PROJECT PARENTHOOD

July 31 – August 31, 2015

Don’t ever get me wrong. Being a DINK couple does have its benefits. You heard me right. We’re DINKs. A Duel Income No Kids kind of couple. It’s July 31st. Four days after my surgery and my period came right on time. It’s go time for us.

JM and I decided to move full speed ahead so we can start our first Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) ASAP. However, before we do, our Reproductive Endocrinologist aka. RE aka “Baby Salesman” had a laundry list of things we needed to do before we could start with any fertility procedures. All these things, of course, require more money out of our pocket since we still have not hit our out-of-pocket maximum with our insurance. On a separate note, our 3-year wedding anniversary is coming up over Labor Day weekend and we have every intension to continue our tradition of going on a nice vacation to celebrate. We were not going to let some doctors’ appointments or anything else stop us from continuing our tradition. See? Being a DINK has its advantages.

Four days after my surgery, I still didn’t feel fully recovered, but I felt well enough to take care of some things at my rental property to get it prepared for a tenant turn-over in a couple days. More importantly, I felt well enough to start knocking some things off of the Baby Salesman’s “to-do” list. One thing he wanted me to do was update my blood work and set a new baseline for my hormones, thyroid, test for auto-immune diseases, and vitamin D since it has been over 6 months since the last time I had these tests done. I’m sure there was some more items on that list and I simply can’t remember. Separately, my RE also requires all patients – both male and female – to have blood work for all sexually transmitted diseases. I went ahead to a local blood lab and was shocked to see they literally had to take 7… yes 7 different vials of blood from me. It’s beyond me why they needed so much, but after I saw a 4-page printout containing my results for every test, I can see why now they needed 7 freggin’ tubes of my blood.

The Baby Business office had me come in August 4th to test my day-3 hormone levels and ultrasound. Little did I know that this day would forever mark the day I officially became the “stirup queen!” As the RE is doing the ultrasound, he’s measuring everything – my uterine lining, follicle count and size… and my ovary cysts. After listening to my RE, I start panicking internally. This time I really was ovary-acting. He tells me the measurement of my cysts. They are pretty much only a centimeter smaller than what they were before my surgery. This is just fabulous. My OBGYN’s idea of draining my cysts did jack crap – except eliminate my pain. (But, honestly, I’m convinced becoming a glutard is really what eliminated my pain. I’ll get more into that later.)

On August 7th, JM and I had an appointment to get a 2nd opinion from a different Baby Business to see what they thought about our situation. Really, we just wanted to know if another RE also thought IVF was truly our only option or if we have any chance at pregnancy with an IUI. This appointment lasted a little over 90 minutes, and we left… disappointed. Disappointed because we heard what we didn’t want to hear. Long story short, the 2nd opinion RE said the same thing as our primary RE. Once again, we listened to the words of “IVF is our only hope” and “IUI’s likely will not work.” Oh, and a “Good luck and if you change your mind, I’d love to be your chosen doctor.” OF COURSE YOU WOULD! YOU WOULD JUST LOVE OUR $15,000, NOW WOULD’T YOU!?!?!?!

This wasn’t exactly how JM and I wanted to start off our weekend, so we decided to make some “us” time and do a date night. Plus, we needed a breather and something to get us prepared for the upcoming week. Lets not forget that my Dad is still living with us and we’re still caring for him watching his health. In just 3 days, my Dad is going to have prostate surgery. Just when I’m finally recovering from my own surgery, we now have to help him recover from a surgery next week. It. Just. Doesn’t. End. Now I’m probably sounding like a babbling bitch, huh?

Moving on.

During the week of my Dad’s surgery, I had my 2-week surgery follow-up appointment with my vagina doctor (aka. OBGYN). She checked over my incisions, and did a lovely exam – making it the 2nd time I’ve had to encounter a date with the stirrups this month. Then my vagina doctor did what I feared… she showed me the photos that she took during my operation and went over in greater detail the damage my stage 4 endometriosis has done to my pelvic region. Not to mention, she also went over what she was not able to do to help me. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my OBGYN and I know she wished she could have done more for me, but I was not her biggest fan during this hour.

On August 18th, JM and I had a follow-up appointment with our Baby Salesman to go over all of our blood work results, my ultrasound, and discuss a “plan” going forward. The good news is that all of our blood work for all hormones, vitamin and nutrient levels, diseases and STDs came back completely normal. Besides my cysts, my ultrasound was completely normal. You’d think we weren’t baby-challenged with such great results. We are now ready to put all these tests behind us and move forward with a plan. We explain to the RE that we are going to the Dominican Republic for our anniversary next week, but as soon as my period starts after we get back, we will be ready to start our first IUI.

The only thing we had left to do before our first IUI were two more things. I needed to have my annual pap and an optional blood work to test to see if we are carriers of 200 major, but rare, recessive diseases. We decided to take care of both things two days later. This made it my 3rd time having a date with some stirrups this month. (See? Stirrup Queen!) Trust me, I was getting really tired of seeing my OBGYN and I told her that I didn’t want to see her again unless I was getting fat and pregnant. In the meantime, JM and I decided, “why not” and lets go ahead and pay the $99 for the recessive disease blood tests for peace of mind. Since apparently IVF may be our only option, the technology is out there so that if we are both carriers of a major recessive disease, then the Baby Business has the ability to select the egg and sperm to use to avoid ones with any specific diseases we may be carriers of.

My next period was once again right on time… August 24th. I did my math and estimated that I should get my next period sometime around September 18th. Finally JM and I have some positive things to look forward to and put all these fertility tests and surgeries behind us. Never in my life did I think I’d be so obsessive over the timing of my period like I have been recently.

My brother Tyler flew into town the day JM and I left for our vacation to the Dominican Republic to stay with our Dad and care for him while we are away. I’m forever grateful and can’t thank Tyler enough for helping JM and I when we really needed help.

Before we knew it, our summer was gone. It was a summer of medical needs, broken bones, and surgeries. Sayonara Summer! Hello 8-day all-inclusive Dominican Republic vacation. We realized this is quite possibly the last vacation we can comfortably spend our money on without thinking twice … at least until we’re done saving and paying for fertility treatments. When we return, operation Project Parenthood will officially begin!

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TYPE A – THERE’S NO OTHER WAY

June 22, 2015

I waste no time. None. Give me a problem, throw a challenge at me, give me a goal to accomplish and there is no stopping me. I really am a very determined person. I was born into a family of overachievers. It’s a blessing and a curse all at the same time.

Remember I said I was going to call my OBGYN first thing Monday after my Myrtle Beach trip? I wasted no time. I called my OBGYN when they opened and got myself a 2:30PM appointment with one of the doctors who isn’t my usual doctor. I didn’t care. At this point I was desperate to find out what was causing my pain. I purposely didn’t take any Alive or Ibuprofen today so that I could describe and show the doctor exactly where my pain was taking place. Lets just say it was a very long morning at work today.

The OBGYN asked me to describe what has been going on. I explain to her about the pain patterns I’ve noticed my last two cycles. I proceed to tell her that the pain feels like someone is seriously ripping out my insides, rolling them in porcupine needles, and explosives were going off on my ovaries. I literally chuckle while telling her I feel like it’s my ovaries in pain. The doctor then smiles and says usually when patients tell her their ovaries hurt it’s not even the location where their ovaries are. She asks me to point to where the pain is coming from. I show her and she says, “Yup, and that’s your ovaries. You are right about that.”

The doctor hands me a referral to get an ultrasound within the next couple of days to see if maybe it is cysts bursting on my ovaries. CYSTS??!! ON MY OVARIES??? WTF? Cysts aren’t even in my vocabulary. Did I seriously just hear the doctor correctly? The thought of cysts on my ovaries started to freak me out a bit.

After my appointment ended, the second I got in my car I called the place my OBGYN recommended to get the ultrasound done. I was able to get an appointment for the next day. Again, I don’t waste any time. Type-A.

RUNNING A RACE

February – May, 2015

While I was busy getting my initial blood work tests and HSG done, JM was directed to do a semen analysis. I should never doubt how supportive my husband is, but I was mentally ready for him to push back on wanting to get his swimmers tested. Hearing anything bad about your swimmers is probably the last thing any man wants to hear. Ladies, let me tell you – if your man does not want to get his swimmers tested, then he is a coward. I couldn’t be more proud of JM wanting to figure out if there could possibly be something wrong.

JM was all in. He was ready to find out if there was anything wrong with him since clearly everything is fine with me. I was so proud of him, but yet in the back of my mind I’m convinced that he’s the one to blame why we can’t get pregnant. Yes. I said it. Blame.

Mid-February, JM went in and gave the fertility specialists a sample (which costs a whopping $150 because insurance doesn’t cover it!) and in less than a week we got the results in. JM’s swimmers were not swimming to win a race. Okay, perhaps I’m exaggerating a little bit. But that turns out it’s the only issue – they aren’t as fast as they should be, but overall everything else about his swimmers were fine. My OBGYN recommended JM go see a urologist who specializes in fertility. So, that’s what JM did. To make a 4-month long story very short, from February until May JM went to a few appointments, got his swimmers checked out again, and as it turns out he’s rated an A-. Pretty darn good.

NOW WHAT?!

Of course, this left us in total confusion. So, my hormones are fine. My tubes are completely open. And JM’s swimmer’s are an A-. What did the urologist advise? “Just give it some more time and come back and see me in 3 months if you still aren’t pregnant.” I, on the other hand, wasn’t buying it. There has to be something wrong. “They” say, that 90-something percent of couples are able to get pregnant within the first year of trying. At this point it has been one year and three months and we’re still not knocked up.

THE PRETTIEST PICTURE

February 16, 2015 – $365 later – I was able to get my first set of blood work tests done shortly after our infertility consultation. Thankfully, all of my hormone levels were completely normal. First test for Jane = Success.

I was also able to get an appointment in for my Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) really quickly and nice and early before work. The exam was rather… errr…. interesting. You’re laying flat on this exam table, the doctor injects a dye into your woo-ha and then uses a balloon to push the dye through so it flows into your fallopian tubes – or at least that’s what you hope and want to happen. You can watch this all happen on the TV monitor at the same time. It’s fascinating, really. This was the first exam I ever did where I could see my inner lady parts. I mean, I have an idea what it’s supposed to look like by textbook photos, but never seen my own.

Thankfully all of the dye circulated through my tubes – meaning my tubes were completely open and normal. After the procedure was done, I said to the nurse how cool it was to be able to watch that on the screen. Her reply back to me was, “your picture is one of the pretty pictures I’ve ever seen.”….. Insert awkwardness here. Or perhaps that was a bizarre compliment? Whatever it was, I’m just thankful there is nothing wrong with my tubes. Second test for Jane = Success.

Obviously with my two tests being normal, the answer was obvious – there has to be something wrong with my husband and his swimmers. Clearly that’s the answer.

STORKS ARE BITCHES

At my annual OBGYN routine check up in July 2013, I informed my OBGYN that JM and I plan to start trying around the new year. I decided to go off birth control right around Christmas in 2013 to let my cycle start getting back to “normal.” JM and I decided – whatever happens, happens. We didn’t want to actually plan to “try” for the first 6 months. If it’s July 2014 and I’m still not pregnant, then we’d actually “try.” Like, time everything kind of try.

Month after month after month, the river still ran red, and we were disappointed and thought back to high school sex education classes, where they can’t tell you enough how it only takes one time. Turns out that wasn’t true for us. HIGH SCHOOL SEX ED TEACHERS – YOU LIED TO US!

July came around and we decided to actually “try.” I purchased the 100 pack of ovulation strips off amazon.com (highly recommend them BTW), and every month I knew exactly when I was ovulating. Still the river ran red month after month.

Finally January 2015 came and I dreaded doing what infertile couples dread doing…. I called my OBGYN for an infertility consultation.

Fast forward to the end of January 2015… we had our consultation, we got referrals to get JM a semen analysis, and a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) and blood work for me. I made a promise to myself to start working out more than I already am, to start eating better, and to start praying harder.

I also made a very tough decision to change career paths in my company.  I was managing a team of 20 highly skilled, highly educated personnel the last couple of years.  I recognized the stress it was causing me and thought maybe if I eliminate some stress in my life, it will help me get pregnant.  At the end of January, I accepted a job as an analyst in my company and resigned as a program manager. I had a ton of mixed emotions about this decision, but I knew taking on an analyst position it would allow me the flexibility to go to doctor appointments during the week and I wouldn’t have to worry about putting 20 others before myself.  Selfish? Perhaps. But as a woman in a leadership position, it took a lot of bravery and courage to recognize that it was time to put my family first over my career. I was okay with that and knew I could always go back to managing one day.

Looks like we’re in for quite an expensive and unknown ride 2015. Cheers to the New Year. Storks are bitches.