Monday, May 14, 2012

Feeling Better

The past few days have been hard....very hard.  Even though I sort of expected the last IUI to fail, it's still never easy when the news comes.  I always expect the worst and hope for the best but that's easier said than done.  Mother's day was especially difficult, but with the help of some great friends (and family) and a few encouraging words from old friends on facebook, I was able to take on the day.  Thank you all for being so kind and thoughtful.  In this journey I've learned how important friends and family are and I need support in any form people are willing to give it.  When times are rough, it's oxygen to me and it's what keeps me going.  I don't know what I would have done if I didn't go public and share my story.  My heart goes out to people suffering in silence.  This journey is hard enough, but doing it alone would be impossible.  Rightfully so, I have been extremely sensitive about what others say and I am truly sorry for taking things so personally at times. 

So Chris and I met with Dr Schinfeld this week to discuss other treatment options.  We've decided to complete one more (at most two) IUIs.  We all agree that our chances are slim, but still slightly better than doing nothing.  Most likely I will no longer be taking Clomid for the next cycle, but an injectable medication (I'm not looking forward to giving myself needles).  This stronger medication will allow me to produce even more follicles (eggs) than with clomid.  However since we have male factor infertility, the procedure will still most likely fail.  No matter how many eggs I produce, if the sperm are incapable of fertilizing the egg, it won't work.  Still trying this is better than nothing. The good news is that my "inside plumbing" is fantastic and looking much younger than for my age so we have that to our advantage.  All my labs (hormone levels) look great as well.  Unfortunately the only way to actually test the integrity of the egg is with egg retrieval for IVF....even though I ovulate, I could still be producing "bad eggs."  This procedure alone (without medication cost) runs at the lowest $9500.  

The doctor suggested we make an appointment for an IVF consult to discuss IVF in greater learn all the ins and outs.  What I  did learn is that there is about a 52% to 58% chance it will work.  We are six times more likely to become pregnant with IVF than with IUI.  Abington has one of the greatest track records in the US so I am doing my best to stay hopeful.  Our meeting is mid June so this will give me plenty of time to do more research and come up with questions. Since I lack IVF coverage, the consult alone will run us $350.  The earliest he projects that we will complete the IVF cycle is July....our finances will not allow for this until later however.  Our chances for twins and triplets will increase more with IVF than with IUI.   From our discussions, Chris and I are only willing to transfer 2 embryos at a time...triplets would be impossible for us to handle!  They frown upon transferring more than 3.  

Chris and I leave for a much needed vacation to Mexico this week.  Due to timing of the trip, we are missing this month of treatments and will be on our own.  We will resume our last (or second to last) IUI the beginning of June when we return and will also start more planning should it fail.  I am starting to recover from my loss and am feeling better and happier.  Since the time could be getting closer to motherhood, I am doing my very best to enjoy life as I know it now.  I want a baby more than anything, but looking at other parents and how they struggle, I want to enjoy life without kids while I can. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Our Journey to the Baby Bump

Today has not been the best of days...I guess usually when I post it isn't.  I do have good and happy days though so I'm thankful for them.  They are just harder to come by these days.  Yesterday I went for my blood pregnancy test.  I was told that my insurance company will not pay for Abington's lab to process blood pregnancy tests (beta tests) so they must be sent out to another sensitive of them to make me wait one more day. (Yet the 10 other blood tests I have each month can get processed in the hospital lab - makes no sense).  I did my best to not get my hopes up and not do a HPT and I did well....until last night.  I broke down and tested.  I went to work today, dreading the phone call that would confirm what I already knew.  About an hour before I received the call, there was no sense waiting for the call because my body already told me I wasn't pregnant.  

I don't expect the world to stop for me and I know other people have things going on, but only a small handful of people asked me the results, how things were or how I was doing.  I'm pretty vocal about what's going on so it's no secret that this another big week.  I was hurt and disappointed but life goes on.  I know I am overly sensitive lately and people probably aren't sure what to say or what not to say.  Sometimes saying nothing at all is worse than some of the mindless comments I hear.  So work went on as usual.  The past week has also been difficult because I am dealing with my father being very ill on top of everything else.  There's alot on my plate now.  I received the phone call from Dr Schinfeld who told me what I already found out twice in within the past few hours...why not hear it a third time?  It's a bit of a blur...everyone seemed so happy go lucky talking about fun things and here I am getting this stupid phone call.  All I wanted to do was cry but I had to come back to work and treat patients as if nothing happened.  The rest of the day went by with no one knowing how heartbroken I was.  I feel bad because it's all I ever seem to be lately and I feel it's getting old to some.  I have come pretty good at acting "normal" when I'm a mess inside.

We have another consult with the reproductive endocrinologist next Monday to discuss other options.  We still plan on finishing out our remaining 3 IUIs but will most likely move onto stronger injectable medication.  Anyone who knows me well will tell you how squeemish and afraid I am of needles.  I have already had to have 2 at home injections, but with the new medication I will most likely have to give them to myself daily.  It's what I have to do though.  At the appointment we will also further discuss the risks and benefits of IVF, the likelihood of it working for us, and the costs involved.  I have already come to terms that this is what we will probably need to do, but have not been able to come to terms what we'll do if it fails. This would be our last and only we just need to continue to reach our 15 to 20 thousand dollar saving mark for the treatment.  It's coming slow.  I try not to get jealous that others get to conceive their children the natural way (for free).  

The day was also more difficult because I let social media work my nerves.  It's hard to log onto facebook and hear people complaining about childcare tasks or what have you.  I understand people are venting, however some people don't understand that the things they "vent" about may be someone else's dream.  I have tried to learn to become more mindful of what I say because sometimes even simple mindless comments can be painful for others. 

I must say I am doing better this time around...with having 21 months of practice and all.  I only cried about a quarter of the time I did last time.   I'm sick of crying, sick of feeling out of control and helpless, sick of feeling sad, sick of painful treatments, sick of seeing my bank account drained, and sick of being angry that other people take for granted the blessings they have.  As a physical therapist, I would never say to a paraplegic..."want to join me in the Broad Street Run" or say to a deaf person "want to come to a concert with me?" but yet it seems ok to say things to an infertile person such as "want to come to my baby shower?"  It's just an observation is all. On another note...can't wait to be forgotten again on mother's day...just a painful reminder of who I'm not.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


For those who understand or are going through fertility treatments, you've heard of or have been through what we call the 2 week wait.  For those who don't - the 2 week wait (2 ww or tww) is a 2 week period of time between receiving fertility treatment to conceive (ie IUI or IVF) until the time we learn if we are or aren't pregnant.  Chris and I had our third IUI (intrauterine insemination) treatment the 23rd of April.  Within these two weeks, my body has either possibly conceived or is doing it's thing to get ready for the next cycle.  Unfortunately there's no way to know because blood pregnancy tests can't really detect if we are pregnant until about 2 weeks.  In these 2 weeks, there's not much else to do but.....w a i t.  Some doctors will wait even longer to test, which I can't possibly imagine.  Most home pregnancy tests (HPT) aren't sensitive enough to detect pregnancy this early, so a blood test sometimes is the only way to go.  It's either that or you wait and see if and when your next cycle starts. 

So we have our blood test Monday...exactly 2 weeks after our procedure.  They are checking for Beta levels (beta hCG).  This is a chemical produced by cells in the placenta that nourish the embryo after implantation (after the embryo becomes embedded in the uterine lining).  Levels can be detected about 12 to 14 days after conception.  This is the first time I've refrained from taking a HPT on my own.  Not taking one is the hardest thing to do but I can't torture myself.  If it's negative, I usually come up with this grand reason in my head as to why and somehow convince myself it must be wrong.  This time, I'm just going to wait for the results of the blood test - we get a call from the doctor with the news maybe Monday, but most likely Tuesday.  With our first IUI, I never made it to the blood test because my cycle started before I even made it there, confirming the procedure failed.  Last time, I did make it two weeks but was still disappointed to find out it was negative.  Waiting for that phone call for two days was complete torture...I must have checked my phone every 5 minutes.  In retrospect, I'm glad I received that call at the end of the day.  I had to work that day and after the news couldn't bare to continue.  I hope I'm lucky enough this time to get the news later in the day for sanity sake.  I'm no longer a rookie at this point, so I've tried to figure out ways to keep me sane.  Most people dealing with treatments will tell you that they have a few dates burned in their head...most probably are bad days.  Mine was March 9th....after the phone conversation with the doctor that our second IUI failed.  That was by far the hardest and worst day of my life and I'm doing my best to not re live it.  A few hours after the phone call, my cycle started and the news was re confirmed.  NOT a good day.  As I mentioned in my last post, the difficult thing with infertility is that we relive the sadness each and every month and don't really have time to grieve because the next round of treatments starts immediately.  I grieve each and every month for a baby I've never been able to have.  I still love that baby more than life itself even though it's not real yet.  I don't think people recognize my loss because no one actually died.  But of piece of me DID die!  With death, people see your loss and understand it.  With infertility, no one sees my loss and few understand that the loss is just as significant.  Yet, most people either choose to ignore it or say a quick "sorry" and expect me to get on with life. In a way I'm glad most people don't understand, because that means they've never experienced this.  I wouldn't wish this problem on my worst enemy.  I feel inclined to help others understand treatments, what we are going through and gain sensitivity to how we feel.  

So the closer it gets to the two week mark, the harder waiting gets.  It's hard not to over analyze what your body is feeling.  For example, if I get tired easily I try to convince myself it's a sign of pregnancy, when actually it's probably something else.  There have also been times, closer to the two week mark, where I find myself refraining from going to the bathroom.  I am heartbroken when my cycle starts again, so somehow I think that avoiding going to the bathroom will delay it.  

A week from today is Mother's Day.  In my head lately, it's all I think about.  This is the first year I am dreading mother's day because it's just a reminder of who I'm not.  I've never had the joy of someone calling me mommy.  It seems everywhere I go it's thrown in my the store:  "free gifts for mothers" or in the mail is an advertisement for mother's day brunch, the list goes on. These are all things that I can only participate in as a daughter, not a mother.   How can I celebrate a day that's just a reminder of the hell I'm dealing with every day?  Some people don't get that this isn't a happy day for everyone.  Who's going to remember me on mother's day?