Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Number Seven

Why is 7 a lucky number? I'm not a gambler, but I know all about the lucky 7's in Vegas. I also happen to identify with the number 7. I was born on the 7th day of December. I was married in the 7th month of the year. All of my online usernames and most of my passwords somewhere somehow contain the number 7. I'm suddenly starting to feel a little OCD.

Yesterday I went back to Dr. K's office for another dildo cam ultrasound and blood work. I bet you'll never guess how many follicles they saw - that's right - 7. Four follicles on my left and three on my right. I'm not good with math, but I can add those numbers on my fingers. All measuring between 6 and 8 mm. The nurse that was all up in my business said the measurements were good as they like to see them all roughly the same size.

Later that day I got my results and was instructed to stop with the Lupron injections. I'm still not entirely sure why and have been playing phone tag with the nurse. According to my original plan, the one lovingly laid out day-by-day on my color coded calendar thanks to my spectacular husband, tells me I'm supposed to be on Lupron until I trigger the release of all my eggs. So of course that gets me wondering. Could it be that:

a) I'm responding so well that I can stop the Lupron because they are going to trigger me soon and I don't need to be on the Lupron anymore.

b) I'm not respsonding well so they are taking me off the Lupron and hope that I will get more follicles faster without the Lupron.

So as I wait by the phone for the nurse to call me back, I can't help but be distracted from my daily life and hope that those 7's really pull through.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Moving Right Along - Starting Stims Tomorrow

My last post was all about the turtle of a month September has been. I suddenly feel like the turtle turned into a cheetah. And not just any cheetah, its more like Chester the Cheetos Cheetah. I feel like I have a ball of energy rolling around inside me and I'm ready to explode. It's like being a little kid and waiting for Christmas. I'm just hoping I actually have a present on Christmas morning.

I went to my baseline appointment at the fertility clinic yesterday morning. I had an internal ultrasound - gotta love the dildo cam gettin' all up in my business and yet again some more blood work. I got a little concerned when they said my left ovary wasn't producing any follicles yet but I was reassured today when they told me to start my next phase of the journey tomorrow.

Because one shot per day is not enough for an irriational shot fearing gal like myself, I now get three each day. Its now time to start stimulating egg production. Rock on! I've always wanted to be an egg factory. Actually, in all honesty, I want to produce as many damn eggs as possible.

Get ready Mikey, time to start the Menopur and Gonal-F injections. Let's see how much more of a whinney little girl I can turn into. Hopefully, these two additional injections won't hurt any worse than the Lupron and lucky for me, Mike hasn't damaged any more needles. He's turned into quite the little sexy man-nurse and delivers a mean shot. By 'mean' I mean not painful and could be a professional. That's my boy!

So this cheetah of a month is moving right along. I go back on Wednesday for another set of blood work and dildo cam ultrasound. Then my estimated egg retrieval and transfer is the week of 9/27. Woot, woot!

And I'm still praying I have a little package under the tree on Christmas morning.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Longest September EVER

This month is dragging along. Perhaps because I reference my wonderful color coded calendar lovingly made by Mike every day and see the week of 9/27 is my estimated date of egg retrieval.

I've been on the same routine for a week now. 10 units of Lupron every evening. Although I'm not ready for another shot, I am ready for the next step. I think it would make me feel like we are progressing.

When I think about our IVF teach session and how overwhelmed I was, its really quite silly. So far, things are pretty easy. Its just a routine that changes every week. Almost like a workout routine. You do the same exercises for a week before you increase and/or add on. This is the same thing. Plus, I'm lucky enough to have a personal trainer AKA personal nurse AKA husband.

Mike actually did start out as a nursing major, which could explain why he is not only good at administering shots, but also enjoys it. This picture might scare some people, but I look at it two ways - 1) if he is giving me the shots, I don't have to do it and 2) at least he looks happy.

Mike does a good job keeping me on schedule for my injections. Each night around 7 pm we make the family (Nina and Billy always come too) trek up to our master bathroom. I lift up my shirt, plop down on the counter, lean up against the corner where the mirror meets the wall, grasp the edge of the counter with my left hand and tightly hold the faucet with my right hand (overly dramatic, I know). Mike rubs my stomach with the alcohol pad (this is when I become queasy), loads up the syringe (this is when I become light headed) and comes at me with that goofy smile. A second later, I feel a little burn from the Lupron, my stomach gets red and we head downstairs to watch a little TV and eat dinner. Its become second nature and as long as the other injections are just as painless, I'm sure I will make it through the next month just fine.

Its the thought of having to do this all over again that kills me. I just hope and pray that this is a one and done and if for some reason its not, I hope we have enough to freeze so we can try again. I really don't want to have to go through this whole process again. It just seems so long and drawn out. I think I will start recruiting people to pray for us. I've always heard God works in mysterious ways, maybe this is his way. I'm not big on praying, but I'm about to start.

Dear God. Please keep me healthy and sane. Allow my body to produce a boat load of eggs so they can all be fertilized with Mike's strong healthy sperm. Allow the embryos to grow and develop and for two to be transferred. Allow at least one to implant, two would be good too, but I really don't want one of them to split (triplets scare the crap out of me). Allow me to carry a healthy baby to term. If you do all this for me God, I will promise to baptize the baby and take him/her to church and Sunday school. Amen (or if you want me to sing it, ah-ah-ah-men).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Wonderful Labor Day Weekend

I love long weekends! It started off great with a short day on Friday, took a nice long walk with Mike, Nina and Billy (picture from our last family vacation. Nina is the one that looks like she is being held against her will.) and took my last BCP.

I've really come to enjoy the walks we've been taking and I'm not really what changed. It was always a chore to walk the dogs - the last thing I wanted to do when I'd get home from work. Now, I cherish the quality time with Mike and the dogs. I'm even seriously considering getting some fitness walkers like Skeckers or Reebok- you know, the ones that tone as you walk. Especially since we've been walking them a lot more and for a longer distance.

Saturday Mike and I ran our typical errands, coffee, cleaners, post office, Menard's and grocery store (always in that order). Saturday afternoon we watched the Notre Dame football game - usually not my favorite activity, but I happened to enjoy watching the game with Mike and am really starting to understand it and recognize the players. Again, it was some nice quality time. Saturday night we went out with our friends/neighbors to a couple local bars. It was beautiful outside, a little on the cool side, but perfect for the beer gardens.

On Sunday I had to attend a work function. It was okay, but I would have much rather been at home. We did end up ordering take out from a local Mexican restaurant. I order the delicious shrimp enchiladas suizas and was craving some guacamole.

Monday we didn't leave the house at all. Mike got it in his head that we should finish the basement because our kids are going to need some place to play. I have been saying this for the past 3 years. But suddenly, it was his idea and needs to be started right away so we drew up the floor plans. It should be interesting to see how this all comes together. I was however, informed that this might have to be in phases because its going to be expensive. No shit dude, that's why I have been nagging you about it for 3 years!

I've still been getting my shots on a daily basis - please note I said 'getting', as in I'm still not able to 'give' them to myself. I have accepted the fact that its a mental game. The injections don't hurt, I just get light headed and a little queasy for 10 seconds and then I'm fine. Plus, I think Mike enjoys giving them to me. I have noticed the dogs like to come in the bathroom when all this is going on. I think they know daddy is hurting me. Not really - but I do have a couple tiny bruises in the injection area. I've also noticed it hurts worse on the left side (again, probably all in my head).

At least I've admitted to myself that its all in my head. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? It just so happens I don't care if I can't do it - that's what Mike is for. I love you honey!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Long History of Fearing Shots

I haven't necessarily had the easiest life, although I wouldn't change anything for the world. I give a lot of credit to parents for raising me to be a strong (sometimes a wimp), assertive (sometimes too assertive) and confident (sometimes too confident) young lady despite my differences.

I was born with one leg shorter than the other and had 16 surgeries between the ages of 6 and 15 and one last one when I was 25. Although doctors were able to lengthenn my leg, it didn't grow at the same pace, hence the multiple surgeries. I spent a majority of my childhood wearing a lift on my shoe so I could at least walk normal and have a normal life.

(That's me in the picture with my younger brother to the left and my two older cousins. You can see the lift on my left shoe.)

Through all my surgeries, I was never bothered by IV's or getting my blood drawn, but I was terrified of getting shots. I swore there were times when the needles from the shots made it all the way to my bone. They were horribly painful. The shots that were supposed to calm me down before a surgery caused me more anxiety than the surgery itself. And since I couldn't swallow pills and I refused to get shots, I actually chose to drink smashed up pills mixed with water. Yuck!

Needless to say, the IVF teach session caused me some added anxiety. All the needles for the injections and practicing had me in cold sweats. Do they really think calling them injections is nicer than saying shots? Is it like asking someone if they like your new recipe and they say it's "different"? What a passive agressive comment - what a hoax.

I tried not to think about the injections until I got home from work yesterday and Mike told me it was time for my first injection. I think I shed a couple tears, told him I was going to pass out and then watched him destroy two needles trying to get the damn things out of the package. At that point, I should have just given myself the injection, but I seriously thought I was going to faint. Perhaps it was looking at the two bent needles that made me queezy.

After my dramatic behavior and successfully delivered injection, I realized it didn't hurt that bad. In fact, I hardly felt it. I did, however, immediately start to complain that I felt a burning sensation and I got a little welt.

Good thing Mike loves me, I was almost annoying myself with my childish antics. Especially since, overall, it wasn't a bad experience. I'm guessing its all in my head. We will see how tonight goes.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Let the Journey Begin

If I was motivated or had the time, I probably should have started blogging about a year ago when our wonderful journey began. By wonderful, I mean frustrating, exhausting, exciting, happy and sad all in one journey.

We've been married for just over three years. In those three years we've done some amazing traveling, developed some new and expensive hobbies like scuba diving, landscaping (yes, for us, that turned into a hobby) and created a wonderfully beautiful life together.

You never really know when you are ready to start a family, and then when you are told you can't, you realize just how ready you might have been. In 2007 I was diagnosed with polymyositis, an auto immune disease that caused my white blood cells to attack and destroy my muscle tissue. I was told I needed to be on steroids and heavy immunosuppressants to get this condition under control. I was told under no circumstances could I get pregnant during this time as the medication was lethal to a fetus. It was at that doctor's appointment, with my husband holding my hand, that I (actually, we) realized we might have been ready to start a family.

For the next 8 months all we did was talk about the day we could start a family. We would daydream about growing our family, wondering how Nina and Billy (our fantastic dogs) would like to have a little kid to play with and how family vacations would really become family vacations. We had built up so much excitement and desire for a baby that when the time finally came and my doctor told me I was in remission (actually, she told me I "graduated" from treatment) and no longer needed the meds we began the countdown, letting my body clear itself of all the medication, including birth control.

We did everything right, I met with my ob/gyn (also known as Dr. Flinstone, per my husband Mike) and started my prescription prenatal vitamins. It was at that appointment he told me to come back in 6 months if after well-timed sex, I wasn't pregnant. I listened to his "fairytale" stories about a prince and princess that want to have a baby and they get pregnant right away but this other prince and other princess don't get pregnant until a whole year later so that means this prince (Mike) and this princess (me) could be average and take anywhere from 6-12 months.

Don't get me wrong, I love Dr. Flinstone. He actually delivered me and my brother. He has a fabulous bedside manner and can make anyone feel comfortable in the most uncomfortable situations. In a nutshell, he was telling me not to worry and stress about it, but if I wanted to, I could come back in 6 months for further testing.

And yes, after 6 months of charting, using ovulation prediction kits, having Nazi style (demanding) sex and watching my friends easily get pregnant, Mike and I decided it was time to head back to Dr. Flinstone. Mind you, we actually have been dreaming about having a baby for a full 18 months, 6 of which we were actively trying to conceive.

At this point, I'm fully confident we made the right decision by starting testing at 6 months. It turned out I have an under-active thyroid. Mike also has an under-active thyroid, low testosterone, low sperm motility and morphology. So in all reality, the chances of us conceiving on our own were less than 1%.

Its been about another 6 months since that diagnosis, several sperm-improving treatments (or lack-there-of) and numerous trips to the urologist and fertility clinic. Poor Mike has spent more time spooging into a cup than any man ever should. I'm partly convinced that is why he put surround sound in our bedroom. You see, the fertility clinic is about 8 miles from the house, so he was able to "collect" his sample at home and drop off within a half hour. And seriously, doesn't porn sound better in surround sound? I joked with him that now its like we're having an orgy.

So here we are a full 14 cycles of actively trying to conceive, plus 12 full months of wanting but not being to try to conceive and we are still in the same place. At least that is what it feels like.

The doctor's appointments and consultations and hearing our chance of conceiving on our own is only 1% have been tough. Dr. K at the fertility clinic had hoped treatments would improve Mike's number and we would be able to do an IUI (intra-uterine insemination). After a couple months of treatment, we went back to Dr. K and he told us our only real option was IVF (invitro fertilization).

Mike and I had two totally different reactions to this news. Mike was excited and was ready to sign the dotted like a business deal. I however, was far more emotional - I just couldn't believe the one thing that is supposed to be so natural wouldn't be so natural for us. It killed me on the inside but in my heart, I knew this was our best chance. The two week time span between that doctor's appointment and our IVF teach session were the loneliest times of my life. In part because I was traveling a lot for work, but also because Mike and I were in two separate places.

The day of the teach session arrived and was our changing point. It was at that point, when I was freaking out about injections, doing something wrong and this not working that Mike really stepped up and became very involved. He's offered to help with the injections, he checked and organized the giant box of needs, meds, sharps box that came Fed Ex from a specialty fertility clinic and made me color coded calendar on what I (we) need to do on a daily basis.

And it is now, today, the day I start my Lupron injections tonight at 7:30 pm per my color coded calendar developed by my loving husband.