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.

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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.

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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.

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!

IMG_1566

SORRY, NOT SORRY FOR “OVARY”-ACTING

July 27 – 31, 2015

Disclaimer: This is a super long post and is the first “big event” of our “in pursuit of baby” journey.

It’s Monday, 27 July. The big day I’ve been waiting for. The day JM and I have been preparing for. We’ve been so busy. Too busy. Busy enough where I didn’t have time to think about being angry about my recent endometriosis diagnosis. A serious blessing and a curse all in one.

Since 4th of July weekend, JM and I have been busy taking care of my Dad and getting him to numerous doctor appointments. I can’t make this up, but between the time my father arrived to my house, we’ve taken my him to eight different doctor appointments. Besides taking care of him and while suffering through daily chronic pain, I’ve attended a farewell party for a close friend moving across the giant pond called the Atlantic Ocean, attended a farewell party for a friend moving to Florida, and attended a bachelorette party weekend which was a 7-hour drive away, all while in the middle of trying to get our rental property prepared for tenant turnover for the 1st of August.

Needless to say, July 2015 has seriously been one of the most challenging months of my life. If there is anything I learned this month, it’s that my husband is seriously a Saint and the most patient creature I’ve ever met. Boy am I blessed to have JM. *sigh*! Moving on.

I’m not one to often admit or ask for help when I need it. I knew my recovery after surgery would be roughly 5 days, and I knew I couldn’t ask JM to take care of me AND my Dad at the same time. I decided to call my brother Tyler and asked him to come stay at our house and help us out with our Dad. I’m forever grateful Tyler’s job allowed him to work from my house and be away from the office for over a week. I manage to set up six doctor appointments for Tyler to take our Dad while he’s here. Aggressive? Probably. JM and I were feeling the insane stress from this month and needed a break from life for just a minute.

Who am I kidding?  We needed a break from life for a couple days! Minimum.

My mother decided to also come stay with us, too, during my surgery week to help JM take care of me and to see Tyler. (My parents are divorced.) So, needless to say, it’s a full house, but this is why JM and I have 3 guest bedrooms. (Finally, I can “humble” brag about something positive!)

So about my surgery. It’s the 27th. The big day. I decided to go to work for 3.5 hours in the morning since I didn’t have to be at the hospital until 1130AM. I needed to close out some things at work before being off for the entire week, plus I needed a distraction primarily from food since I wasn’t allowed to eat anything since midnight. You, know, the usual surgery preparation. Here’s a first for me. I went into work with no make-up and yoga pants. Somehow I managed to dodge everyone from seeing my scary naked face. My face was so pale from the chronic pain this morning. I didn’t care what I looked like at this point; I just wanted the pain gone.

Once I got to the hospital, I see my mom and JM. They arrive together so that one of them can drive my car back afterwards. A nurse calls me in to get me prepped for the procedure and says I can bring one person back with me. I find myself starting to get a bit nervous about the procedure and choose to have my Mom come back with me. My mother has a 30-something year career as a registered nurse and I know she has the eye to be able to determine if something is done right or not. (No offense, JM!)

The nurse starts getting me prepared for surgery with the IV and begins asking a ton of questions and goes over everything discussed from the pre-op interview. The anesthesiologist comes in and asks me even more questions and explains what will happen in the next few minutes. Then my OBGYN comes in and goes over everything with my mom. My little 8’x6’ tiny room is like a circus with all these hospital staff members coming in and out of my room. Can we say “overwhelming”?

My mom gives me a hug and kiss and leaves to get JM so he can see me before they wheel me back into the operating room. Next thing I know immediately after JM gives me a kiss, the anesthesiologist and nurse begin to wheel me out of my tiny room towards what I think is the operating room. Last thing I remember is how fuzzy things begin to look. The anesthesiologist must have put the good meds in my IV drip. “FINALLY,” I’m thinking. FINALLY I CAN GET GOOD SLEEP WITHOUT PAIN WAKING ME UP! Then, I’m out. Cold.

Fast forward to about 2 hours later. My surgery lasted roughly an hour. My OBGYN met with JM and my mom to deliver the not-so-good, but good news. Good news? I did great in surgery. Bad news? Just thinking about this makes me so angry. Get ready, it’s a butt-load of crap. Not literally.

After my OBGYN delivers the bad news to JM, he asks my doctor if he can be with me when she tells me the news. From JM’s point of view, she said he can, but this didn’t quite happen. Once I was finally awake from the anesthesia, my OBGYN came to talk to me. I quickly realize how groggy and tired I am from the anesthesia and do my best to make out what my doctor is telling me. She goes on to first tell me the good news. Both of my ovaries are still in tact. (Thanks, lady!)

I know, I know. I’m stalling on the bad news. Augh. Basically my OBGYN started off the conversation with, “it’s a mess in there.” “There” being my pelvis, ovaries, bladder, colon. Yup. All of it. She then continues to go on with the bad news. She couldn’t do anything except drain the cysts because it’s such a mess. She then continues to tell me I definitely have stage 4 endo and it has spread and developed adhesions everywhere. Everything in my pelvis was connected to one another and my bladder and colon have endo everywhere. Awesome. Well isn’t that just fabulous.

So now what?

My OBGYN said she didn’t want to mess with the adhesions close to my colon because she believes I should see a urologist first about it and it was too close for her comfort. She explains to me that the cysts will likely come back, but hopefully this will be temporary relief from the pain I been having. Next she shows me the photos she took of my insides. Talk about a wild sight!

My doctor continues to explain that if I don’t get pregnant soon or begin with fertility treatments, she recommends I go on Lupron for about 6 months. EXCUSE ME? Lupron? As in, the “menopause” drug? No. Absolutely not. I absolutely did not like the sound of that and absolutely terrified of hearing the three-syllabol word “memo-o-pause.” I’m not going there.  Besides, isn’t that the exact opposite of what I want to be doing? I basically ignore her as she goes into the Lupron discussion.

Finally she delivers the worst of the worst news. She said, as soon as JM and I are done having kids, she recommends I get a hysterectomy because my endo is so aggressive and she is afraid it would spread beyond my pelvic region and cause even worse damages.

\Lovely. Just lovely.

I’m still feeling a big groggy and all I want to do is vomit at this point. I’m not sure if I feel nauseous because of the news I just heard or because of the anesthesia in me. JM is allowed to come back into the recovery room and immediately he can tell I got the news from my OBGYN without me even saying a word. He just looks at me and holds my hand and says, “I asked her to let me be with you when she delivers the outcome.” I said it was okay. But really, it was not okay.

This was all just too much for me to handle at this point, and all I want to do at this point is to throw up, but also get a fruit smoothie. I’m not sure where or how the vomit bag got into my hands, but next thing I know, I’m throwing up some sort of fluid that is in me. I’m guessing it’s the IV fluids. I realize this is only the 2nd time JM has been around me when I’ve gotten sick. For better or for worst, huh? At least the first time I threw-up in front of JM it was more entertaining and after eating red velvet cupcakes at an open-bar wedding. I’ll save that story for another time when I need to lighten the mood.

My mother, JM and I get back to the house roughly around 5PM. The best part about leaving that hospital, is that I got to walk out of there with no boot on my foot for the first time in over 2 months. Damn, it felt good.

After we got home, JM went to get me the acai smoothie I’ve been wanting all day. My mom must have asked me 20 times what I want to eat. Food is the last thing on my mind after anesthesia and not to mention after throwing up 3 more times after the initial time in the hospital. Lesson learned. Jane and anesthesia do not get along. Not at all. My mom (being a mom), insists I eat. I told her whatever she makes, I want it to be bland, simple… and GLUTEN FREE. Why suddenly gluten free (GF), you ask? I’ll get to that in a minute. My mother decides to make my Sito’s (grandmother’s) chicken and rice recipe. No matter how old you are, you will always still need your Mom.

For the rest of the evening I laid in bed. The only time I got up was when JM or my mom had to help me get up to use the bathroom. My ab muscles are non-existant after the surgery. It felt as though I did a high intensity interval training ab workout for 72 hours straight and then got punched in the stomach until it bruised. I have no other way to describe how weak I felt after surgery. On the plus side, I had no ovary pain. And, no boot.

Fast forward…

For the next 4 days, I pretty much stayed in bed or laid on the couch and remained on the pain killers my OBGYN prescribed me. Honestly, I couldn’t do anything that required me to walk or move around even if I tried. I still couldn’t use much of my ab muscles and required the help of someone to assist me so I could get up every time I wanted to use the bathroom. I felt pretty helpless and super antsy because I couldn’t do anything productive. It was a nice distraction whenever friends and family members called or texted to see how I was doing. Also, having my mother around was a huge help. She stayed to help so JM could go back to work. She cooked every meal and even stocked up the freezer with homemade meals. She did some grocery shopping for staple gluten free items, and helped clean my house.

So about the gluten free thing. Remember I said in a previous post I have a degree in “Google”? In the weeks leading up to my surgery, I did nothing but Google, Google, Google. I Googled everything possible about endometriosis and fertility. To make a very long Google search history very short, I came across a lot of blogs, studies, and articles about certain foods causing endometriosis to flare up which results in pain and inflammation. I even read the book, It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Lets put it this way, the pain I was experiencing from my endometriosis was so bad, I was desperate and willing to do anything to get rid of it – even if it meant giving up pizza. GASP! A New Yorker give up pizza? And bagels? Yup, I was about to commit a sin.

ItStartsWithFood

I went cold turkey. I decided days leading up to my surgery that I would officially give up gluten for at least a couple of months and see if I notice a difference. Looking back, I probably should have given up dairy as well, but I didn’t want to make myself go too crazy. I already do eat a limited amount of dairy, so I decided to just start with gluten and go from there. I’ll be sure to update you in later posts on my gluten-free situation.

Finally on Friday, 31 July I was beginning to feel “good” and didn’t need the prescription pain meds anymore. My mother went back to her house, and I was able to finally move around pretty well to the point where I was able to drive to my rental property to let the cleaners into the unit. That was the most exciting thing about my day.

Actually I lied.

Fast forward to the late evening. My period was right on schedule and started Friday night. Yes, you read right. Getting my period on the Friday after my surgery was a really positive thing. It meant I could move forward with additional fertility testing and possibly an IUI next month with our reproductive endocrinologist (RE). I make a mental note to immediately call my RE Saturday morning to schedule an appointment for blood work and ultrasound for day 3 of my cycle.

I couldn’t have been happier to check the box and put my laparoscopic surgery behind me. Moving on. Let’s go. I have no more endometriosis pain. Let’s make a baby!

WELCOME TO THE BABY BUSINESS

July 8, 2015

After my appointment with my OBGYN from a couple weeks ago, I decided to make a consultation appointment with the dreaded place I call “the baby business”, aka “fertility clinic”, aka “fertility specialist”, aka Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). Even though my doctor said to give it 6 months after surgery before seeing one, I decided to make this appointment sooner for three reasons: (1) simply because I’m type-A and not waiting freggin’ 6 months, (2) to get a second opinion whether or not surgery is the right next step and (3) to see if there are any other tests JM and I need to do before turning to fertility treatments and procedures.

The morning of my appointment I gathered copies of all of our fertility testing paperwork. I put them in chronological order because I’m OCD like that. JM and I took two separate cars so that we could go to work after our appointment. The RE’s office is literally only 5 minutes away which can’t get better than that. I have a sense of angst running through me, but also excitement knowing we are continuously moving forward in pursuit of baby. I start my car, turn on the old-school radio (who needs to turn on an iPod when it’s only a 5 minute drive?) and a Jordin Sparks song I haven’t heard in years comes on. Remember “One Step At A Time”? Perhaps the timing was some weird coincidence, but I made a note to myself this is going to be my theme song for a while.

“Hurry up and wait
So close, but so far away
Everything that you’ve always dreamed of
Close enough for you to taste
But you just can’t touch…..

When you can’t wait any longer
But there’s no end in sight
when you need to find the strength
It’s your faith that makes you stronger
The only way you get there
Is one step at a time.”

If any of you know someone currently going through infertility or fertility treatments, send them that song and I guarantee it will make them feel better even if it’s only for a moment. Remember, there are no words you can ever say to a “baby challenged” couple that will make them feel better. Sorry for the side note. Moving on.

JM and I walk into the double doors of the “baby business” and begin to fill out paperwork answering all kinds of questions that remind us of how hard this time in our life truly is. There are a his and hers separate stack of papers to fill out. “How long have you been trying?”, “Do family members have history of infertility?”, “Usual cycle length?”, “Do you have symptoms at time of ovulation?” “Is cramping none, minimal, moderate, or severe?”, “Is intercourse painful?”, “Have you ever fathered a pregnancy?”, “Is there difficulty maintaining an erection?”, “Any history of X, Y, Z?”

TALK ABOUT PERSONAL QUESTIONS!

We’re called into the RE’s office once we’re done with the paperwork and assume our positions in the typical dark brown leather chairs every doctors’ office seems to have. I swear one day I’m going to have a strong hatred for dark brown leather chairs as often as I’ve been sitting in them these days. Anyways, I present all of our medical records related to our fertility tests to the RE. He goes through them one-by-one:

hormone blood work = check
thyroid blood word = check
ovarian reserve blood work = check
HSG = check
semen analysis = check
Ultrasound results = pump the brakes!

At this point of the consultation we began discussing my recent endometriosis diagnosis. The RE asked if I was experiencing any pelvic pain. I literally laughed out loud when he asked this question. I turn and look at my husband and begin to describe my pain. I begin saying, “Well, lets just say I have to take Advil every 4 hours, carry around a heating pad everywhere I go and I vomit at least once a day along with waking up in the middle of the night bawling my eyes out in fetal position because it has been longer than 4 hours since my last pill.”

Honestly, folks, I’m putting JM through hell these last couple of weeks. I’m literally waking up in the middle of the night vomiting and crying because the pain is so unbearable. It has gotten to the point now where JM began setting an alarm to go off in the middle of the night so I can take pain meds before waking up on my own in pain. The pain is now everyday, all day and I’m using my heating pad like it’s another ligament to my body.

The RE begins to go over results explaining the meaning behind the size of my cysts. He said, “I can tell you right now by the size of your cysts. You have stage 4 endo.” I explain to him I have surgery at the end of the month and ask if I should go through with it. The RE said because of the sheer amount of pain I’m experiencing right now, I absolutely should move forward with the surgery. He says, “You are going to have surgery to help with your pain, not fertility. This surgery won’t do anything for you for fertility benefits, only pain.” I’m glad he told me this because here I was thinking that the surgery will remove some of the endo which will help with fertility. I was freggin’ wrong! We conclude the surgery conversation with the RE saying he is going to call my OBGYN and tell her to definitely not remove either of my ovaries. (Um… yea, like I said earlier, I need those things.)

Then we shift the conversation to fertility treatment options and possible plan for after surgery. Long story short, the RE immediately says to me that because I have stage 4, nothing will work for me except IVF. (See? Baby business!)

This is where I start taking control of our consultation. I explain that absolutely under no circumstances do I want to just jump right into IVF without trying less invasive options first. First of all, IVF is like at least $10k out of pocket. My insurance only gives me $5k maximum for the lifetime of the insurance. Plus, my insurance doesn’t cover the cost of fertility medications. However, my insurance will cover 80% of an intrauterine insemination (IUI). For the obvious financial reasons, JM and I want to at least give a couple IUIs a try before jumping into IVF.

The RE understands my logic and said we can certainly begin with IUIs, but is convinced IVF is my only option. The Dr. had the nerve to say afterwards, “miracles do happen.” Perhaps I was too shocked that he said that, but looking back at it now, I should have walked out of his office right then and there. If it weren’t for this RE’s reputation and success rates, I probably would have.

After the hour-long consultation, we concluded that we will agree to meet again after my surgery – specifically three days after my first period after surgery for hormone blood work. Then, we’d circle back and settle on a fertility treatment plan and move forward. Surgery, here I come!

TESTING, DIAGNOSIS, AND SURGERY… OH MY!

June 29, 2015

It’s Monday and like every woman in the world, the way we want to start off the week is by going to the OBGYN…. said no woman ever. It’s my follow-up appointment after the ultrasound. I’ve been so anxious to hear the official results from my doctor and next steps. Like I said, I’m type-A and I want to get this all fixed and figured out so I can move on and start a family.

It turns out endometriosis is not that simple at all. It’s not curable unless I want a hysterectomy – which is totally not an option at this stage of my life. My OBGYN confirmed that the ultrasound showed what looks like endometriomas on my ovaries. Endometriomas are what is also known as “chocolate cysts” on the ovary. (How disgusting!) It’s a benign cyst that can cause chronic pelvic pain and infertility.

Immediately I had so many questions. Why was this never diagnosed before? Why am I just now experiencing pain? How did I get this disease? How do I get rid of this pain? Is there something I did to get this? Is there something I can do naturally to get rid of it? Will I ever be able to give my husband (4) children? Is this why my period is suddenly so painful? Will I pass this down to my daughter (if I can even have a daughter)? Why aren’t ultrasounds part of a routine annual check-up? Was this inherited? Do I blame my Mom or Dad for this? Why me?

My OBGYN explains to me in greater detail what endometriosis is. Basically it’s the uterine lining growing outside the uterus. So every time I get my period, not only is my uterus bleeding, but all the lining outside my uterus is bleeding as well. Again, W.T.F? She said typically it’s on the outer surface of the uterus, but can grow and spread on the ovaries, abdomen, bladder, colon, and in extreme cases it can be found in the lungs. However, she doesn’t know the extent of how much it has spread until she performs laparoscopic surgery.

SURGERY? I’ve never had surgery before in my life. I’m Jane and healthy! Jane and surgery do not belong in the same sentence. Not at the age of 31! Suddenly I start thinking dollars. My health insurance has a $3k deductible. I make a mental note that I should anticipate this being a couple grand out of pocket since we still haven’t met our deductible and then it’s 20% out of pocket after the deductible and coinsurance.

All of a sudden I find myself developing a whole new vocabulary. I ask my doctor how in the world I could possibly get this disease. She explains that the cause is unknown but studies have found that it is inherited. Apparently I was just born with these cells outside my uterus. Again, the fertility Gods forgot about me. She also said that birth control likely saved me from my ovaries and fallopian tubes being completely scared and destroyed (HA! Take that, Mom and church!) Apparently birth control suppresses the endometriosis growth since typically a period is light and short when on birth control. Since I’ve been off of birth control for a year and a half, my cycle is now longer and heavier causing the endometrial tissue to grow and spread.

My doctor and I decide to move forward with scheduling a laparoscopic surgery. The intension is to either (a) remove the endometrial tissue or (b) drain the cysts. However, we won’t know what the outcome will look like until she gets in there with the camera. My OBGYN said she will do everything possible to save my ovaries since I’m looking to get pregnant (UMMM yea lady. I kinda need those things if I want to make a baby with my own eggs!) She said I should hear from the hospital scheduler this week with a date for my surgery – which my doctor anticipates will be sometime in July. This conversation was going great until my doctor said she will want her partner OBGYN there for the surgery as well because of the size of my cysts.

Now I’m beginning to freak out and I ask my doctor why its necessary to have two highly skilled doctors there. This is where I wish JM came with me to the appointment. JM is seriously the most calm human being I’ve ever met in my life and suddenly I find that I really wish he was here with me to calm down my nerves.

I’m trying to listen to her but everything at this point was in one ear and out the other. My mind is racing, panicking and thinking that this is now serious if she wants the other doctor there performing the surgery with her. I ask my doctor at what point should I start seeing a fertility specialist (aka reproductive endocrinologist). She suggested that if I’m still not pregnant within six months after having surgery then I should see a specialist. SIX MONTHS? That’s way too long. I mentally make a note to myself to call one tomorrow to make a consultation.

I’ve never had surgery before. I’ve been blessed to be very healthy my whole life. I’ve never had a damn thing wrong with me except childhood asthma and a dairy allergy. I look down at the floor and suddenly remind myself “oh, and this stupid stress fracture.” AUGH. This is now all of a sudden turning into a summer of hell. I’m dealing with infertility, a fractured foot, endometriosis, and now I need surgery. What could possibly be next?