Everyone needs a mental break.

It’s so odd how sometimes, time plays tricks on you. I could’ve sworn it’s been at least a week since my last post, because mentally, that’s how it feels. Really, though, my last post was only last Friday. I suppose it really hasn’t been that long.

I have taken a mental break from TTC. Granted, not a complete mental break. That’s hard to do when you’re surrounded by people you know who are pregnant, or fellow bloggers who are pregnant, and you are either being a good listener or a good reader. Either way, for whatever reason, it has been just the slightest bit easier to hear about pregnancy. It still comes with pain that’s deep-down, but there’s also excitement. Especially for my friends who are expecting. It’s an exciting time, and I enjoy hearing about aspects of pregnancy that I think might affect me someday, like my own morning sickness, or how I’ll start showing. Of course, I’m jealous. That’s a given. But it’s not a quality that I want to parade around and show off. It’s not a quality that I’m proud of. So, for whatever reason, I’ve been able to feel more happiness and excitement for others, rather than jealousy. I just push that ugly emotion back down where it came from.

Actually, I’m sure there is a reason for my current mental calmness – my TTC break. I’m not actually on a break, but I’m currently in limbo, as I am most of my cycles. I finished my second stair-stepping round of Clomid, 150 mg, two days ago. Now, I’m waiting to ovulate. Hopefully I will, that’s issue #1. But since I did last time I stair-stepped, I expect I will. It happened on CD 18. Today is CD 11, so I’ve still got some time. I’ve come to find peace with the fact that Clomid is predictable for me. I ovulate only when I stair-step; that is, only when I get a double-dose of Clomid in one cycle. No matter what the dosage is, after my period, on that first cycle of Clomid, I don’t ovulate. The peace will be short-lived, though, because I’m not sure what the future holds.

Many of you mentioned how many other options I really do have after Clomid, and I appreciate your comments. I could try Femara. I could try injectables. And more. I do plan to mention all this to my dr. when I see him next, because, frankly, I don’t think I want to go up to 250 on Clomid. As you said, 150 is usually the max for a reason. And my hot flashes are getting old. If 150 doesn’t work, then maybe that’s a sign to do something else.

Or, what I truly think is, Clomid does work, but only after a double dose. I wish my dr.  had never even raised my dosage, because I don’t think it was necessary. I simply needed a double dose (or a trigger shot, but apparently he didn’t want that at this time.)

My chart this cycle looks like a complete mess. I have stopped temping. I believe I will start up when it gets closer, but for now, who cares? I know I didn’t ovulate yet; it’s too early and I haven’t had any pains. I don’t need my low temps to remind me of that fact. So no temping. I’m not checking OPK’s, either. Do you know how nice it is to pee when you want to, without having to count how many hours it has been to store enough up for POAS? My bladder appreciates it. We’ve also been BDing whenever we feel like it, rather than every other day, or with my mind on keeping things regular for conception. Whatever. It’s too early to matter right now. The IUI coming up helps out there, as well. No need to overly concern myself with timing, because of the IUI. The stress of TTC was taking a toll on me, as it does everyone at some point. This little mental break I’ve had is doing me a lot of good.

I couldn’t possibly do this, however, without other things on my mind. When you take TTC off your brain, you have to fill the void with something else. Luckily, these other things have naturally fallen into place in my mind.

It’s the end of the school year (well, starting to wind down). It’s my favorite time of year with my students. Remember how, a while ago, I posted about how I’m just not giving school my all? My brain was elsewhere. Now, it’s not. I have an awesome class. I’ve been teaching five years, and I’m lucky enough to say that 3 out of those 5 were excellent, with 2 in there that, eh, didn’t do much for me. But 3 out of 5 ain’t bad. And this current class is no exception. For the most part, they are sweet, kind, considerate, helpful, charming…and more. They vie for my attention and they want to hear all about the extras I teach them in spring, such as going off to middle school, and majors in college. We talk about jobs, and the news. When there’s time, I color with my girls, or in the past, I’ve taught anyone interested how to knit. When it’s nice out, I play basketball with my boys (and girls), and run races with them. It’s fun for me. And this happens every spring. Everyone is in a better mood, everyone is less stressed, including me. I don’t have children yet, but I do have 23 10 and 11-year old’s who do need me, from 8:30-3:00 Monday through Friday. I can’t let them down. So I’m in a nice zone there.

N and I are also busy with some house projects, including starting a vegetable garden. Rototillers are tricky little things, as we found out yesterday. But hopefully, with the amount of produce we are consuming, we’ll have lots of veggies grown right in our own backyard.

We are also on the Paleo diet..ish. It’s still not 100%. When there’s nothing else to eat, or I need something on the go, I have no choice but to make a sandwich. For that, I bust out my gluten-free bread. There’s also been the occasional sugar-free treat, like the homemade butter pecan ice cream we get down the street. It’s amazing. But for the most part, we stick to a diet of veggies and meat. It’s crazy how my hives have finally figured themselves out. I go a whole day eating no white carbs and no sugar, I have NO hives. I have that ice cream, or a little candy, or too much bread products in one day, I go to bed covered in them. It’s so obvious now what I have to do, and most times, it’s easy. Holidays or vacations, though, and it gets tricky.

I’m also considering topics for a book. Sounds stupid; I feel a bit stupid as well. But you know what? It passes the time. After flying through The Hunger Games and reading The Lucky One a few days ago in one day flat, I realized, I enjoy a good love story. Not a sappy one – no shirtless dude on a white horse to rescue the damsel in distress. Barf. But a good, old-fashioned love story. So, after brainstorming a million scenarios, I’ve started working on one. It’s funny – I’ll write for a little while, and then I’ll stop and say, what the hell am I doing? I’m not 13 here. This is dumb. And then other days roll around and I think, I like doing this. Who cares if it doesn’t turn into anything – I enjoy it. So, I’m in the middle of Chapter 1, with a Prologue done already.

Last but not least, we are going away tomorrow – just for two nights at a bed and breakfast, nothing crazy. But away from here, where we’ll see the sights, shop, relax, and of course, eat. I always enjoy that.

Hopefully, by the middle of next week, I’ll be in my TWW after my first IUI. Until then, it’s gone from my brain already.

Stair-stepping, Round 2.

I’m back for an update.

My follicle, which was 16 mm last Friday, has stopped growing. In fact, my nurse wonders whether it was ever a follicle at all, or maybe a cyst. If it was a follicle, there is no egg inside. My estrogen levels have actually gone down, when they should have gone up. Of course, I knew this already and hated having to wait a certain amount of days to be told this.

I am stair-stepping again, for the second cycle in a row (out of three total). They are bumping me up to 150 mg of Clomid, and I start it today. What was CD 25 this morning has just become CD 5, again. I am nervous about the hot flashes – they were bad enough on 100, not to mention 150.

I actually answered the phone today, so I did have some questions. Specifically, the answers were, no, the Dr. is not concerned about how Clomid works for me sometimes and not others, and specifically, works on one dosage ONCE, and then never again. Yes, it is normal (in terms of infertility). No, he does not see the need at this point to do a trigger shot, and instead wants me to stair-step. No, it’s not all over once 150 stops working (and we all know it will) – they will go to 200, and then 250. 250 is the max.

I am to come in for bloodwork in about a week and a half (what will be CD 15) to check on my status. So, as I feared, my first IUI is going to have to wait another 15-20 days.

Can I wait? Of course I can. But I’m irritated beyond belief because this is the second cycle in a row that I’ve had to stair-step, making it the second cycle in a row that the length of my cycle has been over 40 days. Can’t they see this is turning into a pattern? I will ovulate, I’m sure, on 150 with this stair-stepping, but then next cycle, when it’s150 by itself, I won’t. One dosage of Clomid, no matter what amount, is clearly not working in any given cycle. I need more.

The other reason I am irritated is because I have been peeing on a stick for 14 straight days, sometimes twice a day. I had ovulation pains, EWCM, my temps dropped real low. We got in a few BDs, then I got this lovely infection, probably caused by all of this. I planned. Again. Putting both my husband and I through this every cycle is just….so frustrating.

So yes, I’m annoyed. I am just mad that my body isn’t even allowing me the chance to conceive, and that the doctors aren’t too concerned. I’m worried that I will get to 250 (if I can survive the hot flashes), that will fail and then – IVF. I know so many of you go through IVF, but it’s nerve-wracking.

I’m not going to get my hopes up this time. I am sure I will ovulate. We’ll have the IUI and I will hope the best, but I’m going to try not to think about it. I’m done playing mind games with my body – begging and pleading and hoping is not working. Emotionally, I can’t continue like this, so instead, my tactic for this cycle is to attempt to completely forget about it. Wish me luck.

The feelings of grief

You know what, sometimes life comes at you from unexpected angles. Sometimes, even though you know it could be worse, things in life hurt.

I was going to dedicate a whole post to this, but I can’t handle the sadness, so instead I’ll just say that my first dog, the one that I lived with when I still lived with my sister and parents, died yesterday. She was currently living with my mother, step-father, and sister, but everyone who met this dog loved her. She was bought to help my sister get over the fact that I was going to college and leaving her at 10 years old. My father picked her out and wanted her the most, first. But over time, she was my sister’s dog. Anyway, I could go on and on, but then I’d be crying, and my sister and mother reading this might be upset, so I’m not going to continue. She was 11, she was a Westie, and she had liver disease. Her name was Eva.

Of course I can’t find a single good picture, but here she is with Sadie a few years back. Eva was my first dog, and it’s really just as hard as losing a human. We are all sad, but today is a better day than yesterday, hence why I’m able to even share this with you.

Through this I have come to recognize another quality in myself I’m not fond of, but can’t even begin to change. Before I go on, I do have to say that one of my good qualities is my ability to be incredibly honest with myself. I know my feelings. I might not share them out loud all the time, but I understand myself at all times. I’m just not always happy about it. Anyway, I have come to realize that I have grieving issues. I suppose I’ve known this all along, and I haven’t given it much thought, until now. I wasn’t always like this – I never had a problem crying when it was needed, or slamming a door now and then in all my teenage angst. But now, every single time something bad happens, I go into immediate recovery mode, before there’s been any time to grieve. “It’s okay” runs through my head, no matter what, and sometimes I even say it to people who don’t have issues grieving, and in fact, it’s not okay, and it could even offend someone. I avoid situations where I might see someone upset. I avoid situations where I might get upset myself. When I cry, it’s either in front of my husband (I have no issues showing grief with him, thankfully) or by myself. I will hold myself completely together until I can be alone and then cry.

I don’t know why I am like this – there is certainly nothing wrong with showing emotions, especially grief. No one should have to hide it. But I am afraid to let it out until I am good and ready, alone. I think this is based on two factors: 1) I build up a wall. Again, not to my husband, but to many other people. And especially in public. I’m just not going to lose it in front of other people, like at work. It’s just not going to happen! And people will try to get me to crack, even sincerely, by saying, “it’s okay to cry”, etc. I get that, I know that. In fact, the more you tell me that the less likely I will do it. I just…I’m not comfortable breaking down that barrier. 2) I’m afraid that if I let it out, if I cave, then I’m really going to let it out. It’s going to break through a dam that can’t be contained. And then I’ll be miserable, and a mess. It won’t just be one tear shed.

So for all these reasons, I can’t apparently grieve appropriately in front of others, except N. And while I don’t mind holding myself together; I actually like it that way, there’s something to be said for not avoiding grief. If it’s unavoidable, I need to start facing it instead of literally running away.

This is an appropriate segway for the rest of my post. All of this TTC drama, filled with anxiety, worry, frustration, and yes, even grief, has probably contributed to my wall-building. I need to protect myself, because this process has me filled with sadness in a long-term kind of way. It doesn’t mean I’m miserable every day, but then, most days, if I think about it, I am miserable with my body and my infertility and my hives and my autoimmune issues and my allergies. If I were to show that grief every time it was felt, well then, I’d be a crappy person to be around. As it is, little bits of grief spill out, a little at a time, leading me to fear this is a permanent personality change. But I just keep in the back of my mind that when I am pregnant, and when I have my child, I will quite literally be the happiest person on the planet. And that thought keeps me going.

Yesterday, CD 24, I called the RE. I told her there was still no positive OPK, and I would like another ultrasound, please, to check on my folly. “No,” I was told, “The Dr. just wants bloodwork from you. We don’t do another ultrasound until your IUI.” And there was no fighting that. The answer was no. Not only that, but coming in today for that bloodwork was just a hair too soon. Tomorrow, they want me. So, tomorrow before work I will be racing the 40 minutes south to get my blood taken, just for them to call me a few hours later and confirm what I already know: My follicle stopped growing. I will have to stair-step, again, for the second cycle in a row. Just days ago, I was preparing for my first IUI. Now, I know it’s not happening anytime soon. How can a follicle just stop growing? It was at 16 mm, I felt the pains and everything. Now, the pains are gone. My temp is still low, so I didn’t miss it. How could I, when I have been peeing on a stick since CD 12. 12! And it’s 25!! That’s my big lesson for the next cycle – don’t start POASing until like…CD 20. It’s costing me a lot of money.

It’s also cost me an infection. I won’t get into the details, but I’m sure holding my urine every day for 4-5 hours when I really have to go isn’t healthy, and might have been a contributing factor to the other thing in my way right now. If that wasn’t the cause, it’s my candida issue, and I don’t even know which doctor to approach about that. Even if I do have an IUI in the next few days, there won’t be any BDing to go with it, and I’m pretty bummed about that. Last but not least, I have a wedding to attend Saturday night. If, by any chance, I ovulate then and need my IUI on Sunday, I can’t go. Can’t. I won’t be around. How devastating that would be, to come all this way and not be able to have that IUI. I never expected to have one on CD 30. This Friday is the last day of work before a week’s vacation – another really bad day to take off. And tomorrow is now out, of course. So that leaves Saturday. As much as I want to ovulate and have this IUI, between the infection, lack of BDing, and Saturday being the only available day to even have an IUI, in my mind, this cycle is a bust. 25 days down the tubes, just like that. If I stair-step, I’ll be moved up to 150 mg of Clomid, I’m guessing. The highest it goes. When next?

It’s just one of those days, which really, has been one of those weeks, and months, and year. I’m not a hot mess, I’m fine. I will be fine. But life is just not…where I want it to be. There’s a big piece of the puzzle missing, and I don’t know when it will be found and put back into place. And even as I go through my days, I feel that void, clear as a bell.

Because I’m in one of the moods, and sometimes, the best thing to do in this kind of a mood is embrace it, I’m putting up a song here. The lyrics don’t have anything to do with grief; in fact, it’s a love song, and I love it. But I’ve always been more of a tune person than a lyric person, and the tune lends itself quite well to my mood. Give it a listen if you’re feeling up to it, but I wouldn’t recommend it if sadness is close at hand.

Stair-stepping.

It’s been a trying few days. Worse than I originally imagined. That said, let me first stop and say that everyone has a story, and there are people going through horrible, devastating things right now. While I did not know about her blog previously, I have found many bloggers mentioning her today and her baby, so I will keep her in my mind as well. Everyone has a situation, but the things that happen in our lives just occur at different times.

This past weekend, I was supposed to ovulate. Determined to make it happen this cycle, I had our timing down perfectly, without telling the husband when or if I was ovulating. I’ve consulted my chart like a champ for the past week and a half. I’ve used OPK’s – both the cheaper versions and the rest of my digitals – twice a day, every day, for the last week and a half. Remember my optimism? I was telling myself, just a few weeks ago, this will happen this time. I can feel it.

Ha. What I could feel was a whole lotta nothin’. I’ve already written that post, so I’ll skip over the details. I didn’t ovulate. Clomid didn’t work, even though it did work the first cycle.

So this morning I called the nurse. She called me back while I was on the treadmill at the gym. I made sure to call first thing, to allow time for them to do whatever they wanted, because I know most of these ultrasounds and blood tests need to be done in the morning. Well, she said I needed to get down there, now, for a blood test and ultrasound. I was excited – I hadn’t planned on an ultrasound. I told her I was at the gym, and would there be time to shower? No, because they were almost done doing their ultrasounds for the day. So I hurried into my car, sweating like a beast, and she called me again. They aren’t going to do the ultrasound today, after all, the guy who does them has already left, it’s too late. I could go for the blood test, though. Depending on the results, I could go in tomorrow morning (I have today and tomorrow off from school) for the ultrasound.

I got the blood taken. Late this afternoon, I got the call back. Not only did I not ovulate, there was no ovulation in sight. A failed Clomid cycle. However, the doctor would like to bump me up to the next dosage of Clomid, 100mcg.  I asked if I still needed the ultrasound tomorrow – no, the numbers show that there’s nothing happening in there. Then I asked how I would be monitored in my next cycle. She said I would have a CD 21 blood test done. I asked about an ultrasound, just for piece of mind. I told her, frankly, that we’ve been trying like crazy the last week and a half and I spent a lot of money on OPK’s. She literally laughed out loud and said, “Are you tired?” I chuckled with her – she wasn’t being mean, I think she thinks I’m crazy. She may be right. You know I don’t “go with the flow” – I don’t even know the meaning of that phrase. She told me not to bother with OPK’s, to just BD for fun, every other day-ish, and they would monitor it with the blood test. Well, I’m glad for the blood test, but let me tell you, I’m not about to throw my charting, OPK’s, and timed BD-ing out the window. It’s just not happening, it’s not in my nature, I can’t do it. But she doesn’t need to know that.

So then I said, “Okay, so are you going to fax in a prescription for Provera?” She goes, “What? No – you’re going to start it today.” Huh? What do you mean, today? She said it’s called “Stair-stepping”, a relatively new practice. I put two and two together and drew this conclusion – a period is meant to release the egg and all the crap that went with it. Given my numbers, I’m guessing I had no egg development whatsoever. So there’s no need to have a period. So all of a sudden, today went from CD26 to CD5. I take my first Clomid tonight. Is this Clomid cycle 2? 3? Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy to have skipped an unnecessary 17 days of waiting. 10 on Provera, 2 to get my period, 5 until Clomid. I’m happy to have ditched that. But could this even work? Who gets pregnant on Clomid when they take it twice in one cycle?? Anyone out there heard of this before?

There’s something else consuming my mind 24/7, and sharing it with ovulation woes makes for some weird thoughts. My father is still in the ICU. As I mentioned the other day,  he had his gallbladder taken out on Friday. It turned out to be gangrenous, and the surgeon said it was one of the worst he’s ever seen. My father had been feeling unusually fine, with just some pain, when he could’ve been way sicker. He had no idea. That said, it was a successful surgery. But my father has not come out of the anesthesia, and today is Day 3 like this. Basically, he is being kept heavily sedated. When they lower the dosages a little to try to bring him out of it, he is “agitated and unresponsive”. I haven’t been to see him, but I am in contact through texts with his GF. I imagine he’s aggressive, trying to rip out the wires and whatnot. But this isn’t really him. In other words, the anesthesia has messed with his brain, and he’s not reacting right, or coming out of it properly. So they keep trying, he keeps reacting that way, and they put him back under. They have given him a battery of tests – blood tests, a CAT scan, an MRI, and an EEG. I haven’t heard about the EEG yet, but all the rest have been completely normal. I had feared the gangrene had spread into his blood, which would be an absolute nightmare. It didn’t, which is probably a miracle in itself, given how bad the gallbladder was. So this has nothing to do with it – it’s a strange reaction to anesthesia. But this is Day 3, like I said. And the more time goes by, the more I’m worried. I’m hoping there was no brain damage. So today I’ve been in basically a constant state of nausea, one of my signs of stress. I’m trying not to freak out. He might be transferring hospitals tomorrow to one way bigger with more tests and doctors, but we will see. Yes, I’ve had the awful thoughts that I’m not even going to type right now. Then I’ve had the thought that when he comes out of this I’m going to kick his ass for scaring the crap out of me. Definitely didn’t see all of this coming, and I wasn’t emotionally prepared. Luckily I’ve got a “no drama” husband, who tells me not to worry, nothing worse has happened, he’s being monitored, he’ll be fine. So tonight I’m going to go with that.

Like I said, it’s been a trying few days. CD5, here we come.