Spoke too soon!

Quick update:  I spoke too soon, in my last post. That’s always the way. My ovaries finally responded, and I’ve got 3 follicles waiting in the wings, at 18, 17, and 15 mm. I’m supposed to trigger tonight, and my IUI is Sunday. 🙂

There are two little issues that are keeping my optimism from spinning wildly out of control, however. The first one is that I’ve got, I think, another yeast infection. It’s been 3 weeks since my last one. I tried to get an appointment at the gyno two days ago, but they won’t give me meds until they see me and see if it’s yeast or bacterial or what. Problem is, they don’t have an opening until next week. Now that I know my IUI is Sunday, I’m not sure going into the IUI with an untreated possible yeast infection is such a good idea. So I asked my RE today, and they said as long as I wasn’t planning to use the cream to treat it, it wouldn’t hurt the IUI. That said, they gave me a prescription for Diflucan, which is already in my stomach. I have to say, I’d take spending $4 on one single pill over $20 on stupid messy Monistat any day. And I’m hoping the infection, whatever it is, clears up by Sunday morning.

The other minor logistical issue with this second IUI is that my husband isn’t home! Talk about bad timing. This weekend, he is competing in his first full Ironman triathlon. For those who aren’t sure what this is, it’s a 2.4 mile swim, an 112 mile bike ride, followed by a full marathon (26.2 miles of running). He’s had this on his calendar for over a year and has been training for a long time, not to mention the fact that signing up cost hundreds of dollars. What are the odds that the day of my first IUI from injectables falls on the day he is racing? So he won’t be around. Luckily, we managed to score an appointment yesterday for him to go in, you know, and have the sperm frozen. So I can have the IUI, which is good. However, the nurse gave him a paper, which he took home to me, explaining that the success rates from frozen sperm are half of what they are for fresh. Half – that’s really awful. So what was a 20% chance of success has now dropped to 10%. And what can I do? I am disappointed, but there isn’t any other way. It’s just…what has happened. And after Sunday’s IUI I’m getting in the car and driving 4.5 hours to see N finish the race. I want to be there. Hopefully sitting down for many hours helps things out. Now I’m just wishfully thinking.

I’m hoping the yeast infection and frozen sperm don’t ruin this. We’ve got three eggs, most likely, coming out, and it would be nice if one of them actually met up with a thawed sperm. I’m not getting any hopes up in the slightest. I’m already thinking ahead to next cycle – another IUI with injectables, or move to IVF?

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Stupid ovaries.

My ovaries and I aren’t getting along at all. As the days pass, I’m coming to the realization that my ovaries are lazy. Stagnant, unconscious. They don’t DO anything.

I should have already known this, since I was only able to ovulate on Clomid when I stair-stepped, and each cycle would be 60 days long. For some strange reason, I assumed that moving on to the big drugs, the real deal, would change all that. I was wrong!

Today will be my 14th day of follistim. I did 5 or 6 days of 50 IU, 5-6 days of 66 IU, and today is Day 3 of 75 IU. My last blood test a few days ago showed that my estrogen actually dropped a little bit, and the ultrasound didn’t have a single follicle on each side larger than 8 or 9 mm.

Is this normal?

Even though the labs don’t say it, I must have PCOS. There has yet to be a moment where my doctor confirms I have PCOS, but if you have 30 follicles on each side, just hanging out, isn’t that a strong indication? I understand that my doctor wants to take things very slowly, because of those 60 follicles. I imagine I’m at a high risk for multiples, if my ovaries ever decide to actually do anything! Right now, the only thing growing is my frustration level.

And I’m used to waiting, by now. I should expect that it takes forever for my follicles to grow. It’s just that I wonder if it’s worth it, to do follistim with an IUI, if it’s going to take months to get there.

I did a little googling and it seems others in my situation just say the hell with it, and go to IVF. I am willing to do that – next cycle. It’s not an option for this cycle, and I did check. So I need to wait this one out, again. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen, and I’m still holding out a little hope, but I wonder how many days of shots I will be doing before a doctor says, this isn’t working. On to the next thing.

It’s funny how that “woe is me” attitude creeps up on me. Once I started the shots, I was feeling pretty decent again. Now that nothing is happening in there, those thoughts just appear in my head again. They tell me it’s going to be a long time until I’m pregnant. They tell me I’m going to be doing IVF during the school year, which makes for a stressful time. And the scariest thought is this: what if my autoimmune problems, which are clearly still around, aren’t going to allow the 1) follicles to grow, 2) sperm to meet with egg, 3) BFP to stick, 4) baby to be carried to term. Seriously, the “woe is me” attitude brings about many worries, and they don’t help me in the slightest.

It’s the worrying right now that holds me back. I would’ve liked to join in on the diet and fitness challenges that Belle, Sunny, and Jenn (among others) are doing, but I can’t make the commitment. What if I need to eat rice krispies with almond milk in the middle of the day to make me feel better? And how can I find the right diet? The diet that feels best for autoimmune problems is not exactly the same as the PCOS diet, and I feel like I have too many health problems all at once to figure out what my body needs.

The one thought I’m trying to push away is the fear. If I could successfully completely cut out certain foods from my diet, would I get pregnant then? If I was just more dedicated to health and fitness, would it happen? Is the fact that I ate an ice cream the other day, with sprinkles, mind you, which had dairy and sugar (two things I usually don’t eat), and I had stomach issues the next day  – could that be why my ovaries aren’t functioning?

These are completely irrational thoughts, and I understand that. But I hate feeling so out of control with my own body. Naturally, I want to place the blame on myself, because when I do that, things make sense. If I just throw my hands up and say it’s not my fault, well then, it doesn’t make sense to me. But by doing this, I am adding so much extra pressure to myself that I don’t need, and it causes me to…overeat. I have always held myself to standards that are too high. I have always put on the pressure, the stress. Now is no exception. It’s very hard to let go. Ugh. I do want to get in on those challenges, girls. I just don’t know where to start.

I’ve been stabbed!

I just got back from my mini-vacation to Maine to visit my grandfather. It’s always a nice time, made especially for the ultimate combination: relaxation and over-eating. I managed to snap one picture with my phone:

Though I didn’t actually go in the lake (that would be too much exercise), I enjoyed the view. My husband and I did go down there once on the night of the 4th, enjoying the neighbors’ illegal firework display. This was the first trip to my grandfather’s house that I have been gluten- and sugar-free, which I knew would be a challenge. My grandfather’s wife, from Alabama, is a great cook, but was very understanding that I didn’t eat any of her desserts. And since I knew that avoiding coconut cream pie, pecan pie, brownies, and sugar cookies wouldn’t be easy, N kindly baked me two gluten-free, sugar-free desserts before we left: a “whoopie pie” cake, and coconut chocolate chip cookies. Both were very good. Of course, I didn’t take a picture of either one but if anyone wants the recipes, I can send you the links. The “chocolate” in the cookies was carob chips – a new item for me that we could only find at Whole Foods, but they were tasty.

Though I do have to say, there’s nothing like being completely gluttonous, eating every luxurious food in sight until you can’t breathe to motivate you to lose weight. Being gluten-free and sugar-free has not helped me lose weight at ALL. But then, I knew it wouldn’t. I know exactly how I need to lose weight. It’s a simple formula, of which exercise is the smallest part. I need to cut my portions in half, at least, stock up on veggies, and drink lots of water in between meals. It’s that simple. Why I haven’t just done it already, I’m not sure. Too much on my plate (literally). Too many “can’t”s in my brain, and I haven’t felt like I could take on another one. I can’t get pregnant, I can’t ovulate, I can’t just have sex to produce a baby like so many others, I can’t have gluten, I can’t have sugar, I can’t have more than a little dairy…and I can’t eat more than my husband does. I shouldn’t. At this point, stuffed full of cookies, I’m motivated. Let’s see if I can actually do this, and stop talking about it already.

In other news, I have successfully stabbed myself in the stomach three times. I officially feel like I’m seeking out fertility treatments. Clomid was an easy pill to swallow…I could almost forget why I was taking it. Getting shots in the stomach that need to be refrigerated, dropping the needles into my sharps container afterwards, along with every other day blood tests reminds me that this is no joke – this is the real deal. The first time, I was nervous, and wanted my husband to do it. He agreed, but right before it was time, he sort of chickened out, and I decided I needed to man up anyway. The actual stabbing part didn’t hurt at all – like, not even a little. But while the needle was hanging out in my stomach, as I pressed the release on the pen and then counted to 5 – that hurt a bit. Yesterday, for my second shot, I don’t think I had a steady hand. The pen must have been wobbly, because it bled a bit and I have a small little bruise there now. Today’s third shot – no blood, no bruise, no pain. I must be getting better. If it wasn’t such a weird thing to be doing, it might actually be fun. Maybe I should’ve been a nurse.

One of the medications I was prescribed was on back order from the company located in Maine, and I need to take it with me to my appointment on Monday, so conveniently enough, we swung through Portland on our way home and actually stopped at the pharmacy. Now I have all of my meds: Follistim, Ganirelix, Ovidrel, and Crinone. Obviously I know what the purpose of the Follistim is, and I know the Ovidrel is the trigger shot. Crinone is the progesterone, right? How much of a pain in the ass is that? And I have no clue what the purpose for the Ganirelix is. Anyone?

I have a ton of future blog posts rolling around in my brain, but they will have to wait. If my ovaries respond (not too well, though) and I have myself a nice IUI, this will be my 4th attempt at conception. I’m allowing myself just the smallest bit of excitement and an even smaller dose of hope. But regardless – could this be it?

 

The world’s worst presents.

The day has finally come (tomorrow). The day I start my third type of fertility treatment – injectables with an IUI. Let’s see – I haven’t had a period since, (hold on, let me check a calendar) May 11th! That’s a long time! Today is CD 54, but I only know that because I just checked. I haven’t kept count since the day I found out 150 mg of Clomid was going to do nothing but cause me to go insane, and that was somewhere around CD 25.

Sidebar – I was at a thyroid appointment the other day (which is looking lovely, by the way -0.9 TSH is damn near perfect) and my doctor asked if I have been getting my periods regularly. I almost burst out laughing.

Anyway, I’ve been going through the proper steps to ensure a great time with my first set of shots. I watched the videos, asked a few clarification questions with the nurse, got a fantastic HSG completed successfully, and had my baseline blood work and ultrasound this morning. Oh yeah, and Christmas came early:

Kidding. These would make the world’s worst presents. The best thing about that picture is the watermelon I plan on consuming over the next few days.

Now, this morning’s ultrasound wasn’t exactly routine. I must say, first of all, that the wonderful condom-covered probing camera (known affectionately as the dild0-cam to most of you) was a comforting delight compared to whatever was shoved up there with the HSG last week. When we started, the nurse said, “You have a full bladder. Did you go to the bathroom?” I felt like a kid. Yes – I did! Like, 20 minutes ago! I can’t help the fact that I chugged a protein shake right before I got there…

Then, as he’s looking around in there, he discovers what I’ve known for a while – I have tons of little baby follicles in each ovary. Like, a lot. Like, he stopped counting and said, “Let’s just say there’s 30 in each one”. That’s a total of 60 follicles. That’s a lot of maybe-babies. Then he found one (I swear it’s that pesty cyst, back to say hello) and he says, oh, this one could be developing. If that happened, the cycle would have to be cancelled. But rest assured, there’s no way in hell I’m ovulating on my own. I would know it if I was. Anyway, I didn’t get any calls this afternoon regarding my blood work (which would have shown it), so I’m not concerned. After that was all over, I met with a nurse who went over the plans for tomorrow. She commented that it’s a good thing the doctor is starting me on a low dose (50 IU), because of the amount of follicles I’ve got in there. This leads me to an unpleasant thought – I feel like, if I’m going to have 60 follicles, I should’ve ovulated on my own. Or at least with Clomid. Maybe I’m not the typical type of person that does injectables with IUI, or IVF if it should come down to it. Clomid should have worked. But it didn’t. And my new fear is that even on the low dose, I’m going to produce too many eggs, and the cycle will have to be cancelled. I just really don’t want that to happen. I guess what I’m saying is simply that I want this to work. I really, really do.

With this type of treatment being so drastically different from what I’m used to – a simple pill for a few days – I hope I do it right. Not to mention the fact that I’m going to Maine tomorrow for a 3-day mini-vacation, and the drugs are coming with me. My first shot is tomorrow night, up in Maine. It can’t be that complicated – but I think I need to watch those videos again. My doctor commented last week that the first shot will take me 45 minutes, but 44 of those minutes will be the anxiety leading up to it. After that, it’ll be quick. I don’t think it’ll take me 45 minutes per say, but I can’t say I’m thrilled about doing this. In my stomach.

Also, different from many others is the fact that I don’t have my period. My doctor didn’t put me on Provera. So many nurses are asking me when my period has started, and I always have to explain I’m not getting it. So I’m not even sure what cycle day tomorrow is supposed to be – 1? 3? If you get your period, when are you supposed to start the shots?

And another question – approximately how long after the last shot do most of you trigger/ovulate? I know with Clomid you were supposed to ovulate about 10 days after the last pill. Is it similar for follistim?

Ugh. So many questions on this first round of injectables. Whether you’ve gone through injectables with an IUI, or IVF, is there anything you think I should know about any of this? Giving the shots, ovulation times, words of advice?

I’ll be back for another post once I return, and by then I should be an old pro.

HSG vs. Jury Duty

….I thought would be a toss-up. Both were pretty crappy.

But, last night I got word that for the 2nd time in a row of being called to jury duty, I didn’t have to go in. HSG wins.

Using my 1-10 pain scale, I’d say the HSG today was a 4. I don’t know why it was okay – the most painful part was the shot of numbness crap they gave me, but that pinch only lasted a few seconds. I didn’t even really feel the dye at all. And then it was over. Some spotting still, but I’m not even really crampy. As for the Advil, I decided to take 3 instead of 4, and I took a dose of hives meds (antihistamines) with it. So far, a little lump in the throat but nothing major at all. And my fallopian tubes are clear.

Check that off the list of reasons why I’m not pregnant.

This morning I watched all the videos on injections and suppositories and contacted the pharmacy. Still waiting to hear back from them on the actual delivery date of the meds, but right now, here’s the plan:

Get the meds in the next few days, go in for my baseline ultrasound Wednesday morning. Shoot myself up right after that appointment. Go to Maine (unrelated to the state of my pharmacy – going to visit my grandfather!) until Friday, bring all my meds with me (ice packs anyone?). Saturday morning, back to the dr’s for my second ultrasound.

More on the meds, shots, and all that soon. I’m sure I’ll have questions – I don’t mind needles, but whenever I have to use one, I never look at it! I always look away. That won’t work anymore. Good times straight ahead!

Fun with injectables

Okay, on to my RE appointment yesterday.

The reason I am not sure whether my HSG is tomorrow or two weeks from now is because I am scheduled for stupid jury duty tomorrow. I am hoping my name will be on the list tonight when I call, so that I don’t have to go. If I don’t, the doctor put me in for an HSG in the afternoon. If I do have to go, they only do HSG’s on Wednesday afternoons – and next Wednesday is the 4th of July, so they are off. It would have to wait until the Wednesday after that. I hate to wait another two weeks.

However, the good news there is that he is letting me start injectables at the same time – rather than having to wait a whole other cycle. I am fairly certain my HSG will come back clear.

As for the injectables – well, it seemed to me my doctor was leaning towards IVF, but he wasn’t pushy. N and I decided to do one or two cycles of injectables with IUI, and then take it from there. I found these stats interesting:

% of success getting pregnant per month: (in my age group – under 30)

-No drugs: less than 5%

-Clomid with IUI: 12%

-Injectables with IUI: 20%

-IVF: 55%

% of multiples per month:

– No drugs: 1-2%

– Clomid with IUI: 1-2%

– Injectables with IUI: 20-25%, with 5-8% being more than two babies

– IVF: 30%, mostly twins. 1-2% more than two babies.

This seemed to be why the doctor was pushing for IVF. He seems to think the risk of many, many babies is decently high, and according to those stats, I’d have to agree. However, we’re going to see what happens. He won’t even do the IUI if I have any more than 3 follicles past like, 15 mm. He said as an example, if I had 1 or 2 big follies at 18-20 mm, but then I had 6-7 little ones, no way. He wouldn’t do it. I’m fine with that. I am a little curious/concerned that my body will produce too many, and we’ll have to cancel the cycle, which would suck. But he’s starting me on a low dose (50 IU) and I will be monitored like…4 or 5 days out of 10. So a lot.

I just want to be pregnant with a healthy child. However, I would do mental back flips if there ended up being two babies in there. I would love to have twins. Triplets – and I start to freak a bit. I’m just worried about the risks. After triplets I can’t even think straight. However, none of that is worth thinking much about at this point, as I no longer get my hopes up for anything. Let’s just see if my follies will even grow – that would be a good place to start.

The other interesting thing is that my doctor will not be putting me on Provera, even though this is CD 47. He claims the latest research says getting my period now might actually hinder my ability to get pregnant from injectables, because it takes such a long time for my lining to build back up, or something like that. He’s either crazy or a genius, but I’m going to go with it. Between this and my stair-stepping Clomid cycles – I really never have a period! But I guess I can’t complain.

I also feel I should mention that it probably sounds like I am just bouncing around from treatment to treatment without a financial care in the world, and considering some of you go through such hardships to get the money, I probably sound like an ass. I can only say that I am so, so freaking lucky, beyond lucky, that my town just switched last summer to new insurance, and this new insurance fully covers just about everything. I am lucky enough to pick my treatments like it’s nothing. I have yet to see a bill since I started with my RE in December. I don’t take this for granted, believe me, but I am so happy money isn’t an issue.

With that said, my to-do list now has watching these “teaching packet” videos on my RE’s website (as in, how to shoot yourself up in the stomach, no big deal), calling the drug company up in Maine to schedule a delivery date for my lovely box o’ meds, and then, once they arrive, calling my RE to schedule my baseline ultrasound, to check out what’s happening in there. Then, we start. The HSG is a separate, lovely addition to all of this. It’s hard not knowing exactly what the timeline is – not knowing exactly what day I start. But it is a good thing it’s summer, and I’m home, so I can just go with it. My second round will be coinciding with the start of the school year, which is going to be one giant pain.

Or maybe I won’t have to go a second round? That would surely be nice.

How painful is an HSG?

I’ve got just enough time for a quick question for my blogging buddies out there:

On a scale from 1-10, 10 being “I’m going to faint here on the table because the pain is so bad” and 1 being “I felt basically nothing at all”:

How painful is an HSG?

I might be having one as soon as Wednesday, or possibly a few weeks later.

I’ll be back tomorrow for a clearer explanation of today’s RE appointment, but I will say that injectables will be starting up soon.

Thanks guys!