Tag Archives: egg retrieval

Waiting for the Ball to Drop

I’ve said I’d keep you posted and where have I been? I’ve at least been trying on my insta stories but I don’t think unless there were a videocamera following me constantly that I’d be able to truly depict what this whirlwind is like.

It’s finally here…CYCLE month. It’s been well over a year coming and honestly it’s the last couple of months that have thankfully gone the quickest. Almost so that I can’t believe it’s finally here and the nervous excitement that goes with that is in full effect. If I could possibly sum up where I am right now it’d have to be “waiting for the ball to drop.”

Mike had his most recent appointment with his urologist at the end of April and much to all of our shock we were finally met with good news-sperm. During our initial journey they never found anything except dead swimmers and that was after the sample was spun. His numbers are completely different and not for the better, but we have something in a sample. I can’t make sense of it and am still trying to wrap my brain around how it’s happened this way. All I can attribute it to is some kind of miracle or good karma come our way. It was also just what Mike needed to get him feeling as positive and hopeful as I’ve set out to be. Yet it has also given him another excuse to prolong things in any attempt to avoid surgery. And that brings us to today…everything had been going so well I was waiting for the ball to drop.

I’ve been on birth control that last three weeks, with headaches and break through bleeding every single one of them. So much so that I was concerned that I might have had a cyst rupture but I was brought in for an ultrasound the end of April and everything looked great. Today was my follow-up appointment from then as I took my last pill Saturday and Aunt Flo showed up in a timely fashion yesterday. Of course that came as a shock because when does she ever come when she’s supposed to? ‘Komkk But an even bigger shock was that I’m supposed to be starting meds in days and insurance has yet to give authorization.

As luck may have it, having this support group and little girl gang of mine, I had some donated meds and knew just who might have the rest of what I needed. I’m overflowing in gratitude for one of my friends who has generously donated her leftover meds to me so that I don’t have this added pressure of scrambling to order and then fighting to be reimbursed by insurance. We actually knew each other for many years back and our paths crossed again because of infertility. If I didn’t already know it, today proved to me that we were meant to reconnect. On top of it, she left me a little note that brought me to tears. It was just what I needed in the moment. Crisis averted.

My DH on the other hand, seems to be dropping bombs let alone balls. He’s really not all in this time around. I don’t know what it is. He’s at the same appointment, hears the same phone conversations, yet his own fears are so overcoming that he can’t just let me have this moment. Many of you reading this know him personally, so for you I don’t have to reiterate  he’s the greatest and most certainly loves me and wants to give me the world. This is not going to make or break us. Tomorrow marks 17 years together and undoubtedly we’re meant to grow old together. But I write about this for those of you in a similar situation.  Maybe you’re doing this alone, or your significant other is deployed, or maybe you’re like me, feeling as though you’re making a baby by yourself.  I say this not for pity, or to stick my husband out.  I’m writing this just to say it happens.  Infertility and going into an IVF cycle is hard enough.  Feeling this was makes it even shittier.

This is not how I wanted to make babies.  I wanted to be whisked away on some romantic getaway and have too much to drink and be surprised two weeks later with a missed period.  I didn’t want to be poked and proded, dealing with insurance and early morning monitoring.  I wanted the chance to plan some grandiose reveal to my husband to let him know we’re pregnant, not wait on bated breath for a phone call to reveal our fate.  I wanted to have one baby and then another and another and dress them is matching outfits as they frolicked together during summer nights on the beach.  I didn’t want to avoid bringing up the topic of having a baby brother or sister with my son out of fear that I’d let him down and not be able to give him siblings like his other friends had.

But I have grieved the death of that and come to terms with the reality of how we can make babies.  And while it’s not what dreams are made of, I am equipped for it.  I don’t mind it and I’ve conciously decided the first time and now again to make the best of it.  Scheduling appointments and finally getting to that day brings me joy.  I’ve decided to make lemonade out of lemons because regardless of how it happens I just wanted to be a mom then and now a mom again.  I’m excited.  I’m hopeful.  I’m eager and positive.  I’ve chosen to do all the things-eliminate caffeine and alcohol, clean eating, acupuncture, vitamins, all the old wives tales because they bring me some happiness in how I can hopefully bring another babe into this world.  I want to take my husband, shake himand say “Can you just give me this?”

I’m okay though because I’m surrounded by the best of the best.  I’ve been sent pineapple packaged retrieval and transfer day socks, given pineapple trinkets, and I’ve gotten more check-in texts than I can count today.  My friends, my family, this community, my support group girls-you’re all there keeping the excitement alive for me this cycle.

The first time around, our story wasn’t really out there and so my husband and I had to rely on one another.  We were both experiencing it for the first time and didn’t know any better than to be excited.  This time around is different because my support circle is so much broader, yet we’re somewhat distanced.  I know so many of you are not yet public about this battle, and you may or may not feel like your significant other is getting it at this time, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  PM me on FB or Instagram or email me because it’s time like these we all need each other.

My husband will rise to the occasion.  I’m certain of it.  Most likely after his surgery is behind him because that seems to be what’s holding him back.  In the meantime, I won’t let that keep me down and I will continue to be grateful for my circle.  Fingers crossed we will get the prior authorization.  And God willing soon enough, this will all be just a distant memory.  He’ll say “I’m sorry for being an asshole, babe”.  I’ll say “I’m sorry I told the world you were an asshole in a post”.  We’ll have a good laugh about it and I won’t have to worry about the ball dropping anymore.

 

Baby Steps 👣

In an effort to be raw and authentic and really share what infertility is like, you’ll be hearing from me a lot more this month. That is because we are getting close…really close to something actually happening finally. I’ve been so, so excited. Maybe because it is in the early stages or maybe because I’ve been waiting for a green light to do something, so the fear, anxiety, etc. etc. hasn’t set in. It’s just sheer joy thinking about potentially having another baby. Don’t get me wrong that’s a long stretch and the odds aren’t in our favor, but I just can’t help but smile about it.

That was until last week at an appointment with our RE.  My husband’s next urologist appointment is at the end of the month. At his last appointment we decided that we would reconvene the end of April to schedule the same surgery he had when we had our son. This is better known as our last resort. Our last resort the first time around brought us our son, though, so I can’t help but be hopeful.

I wanted to be proactive and set up a consult with our RE before that appointment to get all my ducks in a row on my end, as to not hold up anything. When I spoke to the nurse she thought that would be the best choice too and so I scheduled it over a month and a half ago. Every day, I’d be overcome with some sense of excitement that it was inching closer. Basically making lemons out of lemonade until 5 minutes before the appointment when my husband decided to throw out some sny comment about it being rushed and him not really understanding why were meeting. Insert 🙄😡. I saw red when he spoke but decided on giving him the benefit of the doubt that it was just his anxiety related to the whole situation getting the best of him. But it made the whole appointment take a turn. My excitement completely replaced by disappointment. My hopefulness completely turned to doubt.

The outcome really was the same: 1) contact RE when my next period starts (which of course all infertiles know will not happen when it’s supposed to because I actually want it to show) 2) go for day 3 bloods and 3) begin birth control thereafter. This is all the prep work leading up to an egg retrieval that if all goes as planned will be aligned with my husband’s surgery in May.  Disclaimer: As all infertile also know, the plan doesn’t usually go as it should.

Yet I left disappointed. Yes, did I get everything I wanted-I did. But it just wasn’t how I envisioned it going. It was supposed to be an upbeat, positive first real baby step to grow our family. I felt as though my husband took that from me and the doctor too. I love him and am forever indebted to him for bringing us Mikie, but he too turned the appointment in a direction I hadn’t seen it going.

At first he couldn’t understand why we were there and then once I explained and advocated he agreed that some monitoring and birth control would be a good idea. He said I was “too anxious” though.

I’m sorry husband and doctor, but this has been awhile coming in case you both haven’t noticed-like well over a year. But maybe you haven’t noticed because you’re not the ones dealing with insurance, calling doctors appointments and pharamacies multiple times a week. You’re not the ones fighting back tears when someone mistakingly thinks you have more than one child and you’re not affected in the least by a pregnant bystander or another pregnancy announcement. You’re not the ones rearranging your life plans-big and small-all revolving around a potential shot in the dark cycle. To be blunt, neither of you are really fighting the good fight.

And maybe anxiousness took over as my excitement was deflated; however you must’ve missed that this is our only shot-literally-at having another child, of growing another human inside me, or giving Mikie a sibling. So I’m sorry if my questions and self-advocacy mistakingky come off as me being anxious, but beware there’s a lot at stake.

Last week put a stake in this process for me and I’m having a hard time bouncing back. I’m starting to worry, now also, that my son is sensing it too by his behavior. I’m sure it’s really all just three-year old related stuff, but I can’t help but to go there. When you’re so close to someone they can’t help but feed off your vibe. And my vibe ain’t good at the moment. It will come back eventually #bitchdontkillmyvibe.

Infertility is killing my vibe big time. I ugly cried a lot in the last week. I wanted to share with you those tender moments, but even the pretty filter couldn’t fix my face. And it feels as though the moment I attempt to get myself back up, I am knocked back down again. First it was a call from the nurse that their prescription wasn’t accepted by the pharmacy. Next I go to the pharmacy because I’ve been told it’s resolved and of course it isn’t. The pharmacist has basically given up on me. Even she can’t deal with this BS of never getting a straight answer from the urologist. It may seem minimal but I’ve wasted so many hours of my life the past 6 plus months dealing with doctors offices, pharmacies, and insurance that could’ve been time and energy better spent. And that’s exhausting. It’s draining. It comes to a point where it’s unbearable. As if not being able to have a baby isn’t obstacle enough, there are just bumps after bumps. Each one seems like another blow , a strong-willed attempt to let you throw in the towel, but then I remember all of you out there still fighting the good fight.

I’m the success story telling you it’s so worth it. I’m the one saying don’t lose hope-it will happen. I’m the one advocating stay positive. But in the moment especially, I am now telling you it’s so hard. So so fucking hard. I just want to know am I having another kid or not? I don’t want to be stuck and re-envisioning month-after-month.  I’m at that point where something’s gotta give-where getting back up is getting harder and harder.

And so many of you are still trying for your first baby. So many of you have had a longer, harder battle to start your family. I know if before my son, someone would’ve described journey to #2 like this I would’ve said “At least you have one.” And while there is truth in that, it still doesnt stop these feelings from surfacing. It doesn’t lessen them and clearly I haven’t gotten any better at coping with them.  Now, on top of it all, I live with this guilt that I’m asking for more. This shame that by wanting #2 so badly makes it seems as though my son is not enough. It’s just not what I had envisioned.

Today’s happenings were just not as I had envisioned either. On a muccchhhhhhh smaller scale, we taped a shoot about Mother’s Day as part of an advertising piece for my husband’s retail business. My three-nager suddenly “forgot” his age, said the best thing I make is a peanut butter sandwich, my name is another Anthony and he loves me because I buy mashems 🙄.

Not what I envisioned him saying and as they asked me questions such as what is it like being Mikie’s mom and what does Mother’s Day mean to you my true responses evaded me. I was caught up in real-life motherhood, sort of disappointed in his behavior, trying to problem-solve the best way to regroup him.

I left kicking myself. I should’ve been sterner. I should’ve let my sister in law go first so he could’ve known what to expect. I should’ve of course mentioned my sentimental jewelry when they asked about homemade gifts. When questioned about being Mikie’s mom, I should’ve been able to encapsulate it in words, not some cliche response. I should’ve said these are the best days of my life and being Mikie’s mom is the greatest gift I’ve ever received. Talking about Mother’s Day I should’ve said for me it’s a day to reflect on how lucky I am to have been given this gift & most importantly I should’ve mentioned that it is a day to celebrate all women. It’s a day to show our appreciation for all the women in our lives who inspire us-our mom’s, grandmothers, sisters, Godmothers. Mothers old and new, expectant and of course those in the waiting. Possibly in a subconscious state I wasn’t equipped for this topic at the moment or maybe it was the fact that I was breaking out in a sweat wrangling my little monkey.  Either way it didn’t go as I had envisioned.

All these visions, you see, both major and minor are keeping me from bouncing back-from restoring my joy as we physically begin to embark on making baby #2. I’ve gotten good at not being mad that I can’t get pregnant the way I envisioned, but that’s about it. All the other things I can’t help but envision and even the slightest hiccup further derails me.

All this said to give you an update on our baby steps and to keep this real AF as promised. Infertility is basically equivalent to throwing every vision you’ve ever had out the freaking window and that’s hard, especially for us as women. So just as I told my son tonight as I kissed him to sleep, tomorrow we are going to do better. I am not going to envision it because that just seems to be a set-up, but tomorrow is going to be better…baby steps.

Hope

Hi friends 👋🏼. I had intended to be more active on here and yet I haven’t checked in since January. To be honest what seemingly should be a slower time of year has been crazier than ever and down time is at an all time low. In some ways the chaos might be a blessing in disguise as it makes time pass at lightning speed and doesn’t give me much time to get “stuck” on infertility.

Nonetheless as we’re on our journey to baby number 2, I’ve come to realize a couple things. I’m not doing myself justice by being absent on here because I have always said I wished I had blogged during our initial journey as a release and a way of not feeling so alone. And here I am now, having this outlet, and not using it to cope.

I’m also not doing any of you justice by being so sporadic in my posts. I had only started blogging as a starting point for a local infertility support group. Now that I’ve gotten that up and running, I’ve abandoned the blogging a bit. But lately I’ve been receiving many messages from ladies who aren’t in Connecticut and I’m doing a huge disservice to you if I am not sharing on here. So I apologize for that, especially if you so kindly have been following along as you’re embarking on your own infertility battle. For those of you who’ve reached out to me, thank you for reminding me why I need to continue on here and I’m so humbled that you’ve found our story as a source of hope.

That’s the power sharing your story can have-giving someone the invaluable gift of hope.  At times in the realm of infertility that’s all we have to hold onto which makes it all the more sacred.  But infertility is chalk-filled with peaks and valleys that even when hope has gotten us through, there’s always a reality check that knocks us back down.

As for our journey to baby #2 I’d say I hit my lowest valley around the holidays.  It’s not an uncommon time for an infertility rut to rear its ugly head as we all know.  But, as we all know even more, there’s no way of controlling it.  When the infertility rut strikes, it comes full force and nothing can really stop it.  Within our support group (which meets the last Wednesday of every month for you CT locals), we’re constantly wracking our brains on ways to cope or suppress the darkness infertility can cause.  And while we’ve yet to find a cure, we’re all in agreement that just staying connected with people who get it, makes it a little more bearable.  Getting someone’s validation that it’s okay to sit a baby shower out or hear that they too often wonder if they’re not meant to be a mom helps us all come to the realization that we are not alone in these thoughts-these relentless, mind-sucking thoughts that not even our significant others can wrap their heads around. Regardless of how long we’ve been on this path, what interventions we have and haven’t done, whatever our diagnosis, it amazes me how we’ve all at some point had the same isolating thoughts and feelings that can only come from the curse of infertility.

So moving forward, my goal is not only to provide that support within the group, but also here, for all of you who have stumbled upon my story.  I don’t believe you’ve done so by chance.  I believe we’re meant to have connected, whether it’s just my words speaking to you or us eventually talking to one another.  In order to do so, I’m going to do monthly recaps of our Infertility Support Group Meetings.  Each meeting I try to set forth a topic to discuss.  Well we are a bunch of women so you know how that goes, but I always leave feeling like I’ve taken something away-maybe it’s a diagnosis I’ve never heard of, a new vitamin that’s been proven to improve AMH, or just something someone in the group has said that left me feeling my hope has been restored.

Yes, even after overcoming infertility, hope can flee from you.  We’ve already received our miracle.  How could we possibly ask for more?  It was too lucky that it worked the first time.  It can’t possibly work for us again.  We are four years older.  Our son in three and a half.  Maybe our window has come and gone.

Its in those moments when I need to hop on here and blog because that is infertility real talk. I am failing you and myself by not using this platform to share how hard the road is.  It’s so much easier, and downright safer, to talk about it once it’s behind us.  In the moment, the emotions are so raw they’re often hard to encapsulate in words.  Yet, you all get what I’m saying and the minute I hear you talk about a part of your journey-the day you found out, your initial consult with an RE, your egg retrieval-I can instantaneously bring myself back to those moments which bring me to tears.  Tears of joy, tears of empathy, tears of relief, tears of hope that you’ll someday be here on the other side.

And when you do get here, which I know you will, I would love to tell you it goes away.  But I’d be lying.  It’s better. Oh so much better as you hold your baby or toddler whom you never knew if you’d ever meet.  But it doesn’t make it all disappear the way you’d think it might.  Somehow pregnancy announcements still feel like a punch to the gut.  You’ll still think that maybe you’ll get a natural BFP when you’re a few days late because how often do we hear those stories the second time around.  The feeling of being “stuck” will soon catch up to you as you see your son or daughter go off to school, as all the other moms have another baby in the backseat.  You feel as though you’re throwing your lifelong vision of three little toe heads in matching outfits out the window and cannot fathom why everyone else on Instagram has that. And you still feel hurt by comments of unassuming strangers like “Time for another”.

It doesn’t go away.  It is a little easier in someways and not so much in other ways.  You still have peaks and valleys of infertility ruts and wonder what it’d be like to not be trying, but not be preventing it from happening.  And your hope is tested, but you have a tangible, precious reminder each and every day of why there is reason to be hopeful when most would say all hope has been lost.

That is some of where my heart and head have been lately.  However after my husband’s appointment in January with his urologist I’m in a much better state of mind.  We have a plan in place.  Isn’t it amazing how just a plan can renew your optimism and alleviate some of that angst?  The timeline is to continue my husband’s hormone therapy for a few months and reconvene at that time to see if any thing has changed and regardless proceed with a second and final TESE. This of course will be aligned, as it was the first time, with an IVF cycle so I’m excitedly making appointments with our RE to get the ball rolling.  It could be as soon as a May cycle.  I want to keep you all updated here, but know there’s a sensitivity in all of this.  I’m sure there may be some things kept private, but I promise to be as raw and real and open about the emotional aspect as I can be-for the both of us.  At this point, I need you just as much as you need me.

I can’t help but get caught up in the realness of it all-the good, the bad, the known and unknown.  My mind wanders to when and how we could announce another pregnancy and then I quickly come back down to planet earth and realize how unlikely another first time IVF cycle success would be.  So basically even if your on your journey to baby for the first time, I still feel your same feelings.  I still think your same thoughts.  You are not alone and my hope is that you know that 💞.

To Teachers in the Waiting

I’ve been MIA guys because…well summer. Busy days trying to cram everything in before it’s over and late nights causing us all to crash hard…making it a feat to squeeze in a blog post. But for me, summer is always a harder time for dealing with infertility.

As some of you may or may not know, I am a speech-language pathologist (SLP). Before having my son, I worked as a school-based SLP which meant I was fortunate enough to have summers off. And while summer months can be a perfect time to re-charge I also found they afforded me a lot more free time to focus on my infertility. There were more free minutes to google. More opportunities to research and read. No alarm wake-ups meant I could peruse Pinterest all night for nursery ideas and baby stuff. It also meant that my mind had more space to go to those deeper darker places, especially as August rolled around.

Here we are, the first few days of August. Back-to-school Staples commercials and billboards of tax free back-to-school shopping already have our stomachs nervously filled with butterflies thinking of the imminent end to summer days. And for anyone who works in a school and is struggling to get pregnant, it also means the dreaded going back to see who has since become pregnant from last school year.

It may sound selfish or ill-natured, but I can assure it’s neither. Rather it’s a culmination of all this built up anticipation of getting pregnant over the summer when we could “just relax” or have extra time for monitoring and bloodwork. Most women who work in schools have been trying for awhile now. Originally the plan was to get pregnant with a spring baby as to not have to go back until summer when he or she was at least six months. Then it got revised to a summer baby and then to any time of the friggin year because I just want a baby NOW. And then here comes August and it hits us smack in the face when the whispering of pregnancy news echoes through the halls and the emergence of glowing faces and rounding bumps burns the sting a little more.

Even now, having overcome infertility and having not gone back to work/school, it’s as if my internal clock knows. Looking back Summer 2013 was the toughest point in my journey. I feel as if somehow my body, my brain, and my heart can’t forget that and all remind me around this time of year. Currently in a very different chapter of my life than then and in the very early stages of our journey to baby #2, some of those same emotions are surfacing. While these “bad infertility days” as I call them are very few in number and mild in nature they still remind me of where I was four years ago. It feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago all in one. It’s almost as if it’s subconscious; as if I’m not really sure if my eyes are welling up because of that, but what else could it be?

For that reason, I can’t help but think of my teacher friends still in waiting.  There’s a disappointment in going back with having nothing changed and yet an eagerness to get started as it feels as if you’re moving ahead at least.  And yet, all you feel is stuck.  It’s as if the rest of the world is moving forward and you’re trapped in the same space in time.  You’re no closer to having a baby than you were when you left for summer break.  Baby limbo is a hard place to be as seasons change and transitions occur.

In this season of change, I, myself am experiencing a huge transition as my son goes off to preschool.  While it will be an adjustment to say the least for us, I know it’s time and we are both ready for this next venture.  I’m grateful for our days spent over the course of the past almost three years. We’ve grown together.  We’ve learned together.  And I can’t help but get teary-eyed thinking about what have been thus far, the greatest days of my life.

With this, August is once again filled with the anxiousness and eagerness I’ve always known it to bring.  As difficult as it may be to start another school year, remember that like my son and your students, you’re resilient.  Not even infertility can keep you down.

Hello From the Other Side

Whoa I know! Who’s this girl posting twice in one week?! It’s just your standard new year overachieving which I’m sure will subside by mid-February 😝. Let’s be real-by way sooner than that!  Truthfully, though, I’ve had a bit of a writer’s block the last few months. It’s been three years since we underwent IVF and thus even longer since we started our infertility journey. Sometimes being out of the fertility intervention game means that I’m not sure exactly what you need to hear at this moment that will resonate you. So any topic suggestions would be greatly appreciated please!

Pondering this got me to thinking that it might be interesting to read what your future holds, once you’ve beaten infertility, or are on the other side of it so to speak. Of course, just like every journey to parenthood is different, so too is the aftermath. I can only speak to what life after the birth of our IVF miracle has been to us. Much like the struggle itself, I’m sure the post-infertility-battle is pretty similar in terms of emotions and outlooks.
Here are 1️⃣0️⃣ things to know about being on the other side of infertility.

1️⃣ People will still ask you when you’re having another, even if they know about your struggle TTC #1.

Its not something that I mind at all personally.  I just find it kind of funny that immediately after you have #1 {which took a bigilllion days/months/years} people are already wondering when you’re gonna pop out #2 and they almost always remind you not to let too much time go in between kids.  If only that were in our control right?!

When people unknowing of our situation ask if and when we’re having more , I usually just say “Hopefully if we can, but we have significant infertility issues.”  I love when that turns into hearing their own personal infertility experience, which you’d be surprised how often it does!

Other times, I am sure you can guess what they say!  “You never know.  Sometimes people have to do IVF with their first and then they get pregnant on their own.”  🙄 Insert my thought 💭:  Yes, that can happen, but not for us and our issue.  Moral of the story is people still say stupid shit when you’re on the other side and even when they know about your infertility.

2️⃣ You will refer to your RE as the closest thing to God.

Because he or she is, right?!  They got you pregnant, despite X, Y, and Z (fill in the blanks: PCOS, DOR, Endometriosis, MFI, Unexplained Infertility).  Ironically our doctor is Dr. Gad Lavy of New England Fertility Institute (http://www.nefertility.com) so my husband always jokingly says, “In Gad, we trust.”  Can I get an amen 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼?

3️⃣ You will want to help anybody that says they’re dealing with infertility.

Even if you overhear a complete stranger in front of you at Starbucks, you will feel inclined to tell them that you’re an infertility success story.  You can’t help yourself because you remember all too well how stories with happy endings helped you keep the hope alive.  You want to do that for someone else.  And, those times, when you feel embarrassed, or don’t have the courage to speak up, or you were in a rush because you didn’t want your baby to fall asleep in the car before making it home, you’ll stew over it all day long.

Not only will you want to help them, but you’ll want to “fix” them too.  You’ll spew off your doctors names and numbers, ask if they’ve underwent an HSG yet, and basically put your RE hat on because by now you’re an expert.  Then you’ll give your email and contact info if they ever need anything because there’s an unspoken bond between infertiles, even if you’re perfect strangers.  No matter if you’re in the midst of it or you’ve overcome it, we stick together.

4️⃣ Talking about your struggle with infertility is less emotional.

Before becoming a mom, it was really, really hard (borderline impossible) to utter the words pregnancy, baby, infertility… without tearing up.  You’re just a constant ball of emotions that could unravel at anytime.

On the other side, it’s alot easier to talk about your battle, the ups and downs, and ins and outs of your struggle.  It’s still a heated subject, but I can get through it tear-free usually.  Sometimes the happy tears flow.

5️⃣ You can still instantaneously put yourself back in that place.

When you hear or read something someone’s saying about their trouble getting pregnant, you can immediately put yourself in their shoes.  It’s like you’re  flooded with all the feelings you felt when you were there.  You can feel that same fall-to-your-knees despair you did the day you found out you were 1-in-8.  That same lump -in-your throat nervousness will overcome you when you think back to waiting on results and Beta day.  Pictures of BFN’s, waiting room selfies, and follicle monitoring ultrasounds will still get you every. single. time.

6️⃣ Words still hurt and pregnancy announcements still sting.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m pretty certain I’m not alone.  Even after becoming a mom and having my turn, pregnancy announcements or hearing someone say they’re starting to try again still jabs me a little.  I think it’s less to do with the other person because honestly I’m so happy for them.  I think, just like the initial go-around, it’s more just having a little pity party for myself.  Like, I wish it were that easy for us.  I wish we could have an oops or just decide to try again and fall pregnant.

The thief of comparison still rears its ugly head too.  For example, if someone posts that they’re pregnant again I can’t help but think to myself that they’re first is half of my son’s age.  It usually involves some social media detective work and calculating, but I can’t help myself.

7️⃣ You’re like rain man with the dates.

I barely can remember what I did two days ago or someone’s name that I run into shopping.  Yet, I can, without hesitation, spew off every significant date of our journey.

October 14, 2014: received diagnosis of Azoospermia

February 20, 2014:  Egg Retrieval & TESE

February 23, 2014:  Transfer

March 10, 2014: Beta Day…

October 24, 2014: Birth of our baby boy

8️⃣ You cherish every moment because you’re not sure you’ll ever get the chance again.

Don’t get me wrong, sleepless nights, teething, and tantrums can ware anyone down.  Yet you recognize the pure blessing every waking (& sleeping) moment is that much more.  Not only will you never get that moment in time back with your little miracle, but you don’t know if you’ll even get the opportunity to experience it with another baby.  So, this helps to put things in perspective when you’re up to your ears in shit and spit-up.  It also makes you spend more money because what if I never have another to put this romper on?!  I gotta get it now before he’s too big for it. 💸💸💸

This too shall pass, but at the same time you wish you could put it in slow motion.  Every milestone, achievement, glance at baby toes, and every time you go to pack away stuff they’ve outgrown is a moment you don’t take lightly.

The best advice I was given for my wedding day was to every once in awhile, take a step back to look around and take it all in (Thanks Jen 😘)!  The same applies for mommyhood.  Every once in a while, usually during the most ordinary day, I take a step back to savor these precious and all-too-fleeting moments.

9️⃣ You will be able to reflect on your infertility journey in a much more meaningful way.

Similiar to numbers 3️⃣-5️⃣, being on the other side enables you to look back on your struggle.  In some ways you see it exactly as you had experienced it and in other ways you see it thru a different lense.  Dare I say it, could the wait have been what we needed?  Could it had been a lesson we needed to learn?  Was it all just God’s plan because he needed extra time creating our baby and molding us as parents?

I’m still not sure and flip-flop back and forth on my feelings.  I do know for certain, though, that I was destined to use my struggle and success story to help others in the same situation.

1️⃣0️⃣ It’s so worth the wait.

Bottom line.

What I’ve learned most from being on the other side is that infertility changes you forever.  Even after you’ve overcome it, it never escapes you.

 

 

 

When IVF Is Your Best Route

I jumped a little ahead of myself last time with The Box on Your Doorstep post, but it was appropriate for a few of my gal pals at the time.  The majority of the e-mails and messages I receive, though, are along the lines of “I think were going to have to do IVF…,” “We’re having trouble getting pregnant.  What’s IVF like?” or “My doctor said IVF is our best route…”  But what does that actually mean?  I think I’ve  touched in previous posts primarily on the emotional facets of IVF and less on the physical.  So, I thought it was time, to take a step back and explain, at least from my experience, what IVF entails.

I can’t proceed without reiterating that everyone’s experience with IVF differs from protocol to outcomes.  Yet, I’m sure we’d all agree on one thing:  Regardless of whether you had no symptoms at all or you suffered from the list of them, the physical pain you endure is incomparable to the emotional suffering.  I’d be able to do an IVF cycle every single month for the rest of my life if I had to, if it weren’t for the associated roller coaster of high’s and low’s.  With that said, there is some solace in knowing what to expect and having someone to confide in who has been there before.

When IVF is your best route, or as in our case, your only route, the acronyms start flying at you: IVF, ICSI, HSG, HCG, FSH, ER, DPT, TWW, and my personal favorite, PUPO.  It’s all so much information to process and I feel as though, once you’re at the point, time finally seems to fly until the dreaded wait of course.   I, obviously, am not a doctor or nurse of any kind and was fortunate to have only undergone one IVF cycle.  Therefore, while I’d like to consider myself fairly knowledgable in this area, there is so much I continue to learn by being part of this community.  The following is a generic timeline for an IVF cycle that includes my specific protocol.

Ovarian Suppression  This is the initial step once the month of a cycle has been determined. Different clinics prefer different protocols, but typically the way in which ovarian suppression is achieved depends on your ovarian reserve, or the number of eggs you still have.  This is determined by Day Three blood work (day three of your period) which evaluates your baseline levels of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and estradiol (E2).  There are several means of addressing this based on your baseline results.

Three years ago when I was undergoing IVF, I began by taking birth control pills (BCP) for the month before.  However this is less of a common practice now, unless they’re accompanied with an overlapping use of a GnRH agonist (most commonly, Lupron).  Regardless the purpose is to better regulate your hormone levels, while also minimizing the potential for cysts to develop.  To be completely honest, this is the phase of IVF I’m least familiar with.

Ovarian Stimulation  In infertility lingo, when we say we are beginning stims, this is the start of using hormones(s) which stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple follicles.  Each follicle is fluid-filled and houses an egg.  Ovarian Stimulation begins around day 3 of your menstrual cycle and can range for 8 to 12 days, depending on how you’re responding to the medications.  Common side effects include drowsiness, headaches, fever/chills, joint aches, injection site reactions.  Typically, monitoring begins around the fourth day of stims and occurs every other day, until you get closer to the point of trigger.  The purpose of these frequent visits, which include internal ultrasounds and blood work, is to determine how your body is reacting to the hormones.  Estrogen levels are assessed through the blood work and the follicle quantity and size are recorded.   It is anticipated that at 12-14 millimeters, the follicles will begin to grow at a rate of 2 millimeters per day. The larger the follicle, the closer it is to maturation.  Depending on your results, the medication protocol may be increased or decreased.  In many cases an Antagon is added to suppress premature ovulation.  This is usually administered during the latter half of the stimulation phase.   Once the follicles reach between 16-20 millimeters they are ready for the next step, retrieval.

 

I began taking Estradiol by mouth (0.5 mg once in am/once in pm) and two hormone injections daily around day 3 of my menstrual cycle (February 8, 2014).  My protocol included 150 units of Follistim (FSH) and 75 IU of Menopur (HMG) injections which I had my husband give me around 6 pm every evening.  He had already been injecting himself for almost two years, so I was lucky enough to have a skilled injector.  For this reason, I’m sure, I found the injections to be completely tolerable with only slight burning and minimal bleeding here and there.  My husband would squeeze the injection site (my lower abdomen, below my belly button) and inject on alternating sides.  I never needed to ice the area and had very little bruising.   We did add Ganirelix to the mix, but I can’t recall when and for how long.  I do know that I had Ganirelix leftover.

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I continued on these meds for 10 days before triggering.  Between 7 and 9 follicles were monitored and measured.  The greatest advice given by the nurses was quality over quantity.  I had read so many stories online of women with 20-30 follicles and wondered why my quantity was significantly less.  I’d go on to find out that many of these women hyper ovulated, which from what I’ve heard can be very painful.  Over-stmulation occurs when estradiol levels soar too high, too quickly.  Typically if a women suffers from Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS), the transfer may be postponed to allow the ovaries and lining of the uterus time to get back to normal.

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HCG Trigger  Triggering refers a shot of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) which stimulates the eggs’ release.  Precise timing of triggering is imperative for successful egg retrieval, which occurs within 36 hours of the injection.  This time is crucial as it allows the eggs to go through the final maturation process; without this they’d be incapable to fertilize.

I took the trigger shot, Ovidrel, on February 18, 2014 at 10 pm in the evening.  Like the others, I didn’t experience any side effects.  At this point, the only way I could describe  how I felt was as if I was carrying a fanny pack of golf balls.

Egg Retrieval  For this procedure, you are given intravenous anesthesia because it is considered minimally invasive.  A needle is inserted into each ovary and using an ultrasound to guide them, the doctor is able to aspirate the fluid and egg from the follicle.  It is a fairly quick (20-45 minute) and painless procedure.

My egg retrieval was late morning on February 20, 2014, two days post-trigger.  It was my first time going under and I can only describe it as the best 15-20 minutes of sleep I’ve ever had.  Within no time, I remember waking up and being pushed to the recovery area.  I spent less than a half hour waiting for the anesthesia to wear off and the doctor came in to give us the number of eggs retrieved.  While the nurse had been monitoring between 7 and 9 follicles, 11 eggs were retrieved in total.  We were advised that we would receive a fertilization report the following day via e-mail.

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We also got the green light to begin those oh-so-lovely progesterone shots.  My husband injected me in the bum, alternating sides every time.  They were, by far, the most painful of all the shots, but of course you’ve probably heard by now how I had him stick me with the 18 gauge needle, so that may have traumatized me!

On a serious note, of all the days within my IVF cycle, this was the most stressful.  However, much of that was due to our circumstances.  My husband’s surgery was the morning of my egg retrieval, so you must remember I was going to have the eggs retrieved without knowing for certain if there’d be sperm to use or if the eggs would have to be frozen.  Again, it wasn’t the physicality of the procedure, it was the emotional duress that made that day the most difficult.  Fortunately, they spun the sample extracted during my husband’s surgery and were able to find viable sperm to perform ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection).

Egg Fertilization  The embryologist prepares to fertilize the eggs within hours of the retrieval.  Traditionally, a sperm sample is placed around each egg to allow for natural selection.  With ICSI, a single sperm is injected into each egg.  Fertilization rates with ICSI have been found to be slightly higher.  The following day, the embryologist will notify you with an embryology report that discusses how many eggs were mature enough to fertilize and out of those how many actually did.  The embryos remain incubated until day 3 or 5 depending on when the transfer will occur.

In our case, 6 out of the 11 eggs were mature enough for fertilization.  Out of those 6, using ICSI, 4 fertilized.  We received these results on a Friday, the day after retrieval, and were elated to have even gotten to that point.  The report indicated that we would hear from them again within 1-2 days.

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The next day, Saturday, I received a phone call while working with my husband.  The nurse relayed that all 4 embryos were still progressing; however it appeared that only 3 would be quality enough to transfer.  I had prepared myself for the more common day-5 transfer (at which point the embryos are considered blastocysts), so when she went on to say that we would be transferring the following day, day-3, I was discouraged to say the least.  The decision was made based on the number and quality of the embryos at that point and I was told that they’d best survive in the most natural setting.  Unfortunately, this did not put me at ease and I’d consider this the second most difficult day of our cycle.

Embryo Transfer  This procedure involves placing a flexible catheter  into your cervix to inject the embryos.  The number of embryos is decided prior to or the day of transfer and depends on various factors (e.g. patient’s age, number of previous cycles, quality of the embryos, etc.).  Post-transfer, recovery usually takes about thirty minutes before going home.  Every clinic’s recommendations vary, as you’ll read.  However, research suggests that strict bed-rest is counterproductive, but heavy exercise and intercourse should be avoided.

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Meeting with our doctor beforehand and making a final decision on the number of embryos to transfer was the most difficult part of the transfer.  Our circumstances are not common; nor is the recommendation of transferring three embryos.  However, based on the embryo quality and our openness to twins, the doctor assured us that transferring all three would not result in triplets.

We both dressed for the procedure and entered the surgical room on February 23, 2014 (three days post retrieval).  Within a few minutes, the embryologist knocked on the door and presented a catheter containing our three embabies.  She confirmed our last name and the number of embryos before passing it over to the doctor.  Within minutes, the catheter was inserted and we saw as our three embryos were transferred into the cervix.  It was one of the single-most surreal and magical moments of my life.

Recovery was again less than thirty minutes and I went home to let my embabies stick.  Pineapple core, warm socks, laughter and all for the days that followed.  I took full advantage of having meals made for me and laundry folded, but I did make sure to move around and engage in some activity.  I took an extra third day off, as I felt a cold coming on and since I worked with kids at the time, I did not want it to worsen.  Other than that, and a tug around my belly button here and there, I did not have any symptoms.  Given that early pregnancy symptoms and the onset of your period mimic one another, it’s often hard to differentiate.  Please refer to my TWW Survival Guide for enduring the longest 9-14 days (depending on transfer day and clinic) of your life.  Naturally, I continued Progesterone injections and went in for blood work once during this time.

Beta Day  If implantation occurs, it starts to release the pregnancy hormone, HCG into your bloodstream.  It’s imperative for the most accurate results to wait at least 9 days after a day-3 transfer and 7 days post day-5 transfer to ensure that the HCG trigger is out of your system.  Initial beta numbers can range from single to triple digits depending on length of time since transfer and when implantation occurred.  Regardless, the level should double every 48 hours for a singleton pregnancy and even faster for multiples.

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For us, Beta Day was March 10, 2014  and as it turns out was one of the most cherished days of our lives.  We both went for the blood test together; however I received the call that it was in fact positive with a beta of 816, fourteen days post day-3 transfer.  The second beta, a few days later was over 16,000.

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With such high numbers, we were able to finally breathe.  However, we were far from out of the clear.  Unfortunately, especially with IVF, it becomes hard for you to accept positive news and you remain guarded because you’ve encountered so much disappointment.  It wasn’t until we actually saw a heartbeat at 6 weeks and then got past the 9-10 week safety zone, that we truly acknowledge that we were an IVF first timer success.

As I re-read this post, it is certainly the most dry of my entries to date.    My hope, though, is that it brings some clarity to those who are approaching an IVF cycle or think that IVF might be in their future.  There are many common things about our IVF cycle and many unique parts too.  The fact that we were an IVF success the first time around places us in the minority.  Not a day goes by, where I don’t thank my lucky stars, that after at least 84 injections, over a dozen blood drawings, and more suppositories than I’d like to remember (and that’s just for our IVF cycle and doesn’t include my husband’s shots!), we finally had a child of our own.

Lefty or Righty

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Pic via seltzergoods.com

With infertility sometimes you don’t know what direction you’re going in and/or you’re being pulled in a million different directions. You don’t know which way to turn, left or right.

Lately, I’ve been connecting with so many women on social media who are courageous enough to share their infertility. Sometimes reading these makes me feel guilty because so many journeys are longer and harder than ours. That’s when I had an “aha” moment about our particular story and began to look at it through a different lense.

Now stick with me, but I’m visualizing a successful pregnancy/IVF/IUI as the middle ground. To the left is the journey to get there and to the right is the point past the initial positive test result or completion of IVF or IUI.

For all of us, the IUI or IVF is relatively the same-a conglomerate of injections, bloodwork, procedures, monitoring, doctors appointments, and waiting. Some might get more side effects. Some might suffer from Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHHS). Your trigger shot or protocol may differ.  Yet, they all remotely resemble one another.

Our struggles, however, tend to vary greatly. Even if two women are suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) their journeys could look drastically different. Many of us infertility warriors struggle with infertility to the “left” or before we get to the point of IUI/IVF/conceiving some way; while others find their difficulty after, either with failed cycles, chemical pregnancies, miscarriages, etc.

In our case, obviously, the bulk of our infertility fight took place to the left.  Us “lefties” might have to endure months, even years, of struggle to get to the point where IUI and IVF are even a possibility.  For example, my husband needed to remain on medication for almost two years before IVF was in the cards and, even then [right up to his TESE procedure and my egg retrieval] we didn’t know if we’d make it to the point of having viable sperm for fertilization.  Our extreme highs and extreme lows came before the initial BFP.  The waiting and longing, tears and angst occurred prior to our IVF cycle.   However the culmination of our struggle was the point in which our little Mikie “stuck” and , thanks be to God, stayed.  The IVF and entire pregnancy were smooth sailing for us and as some might say, we were finally on the other side of infertility.

“Righties” have a different experience.  They might get diagnosed with infertility and move forward with an IUI or IVF cycle within a couple of months.  It all might seem like a blink of the eye, and before they know it they are Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise [PUPO].  That is, until the otherwise comes.  Maybe the cycle failed.  Maybe their beta confirms a positive pregnancy, but there’s no heartbeat at the 6 or 8-week ultrasound.  Maybe this keeps happening time after time after time.  Just like “lefties”, it’s not the injections and procedures that are the most painful for “righties”. It’s the roller coaster of emotions that’s associated with the ecstasy of hearing “You’re pregnant,” only to hear “I’m sorry for your loss.”

As a “lefty”, I cannot fathom the heartache that failed cycles and miscarriages must incur.  It makes me feel so fortunate, and almost embarrassed in some respect, to ‘wallow’ in my struggle.

What I’m trying to get to is the realization that infertility is not a battle.  Whatever your story is, first time success or multiple failed attempts, months or years, “lefty” or “righty” is really irregardless.  Infertility is a struggle and the struggle is real.

While all of our circumstances and experiences differ, “lefties” and “righties” are still one in the same.  We all cringe at the thought of hearing another pregnancy announcement.  We all “trick” ourselves into believing we’re pregnant, even when it’s nearly impossible.  We all yearn to rest a newborn on our chest and hear a little voice coo “Mama” for the first time.  We all could write a book on trying to conceive and could pass a phlebotomist test with flying colors.  We all cry and we all pick ourselves back up, with a little help along the way.  We all have the same common goal: to carry, love, and raise a child of our own.