Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Time for me to be real

WARNING: Stillbirth post. If this is something you can't handle - read no further.

I hold back a lot on this blog for fear of offending a reader. I wish I were one of those people who could write what's in my head & heart and do so unreservedly, not caring about offending others. Not that I attend to say rude things about anyone, that's not what I mean.

In person, I rarely curse but, there are times on this blog I want to throw a word out there. I don't do it because I think of people who read my blog and I don't want superfluous words to turn people off.

Anyway, one of the things I wish I were more open and honest about is my son, Nathan. I don't write much about him because I don't want to scare future or expectant mothers. I don't want people to sit around worrying if it will happen to them (and also because writing about him ALWAYS makes me cry - even now as I write this).

I posted this article on facebook yesterday and it only got 3 likes. I know why and it doesn't upset me. People don't want to talk about stillbirth. Most would rather pretend babies don't die. Or, accept that sometimes early miscarriages happen but, once you get past the 12 weeks, all is fine and dandy so let's not talk about it, okay?

That wasn't my reality though. I gave birth to death. I will never get over it, get past it or let that go. So, don't expect me to. Over time, I've adjusted to the cruelness of it. I will not stop talking about it, though. I won't sweep him under the rug.

If someone thinks I mention his name too much, that's your problem, not mine.

After I made a post about discussions we've had with Ryan about Nathan, a friend asked me a really offensive questions. She didn't mean to be offensive, she had no idea it would be offensive.

She asked why we're talking to Ryan about Nathan (and by extension, death). I hated that question deep in my gut. Nathan is our son and his brother. We do the best we can to explain to him now and as he gets older, he'll understand more and more. But, you better believe that Nathan is our family. He's a son, brother, nephew, cousin and grandson.

I know the only person who could ask such a question is someone who hasn't experienced the deep grief of a stillborn (thank goodness!). So, it's okay. I'm not mad about it but, the question really stuck with me and was on my mind for a while.

My son was born looking like a sleeping baby. A little rough around the edges because of what he'd been through but, he was a baby. A 4lbs 1oz little boy who was wanted and is loved.

This is all a bit deep for the holidays. But, I needed to get it out.

With that being said, I hope every American has a lovely and safe Thanksgiving filled with family and fun. I'm very much looking forward to it myself.

Monday, November 24, 2014

So this is why people hate Mondays

On the way to work this morning our minivan started smoking from underneath the hood and it smelled awful.

When we pulled up at my building, I called AAA and had it towed to a repair shop that is highly recommended by the Lowes Island Neighborhood Watch group.

After stressing all day over how much the problem will cost us, the call finally came and, it was only $350  $650. That's not a scary number at all but, I'm still upset about it. Right before Christmas is not a good time to have to part with $350 $650.

Our minivan is only 4 years old, I didn't think we'd have to have any work done on it for  many years.

Still, it's lovely weather out and I intend to take advantage of it later this afternoon. Today will be a great day for a family walk.

I've been going without them for the last several days and honestly, I've enjoyed the time alone. I like having my music and being able to be alone with my thoughts, too.

On Saturday I even added some distance to my route which felt good. Small steps.

My new favorite app is Breeze by RunKeeper. I love, love, love this app. It counts your steps and gives you a new goal every day. For once, I actually am motivated to reach the goals. I don't know why I'm motivated so much by it, but I am. And, it's working.

I've lost a little more weight and I couldn't be prouder.

I don't think I became pregnant this month but, I feel like if I keep working hard, pregnancy is just around the corner.

Friday, November 21, 2014

3/4 DPO

Still have some dull aching cramps happening off and on.

What is bothering me about this is that they feel so much like menstrual cramps. A quick consult with Dr. Google tells me this is pretty normal but, it's not normal for me.

I'm not reading anything, good or bad, into it. I'm simply curious as to the what/why of it.

Last night when I was near sleep and I started feeling the dull aching I thought to myself  "oh, almost AF time" then I remember thinking "no wait, I only ovulated a few days ago". Then I fell asleep so I didn't get to complete the thought process.

Moving on...
I've noticed my readership is down. It's a funny trend because I realize readers aren't all that interested in the blog unless I'm undergoing treatments.

Reading about motherhood and TTC naturally isn't all that interesting I guess.

The truth is, I understand because there are several blogs I've stopped reading for various reasons. So, I'm okay with that and I expect that when/if I start the IVF process, the readers will return because they're curious about my journey and want to compare it to their own.

I know that most of my regular readers don't have children yet so, it might be hard to relate to someone who is now talking much more about being a mommy and the challenges that go along with that.

I suppose by being on ICLW, I'm "advertising" myself to a group of people whose journey almost exclusively revolves around TTC and most of those people are way past the "lets keep having sex and it will eventually happen" stage.

I am happy to accept that my blog these days is boring to that crowd. And truthfully, I'm still holding out a huge amount of hope that I won't have to do IVF. Especially after reading Patient Subfertility blog post from yesterday. Ouch!

I will have to be dragged to IVF like a kicking screaming child.
But, I will do it the early part of next year if it comes to that.

My first thought was to get started in January but, now I've decided to put it off until March and see what we can accomplish by then.

So, dear readers, expect my blog to continue to be rather boring until then.
And to those that stick by me until that happens, thank you so much. Your comments really do make my days better.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What does it mean, what does it mean?

Can you tell, based on the title of this post, that Ryan has us watching "The Nightmare Before Christmas" on and endless loop?

So, yesterday I was sure that I ovulated on Monday because EWCM was non-existent in the afternoon and, as mentioned, my OPK never did turn positive whereas my fertility monitor did show the peak reading.

However, yesterday I was surprised to see some traces of EWCM later in the day. And, all afternoon up until around bed time, I had serious cramps. They felt like menstrual cramps - very dull aching non-stop.


I took an OPK again last night just to see if the cramping was an indication of anything. Nope, still negative.

I'm leaving the manual override on fertility friend to show ovulation happening on Monday but, I can't say I'm quite as positive about that as I was yesterday morning.

On a different note, I have a feeling something awful has happened to a facebook friend. Recently his wife tagged him in a post announcing their pregnancy. According to the ultrasound photo posted, they would about ten weeks along.

Yesterday he posted a rather cryptic message on facebook about something bad happening but didn't elaborate. They would be more than 12 weeks along now and I hope my suspicion is wrong.

I told myself maybe he lost his job (still an awful thing to happen when you have a baby on the way and right before Christmas) but then, he'd probably just say "What a horrible thing to happen with a kid on the way, I was laid off today" or something similar.

The fact that he didn't mention what this awful thing was has me wondering. I hope I'm wrong. I really, really, really hope it's something else crappy and not that anything has happened to their precious baby.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's GO time updated

The OPK this morning was still showing negative and I have a theory:
I use the fertility monitor in the morning and it can only be used once a day.

Sunday: High
Monday: Peak

I didn't take the OPK until Monday morning and it was open circle (negative). Monday night it was still negative and this morning still negative.

So, what I believe happened is my surge began Sunday afternoon/night and by Monday morning the super sensitive fertility monitor was still picking up on the trail end of that surge but, for the OPK, Monday morning was already too late.
(Which would match up pretty well with my physical cues of ovulation)

I have really liked the CBE Advanced Digital OPK's but they have the same drawback as the monitor in that you can only use it once a day.

With the OPK though, you can use it morning and evening once it picks up a "high" reading but, not with a "negative" or "peak" reading.

So, I believe it would behoove me to get some of the wondfo's just to be able to have the flexibility of being able to test whenever.

I use Fertility Friend to track my cycles and since I don't temp, I use the OPK/Fertility Monitor setting. When you use that feature, it automatically assume ovulation is the day after your first peak/positive test.

In my case, I'm sure ovulation was yesterday so I'm overriding it this month to reflect that.

I'm not worried though, in the BD department, we got the job done. The timing was perfect so now it's just a matter of riding out the TWW.

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's GO time!

Or, at least, I'm pretty sure it is.

This morning the fertility monitor displayed this:

Which matched up with EWCM signs.

However, because I like to cross check, the Advanced OPK displayed this:

So to summarize those picture; the fertility monitor is showing peak ovulation and the advanced OPK is showing negative.

Very weird. But, I'm going with the monitor because A) it's best to assume the most fertile sign to cover your bases and B) like I said, it matches my symptoms.

Because I'm a curious person, I'm planning to take another OPK this evening to see if there is any change.

Fingers crossed for a November BFP!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tough conversations with a 4 year old

Ryan is now at an age where he's observing the world a bit more intensely and he's understanding family relationships and dynamics.

This has brought about some tricky questions that James and I are finding a bit tough to answer. 

For instance, he now has a better understanding that he has a brother. However, the concept of death is too abstract so, he can't quite grasp why his brother isn't with us.

For James and I, that's tough to answer. We're not a religious family so it doesn't feel quite right saying he's with God or Angels or whatever believers say to their own children. However, isn't that a nicer concept for him to picture than to just say "he's not here anymore"?

Sometimes I regret having explained to him he has a brother at so tender an age. However, Nathan is a member of our family and I don't want to pretend otherwise.

But, he's been asking more and more about having a brother (or a sister, depends on the day - he tends to alternate between the two). 

I used to tell him that yes, he will have one but we're not sure when. I no longer feel comfortable answering that way. It feels more and more like a promise I'm not sure we can keep. 

So I decided to use two of his friends as examples of single child families. When he told me Tuesday he wanted a sister I told him that G doesn't have a brother or sister either (and, according to G's mom, never will). I thought maybe that would make him feel a little less alone in a classroom/playground full of friends with siblings. Then I explained his friend P doesn't have a brother or sister either (not sure of their standing on future children) and that not having a sister or brother means he doesn't have to share his toys every day and he gets all our attention to himself. 

This didn't seem to comfort him and it's brought me to tears. Last night as we were eating dinner with my Aunt, who was visiting from out of town, he said again that he wanted his brother (I don't know if that was abstract "a brother" or if he meant Nathan).

I'm ill-equipped to answer these questions. Not just because of how Ryan will take it but, also because of how much it hurts me to have to admit now that Ryan might not have another sibling (something I used to think was a foregone conclusion). 


Monday, November 10, 2014

Two miles won't kill me, right?

My family has been doing a two mile walk everyday. Ryan begrudgingly agreed to sit in the stroller (for a price, of course) so we can go a bit faster. 

The price we pay is having to stop at a playground along the way. We actually pass three playgrounds on this walk but, there is one in particular that Ryan has taken an interest in. So, we stop for about ten minutes so he can play and then, we're back on our way.

So far I've done it happily but, yesterday was not easy. I'm not sure why but, I think it's because I'm not stretching before and my calf muscles are paying the price.

But honestly, who needs to stretch before a simple walk? Me, I guess. 

I have to admit, the walking is making me feel pretty good.

The only real problem I have lately is eating Ryan's Halloween candy of which he's shown very little interest in. Ugh!

I think I might bring the rest to work and be done with it. I clearly have no self control when it comes to miniature snickers.

Today is CD 6 (I've paid so little attention that I had to look it up). That's my entire November TTC update. Pretty boring, huh?

I have been more vigilant about taking supplements so, that's something.

I'm taking:

  • CoQ10 200mg 3x daily
  • DHEA 25mg 3x daily
  • Royal Jelly 300mg 3x daily
  • Folic Acid 800mcg 2x daily
  • Prenatal vitamin
  • Triple Omega
  • Super B Complex
  • Vitamin D3 1000IU
  • Melantonin 5mg
  • Low-dose aspirin 81mg

I saw the CCRM "fertility cocktail" supplements list online ages ago but, forgot to write it down. I just googled it and here it is:

Poor Responder Supplement for Women

  • DHEA - 25mg x3/day
  • Myo Inositol 2gm x2/day
  • Melantonin 3mg (at bedtime)
  • Co Enzyme Q10 - varies from 200 mg x 2/day or 3/day and 400mg x2/day
  • Omega-3 fatty acid 1000mg x1/day (Same thing as Triple Omega)
  • Vitamin C 500mg x1/day
  • Vitamin E 200IU x1/day
  • L-argenine 1000mg x2/day
  • Pycnogenol 100mg x1/day
What's interesting about this list is that I was taking Ovaboost and it has Vitamin E, My-Inositol, CoQ10 & Melatonin in the ingredients. Though it doesn't list how much of each because it's a proprietary blend.

I might go back to Ovaboost and cut out some of the extra pills that Ovaboost seems to cover.

Does anyone have anything to add to the list?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

IVF Clinical Trial (35+)

I thought I'd post this for anyone near the Shady Grove Fertility in Maryland or Pennsylvania.
I know many ladies don't have insurance so maybe you'll find this worthwhile.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I am "Ryan's mom"

Before my TTC friends read further, this entire post will be about being a mother.

I know I'm among the very few that has a child already and my feelings absolutely won't be hurt if you choose not to continue reading.

Just about a year ago we moved to the house we're living in now which is in a neighborhood called Lowes Island (take the time to click on the link, it's a short but amusing Urban Dictionary posting about my neighborhood - and provides some background for the rest of my post).

After you read that link, you might picture me living in a McMansion but, that's not the case. We live in a 4 bedroom townhouse in an older part of Lowes Island.

When Ryan started the new pre-school here, I was concerned about what kind of kids/parents we'd be interacting with. Only because, generally speaking, I don't fit the part of a Lowes Island mom.

Ryan immediately proved popular with the other kids and that somehow "legitimized" me. What I mean by that is it didn't matter that I'm not the mom that gets up an hour early just to do my hair and makeup and I don't utilize the miles and miles and miles of walking/running paths in our area (though, I should!).

Ryan's popularity has made me acceptable with the Lowes Island mommy crowd. Given that these are the kids and parents he'll be interacting with for years to come, this is important to me.

Don't get me wrong, they're not at all snotty women. For the most part, they're normal working mom's, similar to myself, just better dressed with nicer cars (not that the modern minivan we have is junk) whose kids probably don't insist on running around naked once they get home.

I love that Ryan is so well liked. I beam with pride when kids get excited by him walking in the room. To all the kids my name is "Ryan's Mommy" and James is "Ryan's Daddy".

Friday his school did Trunk or Treat. In case you're not familiar with the concept, I'll give a quick synopsis. Parent volunteers lined up cars in the parking lot of the pre-school and opened up our trunks and kids went trick or treating at each car. And, holy cow, did the parents bring their A game!
The trunks were decorated in a way that I doubt Martha Stewart could outdo. This was our first year doing Trunk or Treat so we were woefully under-decorated.

However, my favorite part of Trunk or Treat was meeting a few parents I hadn't yet met and I heard the same thing over and over "my kid talks about Ryan all the time" and "my kid has been asking for a playdate with Ryan for ages". I gave my phone number and email address to a stream of parents who want to get their kids together with Ryan.

And the girls! Ryan is hugged and kissed by the little girls and, it's the sweetest thing ever. I never get my phone out in time to capture these moments, though.

I can live ten lifetimes and become President of the world but, nothing I ever do could bring my as much pride as being Ryan's Mommy.

Friday, October 24, 2014


Hey guys! I'm looking for more friends on I need people to call me out and kick my ass when I'm being lazy.

I'm Jessica Howard (Potomac Falls, VA). I'm not sure you can search by email address (the whole runkeeper friend thing has me confused because, as far as I can see, there is no username that is unique to each person) but, my email address is

I could use all the motivation you have on offer.

I'm very behind on reading ICLW blogs but, plan to catch up this weekend.

There is an update to my Top Secret Blog today, too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Goodbye braces!

My orthodontist removed my braces today - hoorah!
After two years and one month with them on, I forgot what it feels like to just have normal teeth. I've run my tongue over them about ten thousand times. It's so weird!

I'm glad to be done with them. 

I don't really have anything to report with TTC. I'm 1DPO but, so what? When you're not doing treatments you just don't get excited during the TWW. 

That's not to say we didn't put in a valiant effort this cycle. We did what we needed to do to get a positive result but, it's not like I'm looking forward to 14DPO so I can pull out the HPT and wait eagerly for the result. 

Even the naturally occurring "success" of last month isn't making me feel hopeful. It just feels like the odds are greatly stacked against me. Lightening doesn't strike the same place twice type of odds. 

But, we have to try, right?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

New password protected post

It's been a while since I've updated my password protected site but, here is an update.

If you've forgotten or lost the password, please email me and I'll give it to you again.

I go into a few more details about Dr. Grim and an update on my weight loss journey, too.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Introducing Dr. Grim

Stephanie has Dr. Babymaker, I have Dr. Grim.

Today we had our first consultation with Shady Grove. Beautiful office & very welcoming staff.

But, the doctor... well, I didn't hit it off with him at all. James didn't feel the same way I did about him but then, he wasn't being told he's old.

After we met with the doctor, we met with the financial coordinator and by that time, I was crying.

But, I pulled myself together long enough for her to start going over insurance information (which was pointless as our insurance is changing in January).

Then the nurse came in to talk about our plan of action.

Which is, nothing. There is no plan until January when the new insurance kicks in. We can't start a cycle now and it's not a good idea to cross over years when we know we'll have new insurance in January.

We know the new insurance will cover IVF but we don't know if it's under the same allowances we have now. We assume it will be the same, just different out-of-pocket expenditures.

But, we don't know for sure and won't know for a while. So, we're back to delaying IVF until January (roughly).

While the doctor made me feel like my ovaries are a time bomb about to go off, there was some good news.

We will not have to pay more than $500 for ICSI even though my insurance won't cover it without abnormal sperm samples. Huge relief, for sure.

I don't know, I just left the doctor feeling hopeless. James says it's an overreaction to what he actually said but, did agree that this doctor didn't have great bed side manners.

He was matter-of-fact and, I guess, a straight shooter. But, you want to hear a little positivity, maybe a silver lining from your doctor, right?

Instead, he made me feel like there was a huge long shot but, yeah sure, we'll give it a try. Why not?

James said it doesn't matter if his bedside manner is crap, if he manages to get us pregnant, we won't care.

Yeah okay, I guess he's right. But still, it left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.

On September 11, I declared that I would get pregnant on my own before January.  Well, I did that but, I guess I forgot to declare that I would get pregnant AND IT WOULD STICK.

So, I'm trying again.

Because I will it so (again), I will get pregnant before January (again) and it will stick. Nine months later I will bring home and happy and healthy baby and never have to utilize Dr. Grim.

Maybe it will work?

Finally, here is the latest from "Does This Baby Make Me Look Fat?"
After all, laughter is the best medicine "they" say.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Finally some good news

We'll have IVF insurance next year.
Needless to say, that is a huge load off our shoulders.

So, we get to stay in the game.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Let's part ways now, okay?

Damn bronchitis. I desperately need this to be over and done with. But, it won't let go of me. For weeks now I have had to use an inhaler to breathe, get only a few hours of sleep at a time, can't walk very far without needing to rest my lungs and have coughing fits that make people around me cringe.

My body aches from the coughing. It's like I have run five miles while having rubber bullets shot at me.

It is better but, not over.

In the past two weeks I've had a miscarriage, suffered with bronchitis and had my in-laws in town during the worst of both, all while still working.

However, I want to say a big congrats to those who have gotten their BFP's while I've been away. It's great news and I'm wishing you a very happy and healthy 9 months. It's going to go beautifully for you!

I know I haven't made comments but I really haven't been on my computer outside of work except to catch up on Downton Abbey.

Despite my whining, I am feeling better. I got out yesterday and took a short walk with James and Ryan. It wasn't easy (I forgot my inhaler) but, it was a small start.

I'm back on track today with recording my food and making a small effort to exercise lightly. Through all this, I've lost weight but that's not surprising given that I spent so much time vomiting and that the coughing alone is likely expending more calories that I eat all day.

My appetite isn't back to normal just yet but, that's improving, too.

My mood is improving a little but, there is still 10,000 thoughts going through my mind, both positive and negative.

We have the appointment on Friday with Shady Grove but, I can't say I'm looking forward to it now. I guess having gotten pregnant on our own makes me feel like we can do it again. But, I'm 39 and we just don't have that kind of time.

So, I suppose I'm just feeling a little resentful at having to start back down that road.

Yes, we could call it a day and I know there are people in my life who feel we should. I know because hints have been dropped.

But, it's our decision. James and I feel like our family isn't complete and we're going to keep trying until I get to the point where I've had enough.

I'm not there yet. My longing for another baby outweighs the dread of starting fertility treatments again.

Which reminds me, James wrote a lovely blog update on our family blog . My husband truly is a wonderful person who loves his family deeply.

Thank you to everyone who has commented in the last two weeks and I apologize for not responding. My heart (and lungs) just haven't been up to the job of blogging much.

But, I appreciate all the support. You guys make the tough times more bearable.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Minor improvements

I seem to be through the worst of the bronchitis, thank goodness. I'm still wheezing but, I have the rescue inhaler and that's helping. The coughing isn't nearly as bad as it was even two days ago.

Ryan is feeling better although he was sent home from school today because he threw up. James says he's playing as if nothing happened so we'll have to watch him to see what that was about.

My pregnancy began it's end on Monday and the worst of it was over in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. It was worse than I was expecting, and definitely worse than the one in April. 

But, it's done now. 

I've been trying to remember the positive thing that came from this; we got pregnant without help. Presumably we caught a bad egg (or the virus killed it before it started - who knows?) but, it DID happen. 

I'm broken-hearted at how brief the excitement was but, there is so much to be joyful about, too. Something I was sure would never happen, happened. Was it a fluke? 

We meet with Shady Grove on 10/17 and I don't know where we'll go from there. The insurance situation is still unclear and probably won't be clear until early November. 

Either way, I'm hoping to do one cycle this year. The new insurance options don't have co-payments but rather some scheme where you pay 20% of the visit or something like that. Higher deductibles of course and new prescription benefits to boot.

We've already met our deductible for the year, only pay a $30 co-payment and the medications are all covered at a very reasonable co-payment. Since, even if the new insurance would cover IVF, it would still end up costing us a whole lot more, I want to try to fit in a cycle this year.

This wasn't the plan I had in mind for starting IVF but, sometimes you have to roll with it. Plans change and so do situations. I'm going to take advantage of what we have while we have it.

I just hope the new RE will agree. 

I'm feeling a little more relaxed and less panicky that I was before. I have little room to control anything so what's the point in stressing out?

And, if all else fails, maybe we'll get another natural conception (preferably one that sticks). 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bronchitis, pink eye & other crap

After about the 5th or 6th night of not being able to sleep because of all the congestion in my chest, I dragged myself and Ryan to Patient First (Ryan woke up looking like he had pink eye).

I have bronchitis, Ryan has pink eye and an upper respiratory infection.

Doctor tried a nebulizer treatment for me but it didn't do jack. In fact, the breathing test after the nebulizer was worse than before.

So, I was given antibiotics and a rescue inhaler and Ryan was given eye drops.

When we were back home I ate a little something and about thirty minutes later I started vomiting. Ever since then, no matter how little I eat or drink, I vomit afterwards.

It's unlikely this is pregnancy related, most likely part of the viral bronchitis. The doctor couldn't give me a steroid shot like he wanted since I am, technically, pregnant.

I haven't started miscarrying yet which I thought would happen pretty soon after I stopped the progesterone. That's how it worked when I had a CP back in April.

No telling what's going on there but, I'm going to get HCG beta done again a little later. I know it won't be 0 yet since I haven't started bleeding but hopefully it's gone down a little. I don't want this to drag on for ages.

I just cannot catch a break.

And, also, I'm wondering if this virus is the reason my little bean couldn't stick. The symptoms started before I took the HPT so I'm sure the virus was already raging through me by the time I got the positive.

It's probably best not to dwell on that thought too much. I can't go back in time and not get sick so, what good does it do?

Still no word about what (if any) IVF options will be available with the new insurance options. I've forced myself not to think too much about it this weekend.

I just want Mother Nature to get a move on with this CP, get over the bronchitis and get my son healthy again.

Then, when we're all feeling normal again, we can consider what happens next.

Friday, October 3, 2014

This is a joke, right?

I don't mean to turn my blog into twitter or facebook today but,  it's been one thing on top of another.

My old fertility clinic just called and left me a message that said "Jessica, your blood test came back and it's negative. Go ahead and stop taking the progesterone and call us when you're ready to start another cycle".

WTF? Am I being punk'd?

I haven't walked in their door since August.

I figured, okay for some reason they were given my blood test results from today. Weird, but, I'd like to get to the bottom of this because I intend to switch clinics and I don't want them to continue to get results.

I give the nurse a call and ask. She said, "I have it right here, you're not pregnant". I say "well actually I am but, won't be in a week or so. Soooo... what the hell are you talking about? I didn't even do a cycle with you this month".

She gives me a HCG number (< 2) that doesn't match the one I got before lunch from my OB.

Bottom line:
She's reading results from July.

Let's think about that for a minute.
She's calling in October to give me results from July. And, doesn't even realize it.

If I wasn't in total break down mode already, this would be what pushes me over the edge.

Now, I'll leave you with this because it's hilarious and truly made my sh!t day better.
Best one yet, Stephanie!

PS - I'm likely going to be taking a break from writing and reading. I'll check in with you all for sure, but, I'm not sure I'll be in a positive enough place to write meaningful comments.
Why should you have to put up with my bad attitude?

Icing on the f**cking cake

I hate this day so much.

My husband just got information about the upcoming open enrollment at his company.

The insurance we have now will no longer be available. It's not clear if another insurance will have IVF coverage options but, I have to say after reading the email, it doesn't look like it.

We now have two months to do an egg retrieval and embryo transfer. His current insurance covers 4 of these procedures.

I doubt we'll be able to fit in one whole cycle before the end of the year, particularly if they require birth control for 3 weeks.

October 3rd, you just joined the list of dates I'll hate for the rest of my life.

The results are in...

My beta went down (a lot, actually) so, we can classify this as another biochemical pregnancy.

I'll stop the progesterone and wait for the miscarriage to happen.

I'm sad, of course, but, also glad I know definitively.

More information for the new RE to have next week, too.

Still, it was nice to be pregnant for five days.

A little bit pregnant

Yes, you can be a little bit pregnant.
And the anxiety and ambiguity that comes with that is absolutely maddening.

As you know, my first test was, in my eyes, at least, ambiguous. Definitely pregnant but low beta numbers.

I remember back when I found out I was pregnant with Ryan, I took the HPT, it was positive so I called my OB (same OB I have now). He made an appointment for me that was at the six weeks mark. That's when he see's pregnant patients for the first time.

When I went in at six weeks, he did an ultrasound and we saw the heart beat. That was how it went going forward.

I vaguely remember him taking blood but, we never discussed HCG beta numbers or the such.

And, that's exactly how it happened with Nathan, too.

I joined due date forums and other women discussed beta numbers and compared but, I never had a clue what they were discussing. I read women comforting other women saying "maybe yours is lower because you ovulated late or implanted late".

This stuff was totally foreign to me and I had no idea what they were talking about.

The first experience I had with beta testing was at my old fertility clinic. The first month I got a call saying the blood test was negative. That was that.

The second month is when all those phrases that I didn't understand before became meaningful. My second IUI was "successful" but my HCG beta was 8.

The nurse said right away that it didn't look good but wanted me to return in two days for another draw.

I started to Google frantically. Yes, 8 is bad. That rarely ends well. But, I did find a few hopeful stories of women who started with very low numbers and went on to have healthy babies.

Next beta was still 8 so that was that. I went in for two more to watch for it to return to 0. This was my crash course in beta numbers and just how significant they are.

Since that call on Wednesday, my life has been a series of ups and downs. Hopefulness then anxiety - back and forth.

Today's number is important. If it's doubled (or more), I can breathe a very small sigh of relief. I can know we're headed in the right direction. Doesn't guarantee safety of course, but, nothing can.

My fear today is more ambiguity. A number that has risen but maybe not risen enough or one that didn't quite double but close.

I think that would be worse than being told it went down or it barely increased. With that, you know what you're really being told; this isn't your take home baby. It's time to let Mother Nature do her thing.

I stopped taking tests after Wednesday night because they weren't telling me anything new. The line is still light and I was looking for a pattern of darkening to ease my mind a little. They weren't getting darker.

This is the "hopeful" part, my doctor was completely unconcerned with the number. Well, it's hopeful but also somehow infuriating. He said it was so very early that he expected to see a very low number.

But, I can't help but think that if that same called had come from my clinic after a treatment, I'd be told to, once again, not expect much.

I can't control what I get told today. So, just in case, I'm thinking of the positives to take away from this should the news not be what I am hoping for.

I got pregnant on my own (well, James helped out)! Holy crap, I got pregnant on my own! It CAN happen. My OB was right when he said he did not think my cervix was an impediment.

The sperm can get to where they need to go, they just need to get hold of a good egg.  You better believe that should this little blastocyst not make it, we're going to go at it like rabbits in hopes we can catch a better egg next time.

That doesn't mean we won't pursue IVF in the new year as planned (assuming James' insurance still covers it - another anxiety fueled situation).

There is always a silver lining and getting pregnant, even a little pregnant, on my own is a pretty huge silver lining.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Well, that was unexpected

The last 48 hours have been a total whirlwind of ups and downs.

Monday morning I came in to work but wasn't really feeling well and had a hacking cough that was disruptive to my fellow cube farm dwellers so, I went home to work.

Spent a good portion of the day worrying about one thing or another, such as:

James got word that his insurance at work is changing and there would be a conference call next week to discuss it. This sent me into total panic mode because, what if they take away IVF coverage?

Then sometime about 4PM, for no reason at all and on a complete whim, I took a FRER.

Do you see it there, ever so faint? Go ahead and click on it, it's there. No drugs, no monitoring, no doctor involvement (no progesterone supplements after ovulation). We got those two lines the old fashioned way.

And now, to some degree, I'm pregnant.

I was shaking and didn't know who to call first. Then I realized, it should really be the baby daddy.
So, I call him and no answer.

Well, I tried right?

Then, I called my old RE because I knew I'd need HCG Beta drawn and I wanted that done ASAP.

The nurse there said if it was a naturally occurring pregnancy, I need to call my OB. So, that's what I did. I know full well he doesn't deliver babies anymore but he's all I had and delivering the baby wasn't the most pressing concern at the moment.

He said he'd have me in first thing in the AM to draw blood. I was able to stop myself from taking anymore tests that night but I went to town the next morning. 5 tests and all squinters like the one above but all definitely positive.

Yesterday morning after I dropped Ryan off at school, I was off to see my OB. Long story short, blood was drawn and because Quest enjoys making people wait a lifetime for results, I didn't get them until today.

The nurse called and said "you were right, you're pregnant!" and then proceeded to give me a number that was infuriatingly low. Higher than when I had the chemical in April but a number that did not make me feel safe.

I burst out crying. She tried to tell me it was so early and this number was completely fine. She said my doctor would call me a little later to discuss and I thanked her still sobbing.

Not even half an hour later he called to offer his congratulations. He said the number was fine for 10/11DPO but said, if I wanted to, I could repeat the test tomorrow.

I said yes, that would definitely make me feel better.

Guys, the number is low, in the teens. I know everyone says it's the doubling that matters and it has to start somewhere etc etc etc. And, I know my doctor says the number is totally fine.

But, most cases like this I've encountered first hand have not ended well. I'm trying to be positive and I'm definitely hoping for the best but I just can't feel happy.

The test I took this morning was still positive but still so very weak. Granted, I had a hard time mustering up enough urine to even go a full five seconds so that may have played a part.

This graph has lifted my spirits a bit:

That leaves room for hope.

But, my heart is telling me that I likely won't be the one to beat the low beta odds.

Either way, I go tomorrow for another blood draw and if it's doubled, I'll breathe a sigh of relief but still won't relax until there is a heartbeat seen and heard.

I would completely appreciate whatever good thoughts, vibes, prayers offered.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What the hell am I coming down with?

My face felt very flush on Friday and it's back today. It feels like the skin on my face is burning from the inside.

I've felt dizzy a few times (no, I'm not pregnant) and I'm coughing so hard I have wet my pants and nearly vomited.
I've been taking a decongestant that doesn't seem to be working. I've switched to an allergy med hoping that would do the trick.

I'm hungry, but, nothing sounds good.

I can hear the wheezing in my chest at night and that makes it hard to sleep. Also, I go between freezing and burning up throughout the night.

On top of all this, Ryan has a pretty bad cough, too. Ryan has been sleeping with me at night and James has exiled himself to the spare bedroom while we recover from this mystery illness. Thankfully, other than the cough, Ryan seems fine. I switched him to allergy meds, too.

Today I'm 10DPO and I'm conducting an experiment. 
I've been on progesterone suppositories every month since February and no longer know what a normal LP for me is unmedicated.

Before I started treatments, it varied wildly, which, apparently, is very unusual. It would be anywhere from 8 to 15.

It could be that my DPO counting was off. I didn't temp and relied solely on OPK's.

So, I've made it to 10DPO and I'm feeling sure that will end sometime tomorrow. I started feeling some pretty harsh cramps yesterday but then, that could have been from the coughing.

I was expecting it last night and made overnight arrangements assuming it would happen as I slept. When I woke up to nothing, I was pretty surprised.

Since we have made a commitment to try on our own until January, I'll go back to using progesterone next cycle just in case a miracle does come our way.

Thanks to everyone who wrote comments on my last post!
Because of those, I came up with about 8 new questions to add to my list for the new RE next month.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Help from IVF'ers needed - Part 2

This question may seems similar to what I posted a month ago but, it's not. I'm not looking to compare clinics now, I'm sure I've settled on the one I want.

And, now that I've settled on a clinic (and assuming they accept me as a patient), I'm compiling a list of questions to ask the doctor at my first appointment.

I have a few already but, I'd really appreciate some input from those of you who've been down this path already.

Is there anything you wish you had asked up front or something you didn't know until later that you wish you had known from the start?

Now matter how small or obvious, please let me know. I want to cover all my bases this time.

It's not that I didn't feel that way last time but it was a different situation in a different time and place and James and I had a different mindset.

And, we were only considering IUI at that time because we had no IVF insurance.
Now that the insurance situation has changed and we're covered, I want to be thorough.

And one last question for those still trying: what vitamins/supplements are you taking? I'd also like to know how much, how many times a day and if your doctor suggested it or did independent research lead you to taking it.

I need you guys and since we're in the middle of ICLW, this is a great time to ask!

Lay it on me, guys!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Let's push things forward

I've sat down to write a new post at least four time in the last two days.
I start then say to myself "I can't be bothered" and delete it. And, I've been awful at responding to comments, too. Sorry about that.

Maybe it's because I don't feel like I have a lot to say. Or maybe I've had nothing but negative thoughts in my head and who wants more of that?

I've actually stopped reading blogs that always seem so negative. Not because they were negative but because the negativity started to bore me. 

However, my spirits up today.
James and I saw my retiring OB yesterday and it was so wonderful. I showed him a picture of Ryan since he hasn't seen him for two years. We thanked him for bringing Ryan into the world safely. 

He did the normal GYN exam that I've been putting off. Most importantly though, we talked about infertility. My OB isn't an infertility specialist in any way but, he did have some valuable advice for us. 

He said he thinks the position of my cervix being the cause of my infertility is bunk. He said my cervix has always been high up (he would know, he's seen it more than anyone else!) and awkwardly placed. Some women are just like that. 

But, seeing as I got pregnant quickly three times in two years, he doesn't believe it's the cause. Internet search actually agreed that a tilted cervix isn't an obstacle for sperm that has tested normal (normal volume and motility). James' sperm has been A+ so they are likely getting to where they need to be.

He recommended doing a little experiment at home; semen liquefaction. He said  however long it takes to liquefy is how long you should lay with your hips elevated. 

How do you do this?
Well, you need a "sample" in a cup and see how long it takes to go from the white goopy stage to liquid stage.

If you've ever done an IUI or an SA, you probably already have these results. 

Fortunately, every single time we did an IUI, I asked for a copy of the SA. I was looking through them and it's taken anywhere from 60 minutes to 15 minutes to liquefy. 

So, for me to be safe, I should have my hips elevated for an hour. 30 minutes would probably do it really since only one was 60 minutes and the rest were under 20. 

He wasn't suggesting we skip IVF in favor of TTC on our own again. In fact, he encouraged IVF and said don't waste another day on IUI.

But, he said since we're taking off until the New Year, give his suggestion a try.

I also asked if any genetic testing was done on my miscarriage back in 2010. I don't remember he and I discussing anything about that after the D&C. My mind was elsewhere at the time because I had a baby at home who was only 4 months old.

Unfortunately, I never asked for genetic testing to be done. So I don't know the gender or what defects it might have had to cause the miscarriage (I was 10 weeks along). 

The other piece of important advice he gave me was to not bother with a regular OB when I do get pregnant. He said to go straight to a high risk doctor. Since I'm considered AMA (advanced maternal age) and I've had a stillborn, he suggested I see only a specialist and gave me a recommendation. 

Looking at their website just filled me with total peace. That's the practice for me, I can already tell. No doctor can prevent the cord getting wrapped around my baby's neck again but, this place specializes in nuchal cord ultrasounds (that puts my mind at ease right there) as well as AMA and RPL. 

And, they deliver at the hospital that is closest to my home. I was warned that if our baby is born in distress, he/she will be airlifted to the hospital where Ryan and Nathan were born because they have the best NICU in the area. But, let's hope it won't come to that.

Next month I meet with Shady Grove Fertility and I am so damn excited. After pouring through their website and facebook page and looking at their SART report I want to be their patient.

Looking over the paperwork they sent us to fill out, I just feel so much better about this place. 
I'm relieved I didn't start the IVF process with my old clinic. 

In other news:
Last night Ryan's pre-school had Curriculum Night. This is where the teacher explains what your child in learning and how he's learning it.

I got to speak with her one on one about Ryan, too. I asked her if he's a leader or follower in class. She laughed and said Ryan was the leader of the whole class.

This made me pause a moment, that's not what I was expecting at all but, I was thrilled to hear it. She said he's very popular with the other kids and he's always nice. She only had great things to say about him and it made my day. 

All in all, I'm feeling in better spirits than I have lately. 

You might notice I haven't commented on my weight loss journey. Erm... well... umm... the thing is...
How about we check in with that next week?

I just haven't been good to myself for the last week and a half so, I'm getting back on track.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

This one is going to sting

I have handled all pregnancy announcements and subsequent births without drama. Because mostly, it hasn't been anyone very close to me. Co-workers I don't know outside of work, facebook friends I haven't seen since high school & Royals, no big deal.

None of my very close friends or family have gotten pregnant until now. And, this one stings.

My friend J (who I also work with) said she needed to tell me something yesterday so we went for a walk. How did I not guess her news? I truly thought she wanted to tell me some work gossip. 

It's lovely of her to want to tell me so early and before word got out because she knows how we've struggled.

But, there is more to this story. 

She and I were pregnant with our second babies at the same time, we had the exact same due date in fact. Only our stories ended very differently. I had a funeral for mine and not too long after, she delivered a gorgeous healthy son.

James and I have been trying for another one ever since we were given the all clear in 2012. Nearly two years now and I still don't have a baby and she's on her third. 

Now let me say, I'm happy for her. She wanted another one and she's getting another one. Even though I knew she was going for a third, I thought it would take a while since she's a few years older than me. But no, she pretty much got it the first shot. This is the first announcement that has hit me directly in the gut.

The thing is, it took hours before it had an effect on me. When she told me I was completely happy and told her it was kind to worry about me but I was fine. I said it because, I thought I was.

But, I was at work and had my mind on a deadline and once I had down time to think about it, I was gutted.

Not gutted that she is pregnant but, gutted that pregnancy has once again passed me by in favor of another. It sounds so incredibly selfish but, I feel like others keep getting my miracle. 

And on top of that, she's team May Baby. Something I had my heart set on so much last month. 

To add insult to injury, as James dropped me off at work this morning I saw a woman who works for my company but on a different floor. She had her first baby a couple months after I had Nathan. 

I haven't seen her in a while and guess what? She's looking at least 7 months pregnant. 

Am I somehow not deserving of another baby?
Have I done something so awful to make me not worthy?
Are my husband and I not good enough parents to the one we have?
Or, does the universe just hate me?

And right now, I don't even have an RE. I don't know if the one I'm interviewing next month (or, are they interviewing me?) will even take me on.

Please tell me, how do I keep my spirits up?
Not a rhetorical question my friends, I'm really asking for ideas on keeping my spirits up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How things can change in one day

As you know, yesterday I was feeling rather despondent about all the things going on at once. Honestly, it was enough to make me wonder if I should throw in the towel on everything. The dieting, another baby... everything.

But, I picked myself up pretty quickly and took action.

Here is my update:

1. I no longer have an OB.
I'm still very disappointed about this one. I've gone through 2 c-sections and I want the best doing my third one when the times comes. And, he's the best.

But, there is a silver lining. He only delivers at the hospital where Nathan died and while I won't get into the entire story (the ending is all that matters), that hospital can never hold anything but nervousness and anxiety for me now.

Ryan was born at that hospital as well as my cousin and probably most of Ryan's friends. It's an excellent hospital with top notch facilities. It's where I lost my son, though.

So, a new OB that's closer to home means that when the time comes, I can deliver at a different hospital.

I'm going in for my annual GYN exam next week and I'm going to ask him who he recommends. I trust him to hand me off to someone great.

2. I no longer have an RE.
As of October 17th, that will hopefully change; I've made an appointment with Shady Grove Fertility.

When I called to make the appointment the woman I spoke with put me at ease from the start. First, her accent sounded like my husbands so I assumed she was English (South African as it turns out. Doh!) but, it was comforting. It kind of felt like I was just having a chat with his mum and it felt comfortable and reassuring.

I explained the hassle I had just gone through with my old RE and she was so sympathetic and encouraging. Honestly, that mattered to me.

I won't know yet whether or not they will accept me as a patient. It's not like my old clinic who would basically take anyone who walked through the door and had money to pay.

When I explained my situation and gave her my numbers she said she was sure I would be taken on as a patient.

Call me crazy but, I'm tossing around the idea of giving the new clinic one shot at IUI. I still have three left that my insurance will pay for and IUI might be a good way to get a feel for the new clinic, their procedures and staff before trusting them with IVF.


3. Despite doing everything right, I've gained weight.
This still holds true. But, I believe in what Megan and my husband have both said; weight fluctuates. Particularly for women and where they are in their cycle.

I believe I'm doing the right things to lose weight and I know the scale will reflect that eventually. Meanwhile, as soon as I'm done with this post, I intend to google "does your weight increase close to ovulation?". ;-)

I'm going to keep on doing what I'm doing because I know it's the right thing. I won't obsess over the scale (I have a friend who swears she can retain several pounds of water weight at any given time).

And, lastly.
I got a positive OPK this morning (CD 12). I was on fertility meds for so long, I wasn't sure what to expect this cycle.

CD 12 is about right on target for me so, as usual, my body is doing everything it's supposed to do, when it's supposed to do it, except for becoming pregnant.

I'm still hoping for my miracle before the end of the year so we're getting down to business in the BD department.

We're in it to win it!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Freaking the f**ck out!

Where do I even begin?

1. I no longer have an OB.
The OB who delivered Ryan has retired from OB work. He's going to be doing GYN only going forward. This freaked me out enough to bring me to the brink of tears. This doctor saw me through 3 pregnancies and was well and truly upset when Nathan was stillborn. He wasn't there with me at the time because he was in the same hospital having emergency open heart surgery.

While he was recovering from that major event in his life, he got the news about Nathan and he called me from his own sick bed to tell me how sorry he was that he wasn't there for us.

I knew his retirement was probably coming after that, but, I was hoping to have him deliver one last baby of ours. Now, it's too late. I didn't get pregnant and his OB days are over. After what I've been through, I will find it hard to trust another doctor. I don't even know how to pick one. I don't want another one, I want him.

Yes, I realize I'm not even pregnant and this is all a moot point unless I become pregnant. Which may never happen since...

2. I no longer have an RE.
I've officially fired my RE's office. For one, their billing department is atrocious. The bad online reviews I read were almost exclusively about their poor billing department. At the time I thought, "who cares, they get me pregnant and we can sort out the  billing". Well, I'm not pregnant and the reviews were right, billing department is dreadful.

My insurance company has been trying to contact them for over a month. Last night they read off to me every attempt to contact them they've made. Even my insurance company can't figure out what the hell they're doing.

This morning, on a whim, I called myself and spoke with the billing department. She was rude and called my insurance company liars. She said they haven't been calling her. I got frustrated and told her she'll be getting a call from them today and I needed her to answer the phone.

Her response? "I don't sit by my phone all day. I can't guarantee I'll answer when they call." The woman was full of attitude our entire conversation.

On top of that, last month they sent all my blood work to LabCorp instead of Quest which means I have to pay 100% out-of-pocket for it because my insurance doesn't have an agreement with LabCorp.

When you're getting blood work done almost every other day, you can imagine how quickly that adds up. I now owe LabCorp hundreds of dollars which we, obviously, didn't budget for.

Also, at that last IUI, my husband refused to pay the $250 for the sperm wash until they sorted out the billing. We can expect that bill to come in the mail soon and as far as I'm concerned, they can wait forever for it.

Their in-house lab doesn't participate in any insurance. So, anything you do there like sperm wash for IUI,  ICSI, Assisted Hatching (which I was planning to do since insurance will pay for it) and PGD have to be paid out-of-pocket.

The office itself is in-network but their lab isn't. What good is that?!

So, I'm done with them.

3. Despite doing everything right, I've gained weight.
I stepped on the scale three different days and it's not budging either. I am up four pounds from my weigh-in Friday. WTF?!

I know I shouldn't be weighing myself every day but this current situation is upsetting me. I'm staying off until Friday and recording whatever weight is there, even if it's a higher weight.

I can't even begin to understand what's going on. Stress?

I will not fall apart. I will not fall apart. I will not fall apart.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Because dammit, I will it so!

"Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so."
-William Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet

I made an important decision today; I'm going to get pregnant on my own the old fashioned way.
And, I'm going to do it before January.

Okay,okay -  maybe I'm feeling a little full of myself with my weight loss success (9 pounds in 11 days!).

However, I am going to give it my all these next four months. I'm going to continue to focus on weight loss, but, I don't want to give up on my own miracle happening.

So, I will myself to get pregnant.

It's not even breaking new ground. This is something I've done before - a few times in fact.

Let's face it, I've had much better success without fertility treatments than with.
I'm aware that I'm older now and things have changed (most importantly, my cervix). But, it doesn't mean for one second it's not worth trying.

Trying for me will mean sticking with OPK's and/or the fertility monitor (which I love, by the way), checking for EWCM and timed BD.

If only we can get Ryan back to sleeping in his own bed...