Monday, December 30, 2013

Seriously, Lady?

Holy S - I was in and out of the waiting room from 8:15AM to 1:15PM today. I guess I need to get used to tons of waiting and poking.

First stop was Dr. M's office where I had routine CD2-4 blood work (E2 and FSH) and an ultrasound. The nurse called me in for blood work around 8:45. I was not pleased - it was the same nurse who jacked up my arm last time.

Nurse: You're here to start an IVF cycle?
Me: Yes
Nurse (does some shit, then comes back): You're here for pregnancy?
Me (thinking): What in the fuck does that mean? A pregnancy test? I just told you IVF...
Me: I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean.
Nurse: You're trying to get pregnant?

Me: Yes. Yes I am.
Nurse: That's nice. You're about the same age as my daughter. That's a great age to get pregnant. She has two kids - a four year old and 7 month old. It worked out perfect for her.
Me: More Ron Weasley stares.
A) I mean, I know I could have been there for egg donation but wouldn't it have been safer to assume that I was "here for pregnancy"? B) How nice for your daughter. I thought having a baby at 28 would be perfect too. That's why I started trying to get pregnant 18 months ago. In case you forgot, I'm here for IVF so things didn't really work out so well for me.

Luckily, despite the overwhelming nerves, I was in a good mood this morning so it didn't really bug me too much. I could see how that conversation could be very hurtful to someone having a bad day. Why would she think that was a good topic for small talk?

Anyway, next up was my ultrasound. The technician told me that she thinks she saw at least 8 follicles on each ovary. That's an AFC of at least 16! I'm happy with that number. It looks like that's right on the edge of good and great, so hopefully there's a few extras that she couldn't see or didn't count which would put me in the "great" category. (Side note: How do you find the balance between being informed and avoiding Dr. Google scare tactics?)

Finally we spent 1.5 hours at the lab to do some more blood work. Once the results of my AMH test get sent to Dr. M's office, Nurse Jacki will call me with my initial protocol and BCP start time. She said she's 100% sure that I'll be taking BCPs either way, so as long as nothing looks crazy I should start them tonight and take them for 18 days. Fingers crossed!

The bills are already pilling up. My insurance only covers prescriptions from contracted providers and Dr. M is not on their list. My AMH and Indirect Coombs tests were not covered and I have six or seven more prescription drugs to pick up. I'm going to have to do some shopping around before I pick those up. I hate shopping.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Change of plans!

Well after talking (and more talking) and a lot of good luck in the form of a slightly longer (for me) cycle, Seth and I have decided to start prepping for IVF this month. I'm not really sure what made Seth change his mind - he just said that he realized that what I was saying in terms of timing made sense.

When he told me he was ready, I panicked a little bit. I had been feeling so confident that this was the right decision, but actually making the call to pursue IVF was a little scary. I felt sick - kind of like I was about to give a big presentation or take an important exam. I still feel 100% confident that this the right choice for us. We've had 19 cycles with great timing plus surgery. It's time to do something and IVF makes the most sense for us.

So here we go! Friday was CD1 for me. Tomorrow, CD4, I'll go in to the clinic for some blood work and an ultrasound to check my antral follicle count (AFC) again. It was 14 last time so I hope it's still decent. We also have to sign our contract. After that, Seth and I will go to another lab so that I can check my AMH level again (2.4 last time). They're also doing an indirect Coombs test since my blood type is A-. Seth just needs to do the infectious disease panel. On Thursday, I'll go back to the clinic to see Dr. M. I need to have an exam, a pap test and then we'll do the trial transfer. Nurse Jacki explained that the trial transfer allows Dr. M to make a "road map" of my uterus so that whoever performs the embryo transfer will know what type of catheter to use.

As long as everything looks okay, I will start taking BCPs this week and I'll continue to take them for about 4 weeks. Once all of the results of my testing are in, Dr. M will come up with a protocol for me and NJ will order my meds. I will probably start stimming late January or early February will an egg retrieval (ER) and embryo transfer (ET) in February.

Like I said, I'm nervous. Scared shitless is probably more accurate. There are so many thoughts and feelings running through my head. I think maybe it will start to feel more real after my appointments this week and then I'll be able to relax and bit. Maybe.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I'd like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! 
I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday today and tomorrow! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

9 dpo

...and nothing to report. I've had my usual PMS symptoms for a few days now and my temp looks like it's on it's way down, so I'm feeling pretty confident that this cycle was a bust too. My chart is all jacked up due to traveling and the change in climate (from AC to heat).

According to my average LP, I should start my next cycle on Christmas Day or the day after. Last month my LP was only 12 days though so I'm hoping that it happens a little bit early this month too. I'd rather not test since I have no hope and it would be better to be able to enjoy a Christmas cocktail without guilt than to be spending Christmas just waiting for the end. Also, at this point I have very little hope that we'll conceive on our own anyway so bring on the short cycles! I'm so ready for my BCP cycle.

I'm feeling okay though. I've been keeping very busy - shopping with my mom and sisters, walking Binks and Bear in the snow, and wrapping up more end-of-semester bullshit. I also need to get started on my syllabi and lessons for next semester.

I just need to get through the next week or so. I need to get through the holidays and the fake smiles and the "Yes, I'm fine thanks". I need to get through the start of cycle 21 and month 18. I just need to get through it and then I can focus on moving forward. We haven't changed our plans about holding off on prepping for IVF until after next cycle, but I can get started on my pre-IVF stuff soon. Once I get to CD1, I'll call to schedule my mock transfer and pap test and go in to double check my AMH. At least it will feel like we're finally making progress.

And now for some shameless AWing. The snow really works for Binks and Bear. Bear especially looks like such a model in the right photo. He looks like a calendar dog. Is it weird that I'm totally jealous of how photogenic my dogs are?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Are we there yet?

Nope. We're just about halfway there.

I woke up this morning at 4:30. Probably from exam anxiety even though I was giving the test and not taking it. Once the exam was over, I finished up all of the end-of-semester bullshit and hurried home. I got back around 12 and then we started the 1000+ mile drive to my parent's house outside Philadelphia.

I am sooo bored. And really, really uncomfortable. As if sitting on your ass for ten hours doesn't suck enough, traveling triggers my endo pain. Any type of crouching or sitting with my legs at a right angle (or less) to my back causes me more pain than anything else. I can't wait to get out and lay flat in bed.

Banks and Bear are doing well. Binks did a lot of pacing for the first hour, but once he realized that nothing was happening he calmed down. They've been sprawled out napping in the back for most of the day. I'm so jealous. I also feel awful because I completely forgot to give them water. I noticed Binks licking the window and had an Oh shit! moment. Luckily the ice in the cooler melted.

We're going to stop soon (I think we're somewhere in NC) and finish the drive tomorrow - hopefully with only seven hours to go. I'm a little worried because they're supposed to get snow in Philly tomorrow but hopefully the roads won't be too bad by the time we get far enough north for snow and ice. I'm excited for Binks and Bear to see their first snow. I don't know what my Florida dogs will think of it. They love sunshine. I think they get cold in the air conditioning (drives Seth cazy), but they'll probably love it. And I will AW the shit of them like the stage mom that I am.

And now you're as bored as I am. Suckas.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Slow and Steady

Our consult with the IVF nurse was on Wednesday morning. I wasn't really sure what the expect, but it was awesome. I really, really liked the nurse (Nurse Jacki) and I hope I'll get to work with her a lot. During the meeting she went over the entire process so that we both know, more or less, what's going to happen and how everything is handled at the clinic. She also went over everything that we need to have done before we can start prepping for IVF:

  1. Repeat CD3 blood work and antral follicle count for me
  2. Repeat AMH
  3. Send genetic screening results from OB to RE
  4. Pap test
  5. Infectious disease testing for Seth
  6. Fill out consent forms

#1 and #3 can be done on CD2-4 of the cycle that I'm going to start BCPs. For #3, I just need to get my OB's office to fax the results to Nurse Jacki. #2 and #4 can be done on any day before we the BCP cycle. Once Dr. M has all of that information he'll come up with a protocol for me and N.J. will order my meds. (Bonus: We applied to another discount program and we'll get 50% off Gonal-F and Cetrotide!) The consent forms just need to be completed before we start stims.

So, when can we get started? In order to start BCPs on my next cycle, I would need the cycle to start on December 27th or later. That would put CD4 on Monday the 30th and everything would be fine. I'm pretty sure that I ovulated yesterday. That means I'd have to have a 15 day LP. That's probably not going to happen. It's happened a few times for me, but my average is only 13. Last month is was 12.

Even if I DID have a 15 day LP....I don't think Seth is ready. He wants to give it one more try. I get it. I would give anything to be able to get pregnant on our own, without any help, FOR FREE. That would be amazing. I just don't feel like that is going to be a reality for us. Seth is having a harder time accepting that, probably because he's not the one who's been temping and charting and getting a period for the last 17 months. He doesn't feel the build-up of hope and pain, followed by total emptiness. He's also worried about me. He said that he hated seeing me go through surgery and then the MRSA infection and he's not looking forward to seeing me go through the injections and ER. The look on his face when N.J. asked him if he'd be able to give me a trigger shot was priceless. I have faith in him though, he'll be fine.

So that's that. There is no way we're going to start this until Seth is 100% ready. It's going to be hard enough and there's no way I could do it without his full support. That said, I'm disappointed. I know that this is the right decision and I know that 4 extra weeks is not the end of the world, but I'm still bummed and I'm going to need a few days to get over it. I'm going into this with the expectation that if it's going to be successful, it's going to take more than one cycle. I'm afraid that we won't have time to do more than one cycle before we move (and I don't want IF to rule our lives and prevent us from moving home) and I'm afraid we're not going to be able to advantage of the program we're in right now.

For now, I'm just going to focus on trying to enjoy the holidays. My semester is almost over - my class has their final exam on Monday and then we're starting the long drive home. I'm excited to spend time with my family. It would be nice if my next period wasn't due on or around Christmas Day, but that's life and I'll get over it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Moving forward...soon?

Tomorrow morning we have a consult with the IVF nurse! I'm not really sure what that means. I think she's just going to explain to us how IVF works and what we'll be doing and can (sort of) expect from start to finish. I'm so excited to be making the first step, but I'm not sure how quickly we'll be able to move forward with IVF. According to my cycle average, my next CD1 should be the 25th (yay - happy Christmas). We weren't planning to come home until the 29th (~CD5) so if I need to be in for an ultrasound on CD3 we won't be able to start BCPs.

I know that one month isn't a big deal, but it's still has me a little bummed. I won't be able to start BCPs until the end of January so a retrieval probably wouldn't happen until March. Even after 17 months of TTC, March seems so far away. It also means that we would either have to make the decision to NOT move home in May or to give up the opportunity to continue with IVFs or FETs using our clinic's awesome discount program. We're so fortunate to be in the program and I really want to be able to make the most of it.

Today is CD11 and right now I have zero signs that ovulation is about to happen - no EWCM, no positive OPK. This is a little unusual for me, but I'm not bothered by it - I'm really pumped. I have my fingers crossed so hard that my cycle is just a little bit longer than my normal. Just two days would make a big difference. Three would be better. It would give us some options. Also, ovulating later means there's a better chance that my eggs are fully mature so that's better for trying on our own anyway. We'll just have to wait it out and hope for the best!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Good Fortune

Last night, Seth and I went out for Chinese food. I love getting fortune cookies but I always get shit fortunes. The ones I get aren't even "fortunes", they're just statements. I'm always disappointed. We got our cookies before our meal and I didn't feel like waiting, so I ate my cookie first. This was my fortune:

Okay, fine, another fucking statement but at least this one made me smile. I thought it was really fitting that I got a fortune about hope after we just received our great news and I talked about how hopeful I felt the other day.

Seth's fortune was pretty fitting too:

I'm not sure if I really believe in signs and I'm not sure if I believe that everything happens for a reason. I do believe in looking for the positive or the bright side. For example, if Bear wasn't born with a bad kidney we would probably not have had the opportunity or desire to adopt another dog and we wouldn't have Binky with us now. If I had not been stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship while I was an undergrad, I probably wouldn't have ended up as a Geology major and I never would have met Seth. Those two things - Bear's health and the bad relationship - completely sucked, but I had so happy with how everything turned out that I really can't say that I regret anything that has happened. I would do it all over again as long as it always brings me to where I am now. 

Maybe someday I will feel the same way about IF and the past 16+ months. Someday I'll let go of the anger and the sadness and the cynacism and be able appreciate how much stronger, how much less anxious, and how much more grateful I have become. I really believe that will. I can get through this. I just need to remember to be patient and stay hopeful. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


That's what showed up in my mailbox today. Hope. For the first time in months, I feel really truly hopeful.

I've been checking my email and our mailbox like a crazy person for the past few days waiting to get a response about our application to our fertility clinic's discount IVF program. They offer a discount (from 10-50%) for teachers, first responders, military personnel, and low income families. I was worried that we would not be accepted because I'm not a full-time teacher/employee.

When I heard the mail truck pull away this afternoon, I had a good feeling. I went out to the mailbox, sorted through the envelopes, and found a standard letter addressed to me with our clinic's logo. I tore open the letter right there in the driveway. And then I started crying.

Right there in bold letters and yellow highlighter were the words telling me that Seth and I qualified for a 45% discount on all IVF-related expenses. 45%!!! That's almost the maximum! That's more than I let myself hope for. I cried for about five minutes, re-read the letter, cried again, read more of the letter to make sure that I read it correctly, and then cried some more. I noticed that the discount didn't include ICIS, assisted hatching, or extended embryo culture but I didn't care. We could handle those extra costs if we needed to. Except then I noticed a second letter in our pile of mail! There was another letter and that one gave us a quote for a second IVF package which DID include all of the extras. The first letter was just the base package, but if we want the extras we get a discount on them as well. If we're fortunate enough to have some frosties, we'll get a discount on frozen embryo transfers too.

I am so happy and so thankful and so fucking relieved. I feel like we have options and a decent chance now. The Attain refund program was just too much money and too much pressure for us to handle right now. This program doesn't offer a refund, but the discount is better and I like that we don't have to pay for things we might not need or get to use. We can take a break whenever we want. This is perfect for us and I am so thrilled.

Seth was out for a walk with the dogs when I opened the letter. I was so excited to tell him. Oddly, the first thing he did when he walked in was ask if the mail came. I said 'It sure did' and handed him the letter. I pointed at the price and cried and we hugged. It was so wonderful to see the look of hope and relief on his face too.

Today I am hopeful that we will be able to attempt at least one IVF cycle. I am hopeful that soon, we will have a better chance than we've ever had at actually getting pregnant. And I am hopeful that I won't always feel the way that I've been feeling lately. If Seth and I can be so happy just to hear that we can afford treatment, I know that some day we will be able to feel hope and happiness WHEN we finally find out that I'm pregnant.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cycle 20

Yesterday was CD1 and today is December 1st, so we've officially started cycle 20, month 17. I had a great time visiting my family and I think that it helped to be home yesterday since I didn't have very much time to cry or dwell on it. I am pretty bummed though. We had great timing - maybe our best since surgery. I really felt like if it was going to happen, this would have been the month. But it didn't so now we move on.

I am not looking forward to this cycle at all. I feel like I'm going to be a fucking mess. Assuming nothing changes, I can expect my next cycle to start on or around Christmas day. I swear all of my CD1s fall on holidays or family events. It is so hard to stand in the middle of a crowded room and smile and make small talk when I feel like screaming. This is our last chance to get pregnant in 2013. I am dreading the new year. If this doesn't happen, I really think I'll be avoiding all NYE celebrations. I'm sure that's not healthy, but I don't fucking care. I just can't.

In spite of all of this, or probably because of all of this, I'm afraid that my hopes are going to be out of control and that if/when it doesn't happen I will be absolutely crushed.

I'm already a nervous wreck over the whole IVF program application thing. The application says that we should receive a response by mail (Email? Regular post?) in about 2-3 weeks. Tomorrow will be two weeks since I mailed it. I'm going to be refreshing my phone and checking my mailbox like a freak until we get a response. Even though I feel that they have good reasons to deny our application, I can't help getting my hopes up. We need this. If we don't get it, I don't know what we'll do treatment-wise but I'm pretty certain that I will lose my mind if we don't try something soon.

There's nothing I can do about it though. I just need to keep reminding myself that. We're doing all that we can do right now and worrying about it won't change anything. We'll give it our best shot again because we're not ready to give up. Other than that, it's out of our hands.