Wednesday, October 31, 2012

bump #35: the balancing act

As fun as walking a tightrope sounds (that actually does sound fun to me) that is not the kind of balance I'm talking about. Today I got to learn about hormonal imbalance. And it's about as thrilling as sitting in an hour of traffic. Which I also got to learn about today. Twice.

This morning I had blood drawn to check on my estrogen and progesterone levels to ensure that I did in fact ovulate and to get an early indicator about any possible implantation. I skipped this test for our first IUI in May mostly because I knew the IUI didn't work (hello polyp) but also because I was vacationing in Mexico. I like that reason more.  Having never done this test before I'm still not sure what my normal levels are but I did some research on the trusty (?) interwebs and found that post ovulation progesterone levels should be above 15 nanograms per milileter and post implantation levels should be above 20. Good news: Mine was 25 :) 
Estrogen levels should be above 200 picagrams per milileter. Bad news: Mine was 134 :( 
Those amounts are not balanced. We've got to up the estrogen.
I never thought my problem would be low estrogen! My husband is nodding in agreement. 

Here's a pic of my lab results
(sorry it's hard to read, don't worry I already gave you the important numbers.)
 The solution to low estrogen levels: an estrogen patch. Off to Costco to fill a prescription.
So now I am sporting a big 'ol band-aid patch on my lower tummy helping level out the estrogen/progesterone ratio and reading about possible side effects of said patch, which is never a good idea. But with the theme being balance, to counteract that bad idea I came up with a brilliant idea. Here goes...
I'm not even 5 feet tall (womp womp) which has it's obvious disadvantages. But one very distinct advantage: When it's dark out, like say Halloween night, and all the neighborhood kids are out trick-or-treating, I can pretty much join in their group and blend right in, capitalizing on my handicap.
There's estrogen in chocolate, right?
I'll be over 200 pokemons in no time! 
{ok so it's picagrams, but I've NEVER heard of that unit of measurement in my life!}
 If you really want to know why I was running around town in a costume today, hop over here!
Saturday, October 27, 2012

bump #34: 2 week wait

I read somewhere that we spend almost half our life waiting.  Right now we're waiting half of this month to see if our iui was successful.
Tick tock tick tock. 

Some waiting I am ok with: like waiting in line (even on black Friday) if my shopping cart is full of goodies, or waiting more than 6 months between visits at the dentist, or waiting to eat dessert until after dinner. That last one was a lie. So maybe those aren't great examples but you get the idea.
I pretty much hate waiting.  I may or may not have already pulled out my Christmas decorations and it isn't even November yet but I just can't wait for the next holiday... or the next, next holiday as the case may be.

I am terrible at waiting.

So to help pass the time I have:

- Rearranged the furniture {I usually end up moving it back the way it was before because I am actually not a fan of change, but it's fun to mix things up for a day or two.}

- Shopped online {I don't know how I ever survived before}

- Downloaded books on my kindle {haven't read any yet, but they're there}

- Put up some Thanksgiving and Christmas decor {go ahead and judge me, but we spend most of Decemeber in California with our families so if I want to enjoy spend a bunch of time setting them up only to take them all down a week later all the decorations, I have to start early.}

Just when I was running out of things to do (because cleaning the house never seems to be a priority) I noticed that I was nominated by the lovely Amanda at Genuine Greavu for a Liebster Blog Award.
 It's a little bit like a chain letter, but it definitely fits the "make-time-go-by-faster" criteria, so here it goes!

1.  Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging here about the bumps on the road to TTC because I needed a more productive outlet to work out my thoughts and emotions about infertility. Basically the mall closes at 9 so my "shop your feelings away strategy" was only good for a few hours a day :)  I also love the blogging community and the encouragement I receive from fellow TTC-ers. Blogging is the best therapy. Bonus: it's cheap!

2. What's your biggest pet peeve?

People who double-dip. Germs freak me out!

3. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Pink. Was there ever any question? It's my favorite!

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Paris. Then London, then Spain. And with a Mediterranean cruise at the end with stops in Italy and Greece. So I guess I would go to Europe :)

5. What's your favorite book?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee  
I only read it once as a freshman in Highschool, but it had a lasting impression.  I also like the name Harper for a girl because it almost sounds alright with our last name (Hoag) I grew up as Brenda Bing and love alliteration (obviously "brensbabybump"), so Harper Hoag fits the bill.

6. What is the quirkiest thing about you?
When it's way past my bedtime and I'm half asleep but semi-coherent I sometimes speak in a non-sensical, broken spanish saying things like "My cabeza is heavy como el sol." Or "Mis pantalones son too tight. Me gusta spandex." Definitely have to work on my spanish before that mediterranean cruise!

7.  If dreams always came true, how many kids would you want?
Four. If my husband's dreams came true it would be two. We'll have four kids :)
Unless labor really is as awful as everyone says it is. Then we'll compromise with one!

8. What is your greatest vice?
Buying clothes for my dog. Have you seen them? Some of the outfits are really cute!

9.  What is your favorite thing about your husband?
The beef stew he made for dinner tonight is in the running. The boy can cook! 
My real favorite thing about him is how supportive and encouraging he has been as we've worked through infertility issues the last couple years. Neither of us saw this coming and there are days when I am just so completely over it and super negative, but he is always there to listen to and comfort me. We are a really good team and it's because of him, not me!

10. What is your happiest childhood memory?
My happiest childhood memory is more a string of memories. For many years, I would spend every weekend at my grandparents' house where my Grandma taught me to bake, read the Bible with me, played my favorite game of Scrabble with me, and told me all the best family stories. They had 10 kids and lived all over the country, so there are a lot of good stories. Grandma should start a blog! Hearing all those stories is my happiest childhood memory. 

11. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you be?

San Luis Obispo, California where I grew up and where all my family lives. It's also the happiest city in the United States (according to Oprah anyway, and we all know she's the most credible source there is). It's also the second happiest city in the world. Look out, Copenhagen, we're coming for ya!

Thanks Amanda for including me in this Liebster fun! And my apologies to all of my reader(s) for another long post. Hopefully the next one will be short and sweet like "positive!!!" or "Pregnant!!!" Back to waiting... and stew. Yum.

Words of wisdom for today: Eating makes the time go by faster. I keep telling myself that anyway!
Wednesday, October 24, 2012

bump #33: iui #2

This post might fall under the category of TMI. Or it might be just plain boring.
You have been forewarned :)
With that said, however this whole procedure ends up working out {we won't know for a couple weeks} I want to remember what went well and what didn't for future reference. And if you happen to find yourself considering the intrauterine insemination (IUI) route to pregnancy, perhaps there will be a few helpful pointers.
Here are the logistics, the medications, the costs, and the schedule that we followed:
*All of our procedures were performed at the Fertility Center of San Antonio*
At this point, IUI seems like the best option for us.
I have a fairly predictable 28 day monthly cycle with ovulation usually falling on day 14.
 Andrew has low semen volume (0.6 ml where 1 ml is the beginning of the normal range)
But his sperm count (32 million per milliliter) and motility (80%) are healthy.
The logistics
Everything with fertility treatments is directly related to what cycle day you are on with cycle day 1 being the first day of your period. {Mine was 10.11.12}
Cycle day 5:
Baseline ultrasound revealing a 13 mm follicle on my right ovary
and a 10 mm + two 9 mm follicles on the left ovary
{the follicle holds the egg and at least one of those follicles will grow to be big enough to release their egg for fertilization - this may be general knowledge, but I didn't know anything about follicles until this crash course with infertility. I guess I missed that day in sex-ed!}
Cycle Days 5-9:
Take 2 femara pills at the same time once a day (prescription filled at Costco for generic brand name Letrizole)  This medication helps the follicles mature and ensures that at least one egg will be released at ovulation.
Cycle Days 11-13:
Use ovulation predictors to make sure you don't ovulate early and are able to time the IUI accordingly. 
Cycle Day 12:
Follow up ultrasound revealing healthy uterine lining (not too thick or too thin) and a 26 mm as well as a 13 mm follicle on my right ovary and a 15 mm follicle on my left ovary. There were a few others that were smaller and inconsequential.  A good sized follicle for ovulation is anything above 18 mm so it looks like the right ovary is the winner this month with a fatty follicle.
Cycle Day 12:
After a successful ultrasound showing at least one mature follicle, inject ovidrel shot in stomach (to bring on ovulation in the next 24-48 hours) approximately 40 hours before scheduled IUI procedure. We did this at 6 pm for a 10 am IUI 2 days later.  After the ovidrel shot you no longer need to use ovulation predictors because they will be inaccurate.
Cycle Day 14:
Husband gets up bright and early to perform his "contribution cup" and drops it off immediately (like within 30 minutes) at the fertility center so that they can prepare for the insemination a couple hours later. 10 AM doctor explains that after the sperm-washing {this is another one of those things I was blissfully unaware of, but in my defense, I know they didn't cover this in sex-ed!} there are approximately 15 million healthy, fully motile, usable sperm ready to meet up with my egg. The range that they are looking for is at least 6-10 million, and we were hoping for around 20 million, but 15 million still sounds like a good shot, so we'll take it.
Then the IUI is performed {read about the whole procedure here}. It is really quick, like less than a minute, and then you get to lay down for 20 minutes or so to ensure the sperm stay where they need to be, and think about baby names and what you want to eat for lunch. Really you just want to think about anything other than the 15 million squirmy spermies running amuck in your biznazz!
And then take the rest of the day off to lounge on the couch and catch up on mindless television. If you play your cards right you just might get a foot massage and a fancy dinner out of it too ;)
This is where we're at today. Day 14, post IUI lounging.  But here is what's coming up in the next couple weeks...
Cycle Day 21:
One week post IUI go back to the fertility center for a progesterone/estradiol test. Depending on the results the doctor may prescribe progesterone supplements to help the uterus house the fertilized egg.
Cycle Day 28:
Blood test to {hopefully} confirm pregnancy.
The Costs
Unfortunately mostly not covered by insurance
IUI Cycle $975
(including ultrasounds, sperm-washing, and insemination)
Progesterone/estradiol labwork $160
Pregnancy test $80
We did the lowest dose and least amount of medications involved with iui
femara (letrizole) 2.5 mg  10 pills {the only thing covered by insurance}  $5
Ovidrel shot  $95
So there you have it: the good, the bad, and the spermy of our 2nd IUI.
And now some pictures...
There is absolutely nothing fun or glamorous about fertility treatments,
but that didn't stop me from making it my goal to make un-fertility fun-fertility.
Here's the good luck fertility uniform I wore.
The only adage I could think of was "something old, something new" so I went with it.
And here's my "prizes."
Congratulations if you made it this far! You are my bff =)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

bump #32: relaxing didn't work

No surprise there.
Turns out infertility thrives on inaction or "relaxing" so there will be NO MORE OF THAT!

For this next cycle, it's back to medical intervention.

 IUI #2 (intrauterine insemination)
or the turkey baster method. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so it's fitting!

The good news is that we have done this before so we know what to expect.
The bad news is that we have done this before and it didn't work.
Hopefully the hysteroscopy in July removed that obstacle.

Our doctor recommended undergoing 3 IUI's before moving on to higher level infertility treatments. There is nothing magical about the number 3, he just said that usually if nothing has happened by that point, it is in our best interest to pursue a different course of action. Which could be another surgery: laparoscopy to diagnose/remove endometriosis or another hysteroscopy if more polyps are present. The earliest he has seen polyps return after being surgically removed is 10 months. But leave it to my state of the art uterus to set a new record on that... please do not accept that as a challenge, uterus.

Here's hoping that IUI #1 was first the worst and IUI #2 will be second, the best!
Friday, October 05, 2012

bump #31: when do you tell people

I'm still navigating this whole I want a baby NOW and it seems like it's going to happen NEVER thing. I would say "infertility" or "trying to conceive" but I'm sick of those terms. They're blah. And not nearly whiney enough to convey the aggravated tone in my voice.

So my question for today is this: when do you tell people that you are struggling with WaBnow? (wanting a baby now - I like how wabnow sounds as opposed to TTC. It'll catch on, give it time!)

I know the general protocol for announcing a pregnancy is to wait 12 weeks, or until most of the first trimester has passed. But just so you know, I am going to announce it here lickety split. Like still holding the positive pee pee stick in one hand and typing with the other!

So what is the protocol with telling people that you aren't able to get pregnant?
I know the obvious... not at a baby shower or a wedding or any other joyous occasion. But how long do you wait? We have been Wabnow for 2+ years. Do you think everybody already knows?

I'm still not ready to come out of my proverbial unpregnant closet!

So far we have been super private about it. It wasn't until a few months ago that I even shared it with my mom. Funny story: my parent's house is my permanent address since we're pretty mobile right now, and a lot of my mail gets delivered to them. So when a bill for $1200 for an IUI from the fertility center arrived in May my mom immediately called me and was all flipped out because obviously someone had stolen my credit card or something about identity theft. It was then that I knew I had to either get on board with the credit card theft theory or just come clean about the whole thing. I came clean. But fast forward to right now and only a couple of my closest friends are in the know. The support, love, and prayers from those friends has been amazing and I feel silly for not telling them sooner, but I also feel like it's nice to keep it on the down low because I don't want to talk about it all the time. I totally appreciate when my close friends ask how we're doing and check in on us, that's comforting. And I LOVE comments on the blog because that is the best reminder that we're not alone in this. The hesitance to go public with all of it really just stems from having to explain something that I don't understand.

I find it hard to believe that a polyp would be the only cause of our bumpless state, so what we are experiencing is still classified as "unexplained infertility." I can't explain it. It's out of my control. But keeping it contained, confined to this space, and to you, my confidantes, makes it feel a little more managable.

I suppose it's different for everybody, and you tell whoever you want to whenever you feel comfortable. I just feel like a bit of a fraud keeping something I want so badly hidden.  Afterall my entire existence is blasted all over facebook and I don't give that a second thought. Sharing our struggle with infertility just stresses me out. Oy. I don't know where all this anxiety is coming from, afterall I am still giving the old "relax" advice a try this month. Deep breaths.