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.