On the lighter side…

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Let’s put all the lol’s and memes in one place, ’cause I need something to do that doesn’t involve rocking back and forth and producing snot.b922834d90796325a8532355610f2e58 original 02d6b36549e9886796ffcff1344c6ceb 4c7357905e470b5a6341c51126c27e7e 6e044a7337ba0c6d2ad23cb2e0388afe 15a8561fda80b10c81e2fbd216eff596947083053fa136cbce7fd7eb5de5789ad75b63bb08e5900d668cd172d41e3e4b f26e0d09c9091e9d43a19917b048bc47

It’s official – it’s over.

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url-1So much for my big talk about accepting the reality of the situation and letting go.

I just talked to my clinic and got my blood results from a few weeks back – my AMH is 0.15, FSH is 7.71 and Estrodial is 108, which means I officially fall into the category of “unsuitable for IVF”. I always thought IVF was the last resort and here I am once again contemplating what you do when you’re too far gone even for the last resort to be an option.

I thought I was prepared for this. I knew it would be hard, but I thought I was ready for the finality of it. Turns out I’m not. There was one last shred of secret hope growing in my heart like a tough and hardy weed, and tearing it out has reopened the wound and I am drowning.

It’s so unfair. It’s just so fucking unfair.

I have learned the course of this grief by now – this pain has a road map. I know I’ll spend the rest of the day huddled into myself, quietly crying and trying to hold it all together. The night will pass sleeplessly as I’m washed with waves of guilt and anger and loss. (Thank god my husband is out of town. He’s seen this scene a few too many times now, and it makes him feel helpless and alone). Tomorrow will pass in a  gray haze of sadness and the next day, if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to start trying to rebuild myself and incorporate this new knowledge into my new self concept. The knowledge that I am barren. At 36. That I carried one child that was my own flesh and blood, I lost it, and that I’ll never have that chance again.

I know I’m extremely lucky, that I have my sister and that she is willing to donate her eggs to us. But right now I think I’m just going to let myself mourn for all that I’ve lost – today, and through this whole process. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to be brave again.

Next Steps

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I’ve been MIA for quite a while – sorry. I just needed a break from all of the IVF/infertility stuff. However, a lot has happened!

S and I went back to our local RE and had a hilarious conversation about what we wanted to do next. We told her about CCRM (she was appalled that they made us redo all of the tests she’d already done – bills are still coming in and we’re over $6000 now just from the ODWU) and that I wasn’t comfortable there and didn’t want to cycle with them. I launched into the back story of when my sister offered to donate her eggs and the conversation went something like this –

Me: “So, I was in the car with my sister and was telling her about CCRM.”

Dr: “Yesssss…”

Me: “And I told her my AMH has dropped.”

Dr.: “Yessssss…..”

Me: “And she said-“

Dr: “What did she say?!?”

Me”-that she would like to donate her eggs to us.”

Dr.: “YES!!!!! I’ve been waiting for you to say that since you walked in!!!”

So, she was thrilled, to say the least. Then we told her we wanted to try one more cycle with my eggs, if it looked like it could be viable (ie, if my AMH is >0.1 and my baseline ultrasound shows 4+ follicles).  She readily agreed. We met with the donor egg nurse (who might just be the nicest person alive) and left feeling pretty good about things. What a change, walking out of that office feeling hopeful, or at least not in tears.

My sister has been in touch with DE nurse (she also loved her) and we are moving forward on that front. She is going to see an RE in her area to make sure she fits the criteria and that her reproductive bits are all in working order (Please universe, let her be ok – Not for my sake but for hers. I wouldn’t wish infertility on my worst enemy and it would break my heart for my sister to have suffer it). We’ve booked flights for her and her fiancé to fly out here on their spring break (they live across the country) so that we can all go to the psychologist and so that my sister can get the final parts of her testing done.

I started my period yesterday (for the first time in years I was happy to see it arrive) and I go in day after tomorrow to get the verdict (in the form of an ultrasound with the blood work verdict being a day or 2 behind). Will we be able to move forward with one final IVF cycle using my eggs?

To be honest, either way is going to be tough. If it looks hopeless that’ll be the last nail in the coffin of me ever having my own biological children, and despite feeling prepared for that finality I know I’m not. It would be a huge, bitter pill to swallow. But, the thought of another failed IVF cycle, or worse – another miscarriage – is beyond daunting. And…. I feel like there might be some relief in just letting go – letting go of the expectations, the possibilities, the “what ifs”, the constant researching, the painful, unrealistic hope. I imagine it could be very freeing to just accept that I will never have biological children, mourn that, and move on to other possibilities. I feel that I have reached a point where the waiting and the not knowing and the limbo is so hard that I’d rather just have a verdict. And honestly, 4 months ago I could not have imagined feeling that.

You know what I think the difference is (besides time)? Choice. I feel I have a choice again, that I am in control of my life again. That is an offshoot of the incredible gift my sister offered me – she gave me an option I was comfortable with, and put the ball back in my court. I am no longer at the end of my rope, out of options, out of control. Not saying either of these options will work (OE or DE), but if they don’t I can imagine that there are more options. And I know that I could be open to them. One way or another, it will happen for me. I will make it work.

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CCRM info

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So, a while ago I promised I’d put up “fertility cocktail for poor responders” from CCRM. But first let me say that you should get checked out by a doctor before you take any of these, in particular I think folks with thyroid issues should be careful. So, that’s my disclaimer. I’m a doctor, but not that kind of doctor! I was also prescribed DHEA – 25mg x 3 day. Also, at the bottom I talk a bit more about the financial side of CCRM and our ODWU. Finally, I’ve linked to the particular supplements that I used – hopefully this will give you a starting place when you’re looking to get supplements. But please, investigate the quality of any and all herbal meds or supplements that you take. They are not all created equal! The quality of different brands can change through time, so what was great for me may no longer be the best option. However, these were the ones I found that were the best quality for the price.

Poor Responder Supplement for Women **Ideal supplementation 3 months prior to retrieval

Male Fertility Supplements

  • Co Enzyme q10 200mg (3 times a day)
  • Omega-3 fatty acid 1000mg (once daily)
  • Vitamin C 500mg (once daily in the AM)
  • Vitamin E 400IU (once daily)
  • L-arginine 1000mg (twice a day)
  • Pycnogenol 100mg (once daily)
  • Folic acid 400mcg (once daily)
  • Centrum with minerals (once a day)

We also got back our insurance reimbursements from our ODWU at CCRM. We have CIGNA, and they are AMAZING. With our hometown RE everything is covered except a few of the blood tests and the office visit copay ($30) so each of our cycles has ended up costing us <$1000 out of pocket, which is incredible. CCRM is out-of-network for most insurance companies – the lady said it had something to do with their proximity to a hospital? I didn’t understand, but whatever, for almost everyone it’s expensive and it’s out-of-pocket. We paid ~$5000 for our ODWU, and after submitting all of the reimbursement forms we have gotten $1000 back. So that’s $4000 for one day of tests even with our amazing insurance. Not trying to disuade anyone, but be aware.

{In this particular post my brokenoven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Program, and affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com}

Brutal honesty

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One of the brave ladies whose blogs I follow had some bad news today. Only 1/3 of the eggs they retrieved during this cycle were mature. She is understandably crushed and feels that she has reached the end of the road. Despite thousands of dollars of drugs and treatments, months of healthy living, and the highest level of medical intervention available she feels like pregnancy isn’t going to happen for her. I feel her pain. My feet are also on that road, and it is a sad, lonely, painful path to walk.

We spend so much time scouring blogs, boards and articles looking for hope – trying to find that one success story, trying to convince ourselves (and often succeeding) that we are the lucky ones, that it will happen for us. People answer your questions and are very supportive – “Keep trying!”, “Don’t give up!”, they say. That support is invaluable, but it’s also misleading.

A few months ago I posted a question on an infertility board and got lots of warm, friendly, supportive, positive replies. I felt good, better, even hopeful.  And then a woman sent me a personal message. She told me that she had the same diagnoses as me and was a bit younger. She had basically the same response to meds. And she was going to use donor eggs. She urged me to open myself up to other options, because, as she said “it was very, very unlikely that I’d ever carry a pregnancy to term with my own eggs.” I was angry, hurt and confused. She’d burst my bubble. Where was the support? All those words that I wanted to hear? I didn’t want to hear that it wouldn’t work, I didn’t want to acknowledge that as a possibility.

Months have gone by since she wrote to me. Since then my AMH has dropped. I had a miscarriage and another unsuccessful Clomid cycle to add to my list of failures. My odds, which were never good, are in the toilet. So I wrote her back. I asked her questions. And I now trust her as someone who will tell me the truth. Not in a mean, hurtful or dismissive way (like my RE) but like someone who has been there. Like someone who walked this horrible road before me and understands the pain, frustration, and utter powerlessness that you feel. She found a way out of this terrible place. She recently gave birth to twins –  a boy and girl – as a result of her DE cycle. She beat infertility. Not in the straightforward way we all wish for, but in a subterfuge – an undercover coup. She found the courage to accept a work-around, and she has 2 beautiful children and couldn’t care less where they came from. 2 souls now exist that didn’t before. Her arms and heart are full. She won.

Let me be very clear here – donor eggs, surrogacy, adoption – these options are not for everyone. It is an extremely personal choice. The point is that there is a choice. One of the most awful things about infertility is that your choice, the control of your own destiny, the control over your own body is taken away and no amount faith, karma, begging, wishing or believing can change that. But there are options. There are choices.

So, when my blog friend wrote how defeated she was feeling my first instinct was to comfort, reassure and sooth her. But I erased that response and tried to be honest, hoping that eventually she would find some comfort in that honesty and that it would help to make the road she’s on a little less frightening. I wanted her to know that even if her very worst fears come true (which is very possible) life won’t come crashing down. There is hope, but it may look entirely different than you thought it would.

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*sigh*

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I’m worn out. Beaten down. Defeated and dejected.

Infertility sucks. All of it. Start to finish.

I have to take a break; from the planning, the pills, the stress, the research, the constant worrying. I want one day – just one day – where I don’t feel this overwhelming sense of loss.

I want to watch TV without crying at baby food commercials. I want to sleep through the night without having stress dreams. I want to stop eating kale. I want to enjoy sex with my husband again. I want a damn cup of coffee.

Step-children and infertility II

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I’m going to try to be as honest about this as I can, which is going to be hard because it doesn’t cast me in a very good light. I know the things I’m going to say will make me seem selfish and petty. And the truth is there are great parts to being a step-mother, lots and lots of wonderful parts. But so far there are no easy parts to being an infertile step-mother.

First, a little background. I met the girl who would become my step-daughter after her dad and I had been dating for 6 months. She was 4 1/2 then, and she’ll turn 8 this May. I truly do love her. She’s a good kid – bright, sweet, energetic and funny. Her mother has issues with drugs and alcohol and has recently been diagnosed with a (treatable) mental illness. She is very disruptive in our lives on a daily basis, even when we don’t have the child.

We discovered that I have DOR in April, and as of Dec my AMH has fallen to the point where it’s unlikely I’ll ever have children of my own.

Anyway, we have my stepdaughter every weekend as well as every holiday and all summer. Here are the problems –

  1. I know that she isn’t mine. Implicit in that is the fact that she could be removed from my life at any time, and I would have no recourse. To make matters worse her mother tells her things like “You don’t have to listen to her, she’s not your real family.” 
  2. She hasn’t been raised the way  I would raise a child. She is sweet by nature and that’s her saving grace, because she has been spoiled and babied by everyone in her life. When she is with us over the summer we have structure, routine and rules.  However, rules are very difficult to keep when we only have her part-time, when her father is overwhelmed with guilt because of the divorce and thus caves to every demand, and when her mother tells her she “is a precious angel who never should have to lift a finger for her evil step-mother”. (Literally, she said that word for word) *eye roll*
  3. She is a constant reminder of all I want and can’t have, as well as a reminder that another woman (and a very difficult woman) was able to give my husband something that I never will be able to give him.

The first two points I can deal with. We’re working on her behavior (which is not her fault, she’s a child. It’s the fault of the adults in her life) and I’m working hard to build a relationship with her that will endure regardless. But I can’t get past point 3.

Some days are fine. And there are some days when I’m really low and feeling beaten down by the whole infertility process and I just can’t be around her. I see her and I’m angry and jealous and envious and sad. I’m angry because my husband doesn’t fully understand how hard it is for me because, as he says when he’s trying to comfort me, “He already has A”. I’m jealous that this hateful, mean, spiteful woman was able to have a child and I can’t. And she doesn’t nurture her, or protect her, or set a good example for her. She exposes her to dangerous people and situations. She uses her as a bargaining chip – self proclaimed “leverage” both with us and with all other involved parties (grandparents, aunts, etc). And I’m angry at myself, because here is a child in my life (and all I want is a child) and I can’t just be grateful. I want her to be enough, and she’s not. And that makes me feel like a terrible person. A hateful, mean, bitter person.

I do my best to never, by word or deed, let her know how I feel. I try to be understanding about my husbands guilt, her mother’s mental illness, the difficult situation we are all in. I try to be a good example, a good influence, a positive force in her life. I try to be gentle with myself – to allow myself the bad feelings for a time and then put them aside. And it wears me out. The honest to god truth, and perhaps the moral of this story, is that it is very difficult to care for someone else’s child when you’re mourning the loss of your own.

 

Decisions decisions

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I’ve made a few decisions.

  1. I don’t want to cycle at CCRM. They’re great and all and we’re going to finish out all of the testing that they advised and take the supplements but it’s too expensive, too far away and our chances (even with them) are just too slim.
  2. I’m going to cycle one last time with my RE here. She has advised against it, but reluctantly said she’d do it if we were set on it. I’m going to set up a meeting with her later this month to discuss it further and to discuss the possibility of using my sisters eggs. I feel like I need to do one more cycle using my OE. Maybe because the last time it worked, maybe because I’m stubborn, but I think I need to do it for my own peace of mind.
  3. I’m going to ask my sister to start moving forward with all of the tests that she would need to be an egg donor. I’m secretly concerned that she may also have DOR (both for her sake and for ours) and so I don’t want to absolutely get my heart set on her DE as an option. She could also change her mind, and I would completely understand. I would be a little crushed, but I would understand.

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about DE, and I worry most about the effect that it would have on her. IVF is a painful, long and invasive process, and I hate to think about her having to go through it. I also worry about the long-term emotional ramifications. I’m pretty sure that I know how I feel about it, and S has been on-board from the beginning but I worry about how she would feel in the long-term. It’s a complex, confusing and emotional process.

I don’t know if I would consider DE if they weren’t from my sister – that genetic link is critically important to me (as it turns out). What if the baby looked like my sister and not like me? I could live with looking down at my baby and seeing my sister’s eyes, trust me. But could she?

I read something this morning that has fortified my resolve. Someone said “The donor provides the blueprint, but you build the house.” I like that.

Donor soul?

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So much has happened that I don’t know where to start. This isn’t the beginning but it’ll have to do for now.

As I’m driving with my sister over the holidays she casually asks what our next steps are going to be with the fertility stuff. I briefly fill her in on not being able to afford CCRM, my new AMH (CCRM called on Dec 21 and told me my AMH had fallen to <0.1 – Merry Christmas, you’ll never have children!), that I’m feeling lost and hopeless, that I’m starting to consider adoption. She’s quiet for a minute and then she says “I don’t know how you’d feel about this, but assuming everything is fine with my reproductive system, I’d like to donate my eggs to you. I’ve looked into it, I know what’s involved. The shots, the 60-70 hours of doctor visits, the procedures. After all, we have the same DNA. We could do it this July, if you want.” I promptly start bawling. It was such a kind, selfless, incredible gesture. I couldn’t (and can’t) wrap my head around it. Here’s my baby sister – the one I tormented, teased, played with, fought with – offering to give me the greatest gift in the world. offering to go through a good deal of trouble and pain and suffering to help me fulfill my dream. Offering to allow me to carry and to raise a child – her child, OUR child. I can’t put my thoughts (much less my feelings) into words. If her kidneys were failing I would donate her one of mine without a second thought. This felt like her offering to give me a part of her soul, because she could see that my soul was failing.

S was equally shocked and awed by the offer and ultimately has left the decision up to me. I don’t know if we’ll take her up on it, we very well might. What I do know is that the gaping black hole of despair and hopelessness that I’ve been carrying around inside of me has shrunk. The edge of the abyss has retreated. I am forcefully reminded that my life is good – I have people who love me, family who will do anything to help me. I am reminded that infertility doesn’t define me – I am greater than the sum of my ovaries. I also realize that I need 2 children, because wow, everybody needs a sister.

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CCRM visit

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It wasn’t what I expected. Mainly because (as it turns out) we are out of network so insurance will only cover about 30%, as opposed to at home where it covers 95%. If we decide to go the CCRM route we’ll have to take out loans which I’m not ok with. And man, they’re expensive! The cost of the ODWU alone was $4750, not including travel expenses. (Only about $1500 of that will be reimbursed by insurance)

We arrived at midnight the night before so we could make our 7:30 am meeting on time. At 7:30 me, S and 6 other couples went into a big conference room where we got a huge binder and a nice lady talked to us for an hour about IVF, CCRM and the reproductive cycle (and told us not to blog, or read blogs). Then we checked in at the desk. S went to do his duty in a cup, then checked in at the desk. Then I got the dildocam where they checked my uterus (fine), blood flow (fine) and resting follicle count (not fine. 2 resting follicles, both >10 mm on day 5. She thinks 1 was probably a cyst. Not fine at all). Then checked in at the desk. Then we went to the business office where they gave us the bad news. Then we checked in at the desk. Then a meeting with our Dr. Then checked in at the desk. Then a meeting with the lab business office where we had sign all the weird paperwork about who gets our embryos if one of us dies, or what we do with them if we divorce, etc. Then lunch. They are nice enough to give each person a coupon for $5 at their snack shop which covered our sandwich and chips. Then checked in at the desk. Then a meeting with the nurse where she gave me a new list of supplements (I’ll post later) and went over procedures and medications and we watched a movie about chromosomal testing. Then checked in at the desk. Then a horrific hysteroscopy with Dr. Brown (more below). Then checked in at the desk. Then blood work (7 vials for me, 4 vials for S) and then it was 3:45 and we checked out at the desk and left for the airport, exhausted.

First, my follicle count. I’m clinging to the belief that the low number of follicles is somehow due to the Clomid cycle last month. More likely, however, is that I’m still recruiting follicles waaaaay early and so by the time they start looking for them (CD3-5) all of the little ones are already gone and so we don’t actually know my resting follicle number. The other alternative is that my DOR has gotten much worse over the last few months and there aren’t many follicles, or much hope, left. I had hoped that the supplements would have helped a little with the early recruitment (by magic perhaps?) or at least given me a few more resting follicles. But who really knows?

Second, the hysteroscopy. I’ve already had an HSG and figured it would be like that. IT’S NOT. First, she had a hard time threading my cervix (after the HSG and IUI’s I’ve had that done a lot, and no one has ever had a problem. In fact, several people have commented on how easy my cervix is to navigate, which is a strange thing to know about yourself but I digress). Also, she didn’t put any numbing agent on my cervix before she gave me the shots (I know it exists, my other doctor uses it) and so they hurt quite a bit. By this time my uterus was painfully cramping. Then she filled my uterus with CO2 so they could move the camera around more easily. She said “You may experience some minor cramping with this, and when you sit up the gas may make your shoulders ache. Holy mother of god, that is not minor cramping. After she was done (everything looks great!) I had to lay on the bed for a while because apparently people often faint. When I sat up, I immediately started to feel an excruciating aching pain in my right shoulder. My right arm curled up and in on itself, and I couldn’t move my hand. The nurse said that’s due to the gas escaping from my fallopian tubes and settling in my shoulder joint, compressing the nerves. Of course, I immediately picture those plastic waving guys in front of the gas stations and imagine my fallopian tubes waving wildly about in my stomach. The shoulder pain continued for about 20 minutes an then it was just gone. BUT, after several hours I started to get a terrible shooting pain under my ribs, like a stitch from running only across a bigger area. The only way I could get it to go away was to lay on that side with my arm stretched out. Turns out that’s from the gas too, and is super common. That lasted all night long.

Finally, the money. We’re very fortunate to have had insurance cover the cost of treatment thus far. I know most people don’t have that. We can’ afford to spend $20,000 on a treatment, especially a treatment that may or may not work. Dr. Brown said she thought our best bet was egg banking – going through several retrievals and freezing the embryos – so that when we do the chromosomal testing etc we only incur the cost once, and we have enough eggs that it’s likely at least one will be viable. But that’s $50,000, at least. I don’t know what to do. S says we need to go for it – then we’ll have the piece of mind that we tried everything. I feel like $50,000 is a huge risk, and we may still end up with empty arms. We should save that money and start looking at other options.

Right now, we’re gonna wait and see. Start the supplements she recommend, wait for the results of all the tests, and see what her final thoughts are. I think we should go back to our old RE (read here – free) armed with all of the new information and see if she’ll cycle with us once more (for free(ish)). Then we can decide about CCRM.

Talking about miscarriage

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As I was looking at the search terms people have used to get to my blog I realized that many of them were related to people looking for ways to understand, comfort or talk to a friend after a miscarriage. I thought I would address that directly. I’m not a mental health professional and I can only draw from my own meandering experience, but I HAVE had a miscarriage and I know what I wanted and needed and (for the most part) didn’t received. So, here is my humble advice –

  1. Talk about it. It seems simple, but my friends didn’t seem to want to talk to me about my miscarriage. I don’t know if it made them uncomfortable or if they thought talking about it would remind me about it or what, but it was like it never happened. That was really difficult for me. Trust me, if someone you know has recently had a miscarriage they haven’t forgotten. They’re thinking about. All the time. And acknowledging their pain can do them a world of good. You don’t have to understand, you only have to acknowledge and accept. Give them an opening to talk about it if they want to, but don’t be offended or upset if they don’t want to talk. Just saying something along the lines of “I’m so sorry about your pregnancy loss. I can’t understand what that must be like, but I’m here for you if you want to talk.” can be incredibly comforting. **That being said, chose your time wisely. Don’t try to have a heart to heart at a football game or a cocktail party.
  2. Don’t tell them stories about your friend/aunt/cousin who had a miscarriage and went on to successfully conceive. Many many many women have had miscarriages, but had never had a miscarriage before. It had never happened to me and it was unlike anything else I had gone through in my life. It was so intensely personal and close to the quick that it felt like no one else could know or understand. I knew that wasn’t true, I had read the statistics, I knew people who had miscarriages. But for a while I needed to be selfish and just feel the way I felt. Just let your friend talk. Resist the urge to reassure them with stories of other people’s pain and/or overcoming of it, which could seem like it’s minimizing their experience.
  3. Spend time with them. But don’t force it. Just make yourself available. Infertility (and miscarriage) can make people feel very isolated and alone and it’s a huge boost when you know there are people who you can get away and relax with (even if you don’t chose to). Don’t plan a huge weekend getaway. Just lunch, or a movie, or something small. And try not to go to place where there are a lot of kids. This may not hold true for everyone but it was (still is, but getting better) difficult for me to be around children.
  4. Try to manage your discomfort. Miscarriage is very personal. We as society aren’t used to talking about it openly. It’s normal that you’ll be uncomfortable. Oriah Mountain Dreamer said it better than I could “I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.” It’s ok to be uncomfortable – your friend will be uncomfortable too. And the experience of sharing their pain might be intense, especially if you’re a very sensitive person. But it could make all the difference to them.
  5. Remember your “job”. You probably want to comfort your friend, make her/him feel better, happier. That’s very noble and they are lucky to have you. But remember, it’s not your job to fix it. This isn’t something that a few kind words will fix. It’s not your job to make them happy. They will likely feel happier for having talked with you, but probably not happy. It’s your job to listen. To be present. To be with them in their moment of pain. And trust me, that is enough. This is a wound that takes a long time to heal. Talking about it helps take the sting away, it helps suck some of the poison out. But like any wound healing takes time, and it leaves a scar.

A miscarriage is a death, and is often grieved like a death. The child may not have ever lived in the way that we usually think of it, but that child lived in their parents hearts and minds. That small spirit burns with an incredibly bright intensity, and the world seems dim when that light is gone.

If you are looking to comfort a friend after a miscarriage, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Just do the best you can, and that will be enough.

**If anyone has anything to add please do – I’m by no means an expert.

CCRM phone consult

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We talk to Dr. Brown from CCRM (Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine) today. I LOVE HER. She was personable, down-to-earth, easy to talk to, easy to understand AND she never once suggested donor eggs or said the words “advanced maternal age”. Yessssss

The conversation started by her asking us to go through our past reproductive history. She clearly had our records in front of her but I think she wanted to get a feel for how much we knew or understood about the process. Then it was the standard questions about allergies and surgeries and all that. I asked a few questions (For example, “Do you have a minimum requirement on the number of follicles need to go forward with retrieval?”;  “No. Obviously if it’s very low, like 1 or 2, we’ll have a conversation about the risks and your chances but ultimately the decision is yours and your husbands”.  ) and then she went through our one day work-up (ODWU). They want to redo all our tests in their lab (standard operating procedure when you change clinics) and then do the litany of tests CCRM is so famous for – doppler in the uterus and biopsies of the endometrium and DNA analysis of the sperm and whatnot. Yes, CCRM test us! Figure this out! Help me make babies! Test all the things!  DO ALL THE THINGS!doallthethings

She said our case is by no means hopeless, but she’ll know more after they get all the lab results back (obviously). She said they have very finely tuned protocols for poor responders (in particular she thought EPP might work for me) and since my resting follicle count is pretty good (8-11) we have the possibility of getting more eggs. And hopefully, one of those eggs will be the good egg we’re looking for.

She didn’t have any comment on the supplements (I don’t think she could actually advise yet as we weren’t officially patients at that time) but said she would help me tweak those after we got the lab results back.

I feel good. Better. I know it’s still a long shot but it’s nice to have someone believe in us and be willing to help us. Cross your fingers – here we go!!

UPDATE – As it is CD1 for me today (Dec. 14) I called CCRM to schedule our ODWU. Appointment is Monday!!

Clomid update. No nothing

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I was at that conference all week so I for the first time ever I didn’t symptom spot. I’m making up for lost time now! The problem is that I don’t have any symptoms. Not one. Let’s start at the beginning…

On 5dpo I started having implantation cramping – at least I think that’s what it was. It felt exactly like it did when I got pregnant. Pinchy, weirdness in my uterus (and of course after all of the IVF stuff know EXACTLY where my uterus is). It lasted for 36 hours, on and off. Just when I had convinced myself I made it up it came back. For the next 3-4 days I had a serious increase in discharge, the same kind of amounts as during EWCM but not that consistency (TMI, sorry). And a very sore back, but then again standing and walking for 13 hours a day in heels will do that to a girl. And since then…nada.

I broke down and POAS on a FRER at 9dpo (PM) and again at 11dpo (FMU) and both were BFN. Now I’m 14dpo (AM) and no AF. And no period symptoms. I’m moody, but that seems to be pretty standard these days. No sore breasts, no bloating, nothing. NOTHING. I assume the Clomid (plus multiple rounds of hostile take-over of my reproductive system) have me completely out of whack.

Strangely, (for the first time ever) my passion for POAS is gone. I’m not interested. I’m so sick of seeing one line on a snow white background. ‘Cause I know I’m not pregnant. Last time (for a brief time) I felt pregnant. I don’t feel pregnant. And the odds of getting pregnant from Clomid after all the IVF stuff seem laughable. Despite what felt like implantation cramps I just don’t think it’s possible.

S has to go pick up a prescription at the drugstore this morning so he’s going to drop me off at work.  I guess I’ll pick up some tests while we’re there, and I know once I have them I’ll pee on them. Hope is something you pee on…

 

 

An infertile girl walks into a bar…

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I leave tomorrow for the biggest conference of the year in my field. Between 20,000-25,000 of my colleagues will gather in San Fran to talk about science, make connections…and drink. Now, I’ve been going to this shin-dig for about 10 years and I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly of both the conference and “after conference” scene. You meet up with old friends…for beers. You have discussions with potential future colleagues about collaborations…over beers. You meet up to chat with senior scientists…at the wine bar. I’m a HUGE fan of the informal, relaxed way that business is conducted in my field (even the conference serves free microbrews for 2 hours every day), but I’m starting to fully appreciate how hard it must be for recovering alcoholics to function in a world where EVERY social event revolves around alcohol. Add to that the fact that this event is 5 days long, starts at 8 AM every day and I can’t have caffeine either – FML. I keep telling myself that the lack of hangover and a good nights sleep will make the need for caffeine irrelevant. Who am I kidding? 8 AM is 8 AM and the cold bright light of morning is way stabbier on the eyeballs when you’re uncaffeinated.

My husband got very indignant the other day when I told him that I envied that he could walk away from “it”. Of course he took “it” to mean me and when I explained that I meant infertility he was still annoyed because he thought I was implying that he didn’t think about it or worry about it. What he doesn’t realize is that I’m with “it” all day long. “It” influences every aspect of my life from where I go (riding my bike waaaaaaaay out of my to avoid fumes from the major roads), to what I do (giving up time with my husband or friends for yoga or accupuncture or doctors appointments) to what I eat (all the supplements, wheat grass, smoothies, blueberries, kale, no sugar, no soda, no caffeine, no alcohol and on and on). Those are a few measly examples, but truly, trying to improve my fertility influences my choices all day long, every day.

So, me and “it” are off to SF in the morning. I’ll sit with “it” at the wine bar. Me and “it” will hang out with old friends (and of course they’ll ask why I’m not drinking, which means I either have to lie or be uncomfortably vague since no one wants to have the “I can’t have babies” talk at a bar). And “it” and I will go home early together while everyone else is out having fun, making connections and…drinking. **Side note – I promise I’m not an alcoholic despite the way this post sounds. S and I have a glass of wine with dinner 2 or 3 nights a week, and I have a few margaritas on girls night. But SF during AGU is the time and place to get hammered, assuming there is ever a time and place** I just know that I’m gonna end up like this  (and no one likes sober cat)———->128826476970038742

And so begins the 2WW…again.

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Went in to the RE yesterday so they could check my follicular development and decide when to trigger and do the IUI. I did the usual routine – go in, take my pants off, don the paper sheet, lay down on the table, put my legs in the stirrups. In goes the dildocam, up goes my blood pressure…

No follicles on the right. Not a huge surprise as my right ovary seems to be the slacker. The doctor moves over to the left ovary and then is quiet for a while. Then she points out a shape on the screen and tells me that there’s something odd – it doesn’t look quite like a follicle but it doesn’t look quite like a corpus luteum (the follicle after ovulation) either. And look, she says, there’s another one. And my uterine lining is almost 11, which apparently is as peachy as can be. She wants to get my progesterone level and see what’s up with my hormones, but she thinks I might have recently ovulated.  Like VERY recently. So today I get a call from the nurse and she tells me that my progesterone level was 3. M’kay. What does that mean? She says that the doctor thought I had ovulated super super recently, like so much so that the process wasn’t quite finished when I was having my dildocam date. She also asked if we had been BD’ing every other day like good little patients. I assured her we had.

I have some thoughts about this.

  1. I had 2 follicles. WTF? That’s sweet! On the strongest fertility drugs available to mankind I made 3 mature follicles (and 2 immature ones) and on Clomid – 2 small pills a night for 5 nights and no shots not-even-one-single-one – I made 2 mature follicles. 1/1000 the trouble (and $) and 2/3 the results. This, I think, is good news.
  2. I ovulated on Day 13. That’s also awesome as I usually ovulate on CD 9-10. I don’t know if the Clomid delays ovulation (it must, right?) but I feel like those few extra days could give my eggs the chance they need to mature. And who knows? Maybe all of these supplements I’m taking have improved my follicular environment. And I was worried that the Clomid might thin my uterine lining but I guess that’s not a problem.

So now I’m back to unrealistic hope. Here’s the hope part – 2 eggs instead of one. 13 days instead of 9. Maybe better egg quality from the supplements. Here’s the realistic part – I seem to ovulate every month on my own and have never been pregnant. Why should 1 additional egg make any difference?  It takes a long time for the supplements to work (if they work at all) and I’ve only been taking them for a month or so.

And also….I am not the lucky one. If this process has taught me anything it’s that I am not the exception. In fact, I’m usually the worst case scenario. It seems highly unlikely that I’m going to be the one who, after 3 (but really 1.5) rounds of IVF gets pregnant on Clomid. Who does that?  NO ONE.

And yet, here I am starting my 2WW routine. *sigh* I’m starting to feel like the person Einstein was talking about when he said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” That’s me. Insane. Or maybe masochistic. Or both. But here I am.

Hoping.             

Clomid

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I decided to go backwards. We did IVF #1 which was converted to an IUI, then we canceled IVF #2 because I had a bad reaction to Lupron, and we got pregnant (and miscarried) on IVF #3. Our RE told us she couldn’t help us, that if we wanted to continue we had to do DE or change clinics. BUT, she said we could do Clomid cycles with her if we wanted to, so that we didn’t “waste time”. In the spirit of “try every single possible thing we can to make this happen” we decided to go ahead and do it, even though it seems like going backwards.

First, it is a hell of a lot easier than injectables. 2 little pills at bedtime and that’s it. Similar side effects to injectables, only an order of magnitude smaller. Bloated, but can still button my jeans (by this point during IVF cycles I couldn’t even LOOK at my jeans). Moody, but just a little. However, I started having shooting pains in my left ovary, which is weird. Dr. Google says it’s either a cyst (I hear they’re quite common with Clomid) or follicles growing (wouldn’t that be strange). I know I had similar pains during my IVF cycles so I’m not TOO concerned. Time will tell I suppose. We go in for a trans-vag ultrasound on the 28th to see when we’ll trigger, and then will do an IUI a few days later.

I don’t think it’ll work. I haven’t been able to dig up a single “my friends sisters boss’s daughter did Clomid after IVF and it worked for her” posts. I even had wine at Thanksgiving which I would never do during an IVF cycle where I feel like we have a chance. If I’m honest with myself all I really want is that ultrasound. I’ve been on the herbal supplements for almost a month and I want to know if they’re working! Do I have more follicles than before? Are they maturing properly? Am I going to ovulate early like I always did before (day 9-10 for O, which is too early!) or have the meds started to regulate that? What is going on inside my ovaries?!?!? Are the supplements likely to help with our future IVF cycles or is this whole thing an exercise in futility?

Don’t get me wrong, if this works….I’ll be over the moon. Obviously. I’ll buy everyone I see a drink and cigar. It’s just hard to imagine that after all the heavy artillery and hard core medical help we gave our reproductive systems during IVF that 2 little pills at bedtime will be any help at all. After all, we did ICSI – they actually took one of his sperm and injected it into my egg. If his sperm are too ADHD to find my egg in a petri dish how are they ever going to navigate my uterus and fallopian tubes?

A little reflection and thanks

You know something I’m thankful for? Being able to even try to have a baby. I’m grateful to modern medicine, to all of the doctors who spent their lives trying to learn more about infertility and how to treat it, to all the techs who spend their time huddled over a microscope, to all of the nurses who walk us through the process and to all of the other folks who sincerely do their very best to make this dream happen for people.

I complain a lot about the process (because it sucks) but I’m very grateful to even get to try. I’m thankful we have insurance and funds to cover the costs. I’m grateful that I have a supportive partner in my husband and that my family and friends (despite some snafu’s) have got my back. I’m grateful to my body because, despite its many flaws and sputtering ovaries, it is healthy and able to deal with this difficult process. I’m thankful for the many communities of people who provide me with some much advice and inspiration as we travel this hard road together.

I’m thankful to live in a time when all of this is possible. Anne Boleyn was beheaded for not giving Henry VIII a male heir (among other things) and I’m grateful that beheading people for infertility is no longer an issue. So, while I spend much of my time bemoaning the state of my uterus I’m very thankful. For all of the aforementioned things and for so so so much more.

Have a safe and happy thanksgiving.

If you can’t say something nice then shut the hell up.

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(This will be a rant. Many apologies. You’ve been warned.)

I have to go to my in-laws for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I’m dreading it like the dentist. I like my in-laws and I usually enjoy visiting them – they live in a beautiful part of the country in a lovely home, they have fabulous wine and I can sleep as late as I want. This time, I would rather have the flu (the really bad kind where you don’t know which end to point at the toilet).

I don’t want to talk about my miscarriage. I don’t want to talk about trying, or what we’re going to do next. And I swear to god that if my mother-in-law tells me one more time “just relax and it’ll happen, my friends daughter blahblahblah” I will either kill her or myself. Relaxing will not help. It’s a medical condition. That’s why I see a damn doctor every day. That’s why I jam needles in my belly and pay thousands of dollars for the privilege. That’s what this whole process is about. Trust me lady, if a massage, a movie and a cheap bottle of wine worked we’d be pregnant 10 times over by now. I’m really frickin happy that your friends daughter and her husband went on a damn cruise and got pregnant, but we can’t get pregnant that way and we’ve spent all our cruise money trying to do it the hard way.

And while I’m on my soap box rant I’d just like to add that no infertile person ever for any reason anywhere even once EVER needs to hear “Maybe you’re just not meant to have children.” Oh really? Maybe your dad should go off his high blood pressure medicine. Maybe he’s just not meant to live for very long. Am I destined to be such a bad parent that some divine force decided I can’t have children? Is that what happened? Well, thank you for clearing that up.

I know they mean well, and I try to respond politely (or I just walk away before I cry). But for just 5 minutes, here in the privacy of my own blog, I’m gonna be fucking pissed off about it. Because it sucks. Every day. It hurts. Every day. Have you suffered infertility (and not the “it took us sooooooooo long to get pregnant! 3 months!!” kind)? Then I welcome your opinion. Do you have a medical degree? Please, tell me what you have to say. If not, stick to some variation of “I’m sorry”, “What can I do to help you right now?”, “Are you doing ok?” or shut the hell up.

Rant over. (Except for the snarky lols below.)

Welcome AF

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I started my period today, which means that decision time is finally here. When we left my RE (the one who said she could no longer help us) she said she could do super-ovulation cycles with us until we could get in with the new IVF RE so that we don’t “lose any time”. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand it can’t hurt to try and produce my follicles (and eggs) but on the other hand I’ve heard that the meds can actually decrease fertility by adversely affecting egg quality. Would that decrease my chances when we do start at the new clinic? S wants to do whatever we can, take any possible step, so he’s an advocate but has left the final decision up to me.

I have an appointment tomorrow morning to take my final beta to make sure everything “evacuated”. I’ll talk to the nurses then. Hmmmmm

Breathe in, breathe out.

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I’ve done yoga for a long time but have stopped going over the last year or so – after all of the doctors appointments and meds there wasn’t much extra time or money. On the advice from my RE and for my own personal health and sanity I decided to make it a priority again and have gone several times in the last 2 weeks.  However, I haven’t gone to my normal yoga studio but have been trying out my friends favorite places.  I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, try something new and spend some quality time with people I’ve been neglecting as a result of all the…well…all of…this.  I did hot Bikram yoga (which was THE WORST THING EVER) and a yin flow class and then a beginners mediation/yin class. And I learned some things that I’d like to share.

First, tennis balls are excellent for massage. Also, yin flow is awesome for the body and the spirit. I highly recommend it. But anyway, while I was in one of the yin classes we were laying on our backs clearing our minds and focusing on our breathing. (It had been a hard day -2 of my acquaintances had babies the day before and my email was flooded with pictures. It made me feel like a bad person and a a bad friend that I was so upset and jealous as a result of their happiness, but I was.) So, I was laying on the floor thinking about my breathing and doing my best to clear my mind when it occurred to me – just breathe in……and breathe out.  In and Out.

So many times in the past few months I’ve felt so shattered, and I’ve wondered how I will bear it. How will I handle telling my family? How will I bear their disappointment? How will I bear my husbands loss? How will I bear the idea (much less the reality) of not having children? I felt completely overwhelmed and unprepared (and possibly unable) to accept it. Maybe ever. I truly thought “I don’t know how to BE with this knowledge   I don’t know how to begin to accept it.”  But as I was laying there on the floor in yoga it hit me – all I have to do is keep breathing.  Breathe in, breathe out. Not an epiphany for most, I know. But just the idea that I don’t have to DO anything – I don’t have to hide my sadness, or fix my “problem”, that I don’t have to have all of the answers right now or consider all of the alternatives, try all the medicines, go to all the doctors, read all the articles, make all of the life changing decisions – that as long as I just keep breathing in and out I will be ok, was profound to me. It was such a relief.  It made me feel like maybe there was enough – enough time, enough energy, enough love, enough strength.  And I felt that tight knot in the center of myself loosen a little bit.

I don’t believe that time heals all wounds, lord knows I have some old wounds that feel mighty fresh. But I do believe that we adjust – we change our reality, our expectations and our outlook. What we can’t overcome, we accept. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not yet ready to accept infertility and give up on having my own children, but I feel like … I don’t know. That I’ve found a little peace. That I’ve started to forgive myself some. That I’m coming to accept the idea that this could be my reality now, and that will be ok.

My miscarriage

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I haven’t talked about my miscarriage. I don’t know what to say about it. I was relieved when I knew the pregnancy wasn’t ectopic, and then I just wanted it to end so we could move forward. Then I was afraid – I never really thought about miscarrying – you know, the actual process of it. Like that it can take days, or even weeks. That there is actually tissue that you expel. What would it be like? Would I be able to recognized the tissue as the baby even though I was so early? How long would it last – the cramping, the bleeding, the clotting…and whatever else happens. Would it hurt? And of course then there was the sadness and the overwhelming sense of guilt and failure. Modern technology had managed to painstakingly create a life, and my body had quickly managed to kill it.

As it turns out it was awful, but not as awful as I had feared. If you’re squeamish stop reading now. If you are like me and just want to know what to expect, this was my experience.

I started cramping 2 days after stopping the progesterone support. A few hours after the cramping started I started bleeding. A lot. Or a lot more than usual (which for me isn’t very much). It was darker then usual and not very continuous – I would bleed for an hour and then stop for an hour. Bad cramping. About 3 hours after I started bleeding I wiped and (sorry, TMI) found a long and thick (~1.25 inches long and .25 inches thick) liver colored “clot”. I had read blogs where people said that was what the fetal tissue looked like but it wasn’t clear what it was. But, I have not ever seen anything like it despite menstruating for 25 years, so in hindsight I assume that was most of the “products of conception”. After that it was just bleeding and stringy dark clots (not too big or think, similar to the ones I used to get the first day of my cycle). The cramps stopped on the 2-3 day and I continued to bleed for about a week. My period these days is only 2 to 2.5 days so this was a lot for me.

I don’t think I’ve fully processed it yet, and I’m certainly still grieving. I’ll cry in the grocery store for no reason. I’ve shut down Facebook because it’s too painful to see all of the beautiful ultrasounds of healthy babies when all I’ve ever seen are follicles and an empty uterus. I’m avoiding my mother and mother-in-law because of my irrational, overwhelming sense of failure and isolation. They don’t understand – all their babies were healthy. I can’t see them and listen to their well-meaning reassurances and look them in the eyes and know that I’m reason they won’t have grandchildren. I’m trying to forgive myself. To not be angry. I’m trying to be gentle with myself. After all, in one weeks time I miscarried and was told that was likely the only pregnancy I’d ever have. It was a rough week.

If you’ve had a miscarriage (early or late) or are waiting for one to start (or finish), my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry for your pain, and for your loss. There are not words to express the sense of loss, regardless of how long you were pregnant. Be brave, stay strong.

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Infertility and step-kids

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So, my step-daughter (who I truly love) is with us for the weekend. Not unusual (we have her 50% of the time) but it’s the first time I’ve been around her since we were told I wouldn’t be able to have children. I’m finding it surprisingly painful and difficult. Am I a terrible person? Anybody else out there with step-kids that has any advice? 

*More later – gotta go do bath time.

Leibster Award Nomination. Sweet!

Thank you IVFmale (http://ivfmale.wordpress.com/) for nominating me for a Leibster Award! I’m honored that you thought of me over here in my small corner of the world (I think of this more as a personal journal and so it’s sometimes shocking to think other people actually read it)! I had never heard of the Leibester Award so I looked it up – here is the best response I found http://sopphey.onimpression.com/2012/05/liebster-blog-award-origins.html

It is a wonderful way to get introduced to new blogs, so here I go – the rules are as follows:

  • Answer 11 questions posed by the nominator.
  • Nominate 11 blogs for the award.
  • Create 11 questions for those I nominate to answer.

My nominations are as follows (I know it’s not 11):

Charity Spring  http://charity-spring.org/

fun fit 5KpPlus http://yomicfit.wordpress.com/

A journey through IVF  http://ivfinf.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/i-i-agony-2/

A journey to and through IVF http://evelynnross.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/7-weeks-and-a-uti/

Maybe Baby? http://maybebabyivf.wordpress.com/

2 good eggs http://twogoodeggsblog.wordpress.com/

Waiting on a angel http://waitingonaangel.wordpress.com/

A little bit pregnant http://www.alittlepregnant.com/

The answer to my questions are:

  1. What inspired you to start your blog? Feeling alone during the infertility diagnoses and IVF
  2. Describe one feature you wish WordPress had that it doesn’t. ???
  3. What quality about yourself are you most proud of?  My perseverance
  4. Describe your fondest childhood memory. Playing at the beach with my sister and cousins, or hanging our with my best friend in high school (does that count as childhood)?
  5. Tell me about your first car. Ohhhh, it was a Hyundai hatchback that my parents bought from my grandpa.  I loved it more than words can express.
  6. Who inspires you and why? Too many people – my grandmother because of her patience and love; my father because of his enthusiasm; my husband because of his eternal optimism; my sister because of her fearlessness; my best friend because of her ability to laugh even in the worst circumstances; my mother – for every reason in the world.
  7. Tell me the most recent joke you’ve heard that was really funny.  Ummm.  Uhhh…  What do you call a stick that comes back? A boomerang!
  8. What do you want others to remember you by? I would like to be remembered for kindness.
  9. Which question above do you wish I hadn’t asked?  The joke one. I haven’t heard a funny joke in a long time!!
  10. What question didn’t I ask you wish I had?  Pets. Animals rock.
  11. Do you think I made up the last two questions because I ran out of questions? Yup!

Their questions are as follows:

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. Do you have any pets?
  3. What is the one thing (not person) you can’t live without?
  4. What is the last thing you do before you go to bed at night?
  5. What is your best trait?
  6. When was the last time you laughed, and what made you do it?
  7. What was your worst year of school and why?
  8. What was the last dream you had that you remember?
  9. What were you for Halloween (the last time you dressed up)?
  10. If you could live anywhere where would it be?
  11. Have you ever felt an earthquake?

Something is better than nothing.

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Gulp!Well, I said at the beginning of this that I would share everything, so I may as well share what I’m up to now. But first a disclaimer – I know you’re not supposed to take medicine that isn’t prescribed to you (even herbs). My RE specifically told me not to take certain medicines and herbs (In fact she said the people that did were “Desperate people grasping at straws”). I am, at this point, knowingly and willingly choosing to ignore all that advice. I am also (without a doubt) a desperate person. And so.

S and I have decided to change clinics.  We’re exploring the options but CCRM http://www.colocrm.com/ keeps rising to the top. After a little bit of searching I was able to unearth the “female cocktail” that Dr. Schoolcraft (from CCRM) prescribes to his DOR patients. I found a lady a year older then me with similar AMH and FSH numbers and I am going to follow her protocol – after all, the longer you’re on the herbs the better they’re supposed to work (to a point). So as of yesterday I’m taking…

2g Myo Inositol 2x/day, 200mg Co Enzyme 10 2x/day, 3mg Folic acid, 25mg DHEA 3x/day, 3g Melatonin at bedtime and Vitamin D every other day. This is in addition to the preNatal vitamins  and B-12 supplements I was already taking. *I got everything on Amazon but checked out what brands were best. Important to get MYO-inositol, and micronized DHEA (from what I’ve read, but I am not an authority).

Some of the journal articles about these meds are linked below.

Effect of the treatment with myo-inositol plus folic acid plus melatonin in comparison with a treatment with myo-inositol plus folic acid on oocyte quality and pregnancy outcome in IVF cycles. A prospective, clinical trialhttp://www.europeanreview.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/780.pdf

List of publications about MI, FA and Melatonin (and Inofolic, which is a premix combo of these things) http://www.inofolic.it/drupal/?q=en/node/45

From the folks who began using DHEA for infertility http://www.centerforhumanreprod.com/dhea.html

And some warnings http://journals.lww.com/co-obgyn/Abstract/2012/06000/Does_dehydroepiandrosterone_have_any_benefit_in.4.aspx  http://www.advancedfertility.com/blog/coenzyme-q10-and-fertility/

Maybe there’s something to it, maybe there’s not. But it’s better then doing nothing. And the Melatonin sure helps me sleep!

50 shades of red

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I have red hair. Very very red. New penny copper red. And for as long as I can remember people have been talking about it. When I was a little girl strangers would stop my mother in the grocery store to ask about it – “Did it run in our family? Did all of her children have red hair?”.  As a teenager women would stop me in the mall (much to my mortification) and ask to cut a piece off for color matching at the salon. In college boys would always make snide remarks – “Does the carpet match the drapes?” or “Are redheads as feisty as people say?”. As an adult the comments continue, albeit in a less offensive way. My hair is my defining characteristic.

My sisters hair is dark auburn, if you want to make her mad say it’s brown. My mother has red hair.  She’s the only one of her 4 siblings that has it – they all have dark brown hair. Her mother (my grandmother) had red hair and both of her sisters had brown hair. My great-grandmother was 1 of many, and she was the only one with red hair. You get the point. Since I can remember that’s the other thing people have always said to me – “You B.’s! Always a redheaded! Aren’t you excited to carry your family tradition forward?”. I was. Was being the operative word.

Very red

Give up? Not today!

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I am at a loss. I don’t know where to go from here. I’m at the point where if I continue I’ll feel (and seem to most people) desperate beyond reason, unable to recognize and accept the truth.  But I’m not ready to give up.  Not yet.  We got pregnant, and on our first real try!  Yes, that pregnancy failed, and yes that may have been due to poor egg quality, but it may not have been.  Early miscarriages happen to many many many fertile women. All I need is that one healthy egg and a Dr. who will help us.  Like Yomicfit said in her comment – I need someone who will fight for me and my future children (Thank you, Yomicfit, for your kind words and for sharing your story).

So I’m going to try all the stuff that my first RE said I shouldn’t do. “Dr, can we do anything to improve our chances?”, “Don’t smoke or drink caffeine.”, “Um, right, I know, but what about DHEA? I’ve read that it’s used in many fertility clinics on women with DOR to improve egg quality”, “No, definitely don’t do that.  It’s unproven and it’s a hormone. You don’t want to mess around with your body chemistry.” (Side note-it was difficult not to laugh during that conversion. Don’t mess around with your body chemistry says the woman who prescribed me massive amounts of body chemistry altering hormones.) “Well Dr., what about that combination of melatonin, folic acid and myo inositol? I’ve read some studies that show that can help oocyte quality.”, “No, that’s extreme. If you want to feel like you’re doing something why don’t you get acupuncture. I don’t think it works but it certainly doesn’t hurt.”  (You know what’s extreme? Jabbing yourself w needles 5 times a day – thats extreme.  We’ve already crossed that line)

Now, I’m not a doctor (or at least, not that kind of doctor) so I’m not implying that I know better then her. Certainly reading a few journal articles and doing online research doesn’t qualify me to have much of an opinion.  She’s been doing this a long time and has a lot of experience and knowledge. But it seems to me that if we’re willing to pay the price (financially, physically and mentally) shouldn’t she be open to alternative options, especially when they’re often used by other clinics? Perhaps she can’t support them in her official role but couldn’t she offer some kind of guidance rather then just “I’m sorry, we can no longer help you?”.

So, ok.  I’m going to do acupuncture, and yoga.  I’m also going to find a clinic that is more progressive and willing to try alternative actions that may help improve our chances. After all what’s it going to do, decrease my fertility?  HA! 

As we were leaving our appointment she told us to go see Dr. Schoolcraft, that she didn’t know what he did but he had success with difficult patients.  Well I’ve read all about Dr. Schoolcraft now, exchanged messages with many of his previous and current patients.  You know what he does (besides having the best lab in the world)? He tries new things. He has his patients who have run out of other options try alternative medicines. He prescribes DHEA, melatonin, folic acid and myo inositol. I am happy to be an experiment. If it will help me have a baby and/or help doctors learn more to help other people have babies then I’m in.

I don’t know if this stuff will work. But I don’t know how to stop trying either.  I can’t let go of my vision of my life so easily. I won’t walk away just because one person told me it’s hopeless.  It’s hopeless when I say it is, goddamnit!

Broken

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We had the follow-up appointment with our RE yesterday. We were expecting some discussion about the miscarriage, a reassessment of protocol and a general good feeling – after all, we managed to get pregnant on our first complete IVF.  That’s good right?

Apparently not.

She told us she was sorry things didn’t work, I just wasn’t a good candidate for IVF and that unless I was ready to try donor eggs there wasn’t much else she could do for me. I was floored. Stunned. Crushed. I couldn’t even speak.  S told her that wasn’t what we were expecting, we weren’t ready to give up yet, after all it was our first real IVF cycle.  She said that, no, it was our 3rd cycle, I was a very poor responder and they couldn’t justify the risks of an egg retrieval and all the meds for so few follicles. She was very sorry and did we mind if she took this call from her daughter? She was clearly too busy to argue with us about my reproductive future. No time to discuss how all of my plans for children and a family, grandchildren for my mother, siblings for my step-daughter, were now in shambles. No time for that. As we were leaving she did mention that if we insisted on continuing we could see Dr. Schoolcraft at  CCRM in Denver. That she didn’t know how he did it but he had some success with “difficult” patients. Apparently I am now a “difficult” patient, a “very poor responder”.

I’ve been crying for almost 20 straight hours. At noon today I had to pick myself up off the floor, wash my face and put on my big girl pants to go have a meeting with my Ph.D advisor. Walking around at work I felt like I had to hold myself very, very still. Like if I moved too fast I’d lose the tenuous hold I had on my self-control. It’s like I’m made of delicate Venetian glass and if I move too fast I’ll shatter into a thousand pieces.

I don’t know how to accept it. I don’t know how to bear this.

I never wanted a huge house. I never daydreamed about my wedding. I never worried about who I would marry. But I have been naming my children since I was 8 years old. I have imagined being pregnant a 1000 times. I have imagined what my babies would look like, how their fingers would be shaped, if they would have my smile. Since I met my husband I have spent at least some part of everyday daydreaming about our children – his nose with my hair? His height and my eyes? I have thought about what Christmas would be like, things I would do for birthdays.  And now that’s just gone?  Forever?

Would it be different if I hadn’t waited until I was 34 to start trying? Are my degrees, my career, worth not having kids?  I didn’t realize that was the deal I was making.  I thought I was being responsible, waiting til I was ready. What is the purpose of my life now?  Work?

And my husband. Oh god my husband. Because he choose to be with me he will never have more children, which he desperately wants. Because he picked me his life is less.

I can’t give my parents grandchildren. I can’t give my husband a child. I will never have a real family of my own.

I feel like such a failure.

I would die for that

Lyrics to “I would die for that”

“Jenny was my best friend.
Went away one summer.
Came back with a secret
She just couldn’t keep.
A child inside her,
Was just too much for her
So she cried herself to sleep.

And she made a decision
Some find hard to accept.
To young to know that one day
She might live to regret.

But I would die for that.
Just to have one chance
To hold in my hands
All that she had.
I would die for that.

I’ve been given so much,
A husband that I love.
So why do I feel incomplete?
With every test and checkup
We’re told not to give up.
He wonders if it’s him.
And I wonder if it’s me.

All I want is a family,
Like everyone else I see.
And I won’t understand it
If it’s not meant to be.

Cause I would die for that.
Just to have one chance
To hold in my hands
All that they have.
I would die for that.

And I want to know what it’s like
To bring a dream to life.
For that kind of love,
What I’d give up!
I would die for that.

Sometimes it’s hard to conceive,
With all that I’ve got,
And all I’ve achieved,
What I want most
Before my time is gone,
Is to hear the words
“I love you, Mom.”

I would die for that.
Just to have once chance
To hold in my hands
What so many have
I would die for that.

And I want to know what it’s like
To bring a dream to life.
How I would love
What some give up.
I would die …
I would die for that.”