Saturday, January 26, 2008

From fertility to infertility ...

The other day a very dear friend of mine asked me if we were considering adoption, she honestly didn't understand why we're continuing to bang out heads against the wall. So I told her ...

"we aren't there yet, there's a lot of steps between here and adoption ... the only thing is we have to face many losses while going down this path ... so really for us it's about endurance to see if we make it all the way down the path"

... and that got me thinking ... I'm going to put together "the stages of infertility" so my friends understand what it's like to be looking down this path ... in hopes that they can understand just a wee bit more about me and the life that I've found myself in.

SLIPPERY SLOPE FROM FERTILITY TO INFERTILITY
it's longer than you think ...

1. Avoiding pregnancy - like the plague
Personal mantra: “If I get pregnant now, I’m going to cut off my husband’s doo-da-whack-er; I’ve got a career and a life you know.”

Practices: Religiously take birth control pills for YEARS, read the instructions from time to time in case you miss a pill or two, follow their directions with delicate caution.


2. Not avoiding, not trying

Personal mantra: “Ooooh, oooh, ooh! Let’s make a BABY!”

Practices: You find yourself reaching over to touch your husband’s leg when you’re out with friends, you’re more amorous, you want to cuddle and just be close. You’re just enjoying the bliss of trying to conceive.

3. Trying

Personal mantra: “I can’t believe we’re actually starting to build a family, this is so exciting. Yesterday I was scared that maybe we’re not ready, but today I can’t wait!”

Practices: Have intercourse around cycle day 14 because that's when "most" women are fertile. Try different "positions" and/or elevate the hips after love making. (Where appropriate: tubal ligation and vasectomy reversals). Along with purchasing your first few pregnancy tests, you find yourself buying books pregnancy and diet while trying to conceive … and because you have a “good” feeling about all this, you throw in a book listing ideas for baby names, including ethnic origins and name meanings.


4. Ovulation Detection - Basic

Personal Mantra: “How fun, I get a new toy! So I guess I might not ovulate on cycle day 14? Now THIS will really clarify the issue of ‘when the heck am I ovulating?’”

Practices: Instead of peeing on a pregnancy test each month, you're peeing on an ovulation predictor stick for consecutive days in a row to see when the time is "magic".


5. Ovulation Detection - Advanced

Personal Mantra: “I had no idea my body worked this way. No wonder we haven’t been able to get pregnant. Why don’t they teach us this stuff when we’re in fifth grade?”

Practices: Read "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" from cover to cover multiple times. Learn all about charting. Enlist the help of: BBT/CM/CP, OPK/fertility monitor, and/or fern microscoping. Buy thermometer and subscription to FF to chart. Learn what your cervix is and how to check it with your own fingers without getting grossed out.


6. Natural Fertility Remedies

Personal Mantra: “It’s all starting to make sense and there are many elements to trying to conceive, perhaps my body or hubby’s body just needs just a little bit of assistance.”

Practices: Start to avoid alcohol in the two week wait, avoid caffeine as well. Eat carrots, drink grapefruit juice, or insert egg whites to increase CM. Eat pineapple for implantation. Initiate Endo diet if suspecting Endometriosis. Insist hubby start wearing boxers (or no shorts at all). Allow hubby to sleep naked to help his count. Gently explain to hubby why he can't go in the hot tub any more.


7. Add in more supplements

Personal Mantra: “We’re really not doing all we can to make this baby thing a reality, let’s take it up a notch. There’s nothing really wrong with us, but perhaps we’re not getting a good diet and giving ourselves every chance possible.”

Practices: Decide that alcohol may not be good at any time of your cycle. Find a "better" prenatal, add extra folic acid, start taking omega 3's (6-9's), and/or EPO. Consider Preseed, taking Robitussin, or taking Mucinex to increase CM. Consider Vitex/False Unicorn Root/Raspberry Leaf/B6 to enhance endometrial lining. Consider Fertilaid, FertilTea, or Fertility Blend for overall better fertility.


8. Natural remedies that lean toward technological solutions

Personal Mantra: “I don’t think we really need help yet, besides it’s so expensive and I’m not sure insurance would cover anything. There are some pretty good do-it-yourself options out there. This is just the help we need to become successfully pregnant”

Practices: Stock up on yams or soy products as they mimic Clomid. Purchase Instead Cups to act like a natural IUI. Consider using syringes to act like a natural IUI. Start daily baby aspirin (because maybe you have an undiagnosed clotting issue?) Consider a natural Progesterone cream to extend the luteal phase. Take an at home fertility kit test.


9. Work towards recovering from any miscarriages, stillbirths or infant losses previously experienced.

Personal Mantra: “Miscarriages are common. This is painful, but it happens to a lot of women.”

Practices: Start paying more attention to every detail of your life. Perhaps your shampoo is poisoning your body (and thus any babies you might grow) … increase your vigilance, ALWAYS aking the “right” decision.


10. Educate yourself for the rest of the journey

Personal Mantra: “Ok, this is getting ridiculous, we need some help … now what the heck are those infertility experienced women and doctors talking about?”

Practices: Become your own research assistant and learn to read medical journals, *hoping* to find some new direction or treatment to try. Learn all the acronyms and words nobody else ever wants to know: IUI, IVF, GIFT, ZIFT, FET, HSG, HcG, P4, ANA, MTHFR, PCOS, DOR, POF, FSH, E2, ER, ET, stim, SA, MFI, EP, M/C, PIO, AMA, etc. ... but be careful not to over-learn these acronyms to the point where in real life you start calling your husband "DH" to his face or find yourself telling someone that you're "TTC'ing" - people will start to realize how crazy you really are.


11. Medical intervention I

Personal Mantra: “Ok, it’s time to ask for a little help. These people are professionals, this is what they DO for a living – making people successfully pregnant – we’ll be pregnant before summertime; hmmm… maybe we shouldn’t schedule that big hiking trip, because I’ll be 4 months pregnant by then.”

Practices: Start seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). Test those sperm! Make sure husband is taking any needed supplements for sperm issues. Start taking Clomid/Femera Start Metformin as needed. Get ovulation assistance with triggering. Do your first IUI. Start Progesterone suppositories in your luteal phase to provide a little hormonal support. Combine pills, triggering, IUI's and Progesterone for a catch-all solution. Possible thin lining? Start Estrace. Endure the emotional outbreaks and straight up abuse you cause your husband while Clomid is stealing whatever splinter of sanity you have left. Consider going back to a previous step in this slippery slope, in the hopes that something less invasive might actually work.


12. Medical intervention II

Personal Mantra: “That RE sucked we need a fresh start with someone who knows what they’re doing. If we can start cycling in October then I might get to announce my pregnancy at Christmas – I’ve always dreamed of that!”

Practices: Consider seeing a "new" RE who's more cooperative. Run a boat load of blood tests and subject yourself to a painful HSG procedure to make sure your tubes are all clear. Endometrial biopsy as needed. Correct Varicoceles as needed. Learn how to become your own lab tech in order to administer self-injections. Start medications for any issues found during blood tests. Inject yourself with gonadatrophins. Learn how to pronounce gonadatrophins. Attempt: injectibles with well timed intercourse, injectibles with IUI, injectibles with back-to-back IUI's. Conduct a lap as needed. If Endo, receive Lupron medication to induce menopause for 6 months+ in the hopes of reducing endo lesions. Side effects include: hot flashes, night sweats, major mood swings, bone loss and yes, the Endo will return. Consider going back to a previous step in this slippery slope, in the hopes that something less invasive might actually work.


13. Work towards recovering from any miscarriages, stillbirths or infant losses previously experienced.

Personal Mantra: “The doctor says that my two losses have to be a flukes. Although we’ve found some problems, I’ve been on medications for all my issues. The next pregnancy … that will be the healthy one.”

Practices: Avoid getting in the direct line of microwaves. Remove yourself immediately when around smokers. Check to see if you have Mercury in your fillings. Start losing or gaining weight as needed. Increase your diligence and vigilance about your diet – clearly you’re doing something to cause the death of these babies.


14. Consider non-traditional medicine/practices more seriously

Personal Mantra: “This whole process is causing my personal demise. My marriage is suffering, my mental state is suffering, I want a baby but at what expense?”

Practices: yoga, acupuncture, herbs, fertility retreats, fertility support groups, counseling, intensive therapy weekends, begin anti-anxiety and/or anti-depression meds. Deal with feeling very angry towards God. Learn to cope with buying infertility books instead of pregnancy books. If dealing with Endo: Live with the fact that you will always have endo and it may get progressively worse--Stage I(mild)-Stage IV(severe). Learn to deal with the pain.


15. Medical intervention III

Personal Mantra: “I am ready for the big guns. There is no going back now. I’m excited that we’re doing something that has such a great chance for success but I’m scared out of my mind that if this doesn’t work - my world and all I thought my life would be … will come crashing down. Is it possible to be this excited and this scared at the same time?”

Practices: Consider seeing another "new," RE who has a higher SART rating. IVF. GIFT. ZIFT. Hopefully some FET's. Multiple IVF's. Conduct ovarian drilling as needed. Consider going back to a previous step in this slippery slope, in the hopes that something less invasive might actually work.


16. Change perspective on how you will build your family I

Personal Mantra: “I can’t believe we’re here. Nobody ever told you that having a family would be this difficult. Everyone else can do it, why can’t we? What’s wrong with us? This will help us by taking one less variable out of the equation - this has to work.”

Practices: Consider sperm donation, consider egg donation. Consider going back to a previous step in this slippery slope, in the hopes that something less invasive might actually work.


17. Change perspective on how you will build your family II

Personal Mantra: “We will have a baby, damnit.”

Practices: Consider embryo adoption, consider surrogacy. Consider going back to a previous step in this slippery slope, in the hopes that something less invasive might actually work.


18. Work towards recovering from any miscarriages, stillbirths or infant losses previously experienced.

Personal Mantra: “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?”

Practices: Resume drinking, smoking, hot-tubing, etc. Do whatever you want because clearly if everyone else can do these things and keep their babies – then it’s not about what you’re doing or not doing”


19. Change perspective on how you will build your family III

Personal Mantra: “We will be great parents and we can’t have our own children. There are so many children out there that need a home; let’s pray that we don’t get rejected.”

Practices: Consider domestic and/or international adoption, fostering and/or fost-adopt. Do loads of paperwork. Expose yourself to someone who will decide if you are healthy enough to be parents (you’re already feeling pretty insecure on this point). Put your name in a pool and pray that your miracle comes sooner rather than later.


20. Change perspective on how you will build your family IV

Personal Mantra: “If the Lord won’t provide me with a child, I have ways of working around that.”

Practices: Consider stealing other people's children. Ok, so I'm totally kidding, I just wanted to see if you actually read this (please don't show this to your fertile friends - they will certainly be frightened of me! [and perhaps frightened of you! as I would be! ha!])

Ok, the real step twenty ...

20. Letting go

Personal Mantra: “Maybe we can survive without children.”

Practices: child-free living.




If you look close enough at the journey, you can see how it parallels the four stages of grief (as proposed by K├╝bler-Ross) are easily mirrored:
  • Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.” Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what is going to happen/has happened.”

Though sadly, these aren't the hard and fast ways we walk through grief (and this process), grief can be more of a continuum where we find ourselves depressed one day and bargaining the next. The process is overarching if you look at it from beginning to end (step 1 to step 20) but it also is at the micro level, we process through grief with each failed step and we have a hard time completely letting go.

This slippery-slope is not for the faint of heart.


Personally, I'm at step 14. And I can say that at step 14 I'm still hoping and praying that I don't have to endure steps 16-20, I'm not at the point of accepting those steps yet. Would you be? If you have children, can you imagine not having them and having adopted instead? Look at them, right now ... can you live without them? Some people are called to adoption ... maybe someday I will be; but today, I'm not.

(A big thank you to: annieb11, E (aka Dreamer_2007), Shelley, Jenee, Anna, Lara, Cheryl, Ayameow, Amelia, Jess, Jill, Lori, Kellee, Cathy, missg1, pupluv, & Jen for your review and affirmation of this and definitely for your contributions - I hope I made you proud.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pregnancy 4 = Miscarriage 4

It's official.

Today I need to go to the doctor to get a shot b/c I have a negative blood type and Berilac has a positive blood type so there's a 50/50 chance that the babies blood type will be positive. If the babies blood type was positive and if/when the babies blood mixes with my blood ... my body will grow antibodies to fight off the baby. These antibodies will stay in my body and fight off future positive blood type babies. Some might think ... "well maybe this is why you keep having miscarriages, b/c you're fighting the babies off?!" but no. I've been tested for antibodies outside of being pregnant and I don't have them ... so thankfully my body is not trying to rid itself of baby in this way - yet.

It's emotionally painful to go through a miscarriage (or your fourth) while trying to do the normal things in life ... taking the train to work, sitting in your bosses office, rushing to and from meetings, making dinner, etc. With each indication that it's happening I just say good-bye again to my baby ... it makes me very sad.

My heart is broken - again.

I wasn't excited/optimistic about this pregnancy about 1.5 weeks before we actually conceived. Given the fact that we watched how the follicle developed - I had my doubts as we witnessed the "strange" growth pattern. There was a part of me that didn't want to proceed with trying this past cycle, but when the doctors were confident enough to continue I just trusted them - I wanted so badly for this to work, I didn't want to have to cancel again. When I asked my doctor about the length of time the follicle took to develop and when I shared concern about the pattern of growth (stalling mid cycle, spurt near the end) and when I was questioning the size of the follicle ... I asked, won't this result in a 'bad quality' egg? Their comforting response ... "it could"

So now we mourn the loss of another baby born to heaven. Good for baby, sad for us.

I'm having quite the emotional ordeal with this miscarriage. One miscarriage and that seems normal, two is bad luck, three is ridiculous, and four is concerning. I've decided this is all getting too much for me. Emotionally I can't handle the anxiety that miscarriage brings. One would think it causes depression (and it does) but moreso the emotional effect miscarriages cause is anxiety (at least that's what my good friend Dr. Internet confirmed for me).

So I'm going to take a break for awhile and regroup - emotionally.

I ordered 'Our Daily Bread' ... my quiet times with the Lord have been ... non-existant. I can't connect with my own emotions nor am I letting my husband or my friends in ... you can only guess how well my relationship with the Lord is going. *Splat.* This past week I attended my first class in a 10w course at a top fertility clinic called 'mind/body overcoming the stress of infertility' ... or something like that. I ordered some fertility meditation CD's ... I'm hoping they will help me in my prayer life; (thank you fortune cookie - I'm finally taking your advice.) I am going to get back into my breathing exercises; (I was part of a study regarding panic attacks and in the study they provided a breathing technique to help your body's physioligical response to anxiety ... my body really doesn't handle stress well ... I need to re-learn [and continue to practice] how to breathe 'correctly'- pathetic, but fine with me). I ordered a fertility yoga DVD. I'm going to plan some serious spa outtings. I'm going to enjoy baths, hottubs, and a drink once in awhile again. I'm going to "be present" when spending time with hubby and friends. I'm going to take a step back and just notice life again. I start counseling next week.

I need to reprioritize. My quality of life has been rotten. I'm going to spend some time on my emotional health and my marriage. I'm going to spend some time working on me, and us, praying and just continuing to wait for the family that we so desire.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

HCG test results for pregnancy number four

*** The results***

hcg:
13dpo - 63
15dpo - 80
18dpo - 34 (...this value shouldn't be dropping)

*** The email from my doctor***

Dear Polly,

I am sorry to say but the HCG level is now declining, another biochemical pregnancy :<

Please call to come in. We should discuss what else we can do and we should give you another Rhogam shot.

Regards,
The doctor

*** My thoughts ***

... here comes number 4.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

quickly approaching 4

Sorry it's so blurry, my camera is old and it's lousy.

I've been hiding the results from all of you, just b/c I feel like I'm the girl who cried wolf and I hate being her.


I wanted to wait until after I had blood levels done to provide us some more insight on whether or not this one was going to make it. So that I could announce "we have hope" or "there's little hope" ... unfortunately, there's little hope.

I waited until Wednesday morning to test for a pregnancy, I was 13dpo. (for the layman, I would have been expecting my period the next day) ... and as you can kind of see, the home pregnancy test came back positive.

On wednesday I went in for an hcg blood level (a measurement for how far along a baby is when it's too early to do an ultrasound) and the level came back at 63 ... a very median response - which was good, we were hopeful.

Yesterday, 48 hours after taking the first hcg, the doctors took a second hcg ... to show a viable (or more likely viable) pregnancy the value should have been >125 ... well, mine was 80.

My RE is going to have us retest on Monday (18dpo) in hopes that there's still a chance. But ladies and gentlemen, I'm no fool. I've been here before. Things are not looking good ... again.

And to pour salt on the wound ... this "slow rise" (that's what it's called) could be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy. Great, just what I need. So we are watching out for any pain and/or fainting ... doesn't help that my main pregnancy symptom with this pregnancy is dizziness.

So, there's a 15% chance that this could be a healthy pregnancy, but given my track record - I'm not holding my breathe. If this were my first pregnancy - I might be more inclined to have hope. Now I'm just trying to get through the day.

If/when this miscarriage happens ... I'm not sure that I'll be able to blog or do my fertility message board stuff much ... I'm thinking I need a break from all of this. You can't even imagine the amount of anxiety that I got when I saw that second line, and in the days since it's only escalated ... I can hardly stand this amount of pain/loss/fear.

... this is one rough battle and it's becoming more than I can handle.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tag, I'm it.

The meme rules:

  • Link to the person that tagged you.
  • Post the rules on your blog.
  • Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
  • Tag at least three people at the end of your post and link to their blogs.
  • Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Let the fun begin!

Thank you Daisy for the tag!

  1. I don't like chocolate, but when I'm with friends, if someone orders something chocolate for dessert - I always have to try it ... just to see if I've learned to like it yet. Update as of Saturday, January 12th 2008: I still don't like chocolate.
  2. I was awarded more than $2500 in a class action lawsuit - I didn't initiate any of it!
  3. I was in a near plane crash (United flight on a puddle jumper from Kalamazoo Michigan to Chicago O'Hare) with my dear friend Daisy! Summary: alarms were going off, flight attendants were swearing as they were ignoring the passengers, the sound that you would associate with a plane falling to the depths - actually happens, pilot pulled out of the dive at the last minute, made a U-Turn and did an emergency landing at the airport we had just taken off from. There was an electrical fire on board the plane.
  4. After four years of weekly appointments, I officially graduated from counseling in 2004! (but now after three losses - I need to get my butt back in there)
  5. I don't know how to freestyle swim.
  6. I've been proposed to more than once. After one "no", one "we have to call this off", and one "if you ask me to marry you I'll say no" I said "yes" to my husband and can confidentially say that I have the best husband on the planet - guess I said "yes" (and followed through) with the right man!

I'm tagging:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Less is more

Because I am so open about my losses with all of my IRL friends: family, close friends, even work colleagues! and because my three losses have spanned the course of 17 months (and counting) I have heard many people say the "wrong thing" in response to hearing about miscarriage ... the wrong thing according to someone who's experienced loss.

I have my days were some things people say hit a painful chord for me, but I am blessed in that a majority of the days I do not harbor pain but rather understand that the responding person is really only trying to be helpful. I draw from my personal past experience of saying insensitive things to others going through loss (previous to my own experiences with loss) in order to find grace for those who make some of these potentially painful comments to me.

I remember some of the things I have said to others going through miscarriage or loss:
  • you're young - you have plenty of time (or anything that has to do with time)
  • you'll have a family someday (or "it'll happen")
  • it's all about stress, relax and you'll have a baby

and then there are other things that I may not have said to anyone, stuff that I've heard (not personally in most cases) that have caused pain:
  • it was just a miscarriage, not a baby
  • it wasn't meant-to-be/God's plan
  • maybe you want a baby too much, so God isn't giving you one
  • maybe you're not ready to be a parent
  • it was for the best since the baby probably wasn't good anyhow
  • at least you don't have deal with my [insert pregnancy/infant/toddler complaints here]
  • well at least you're having fun trying
... I know there are others I'm just not thinking of them right now (I have a bad memory).

I am an active member of a few fertility boards and I find that many infertiles are plauged with insensitive friends. However, I believe that most infertiles hear the insensitivity in the comment - even if it's not meant to be communicated that way. (We who are going through fertility issues are also dealing with a lot of pain, which causes a less then healthy emotional state [I know this all to well] we are pretty tattered having experienced what we have - so I believe that yes, some of these comments seem insensitive .... but you have to remember that we are in a sensitive state, so even comments that weren't meant to hurt are still heard with a sting.) I also believe that these friends may not be "insensitive" but rather - unaware. I'm constantly confronted with people IRL who are suprised that I'm taking these losses so hard. So part of the purpose of this post (and really this blog in general) is to help those who don't get it ... get it.

My motivation for this post, is for "friends of infertiles" to read and understand how best to respond when hearing about a miscarriage, either the woman's first or (God forbid) her fourteenth. Really, the best thing to say is .... as little as possible! Coupled with a hug and maybe a card, a drink, some flowers, some chocolate, some coffee - really, whatever your infertile friend enjoys. But the main point is ... words are best in moderation. (and no, I'm not lobbying for some goodies should I have a next miscarriage ;-))

At work they did a training presentation on how to best handle someone who has recently gone through a traumatic event (specific event not applicable to this post) ... anyhow the psychologist said that the 50 first words said are the most important to the recipient, and she proceeded to hand out a little card that we can carry with us in case we were ever in the situation to use it. As I read the card I realized the first part of it (the stuff that was non-event specific) is so applicable for someone going through loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death).

Here's the suggested words to use:
"I'm sorry this happened to you. It's not your fault. How can I help?"

So when at a loss for words ... remember this phrase, and follow it up with a big hug.

***Note to all my IRL friends: no need to be concerned about any comments you may have said to me in the past. I have a horrible memory (just ask Berilac! He's never having to deal with me drudging up the past - short term memory is all I've got!) so even if you did say something - I honestly don't remember. I'm not thinking of any specific comment made to me by anyone. I am not upset about anything that was said or not said, done or not done ... I'm only trying to help people understand a bit more about what it's like to experience loss like this ... and perhaps provide some insight to those who haven't experienced it to know how to better love people who are suffering with this.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What if the fertile myrtle's of the world did ART?

Reference data:

ART = assisted reproductive technology (clomid, ovulation trigger, super ovulation injects, IUI, IVF, and the like)

In any given natural menstrual cycle there is a less than 20% chance of success. That's more than an 80% chance of failure ... for any woman.

There is a society that tracks the national average of success rates for the many fertility clinics nation-wide ... there is a 43% chance that a "fresh IVF" cycle will result in a pregnancy, of those same "fresh cycles" 37% will result in the live birth of a child. (wow, I'm surprised, that statistic shows that there is a low rate of miscarriage - hey, that's good news!)

***

Ok, now I'm not talking about the super human fertile ... the ones that get pg with each healthy child within three months of trying ... I think these ladies lie on the other end of the spectrum (being stepford wives and all) ... but rather the more average women, who take 6, 8, or 10 months ... Are there any studies out there showing what their ART success rates would be?

If "normal" women have an 80% chance at failure each month (and they do fail) then doesn't that stand to reason that they may fall into the "failure" group for IVF treatments? Might they fail by fluke? or is it that b/c they have everything working for them (hormones, plumbing, the mighty army of hubby's soldiers) then they would have an IVF success rate substantially higher than the infertile who are practicing these techniques?

I guess we'll never know, b/c what right minded fertile myrtle is ganna shell out $20k+ to see if they can fail ... when they can get knocked up on mr sealy posturpedic at home for free rather than inviting the team of doctors to get a better look at them while they are sitting spread eagle for all the world to see, in their womanly appointment stirrups?

I'm asking all of this b/c sometimes I get focused on the failure rate rather than the success rate ... (I know, I should remain positive) ... but I'm really just hoping that our plight isn't as "bad" as we think it is. Perhaps if "normal" women did ART ... not every cycle of theirs would be successful, right? So if ours aren't successful ... well it's not surprising ... we expect a little failure then a little success.

Note: I do think that their success rate in doing ART would be higher ... as first of all, it's just makes sense that it would be that way, but secondly b/c as I mentioned earlier: with each cycle there is a 20% chance of success ... what I didn't say was that if a couple makes it one year without conceiving their monthly success rate DROPS severly to 2-3% chance of success per month ... most women who frequent the doctor's who would do these ART procedures (RE's) these women are finally there b/c they weren't able to successfully conceive on their own after 12 months.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Loss depicted on the big screen

"PS I Love You" hit me straight in the heart.

Overall I really enjoyed this movie. I won't spend time here discussing the theatrical value, nor the plot ... this post is really for people who have seen the movie - as in just a few short sentences I will be revealing some scenes that should be learned about in the context of the movie.

Remember the scene, (ok, here I go, spoiling the plot ... please don't continue reading unless you've seen the movie or you're ok with me spoiling it for you!) the scene where the three girlfriends are sitting on a rowboat in the middle of a lake in Ireland? They all have their parkas on, as they have fumbled their oars right into the water and are waiting (like damsels in distress!) to be rescued by the seemingly absent existence of people on the shores. ... in this scene the married girlfriend says "well I hope we get off this boat before nine months is up" (or something along those lines) and then she reveals that she's pregnant and didn't want to announce her news until after their big trip (as the focus of the trip was supposed to be on Hillary's healing, not celebrating a pregnancy) congratulations were shared ... then the single girlfriend (Phoebe from "Friends") announced that she hoped they were rescued by the new year as she was recently proposed to and would be getting married on New Years Eve. Then the two girlfriends who had just made these announcements look at Hillary Swank (the main character who is dealing with the all-too-early loss of 35 year young husband) who responds by saying something like "I’m happy for you both, I really am, it's just a lot of information to take in all at once on such a small boat” (or something cute and funny like that) as she's kind of smiling and kind of crying at the same time.

I just about couldn't breathe when this scene unfolded. I felt so bad for Hillary Swank's character. I knew that exact pain of being reminded that you're not in the same boat (no pun intended) with people who are experiencing normal, happy progress in life, as you're just wanting something so basic, desperately wanting your normal life back ... while simultaneously being truly happy for those that have what is normal, and right, and good (something you don't have).

The movie continued on to have a scene where Hillary overheard her two friends conversing (when they didn't know she was eavesdropping) discussing the excitement of their respective news (with topics like ultrasounds, due dates, bridesmaids dresses, florists, and the like) ... and Hillary just thought (or perhaps they did a voice over) about how her life has stopped while everyone else’s was still moving forward. She had lost her husband and her life seemed to stop: went on hold. This is exactly what miscarriages feel like (for those who have [thankfully] never experienced it)

This whole bit was just crushing ... I was sobbing. I didn't sob with the funeral scene, not while she flashbacked to scenes reminiscing her husband's prancing around their NY pad, not while she read the cheesy, sweet letters sent in foresight seemingly arriving from the grave: from her dead husband (ok, yes I did release a FEW tears) ... but man, when she was expressing how she feels like life is passing her by - I lost it. It wasn't so much the news of the friend's pregnancy that got me ... the fact that another person was dealing with hearing that someone's friend is pregnant and they are not is not the pain I was experiencing - it had more to do with identifying with the pain of feeling left behind.

A lot of times I feel like people don't "get" me in this whole struggle. My fertile friends have never experienced loss, much less compounded loss without having any live children. My infertile friends seem just as “behind” as I feel, but they are (usually) hiding behind my computer screen – not women I talk to IRL. How much can someone know you whose learned about pieces of you from disjoint topics on various threads on fertility message boards? (I’m not knocking it; I’m merely pointing out a fact) Even still I can’t completely relate to the ladies on those boards. I've been told by my Dr, since July, that I have diminished ovarian reserve and that news is pretty far down on the list as far as infertility ailments you'd choose to have if you had to choose one - as the battle is with time itself ... and there's nothing you can do to literally stop time. A lot of women on the infertility/fertility boards can relate to running out of time. There are some women who can relate to me - the older ladies can, but they are less welcoming of me because regardless of my diagnosis I'm still "young". In our fertility situation, I’m scared that I’m not only going to be temporarily left behind, but permanently left behind. I would love to play the scene for everyone I know - in hopes that they can "get" me a little more. Why is it that we so just want to be known? (topic for another post, I guess?)

So anyhow, I just wanted to say I feel like my life has done a freeze frame. I want to be moving on with my life ... it's just so hard. Loss is what I'm facing. Loss, in this movie, is what the main character is processing – hers in the form of the loss of her husband and the loss of their future together, mine in the form of the loss of my babies and the hopes that I had for these children. (And really she was probably mourning the loss of children with him too, but that still falls into the category of loss, right?) ... Loss has a way of wiping us out. I feel like my life is on hold and although I know I'm not ... I feel abandoned and alone … like she does, but not by my husband (not by any means by my wonderful husband!!) just alone I guess, alone without my babies.

***
... sorry this post is such a downer. This is exactly how God is working on my heart. Without recognizing this pain, how could I be so open to His hope? character adjustments? learning perseverance? ... truth is, I couldn't. So bear with me, bear with me while I drudge through the muck and mire.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Family brings out the best in you

So in my almost two weeks with Berilac's family I have been reminded of what a nutcase I am. There is one thing about me - something I can easily forget (when I prep my own food) something I try to forget about when not reminded by too many meals and loads of extra time to do nothing but watch others cook in mass ... I am turning into a germ-a-phobe. (My SIL only adds to my neurosis)

My biggest freak-outs this vacation:

1. I learned that the dispenser used on the front of refrigerators (you know, that kind that delivers ice and filtered water) is a germ magnet ... unless you want to share whatever is on the lip of your drinking glass - don't press the glass up against the dispensing arm.

2. this reminded me of the story I heard on the news about how there are more germs from the ice machines dispensed at restaurants than those restaurants' toilet bowls - yikes.

3. All garbage cans should have a foot pedal to open them up ... people have to touch the cabinet door the garbage hides behind, you have to either lift a lid or pull the garbage bin forward (both of which require touching) in order to get rid of your disposable items. As well, if you watch closely ... many people shove garbage deeper into a garbage bag (in order to make more room in the can) ... they then continue on finishing the food prep for the upcoming meal.

4. People don't always wash their hands - yet they share bags of food with you. Chips are the biggest offender. How many of you pour your chips into a bowl and pull out a serving utensil to divy out the goods?

5. If you have a tupperware of cold food and you open it up for some eats ... you need to microwave it to the point of boiling/steaming (killing all the bacteria) you also cannot open the lid, flip it over (with cold bacteria ridden food particles all over) and place your cooking utensil ON THE LID where the bacteria is (yes, hopefully it will be ok if the preparer cooks the food to a very high heat ... but really, can my mind rest on this thought?)

6. cutting boards should have different uses (veggie board, fish board, beef board, chicken board) ... even better than this, I learned from my equally psycho SIL that you can cut meat on dinner plates and then put them through the dishwasher (in order to santize them).

7. ADULTS double dip!!! ... people please!

8. Let me tell you that the kitchen sink (specifically the drain rim and down into the drain) is the dirtiest place in your entire house - including the toilet bowl) ... so if you place something into the sink - it is OFF LIMITS for use until AFTER it's been properly washed and sanitized. If you're using a utensil for cooking, and you place it in the sink (or on the counter) it is no longer clean ... even if you rinse it off.

9. Toddlers have a tendency to touch shared foods - after they've played with the bottom of shoes and/or wiped their snotty noses. Not their faults, but really, the best way to share food between children and adults (or adults and adults!) is to request/require that people dish out food to their individual plates rather than sharing germs from child to adult (and from what I've learned it's most dangerous for adult germs to pass to toddlers - rather than my fear of being an adult getting the kid germs)

10. Food should not stay unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. If you make dinner, eat dinner, get distracted by a movie or games ... and it's been longer than 2 hours - the food has gone bad. If you go to a restaurant and you take a doggy bag ... and then end up shopping or going out to a movie or dancing or whatever afterwards - throw the food away if it sits outside of a fridge for 2 hours ... remember that you chit chatted at the restaurant after not eating the entire meal so your two hours can't start when you leave the restaurant, better to start the timer when you enter the restaurant (and really that would require that you head right home to preserve the food ... an in diningroom meal can take 1.5 hrs)

Ok, ok ... I'm done venting ... I'm so glad to be going back to my house, preparing my own food ... controlling my own germ intake.

I think this all started in the Springtime when I was sick for 10 weeks ... and they suspected a really bad case of stomach flu. I missed almost a month of work and almost lost my job! I guess it's not surprising that my mind finds these types of fears. These days I drink Kefir each day to get good bacteria into my gut just so I can fight anything that finds its way into my tummy. I DO NOT want to go through another sickness like that again any time soon.

So if you actually read my long list of freaky things ... good luck getting them out of your head. If you haven't and you're just skipping ahead ... very wise of you. I'm not sure how much of this craziness can truly be good for me. Perhaps the stress associated with controlling this type of stuff is more damaging than chowing down on a little bacteria.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Off to the races ...

So we went to our ultrasound appointment yesterday and my 14mm follicle almost DOUBLED in size and I have one follicle that 23mm in size - yowza!

This is very good news. This is the exact response that my RE wanted to elicit. So we have an opportunity at pregnancy this month - oh how I pray that we get pregnant and it's a healthy baby that can be delivered into our arms in 9 months.

Because I triggered yesterday (with hcg) I have forced my body to ovulate sometime today or tomorrow (most likely today) ... so we'll know almost exactly when we conceive (if we conceive) ... isn't that weird?

So now we wait. We'll know in two weeks if sperm does in fact meet the egg.

This will be our first attempt at getting pregnant on medications. The doctors have told us that by taking these meds we will increase the egg quality and thus increase the chance of a healthy pregnancy.

Lord, please bless us with a baby. A healthy baby that we can raise up to know You.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What's the haps?

Sorry it's been awhile ... the holidays - they seem to take over. Which, in the middle of going through another fertility cycle, is just fine with me!

Berilac and I travelled to Arizona to visit Berilac's family this Christmas and it's been great (I'm writing this from my inlaws sofa!). We almost missed the opportunity to come here due to the scheduling of my fertility cycle but being the smart man that he is - Berilac suggested we do a little "remote" monitoring on this cycle. So I'm going to an Arizona clinic every other day for ultrasounds and I take a shot each night ... just waiting for this cycle to do it's thing. Get this - we're having to pay $290 per ultrasound appointment here! (I've had 3 and I'm scheduled for one more!) Nobody said this was going to be cheap.

A little summary on my cycle: It started out so well with four follies taking the lead - we were so excited that we were within our goal of less than 5! (remembering that last cycle we had to cancel b/c I produced too many!) so b/c of my great showing early on in the cycle my dr panicked a bit and dropped my dose to the lowest level possible ... that caused me to stall out a bit, so she upped it a tad ... then I produced a total of 9 small follies and we flashed back to last month (ahhh!) so she didn't want to up my dose so we encountered more stalling, days of stalling! Then I had one lead follice jump ahead but then it stalled too. Now I am on my last two days of stims (CD's 18&19 - if you can believe it!) and if my ultrasound tomorrow doesn't show a good leading follicle or few ... we're going to cancel the cycle.

I tell ya, I can't win for losing. (whatever that means exactly) ... Supposedly I sit here with the problem of early menopause and when the attempt to stimulate me with ovulation drugs they find that I overstimmulate rather than under stimulate (which understimming what you would think would happen to me!)

This is so frustrating.

We are on CD19, we take 75iu of Follistim this evening and we have an ultrasound appointment tomorrow morning to see how the little guy (the lone follie) has developed. If it doesn't make any progress then we cancel the cycle, but if it does then we're in the race this month and we'll see if we're pregnant ... in two weeks.

Berilac and I have decided that this whole plain injectible stimulation isn't working for us. It's very difficult to dial me in - we're either completely failing by stalling out or over stimmulating and risking tons of babies. So our next medicated cycle will be IVF. I can't even believe that this is where we're at. Typically, I'm a very healthy person, I never thought we'd be here.