  Especially when you planned on having these children.  (side rant:  If a couple is not using any form or birth control and the woman falls pregnant, I consider that a planned pregnancy.  I have a friend who was absolutely gob smacked when she found out she was pregnant earlier this year, despite the fact that she never used any form of birth control.  No, that’s not how it works.  Be surprised when you’re not using protection and you DON’T fall pregnant.  That’s when you know you have an issue.)

And then the one upping starts.  If someone starts complaining to me, about their children or about anything really, I feel the need to interject with some complaint of my own, just to show that actually no, my life is NOT perfect.  Or if a friend who knows about my infertility complains about her shoe size going up after pregnancy, I feel the need to say well at least you have your child, I wouldn’t mind going up a shoe size or a dress size!  Yes, that actually happened.  It makes me feel absolutely monstrous.  Who am I?!

I realized that I was turning into a self pitying monster when I started planning my wedding.  I actually got to the point where even though this positive thing was going on I always felt the need to remind people of my infertility, as if to say I’m having a good time now but this boulder is still on my plate.  Which it is, and it is something that is always with me.  But why did I feel the need to MENTION it, and multiple times?!  I couldn’t go on like that.  It was awful!

Infertility was turning me into someone I didn’t like very much.  Now, I am trying to find a balance.  If someone asks me about having children or points out that I am getting a bit long in the tooth (thanks for noticing!), or how lucky I am that I don’t have any bratty kids, I am honest.  I don’t go into specifics, but I do say I have some fertility issues and children may not be a possibility for me.  However when people come to me with their own problems, I am keeping it about them.  I have always been a person that people would come to when they need to vent, and I want to continue being that person.  Of course I still have my moments of pity and I do stand up for myself more now than I used to, but I think that’s ok.  I’ve realized that although I’m powerless to my diagnosis, I do have power over my own actions.  Screw you infertility, although you are a complete asshole I don’t have to be one.

So to conclude – life is tough.  Instead of not enjoying good moments because of my condition, I am trying to enjoy the good moments EVEN MORE.  No one likes a one upper.  Especially not a bitchy one 😉

Another day, another cancelled IVF cycle

The title says it all, doesn’t it?  What I was fearing the most happened and unfortunately my second IVF cycle was cancelled, much like the first one due to a poor response.  Actually, this cycle was worse than the last one in that only one follicle was larger than 10, although I had ten follicles to start with.  They just didn’t grow.  This cycle I also added acupuncture to the mix along with quitting working out entirely and just resting.  There were the obligatory tears on cancellation day (last Wednesday) and some heavy moping for a couple days.  On Friday I went in for a follow up consultation with my RE that left M and me actually feeling much better.

We went over how the past two protocols didn’t seem to even rouse my scrambled eggs at all, and she made two professional suggestions – #1 try one more time with my own eggs on an Antagonist protocol, or/and #2 move on to donor eggs.  The past two cycles I have been on a Microflare protocol, which is typically used on women with DOR such as myself.  Cycle 1 I started on the protocol on CD3, and Cycle 2 I took BCP’s for two weeks and then started the protocol.  I’ve never tried Antagonist protocol.  Donor eggs have always been a consideration from the start of this journey, since I knew egg supply was so severely lacking.  Believe it or not, this consultation made me feel better because I was sure my RE was going to suggest not even trying again with my own eggs at all.  Hearing her say that we have one more protocol to try if we choose was reassuring to M and to me.  Obviously nothing is guaranteed, but at least there is hope.

Getting this information from my RE cemented the decision for us to try IVF one more time with my own eggs.  My RE is a very up front person and not one to sugar coat anything.  I like this because it makes me feel like I can trust her, and she will tell us the truth even if it’s difficult to hear (like at the beginning of this journey when I was literally in tears in her office, so shocked by my infertility news).  Sometimes it’s tough, but at the same time I would always rather know the reality of a situation, especially about something as important as my fertility.  We will try the Antagonist protocol, and keep our fingers crossed!  If we are not successful, we will most likely be making the decision to move on to donor eggs, but we will cross that bridge when (if) we get there.  I am not opposed to donor eggs, I just want to make sure I exhaust all possible options before we take that step.  I guess I mentally want to feel like I’ve done everything I can to conceive my own child with my own eggs, and then I can feel at peace about making other decisions.  I’m so grateful we will be able to have one more chance.

With that decision made, M and I have decided to take a short break from IVF for the next few months to enjoy the fall and the holidays.  I am also going back to school next month, I have 12 more credits to take in order to finish up my Associates Degree.  IVF has taken so much of our time, energy, and finances that I think we need a small break to regroup.  We plan to start our third and final cycle in late January/early February after I celebrate my (gasp) 35th birthday January 23.

I have to say I am actually looking forward to a little time off from actively TTC.  We are not going to be doing any charting as the chances we can conceive naturally are slim to none (besides my lovely issues we also have M’s male factor to contend with).  So we are just going to let the pieces fall where they may.  I am looking forward to getting some running in for the next month or so until the weather gets a little too cold for my taste, and M and I have signed up for a charity 5k in early October.  I am also excited to focus more on my relationship with M.  Thankfully, our relationship is stronger than ever, but we have been so focused on doctors and shots and ultimately disappointments that we have not had a lot of fun, silly time.  It will be nice to get back to that.

During this break I will continue to take my supplements, but after some consideration I do not think I will continue with acupuncture.  It’s very expensive and my insurance does not cover it.  In the research I’ve found through Dr. Google, it seems to state that acupuncture has been promising to infertility because of increased blood flow to the uterus, and also because of its relaxation benefits and stress reduction.  In talking to my RE she seemed to reiterate these findings, especially emphasizing the stress reducing benefits.  She said that anything I can do to reduce stress with be beneficial physically, in all areas.  I personally think my yoga and the occasional professional massage can help me with blood flow and stress, so I think I will be utilizing these two things in place of acupuncture.

Of course I will still be blogging as well!  Maybe now I can get to the sundry part of this blog and write about some other things that are important to me.  Scrambled eggs is a huge part of who I am right now, but it is not the only part!  I thinks it’s time to devote some time to the rest of me as well 🙂  As always, thanks for listening (reading) and for all the lovely comments I’ve received.  They help so much ❤

IVF Round 2 – In Progress

Fellow bloggers, I just wanted to say even though I am new to blogging I am really enjoying getting to read everyone’s stories and reading all the advice and love I receive in comments to my posts.  We each have our own stories and we all come from different places, but our desires are the same.  I’ve been humbled by some of the stories I’ve read, and I just wanted to say I am sending positive energy to all you beautiful ladies.  I am hooping we will all have our happy ending when the universe decides the time is right ❤

So…..onto today’s post!  IVF Cycle #2 – In Progress.  That’s what I see on my paperwork when I initial before getting my blood drawn.  Seeing it written down makes it so real.  I’m actually doing this.  I’m actually in the middle of it.  For some reason, it’s still surreal to me.  So after being put on birth control pills for two weeks I went in for blood work and an ultrasound last Wednesday.  Blood work looked good, and the ultrasound revealed 10 follicles, which was three more that I had last cycle.  I started taking stims that night.  I am on the same protocol as last cycle, with the exception that I took BCP’s for two weeks prior to starting this cycle.  My RE says this should help all the follicles grow at the same rate (hopefully).  Yesterday I went in for my first morning monitoring since starting this cycle and the doctor only saw 8 follicles, all still small.  I had some spotting since getting off BCP’s, so this may be why.  I was discouraged that there were only 8 follicles though, when last Wednesday he saw 10.  Blood work came back ok, estrogen is rising so I am due back this Wednesday for more morning monitoring.

This cycle I also decided to get back on the acupuncture train.  I tried it for about a month earlier this year, but it was right around the time I went in for my second consult with my RE and it really started to sink in that I had fertility problems.  I got discouraged and never went back.  This cycle I thought hey it can’t hurt and it may even help.  I met with a different acupuncturist who also happened to be an MD so I felt she could understood both sides of my treatment.  She did tell me it can take three months or more to see results in acupuncture, which is consistent to what I have read online.  I am not expecting miracles, but I have felt less stressed since starting her treatments.  Fertility treatments can be so draining, a little relaxation certainly can’t hurt!

So that’s where I’m at.  I need to ask you ladies – do you have any tips on how in the world to maintain a positive attitude???  I struggle with this so much!  For example, I was feeling positive when I went I started my cycle last Wednesday and they saw 10 follicles.  I was also feeling positive with the acupuncture treatments and feeling very relaxed.  But after going in yesterday and seeing two fewer follicles, all still small, I immediately got discouraged.  Later in the day, my nurse called and said my estrogen was rising, but not as much as they would like.  Another blow.  Just like that, the positivity was gone.  I know it affects M too, as he is a very positive person and always trying to look on the bright side.  He hates to see me get mopey and sad.  It’s just so difficult to remain hopeful, and when I am hopeful and then do not get the results I am hoping for, it’s just that much more disappointing.  I welcome any and all advice on this matter!

I am trying though.  Although the doctor’s appointment and blood work results were not the best, I still rallied and took a drive with M to the beach.  It was beautiful!  We ate lunch by the water and then took a walk on the beach and even laid out for a while. We treated ourselves to ice cream on the boardwalk before heading home.  It turned into a pretty good day.  I guess that is what I have to hold on to when I get disappointing news.  Even when I receive bad news, it is my choice whether I want to go home and pull the covers over my head, or if I want to go to the shore and walk in the sand and dip my feet in the ocean.  Yesterday I made what felt like the right choice for myself (see picture).  Tomorrow….we shall see 🙂

P.S.–on an unrelated note, when I was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office yesterday a lady walked in that I went to high school with.  We attended an extremely large high school so I didn’t remember her name, but it was definitely her.  I am just beginning to learn this but it just goes to show that sometimes the infertility community is much larger than we think.

Why did you have those kids again??

So this my be viewed as a pretty negative post, but I am trying to use this blog to release my pent up feelings, negative or otherwise.  So here goes.

Parents complain a lot.  They complain about how little sleep they get.  They complain they don’t get alone time with their partners.  They complain that their kids are ALWAYS AROUND, and they can’t wait to have a “kid free” night.  Rationally I know this is normal.  However I am at a point that I need to protect my heart, and my heart is wounded when parents tell me I am so lucky to not have kids, or to not have kids because they are a pain in the ass.  Granted, they do not know my situation, but it’s still a fucking rude thing to say.  It makes me want to turn around to them and say if you hate kids so much, then why did you have so damn many of them?

This happens a lot with M’s friends.  M is from the Midwest which in his case means his friends all married pretty young and all have multiple children.  Growing up in the Northeast my whole life, my friends are pretty much like me (minus infertility).  Most are single, newly married, or divorced.  Most are childless, and the few friends that do have children have at maximum two.  Because of this, and especially now with my fertility diagnosis (side question #1–is it fertility issues or infertility issues?  I never know which phrase to use!), I do not have much in common with M’s friends.  They talk about their children all the time, and they complain about their children CONSTANTLY.  Again, it’s the complaining that really bugs me, especially now.  Luckily, M was able to find a job here in Jersey, but there was a point when we were considering moving to the Midwest and this was my biggest concern.  I have held my tongue on the few occasions we have all been together, but if I was living there full time I knew there would come a point I would snap.

Here in the Northeast this week is back to school week.  So now, not only do I have to be constantly confronted on Facebook with peers posting pictures of their newborn babies, pregnant bellies, toddlers doing toddler things, but I have to read about parents who just can’t effin WAIT for their kids to be back in school and out of their hair.  Really parents!?  Once again I know this is probably a normal parental reaction.  But for someone like me who would love nothing more than to have an annoying kid underfoot all summer long, it’s just plain ungrateful. Side question #2 – how do you handle social media?  Does it bug you?  I have thought of deleting my Facebook altogether, but I use it to keep in touch with relatives and friends that live overseas and in different states.  What are your thoughts on this?

I said in a previous post that this journey has made me both more patient and less understanding.  In a lot of ways, it has made me grateful for the things I do have.  It has also made me more patient when people act rude or standoffish.   In the back of my mind I realize maybe they are going through something, just as I am.  So I cut them some slack.  But on the other hand, I have less patience or tolerance when people make ridiculous comments, especially about children.  Recently a girlfriend of mine who had her first child in the spring was complaining to me about how her daughter doesn’t sleep through the night, she’s exhausted, and she and her husband have not slept in the same bed in a year.  Now this is the one and only person to whom I’ve told my entire story.  This is also a person who completely lost her mind because it took her a whopping 5 months to get pregnant.  Being that she actually knows my situation, I flat out told her that her complaints are valid, but please discuss them with her mommy friends, as I don’t feel sorry for her.  Her daughters baptism is on Sunday, and while M and I will be going to the church ceremony, we will not be attending the reception.  She completely understood, and I made sure to tell her I was not attending not because there would be multiple children there, but because I am really growing to dislike parents and their constant complaining.

I have come to the decision that if someone else tells me how lucky I am to not have children or starts to complain about their own situation, I am just going to politely say that we should all be grateful for the things we have in life, because everyone is fighting their own battles.  I’m not perfect.  I know if and when I have children I will also experience no sleep, crying babies at all hours, messy home, no free time, etc.  I know I will feel overwhelmed.  However I will have the ability to look back on all that I went through to have my child.  And that will make me so very grateful, no matter how messy my house is or if I can’t take a shower for two days.  I guess you could say at this point I would welcome all the complaining with open arms.

The last point I would like to make is one that I have wanted to say often, but never have–Everyone in this world has problems, including single or childless people.  It is just not socially acceptable to constantly complain about our problems like it is for parents.

Thanks for reading this rambling post.  It’s a bit harsh, but what can I say – this struggle we are going through is tough.  If we don’t protect our hearts, no one else will.

IVF #1: Cancelled cycle – cue the waterworks!

I hope all my fellow bloggers had a beautiful and restful weekend!  My weekend was BUSY, as M and I are officially living together now!  We have been living together for a while, but the last of his stuff was finally shipped from the Midwest to good old Dirty Jersey, so now it’s official.  Making room for another person in a formerly one person apartment has taken some creativity, but I am loving every minute.  Being with M makes me feel like we can accomplish and get through anything as long as we are together.  I’m blessed.

So, onto the not so good news….my first attempt at IVF was a complete and utter bust.  No retrieval, no transfer, no frozen embies, no eggs at all, scrambled or otherwise.  My cycle was cancelled.  This was not totally unexpected.  My RE had warned me that patients with poor ovarian reserve are also usually poor responders to stimulation drugs.  So while a woman with a normal ovarian reserve may stimulate 15-20 follicles (or more), I would be lucky to get 4-5.  This is when she brought up donor eggs, however based on my age, we all decided we wanted to try with my own eggs first.  On day three of my cycle the always lovely morning monitoring appointment revealed about 7 small follicles.  I was put on 20 units of microdose Lupron twice a day, 15 units of low dose HCG once a day, and 450 units of Follistim once a day.  That’s a grand total of four injections daily!  So I got started and just prayed and hoped for all 7 to grow, or at least 4, which was the fewest amount of follicles I needed to proceed to retrieval.  In a way I felt happy about finally being able to start the stim meds.  I felt like I was actually doing something!  After so many months of tests, surgery, and false starts, it was finally actually happening!

Truthfully the injections were very easy for me.  All my injections were subcutaneous, or just below the skin.  I did not have to take any inter muscular injections so this made the process easier.  Although I gave myself all the shots, M was always there with me supporting me any way he could.  He liked to tap air bubbles out of the syringe (lol).  I started to get a few small bruises after a few days but nothing terrible.  I have to say the physical side of these injections was not horrible.  The financial and emotional burdens are much tougher to take.

Three days into injections (cycle day 6) I went back to the RE’s office for more bloodwork and ultrasound.  BW came back fine and ultrasound saw some small growth but not much.  I was told this was normal for this stage so I tried not to worry.  Two days later (CD 8) and four days later (CD 10) the results were more discouraging.  Once follicle was growing steadily and there was another that was also growing but not as fast.  All the rest had not grown at all.  It was on CD 10 that the decision was made to cancel the cycle.  The next day I tool an Ovidrel shot (again subcutaneously thank goodness).  I estimated I ovulated on CD 13-14.  My nurse told me to still try naturally at this point as you never know.  So we did, but yesterday I got my period so that was a bust as well.

So the last couple weeks have basically been dealing with the emotional aftermath of the failed cycle.  There were some tears of course.  Even though I knew my chances were slim, of course I still had hope.  The worst part of it is seeing M disappointed.  I just feel like I’m letting him down.  I feel like we have an especially difficult situation to deal with.  Although I have a low ovarian reserve, I do still ovulate and it is conceivable (pun intended) that I could get pregnant naturally.  However when M did his semen analysis it showed he only has 2% motility and poor morphology as well.  So the chances of him getting me pregnant naturally are very slim.  M is a great candidate for IVF with ICSI.  But that’s a problem too because I am a poor responder to stims, so we may never even get to that stage.  I just feel like everywhere we turn we are behind the eight ball.  It’s frustrating.  And of course we are not millionaires so the number of chances we have to try are limited.

So now after a couple weeks of down time, I am gearing up for IVF #2.  In speaking to my nurse and RE, they seem to think my one follicle was absorbing all the medication, which is why it grew so fast.  I am going to be taking the same medication this cycle, but the dosages will be a little different and I am also being put on BCP’s starting tomorrow (CD 3).  If you are so inclined, please say a little prayer for me or send some positive thoughts into the universe that this cycle will be more successful than my last.  If it is not successful we are planning to take an IVF break until January when we will attempt our third and final IVF cycle.

To be continued…….

My Scrambled Story

So here is where I share my infertility story and how it started.  Full disclosure – my journey up to now has not encompassed years and years of trying to conceive naturally.  In fact, when I found out my diagnosis I was not trying to conceive AT ALL.  Which is one of the reasons this whole experience has been so surreal.  I just want to say I understand if people are turned away from my story because I have not been suffering with this for years.  I get that.  I also have done this to people who are in different predicaments than I.  Rationally I know everyone has their own story and I shouldn’t judge or dismiss them, but what can I say, I’m human.  Hopefully blogging about these thoughts will help me (I judge a lot of people.  That will be another blog).  This whole experience has made me both more empathetic and also less understanding all at the same time.  Bottom line is I understand if you do not understand!

Anyway, on October 18, 2013 I was diagnosed with extremely low AMH, which means I have a very low egg reserve for a woman of my age.  What this means is that I don’t have a lot of eggs left, if any, and if I want to conceive a child of my own I need to start now and will most likely need the help of fertility drugs.  Now let me put this into context – I decided mostly on a lark to have this test run at my gynecologist.  I heard about this test on the show “Keeping up with the Kardashians” of all places and decided to just have it run and see how those little eggs were doing.  I honestly was expecting a normal result and didn’t worry about it one bit.  So to say the least it was a shock to find out not only did I have less eggs than is normal for a woman my age, my eggs were virtually UNDETECTABLE and more akin to those of a 45 year old.  I was stunned (still am truthfully).  I am a relatively healthy woman, never had any serious medical conditions, get my period every single month and have very regular cycles.  I exercise, try and eat right and try to lead a healthy lifestyle.  How could this happen??  Well, I still don’t have an answer to that and I probably never will, but here I am nonetheless.

At the time of diagnosis M and I had been together for approximately 15 months.  He came with me to the RE.  The doctor was a fast talker and gave us much information that left our heads spinning.  She told us we should start the IVF process as soon as possible if we wanted the best possible chance to conceive a child.  We took this news in and that night decided to stop using protection, something we had never once done since we started dating.  Not wanting to completely jump the gun, we gave ourselves 6 months to try.  4 months passed, nothing happened.  In February 2014 I decided to see an acupuncturist, who ironically was pregnant herself.  I started seeing her once a week in addition to taking some Chinese herbs twice a day that she says will promote fertility.  I was feeling pretty good about this but the month came and went and still no pregnancy.  She did tell me results would take 3 to 6 months.  I am not the best when it comes to patience.

In April 2014 I found myself back in RE’s office.  Once again M accompanied me (more on him later).  She again told me the same thing, the chances of conceiving on my own are virtually none, and IVF is the best option, although obviously nothing is a guarantee.  She even suggested using donor eggs since mine are apparently so flimsy.  I was again overwhelmed and yes a few tears were shed.  I felt defeated, and any positivity I was feeling from the acupuncture treatments drained right out of me.  I was shuffled in a haze from her office to my nurse’s office, who set up an appointment to get a semen analysis for M and further testing for me, which included but was not limited to an HSG test that hurt like a mf-er.

My HSG came back clear so my tubes aren’t blocked.  However one week after that procedure my RE wanted to perform a saline sonogram because the radiologist said it seemed as though I had a bicornuate uterus (heart-shaped).  Two good things – the saline sonogram was not nearly as painful as the HSG and it seemed I may only have a slight bicornuate or possibly none at all.  Of course, nothing is simple and she did see something in the uterus, a polyp, cyst – she wasn’t sure.  So now I needed to be booked for a hysteroscopy which happened about a month later, June 8.  The good thing about this procedure it I was completely under anesthesia and didn’t feel a thing, during or after.  The crazy thing was that my doctor found that little blip on the sonogram was not a polyp, but a septum that ran the entire length of my uterus!  I am thankful this procedure was done, as if I had somehow gotten pregnant naturally there was a chance I would have miscarried since my uterus was essentially half the size it should be because of the septum.

Meanwhile, M’s SA came back and showed that he had both low morphology and motility.  Again in the interest of full disclosure, I have to say I was kind of happy about this news.  Happy may not be the right word, but at least I could say that the problem wasn’t just me.  Either way, it seemed we were both striking out at every turn.

With my shabby & scrambled eggs and M’s misshapen & lazy sperm, we made the decision that we would go forward with IVF.  Now as anyone who has ever made this decision knows, surprise!–it is not easy.  The financial burden was a consideration (more on insurance, big corporations, and how both are f’ed up in a subsequent blog).  Also the emotional toll.  In addition to that, M and I are not married. We are not even engaged.  Neither of these things bother us, as we know both will happen in the future.  We know we would like to have children someday.  We just thought it would be in two, three years, not now.  And not this way.  So we researched and we asked questions and we had frank conversations.  I prayed and meditated about it.  We figured this may be our best chance.  If by some miracle we get pregnant naturally in a few years than great!  We’ll take it!  But we don’t want to pin all our hopes on that chance.  IVF is not a guarantee, which we have had the privilege of discovering first hand, but at least it’s SOMETHING.

Fast forward to one cancelled IVF cycle later, here I am.  I know it’s cliche but this has all been very unexpected, confusing, sad, anxiety promoting, and many other superlatives.  I mean M and I weren’t even planning on THINKING about having children right now.  I know I am not in my twenties anymore, but I still thought I would have time.  So I went from being momentarily child free and happy to starting IVF procedures within a 10 month span.  I feel like my life just changed and I am just trying to keep up.  So that’s my scrambled story.