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Two days after I gave birth, Dr. Ass Clown came to my room in the hospital to take a look at my incision and check on me. He reminded me that breastfeeding is not a surefire method of birth control and he asked if we’d thought about what kind of birth control we were going to use. I politely told him that we wouldn’t be using birth control and if we miraculously got pregnant, we’d be more than happy with that outcome. As he is want to do, he told me one of those anecdotal stories of a woman who, after much struggle with infertility, got pregnant via IVF and then magically turned up pregnant less than three months after giving birth to her first child. “Fabulous,” I replied. “I so want to be that woman.”

At my ten day checkup one of the other doctors asked us again about birth control. I replied that we’d be over the moon if we got pregnant naturally and didn’t have to spend over $30,000 and two and a half years to have a baby. He reminded me that it can, and does, happen. He questioned why we needed IVF in the first place, and without warning, the waterworks came on. I tearfully told him that I have crappy eggs and that of 53 eggs retrieved during our three IVF cycles, only seven of them even made it to day five and of those, only three were blasts. He reiterated that without birth control unplanned pregnancies can occur, and I once again stated that that would be the ideal scenario and I’d really look forward to that. He gave me a look, and dropped it at that. It was as though my comments were the absolutely strangest thing he’d ever heard.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I noticed that I was all of the sudden getting less output from my pumping sessions at work. I replaced the membranes on my pump, but was still getting significantly less milk than normal. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, so a quick Google search suggested that maybe I was getting ready to ovulate, or get my period. Hmm. This got me thinking, as I had recently noticed the return of some obvious fertility signs. Some blood streaked EWCM along with the decrease in milk supply was a no brainer: I was going to ovulate. About a week later, I had some light pink CF and started getting cramps. Sigh. It was the writing on the wall…my period was coming. I remember complaining to my husband about my cramps and that it was a sure sign that I was going to get my period on vacation. In fact, I was so sure that I was going to get my period that I packed a box of tampons and a package of pads in my suitcase so that I wouldn’t have to buy them while on vacation.

All vacation long I waited for my period to come. And waited and waited. Those cramps that I’d been feeling disappeared and there was no more spotting to be seen. I felt great. Weird. I started thinking. Blood streaked EWCF is supposed to be a sign of high fertility and pink CF about a week later, along with cramps. Hmmm. It couldn’t be. I couldn’t be pregnant, could I? There’s no way I could be “that woman” and end up pregnant before I got my first post partum period, could I? I decided that if I still hadn’t gotten my period when I got home, I’d take a pregnancy test. Meanwhile, my mind was spinning. I was lost in a daydream about how absolutely fantastic and miraculous it would be if I were able to get pregnant on our own. How great it would be to have two children so close in age (challenging though, I’m sure). How much fun it would be to share my pregnancy news with my support group members and how painful it would be to have to break the news to my friend who continues to struggle with infertility.

My daydreams were bolstered by a rash of what I like to call “much easier than the first time” second pregnancies. Two of the women in my online support group have already given birth to their second kids and two more are currently pregnant. One woman from my real life support group got pregnant on her first IUI whereas her first baby took 11 IUI’s to conceive (her husband is sterile, so they use donor sperm/IUI). It just seems like the second time around is going a lot easier for many of the women that I know, so why shouldn’t it be that way for me too?

We returned home and despite my resolution to test, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. The thought of it was too scary. Of course while a positive result would make me ecstatic, a negative result would signal the return of infertility, and all of the insanity that comes with it. I didn’t have any pregnancy tests on hand and wasn’t feeling brave enough to actually go out and buy any, so I compromised and took the only OPK that I had left over. It wasn’t even close to positive so I figured that I wasn’t pregnant and that I’d be getting my period any second. I kept waiting and waiting and waiting. Still no period. By this time it was two and a half weeks after that blood streaked EWCF and I knew that if I was pregnant, it would definitely show up on a test.

I bought some tests.

I POAS.

As the dye ran across the test, a faint second line came up immediately. My heart started racing and I was in shock. It can’t be. There’s just no way. I held the stick in my shaking hands and continued to stare at it.

Slowly but surely, the second line faded away and all that remained was the control line. The test was negative.

Despite knowing that the test was negative, I couldn’t stop myself from returning to check on it every few minutes, just to make sure the line hadn’t somehow magically reappeared. I knew that chances of me being pregnant were virtually zero, but I had managed to let myself believe that it could actually have happened. As great as it would have been if the test had been positive, I was surprisingly OK with a negative. It was a bit of a reality check, I suppose. A reminder that I shouldn’t let myself get caught up in trying to get pregnant again. The fact is that we probably are never going to get pregnant on our own. In fact, I’d be surprised if we’re ever able to get pregnant with a biological child even using ART.

As it turns out, I never even ovulated. I’m guessing that my body was gearing up to ovulate and just never quite got all the way there. Anyway, it’s now three weeks after that fake-out ovulation and my body is trying to ovulate again, and this time I think it’s for real.

Despite knowing that we’ll likely never get pregnant the old fashioned way, I find myself falling into the same trying-to-conceive-insanity that was my life not so long ago. Sigh. How does one let the return of fertility, or in my case, infertility, not rule their every waking moment?

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It seems that at some point nearly every infertility-turned-pregnancy blog that I’ve ever read has a reflective post about how different things are this year versus last year at the same time. Generally speaking, I try to avoid blogging about subjects that have been written about by the vast majority of the infertility blogosphere because most bloggers are simply better writers than I am and can more eloquently put into words the emotions that are so common in this community. Having said that, this is one subject that I simply cannot pass up; not because I think I can write about it better than or even as well anyone else, but because I feel the need to put it all down for myself.

Two and a half weeks ago, our company had our annual holiday party and as much as I tried to, there was no avoiding the comparisons between this year and last. Last year I had just had my first retrieval for IVF the day before the party, and the day of the party I learned that we only had 3 embryos from the 19 eggs they had retrieved. I was still shocked and grieving from the terrible results of the fertilization report and was not really in any mood to party. On top of it all, I had to figure out how to do my very first intramuscular shot just prior to the party. I distinctly remember my husband anxiously pacing, not because of the looming progesterone shot, but because he was ready to go to the party and didn’t want to be late. Meanwhile I stood in the bathroom sweaty, nervous and absolutely terrified of shoving that huge needle into my backside. The resulting gushing blood, fantastic bruise and crazy sore leg muscle that got only worse as the night went on and had me hobbling around like a gimp at the end of the night let me know that I most definitely did not execute the injection properly. It would have been the perfect time to throw back a few drinks and really enjoy myself, but instead I was one of a select few sober people, hoping and wishing that in two short weeks it would all be worth it.

As the days passed I paid close attention to my body, desperately wishing that it would send some sign that one of our two little embryos was making itself comfortable inside of me. The sign never came and I knew in my heart that it didn’t work and the negative pregnancy test on Christmas Eve confirmed it. Despite the disappointment of not being pregnant, I was able to enjoy my holiday and was actually quite thankful for the distraction that all of the family gatherings provided. It wasn’t until all of the holiday festivities were over that I told my husband the bad news, and that’s when the gravity of the situation finally hit me. Seeing him so disappointed was much harder than seeing that negative test, more difficult than I could have imagined. Knowing I was not pregnant meant I could eat of all of the goodies that I had been avoiding and drink alcohol again, which I took full advantage of on New Year’s Eve. My husband and I drowned our sorrows in naughty food and lots of alcohol and had a fantastically fabulous party with all of our friends. The new year was certain to bring more happiness than 2008.

And I ended up being right; this year did bring more happiness to us than last year did. I took us half of the year to get what we wanted, and that first half of the year was extremely difficult on many levels, but we are finally right where we wanted to be.

This year, as I was preparing for our company’s holiday party, the part that nearly made us late was not determining where to thrust an enormous needle, it was trying to find a dress that sufficiently covered my rapidly expanding baby belly. This year I didn’t have wine, not because it could interfere with implantation, but because I’m actually pregnant and there is a little person growing inside of me. This year I danced because I wasn’t in pain from having a needle poked through my vaginal walls and into my ovaries and no sore leg from a botched attempt at an injection. This year I fielded a seemingly endless line of questions about how I was feeling and if I was excited and when I was due. This year my big belly and I were complemented more than once as being “too cute.” This year I marveled at the little girl squirming around inside of me as I watched my husband and friends enjoying themselves on the dance floor.

This year at Christmas there was no need to try to smile through the disappointment of a failed IVF cycle. This year I was able to give my husband a present from our daughter he was able to give me a gift for her. This year we received presents for our daughter at both Christmas and at a surprise baby shower at one of the family Christmas celebrations. This year various family members sat with me with their hands on my belly and felt our baby kicking, punching and wriggling about inside of me. This year nearly all of our farewells ended with “good luck with the baby and we can’t wait to meet her!” This year we daydreamed of next year, when we will celebrate our first Christmas with our little girl.

What a difference a year makes. I truly hope that the same holds true for the upcoming year, for all of us.


I am officially 20 weeks pregnant today. There were so many times that I never allowed myself to imagine getting this far. Now that I am here, I am so thankful that we’ve made it this far.

From my perspective, the first 20 weeks have gone by relatively slow. In the beginning it seemed like one agonizing wait after another, first with the early ultrasounds and then with the later testing and regular OB appointments. Then, when I started to feel more secure about the pregnancy it because we seemed to have passed out of the “danger zone” it was a matter of waiting for a different set of things – the fun things. Waiting for my belly to get big enough that I could consider myself showing and not just chubby, waiting to find out the gender, waiting to feel those first movements. That’s where we’re at now. We know that we’re having a little girl, I finally feel like I’m starting to look a little bit pregnant now, and I’m pretty certain that I felt our little girl’s first kicks yesterday. And all signs show that things are progressing well as far as the growth and development of the pregnancy is concerned.

Of course the emotional side of things has been a completely different story. There was the initial bleeding scare between my first and second betas and the fantastically delayed notification of my appropriately rising second beta. The huge relief and emotional high of seeing our girl’s tiny little heart beating away at our first ultrasound, followed quickly by the terror of the gushing blood episode. The seemingly nonstop spotting and bleeding that continued through my entire first trimester and left me, for the most part, on edge.

And beyond the fear that I think any woman would have if they had all of the spotting and bleeding that I did was dealing with the fact that nothing was as I would have expected it to be. As I’ve mentioned before, I knew from real life infertiles that the transition from infertile to pregnancy is not always all sunshine and rainbows like I expected it to be. Even thought I knew that, I never quite believed it, and to then live it firsthand and understand what they were talking about was a completely shocking experience.

I’ve been repeatedly surprised by my behavior during this pregnancy. I waited longer than I ever imagined to become pregnant. The entire time we were trying, I was planning out how things would be once I was pregnant. The very first month we tried I was absolutely convinced that I was pregnant. I went out and bought a pregnancy book and immediately started reading it. I was disappointed to find out that I may not start showing until 4 or 5 months into the pregnancy. I wanted the world to know that I was pregnant immediately! I read that book nightly until it was determined that I was, shockingly, not pregnant. I put the book away, knowing that I would need it again in a few short months. I daydreamed about telling all of our friends and family about our pregnancy and how exciting it would be. I read labor stories and bought books on natural births and fetal development. I browsed “belly shot” picture galleries imagining the day that I would post my photos there. I couldn’t be stopped in my enthusiasm for all things pregnancy, birth and baby related.

And I assumed that once I was pregnant, the first thing I would do would be to pull out all of those pregnancy books and start devouring. I would run out and buy super cute maternity clothes. I would sign up for those weekly e-mails that tell you all about your baby’s development and compare her size to a specific fruit. I came up with the off the wall idea that instead of a weekly photo, I would take daily photos and create a flipbook of my growing belly.

Nothing could be farther from reality. Instead of wanting to scream from the rooftops that I was pregnant, I wanted to cower in the corner. To this day I’ve spent less than a half of an hour reading my pregnancy books. I never signed up for the e-mails. Instead of buying all kinds of cute maternity clothes, I’ve been hiding behind baggy, oversized shirts. The thought of telling our friends and family made my stomach turn with nerves and fear. I’ve taken only three belly pictures.

Nothing is how I thought it would be. And it’s not that these things are bad, they’re just different than I had imagined. A small part of me feels like I may be missing out on all of those things that I had looked forward to so desperately, but a bigger part of me feels just right about the way that things have unfolded. I’m not the same person that I was when I developed those grand plans, and I suppose it’s only natural that my feelings, reactions and perspectives have changed as well. And that’s OK.

So I wrote the other day about how we told our co-workers about the pregnancy with an e-mail saying that we’re celebrating and to come on over and get a cupcake. Next to the cupcakes I had put a note saying how we’re having a baby due in February 2010. It was the perfect solution for not having to actually speak the words “I’m pregnant.”

Except it didn’t quite work that way for one co-worker. She got the e-mail and before she grabbed a cupcake, which were sitting just a few feet away from my desk, she stopped at my desk and asked “What are we celebrating?” Before I could suggest that she grab a cupcake and find out, a guy who sits about 10 feet away said “She’s pregnant.”

Oh.My.God. Hearing him say those words absolutely took my breath away. It shocked me. It surprised me. It didn’t seem real that he could be saying those words in reference to me. It was as if it were the first time that it actually hit me that yes, I AM pregnant, and yes, I AM going to have a baby.

I remember the first time we saw our baby on the ultrasound with its little heart beating away. Tears sprang to my eyes and I was in awe. That’s OUR baby, I thought. And every other time we’ve seen our baby it still blows me away that there is, in fact, a baby growing inside of me.

But even those live, moving images of our baby doing flips and mini sit-ups didn’t have the same effect on me that hearing someone actually say out loud that I am pregnant did. The confirmation by someone who wasn’t a doctor, nurse, u/s tech or family hit me in an entirely unexpected way. The realization that what I’ve been living for the past 13 weeks is actually reality hit me hard and left me speechless.

I find myself feeling like I shouldn’t be here. That this was never supposed to happen for us. We never should have been so lucky to have finally achieved a healthy pregnancy. It just can’t possibly be true and be happening to us. But it is. My belly isn’t only growing because I’m eating like a mad woman…it’s also growing because there is a tiny little baby in there. And for that I will be forever grateful, whether I can believe it or not.

Ok, try to follow along with my thought process here.

As mother ages, her egg quality decreases
The risk of Down Syndrome goes up with mother’s age
Therefore the risk of down syndrome has to be linked to egg quality

Right?

I’m really, really nervous about our NT scan tomorrow for the above reasoning. In the words of my RE, I have “junky eggs” and I’m absolutely terrified that my junky eggs have put us at a much higher risk of conceiving a baby with Down Syndrome than your average 30 year old. I’ve gone from worrying about the baby having died in utero (which is no longer a worry thanks to the reassurance of the Doppler) to worrying about our baby having some kind of chromosomal abnormality.

I can’t seem to shake this worry.

Obviously the spotting and bleeding that I’ve experienced have been less than desirable, but for the most part, this pregnancy has gone perfectly so far. For all of the good that we’ve experienced, it seems like we’re due for something bad to happen. For so long it’s been our reality that nothing ever goes our way and now it’s so hard for me to believe that things can work out just like they should, that everything can be OK in the end. It’s so difficult for me to fathom that not everything has to be traumatic and upsetting and because of that it seems impossible that tomorrow could have a good outcome.

And there are small “incidences” running through my mind that stress me out even more than just my worry about my junky eggs.

On two separate occasions, two different u/s techs have asked me if I’m having the 1st trimester screening done. I’m sure it was just a question, based mostly out of curiosity, but in the back of my head I’m convinced that there is a reason why they are asking. Did they see something on one of my many scans that just didn’t look normal and they want me to come in to check on it in more detail?

At one of our recent scans the tech turned on the 3D feature and said in surprise “Oh wow! Look at that cord!” I wonder what in the world she meant by that. She’s done hundreds, probably thousands of scans in her lifetime. What was it that was so phenomenal about our baby’s cord that caused her to exclaim “Oh wow!”

It seems that I just can’t stop the worry. While I hope more than anything that our baby is just fine and that our risk of any chromosomal issues is very low, I know that even those results won’t stop me from worrying. I know those who have gone before me state that the worry never stops; that there is always something new to worry about and it doesn’t get any better once the baby is born…it will continue on for the rest of my life. It seems overwhelming at times. But for now, my focus is getting past today’s worry; to get through tomorrow and keep moving forward. It seems that’s all I can do at this point.

I’m sitting on the balcony of our condo in a beautiful destination in Colorado trying to even begin to comprehend the past few months and everything that has happened. It all feels like a dream to me. Not real. Something that could never happen. I shouldn’t be here.

I am ten weeks pregnant today.

The fact that we have made it this far is absolutely incomprehensible to me. After all of the failures, after all of the disappointment, after all of the heartache, it seemed that nothing good would ever come to us, yet here we find ourselves. In one of our favorite vacation destinations and I’m carrying a baby that has been growing inside of me for nearly eight weeks.

I know of many, many women who say that even though they are pregnant, they can never forget their struggle with infertility and how painful and draining it was. I always thought that I would be one of those women. It seemed impossible to let go of those feelings, no matter how sweet the feeling of eventually becoming pregnant could be. I couldn’t fathom it. But as each day passes, I feel that pain, hopelessness, frustration, and despair slowly fade away into a distant memory. That realization absolutely terrifies me. I’ve known that I’ve been pregnant for just a little over six weeks, and knowing how greatly the pain of infertility has diminished already scares me.

I don’t ever want to forget what a gift this pregnancy is to us. How much we wanted it and how much we were willing to give up in order to achieve it. How much we unintentionally gave up along the way, not knowing if the ultimate outcome would bring us what we wanted. I don’t want to take for granted all that we’ve been through.

But at the same time, I don’t want to be mired in the terrible, terrible place that I was in just a few short months ago. That is a place that I don’t ever want to go to again, and it hurts me so much to see those who are still struggling in the place, trying to get to the other side.

The quickly fading memories of the past two and half years were completely unexpected and are leaving me feeling unbalanced and unsure. I know that I need to find a balance between appreciating where I’m at, while at the same time appreciating where I’ve come from, but I’m really struggling to do that.

I suppose that in the end, it’s more important to live in the moment and enjoy every moment of this pregnancy. I know that I won’t ever completely forget our long journey to get to where we are now, it will always be a part of me and for now I will just have to take solace in knowing that.

I have to be honest, the past two weeks since getting our first positive pregnancy test are nothing like I expected they would be. Instead of feeling the relief, excitement and sheer exhilaration that I had expected to feel, instead I feel very worried, anxious, doubtful, insecure and somewhat numb inside.

And I should have known to expect this. I have plenty of friends both on the internet and in real life who have all gone through the same thing after finding out they were pregnant. I knew that this would probably happen. But the problem is that I never really fully expected that we would actually get pregnant. I never really believed that I would even have the chance to have to deal with this.

But now here I am. I am trying my best to just think positive things, but it is amazingly more difficult than I feel it should be. Our first ultrasound is still a whole week away, and I’m absolutely terrified that something has already gone wrong and I’m just naively shooting PIO into my ass every night to sustain a pregnancy that isn’t even viable.

The lack of symptoms definitely does not help at all. In the beginning I had cramps and pulling sensations, which I found reassuring. Now I have nothing. I’m not peeing any more frequently than normal, I’m not exhausted, I’m not hungrier than normal. The only things that are different are that I’m warmer than usual (attributed to the PIO), my boobs are sore to the touch (again, attributed to the PIO) and I don’t have my period (yet again attributed to the PIO). And I know that symptoms don’t usually kick in until 6 weeks, which is right around the corner and may provide some reassurances, but right now I’m having such a hard time dealing with being in limbo. I’m struggling to believe that this pregnancy could possibly be real and end up with a real, live, genetically-ours baby.

I find myself terrified that the pregnancy could have ended last week after my second beta and I just don’t know it yet. I find myself stressing out about the spotting episode a week and a half ago, wondering if it was a sign of bad things to come. I find myself prefacing every statement I make to my husband regarding this pregnancy (which are few and far between) with “if everything goes as planned.” I find myself looking at the calendar trying to figure out how future plans will work with our potential due date, then quickly stop myself, afraid to believe that we could actually have a baby next year. I find myself stuck in an unhappy place of being afraid to enjoy the one thing that I’ve waited two and a half years for.

To clarify, I’m not miserable or depressed or anything like that and I’m making it through each day alright. I’m not about to lose my mind from anxiety or anything. I just wish that there were some reassurances, or even a sign that things weren’t going well, if something was wrong. I just hate all of the unknown. What I wouldn’t give for some answers right now. Patience. I just need lots and lots of patience.

This morning I took my last stim shot ever. I will never again give myself a shot to stimulate my ovaries to make loads of eggs. It’s a strange feeling since IVF has pretty much been my life over the past year. Now we’re at the end of that road, and it’s been interesting for me to look back over the past year and see exactly where we came from and where we’ve been since.

About a year ago we started having serious discussions regarding next steps should our final IUI’s not be successful. I was surprised how quickly Mark was willing to jump on the IVF bandwagon, in fact, he was the one who convinced me that we should do it. I was hemming and hawing over the costs and how we couldn’t afford it and he’s the one who said “Screw it, let’s just do it. It’s only money and we can always make more. Having a family is more important.” His steadfast commitment to the process made it all that much easier for me to say yes to the whole thing. Had he not felt so passionately about going forward with IVF, I’m not sure where we would be now.

To be certain, I never expected us to be where we are now. There are so many women out there who can honestly say that they knew they would have issues trying to conceive, but I’m not one of them. Not once did I ever envision us having problems as I’ve always had regular cycles and I’m still “young.” Even after we started seeing an RE, I really thought it was just a matter of time before we were successful. A bit too optimistic perhaps, but I felt like if we kept trying, eventually it would be our turn. Surely IUI would be as far as we would have to go down the ART road. Maybe in my subconscious I knew it wouldn’t work for us because even as I was certain we would get pregnant from IUI, I was still busy researching IVF, just in case.

When our last IUI wasn’t successful, the transition to IVF was surprisingly easy, given the huge emotional, physical, time and financial commitment that IVF actually is. Mentally I was completely prepared for IVF and to be honest, the physical aspects of IVF have been so much less intensive for me than I ever thought they would be.

So it wasn’t until last week that I realized what a big deal IVF actually is. I was fantasizing about how great it would be to get to tell people if I’m fortunate enough to become pregnant from this cycle. I’m sure that some people will ask if the pregnancy was planned. It’s my initial reaction to want to tell people everything that we had to go through, if for nothing else than to be a resource for someone else who may be going through the same thing. I imagined myself saying “yes, this pregnancy is the result of two and a half years of trying with three rounds of IVF” and as soon as I imagined saying those words, the enormity of everything that we’ve been through hit me.

I think I’ve become so entrenched in the world of infertility and ART that IVF has somehow become normal and unremarkable to me. I talk about IVF as if it’s no big deal, because for the most part it is no big deal to me. It’s my current normal. It’s what we have to deal with in an attempt to get what we want. And I’ve managed to make that so OK inside my head that I don’t even realize what a HUGE deal it actually is. THREE IVF cycles. That’s what we’ll have been through by the time this is all over and done with. And I know that there are loads of women out there who go through so much more and our history is nothing in comparison to many others, but it’s still so very much more than I ever thought we’d have to deal with. And it IS a big deal, no matter what I’ve convinced myself over time. We’ve somehow managed to make it through without too much damage to our marriage and overall well-being and for that I’m very thankful.

As I rode my bike to work this morning with every single bump in the road making me acutely aware of the swollen condition of my ovaries, I realized that this is indeed the end of an era for us. No matter the outcome of this cycle, we are definitely closing a very specific chapter in our lives. It’s been quite a ride for us, with lots of heartache, bad news and pain, but at the same time filled with so many good memories and bonding between us. I have no idea how this chapter will close, but I have great hope for our future regardless. You could even say I’m optimistically hopeful.

I’ve often felt more like a casual observer of this cycle than an active participant. I can think of only three times when I actually had a real emotional reaction to something. Once at our first monitoring u/s when I saw how good things looked, again when I felt the disappointment of our fertilization report and once more when I found out that we only had one blast and one morula left at transfer. Other than those instances, I feel like I’ve been on auto-pilot for the rest of this cycle.

Perhaps it’s a self-defense mechanism – to not let myself get emotionally invested in the cycle means much less disappointment if it doesn’t work out. Of course if that was the theory, then it certainly didn’t work. I’m 99% certain that this cycle is a bust due to the recent appearance of spotting and complete lack of symptoms, and for not being too emotionally involved, I’m surprisingly sad. I was really hoping that the better quality of our two embryos this time around would lead to a better outcome, but it appears that is not the case. It seems this cycle will fall by the wayside along with every other cycle that I’ve ever had. Will this ever get any easier?

Thank you all for your support and comments. I apologize for not updating last night, I just wasn’t sure how I felt and I wanted some time to sort through my emotions.

And I guess I’m still not sure how I feel, but I’ve kept you all waiting long enough. Apparently from the 18 that they retrieved, only 8 were mature. This was a huge blow to me. I can’t figure out how more than half of our eggs were immature. Of those eight, five fertilized normally, so that’s what we have to work with.

I felt really bad because after Mark told me that we had five, I put on my pouty face since I was definitely disappointed. He looked at me with a shocked face and couldn’t understand why I was upset with five. “It’s nearly twice as many as last time!” he protested. He told me that he thought that I’d be really happy to have five and pointed out that it could have just as easily been 1 instead.

While all of this is true and I am happy to have five versus the three that we had last time or the one that we could have had this time, I’m also really disappointed. For some reason I had just expected it to be better. He challenged me saying that it WAS better, but I wanted BETTER better. I was so hopeful that the change in meds and the strong start that we had this time would lead to a nice high number of embryos to chose from. I just wanted more than five. I don’t know what number would have made me happy, but five certainly wasn’t it.

Then Mark mentioned how at least this time we would have some to freeze so we could do a FET if this one didn’t work. This is the part where I have to remember that he doesn’t know as much about all of this stuff as I do. I had to gently correct him and let him know that most embryos do not make it to freeze. I know that our clinic has very high standard of what they will freeze and what they won’t, and I personally am not expecting to have any to freeze. Not to mention the fact that they may not all make it to day 6 to be frozen anyway. I’m not sure if he forgot that one of our three embryos from last time kicked off before transfer or not, but I’m sure that in his head, he’s thinking that five minus the two that we will transfer will leave us with three to freeze. I really, really hope that he’s right, but I also know that it’s not realistic.

I guess at this point I’m just frustrated. It feels like such an uphill battle all of the time. All of the sacrifices I’ve made in terms of activities I can’t do, foods I’ve given up, time I’ve taken off of work and money that I’ve spent just seems like such a big waste of time, money and effort at this point. I’m doing absolutely everything that I can to make this work and I just feel like we’re not making any progress.

On the plus side, our doctor did state that the quality looks much better this time than it did last time, which does help a small bit.

But it is what it is, right? Right now I presumably have five embryos growing strong and healthy in the lab just waiting to be tranferred into me to someday become our children. I need to focus on that. Everything will be ok.

I have this box that I try to keep stocked with some generic cards for situations when I need a card, but don’t have the time or the desire to go out and buy one. I’ve got birthdays, weddings, babies, “thinking of you,” and sympathy cards all covered. It saddens me to realize that lately I’ve been fishing around in there for sympathy and “thinking of you” cards more than anything else, and those cards were sent mostly for miscarriages or other infertility related issues.

This morning I had to reach inside the box yet again and take out yet another sympathy card for my friend who found out a few weeks ago that she was pregnant naturally after four years of trying. She had her first u/s yesterday and while the baby should have measured 9 weeks, it was only measuring 7 and there was no heartbeat. My heart aches for her as this is the second miscarriage that she’s gone though in the past four years that they’ve been struggling with infertility. I know that in her heart she really felt like this baby would be a take home baby. She commented frequently on how this pregnancy was very different from her first and how it was reassuring to her that everything would turn out ok.

Her entire situation is such a phenomenal reminder of miracle and fragility of life. Of the amazing highs and lows of this struggle. Of the complete randomness and unfairness of it all.

It’s all just one big crapshoot, isn’t it?

The very first month we started trying I was convinced, absolutely convinced, that I was pregnant. In fact, I told Mark before we left on our honeymoon that I thought I was pregnant. I clearly remember telling him how the baby wanted ice cream and getting a dish of Ben and Jerry’s Phish food (what I wouldn’t do for a big bowl of Phish food right now!) at the airport on our flight out. I told Mark how we were taking our baby on its first airplane ride, first cruise, first this, first that. After we returned from our honeymoon I went out and bought a pregnancy book and started reading it since I was so sure I was pregnant. Obviously I couldn’t have been more wrong.

We continued trying with enthusiasm and the hope that each month would be THE MONTH. Each month that went by left me disappointed that I was still not pregnant, but I wasn’t discouraged. I knew that our time would come and I just had to be patient.

Eventually we began testing and treatment which raised my hopes even further. Clearly the old fashioned way just wasn’t going to do it for us, but surely IUI would work. Bypassing all of those potential issues by putting the swimmers right where they needed to be would definitely do the trick. Six months and five IUI’s later and we were no closer to having a baby.

And now here we are at IVF. I was so excited about our first cycle and absolutely convinced it would end with a healthy pregnancy in the end. That cycle was cancelled, which made me approach cycle two with more trepidation than excitement and hope. The mediocre results of IVF cycle two leave me with a myriad of emotions going into cycle three, but hope really isn’t one of those emotion.

As sad as it is, I honestly can’t wrap my head around idea of becoming pregnant. It’s not that I don’t believe it will ever happen for us, I just can’t even begin to fathom that some day I will be pregnant. It feels like each cycle, each month and each day that passes that I’m not pregnant pushes me that much farther away from the ultimate goal. What’s strange is that it’s not something that even really bothers me much anymore. It’s not an emotional thing; not something that causes me pain or anguish. It just is.

It’s to the point where it seems that nothing short of a miracle will bring us a pregnancy. Anyone know where I can get some divine intervention?

It’s time for another sporadic blog update. I realized that I’m a really crappy blogger when I don’t have anything going on fertility-wise. But this time I have a somewhat valid excuse. You see, about a month and a half ago, one of my best friends told me that she’s very seriously considering filing for divorce. Then, just a few days later, we found out that our favorite couple to do “couple things” with are getting a divorce also. As it turns out, the women in both situations are simply not in love with their husbands anymore. These two tidbits of information came as a HUGE shock to us; I would never have seen either one coming. Apparently neither of the husbands saw it coming either as both claim to be completely caught off guard by the whole thing.

When we first got the news, we were in the heart of our last IVF cycle and I was admittedly a bit distracted by my own situation to really ponder and come to terms with what was going on with my friends. Once our cycle was over, the realization of everything that was going on hit me hard.

Over the past couple of years I’ve fallen into the habit of referring to having a baby as “the one thing that I want most,” which I now realize is just not true. What I really want most is to have a happy life with my husband, whom I value more than anyone else on this earth. I realized that in my desperation to have a baby, I was sacrificing my relationship with the one person that I hold most dear to me. What good would it do me to finally get pregnant, but at the expense of my marriage? I would be infinitely less happy to be pregnant with my marriage in shambles versus happily married and no children. I honestly feel that I could live a happy life without children, but only if my husband were by my side. I guess I can sum it up by saying that I just need to focus less on what I don’t have, and more on what I do have.

Since we’re on a break in between IVF cycles, I’ve been doing my very best to not worry about anything related to babies, IVF or infertility and focus more on enjoying my time with my family, friends and husband. I would say that on the whole, it’s been going pretty well. I feel happier, less stressed, and more optimistic about things. I haven’t even been impatient about waiting through this break cycle, which is quite the accomplishment for me, as I am the most impatient person I know.

So for now, it’s a good start. And I fully intend to keep it up once we start our next cycle. Life’s too short to sit around waiting for eagerly anticipated happy moments to come to you when you could be off making your own happy moments.

How do we go from having 19 all the way down to only three only a day later? I didn’t get a chance to ask any questions when I received the phone call since I’m at work with absolutely zero privacy, but we have only three embryos that they are watching. My guess is that a bunch were immature and therefore not candidates for ICSI and I guess that means the rest did not fertilize properly. What does that even mean anyway? How can a sperm and an egg not fertilize properly? Does that mean that there was a chromosomal issue? Any input on these questions would be so appreciated.

So now it’s a matter of focusing all of our energy on our three embryos and willing them to grow nice and strong. Strangely, the clinic is still shooting for a 5 day transfer, though that could change at any time depending on what the embryos are doing.

It’s strange because while I had my suspicions that we wouldn’t have a whole lot of embryos, I found myself completely unprepared for this news today. It’s an absolutely ridiculous roller coaster ride of emotions (to use the dreaded infertility analogy) to go from being elated that you have 19 eggs when you only had 9 before, to only three embryos, all in less than a 24 hour period.

Ahh, the emotional ups and downs of infertility. Nothing really compares, does it?


Well, as it turns out, I’m going to have my retrieval on Thursday and I could not be any more excited and happy about it! We had our last u/s on Monday morning. I couldn’t see the monitor so I’m not sure what exactly they measure and how big they were, but Mark seems to think they measured at least 9 follicles again and the nurse told me that that I definitely made some good progress and she was anticipating retrieval on Thursday. She told me I would need to take a shot of Cetrotide that night to make sure that the follicles didn’t ovulate before retrieval.

She also said we would need to be seen one more time on Tuesday morning, which was a definite bummer for us. We live four hours away from our clinic, and by the time we were done with our u/s, it was already 9 in the morning. It would make no sense to even think about going home since we would need to be back to the clinic the next morning. We just resigned ourselves to the fact that we would need to take another day of PTO in order to get one more monitoring appointment in. Of course we weren’t too happy about having to stay until Tuesday anyway since Wisconsin was due to get dumped on (6 to 10 inches of snow) on Monday night into Tuesday afternoon. This would mean a crappy drive home from the clinic and no one wants that. But it was what it was and there was nothing we could do about it.

We went back to our hotel, and Pricelined ourselves another $40 hotel stay for Monday night. Having nothing else to do, we loaded up our GPS and decided to get some Iowa geocaching in. We took off west of the city and found a whole slew of caches, some really fun and creative and others not so much. At 3:30 I had to call it quits since my right ovary was getting REALLY uncomfortable while walking. We got back into the car and I decided to call the pharmacy to make sure that my prescription for the Cetrotide had been called in and would be ready in time. I picked up my phone and noticed that there was one missed call, and it was from the clinic and it was from 1:30pm. I immediately freaked out thinking that something was wrong and that we would be cancelled again somehow. I put the voicemail on speaker so that Mark could listen along with me.

It was my nurse and she said that they found a way that I wouldn’t need to come back in for monitoring on Tuesday. Holy cow! This was completely unexpected! I was instructed to take my Cetrotide that night along with my last dose of Follistim and then trigger on Tuesday. So now it’s 3:30 and we know that there is a huge winter storm coming our way, obviously the goal was to get the heck out of there as soon as possible to try to beat as much of the storm as we could.

We flew back to the hotel, grabbed our stuff and then went to the pharmacy to pick up my meds. On the way I called and they said they were out of Cetrotide, but they would give me something else that worked the exact same way. I got to the pharmacy, was given my Ganirelix (they were out of Cetrotide) and off we went! We managed to make it about ¾ of the way home before things started to get dicey. The last hour and a half of the trip was kind of stressful and sketchy due to the snow and ice, but we ended up making it home safe and sound.

So tonight I take my trigger shot and then on Thursday we have our retrieval. It is so crazy to me to even begin to think about that. Getting to retrieval just seemed like mission impossible to me for so long, especially with my slow starts and lower follicle counts. It feels like a dream that we’re actually going to get to do this and I am still terrified that I’m going to get a call saying that everything is off. I honestly cannot believe that we’ve made it this far. I am so thankful for everything that has gone right up until this point and so hopeful that everything will continue to go well.

The past few weeks I’ve been fantasizing that we might somehow get pregnant naturally before we had to move on to another IVF cycle. I know that it was super unrealistic, but it’s happened to plenty of women, and it’s much more fun to imagine that it might somehow happen than to not.

Our timing this month was less than ideal due to the fact that Mark was away for business when I ovulated, which meant that chances of getting pregnant were even slimmer. However, a strange thing happened this month. I’ve mentioned how I’m a chronic spotter, starting as early as two days after ovulation in some cases. Well this month the days kept ticking by and no spotting. Every time I went to the bathroom I fully expected it to have started, but day after day I was shocked to find that there was none. Of course this only served to feed my completely unrealistic dream of a natural pregnancy.

It all came to an end today at eleven days after ovulation when the spotting finally showed up. While I knew it was a huge long shot, I’m still a little bummed. But I am so super excited to get started with our IVF cycle, I really feel like this is going to be the one that works for us. I’m excited to try the new protocol and see how I respond to it. I’m excited about the prospect of making it to egg retrieval and then to embryo transfer. I’m excited to have hopefully my last two-week wait for a long time. We’re gearing up, and I couldn’t be more excited!

On Saturday I celebrated my 30th birthday. I was surprised by how not upset I was over the whole thing. Not the turning thirty part…I’m not one of those women who is consumed by those milestone birthdays. No, to me age is nothing but a number. The part I expected to be upset about was how I had 100% planned and counted on being pregnant. It’s no secret that I’ve really been into the positive thinking thing lately, and I had really convinced myself that I would definitely be celebrating the beginning of my fourth decade as a pregnant woman. Hell, I even had a sticky note on my monitor at work that said “IWBP Oct 17th,” which of course was the acronym for “I will be pregnant October 17th,” which likely would have been the day of my beta, should things have gone according to plan.

Well, I didn’t ovulate during my cancelled IVF cycle, so needless to say there was no physical way for me to be pregnant on Oct 17th, nor for my birthday on Oct 18th, for that matter. And in the week leading up to my birthday, I really thought that this was going to be a serious issue for me. I kept imaging how miserable I would be to watch yet another year go by without children as a part of my life. Thinking about how I’ve lived 30 years now and have no family to show of it. I was wondering if I would have a baby of my own or at the very least be knocked up by the time I turned 31, or if this upcoming year would also slip by without that desperately desired pregnancy.

But the truth of it is that my entire birthday weekend was one of the best weekends that I’ve had in a really long time. Yes, the rather liberal amounts of alcohol consumed may have aided in all of the fun, but I’d like to think that it was so much more than just booze induced enjoyment. In all honesty, I didn’t think much about babies, pregnancies, infertility or IVF at all this weekend. Instead, I was focused on enjoying the things that I do have, and the things that bring me the most joy in life right now. I spent hours upon hours with my friends. I enjoyed the great weather outside with my husband and dogs. I picked up a new hobby this weekend which will definitely bring me lots of fun in the future. I dined with my parents and was grateful for all of the love and support that they have given me throughout the first 30 years of my life.

No, I may not have what I originally planned for my birthday this year, but I found that what I did have was more than enough to fill me with joy and hope for the future. Here’s hoping that my 31st will be just a sweet as this one was.

When Mark and I were looking for our current home, a hot tub was most certainly not on our list of “must have” features. In fact, when we looked at our house for the first time, Mark was kind of put off by the fact that it had a hot tub. He just saw another expense and another chore. But we loved the house so much (we even had that “when you find the house you’re supposed to have, you’ll just know it” moment, which I most definitely did not have with my first house) that he was willing to put up with the additional nuisance that the hot tub would provide.

As it turned out, we LOVED the hot tub. We moved in at the end of the summer and the days quickly started cooling off, making for ideal hot tubbing weather. We would go out there in the evenings and look up at the stars and talk about anything and everything. A lot of the time we would discuss our future plans and how our lives were going to be. Sitting out there when it’s snowing or raining is an experience unlike any other. The day after Mark did the Ironman, I came home from work at lunch and we sat in the hot tub together and discussed the race while he let his muscles soak. On the whole, the hot tub was really just a great opportunity for us to have good, uninterrupted conversation together, without the distraction of the TV or computers or anything else for that matter. I have so many great memories of us sitting in the hot tub.

But now the hot tub sits unfilled and unused. We stopped using it shortly after we started to try to have a baby due to the concerns of the effects on my eggs and his sperm. It makes me sad when I look out the window and see it sitting there neglected. I long for the time when we could do whatever we wanted without concern of how it might affect our chances for a baby. Mark used to ride his bike constantly, and now he is always nervous to do so around our fertile time each month, even though the RE’s said that since his samples are great it’s not a concern. I’m afraid to drink alcohol for fear that it will somehow interfere with our attempts at baby making. Mark counts his milligrams of caffeine everyday to make sure that he’s not drinking too much. I’ve given up sugar and artificial sweeteners. The list goes on. And these aren’t huge sacrifices for us to make by any means. But it does make me so much more aware of what we’re working towards. I know that in the end, when we’re holding our healthy babies in our arms, it will all be worth it, but these lifestyle modifications are just constant reminders of what we don’t have, and that gets to be pretty painful day after day.

I know that our day will come and hopefully sooner rather than later and then life can return to a new kind of normal.

I walked in the door yesterday after work to this:

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Beautiful flowers from one of my few real life friends who knows about our IVF cycle. For a long time, she was my best friend, but lately we haven’t been as close as we once were. We are in very different places in our lives and we seem to be growing apart lately, for various reasons. Additionally, she happens to be in her second trimester with her second child, which makes things even more delicate for me. The fact that she would send flowers made me feel really good, but also made me feel really crappy as well. Crappy because I’m having a tough time with her very easily achieved pregnancy. Actually, the thought of calling her up to thank her for the flowers makes me really nervous.

Situations like this really make me realize how much our fertility struggles have affected me as a person. I have changed so much in the past year and a half that sometimes I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I used to be very outgoing and bold, now I tend to shy away from situations that I once would have thrived in. I’m constantly doubting myself and feeling like I’m not good enough.

I worry about whether I will ever regain that confidence that I once had. Will I ever regain that happiness that I used to be known for? Will it take a successful pregnancy for me to have those things again? I truly hope that I can find a way to find myself again, regardless of if I get that healthy pregnancy that I so desire.

In the meantime, I guess it’s just a matter of trying to get through things the best that I can.

So last Tuesday we got up bright and early to go to our consultation with the new clinic.  We were really early, so we had some lunch and then went to the mall for a bit before heading over to the clinic.  We registered with the receptionist and were taken back within a few minutes.  The nurse that took us back took my weight and blood pressure and then we met with the RE.  As usual, he started with the whole medical history bit, and went through my records and entered all of my test results into his system.  After that, he went through all of the basic causes of infertility and crossed them off one by one and ultimately came up with the conclusion that we have unexplained infertility (duh).  The only possible explanation that he gave us for our difficulties in conceiving was that that it is possible that Mark may have developed antisperm antibodies as a result of a hernia repair surgery that he had last year.  If that were the case, it would lead to fertilization problems, which could explain why we’re not pregnant yet. 

 

Once he officially gave us his diagnosis, he said that he guessed that we were ready to move on to IVF since most people wouldn’t travel 4+ hours for clomid and IUI’s.  BINGO!  At his clinic, they do ICSI for 90% to 95% of their IVF cycles, and he would recommend that for us too because of the possibility of antisperm antibodies and ICSI would bypass the entire fertilization issue.

 

He seems to think that IVF will do the trick for us, and of course we are hoping that he’s right.  He said that I have responded well to the oral meds in the past and that bodes well for how I will respond to the injectables.  He also thought that we should be able to participate in the shared risk program which will allow us to do three fresh IVF cycles along with any associated frozen cycles for one fixed cost.  The nice part about this particular program is that meds are included in the package price which is a HUGE cost savings.  Comparing my previous clinic’s shared risk program to this new one, we will save somewhere between $6,500 and $17,500 depending on how many tries it takes us to get pregnant. 

 

So before we can move on, he said that I would l need to have another sonohysterogram/mock transfer.  This will be done so that he can determine the curvature of my cervix so that inserting the catheter for the embryo transfer is as easy as possible, and also to determine the shape of my uterus so that he can put the embryos in the “sweet spot” where they will have the best chance to implant.  Mark and I also both had to have blood tests for HIV, Hepatitis, etc, which we did on Thursday. 

 

All that’s left now is to have a phone meeting with the financial advisor and then take the IVF patient education class.  And unfortunately, that seems to be where we’ve hit some stumbling blocks.  He said that he would have the financial coordinator (who also seems to be the person who determines if we can participate in the shared risk program) call us last Wednesday to go over everything.  Well, today is Monday, and we still have not heard from her.  I left her a voicemail and also sent her an e-mail, and still no response.  My mock transfer is scheduled for Thursday and I need to know if we are accepted into the shared risk program before then.  If for some reason we cannot be a part of the shared risk program, then we will likely not go forward with this particular clinic due to the distance.  There is no sense in heading down there for a mock transfer if we won’t be pursuing treatment with them.  So at this point I am beyond frustrated with the lack of communication.

 

Additionally, we need to attend a patient education class before we can start IVF.  It just so happened that they were doing one of these classes on the very same day that we were there for our consult.  We actually asked if we could stay and do it then since it would save us a trip, but the receptionist insisted that we must have all of our pre-testing and financial appointment completed before we can take the class.  We had asked Dr. C if there was any way that we could do both the SHG/mock transfer and the class on the same day, and he said that it would probably be doable.  Well when I called to make my SHG appointment, the receptionist told me that the next class wasn’t until late, late August.  What?!?  Do they only do these classes once a month?  If we had to wait until late August before we could take the class, we would miss a whole other cycle, which is certainly not what we want at this point.

 

So I called on Friday afternoon to see if there was any way that we could pay extra to have a special class just for us.  If not, could we start the birth control pills BEFORE we took the class since you don’t really need a whole lot of education to pop a BCP.  Either of those two options would work out just fine for us (of course we’re hoping that somehow we can arrange a special class just for us on Thursday, which would save us another trip down there), but we still have not heard anything back yet.

 

I’m frustrated because when I initially contacted this clinic, I had asked about doing treatment from out of state.  The coordinator had responded that they just had a client from Wisconsin get pregnant from treatment there the previous week, which made it seem like they were experienced in dealing with patients from out of state and that perhaps they were accommodating to their needs.  So far I have not noticed that to be true, and my frustration with their lack of response is certainly growing with each passing hour with no return phone call.

 

In my heart, I feel like this is the clinic that we need to be at and we will get pregnant from this.  But at this moment, I am so upset and frustrated, I just don’t even know what to do with myself.  I know that frustration is the last thing that I need when we’re going to be starting IVF, so I really hope that the communication improves from here on out.  I have no idea what we will do if it doesn’t.

 

In more positive news, a woman in my real life support group who has been undergoing IUI’s for over a year (her husband is sterile due to cancer treatments) finally got her BFP.  It was so thrilling to hear that it finally worked for her.  I cannot imagine taking 12.5 mg of Femara and doing two IUI’s every month for 15 months.  The stress and emotion of 5 IUI’s was nearly too much for me. 

 

Additionally, two women from my online buddy group are also pregnant, one of which was just about to start IVF for severe male factor infertility.  She thought that the only way they could get pregnant was IVF with ICSI and somehow they got a miracle BFP.  It is exciting to know that it is happening for other women.  On one hand it makes me think that if it can happen for them, then it can happen for me.  On the other hand, of course, it makes me wonder how come they can get pregnant with presumably such major issue, but we can’t with presumably minor or non-existent issues.  It’s a frustrating mixed bag of emotions.  But I am very truly happy for all of them.  I’m just wishing that our time comes soon too.

Our History

Dec 2006 - Started trying to conceive
Summer 2007 - Semen analysis (great), progesterone test (normal)
Dec 2007 - SHG normal
Jan 2008 - 1st RE appointment
Feb - Mar 2008 - Diagnosed with elevated FSH levels, 2 rounds of IUI with 5mg of Femara
Apr - Jun 2008 - Seeing a new RE. 3 rounds of IUI with 12.5mg of Femara, all busts. HSG normal
July 2008 - Moving on to IVF at a new clinic
Aug/Sep 2008 - 1st IVF cycle - cancelled due to poor response
Nov/Dec 2008 - Retry IVF, transferred one blast and one morula, negative beta
Feb/Mar 2009 - 2nd IVF cycle - Antagonist protocol
May 2009 - 3rd and final attempt at IVF - Antagonist protocol
Feb 18th, 2010 - our One Small Wish comes true: Nina Adele is born.

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