Monday, September 1, 2014

Operation May Baby = Bust

11DPIUI = BFN

Ah well, I called it last week, anyway. This kind of cramping has PMS written all over it.

Since I've decided to forego the blood test this cycle, I'll test again at 14DPIUI and again and 18DPIUI just to be sure it's safe to stop the progesterone suppositories.

Funny story regarding this morning's HPT.
I woke up early and everyone else is asleep - hoorah, I get a little alone time!

In the master bathroom I grab a Wondfo and head downstairs. Once downstairs I go directly into the little bathroom where I take the test.

I set it aside thinking I'll return in two or three minutes to read the results. However, I get sidetracked by cat vomit. It takes me several minutes to dispose of it then clean the carpet. Then, I discover more cat vomit. Great.

Once I finish cleaning up this lovely surprise I remember the test and think to myself "damn it's definitely been over three minutes. If the test shows even a faint line, I'll have to test again to be sure".

Good one, Jessica!

That test, after at least 7 minutes, was as stark white as new fallen snow.

I will have to invest in a box of FRER since I'm skipping the blood test this cycle. My Wondfo's have an expiration of 9/2014 so I can't fully trust them before ending progesterone.

You might wonder why I'm skipping the blood test at all.
This is what I wrote on a forum post:
I did my 5th IUI ten days ago and, as a matter of protocol, my RE sends me to get an HCG quant, Progesterone (STAT) at 12DPIUI. 

Every time it's been negative (except for one CP in April) and a week later I get a bill for $35 just to be told I'm not pregnant. 

At this point, I'm tired of the waste of money. For one $35 blood test I can get a few boxes of HPT's that will last several months. 

My doctor likes the blood test to be done to confirm but, this was my last IUI before moving on to IVF in January. 

I doubt my RE or his staff are waiting for my blood test results with baited breath and will hop on the phone to call me if they never arrive. 

I have all the PMS signs so I know that I've had another failed month. What's the point in spending another $35 to confirm that? 

If I were going to try again right away then I'd go get the blood test done because I know my doctor wouldn't proceed without the confirming results. 

However, since I'm taking a four month break from treatments, it's okay to skip the hassle of the blood work, right? 

I figured I'd take an HPT at 14DPIUI and again at 18DPIUI and when it's negative, stop taking the progesterone and let AF come. 
So far I've spent $245 to be told I'm not pregnant. Granted, three blood tests were from a CP that we were monitoring to see if there would be a rise and then to see if it fell.

None the less, that's a lot of money to find out something that, at best, an $.88 test from Wal-Mart can tell me.

Alright, it's taken me nearly an hour to write this post because First Born woke up and requested I put his race track together (then told me I did it backwards, so I had to fix it) and then husband woke up.

So, it's time to put this update to rest. I'll be back soon (if I can find anything to talk about).

Happy Labor Day to my American readers!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Update to my "Top Secret" blog

You can go here to read it if you have the password.

If you'd like the password, please email me to get it.
As I've mentioned before, if we're IRL friends, I probably won't give out the password. I'm sorry for this and I swear it's not personal but there are some places I just need to be for "strangers" or for people who aren't involved in my life regularly (a few close friends/family being a small exception).





Friday, August 29, 2014

Well, hello there PMS!

And how nice of you to bring acne, sore boobs and cramps with you to stay! 

8DPO and if it weren't for the progesterone, I'd be saying hello to Aunt Flo in the next two days, too.

Without progesterone, my LP is 10, maybe 11 days. These days I stay on the progesterone until the HCG blood test comes back as negative. Then two days later I see red.

Ah well, it was worth a shot, right? I can't say I didn't give IUI a good chance to work. 

James and I had a talk this morning because I was up a lot during the night thinking about another health issue that needs to be dealt with. Nothing serious, and I'm sure I'll blog about it at some point.

Until I deal with that, I don't think putting time and limited IVF chances into it is a good thing. In fact, I think it will be a waste of the 4 IVF's my insurance will pay for. If you're going to do it, do it right - right?

Our plan was to start IVF in October or maybe November but I think it might be more prudent to wait until January while I deal with this other health concern. That gives me four months to take Ovaboost along with a host of other supplements that will increase egg quality (hopefully). 

When I mentioned it to my doctor a few weeks ago, she said putting IVF off a few months was okay. But, I wasn't so sure because I feel 40 hanging over my head. I'm 39 and 4 months, so yeah, 40 is on top of me. 

And I know 40 isn't some magic cut-off date where you have to just close down the reproductive shop. 
But, my head is in a place where it's convinced that if I can't get pregnant before I turn 40, I will never be able to.

It's not even necessarily logical to think that. Women get pregnant in their 40's (and older) all the time! I know because I did a google search which lead me to that link. 

And, there is this story of a woman giving birth in her 60's.

So, I'll take the time to concentrate on another health concern and see where we stand in January, I think. 

*Please note: this is my plan today. A plan I think is a good idea to stick to. But, I reserve the right to change my mind in two months when I start panicking about my age again (or the age of my eggs).

It feels right to start IVF off by giving it the best possible chance to work and hopefully, my husband will make me stick to my guns on this one.

 


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The calm before the disappointment

My husband pointed out this is a mixed metaphor. Still, it's apt.

The thing is, I know that the chances of an IUI working for me is less than 10% even with 88 million sperm vying for the love of one egg.

And now that we've agreed pursuing IVF next, I have ignored this TWW altogether. With that being said, I think I will still be disappointed next week when I get the inevitable BFN.

Now I can look back on the IUI journey and think about how much hope I had wrapped up in it. I'm not going to lie, I was 100% convinced IUI would work for us. In my head I was rearranging the 4th bedroom into a nursery. I was coming up with good arguments as to why we shouldn't find out the sex beforehand. It was a sure thing.

Until it wasn't.

So now, to distract myself (between my marathon of Gossip Girl episodes - don't judge) I have been doing as much research as possible on IVF, embryologists, clinics, assisted hatching and anything else I can think of.

I liked to be armed with information (you might recall my RE told me months ago that I am the most well prepared and informed patient he has ever had).

My in-laws are coming late next month and after that we'll decide when to start the IVF protocol.

In the mean time I'll focus on losing weight, getting back on track with healthy habits and working on just getting myself out of this total funk I've been in.

I'd like the blame that funk on the medicine, and it might be true. But, I'm also sure it has something to do with trying, and failing, month after month.

A break will be good for me. I need to find my positivity and motivation again. I'm not naturally a negative person. I haven't liked that side of me and it's been my own personal rain cloud all summer.

I love Fall and it's almost here, giving me every reason to accept good vibes back into my life.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Help from IVF'ers needed

I've been thinking more and more about the IVF process which includes thinking about the clinic I'm currently using.

I'm not unhappy with my clinic all but, since I'm moving on to IVF, I want to make sure I'm going with a place that will give me the best shot at getting pregnant.

The truth is, we chose our current RE because we were going to be paying out-of-pocket for IUI and price was a major factor. And, let's be honest, you don't have to have graduated first in your class to do an IUI.

But, now we have insurance that will pay for IVF and it's something that requires so much more precision than IUI. We need to know we have access to the best option in our area.

So the question to my readers is this: what do you ask when you're interviewing RE's?
How do you make comparisons beyond the typical "success rate"? I don't want to rely solely on success rate statistics because too many contributing factors go into that figure.

I know there are clinics who won't treat women over a certain age, or BMI or AMH/FSH level because they don't want their success statistics to be diminished.

My currently clinic is honest with you about the odds of getting pregnant based on your personal situation but they don't turn women away because the likelihood of it working are minimal.

What data do I use to compare clinics?
How do I know if they have a good assisted hatching program?

Please, any information or guidance you have regarding this would be immensely helpful.

Thank you in advance!

Friday, August 22, 2014

I'm a believer

A kinda-sorta scientific study of my own

In August 2013, after TTC unsuccessfully for more than 6 months, my OB sent James and I both to get some testing done.

At the time, I checked out normal but, James' results were not great. I figured that was the reason it wasn't working for us but it took until January 2014 before we agreed to see a fertility specialist.

At that time our RE did all the tests on James and I again. This time, my results weren't great but his had improved significantly.

So first, let me give a break down of the numbers

8/6/13 - 60 million (normal) 20% motility (abnormal)
1/30/14 - 70.06 million (normal) 62% motility (normal)

Between the August and January tests, I had James take MotilityBoost for Men. I didn't think he needed anything else since his count was high to begin with, motility was the only concern.

3/8/14 IUI #1 - Post Wash 31.68 million w/ 60% motility
4/5/14 IUI #2 - Post Wash 57.12 million w/ 85% motility

We took a two cycle break at this point while we got our new insurance sorted out. During this time, James ran out of the MotilityBoost and forgot to tell me.

6/28/14 IUI #3 - Post Wash 19.2 million w/ 80% motility

The motility is still excellent but the count went down. I asked about the pills and he told me he had run out some time back. So I ordered more MotilityBoost but this time also added FertilAid for Men.

7/26/14 IUI #4 - Post Wash 23.99 million w/ 83.3% motility

Not a significant improvement but, he had only been on MB and FA for a couple weeks.

8/21/14 IUI #5 - Post Wash 88.6 million w/ 72% motility

The motility isn't where I'd hope, but still in normal limits. The count though, holy cow!
That's the highest number yet and that's post wash.

I can't say I know for sure that the MB and FA had anything to do with it but, looking at his numbers with and without it, I think these products have made a difference.

I started taking the OvaBoost product last month and hopefully, we'll see some results from that, too.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

#5 is in the books

The doctor did have to aspirate some fluid but it was a tiny amount.

James provided his best numbers yet at 88 million post wash and the doctor said that the IUI was the best one we've done.

I read yesterday that some doctors suggest having a full/semi-full bladder for IUI's and since my doctor never says one way or the other, I decided to not empty before hand.  I did find a study that had 250 women empty their bladder before IUI (control group) and another 250 not empty. The group that didn't empty had a higher success rate. So, cant hurt, right?

I got super busy at work after my morning blog post so the rest of the morning absolutely flew by. I couldn't believe when I noticed it was noon already and James was on his way to pick me up.

Unfortunately, the afternoon felt like it just crept along. James' appointment was at 1PM and mine wasn't until 4 so we went to lunch after his. He had to do a conference call at 3PM so we headed back to the clinic and sat in the waiting room. Talk about boring!

But, I do enjoy the people watching. Especially since it's mostly women and we all know we're there for the same thing; to get a baby. 

We've done all we can now, the rest is up to Mother Nature I suppose. 

Bring on September 5th!


Truly amazing friends

This morning I came to work wound so tight you could bounce me off a wall.

Again, these medications I take totally messes with my head and body. Having to inject myself with the pregnancy hormone (trigger shot) is just plain cruel.

First off, when I am actually pregnant, I vomit. Any slightly odd smell sends me to the toilet. So injecting myself with HCG gives me all the symptoms with none of the happy offset (like, carrying my baby).

This morning on the way to work we drove past a dead skunk. I thought I was going to vomit right there in the minivan.

So, needless to say, by the time I got to work I was extremely anxious and feeling annoyed at the world (thank you hormone altering meds!).

A co-worker stopped by to say hello and we got to talking about how I was so obviously not myself. He was super and talked me through it so nicely. He helped to calm me down and get my mind off of it by making me laugh.

Then, another co-worker stopped by to show me she wore a energy bracelet in my honor today. That was so sweet I wanted to kiss her. I nearly cried at the kind gesture (hormones strike again).

And then... Felicia. My wonderful friend and co-worker came over to me, gave me a hug and a kiss on the forehead, told me she loved me and said that this is my month.

I can now honestly say that I am walking into my IUI today with a better attitude than I expected when I woke up this morning.

Those three people, Stephen, Brittany and Felicia made my day today.
But, many others also do that on a near daily basis.

The support and love from you guys is amazing so I want to acknowledge you now.

Always topping the list is my husband, James and son, Ryan. They are the ones who have to put up with the wild mood swings more often than anyone else.

Felicia- Deserves to be acknowledged twice. She puts up with my horrible habit of half listening (I'm trying to do better) and makes every single work day better.

Jen M.- The friend who was brave enough to give me a shot in the ass at work. You were my number one choice because I knew you'd be able to get it done.

Jen S.- Thanks for giving me support from afar and checking in on me by text so often.

Aunt Maggie- For helping to keep my feet on the ground. You're the best advice giver in the entire world.

Fiona- Just because I love you and talking to you forces me to set aside my own issues and focus on my favorite cousin for a while.

Paul- You drive me bonkers but you also make me laugh. And, you've taken away some of my stresses by putting them on yourself. Please know that while I don't always show it, I do appreciate what you do for my family.

My blogger friends:
TTC In My 40's
Haisla
Just T
Megan
Lab Monkey
Brianna
MLACS
Stephanie (Her YouTube videos make me laugh so much so I watch them over and over when I need cheering up. Seriously, check her out)

Facebook friends, I didn't realize so many were following along! There are too many to name but thank for the messages of support. I know people like to keep their own experiences private so the fact that you message me and tell me your stories gives me inspiration.

I'm sure I missed people but I'm sending a huge thanks to everyone who has found a way to make me smile in the last five months! That deserves huge kudos!

Alright, let's do this!
TEAM MAY BABY!



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Top Secret Blog Update

I took the bait.

Email me at: JessicaCHoward@gmail.com if you don't have the password.

Otherwise, nothing new to report today, really.

I did the 4AM trigger which went smoothly even if my husband and I were both a little grumpy at having to interrupt our sleep to get it done.

I woke up at 3:45 to mix the trigger shot solution and we were back in bed by 4:05.

I'm scheduled for a 1PM ultrasound to see if that pocket of fluid is still there and, it so, aspiration of it. James is scheduled for his part in all this at 1PM, too.

Then we return at 4PM for the grand finale.


Go Team May Baby!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

About to pop

Another update so soon?

The nurse called me with the blood work results and yes, I'm about to pop some eggs so it's go time.

E2 = 468
LH = 29.3 (At least, I think that's what she said. I wrote down 9.3 but, that can't be right.)
Progesterone = 2.2

The doctor told her that before we do the IUI, she's going to aspirate the fluid (if it's still there). So, that is one problem that will no longer exist.

Who's ready for another May baby?
This girl right here, that's who!

Team May baby!

Time to trigger

Since my E2 was 295 yesterday, I was called in for another ultrasound this morning.

Right side:
R1 - 18
R2 - 16

Left side:
Nothing

I have to do a trigger 4AM tomorrow for a Thursday afternoon (CD 11) IUI.
This feels early to me. My fertility monitor only gave me a high reading this morning and last month when I triggered, my E2 was 549.

One hiccup, though. Yesterday the doctor noticed some fluid on the ultrasound. Today, the nurse mentioned it too and asked if I was still spotting. I'm not, so we don't know what that pocket of fluid is.

She said if this were IVF transfer, it would be cancelled if that fluid was there the day of the transfer. Fluid can cause an embryo to not implant.

Because of that, on Thursday they're going to do another ultrasound before the IUI to see if the fluid is still there. She also said the fluid wouldn't necessarily mean that we have to cancel because by the time implantation occurs, the fluid could be gone. We'll see what the ultrasound shows on Thursday afternoon.

Gut instinct tells me this isn't going to be a successful cycle. Not because of the fluid or even because I'm trying to prepare myself for the worst. I don't know where gut instinct comes from really, but, mine is telling me this isn't working out.

Brianna mentioned in a comment that "low and slow" is the way to do this. And, I realized she's exactly right. And one thing this cycle hasn't been is low or slow.

The thing about IUI is I feel like success is just outside of my grasp. However, a little tweak here and a little adjustment there and I feel like we would have success. We're not dealing with MFI which is a huge impediment for a successful IUI. I have a history of getting pregnant and even bringing forth children from pregnancies.

Granted, my last successful pregnancy (yes, I consider Nathan a successful pregnancy) was over two years ago and I'm 39 now. So, IVF makes sense. Right?

But, I don't exactly have a history of miscarriages from IUI either. Four attempts has netted me one CP. That's not really a bad track record given that a woman my age is expected to get pregnant 1/12 attempts (at best).

Anyway, make it through this cycle first, right?
One thing at a time grasshopper.




Monday, August 18, 2014

I will not give up. I will not give up. I will not give up.

That was not the best appointment I've had.

In fact, it was altogether disappointing. 

No follie growth from Friday to today. WHAT, how can that be?!

More blood work done and I'll get a call back this afternoon with the results but she believes it might be prudent to increase from 112.5 to 125. I couldn't agree more but, this is so frustrating! 

I'm only on CD 8 so I know it's still early days but I expected some growth after 3 more days of shots.  

Back on Wednesday for another ultrasound. I'm feeling like it would be more beneficial to live near my clinic than work these days. 

Alright, that's enough out of you Negative Nelly. 

Everyone have a super day!

Afternoon update:
Doctor called and my estradiol is up to 295. Tonight I'm going to stick with the 112.5 protocol and instead of returning on Wednesday, she wants to see me tomorrow.

As Brianna said in the comments, "low and slow" is best.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Some random thoughts

First
Remember how yesterday I said I was feeling nothing towards this cycle?

Well, that all changed yesterday when, out of curiosity, I looked at the estimated due date of this cycle. Based solely on LMP (assuming CD14 ovulation) it would be 5/17*.

Why does that matter? Ryan was due on 5/15 and he was born via scheduled c-section on 5/5 and my birthday is 5/7.

Because I've had 2 c-sections I'll have to have another c-section with my third. Scheduled c-sections are done no less than 5 days from your due date and not more than 10. My doctor likes to do Saturday c-sections if possible because most doctors don't and it's not very busy at the hospital.

So, that would possibly mean a 5/9 scheduled c-section date.

5/5 - Ryan
5/7 - Jessica
5/9 - Baby #3?

That would be a pretty big coincidence so incredibly unlikely to come to fruition but I am running with it!

* The rate I'm going this cycle, ovulation will happen before CD 14 so that moves the whole timescale up.

Moving on
Speaking of my fast acting cycle...
I was looking more closely at the estrogen number they gave me yesterday: 119.
That was after 3 days of injections. Last month, after 5 days of injections, my number was 81.

Doesn't that seem like a rather larger increase over last month in a shorter time frame? I don't know if this is good or bad. Last month was a fail but now I'm worrying (again) about having to cancel the cycle because of too many follies.

The ultrasound yesterday only showed 5 and only 2 of those were over 10mm so maybe this will work out okay.

When the nurse called she said 119 was a good number and we'd stick with the Gonal-f 112.5 protocol until Monday and we'd reassess then.

I don't know, maybe this is all just looking to be a better cycle!

Lastly
I've been thinking that it would be nice to have a forum type set up for bloggers I have become friendly with. A place that would be all our own where we can talk in a little bit more "real time", exchange experiences or just talk in general.

I have loads of TTC forums I'm on and I hate most of them because you have to dig through 10,000 posts to find anything useful. I would like a place that would be by invitation only so it doesn't get bogged down by the nonsense.

I was thinking a closed yahoo group at first but does anyone still have yahoo accounts anymore?

I love reading all the blogs and this isn't meant to replace that at all. Sometimes I ask a question in the comments and then forget to go back and follow up. So I'm sure others have done that, too. I'm often thinking I wish I could just ask someone questions outside of their blog.

In my mind, I would invite my favorite bloggers, some who are still TTC and some who are finally pregnant. Anyone who chooses to join can also invite their favorite bloggers, too.

I'm going to look into it a bit further but if anyone has any suggestions, I'm wide open. Is this something you'd participate in?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Glamorous? I don't think so!

Ultrasound today
CD 5
3 days of injections: Gonal-F 112.5 (increase from 100 last month)
Right ovary = 3 follies total - 2 x 10mm, 1 less than 10mm
Left ovary = 2 follies total - both less than 10mm
Lining = perfect (I didn't ask for number)

I'll get a call this afternoon with the estradiol results which will tell us if I should continue on 112.5 dose or dial it back to 100 since I appear to be responding a bit quickly. 

I take all the numbers this early with a grain of salt because last month on CD 6 I had 7 follies and ended up with only 1 mature. 

What's interesting this month is that the right side seems to be responding better than the left. That's never happened to me before. 

I have to return Monday morning so they can check again. Since I'm on a rather high dose of Gonal-F (for an IUI cycle, at least) they're going to be checking me a lot more often.

It's weird because now that we've decided to move on to IVF, this cycle feels perfunctory. It's like I'm not really expecting any results from it so just going through the motions so that we can start the process of preparing ourselves for moving on. 

I feel like I have nothing vested in this cycle; I'm not feeling hopeful or hopeless. In my head, we've already moved on.

Probably not a good attitude to have and my dearest friend Felicia will get on me when she reads this. She's always reminding me to "think positive". 

But, maybe it's better this way. Let the course run and what happens, happens. At least I know I'm not likely to get super anxious this time around. 



Notice Olivia Wilde on Glamour magazine in the background. There is nothing glamorous going on in that room, with that machine!

Update: Estradiol 119
Sticking with current 112.5 Gonal-F protocol.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The final IUI

I love my RE clinic, I really do.

As soon as I walk through the door the receptionist always asks "where's my Spider-Man today?" referring to Ryan. 

Every single nurse that walks by me says "hello Jessica, how are you?". I feel like I'm getting individual treatment and that's the benefit of going to a small practice. You never feel like a number or statistic. 

I've heard of clinics turning women down for treatment due to various factors simply because they want to keep their success rate statistics high. That's utter bullshit. My office is not like that and I appreciate it so much.

When the nurse took me back to get the ultrasound she asked if I was going to do another IUI and I said yes. She said something along the lines of "are you sure it's not time to move on to IVF? I hate to think of you spending all this money on IUI's". I know that you might read that and think she was being rude but it really wasn't. 

I told her that insurance pays for both she got excited and said "Do it girl! We want to see your pregnant!". 

I told her that I had come to that same conclusion and had gotten my insurance ducks in a row to proceed on to IVF.

Then Girl Doctor came in. 

Side note: my RE's office has two doctors - who I refer to as Girl Doctor and Boy Doctor.

She was able to see both ovaries without any trouble. No cysts so I'm cleared to proceed with this IUI cycle.

Then I told her that if this doesn't work, I'm moving on to IVF. She said she was 100% in support of that decision.

We spoke about logistics and she told me she thought it would be beneficial if I lost 10 pounds. She only mentioned it because I asked and I'm glad I did. I appreciated the complete honesty, I needed to hear it.

Also, I made the decision then that if we do have to go the IVF route, I want Girl Doctor taking over my cycles. 

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Boy Doctor. He's fabulous and incredibly kind and attentive. Girl Doctor is a bit more matter of fact. 

However, Boy Doctor has rarely been able to find my right ovary. I don't know why this is but he tries and tries and moves that wand around like he's checking my tonsils. But, my right ovary always seems to elude him. 

Girl Doctor finds it in seconds. So, she is my best bet for egg retrieval purposes in my opinion. 

She explained that I'll come in on the first day of my period just like with IUI cycles and I'll be put on birth control for 2-3 weeks. Then we'll start injections and go from there.

I didn't talk to James about it last night at all, I guess I wanted to mull it all over before I spoke to him.

This morning as we're getting ready for work I told him about the appointment. He agrees also that it's time for IVF. We both agreed that waiting until October/November would be a good idea, too.

This gives me time to lose that ten pounds, save up more vacation days and save money. Even though all these treatments are paid for, it's not without some costs to us. Affordable costs for sure, but costs none the less. 

So there we have it. This is it, our fifth and final IUI. 

Come on sperm, hook up with my egg - you know you want to!




Monday, August 11, 2014

I choose to jump

"Jump or stay in the boat."
-Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Darkness

Or am I choosing to stay in the boat?

Either way, I'm signed up for another cycle.

Good news:
  • I have 4 IUI cycles left
  • I've reached the point where insurance will pay for IVF (4 cycles)
  • They pay for assisted hatching!
Bad news:
  • It's not likely they'll pay for ICSI because the only criteria for that is 2 abnormal sperm samples two weeks apart. My husband has excellent sperm.
  • PGD is only paid for if we're both tested for a host of genetic factors and it's determined either of us are carriers of some sort of mutation. Unlikely since we've had two children with no genetic problems. Recurrent pregnancy loss and a stillbirth aren't factors at all.
Sad news:
  • My friend is moving away. We've become close to her family after meeting through a stillborn support network. Her first daughter was stillborn the year Ryan was born. She's gone on to have two other beautiful daughters who I adore. She is an outstanding person and her husband is wonderful. Her husband and my husband both are Cricket fans and both support Liverpool. I love getting together with this family. But, life has called them to an opportunity is Georgia and they're leaving in a few weeks. It makes me sad because she and her husband are the only people we know in person who understand what it's like to have gone through what we did with Nathan. They understand the absolute pain of having a family member missing.
  • We had a play date with one of Ryan's friends this weekend. I have become very friendly with his mom and I've confided our struggles with her. It turns out she's been there, too, having more than one failed IVF cycles herself. (She went on to conceive her two boys naturally!) Anyway, she sent me an email today saying I seemed down on Saturday when we met up. I honestly though I was hiding the disappointment quite well. Turns out I was wrong. But, I'm glad she asked because it let's me know that I need to make more effort in finding things to lift me up, even when things are very difficult. I have never been a mopey person and I don't want to become one now!
As for the IVF struggle going on in my head - obviously I chose to put that off another month. But, I did call the insurance company (who were very helpful and reassuring) and got all the information I needed/wanted regarding IVF.

So, I've taken the first steps towards accepting that IVF is probably the next rung in our infertility ladder. 

I never thought we'd be here. I never thought that getting pregnant would require multiple people in the room with me and one of them wouldn't even be my husband. 



Friday, August 8, 2014

The official results

No surprise since I took a test yesterday but this month is a failed cycle.

Surprisingly, I didn't take it very hard. I suppose that's because I already knew, the blood test was just a formality.

However, I did think this month was our best shot yet because the timing just felt so much more compatible (if that makes sense).

I'm not sure where we'll go from here. James and I discussed it a bit a couple days ago and we'll have to circle back to that conversation over the weekend.

As I'm sure you recall, I was thinking of taking a month (or two) break. Now, that we're here with the results in hand (so to speak) that decision feels different.

Not wrong, though. Just, a little less emphatic.

So we'll do something thinking and some talking.

One thing I can take away from this month is taking an HPT beforehand did lessen the anxiety of blood draw day. I wasn't on tenterhooks all day waiting for the phone to ring.

My dear friend took me out to lunch and I barely thought about it until the call came.

This might also be the effect of it being my wedding anniversary and I just feel so happy today.

I want to add (and I've said this before) that the people following my journey are amazing! I have dozens and dozens (and sometimes more) that read every post and I'm blown away by that.
Some are friends and family I know IRL but most are ladies who are going through the same struggles trying to get their baby.

And, I've said this before, too; the stories people are telling me privately away from this message board are incredible. I'm so honored that you share with me. Most all of them are heartbreaking but, ultimately, triumphant. You (along with my family and friends) give me the strength to continue.

I have to accept that someone has to be last and that might just end up being me. That doesn't mean I'm not excited about your success stories. Every single one gives me hope.

Today I am happy despite the result. How can I not be when I'm surrounded by so much love and encouragement!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Five years!

My husband trumped me by writing a very lovely tribute to our marriage on our family website.

His words come so much more eloquently than mine but I'll expand a bit more here.

As my husband mentioned, we originally met online. Not a romantic site (soccer related) and we weren't searching for life partners. Not on that site anyway. But, we had a similar sense of humor and ended up talking online all the time. This online friendship lasted nearly two years before we met.

In December 2007 I dragged friends off to London for a... wait for it... Spice Girls reunion concert. No, I'm not kidding.

I sent James an email saying "Hey, I'm coming to London. I know it's not exactly up the street from you (he lived in Fleet, Hants), but any chance you can come to London and hang out with us one day?". He said he'd love to and we made the plan.

As he mentioned in his blog post, when we arrived he was very sick and bed ridden. He told me he was very sorry but he was too sick to meet up with us as we had planned.

I was disappointed to not be able to meet up with the guy I had been talking to online for nearly two years but hey, he was sick. Stuff happens.

A few days later my friends and I are in London doing typical tourist things and he calls saying he feels a little better and asked if I'd like to meet up that day. I told him what our agenda was and he met us at the Gloucester Road tube station.

He was still feeling a bit rough but he was a total trooper. He spent most of the day with us going out to lunch, London Aquarium, the arcade next door, etc.

He was funny, charming and extremely nice to me. He won over my friends with his sense of humor and I wanted to see him again. I can't remember the exact time scale but he came back a day or two later to take me out to dinner then again the next day to bring me to his house in Fleet.

Then I left for Belgium. The enitre time I was in Belgium we were texting (hefty phone bill when I got back home). I missed him.

So I invited him to come visit me in America. And, he came. We both knew it, we wanted to be together.

James had never been to America. On the other hand, I was quite familiar with London having visited many times before I ever met him.

Despite that, I told him I felt like I'd be happier living in the United States and he agreed. That was easy!

Thus began our very long journey with USCIS to bring James to the United States so we could get married.

That took about 18 months and in that time, he wasn't allowed back in the United States while his Visa was pending. So I spent a lot of time traveling back and forth. I'm glad the approval came through when it did because the flights to visit him started to wear me down.

Because of the type of Visa he was granted, we had to get married within 30 days of him arriving here.  So, he landed on August 3rd and on August 8th we officially became man and wife at a B&B in the mountains where he proposed to me the year before.

The only people in attendance were two of my friends, my Aunt Maggie and Cousin, Fiona.

Official marriage certificate in hand, we filed the paperwork for his Green Card.

In September we had a more traditional wedding with family and friends from England flying over to celebrate with us. By that time, I was already "baby on board" with Ryan. Yes, I walked down the aisle in a white dress, already married and already pregnant. Go me!

Now, five years later James has been a US Citizen for over a year, has a job he loves and we have Ryan.

We went through a lot of crap, too, with the death of our second son and now infertility but we've stuck through it together. We don't always agree (and I almost always win when we don't), but we've stayed in love.

So there you have it, the story of how we became the Hunt Family.


PS - I made another entry to the Top Secret blog yesterday.

PPS - Yes, I did the blood work today and no, I don't have results yet. I have unofficial results but, I'm not posting anything until I get the blood work results.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

I swear I haven't give up on this blog

I have another entry at my "Top Secret" blog.

Which might make you think that I'm migrating away from this one and intend to use that blog more.
This is well and truly not the case, at all.

This will still be the place where the majority of my thoughts are written. I just had a flurry of "activity" (for lack of a better word) yesterday that I wanted to keep private.

In other news, tomorrow is our wedding anniversary! Five years together and we've packed a lot in!

Tomorrow I'm going to write a bit about how my husband and I met, fell in love and made tough decisions on such as, what country to live in (not something most engaged couples have to decide).

I've been told more than once that our story is romantic so I think I'll share the journey that brought us together.

See you tomorrow, friends!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

After further inspection...

An afternoon update that is a follow-on to my earlier post.

jch4dcu.wordpress.com

Email for password

I apologize for the cloak & dagger posts today, but this is something I just want to keep close to my chest for now.

OMG! OMG! I mean, happy hump day friends...

Nothing to see here but, it's such a nice Wednesday, shall we carry this conversation over to my "Top Secret" Page?

jch4dcu.wordpress.com

Email me for password if you don't already have it.

See you there!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Private Posts

I played around with wordpress and over all, I prefer blogger.

I did some research on how to make posts on blogger password protected and it's doable by adding HTML code and doing a list of other things that, frankly, went over my head.

So I gave up on that idea.

This is what I'm going to do instead. I'm going to use the wordpress blog I created only when I want to add a post that needs to be password protected. 

jch4dcu.wordpress.com is the site and you can email me at JessicaCHoward@gmail.com for the password. 

Right now, my intention is to have the same password for every post but that may change. 

I put a new post up today which gives a little glimpse into what I was alluding to in my earlier post.

I don't know if this will be too confusing so I'll play this by ear.

So, for my regular followers, please email me and I'll give you the password.


A definite case of "The Mondays"

But, before I get into that, I am seriously considering changing from blogger to wordpress for one very simple but super handy feature, password protected posts.

A fellow blogger used that feature over the weekend and there are things I wish I could say right now but not have viewable by everyone who knows my blog address.
It's some very personal work/life/causing me stress type stuff that I rather not make public to everyone who knows me IRL.

The one thing I don't like about that idea is having a blog with no history other than my first post. I guess it shouldn't matter as I know my readers will follow me once I get started.

If I'm going to make the change, I'll do it after the next ICLW since I'm already a posted link on that site for August.

Back to the subject post: "The Mondays"
Physically I think I'm pretty much back to normal but mentally, I still feel drained.
A lot of that has to do with what I don't feel comfortable posting about here so I can't get into it, unfortunately.

But, it also has to do with the constant state of waiting. With infertility, it's a constant Ferris wheel ride that you can't get off until you get pregnant.

And yes, I'm taking a break but really, that's just a temporary ticket off the ride. I'll be queuing up again soon and while I'm not on the Ferris wheel, I'll just be riding the emotional roller coaster no doubt.

I could, if we wanted, leave the fairgrounds completely, I know that. We do have one extremely wonderful boy who is the sun of our family solar system.

Please don't think I don't appreciate that. Since losing Nathan and secondary infertility became a part of our lives, I realize more and more how lucky we are.

But, we're not ready to give up, so we play that waiting game.

Our first wait was to get an appointment with the RE. Hoorah, we're in! Then you wait for your period to come so you can start on the recommended treatment plan. Period comes and you wait for CD 3 (or 4 or 5 - depending on your personal treatment plan). Then you're waiting for the day you ovulate and can do IUI (in our case at least). Then you wait for the day you go get your Beta blood test. Once negative, you wait for your period so you can do it all again.

I'll admit, the Clomid cycles weren't so bad. I had to go in for one ultrasound each time and all three times it was determined that yep, I was ready to trigger.

But, injectables are a different story. I have to go to the office furthest away (they have four) because I have to have a morning appointment so they can get the blood work results back the same day. I think I had 4, maybe 5 ultrasounds in 10 days. That's a lot of miles on the car, toll money and co-payments. At $30/visit for co-payment, it adds up fast*!

*I know I'm lucky and $120 - $150 is nothing compared to women who are having to pay thousands out-of-pocked for the same treatments.

Alright, that's enough complaining for one day.
I am absolutely determined to write something positive tomorrow.

In fact, I am going to be so Mrs. Mary Sunshine tomorrow that you all will hate me!



Friday, August 1, 2014

Gatorade and crackers, yum!

Doctor confirmed OHSS but I was, it being the 4th day, mostly through the worst of it.
No fluid build up anymore but my ovaries were still "puffy".

I'm going to venture out and eat normal this weekend because Gatorade and Saltines/Goldfish is wearing a bit thin.

My doctor said something quite sweet to me after the exam; he asked when I was due for the pregnancy test (with all the pain and discomfort I had honestly forgotten about that part) and when I told him Friday he said "Oh that's great, I hope to get good news about you before I go on vacation, then!".

I also told him of my intentions to take some time off and he was very supportive. I said a month, maybe two, I'll have to see how I feel. He suggested we just try TI in that time (did not write my husband a prescription for sex as he had another time - my doctor has a sense of humor!) and to come back when I'm ready.

I don't know how long I'll be able to hold out but, I do know I need at least a one cycle break. No question about it. It will be hard to take a break because we're just so anxious for this to work.

Now the question is, what the hell am I going to blog about here when I'm not focusing on TTC?

I guess it will be more family focused. And, I know this isn't a subject that will be interesting to many of the followers I've gained over the last several months.

And hey, that's okay. I get it.

I'll still be following all your journey's. I hope to see loads of BFP HPT's!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A potential diagnosis? OHSS

After stumbling across a message board poster complaining of OHSS, I decided to Google it.

Mild to moderate OHSS

With mild to moderate ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, symptoms can include:
  • Mild to moderate abdominal pain that may come and go
  • Abdominal bloating or increased waist size
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tenderness in the area of your ovaries
Some women who use injectable fertility drugs get a mild form of OHSS, which goes away after about a week. If pregnancy occurs, however, symptoms of OHSS may worsen and last several days to weeks.
Well now, that all sounds extremely familiar. 
I called my RE's office with my concern and listed my symptoms and they want to see me tomorrow. 
If this is what I have, I'd say it's of the "mild to moderate" variety so it would likely go away in a few more days.
And that brings me to this; will my doctor not want me to use injectables again? If you get it once, is it likely to happen again in every cycle that you use injectables? As my Aunt said to me on text, "burn that bridge when you come to it".
I have never hoped for a stomach bug so much before.
Any ladies who have had experience with this is encouraged to comment. 

Better... but still sick

I hate this. The "icky" feeling started on Sunday and by 3AM Monday morning I was full fledged D/V.

This lasted throughout Monday so I skipped work. Tuesday I was feeling a tiny bit better so tried to go in to the office. My husband and I carpool since he works two minutes away. He dropped me off at 8AM and at 10AM I asked him to come take me home.

Today, I'm back at work and still feeling pretty rough.

I don't know for sure what this is other than a stomach bug. I truly believe all these meds are compromising my immune system.

And, I worry. If sperm did meet egg, what are the chances of it surviving this illness?
My best guess is, not very high.

I'm tired and I'm frustrated. And, I need a break.

My son needs me and I haven't been there for him the way I should be. I blame the medications. As mentioned, they make me tired, grumpy and emotional. I've been going through the motions of being a mom and it's not good enough.

For about a week (or maybe longer) my 4 year old has been putting me to bed! I go to bed and he snuggles with me, waits for me to fall asleep, then heads back downstairs to hang out with my husband until it's his bedtime.

I feel like a break for a month or two will put me right, again.

And I can also take that time to think more about the IUI/IVF debate I have going on in my head, too.

Just feeling out of sorts, I guess.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Post IUI round-up

As mentioned before, Friday morning I had an ultrasound and blood work done to see where the follies stood.

I had one mature follie and I had a positive OPK that morning and all we needed was the blood work to confirm it was time to trigger. 

At 3:30PM Friday the trigger was done at work and this is the first IUI done less than 36 hours after the trigger. In fact, it was done about 20 hours after the trigger. The doctor told me this was fine because I was on my way to ovulating on my own, anyway. Ovulation has never been an issue for me, I ovulate on my own every month.

While I had a positive OPK on Friday the Fertility monitor didn't show a "peak" reading until Saturday morning. This made me feel very good about the timing.

James provided excellent numbers again. I forgot to ask for a copy of the SA but I do remember that it was a high count post-wash and motility was excellent. 

Sunday I was still seeing a bit of EWCM so I think, maybe, I might have ovulated Sunday. If so, I much prefer the timing of this IUI even thought it was very different than other cycles. If I'm right about that, then it's possible there would have been enough time for a second egg to mature and release. 

Yesterday I was really not feeling well and around 3AM this morning I woke up very sick. Oh great, another stomach bug of some sort.

This, of course, has me doom & gloom thinking that if I have some kind of virus, my body is going to work extra hard to fight that instead of concerning itself with my cause of implanting a fertilized egg. 

My doctor gave me the paperwork to get my HCG Beta done on Thursday 8/7 but I made the appointment on Friday 8/8 instead because that's our fifth wedding anniversary. I feel like that's just good juju.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Four leaf clover winner

Congrats to Rebecca from Life of an Army Wife for winning the four leaf clover.

Please email me at JessicaCHoward at gmail dot com with your address and I'll get it in the mail this week.

I hope it brings you all the luck you need!

Thanks to everyone who wrote comments on all my posts this week. It's been informative and extremely supportive.

I think I'll do another giveaway next month.

___________________________________________

Not really in the mood to write about my IUI yesterday but it went fine, nothing out of the ordinary.

I'm sure I'll write more in a day or two.

Friday, July 25, 2014

7 to 3 to 1 (or, Fukity, fuk, fuk!) Now with afternoon update!

Today's appointment did NOT go as planned!

To recap, last Saturday I had 7 potential follies. All under 10 and I was hoping for no more than 3.
Blood work:
Estrogen 81
LH 4.7

On Tuesday I returned and there were 3 growing pretty nicely at 12mm, 11mm, 11mm.
Blood work:
Estrogen 233
LH 5.2

Yesterday morning I got a "high" reading on my fertility monitor and OPK. Things are looking good, then!

That brings us to today.
OPK = Peak
FM = High

Hmm... 

Ultrasound this morning now shows 16mm, 11mm & 12mm.
So, one barely grew the other didn't grow at all and the last is on it's way to being mature. 
That would indicate the fertility monitor was the more accurate and that's good to know.
(Blood work pending)

I told my RE about the OPK this morning so she said we'll see what the blood work shows but I am scheduled for an IUI tomorrow late morning unless blood work suggests it's too early.

My frustration is with the two follicles that didn't grow much/at all. WTF?! I got the same result on Clomid at 1/2 the cost and no needles!

I voiced my frustration to the doctor and she said injectibles are a numbers game the first time. You don't want to go too high and run a risk of ten mature follicles and having to cancel the IUI. Now we know how I respond to 100iu and if we don't have success this month, we'll up it a tiny bit next month.

Okay, fair enough. But, I feel like last month was my "next month" moment. I don't know if that makes sense but I'm sick of saying "next month". Next month is the one where we'll change this and this and then it will work! Eureka, the secret formula!

I'm whining, I know. I'm paying way less for Gonal-f that most women and for that I'm grateful. I'm not paying for the IUI at all and I have to remember to thank my lucky stars for James' new job that is providing us with all this. 

So, please ladies, be aware that I understand how my whining might sound to many of you who are struggling and have the financial burden as well.

But hey, the bright side... no risk of multiples this month!

PS - Please don't forget to comment on my previous post to win the four leaf clover!

UPDATE:
Doctor called close to 3PM
Estrogen 549
LH 31.8

So yeah, I'm surging.
I'm at work and my very brave co-worker (and friend) watched the video with me and then gave me the trigger shot. Seriously, I owe her because she did a great job.

That Estrogen number would indicate that only one follie will release an egg. Still a little disappointed about that so let's hope it's a good one!

IUI at 11:30AM tomorrow. Here we go!

Monday, July 21, 2014

ICLW Giveaway!

Last month during ICLW Megan at Climbing the Pomegranate Tree did a lucky stirrup socks giveaway and I won (Thanks again, Megan!).

Now, I am going to pay her generosity forward and give away a four leaf clover.


The back of the packaging says:
One leaf is for Hope
A second for Faith
The third leaf is for Love
And a fourth for Luck

To win, all you need to do is write a comment on this post. I'll choose a winner on July 27th.

Good luck!