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...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Going in the right direction

I weighed myself on a whim today (normal weigh-in day is Friday) and I'm down another two pounds for 7 lost in total.


I did kind of think I'd be down a bit since Friday since all day Sunday was spent at Kings Dominion at James' company picnic. It felt like we walked a thousand miles!

We had such a great time. It wasn't too hot, a little breeze coming through and the rain stayed away. Couldn't have asked for better weather. 

Huge success all the way around.

The rest of this blog is for my fellow infertile friends.
I want to share a 100% true story with you that I think will give you all some hope. 

I have been a member of a stillborn support group since 2012 when Nathan died. It was so helpful to connect with other moms and dads who have suffered in the same way.

Anyway, in that group was a woman who is a doctor. I can't remember all her details anymore but her firstborn was stillborn.

After that, she was told she had less than a 1% chance of conceiving a baby and she'd never be able to carry one to term at that. 

She tried fertility treatments anyway and they all failed. So, her and her husband had picked out a donor egg and a surrogate mom. It was all worked out and they were ready to go.

Then she fell pregnant, naturally. Her doctors told her it was amazing but she'd never be able to carry this baby to term and she should continue her plans with the surrogate. 

She chose to put those plans on hold, just to see how things went. That pregnancy resulted in a baby that has now turned 1. 

She's pregnant. And again, naturally. 

Is this the woman taking up all our miracles? Maybe! But, she gives me hope. 
Less than 1% has turned into one perfectly healthy baby with another on the way. 

I try to think of her whenever I find myself thinking that I don't know why I should bother trying to conceive naturally when I know it will never work. 

And for me, it probably won't. 

I suppose it's kind of like the lottery; someone wins. Who knows, maybe it will be me (or you).

Friday, September 5, 2014

Finding some positivity among disappointment

At 14DPIUI I tested BFN.
No surprise of course but, yes, I was a tiny bit disappointed. You're always hoping for a miracle, right?

I stopped the progesterone after that. I know I was going to keep it going until 18DPIUI and test one more time but honestly, I've known for some time now that it didn't work. I don't see any point in prolonging it.

I've been tossing around the idea of not tracking anything for the next four months. No OPK's, no fertility monitor and no recording data on an app.

As The Beatles would say "Let It Be".

When I notice EWCM I'll make sure to throw is some BDing but, I want to relax for a bit. I've been tracking, POAS and everything else for nearly two years. It's time to BD for fun, again - whenever - and not think about what the timing is.

When the time comes, will I be able to stick to the plan and not check an OPK? I don't know. It feels like one of those things that's easy to say but maybe not so easy to do. We'll see.

Remember I said my RE suggested I lose ten pounds before getting started on IVF? And, you might also remember that I said that the reality is, I have quite a bit more than that to lose.

Well, today was weigh-in #1 and the first week I lost 5 pounds! That's quite a good start, I think. And it's motivated me to keep going.

More about that can be read here (for people who have the password).

Everyone have a good weekend!

PS - you might notice that I have kind of stolen TTC In My 40's blog postings style. Well, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Operation May Baby = Bust


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
Just T
Lab Monkey
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!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Top Secret Blog Update

I took the bait.

Email me at: 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:

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

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!

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.

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?

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

See you there!