appointed time · Infertility · iui · trying to conceive

Keeping busy

9dpiui. Blood draw is Friday. Less than 4 days…84 something hours. I’ll probably take a home urine test Friday morning before I go to the lab assuming AF hasn’t shown up. If she has, I really won’t want to go get my blood drawn, but apparently it’s protocol to verify that there really isn’t a pregnancy.

I’ve been doing pretty okay so far. I’ve spent most of my time that I’m not working or hanging with husband working on a cross-stitch project with TV on in the background. It’s relaxing and enjoyable. I try and throw some art/creativity in there every so often, but once I get into the zone of cross-stitching it’s hard to break away and do anything else. At least it’s keeping me occupied.

I feel so hopeful. But I’m also trying to gear up for the more likely disappointment. The IUI was not a guarantee; it just raised our odds. I know that in my head; my heart just keeps telling me that this one had to have been it, that had to have been just the boost we needed between the two eggs and the sticking of the sperm closer to their target.

Even if it is positive, given our previous miscarriage (and the trigger shot/meds I’ve been on), I think I’m going to have a hard time getting too excited until a follow up blood test shows an increase in hcg

Who am I kidding? I’m going to be ecstatic if I see a positive. Granted, I’ll also equally terrified; but such is the inevitable when trying for that rainbow.

I did find it somewhat encouraging that I saw a rainbow both the day of our IUI and the day after. Maybe it’s a sign.

Please, God, let this be it.

83.5 hours. But who’s counting?

 

appointed time · baby dancing · family · Infertility · iui · trying to conceive

And now we wait

It is done. Somewhere around 10 million sperm are now inside my uterus; hopefully my ovaries have cooperated with the trigger shot and have released (or will shortly) an egg (or two)…hopefully the aforementioned sperm will find the aforementioned egg(s); and hopefully my uterus has a thick enough lining to receive the aforementioned fertilized egg(s).

So many things out of my control. So much potential for even this ‘boost’ to not be successful. If it’s not, it seems like it’s God indicating that it is simply still not the right time for us. And I have to try to be content with that. We probably won’t pursue any further IUI cycles for a while; so many things about this next year are up in the air (potential job changes, hopefully purchasing a home near wherever he ends up finding work).

I still feel hopeful. Realistic (trying), but hopeful. I know I can’t symptom spot (from all the hormones I’m on) and I can’t test early; so I’m going to probably resort back to the activities I was trying to do regularly to keep sane during the last cycle. Art, crafts, reading, yoga/exercise, cleaning…etc.

As far as the day itself (note: some potentially TMI to follow)

  • Got up super early (husband was *not* thrilled about this part); drove to the RE office. Checked in, had to wait about an hour before husband could give his sperm. Poor guy. He hated having to do the deed for the semen analysis a few months ago; I can only imagine it was especially unpleasant today since he was so tired, up earlier than normal, and having to walk across the waiting room in front of a bunch of people (instead of at home like before).
  • Then we went back to the car to wait (and sleep); I headed back in after about an hour. Got called to the procedure room about an hour and half after the specimen had been collected; actually had to call husband like six times to make sure he saw that he needed to come back in from the car. He made it in time, thankfully. It may be silly, but he had to be there. If these are the sperm that make our baby; I wanted to at least be physically connected to him while it was happening. (I held his hand the whole time)
  • Doctor explained what to expect after, then got started. It was definitely more uncomfortable than the ultrasounds; similar to a PAP smear between the speculum and the swabs. Once the catheter was in place there was some cramping; she asked me to tell her when it eased and that must have been when she injected the sperm because a minute later she was done.
  • They told me to lie there for 10 minutes, then we could go. I waited about 15; partly because at that point exhaustion hit and the cramps hadn’t abated.
  • Have been crampy all day; mostly on the left side-which makes me think maybe ovulation is happening? I’ve just never felt distinct ovulation pain before and I don’t imagine it lasts for an entire afternoon. I’m trying to think of this as a good thing; if my uterus is cramping it’s probably sending the sperm further up my tubes to where they need to be. Hopefully the discomfort subsides enough for us to do some baby dancing a little later this evening.

So many people are praying for us; it’s been really encouraging to have my family’s support and blessings…I know that whenever we do finally get a baby it is going to be so loved and cherished (and not just by husband and me).

And now we wait.

 

appointed time · Infertility · iui · trying to conceive

We are scheduled!

On Friday I had a follow-up ultrasound to assess my progress. I should have expected to not be ready given that my cycles are already on the longer side; but I guess I thought the clomid might have worked so well that I would have been ready to trigger Sunday or Monday for an IUI yesterday or today.

Unsurprisingly, my ovaries had other ideas and they have just been plugging along at their own speed. I had about 6 follicles close to 10 mm but nothing larger. So the NP scheduled my next ultrasound, and we talked about how to prevent multiples (aka cancelling the cycle if too many follicles matured).

So I spent the weekend stressing about both the lack of maturity (on CD 9) and the potential for too many to mature and having wasted time and money on everything so far.

Yesterday I went back for another ultrasound. And hallelujah; one 15.2 mm follicle on one side, one 14.8 follicle on the other, and one additional follicle that’s right around 10 (she did not seem concerned about that).

She did a few more calculations on expected growth; and I have instructions to take the trigger shot tomorrow night at 10 pm and then we go in for the IUI first thing Saturday morning!!

Also was started on vaginal estrogen for thin uterine lining; apparently the clomid has had that unwanted effect. Hopefully the estrogen bulks things up enough to support any egg(s) that might get fertilized over the weekend.

So I’m relieved, and hopeful, and ready. It’s still not “exciting” in the normal sense, but in another (given the previous uncertainty), I am a little excited. Just to have a green light and to move forward with this step.

 

Infertility · iui · trying to conceive · ttc

On to IUI

On the bright side, at least I didn’t have to wait until February.

I am also trying to be encouraged that my cycle was (again) regular for me and I ovulated right around the time I would have expected.

I just really hoped (at the beginning, anyway) that this last ‘unassisted cycle’ would be the one and that we wouldn’t need to do treatment.

But here we are.

Cycle Day 1.

I was able to get into to see my RE today actually. She did the preliminary ultrasound, which showed about 10 follicles per ovary; and reviewed the plan.

Saturday I start a 5 day course of Clomid.

Next Friday (the 25th) I go back for a follow up ultrasound.

Based on those results, assuming things are where they need to be, she wants to plan for the IUI either Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week. (29th or 30th). This will be preceded by a trigger shot of Ovidrel and sex (hopefully we can still manage to make this one romantic and enjoyable despite the circumstances!).

Then we wait two weeks…and go back for a pregnancy test.

With the exception of today because I’m pouting (and crampy), I’m planning to try to continue my ‘resolutions’ just to keep myself sane/healthy. However I will probably resume cycle tracking just so we are able to utilize every chance we can; and I’m curious to see what my body does on these meds.

Infertility · iui · journal entry · trying to conceive

It’s not a competition..

but I’m sorry…it kind of is. At least in the sense of being able to sympathize.

For the purpose of this post:

  • Sympathize: feel sorry for someone because you understand that person’s problems. Requires you to have experienced the same thing.
  • Empathize: choosing to feel the same things the other person is feeling. Does not require you to have experienced what they have.

I know that no matter how long someone tried, anything longer than immediately getting pregnant can feel like ages. I don’t want to invalidate anyone’s journey…I’m not living in their story (see previous post) and I don’t know how hard even just those few or several or eight months were for them.

But for heaven’s sake; if you are talking to someone that you know has struggled to conceive longer than you have/did, acting like you know exactly how they feel because “we tried ____” is just infuriating.

My sister-in-law likes to over-dramatize their struggle to conceive. She also has a tendency to make it longer than it was; technically they started trying February of last year (it takes time to regulate after a miscarriage) and they conceived in late July/early August. By my count, 7-8 months. She talks about how they tried for 9 months and that it was ‘the worst’ and thereby implies that therefore she understands exactly how we feel. I want to say, “No, you don’t.  We’re going on 15-16 months, and looking at pursuing IUI if this cycle isn’t successful. That is not the same as 8 months.” And granted, the fact that she’s pregnant right now doesn’t help the situation, but the attitude is getting under my skin.

It’s one thing to empathize. To say, “Wow, that must be so hard; I know what I felt trying for ____ months and I can only imagine that those feelings are so much greater when you’ve been trying longer; would you want to tell me more about what it’s been like for you.” It’s quite another to attempt to ‘sympathize’ and to equalize your journey (that has ended) with the ongoing and longer journey of someone else.

They are not the same. 

I don’t pretend to know how it feels to try for longer than I already have. I don’t pretend to know how it feels to experience failed IUI treatments, to go through IVF, to miscarry again and again, to be told that there is nothing more that can be done. I can take my current experience and try to understand some degree of that pain, but I wouldn’t ever attempt to equalize my infertility struggle with someone who has gone through some or all of those things.

Maybe in a year I’ll be closer to sympathizing with some of the above. Hopefully not. But if not, I will make every effort to support those walking longer, harder journeys by simply allowing them to hurt and share their stories without attempting to make our journeys the same.

 

 

appointed time · Infertility · trying to conceive

Waiting

Two weeks ago I was convinced that tomorrow (assuming AF hadn’t arrived) I’d get up in the morning and get the best birthday present ever.

With the delays in ovulation (again) I’m likely only 6-7 dpo, so testing tomorrow is not the best idea. I’m planning to wait until the end of next week. Granted, we follow up with the fertility clinic on Thursday so I imagine they’ll run a standard test anyway if I haven’t already started a new cycle.

But I found something out yesterday that freaked me out a little (honestly, a lot) and I don’t want to even wait to go back to the fertility clinic…or rather, I do want to wait because I don’t want to know what I think I know.

My AMH level is 9.927. This hormone measures egg reserve and can indicate how much longer you may be fertile. Our doctor told us she wanted to see something above 2, anything below 1.5 is concerning. I was initially excited to see such a high number then thought; ‘wait, if 1.5-2 is considered low normal…what would cause it to be as high as 9?”

Turns out, the primary reason is PCOS. It’s actually one of the main ways they diagnose PCOS in the absence of other clear indicators, from the little research I did. When the number is high, usually it’s because there are high numbers of eggs in the ovaries that have started to develop but didn’t finish.

So that was a great discovery. I know I’m not the fertility doctor, and by scouring the internet and self-diagnosing I’m doing the very thing that bugs every health professional…but I’m a little freaked.

I’ve thought it was a possibility before given my irregular cycles, but I’ve always convinced myself I didn’t have it because my cycles are still within a fairly normal range (usually not more that 45-50 days, and that long only happening every 3-4 cycles), I usually confirm ovulation with opks and a temp shift, and I don’t have any of the other obvious symptoms associated with PCOS except for excessive chin hair, but that’s partly due to the fact that I pluck anything that looks slightly dark like it’s going out of style and hair tends to grow back in darker once shaved/plucked.

But it might explain why my OPKs do such weird things…like almost being positive for days in a row, or having several sets of positives interspersed with negatives. And slow/irregular temperature rises. And 16 months of infertility.

So I guess now we wait. My favorite thing ever.

I’m still hopeful that we still get a positive and go on to have a healthy pregnancy. Even if I do have PCOS I know pregnancy isn’t impossible…and as I have to keep reminding myself, even with PCOS God can bless us with this in his perfect timing.

 

appointed time · baby dancing · Infertility · journal entry · trying to conceive

Mid-cycle woes and post-Thanksgiving musings

I don’t have anything profound to share. I’m just sitting here mid-cycle again….and trying fairly unsuccessfully to not obsess over every unclear OPK and erratic temperature reading and lack of fertility signs…

I had two days of positive OPKs immediately following my HSG, which was earlier than I’d ever seen but we got busy. Then I had two days of negatives, what looked like a temp shift (!!!)….and then two more days of positive OPKs. For the past seven days the OPKs have been negative, but a lot of them are borderline. The LH has not dropped off like I imagine it would if ovulation had happened.

  • Fertility Friend put in an ovulation date based on the first OPKs on CD11/12 and initial temp shift…but then with the additional positives and a subsequent temp drop…it took it away. It has yet to identify a clear temp shift or possible ovulation date since.
  • Glow is sticking to an ovulation date consistent with the second set of OPKs; and that’s the one I think is most accurate given that I had watery mucus those days, an acne breakout, and one of those days after we BD’d the semen didn’t leak out so my cervix must have been open (no, I don’t believe I had an orgasm).
  • AVA is saying I ovulated on Sunday, though I have found her to be pretty wrong sometimes, and given that she will proclaim that I have entered my fertile window before even analyzing my data from the night before…I take her with a grain of salt (Yes, I have personified my fertility monitor). Also I have had no clear fertility indicators since last week. But none of my parameters are doing what they should if I did ovulate last week…they aren’t even doing what they should if I ovulated on Sunday.

I was planning to wait to test until my birthday (December 8th) assuming AF hadn’t shown by then….and given the first couple possible ovulation dates, I’d be 18-22 dpo. If I was pregnant, there’s no way a test wouldn’t pick it up. However, if I ovulated Sunday, I’ll be 13 dpo…so higher chances of a false negative. And if I haven’t even ovulated…well…my birthday won’t even be at point where I could legitimately test anyway. So that’s a bummer.

We have a follow-up appointment with the fertility clinic December 13th. I’m still hopeful we don’t have to use it. But if my extra-irregular data this month does indeed indicate that I may not be ovulating after all and AF arrives in early December…we just went back to square one and I lost one of my three ‘extra fertile’ months following the HSG.

So here I sit. At least the uncertainty about whether I’ve even entered my TWW or not is keeping me from symptom spotting. Small blessings I guess. I’m still hoping for a really great birthday present and trying not to stress about it…but it gets harder every month. People who haven’t dealt with this don’t seem to understand that simply saying “just don’t track or think about it” is not as easy or relaxing as it sounds. Nothing about this is relaxing, nothing about this is easy.

At least I wasn’t on my period over the weekend when my sister and brother-in-law had their gender reveal party. It’s a little easier to deal with the pregnancy and baby related things when I’m at a point in my cycle where I’m still hopeful I have a chance to join those ranks.

And as a random aside…I got to watch my husband interact with our four month old niece over the weekend as well, and he is so sweet and good with her. I just want to give him babies and make him a dad already.

 

baby dancing · Infertility · journal entry · trying to conceive

Selfish intimacy

Potential TMI/sensitive content to follow.

I like sex. I didn’t realize how much I liked it until this marriage. I always felt that something was wrong with the infrequency of intimacy in my first marriage (as in, months in between was normal), but I assumed that was just because I knew theoretically that a healthy sex life was important to a healthy marriage. With my husband now, who actually has a normal male sex drive…I have discovered that I also have a high sex drive and I just really, really like having sex. And I think we are pretty good at it. We have fun, and we are definitely not afraid to try different things. No more needs to be said there.

But not only is sex fun and satisfying…it is one of the primary ways that we connect with each other. So we are very regular, regardless of where I’m at in my cycle. If we go too many days, we both feel the disconnect.

However, during what I assume is my fertile window (which is hard to pinpoint due to my lack of fertility indicators…making it longer in perception than it actually is), the only reason I am interested in sex is to make a baby. The only reason I try to get him aroused or put on lingerie is because ‘ovulation could be just around the corner.’ It is no longer about the intimacy, about serving my husband, about enjoying him and this aspect of our relationship.

  • The nights we have sex I’m thinking; “could this be it?” and “thank goodness we hit another night in the window” and already calculating due dates and odds of success.
  • The nights we don’t have sex I’m thinking, “if I don’t get a positive this month, is it because we missed tonight?” and “how can I get him to be interested in having sex without telling him why I want it?”

I struggle with wanting to tell him that I’m possibly fertile so that he prioritizes intimacy even more than he normally would…and not wanting to tell him because I want him to be able to enjoy the intimacy without feeling the pressure to finish (and because I’m not supposed to be tracking as much as I am….)

So there it is. When I am mid cycle, I’m an extremely selfish (and dishonest) wife. Sex becomes about making a baby, not about expressing love to my husband or seeking to be intimate with him for the sake of our marriage.

I don’t know what to do with that. I mean, I know I need to ask God for forgiveness and I probably should also be honest with my husband (and ask his forgiveness). But I don’t know how to adjust my attitude so that this doesn’t keep happening…other than going back to not tracking at all but that has brought it’s own set of problems.

 

 

 

appointed time · Infertility · trying to conceive

HSG

I had my HSG test yesterday.

Yowza. It did not hurt as much as I expected at the beginning, and my first thoughts as they kept telling me I’d feel cramping were ‘if this is it, I’m totally fine!’. Then the dye went in and as they started taking pictures that was when it definitely got intense. Like, calling out “ow ow ow” and hyperventilating intense. After it was done and I was lying on the table trying to recover my breath…I had another thought. “If this is any sort of a hint as to how intense labor contractions are…I’m going to need some heavy meds.”

I don’t usually get bad period cramps. Occasionally some months they are more noticeable, but the worst it ever gets is a dull aching pain in my lower abdomen. This cramping as the dye made it’s way through was sharp and defined, and more central. I definitely was wishing my husband was there so I could have squeezed his hand. (Though if he had been there and seen it was a male radiologist performing the test, that might not have gone so well.) Thankfully once the severity of those cramps were finished and the test was done, I felt pretty okay. A little bit of aching cramps on the way home, gone by the evening.

Anyway. Enough about that. Just figured I should be honest; it’s helpful to know what to expect going in. And I’m really glad I did it; even with the pain. It’s worth it to have more questions answered.

Thankfully, everything seemed okay. In my initial pain haze post-procedure I’m pretty sure they said both tubes were clear, though I don’t remember seeing a cloud of dye out the right side like I did on the left. I also think the tech said they did have a little trouble getting the dye through the right initially and that’s why it hurt more, but she followed that with saying that if they weren’t able to get the dye to pass through it would have been obvious. Also my uterus was off to the right; which I’m not sure if that means it’s a “tilted uterus” or just a leaning situation. Guess we wait to follow up with the infertility doctor again.

But I’m still feeling relatively hopeful. Supposedly female fertility is enhanced for a few months after this procedure, even if there’s no blockage just ‘cleaning out the plumbing’ can make it easier for conception to occur. And I took an OPK today just to see where I’m at and it’s positive; which is unusually early for me but I’ll just keep testing and temping and see what happens. We’re about to get busy regardless of my ‘fertile window’; especially since we had to wait until after the test was done and that was unpleasant.

On another note; semen analysis came back as well. Most of the numbers were good, a few were a little on the low side (motility and morphology) but the sample was delayed in being read so that affected the motility…and if the overall sperm count is high enough, even a low percentage of normal shaped ones is still a decent number overall. From my research, the potential issues shown in this analysis are probably pretty easily addressed (as opposed to there being a complete lack of sperm, for example); and I know the last few months my husband has been super stressed and not in the gym regularly; which definitely affects the health of said sperm.

Maybe this will finally be our month (I know, the more hopeful I get the more disappointed I’ll be…but I can’t help it!) and I’ll get a really wonderful birthday present this year.

appointed time · Infertility · trying to conceive

On an infertility consult: part 2

My husband was a lot more overwhelmed by our experience at the infertility clinic yesterday. He was much less prepared for the invasive/personal questions, the rapidity with which we moved forward with testing, and the unfamiliarity of all the medical (and infertility) terminology.

Once we got home and he’d had a chance to process a little bit…in addition to sharing the above he went on to express some of his emotions. The most prominent theme was sadness and burden. After all, this is not how babies are supposed to be made. It’s supposed to be fun and romantic and the result of two people’s love for each other. Turning it into a science experiment (IVF)…or even just removing the component of intimacy (IUI) just feels…sad.

There was also a heaviness on his heart in general that this has been something I have focused so much on (ouch!). He expressed missing the times when we just spent time together and enjoyed being us…when every conversation didn’t revolve around having/making a baby…and when having sex was only meant for fun and romance. He expressed sadness at watching my cycle of emotions every month. He has verbalized this before but somehow it felt deeper last night; and in light of suddenly being realistically presented with these new options for conceiving a baby….I suddenly felt as though I have to a degree forced us to this point.

Thankfully he puts no burden of blame on me. He just wants me to know how he feels. We were (ultimately) able to have a good conversation about these emotions, and we prayed together last night which was really helpful for both of us. I will try to let go (again) of the excessive tracking and work on my trusting…and hopefully have a good month of just enjoying each other.

And while we likely will have some decisions to make in the next couple weeks…if everything comes back normal I think we will both be on the same page with waiting a little longer for God to bless us with this in his timing and praying we will have the privilege of making a baby without any assistance.

But if we end up requiring medical and scientific interventions at some point in the future, I will be infinitely grateful that we have these as options. I just so deeply wish that it didn’t have to be this way for anybody.