Natural Ways to Improve Fertility

I’m so thrilled to welcome guest blogger Phil Druce, founder of Ovulation Calculator to my blog!

OvulationCalculator.com provides education and the necessary tools to help families who are trying-to-conceive and struggling with fertility. It was a no-brainer when they asked me if I’d be interested in collaborating with them raising awareness of infertility.

Thank you Phil and Ovulation Calculator for doing what you do to raise awareness by providing women in pursuit of baby with resources they need.

– Jane

Natural Ways to Improve Fertility

It is surprising for some couples to learn that it isn’t so common to get pregnant on the first try. This misunderstanding can lead to a lot of disappointment and stress. But truthfully, it is very common for healthy, fertile couples to take six cycles to conceive.

And if you have an issue like low cervical mucus, it can take even longer.

No one likes to wait, so we are going to cover a few natural ways to improve cervical mucus and boost your chances of conceiving in any given cycle.

But first, let’s look at the reasons why your cervical mucus may be low in the first place.

Over or underweight – Experts recommend keeping a healthy BMI when trying to conceive. This equates to a range of 18.5 to 24.9. If your weight puts you at a higher or lower BMI, it is time to make some changes. If you are underweight, be careful about loading up on junk food at this time. If you are overweight, try to lose while still eating a balanced diet. Nutrition is also important at this time.

Hormonal imbalances – The body must maintain a delicate balance of hormones at all times. If they are off, it can spell trouble for your fertility. Talk to your doctor if you think you need your hormone levels tested.

Medications – Some medications, especially antihistamines, can interfere with fertility and cervical mucus production. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

Nutritional deficiencies – The body needs a balance of the right nutrients in order to function at its best.

Infections – Some STDs don’t have symptoms, so if you’re having trouble with cervical mucus and cannot understand why, it wouldn’t hurt to get tested.

Douching – Most douches are terrible for fertility. Steer clear.

Natural Ways to Improve Cervical Mucus

Avoid Toxins – Unfortunately, toxins are virtually impossible to avoid completely. But when you are trying to conceive, make your best effort. These are healthy habits to maintain throughout pregnancy also. Pay special attention to the ones that touch your skin, like shampoos and soaps.

Stop Smoking – It’s a nasty habit, but it can also impact your fertility. Experts recommend quitting three months before trying to conceive. You want to get all of the nicotine out of your system, including nicotine from products such as patches.

Maintain a Healthy Weight – Being overweight or underweight can hurt your chances of conceiving. But don’t try to make major changes all at once. A difference of even just 10 pounds in the right direction can improve your chances of conceiving.

Skip the Lubricants – Most lubricants are terrible for fertility. Use one that is designed for conception (it should say so on the package), or use a natural alternative like coconut oil. Keep in mind that a lubricant isn’t safe just because it is natural. Even saliva can have a negative impact on fertility.

Mind Your Medicine – Many medicines can impact fertility and cervical mucus production. If you’re on any medication, talk to your doctor about whether it could impact your chances of conceiving. There may be safe alternatives.

Eat a Balanced Alkaline Diet – A diet high in vegetables, nuts and seeds seems to work well for promoting fertility. To keep your diet alkaline, avoid acidic foods like meats and most dairy products. There is mixed evidence on this natural remedy, but it certainly will not hurt to eat more vegetables.

Take Evening Primrose Oil – Many women who are trying to conceive will take evening primrose oil to improve the quantity and quality of their cervical mucus. If you’d like to give it a shot, begin taking evening primrose oil at the start of your cycle and stop just before you ovulate. You can begin again at the start of your next cycle, if conception did not take place.

Stay Hydrated – It is important to replenish lost water and to hydrate well enough to keep the body functioning. This means that you should drink the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day (or more). If you are dehydrated, you may not produce enough of that fertile, ‘raw egg white’ type cervical mucus you’ll need to conceive.

Take L-Arginine – L-Arginine is an essential amino acid that helps with many bodily functions. Many believe that it can improve the fluidity and production of cervical mucus.

Avoid High-Doses of Vitamin C – Vitamin C may be your go-to nutrient for whenever you’re starting to feel under the weather, but some evidence shows that it may actually dry up cervical mucus. When it comes to vitamin C during conception, be conservative. What you get from your food and prenatal vitamin is probably sufficient.

Now you know how to improve your cervical mucus it’s also important to learn how to monitor your cervix. You can read about how to monitor your cervix here.

Philip Druce - Founder Of Ovulation Calculator

Author Bio: Phil Druce is the Founder of Ovulation Calculator a site that predicts when you are ovulating and provides up-to-date information on how to get pregnant. Ovulation Calculator has recorded over 10,000 pregnancies and counting.

BUSTED STORK

January 22 – February 3, 2016

Ten days. It’s only ten days that I needed to wait until my pregnancy blood test. During these 10 days, I tried hard to stay away from the Google search bar. Who am I kidding? I caved in the day after my embryo transfer. If you remember from my previous post about my embryo transfer, the embryologist said that if implantation was going to happen, it would happen within 48 hours after the transfer. I began Googling to see what signs I can look for with implantation. It ranged from cramping, to spotting, to absolutely nothing. This Google search didn’t get me far at all. I refused to hear again that I have a busted stork.

Not only was my mind on implantation signs constantly, but my mind was also on my entire IVF experience to include the loss of all 7 embryos. I just couldn’t stop thinking negatively. If this IVF doesn’t work, I have no embryos left. JM and I will have to start all over again from scratch— financially, mentally, and physically.

We tried very hard to keep ourselves occupied during these 10 waiting days by going out for nice dinners with friends and working longer hours. It was weird to go out to dinner and not order a glass or bottle of wine. I wasn’t afraid to share the reason why I wasn’t drinking with our friends so it was known to many what JM and I were going through. Our friends were very positive and kept reminding us that we could be pregnant right now. The thought of that kept our spirits and hopes up.

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On February 1st, I did the inevitable. I took an at-home pregnancy test. Mentally I was trying to prepare myself for negative pregnancy test #24. As I stood there for 300 seconds, I prayed I saw a double line. However, all I saw was one pink line. I didn’t panic. I didn’t cry. I just shook it off and convinced myself I took the test too early and tomorrow is another day.

On February 2nd, I repeated the same process and took another at-home pregnancy test. This time I took a shower while I waited for the double line to appear, but when I went to look at the strip, once again I only saw one pink line.

On February 3rd, I repeated the same process one final time. I took another at-home pregnancy test and took a shower while I waited for the double line to appear. #24. This is highly likely going to be the 24th month of an unsuccessful pregnancy. I didn’t bother to tell JM and proceeded to the doctors office that morning for the blood test. They took my blood, wished me luck and said I should get a call with the results sometime after lunch.

I got in my car and headed to work, but didn’t realize until I pulled into my office parking lot that I just drove for 35 minutes in silence. My daily morning routine usually involves listening to my favorite morning radio show, but I guess I just got lost in my thoughts trying to mentally prepare myself for the afternoon phone call.

When my supervisor got into the office, I immediately went to her and simply said, “Today is either going to be a very good day or the worst day of my life.” I didn’t need to say anything more. My supervisor knew exactly what I was referring to and said to me, “If you need to leave later, just leave and don’t feel like you need to let me know. Take care of you.” I’m forever thankful to have her as a supervisor and couldn’t have asked for more.

The 12-1pm lunch hour passed and all I could think about was the anticipated phone call. While a part of me was prepared to hear my 24th negative, another part of me was still hopeful and perhaps my at-home tests were false. Finally at 1:14pm, my office phone rang. The nurse knew it was me when I said hello and I knew it was her as soon as she said “Hi Jane.” Her next words were “I’m sorry, Jane, but today’s results were negative.” I turn my office chair away from my coworkers’ line of sight and bury my head against my rested arm on the desk and shook my head like as if the nurse could see my reaction. I couldn’t get a word out. The nurse continues, “I’m so sorry, Jane, but the doctor would like to see you when you’re ready to discuss next steps and what would be done differently for IVF #2.” I finally caught my breath and said “okay” and hung up the phone without saying goodbye.

I grabbed a tissue off my desk and tried to control my mascara and eye liner to get myself together. After maybe 2 or 3 minutes, I finally got my emotions in control and decided I wasn’t in the mental state of mind to continue working the rest of the day. I walk into my supervisor’s office and as soon as she makes eye contact with me I said nothing, but shook my head no. My supervisor immediately jumps from her office chair, shuts her door closed and hugs me for a couple of minutes. The tears just poured down my face. She proceeds to let me vent and tells me to take the time I need to grieve.

I head home and just wait for JM to get home. To be honest, I can’t remember what I did until he got home, but I do remember the moment JM got home. He took one look at me and just knew. He asks me, “Was today the pregnancy test?” and I proceed to tell him how I knew it was going to be negative 3 days ago and how today was the blood test.

We just held each other the rest of the night, ordered take out and discussed what we wanted to do next. We were devastated. I remember JM asked me if I wanted to go through this again. I knew immediately I didn’t want to go through it the very next month. I wanted to give my body a break from all the medical hormones, injections, and replenish our savings account a bit. JM was happy to do whatever I wanted to do. We agreed we would meet with the doctor for a follow up consultation as soon as possible so we could mentally and financially prepare ourselves for what we’d be up against for attempt #2 of IVF.

Once again, I was sent a busted stork.

KNOCK ME UP, DOC

January 16 – 21, 2016

Today we’re missing out on a family get-together to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. It’s fine.  We’re only missing it due to a *minor* surgery. We were a little upset to once again miss a family event due to some sort of infertility appointment, but at the same time excited because this was a major event for us. It’s one step closer to knock up day! In the meantime, JM and I had to wake up at 5am on a Saturday morning. JM and I hit the road at 530am and drive an hour to the surgical center. I’m so uncomfortable and beyond ready to get these eggs taken out. When we arrive, the nurses get me set up with an IV and the anesthesiologist asks me a bunch of health questions, yada, yada, yada. I explain to the anesthesiologist that I get very nauseous and usually vomit as soon as I wake up from the anesthesia. He promises me there are drugs for that and will take care of me.

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JM hands one of the nurses his prized sample in a plastic container and brown paper baggie – only to find out his swimmers literally swam out of the container. WTF!? I don’t know why, (of course I know why… I’m flipping hormonal as ever!) but I begin to panic. Timing is critical with IVF and JM was to provide a sample of his swimmers exactly 2 hours before my eggs were ready to be fertilized on a petri-dish. The nurse assures me it is fine and JM can provide another sample while I’m getting my eggs taken out.

When it’s finally my turn to get my eggs out at 8:30am the nurse walks me over to the freezing cold surgical room. The doctor who is about to retrieve my eggs instructs me to lay down on the table and once again put my legs up in the stirrups. I beg him to please do his best to not disturb my endometriosis and to take care of my babies (literally). He states he will do his damnedest to avoid touching my endo. The next thing I know, the room starts to get fuzzy and I’m out for the count.

Obviously while under anesthesia you don’t remember a thing. The next thing I remember is waking up back in the hospital bed and room I was in before my procedure and JM is sitting in the chair where I left him. I’m as groggy as can be, but the embryologist insists on having a conversation with me. The news she tells me wakes me up instantly. She tells me I had 16 eggs retrieved. (OMG! 16?!?!?!) I have no idea what that means and proceed to ask her if 16 is a lot or a little. She said it’s a great number and is the average amount people have retrieved. The embryologist states someone will call me tomorrow to let me know how many fertilized.

JM and I are absolutely thrilled to hear I had 16 eggs retrieved. Can you imagine if they all fertilize? Suddenly, my attitude about this whole IVF experience did a 180. This could potentially be 16 embryos! Well, not like we need that many babies, but it would mean we could potentially have many more tries of getting pregnant without having to go through all the injections again.

After JM and the nurse finally get me to eat something, I’m discharged and free to go home around 1230pm. We had an hour long drive home and the whole time I was nauseous. With 2 minutes to go before we pull into our driveway, I say to JM, “I seriously feel like I have to vomit.” The second JM pulls into our driveway, I open my car door and literally vomit what seemed like a gallon of clear liquid. Once again, another anesthesiologist failed me and I got sick after surgery. For the rest of the day I stayed in bed and enjoyed having JM serve me Gatorades and fruit smoothies.

Fast forward to the next day….

I get a call from the embryologist around 9:30am with the news of how my eggs did. The embryologist requests that I grab paper and pen to write down all my numbers and next steps. Out of the 16 eggs retrieved we had 11 fertilize — 2 fertilized abnormally and were discarded. HOLY CRAP, we have 9 embryos! NINE! I could barely contain my excitement and tears start to roll down my cheeks. The embryologist continues to tell me what medicines I need to continue to take to prevent infection, and that I’d need to come back to the surgical center in 4 days for the embryo transfer.

As soon as I get off the phone with the embryologist I immediately call JM with the news. I could just hear his smile over the phone. I then move on to call my mom, and then my in-laws, and then I text my three college roommates. I kept thanking God for giving me 9 embryos to work with. This is exactly the outcome I was praying for.

The next four days were the longest days of my life. The morning of our embryo transfer, JM and I decided to head towards the surgical center early and enjoy breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants to celebrate what we’re about to do. The embryologist told me I would hear from the Baby Businessman before the transfer with an update on how my embryos were doing. By the time I arrived to the surgical center I realize I didn’t hear from the Baby Businessman at all yet.

I sign in at the front desk and immediately the receptionist said that my Baby Businessman wanted to talk to me. My mind starts racing and suddenly I find myself getting anxious. What if I drove all the way there only to find out none of my embryos survived? What if we had nothing to transfer? What if all my embryos are superior quality and I could pick whatever one I wanted to transfer? What if he wanted me to transfer 3 embryos rather than 2?

The receptionist escorts me to a private office so I could talk to the Baby Businessman on the phone and I left JM in the lobby. The Baby Businessman is on the line and proceeds to tell me that apparently I have very poor egg quality and all of our embryos are graded a “C”. None of them made it to the bastocyst stage – aka a specific number of cells by day 5. How could this be? I’m only 32 years old? I try so hard to hold it together while talking to him on the phone, but my mouth is full of verbal diarrhea and I begin asking him “but why?” over and over again. I just couldn’t quite comprehend why this is suddenly happening to me.

The Baby Businessman wants me to transfer 2 of the embryos.The remaining 7 will be discarded and I will be left with nothing to freeze. Devastated doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. What I’m about to say is probably very controversial, but in my mind I just had 7 miscarriages in a matter of seconds. Those were 7 of our babies that were alive for 5 days and I just lost all of them.

I walk out of the private office, down the hallway and towards the lobby. I wave JM over and begin hyperventilating. I guess you could call it a panic attack and cried in his arms. I couldn’t quite get the words out of my mouth to tell him the news I just received and finally I was able to mouth to him, “We have nothing left; my eggs are crap.” Everything about our infertility is my fault. I can’t even begin to describe how small I felt right then. There is nothing worse than knowing as a wife, I am failing at giving my husband a family.

We’re called into another room to begin our embryo transfer of our “C”quality embryos. The nurse takes my blood pressure and sure enough it was very high. My blood pressure is always the same – around 115/75. Not this time. It was 155/95. That’s very high for me. Clearly the news I received made my blood pressure rise. I get undressed from the waist down, lay on the table and put my feet up in the stirrups. The ultrasound technician checks to make sure my bladder is full for the procedure and suddenly my mind is only thinking about not peeing on the table. Next thing I know, I am laying there with my legs wide open with a doctor, nurse, ultrasound technician, and 2 embryologists staring at me and my husband holding my hand. How many people does it take to knock this girl up in 5 minutes? Clearly 6 people.

The doctor measures my uterus lining and comments on how “fluffy” it is. She states that if she were an embryo she’d want to live there. <<insert awkwardness>> The doctor performing the embryo transfer inserts the catheter guided by ultrasound. JM and I are able to watch the transfer happen on the TV monitor and see exactly when the embryos are put into my uterus. It was fascinating. The doctor recorded the transfer and let it play on repeat.

After they put the embryos in, I had to lay on the table for 5 minutes. The embryologist comes into the room and hands us a photo in a card-stock frame. It’s a photo of our two embryos that they put in me. I stare at the photo for a minute letting it process that these are our babies I’m looking at. (See photo below).

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After the procedure, the doctor instructs me to take it easy the rest of the day and to avoid any strenuous activity until my pregnancy test in 10 days and to not lift anything more than 15 pounds. I head into work like as if it’s another day and continue about my daily business. The doctors said that if the embryos are going to stick, implantation will happen in the next 48 hours. All day at work all I could think about was what I just went through. Technically I’m “pregnant” right now with two, but I have no way in knowing if they will implant until 10 days from now. Once again, I’m tortured with the dreaded “2 week wait.”

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THE BIRDS, THE BEES, AND… THE NEEDLES

January 5 – January 15, 2016

Shit just got real. I mean, the 3 IUIs were real, but suddenly the thought of starting IVF today was a slap of reality. Actually cutting a $5200 check this morning to pay for the IVF was the real slap of reality for me. This may be my last couple of weeks of not being pregnant. I arrived to the baby salesman’s office for my day 3 bloodwork and ultrasound on January 5th and proceed to take a number like as if I’m at the deli counter and wait to be called. Once again my arm meets the needles and my legs are up in the stirrups. Thankfully everything is good to go to proceed with our IVF journey.

My assigned nurse asks me if I have any plans to be out of town between now and January 20th. I tell her I actually had plans to go visit my college roommate this weekend who lives 7 hours away to finally meet her twin boys. The nurse tells me immediately that I will not be able to leave the local area at all during the IVF monitoring and I need to cancel my plans. I’ve said it before in previous posts, but I feel the need to remind you all of something very significant when it comes to infertility procedures. Fertility forces you to live in the present. There is no such thing as planning in advance, traveling, or maintaining a standard work schedule when it comes to fertility. For the third time, I cancel my plans to visit my best friend and her babies. I kid you not. This is literally the third time I’ve had to reschedule — thanks to my infertility procedures. I feel so guilty and like an awful friend for not having met the babies yet.

The evening of the 5th JM administers my first two injections —Gonal-F and Menopur— to kick off the ovary pumping hormones. The purpose of these meds were to begin stimulating follicle growth (aka. multiple eggs) from the ovaries. Something to note is that this process is the farthest thing from how your body naturally operates. As I’m sure you learned back in 5th grade health class, every month the woman matures one sometimes two eggs on one ovary. The way stimulated IVF works is that the meds produce multiple mature eggs on both ovaries. My doctor wants to see at least 12 follicles grow to maturity by the time I need to have them retrieved. See? Not normal for the human body to go through this. The baby businessman started me off with a mid-level amount for each injection because my estrogen levels were moderately low. Although the injections go into your abdomen area, I barely feel the needles at all. It’s relatively painless.

As the week went on, I went back to the baby businessman’s office every other day. This was to monitor my hormone levels and follicles growth. Each time I went to the office, the baby businessman sent me home with instructions to increase my medicine dosages.

Turns out I had to go in on the weekend for monitoring. Good thing I didn’t leave town to visit my college roommate. When I went in for my Saturday morning appointment —7:15am mind you— on January 9th, I asked the ultrasound technician if it’s normal for me to cry over everything. Clearly the meds were making me (excuse my lack of a better term)… hormonal. Everything made me shed tears. I’d watch a good performance on American Idol, I’d cry. I read a disturbing article in the paper how a man killed his mother, I cried. My husband would tell me how beautiful I am, I’d cry. I got caught in traffic which put me 5 minutes late to an appointment, I cried. It’s insane how much I was crying… over absolutely nothing. (Thank you waterproof mascara!) I never considered myself a hormonal person by any means, but these meds destroyed me and messed with my hormones.

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I got an evening call from my assigned nurse giving me my hormone levels and next instructions, she tells me my hormone levels doubled. NO WONDER WHY I’M CRYING OVER EVERYTHING. However, the doctor still wants me to increase my hormone meds even more. SERIOUSLY?!?!
I proceed to tell the nurse that I’m about to run out of meds because of how much they keep cranking up the amount. The nurse sends a prescription in to the pharmacy. Let me spare you the long story with that. Lets just say that cost me another $1700 out of pocket.

The week of the 11th I had morning blood and ultrasound monitoring appointments every. single. day. While I still had to continue my two egg-making hormone shots every day, I then had to tack on another injection called Cetrotide, to my morning routine. This med forces the eggs to stay in the follicle and prevents premature release (aka ovulation). This med did me in. My abdomen literally started bruising. (See the picture below.) Imagine having the amount of follicles I had growing. Seventeen to be exact. Each one was currently the size of 12-15mm, but needed to eventually get to 19-22mm. That’s nearly 1-inch each. Let me do the math for you. That’s nearly 17-inches that doesn’t normally take up space inside my body. My stomach was beyond swollen by Wednesday. I was so bloated, bruised, uncomfortable… and miserable. After every shot this week, I literally said to JM “This better work because I don’t think I can do this again.” I’m probably not doing the description of the word “miserable” and “discomfort” any justice at all to truly make you understand just how awful this experience was for me and my poor body.

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This week was a tough week. My supervisor at work wanted me to brief at a meeting this week, but I couldn’t give her a definitive answer on whether or not I could do it. I had no idea when my eggs would be ready for retrieval. It killed me that I couldn’t plan at all this week. Not for work. Not for my personal life.

Finally Thursday the 14th I was given instructions to take my last final injection —the ass-muscle injection called HCG or rather “the trigger shot.” This shot tells the ovaries exactly when to release the eggs. In 36 hours to be exact. When I had my morning monitoring appointment, the nurse drew a circle on my ass to help JM pinpoint exactly where he needed to inject the medicine. There is nothing glamorous about IVF.  We had to take the shot at exactly 8:30pm. Any sooner or any later would mess up the timing of my egg release and retrieval procedure I had scheduled for Saturday 16 January. Precision was crucial.

If you’re wondering if the ass-muscle shot hurt, the answer is “not at all.” Honestly, I couldn’t feel a thing – regardless of the fact that the needle was literally 2.5” long. Was I thankful to know this was my last injection? Absol-freakin-lutely! Friday I only had to take one medicine, which was an antibiotic to prevent infection from the egg retrieval procedure I’m going to have on Saturday.

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I went to bed Friday night with so many emotions. I had feelings of hope, fear, optimism, discomfort, but yet excitement all at the same time. At this point I was so uncomfortable and bloated. My stomach was now hanging over my pants. (See photo above.) Because egg retrieval is practically surgery, I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink past midnight — which was totally fine because I didn’t have any more room in my body to fit another piece of food. I forced myself to go to bed early that night so that Saturday would seem like it was here sooner. I was so ready to get this IVF thing over with, but more importantly I wanted the eggs out of me and my body to return to normal. I said a prayer before I fell asleep and asked a very selfish request that if this round of IVF doesn’t get me pregnant, all I wanted were frozen embryos left over so that I wouldn’t have to put my body through this horrific process again.

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS $5k IN IVF MEDICINES

December 7, 2015 – January 3, 2016

December 10th is my pregnancy blood test for IUI attempt #3. In the meantime while we patiently wait for my 2 Week Wait (2WW) to end, our baby salesman wanted to discuss next steps towards IVF in the event my pregnancy test is negative. Yes, you read that right. The baby salesman was anticipating another failed procedure and anticipating taking more money from us early. Looking back, I should have taken this as a sign.

JM and I made an appointment to discuss next steps with the baby salesman 3 days before the pregnancy test. When we were called into his office, we assume our usual positions in the dreaded bulky leather chairs. I have such a hatred for those leather chairs because every time we sit in them it’s to discuss the negative. JM and I decided from the beginning that we’d try IUIs three times before moving on to IVF. My insurance only allows a maximum of six IUIs for the lifetime of the insurance, so we wanted to reserve the other three for another time.

The baby businessman discussed with us an IVF plan specific to our needs. Basically, I’d start birth control at the beginning of my next menses for 21 days. Then at the start of the following menses, I’d begin the hormone stimulating injections. JM and I decided there was no reason to wait, and we were as financially ready to do this as we’d ever be. I’m the type of person who refuses to take out loans, so we tried very hard throughout the entire year to just live off one salary so we could fill our savings account with baby making money just in case. Trust me, mentally I had a very hard time accepting the fact that we were about to drop over $10,000 just to ATTEMPT to get pregnant. There was no guarantee. There was no refund if it doesn’t work. We’re about to gamble all this money for something we don’t know will work. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a hard time processing this.

The whole IVF cycle takes between 6-8 weeks to complete. The baby salesman tried to sell me on doing a more extensive embryo quality test for another $2k, but I laughed at him and said “no thank you.” If I was over 35, I’d absolutely do it, but I’m young and believe my eggs are fine. After our hour-long consultation, I came home with a prescription in hand for birth control pills which will begin the process of suppressing my ovaries to get them ready for high stimulation. If my pregnancy test is negative in 3 days, the plan is for me to start the birth control immediately.

When our appointment was over, my mind was only on money. I just kept thinking about our savings account and what if this try doesn’t work. I’m a saver. Call me selfish. Call me greedy. But how is it fair that getting pregnant is supposed to be a “free” act, but yet we have to spend a college tuition to do it? On the car ride home I said to JM, “This is going to be a light Christmas this year. Lets set some boundaries and make sure not to spend no more than $200 on each other this year. We have a baby to buy.”

Fast forward to December 10th… the day of my 23rd negative pregnancy test. My attitude and emotions after this test were different compared to all the other times. I was over it. At this point, I just wanted to do what a girl has got to do to get knocked up. I was anxious. Anxious to just move on and get going on the IVF. I was convinced the IVF will absolutely work. The doctors will literally be putting a baby into my uterus. This is guaranteed to work, right?

I got my period a couple days later and began the birth control pills and continue to take them for the next 21 days. In the meantime, I begin some of the preparation tasks the baby salesman wants me to do. I did a mock embryo transfer. This is to document the shape and size of my uterus so when it comes time to transfer the actual embryos, the doctors know exactly where they are to place the catheter. JM and I took another injection class. Although we were already pros at injections because of the IUIs, there is one different injection that requires JM to literally put it in my ass muscle. Glorious!

I knew that with IVF it involved a lot of medicines, but I guess I didn’t quite mentally prepare myself for just how much we were going to need or going to spend. Unfortunately, my insurance does not cover infertility medicines, so everything must be paid for out of pocket. The pharmacy tells me the grand total and it’s $4800. HOLY CRAP. I wasn’t expecting that number!

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When the medicines arrived the next day, you would have thought we received packages filled with Christmas gifts. Just check out the photo above. The boxes were so big. Yes, plural. We received 4 boxes filled with medicines. All of these drugs and hormones were about to go into my body over the next couple of weeks. I’m not sure how this is the new norm, but if this is what I have to do to get knocked up, then so be it.

I forced myself to try to be as relaxed and unstressed as I possibly could. I made sure to enjoy my last few adult beverages on Christmas and New Years because on 3 January, everything will begin. Rather than making a New Years resolution this year, JM and I both said a prayer that the IVF will work. We were convinced that 2016 WILL. BE. OUR. YEAR.

INFERTILITY FORCES YOU TO BE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT

November 14-26, 2015

It’s two days after my 2nd failed IUI pregnancy text results, and we are about to have a house full of 60 of our closest friends and some family for our 11th annual Friendsgiving. Sure, this was a nice distraction, but I can honestly say my enthusiasm and excitement for this year’s party was the lowest of all years. I was quickly reminded of my infertility when our friends with their adorable kids showed up. The good thing about this Friendsgiving is that I also got my period. Bet you never thought you’d hear Friendsgiving and period as a positive thing in the same sentence!? What this means is that on Monday I can start the process for IUI #3.

On Monday, I go to visit the baby businessman for the usual day 3 blood work and ultrasound to baseline my hormones and get clearance to proceed with IUI #3. All is good to go and we’re ready to try this one last time before moving forward with trying IVF. My doctor explains to me that this round will be a bit more aggressive and invasive with the hormone meds. Surprisingly, my baby businessman saved us some money for this round. He sent me home with a multiple-dose injection pen called Gonal-F. It was donated by a patient who no longer needed it, but set to expire next month. Little did I know this was a huge money saver (which I later learn) and saved me from spending nearly $450 out of pocket.

JM continued to serve his role as injection administrator throughout IUI #3. I don’t know what it is, but I simply cannot look at needles going into the skin. If it weren’t for JM, I’d probably have to hire someone to give me these injections daily, but thank goodness it didn’t come down to this.

Being on Gonal-F requires a little more monitoring appointments. After my day 3 baseline appointment, I had 5 more blood work and ultrasound monitoring appointments (to include on a Saturday morning) over the next 7 days. JM and I kept joking that it would be really funny if turns out the actual IUI procedure ends up being on Thanksgiving. Sure enough, on Tuesday, 24 November the baby businessman informs me that it looks like I’ll be ovulating on Thanksgiving. Our joking was now a reality.

Immediately when I got home after work, I told JM that our joking is no longer a joke. We some how have to make it work to do an IUI on Turkey Day. I think I’ve said it before in a past post, but I’ll say it again. INFERTILITY FORCES YOU TO LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT. Plans? What plans? There is no such thing as planning ahead in my life anymore. I’ve always been a planner and always needed to know what I’m going to be doing ahead of time. Infertility has taught me that I don’t always need to plan and I can allow my life to be flexible.

It’s Thursday, 26 November. Thanksgiving! Did I mention that we’re having my family, JM’s family, and our old neighbors Tom and Melissa over for Thanksgiving dinner? No big deal.  It’s only 15 people over our house. My mother offered to cook Thanksgiving dinner at our house since JM and I already had plans to host Christmas dinner this year. Call it a coincidence or perhaps God’s plan. We’ve never had someone else host a holiday at our house. JM and I do our own hosting. Looking back, I’m convinced this was God’s plan. He knew all along we’d have our IUI on Thanksgiving and therefore he had my mom offer to do all the Thanksgiving cooking at my house. Just the thought of this all working out gives me the goosebumps.

JM left the house at 8am to drop off his swimmers to the doctor’s office nearly an hour away from our house and back. My mom didn’t ask where he went, but when it was time for me to leave the house at 930am, she started to ask questions. See? The surprise factor is lost with infertility. I had no choice but to tell her I had to leave to go to the doctor’s for IUI #3.

My procedure was at 1030am. Once again the baby businessman shows me the specimen in the little tube is my husbands, directed to “undress from the waist down,” “scoot forward,” “scoot some more”, “feet up”, and “okay, now lay there for 5 minutes.” I said a little prayer while I laid there this time. Thanksgiving is mine and JM’s holiday. We love this day. I started to convince myself that this is a sign and this IUI is definitely going to work because God knows this is our favorite day of the year.

I got home just 30 minutes before our company was to show up. My mother begins asking me 10 million questions about the procedure and it’s annoying as hell and stressing me out. I simply didn’t want to talk about it and just wanted to enjoy the rest of the day. When our friends Tom and Melissa showed up, I immediately told Melissa I had my last IUI this morning. The look of shock on her face was priceless. She couldn’t believe I had to have it this morning. Then Melissa offered me the most selfless thing anyone can ever offer a friend.

Melissa offered to be our surrogate if it comes down to it. I can’t remember my exact response to her, but I’m pretty sure I shed a couple tears and simply said “thank you” while in a state of shock. I mean, how does anyone respond to that? Suddenly I felt like stress melted off my shoulders. If the issue is truly that I just can’t carry our own child, we have someone very special in our lives willing to do the most selfless act for us just so we can start our family. Of course in return we’d compensate her… and probably make her the godmother. I’m getting ahead of myself now.

I probably should have sat on my ass and watched football the rest of the day, but instead I was on my feet quite a lot to help my mom with the cooking and cleaning up after dinner. Looking back, I probably over did it and if I could do it all over again, I would have relaxed. For the time being, the infamous countdown begins again. We have to go through another two-week wait and count down the days until December 10th.

THIS IS WHAT INFERTILITY IS LIKE

October 29 – November 12, 2015

To make another potentially long post about another failed infertility procedure short, let me give you the cliff-notes version. IUI number two resulted in a negative pregnancy. On 12 November – just 2 days before our 11th annual Friendsgiving, we were filled with more heartache than I care to describe. Rather than reminding myself of the timing of that negative pregnancy test, I thought I’d focus this post a little differently. Earlier, I wrote a post about Infertility Etiquette. This time I thought I’d sum up in one post what infertility is like.

Infertility. It’s month after month of hoping and waiting. It’s having friends who start trying a year after you do and birthed that baby while you’re still trying. It’s having friends who weren’t trying. It’s when all your cousins have kids except you. It’s attending baby showers. It’s attending christenings. It’s buying gifts for everyone else’s kids.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s seeing pregnancy announcements on Facebook. It’s getting pregnancy announcements in the mail. It’s getting Christmas cards of your friends’ and cousins’ kids. It’s having friends who are scared to tell you they are pregnant. It’s having friends who don’t have anything to say to you. It’s when you don’t have anything to say to your friends. It’s when you can care less about their kids “first” moments.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s attending get-togethers and being the only non-parents there. It’s trying to hold a conversation by talking about your goddaughter just so you can contribute and relate. It’s babysitting your friends’ babies. It’s babysitting your goddaughter and nephew. It’s shopping in the baby sections of the department story to buy presents for all your friends’ and and cousins’ kids.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s when you have friends who complain it took them 3 months to get pregnant, but it is taking you 3 years. It’s when you have friends and family members who complain how “fat” they look pregnant, but you wish you looked that “fat.” It’s when people complain about the cost of diapers and formula, but that’s only a fraction of what infertility medications cost. It’s when people don’t even “try” to get pregnant, but you’re trying everything.

This is what infertility is like.

Infertility. It’s having to constantly answer, “when are you having babies?” It’s being told, “don’t wait too long because it gets harder when you get older.” It’s being told to “just adopt.” It’s being told to “just relax.” It’s being told to “stop thinking about it.” It’s being told “go on vacation and you’ll get pregnant.” It’s having to listen to your mother nag that she wants to be a grandma. It’s having those closest to you forget you had a 7-hour surgery. It’s having loved ones not ask “how are you doing?” It’s having loved ones not acknowledge you raising awareness for others by blogging.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s finding out you have a disease you can’t even pronounce. It’s questioning “why me?” and “why us?” It’s having good days and bad. It’s moments of depression and moments of feeling alone. It’s feeling like you are a “Negative Nancy” around everyone. It’s a ton of unknowns. It’s a period in your life where you begin to question your faith. It’s a path that most will never understand. It’s not knowing when the struggle will end. It’s doing everything you can to get answers.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s going to the gym more often. It’s changing your diet. It’s going gluten free. It’s taking more vitamins than you can count. It’s seeking help from more doctors than you can count on your fingers and toes. It’s putting your feet on dozens of different stirrups. It’s struggling financially. It’s when you’re spending a college tuition to just attempt to get pregnant. It’s injecting hormones. It’s taking more drugs than you care to admit. It’s unwanted acne you hadn’t seen since you were 13. It’s nothing but pills, shots, suppositories, injections, blood work, ultrasounds, surgeries, procedures, and using up your comp leave for doctor appointments. It’s tens of thousands of dollars.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s accommodating so much for a hypothetical baby. It’s having your dreams put on hold. It’s more downs than ups. It’s a constant state of worry. It’s pain. It’s something you don’t wish upon anyone. It’s when you question whether you were supposed to be a mother. It’s questioning if you and your spouse are meant to have children. It’s offering your spouse a free pass to go leave the marriage to find someone else who can have children. It’s discussing alternative plans if children weren’t in the cards. It’s living day by day and not being able to plan ahead.

This is what infertility is like.

Infertility. It’s becoming closer to your spouse than you ever were. It’s a ton of hugs and kisses. It’s being able to still have freedom to go anywhere you want around the world. It’s being able to still drink wine. It’s taking your health into your own hands for the better. It’s losing weight and feeling great. It’s being able to focus on remodeling your home. It’s being able to spend more time together as husband and wife.

This is what infertility is like.

It’s seeing a negative pregnancy test over and over, but it’s a reason to hug and cuddle a little closer with your spouse. It’s learning more than you care to know about your body, but for the better. It’s having friends donate your leftover IVF medicines to you. It’s having friends who offer to be your surrogate. It’s getting letters and flowers from family and friends letting you know they are thinking of you. It’s having loved ones bring you a meal on your recovery days. It’s being able to support others who are going through the same struggle. It’s a time when you’ve never prayed harder.

This is my infertility and my reality. This is what I wish no one else ever has to go through.

Bitter Infertile Bitch

October 16 – October 28, 2015

I’m pretty sure yesterday made it #21. Twenty-one negative pregnancy tests. You’d think after 20 negatives I’d begin to get used to it and not let it get to me anymore. Nope. Not true. The 21st time hurt just as much as the 1st – maybe even more. For my readers who are fortunate enough to never experience infertility or have no idea what it’s like, let me tell you something. Infertility often causes women to feel inadequate, especially about their own bodies. As I’m about to begin IUI #2 I feel angry and disappointed with my body because my body is not capable of doing the most basic thing women are created to do.

After I told JM the first IUI didn’t work, I slowly began to tell only a few of my girl friends. I don’t know why I told them. Probably because I just needed to vent. Probably because I needed emotional support. I texted a couple of my girl friends the news. Big mistake. I got the exact opposite of emotional support. If you remember from my Infertility Etiquette post, #10 said don’t voluntarily share your friend’s fertility success stories unless the infertile person asks. What happened today is the reason behind why I posted #10. I know my friend meant well, but after I told her my first attempt at an IUI didn’t work, she texted back telling me one of her friends had success with her first IUI and she got pregnant naturally with her second. I waited an hour before texting back letting her know what she said was inappropriate. At this point, I was more down on myself than before.

I knew the baby-business man said IUIs probably won’t work for me, but he did say there is still a chance. It was my and JM’s decision to do the IUIs rather than jump right into IVF primarily for financial reasons. We’d rather take that small chance of success from an IUI for only a couple hundred dollars rather than take the risk of IVF and wasting $15,000 if an IUI could work. In the meantime, we’re on a spending hiatus and saving as much money as possible to prepare for IVF expenses just in case. Remodeling our home has slowed down, and we’re trying desperately hard to live off one salary and save the other.

On a positive note, my Dad finally moved out of our house a couple days later and into his own apartment. It didn’t take long for Aunt Sally to arrive. She showed up exactly 3 days after my negative pregnancy test. Needless to say, for the start of the second IUI cycle, I wasn’t as excited. I mean, I was ready to move on and get the second cycle started already, but I guess what I really mean is my optimism wasn’t as obvious as the first cycle. I went in to see my baby-business man for the usual morning ultrasound and bloodwork monitoring on Tuesday, 20 October. My baseline levels were all normal and we were ready to move forward with try #2.

Since Clomid did jack crap for me, the doctor put me on a different oral medication called Femara (aka. Letrozole). Again, the meds really didn’t effect my mood at all and I was super grateful for that (as was JM, too). Since my body is like clockwork and I ovulate on day 11 practically every time, my doctor said he didn’t want to see me again until day 9. Woo. I get to enjoy a normal work schedule the rest of the week.

In the meantime, while I waited for day 9 to arrive, I carried on with my normal life. I continued going to the chiropractor 2x that week, and went to my yoga and HIIT gym classes. (Something to note, when you do these fertility treatments, the Doctors don’t want you to do any high-activity during the 2 week wait. For gym-goers… this is super hard to do and rough both physically and mentally.)

On Saturday, JM and I had two weddings to go to… yes two. These two friends are the type of friends we’d never miss their weddings for anything in the world. We were determined to make it to both somehow and are quite proud to say we did it. We drove an hour and a half south to make it to the ceremony and cocktail hour of the first wedding. Since there was the possibility that this weekend was going to be my last weekend being infertile and I couldn’t drink at the other two weddings we went to earlier this month, JM was the designated driver while I enjoyed some wine. Then we drove back north an hour and a half and made it to the reception of the second wedding. What a night.

When we got home that night, JM shared some news he received tonight regarding someone we know. Someone we know intensionally had an abortion.

Jane + wine + hormone drugs + 21 months of infertility = a disaster.

I lost it. Tears just kept pouring down my cheeks. We just had a wonderful night at two different weddings and JM thought it was okay to tell me about someone’s abortion. This news had no place in my life and the person who told JM the news should have known better to not share that information with us. Angry is an understatement and upset doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt that moment. Here I am, as infertile as can be because of my endometriosis. Spending hundreds of dollars, putting my body through all kinds of different tests and drugs and getting prepared to spend thousands to just ATTEMPT to get pregnant. Meanwhile someone we know intensionally had an abortion.

This is the moment where my faith was at its all time lowest.

Four days after the double-header weddings, it was IUI day. I was taking a training course at work and had to head out early for the 2:45pm procedure. First thing when I arrived, the baby-business man confirms with me the specimen that was in the tube was indeed my husband’s swimmers. Once again I hear the usual words, “undress from the waist down,” “scoot forward,” “scoot some more”, “feet up”, and “okay, now lay there for 5 minutes.” *sigh* Just going through the typical IUI motions.

HowBabiesMade

Once my 5 minutes were up, I get dressed and the nurse informs me that the dreaded 2-week pregnancy test will be on November 12th – two days before my 11th annual “Friendsgiving.” This is kinda a big deal for me. The timing here is critical. For those of you who know us personally know just how much Friendsgiving means to us. This Friendsgiving is either going to be the best one since my engagement or the absolute worst. Here we go again with the dreaded 2-week wait.

PRINCESS AND THE PEE STICK

October 1 – 15, 2015

Ahh. It’s the dreaded two week wait (a.k.a. 2WW). Little did I know this would be the longest 2 weeks of my life. Thankfully I had a lot of plans lined up during these 2 weeks to include a concert, a hair appointment, a lot of chiropractor appointments to reduce stress, and two weddings. There is just one problem, I can’t drink at either of the open bar weddings. I know, #FirstWorldProblems. For a moment I tried to justify that it’s probably okay to “drink till it’s pink,” but I quickly talked myself out of that idea.

JM and I headed out of state for a fun wedding the first weekend of October. During this car ride we had a lot of time to talk about many “what ifs” in the event the IUI worked and I’m pregnant. We didn’t want to keep our hopes up too high, but it was inevitable. We were bound to talk about our future with this hypothetical IUI baby. We figured out that the timing couldn’t be more perfect and we were so excited at the thought of announcing a pregnancy to our family and friends either on Thanksgiving or at our annual Friendsgiving. For those of you who don’t know us personally, JM and I met at my annual Friendsgiving 2 years before we started dating and he also proposed at my annual Friendsigiving in front of 60 of our closest family and friends. For a moment I was convinced this was God’s plan and he wanted us to be able to celebrate and announce the news on our most favorite day of the year.

Since the out-of-state wedding was a very casual southern wedding and I knew the bride and groom had stocked the open bar with beer and wine. I decided to bring a bottle of non-alcoholic wine with me to disguise the possibility of me being prego. Genius, I know. After the ceremony, JM went out to the car and put the bottle of wine in his suit jacket. He handed the bottle to the bartender and asked her to only serve me that bottle. Our plan worked like a charm. No one questioned me, and I was seen “drinking” with my college girls the entire night.

By the fifth day into my 2WW, I began to scrutinize and over-analyze every feeling. Even if it was something that happened every single day, suddenly I found myself asking if it’s pregnancy symptoms. It is a terrible mind game and complete torture. Once again, I began another round of obsessive Googling. Looking back, I now find my Googling humorous, but I’m certain many women can relate and have done the same. For your entertainment, below are some of the mind games I threw into Google:

  1. All of a sudden I noticed a funny smell. In fact, I smell everything. My sense of smell has taken over. I must be pregnant.
  2. OMG my stomach is grumbling. It’s bubbling. I must be pregnant.
  3. I feel cramps. Is that my period coming or is that a sign of implantation?
  4. I don’t have implantation spotting. Does this mean I’m not pregnant?
  5. How soon can I take a pregnancy test during my 2WW?
  6. I went to bed at 8PM. I’m tired. I must be pregnant.
  7. I went to bed two nights in a row at 8PM. I must be pregnant.

And the ridiculous list of questions goes on. Get my point?

On day 9 of my 2WW, JM and I had date night plans to see Megan Hilty perform at this really cute and intimate 300-person concert hall. Some of you may remember her as Ivy Lynn from the TV show “Smash” or Glinda from Wicked. This was my second time seeing her perform. She ended her show with “Rainbow Connection” and dedicated it to her baby daughter. I lost it. Absolutely freggin’ lost it. My face was drenched from my tears. I could see in the corner of my eye JM’s head turned towards me realizing I was a mess and put his arm around me. Once again, hormones have taken over.

The next day, (day 10 of my 2WW) JM and I have another wedding to go to, making it the second this month. It was a gorgeous day and thankfully it was a small wedding consisting of only a couple of my closest friends in attendance. Since the wedding was about 45 minutes from our home, JM and I decided the best way to cover up my possible pregnancy by not drinking is to tell my girls I am the designated driver this time. I ordered a virgin mojito very early into the afternoon, clearly making it look as if I was actually drinking the real thing. The excuse worked like a charm. Even though I was the “designated driver,” I still ordered only one glass of red wine to disguise my non-drinking and pretended to take a couple sips with the fabulous steak dinner.

I have to say, pretending I’m not pregnant was not as hard as I thought it was going to be after all!

The next day I began brainstorming ways I can surprise JM with the news if it turns out the IUI worked. I came up with some really special ideas (ideas I won’t blog about because I do hope to be able to do this one day). I Googled ways other women have told their husbands and quickly ruled out all the cliche announcements and unoriginal ideas. The thought of the surprise announcement gets me so excited. A little too excited. Perhaps at this point I started to work myself up with too much hope. Again, I become obsessed with the idea this IUI worked.

Two days before my blood pregnancy test at my doctor’s office I cracked. One of the rules my fertility doctor and nurses stressed many times is to not do any at-home pregnancy tests before my actual blood test. Apparently the different hormone drugs can give false positive or negative results and the only true way to get an accurate result is a blood test. Although I had a 50 pack of the cheap pee stick tests, I decided I should upgrade and get a “more accurate” fancy pee-stick test just to be safe. I just couldn’t wait anymore and went to the pharmacy and bought (for the very first time mind you) a “real” pregnancy test. I had never bought one before. And yes, yes I had to read the directions on how to take the test.

pee

There is this fine line with hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. I thought if anything else, this at-home pregnancy test is preparing me for the bad news. Just when I thought a 2-week wait was going by so slow, waiting 2-minutes for the center of the stick to show me one or two lines was dragging. When the 2-minutes were up, I look at the stick to see what appeared to be one line. This can’t be. There is no way. The doctor injected my husband’s swimmers as close as possible to my egg and I’m still not pregnant?

Then I did what you probably think I did. I tried squinting, holding the pee stick up against the light, and balanced myself on my bathroom vanity sink to try to get closer to the light. All this to see if there is a possible faint second line that is mostly invisible to the naked eye, but possibly present. Still no second line. I throw the stupid $10 stick in the trash bin and move on with my day, resolving that it’s probably indeed too early to test anyways and tell myself I’ll try again in a few hours. I must admit, I tortured myself a bit throughout the day by returning to the trash bin every hour for the rest of the day in case the second line appeared on the stick.

Later that night and even the next morning before my blood test I continued to torture myself with two more pregnancy tests, but these times using the cheap sticks. It’s official. Confirmed. I mentally prepared myself enough to know that the IUI did not work and I’m not pregnant. $300 down the drain.

I go in for my blood pregnancy test in the morning knowing this is wasting my time. I was far from excited about taking this test. However, even though I prepared myself by taking the home pregnancy tests knowing it’s possible all three tests were false negatives, there was still an ounce of me that held onto hope. This 2WW thing is terrible for my mind and all these mind games. My mind was obviously focused on this all day. It was all I could think about. Finally, at around 2PM I get a call from my assigned nurse and she informs me I’m not pregnant and to stop taking the progesterone suppositories. She continues to tell me that I should get my period in about 3 days and to call when I get it so we can move forward with IUI try number two. Even though I knew before the blood test I wasn’t pregnant, the news I just heard over the phone destroyed me. Tears fell down my cheeks. I quickly grab a tissue off my desk at work and turn my chair so that no one else in the office could see me sobbing. Once I managed to get myself together, I continued on with my work day and no one knew the news I just received moments ago.

JM didn’t know I had my blood pregnancy test on October 15th. He had softball in the evening and I decided to wait to tell him the bad news until after he got home. I didn’t want him to know today was the day of the test because if it was positive results, I wanted to be able to surprise him with the good news. However, since the news was negative, I was upset he wasn’t home to be there to comfort me and it killed me I was about to cause him some heartache. To fill the time until JM would be home, I decided to go to the gym that night and let my emotions and frustrations out with a high intensity class.  Oh, and I had a glass of red wine… maybe two, because in a few days I’ll be repeating the IUI process all over again.

NOTES FROM THE STIRRUPS

September 6 – 30 , 2015

JM and I just got back from our very needed 8-day Dominican Republic vacation celebrating our 3-year anniversary. Yes, 3-years. Already. Two years too long baby-less. We made it a point to drink a lot of “mama wannas,” which is a famous liquor shot in the DR. I took it upon myself and nicknamed it “mama wanna-be’s.”

We were not ready to return to reality. However, finally our reality was heading in a positive direction. While we were away, my brother Tyler took care of a bunch of things for our Dad. Tyler got him a lease for an apartment literally 1-mile from my house in my housing development for the 55+ starting mid-October. This location could not be more perfect for JM and I, but more importantly for my father.

Besides my dad’s situation heading in a positive direction, we were less than 2-weeks away from my September period cycle starting. I have mixed feelings about this because JM and I were secretly hoping my period wouldn’t come. We were hoping we were “relaxed” enough on our vacation and the baby gods were in our favor. TMI? Sorry. Not sorry. I’m just pointing out the lame advice everyone gave us.

Relax

In the meantime while we waited for my period to arrive, JM and I had to take an hour-long IUI class on September 10th. If you’re wondering, yes, it was at 1030AM in the middle of our work day. Very convenient. Not! See, the thing is, this class was foreshadowing what’s to come. Looking back, I should have taken this class as a sign that I will need to be patient, flexible, and prepared to have my work schedule interrupted constantly for appointments and doctor phone calls. This class was all about how to give self injections. There was no way I was going to do the injections myself. Nope. Not happening. There is a reason why I did not major in the medical field and needles is on the top of my list of reasons why. I don’t mind when someone is taking my blood or giving me shots. I just can’t look at the needle going in me. From this point forward, JM earned a new title. He’s now my “injection administrator.”

Remember in my last post on “Project Parenthood” I talked about the blood test JM and I did to see if we are carriers of over 200 different recessive diseases? Well, the day after our IUI class we received our results. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous opening up the results. The last thing we wanted was more bad news. It turns out that once again JM’s results are just fine and perfect. I, on the other hand, received a shock of a lifetime. I’m not just a carrier of some extremely rare recessive disease, I freggin’ HAVE one of those recessive diseases on the list. I couldn’t believe it. For sure I thought they sent me someone else results.

It turns out I have Biotinidase Deficiency. Thankfully it’s a highly-treatable, but inherited disease in which the body cannot process the vitamin biotin. However, if left untreated it can cause seizures, poor muscle tone, difficulty with movement and balance, vision and/or hearing loss, skin rashes, breathing problems, fungal infections, and delayed mental development. Here’s the good news about all this though, I’ve been taking biotin supplement pills daily for the last 7+ years. Seven years ago, I noticed my hair was starting to thin out and my nails simply would not grow. After doing research on natural ways to fix this problem, I started taking biotin. It turns out I was actually treating myself all these years without knowing it! Going forward, I just have to take biotin for the rest of my life. The odds of passing it down to my future child is 1 in 450. My doctor was just as shocked to hear I have this recessive disease and commented that he would have never guessed it since I have such long, luscious, and healthy hair. I immediately called Tyler to tell him my recent diagnosis so he can decide whether or not to get tested, too. There is a 25% chance he could have it as well.

Back to my baby-issues….It turns out we didn’t get pregnant during our vacation despite the advice I got from countless number of people who said “just relax and it will happen.” Lets be real. We seriously have never been so excited for my period to start. It’s September 18th and it’s go time. Project parenthood just got real. Like real real. Except, there is just one small thing… JM, my Dad, Tyler and I are all headed down to my father’s condo 7.5 hours away to officially move his stuff to my our home. I immediately call my baby-business doctor and thankfully I don’t have to go in to see him until the 3rd day of my period which makes it Monday, September 21st. Woo. We’re in the clear.

Fast forward to Monday. I arrived to what felt like as if I walked into this exclusive club. I decided to call it “TTCC” — Trying To Conceive Club — for blood and ultrasound monitoring. It’s like I’m in line at the deli counter. Basically what happens (at least for my specific office) is you come in to the TTCC anytime between 7-9AM. First, you get your blood drawn to baseline your hormone levels, and then you go into a separate room and kick up your heels into those lovely stirrups for a vaginal ultrasound with either the ultrasound technician or the baby businessman (a.k.a Reproductive Endocrinologist or RE). The key things they measure are your uterine lining thickness, follicle count, and in my specific case, my endometriomas. Then my nurse handed me a prescription for Clomid which I was to start taking tonight and for the next 5 days. This appointment was all of 20 minutes and quick. The negative part after my appointment is now I have to deal with rush-hour traffic to work. Typically I leave for work by 6:30AM, but leaving after my morning monitoring appointment around 7:30AM doubles my commute time. Thank. God. For. Coffee. I try not to let this stress me out and just enjoy my morning coffee and a good morning radio show while creeping in traffic. The last thing I need right now during my first-ever IUI cycle is stress.

When I got to work, I decided to let my boss know what is going on. My boss knows I like to be early in and early out at work, and I didn’t want her to be concerned seeing me come in late and leaving late over the next two weeks. The conversation went really really well and thankfully she’s very supportive. I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Looking back, there is no way I could have had these sporadic medical appointments with my previous job. After the conversation with my current boss, it was confirmation that I made the right choice to leave my last job for this position primarily so I could focus on our pursuit of baby journey. I absolutely made the right choice.

Later that afternoon, I got a follow-up phone call with my assigned nurse at the baby business. She informs me that all my hormone levels are normal, and reminds me to start the Clomid that night. I’ve been told from some of my mommy friends who have PCOS that Clomid made them super hormonal and emotional. I mentally prepared to be hormonal this week and gave JM a fair warning.

My nurse also let me know that she put an order into the special fertility pharmacy for Bravelle and Ovidrel and should expect a call from them today. Let me be upfront about something. My health insurance does not cover any fertility injections at all. This is going to be paid completely out of pocket. We’re already going to be paying 20% for our IUI costs – which we knew would cost us a couple hundred, but we have no idea what to expect to pay for the injection medicines. I made up some random number in my head just so I’m mentally prepared when I get the call that I’ll be paying a lot.

Later that evening, I got a call from the fertility pharmacy. It turns out the two single-dose injection medicines were only $128. Sure, that dollar figure sucks, but it was much less than what I was prepared to pay out of pocket. The delivery was set for overnight. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting packages in the mail, but never did I think I’d be so excited to get fertility meds in the mail. Ever.

The 8 days were nothing but more morning blood work and ultrasound appointments – to include a 7:30AM Saturday morning appointment 45 minutes away from my house. One thing I learned from this experience is that you absolutely have to be willing to be flexible and expect the unexpected appointments – even on weekends. It’s part of the process. It felt like we were taking baby steps, literally, to get to the actual IUI procedure. I must admit, I took Clomid like a champ. I didn’t feel any change in my mood and JM even commented that he didn’t notice a difference with my mood either. That was certainly a relief for the both of us. As I got closer and closer to ovulation, my appointments became daily. I’d lay there in the stirrups watching my uterine lining get ticker and follicles get bigger. On my last monitoring appointment, I observe that I’ll definitely be ovulating from my right side.

On a side note, JM never came with me to any of these appointments. There was no point for him to ever be there. I don’t know why, but I found it hilarious when I saw the male partners present for their future-baby-mama’s morning monitoring appointments. To each their own, but I just don’t get it. Perhaps some women need more support than others, but I was not going to waste more of JM’s time than I already have these last 2 years trying to get knocked up to give him the baby he deserves.

When it was time for my plumbing parts to ovulate, JM had to give me what’s called a “trigger shot” (otherwise known as the drug Ovidrel). Basically this shot times exactly when I’ll ovulate — 36 hours to be exact.

My life sure isn’t boring right now. It’s September 30th and it’s time to make a baby… at precisely 2:45PM! I went to work like it was any other normal day, except lets be honest – I was distracted. No one at work knew I was going through this process except for two people – my boss and one other coworker who I’ve quickly bonded with over the last couple of months. I couldn’t keep this exciting secret to myself. I was bursting with excitement knowing what was going to happen at 2:45PM and I was even more excited that my coworker was excited for me. This support system certainly made things a bit easier for me.  I had this IUI on my mind the whole day. The clock ticked ever so slowly. JM had to drop off his prized specimen two hours before the actual IUI so they could clean his swimmers. So when the clock turned 12:45, I knew he was probably arriving with the better half of our future baby… in a brown paper bag. Literally.

I arrive on time for my 2:45PM appointment. Alone. I didn’t ask JM to be there, but looking back, I probably should have asked him to be there. At least that way he could feel like he was present for when his future child was possibly conceived. For the last and final time, I put my feet up into the stirrups. The baby-making salesman shows me a little tube and paper containing information assuring me that the specimen that is about to go inside me is indeed my husband’s. The RE explains to me what he’s about to do with a foot-long catheter and what it will feel like. The IUI procedure literally takes all of 10 seconds to do. I’m not even exaggerating. The RE inserts the typical metal speculum and then inserts the catheter directly into the uterus. Then, I felt this ever so slight cramping sensation. Next he injects JM’s swimmers into the catheter and afterwards removes the catheter and tells me to remain laying on the table with my legs closed for 5 minutes. So, all those blood and ultrasound appointments, and all those drugs and needles…. just for a 10 second procedure. This. Better. Work.

IUI

After my 5-minutes is up, I decide to remain laying down for one extra minute for good luck. After I got dressed, I met with my nurse to go over “next steps.” At this point, I’m told to not do anything strenuous for the next few days and I most certainly cannot do my HIIT class. Even though I’m done with the injections and Clomid, I now need to take progesterone suppositories 2 times a day up until my pregnancy test in 2 weeks. These are going to be the longest 2 weeks of my life. My pregnancy test is scheduled for October 15th – which seems like months away.

Progesterone

Upon leaving the office, I pause for a moment before starting my car. I say a prayer to everyone and anyone I know looking down on JM and I and pray that this IUI works. Only time will tell. In 2 weeks.

I’ll tell you one thing about this whole IUI process — it doesn’t take two to tango! Never did I think it would take roughly a dozen people (and counting) between my legs to knock me up. Get your head out the gutter people. I’m taking about a dozen different doctors, nurses, ultrasound technicians, and my husband. And, never did I ever think I’d get knocked up with my feet in stirrups. There is nothing about this process that is glamorous, but I will absolutely never ever forget it.