You. GUYS! There is something SO exciting going on (no, I'm not pregnant) that I CANNOT wait to tell you about (nope, still not pregnant). The most AMAZING news (guess what, I'm. Not. Pregnant). It's gonna be like "Hai, the best news EVAH" (except the one when I finally get to tell y'all that I'm pregnant), and I can't wait to share my super duper exciting news (even though it's not that I'm pregnant).
So the first time I was pregnant (briefly) I got a couple of early gifts, the cutest pair of shoes from a sweet sweet friend who knew we had been trying, and a blanket & onesie from my Mom. After the miscarriage I just stuck them in a shoebox in the top of the closet thinking we'd need them again in a couple of months. Two years later the box is still there, and has graduated from a shoebox to a small rubbermaid bin. It's filled with tiny little treasures for the future. A few little outfits and trinkets that I just couldn't pass up. I know when the time comes, I will relish the taking down of the box that stares at me from the top of the closet. *it's kind of a jerk like that.....staring and flaunting and such*
It was bigtime baby shower weekend, but IT. IS. OVER. 3 of 3 yoga babies have now been showered. Actually, since the baby was already out of the bump, we hosted a "Sip & See". It was just me and yoga friend one hosting, so there was lots of running around like banshees, but it's done and turned out nice. We had an embarrassing amount of food, and tons of leftovers, but everyone was pleased.
Of course, there were THREE preggo mommas, one newborn (the showered one) and one 4 month old in attendance. I was the only one there not pregnant, or already a mother. It usually just depends on the day/situation how upsetting things like this are. Sometimes I'm totally good and don't feel like shanking someone, or myself, and other days it's best if I stay away from sharp objects. I did, however, cut the cake without any mishaps....
Saturday was a shank kind of day. Not only were the pregnant ones pregnant, the were ADORABLE, and all of the mom's were so put together and talking of private schools, and nannies, and their perfectly smart, social, and athletic kiddos. I had sweaty, melting, hot flashes when anyone (read: everyone) asked me if I had kids. "No, but hopefully soon" I'd squeak out through my panic attack. What a day to forget my handy prison made plastic spork of a shank.....
It's been a rough couple of weeks in the bun in my oven department....just trying to get a plan for next cycle, but I feel like there are no more tricks up my sleeve. My donor is retired (again), so my choices are the one vial I have left of him, or starting all over (again), but I'm not sure that is an option this month financially. Hopefully we'll be back to happier posts soon, in the meantime, thanks for reading friends.
Just home from sunny Key West. Vacation was mostly a success and it made this "off" cycle go by pretty quickly.
I sure wish I had been able to avoid the Clomid "holy moly it's like I'm gaining weight just siting here" experience. My bikini didn't look like it belonged, but I drowned my sorrows in oysters and vodka. ::it worked::
I'm having an unanticipated reaction from the hCG trigger shot (I think). I've developed a bunch of really prominent dark spots/freckles on my hands, that (of course) are getting worse in the sun. After I miscarried I had a really dark patch on my upper lip (lovely) that fades if I stay out of the sun, but still gets really dark without sunscreen. I'm a little surprised that one short dose of hCG would do this....but there isn't any other explanation.
I snorkeled, and realized that I am a huge chicken shit. I was afraid of *everything*. Like full on panic attack afraid *and this was before the talk of octopus and sting rays and sharks*. I wasn't a scaredy cat kiddo, but the older I get, the more afraid I am of all sorts of stuff. (maybe I'm just getting smarter)
I didn't like anything about being dropped off as shark bait in the middle of the flipping ocean. It didn't matter one bit that thousands of kids swim, snorkel, SCUBA, and generally run amuck there all year... I. Was. Terrified. Nobody else on the boat was afraid, they were jumping in chasing fish with nets, diving down to get a closer look at the sea floor, and venturing into the Mangroves for more adventure. I was swimming in a tiny little circle in five feet deep water trying to think happy thoughts.
The Point: I hope I can keep myself together enough to not breed scaredy cats. I don't want my kids to be afraid, I want them to seek out knowledge and adventure without being paralyzed by "what ifs". Of course, I think is necessary to have a healthy fear of situations that can be dangerous (i.e. the ocean and it's inhabitants) but I don't want my kids to miss out on amazing things because they were too afraid to try something new. I did see one *HUMONGOUS* barracuda that no one else did (I swear, I SWEAR), and lots of smaller ones, but I was mostly thinking of swarms of jellyfish, viscous sting rays, electric eels as big as me, and lion-fish....lots and lots of lion-fish *with the jaws theme playing in the background of my feeble little brain*.
I want my children to be the ones running around like little crazy people to SEE more, DO more, and BE more.
Not because some of these things aren't valid points, but because they are hard to hear/annoying/upsetting to folks struggling with infertility.
1.Just stop trying, It WILL HAPPEN! (Trust me, unless we are expecting me to have the next miraculous conception, IT WON'T HAPPEN.)
2. When it's God's will.... (and when it's God's will can the house be clean? Will the lawn be mowed? Will we win the lotto? Can I just sit around and wait in the meantime?)
3.When it's meant to be, it will be. (Yeah, que sera sera, once again, should we just sit around and wait?)
4.Maybe it's just not meant to be? (Wow. Thanks. Because you know, my hope isn't fragile enough already. *now where did I put that butter knife....*)
5. Oh, that's too bad! Gosh, it wasn't hard for us at all! We have more kids than we know what to do with! (While I'm super glad you didn't struggle like this, don't rub it in asshole)
6. You must not be doing something right. (Stop. It.)
7. You need to gain ten pounds to get pregnant. (Because I could lose weight if I tried with all of these fertility drugs....)
8. FERTILITY DRUGS!?! You are going to end up like that Octomom!! (No one has offered me $500,000.00 for a one hour porn flick, so no, I'm not Octomom)
9. Maybe you should wait awhile, take some time off? (Every single day is a wait, every cycle is an eternity, and my biological clock is ticking so loudly I can't hear myself think)
10. Take my two year old for a day and you'll change your mind about wanting kids! (Be. Grateful.)
11. I *hate* being pregnant, I'm so fat, blah blah. Oh this newborn stuff is for the birds, I'm so tired, all they do is eat, poop, and cry blah blah. (While these are valid complaints, issues, struggles, it's not something that TTC women/couples want or need to hear. They would trade places with you in a heartbeat, plus it could possibly make them stabby)
Of course there are exceptions, and most anything you say, if you are genuinely trying to be helpful and supportive, will be appreciated, but mostly we just need encouragement, support, and understanding.
There have been cocktails galore since the revelation of another failed cycle. It's hard to explain the sense of loss I feel. The crappy thing about consciously TTC is that you have to pretend you are pregnant for two weeks, and you start to believe it. You start to imagine that there is a being growing in there, that everything you do might affect that tiny existence, that the love of your life is forming in your womb. A true feeling of loss comes with the ending of one cycle and the beginning of another. A lost opportunity, a lost life, and failure...lots and lots of failure. Speak to any woman struggling with infertility and *feel* her overwhelming failure, as a planner, as a mother, as a human, as a woman.
The amazing thing is how quickly we bounce back and take on the next cycle. This one is a little different since I have to take a month off due to travel schedules, but if I was inseminating this cycle, I'd already be on my next round of clomid and scheduling ultrasounds. The collective sadness does add up, and doesn't dissipate with a new round of trying, but I *KNOW* that it will all be worth it in the end, and that my kiddos will know without a doubt how wanted they were.....are.
Now that I have figured out that my house flooded twice for no reason, my bathtubs filled up with poop TWICE for no reason, and my bunny died in vain, I'm pretty pissed about this whole infertility thing.
My temperature completely crashed this morning, which means CD 1 is on it's way soon. I was cautiously optimistic yesterday when it was SO high and I had some signs I thought could be early pregnancy. There is just nothing like this kind of disappointment.
There are a couple of reasons I'm nervous about this post, but I'm throwing caution to the hyenas and going for it. The world of sperm donors and frozen sperm is crazy, big, overwhelming, odd, and....kinda funny. We've talked a little about the process already here, so you might want to check that out first if you're just getting on the ride.
I've had two donors in two years, one for the majority of the time that I was IN LOVE with (yeah, I'll explain), but he retired (yes, that's what they call it) and so for this last cycle I had to switch to a new donor, much to my dismay. It was like an epiphany when I found my first donor #3804. He was tall and blond, blue eyed, smart, with both math/science, and an art background. He has his own business as an architect, and had the cutest baby picture I had EVER seen. His final answer on the long profile was the last straw. He talked about the birth of his son with his wife, and what a profound experience it was. He wanted other women/couples to be able to experience that. I felt like I knew this amazing guy, and he was going to be my baby daddy. I was so dead set on him, but after the first miscarriage was never able to get a positive pregnancy with him again. Once a donor turns thirty five, they are required to retire (some lose interest and retire well before that). Unfortunately, after two years of trying, I used the last of my golden stock, and had to sit down and pick a new donor.
Donor searches are insane. You can search by anything you can imagine, height, weight, eye color, ancestry, hair color, profession, ethnicity, anything. I wanted a donor who had some of the traits that I do, but had traits that will compliment my strengths and weaknesses too. Also, let's be honest, I'm breeding an athlete here. *grabs ball and glove*. I'm tall, athletic, and creative/artistic, but my math and science skills are weak, so I looked at tall, fair haired donors, who had some sort of interest in the arts, but possessed pretty significant math and science skills. It's hard (really hard) not to get caught up in "oh but his brother had acne", or "his mother was big boned", but eventually, after many lists, you sort out what's really important, and what's not. The awesome thing about sperm banks is the testing. They test for genetic and chromosomal abnormalities, on top of the regular sperm health and motility testing. They say less than 10% of the applicants for donation are excepted. They look closely into family medical history, and even education level and GPA. As I mentioned above, their answer to that long profile question, "Why Did You Become A Donor" plays a big part in my decisions.
We don't get to see adult pictures, names, addresses, contact info or any of that good stuff that could allow us to be complete stalkers (which I totally would be), but we do have access to a short profile, long profile, staff impression, personality test, facial feature summary, even handwriting analysis and audio interview. Some of the basic things you can peek at for free, but the more detailed aspects, you have to pay for (of course)
Let's look at some examples from my current donor #12154. (You may have to zoom a bit to read the specifics, sorry I couldn't make it any bigger) :(
Staff Impressions: Sometimes these are super helpful, and sometimes (like in this case) not. Usually they are really detailed, it just depends on who wrote it I suppose.
The Short Profile: This gives you a lot of information, it's free, and can help weed out donors quickly. Basically, it's the first two pages of the long profile. It tells you height, weight, eye color, blood type, ethnicity, profession, GPA, and answers a few basic like/dislike questions.
Lots of good answers here, seems pretty well rounded, that's what I'm huntin.
The Long Profile: It's basically a continuation of the short profile, and deals mostly with family medical history. A page is dedicated to each family member, starting with immediate, and going back to great grandparents, and out to aunts and uncles. It also talks about environmental hazards the donor may have been exposed to, and the donor's fertility history. Here is an example of one family member page.
There is also a huge grid for family medical history that covers everything from mental/emotional disorders to breast cancer and heart disease. This page even shows the medical history of first cousins. It's really easy to read and helpful to see what conditions might run in the family.
Baby Picture: These are usually hilarious. The kind of picture that your mom shows to your prom date when you're 16. My first donor's was heartbreakingly cute, but since we are talking about the current donor, who is pretty darn cute too, in a Michelin Man sorta way, here ya go.
The last part of the basic information package is the Donor Essay. This is a more in depth question and answer page. I love that we get to see the handwriting of the donor on all of this (gotta watch out for that serial killer handwriting), and any misspellings or mistakes they make. *no pressure guys*. I think this is the page that really gives you a feel for what type of person they are/will be.
A sad day here. We lost our little fur baby Bunny Coco last night. Not sure what happened, she was great last night, and Miss Scarlett seems fine, but she was laying peacefully gone in the sun this morning. I hope she didn't suffer. Miss Scarlett is going to be so lonely, they *loved* each other.
Miss Scarlett is going to be lonely without her bun bun.
And yes, there *is* an old wives tale about bunnies dying and pregnancy, but I sure would have rather had anything else happen. She was a good, sweet fur baby and she will be missed.
My temps are continuing to look good. Let's all keep our little piggies crossed that that dot stays above the red line! If that little dip was at 8 DPO instead of 5 DPO, I'd be jumping up and down for an "implantation dip", but 5 DPO is probably too early for that (however not TOTALLY out of the question). Lots of women have a dip on the day of implantation, but that normally happens anywhere from 7- 12 DPO (although it *can* happen before or after that).
Also, my Progesterone level was GREAT at 58.5! We need it to stay UP UP UP!
We needed it to at the very least fall in the "Luteal Phase" Reference Ranges. We know by the super high number that there were multiple eggs released and there are multiple corpus luteum crankin out that progesterone. HooRAY!!!
Trying to conceive has been a complete emotional roller coaster. I would assume this is the case for most women/couples in this position. You go through a whole host of emotions, hormonal fluxes, frustrations, elations, and desperations during this process. No matter how long or short, I feel like the struggles are the same.
At some point, you become desperate. Desperate for comfort, for good news, for distraction, sometimes just desperate for something new to focus on.
Somewhere along the way I started researching fertility symbols, omens, myths, practices, etc. I spoke to some friends that have lots of worldly knowledge in those areas, and got all KINDS of fun information.
The fish is pretty universal fertility symbol. For a fertility charm, it should be a non-violent fish (that's right, no knife wielding gangsta fish welcome folks) and not have sharp or pointy fins. Koi are a pretty common example of a fertility fish.
Luckily my amazingly talented friend Julie over at SilverSmyth.com welcomed the challenge of creating a custom fertility fish charm for me. It's the most awesome thing EVAH and has been such a source of comfort hanging solidly around my neck. I found a fertility chant/prayer/poem for the back, which ended up being waaaay too long, but she surprised me and got the most important part engraved on the back. SilverSmyth FOR. THE. WIN.
Mother of Pearl--
Mother of Pearl has long been a symbol of fertility and rebirth. It is formed on the insides of oyster shells and aids in the natural pearl making process. Most things I've read refer to MOP "disks" but I'm assuming MOP in any form would work. About the time I set out for a really special mother of pearl something for my fertility charm collection, my grandmother gave me some old jewelry. At the very bottom of the box was a single mother of pearl cuff link. Perfect.
Throughout history cultures have look to everything from cats, to rabbits to frogs (oh my) even peacocks for fertilty. Cats and rabbits because they are so ridiculously fertile (bunnies can have a litter ever 28 days) and frogs/toads/and other swimmy slimy things because of their correlation to water.
Ahhhhh water. Water is the ultimate fertility symbol. It gives life, washes away the old and sprouts the new. Provides nourishment for every living aspect of our world. For centuries people have acknowledged the link between water and fertility.
I live in the desert.
Then my house flooded.... and then it flooded again, in the same week.... and then it rained BUCKET LOADS, and guess what??
My house flooded again.
It's been a water filled week, here's hoping something will come out of it besides....well.....water.
** You can follow Julie on Twitter @SilverSmyth she does AMAZING work, or you can check her out here.
Today I'm 6 DPO (days past ovulation) and that could be construed as insignificant, but that's just mean to all of those 6's out there, so let me tell you *why* today is important in the grand TTC scheme of things.
Progesterone is made by the corpus luteum, the left over part of the follicle that released that little eggy six days ago, and it is responsible for keeping the uterus from shedding it's lining too early. Your progesterone peaks at about 7 DPO, and then decreases after that crashing a day or so before your period. If you are pregnant, your progesterone levels get steadily higher throughout pregnancy.
It is pretty standard for women involved in fertility treatments to have a CD 21/ 7 DPO progesterone level test. If your progesterone is low, or crashes to early, your uterus will shed it's lining (aka you'll start your period) before an egg ever has a change to implant. SO even if fertilization *did* take place, your luteal phase will be too short, and it won't get to stick. Women with low CD 21 levels will be put on a progesterone supplement to hold off Aunt Flo until further notice. Some doctors will keep a woman on progesterone supplements throughout early pregnancy to prevent a miscarriage from low progesterone levels.
NOW, since progesterone *is* one of the pregnancy hormones, when it surges after ovulation expect to feel some of those much coveted pregnancy symptoms, pregnant or not. Fatigue, vivid dreams, odd cravings, interesting digestion. Once you know what to look for you can almost feel your body bogged down with it on 5/6/7 DPO.
Lo and behold I could barely drag my tail outta bed this morning, and I feel like I could eat an entire jar of pickled jalepenos for breakfast. As much as I would love to think that these could be "OMG EARLY PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS!!" It's more likely another form of good news, that my progesterone is starting to surge, and my levels will be high enough after my test tomorrow. Fingers crossed y'all, progesterone suppositories DO NOT sound fun.
Now, with Clomid (or any other stimulating medication) since there will most likely be multiple follicles, there will be multiple eggs released, ad therefore multiple corpus luteums working. This can result in super high progesterone levels. A few months ago I had a CD 21 progesterone test and my levels were that of a 2 trimester pregnant woman. Good thing no eggs stuck that month, sounds like I would have had an army.
I'll have my blood drawn first thing in the morning, and the results first thing Friday, so lets all think happy, high progesterone thoughts shall we?
There are lots of reasons I think I'll be a good Mom:
∞ I was lucky enough to grow up in a family full of *unconditional love*. I didn't realize until I was older how A) Important this was and B) that not everyone grows up this way. My family was very affectionate and vocal about their feelings, and I can never remember not feeling 100% loved. I realize now how huge this is, and that it shaped every future relationship and friendship in a positive way. I know no matter how sad, mad, or disappointed I am in my kids, they will know, without hesitation, that they are loved.
∞ I can say "I'm proud of you". I think this is one of the most important things (second only to "I love you") that a parent can say to their kids. I can remember several specific events that my parents told me they were proud of me, and the confidence that gave me.
∞ I believe in thevalue of hard work. Inside work, outside work, manual labor, boy work, girl work, and sweat equity. I hope I can show my kids the rewards of working towards a goal.
∞ I laugh. A lot.
∞ I'm creative. I like to think outside the box.
∞ I am a problem solver. Tell me something is impossible, or that I can't do it, then hide and watch me. I'll rig up something the likes of which you've never seen to get the job done. It might take twice as long as calling someone for assistance, but so help me, I'll figure it out.
∞ I'm not a quitter.
∞ I'm not perfect, and my kids won't be either, and I'm okay with that.
∞ I take the time to cut out bunny shaped Bisquick biscuits for breakfast when I *don't* have kids.
There are some things that I think I'll struggle with too (but I'm working on it):
∞ I'm not patient. Not just not patient in a "lose my temper" way, but in a "I HATE waiting" way. I worry how I'll deal with a purple incessantly crying one month old, and a screaming, hitting two year old, and a smart mouthed 13-20 year old. I also wonder if I'll be able to slow myself down enough to not rush my kids through life, and through important moments. If I'll be able to wait for them to figure something out on their own without dashing in to do it for them.
∞ I'm very competitive, probably to a fault. I hope I can instill a *healthy* sense of competition in my kids, without pushing or pressuring them. I hope I can encourage them in things they are naturally good at, and not push them to excel at things they aren't good at or don't enjoy. This is going to be a struggle for me. I don't want to be one of those parents who live vicariously through their kids.
∞ I have high expectations, of myself as a parent, and of my kids as kids/adults/and human beings. I would rather have it this way than the other way around, but I know I may have to adjust my goals and expectations..........daily.
∞ I'm a huge people pleaser, and don't have a great sense of boundaries. I hope I can do better and teach my kids to be strong and stick to their guns.
I think the good will outweigh the bad, and I know I have a lot of work to do on myself, but I'm up for the challenge. I can't wait to get my chance.
Quick Aside: The poop came back, not anywhere close to as bad as last time, but still. Nobody in the house can smell the sewer but me, I wonder if it is the hCG still in my system from the shot? Odd. If you are really confused, you'll need to see this and possibly this.
Ok, SO I use two different types of urine OPKs. The Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor, which looks like this --------------------------------------------------->
And the Clear Blue Easy Digital, which looks like this ------------------------------------------------------->
The monitor is a long term process, it takes the first morning urine and tests for both estrogen changes and LH changes. It also stores your data each month and therefore gets more accurate to your individual cycle the more you use it. The picture above shows three things: 1. It's cycle day one 2. It's at "low" fertility 3. The "M" means it's a menstrual cycle day. Every morning you turn it on and it shows the cycle day, and then tells you whether it's a test day or not. During your period it doesn't ask you to test, and then starting CD 6 or 7 (depending on previous cycles) it starts giving flashing the "test" sign. You pee on a stick, insert it into the monitor, and in about 5 minutes it gives the result. One bar = Low, two bars= High, three bars (with a little egg in the middle) = Peak. There are two test lines on the stick, and though they say that it can't be read by the human eye, it can. With the wick end to the left, the LH line is the first one, and gets darker for your surge. The estrogen line is the second one and starts out dark to get lighter as your estrogen rises. Here is an example of a "low" stick.
As the estrogen line gets lighter (meaning higher levels) the monitor switches from "low" to "high". Here is an example of a "high" stick. The LH line is still non-existent, but the estrogen line has faded just a little.
Anyway, you can see on this one that the estrogen line is almost all the way gone, but there still isn't an LH line.
(Aside: I'm not real sure WHAT happened with the boy/girl background colors, but I swear it was not intentional.)
And then FINALLY (after the trigger shot)
We get a "Peak". See how the LH line is finally there, and the estrogen one isn't? Three bars AND an eggy is a happy, happy thing to see.
Mmmkay, on the the smiley face one. This one doesn't store your information, nor does it test estrogen levels. It can *only* detect an LH surge. Again with the wick to the left, it has a test line (first) and a control line (second). You get a positive when you get two lines (just like with a pregnancy test). Once again, you are not supposed to read them with the naked eye, but I've found you *can* see subtle changes in the lines as the test gets closer to positive. Once your LH surges you get a smiley face, which again, is a great thing to see and is usually followed by a run around the house happy dance. Here's a positive stick followed by the much coveted smiley face.
The smiley test does not have to be first morning urine, and since A) I have to hunt my LH surge like Wiley Coyote hunts that RoadRunner and B) Sometimes a surge can be short, and if you only test in the morning there is a change you could miss it, I usually use this test in the afternoon, and sometimes even two times a day if I think I'm close to ovulation. Even with ALL of this peeing on sticks, there have been plenty of months that I never get a peak, or a smiley. I can't give you a good explanation, and it's infuriating and stressful, but the months I do get a positive OPK, it's cause for a party, or at least a happy dance for sure.
Officially "waiting to know". It's gonna be a long two weeks folks.
Second insemination yesterday didn't go super smooth, in fact, it was probably the worst one ever (of course because it was the magic "36 hours post trigger" one). My goal was to be peaceful and calm, and I wound up bursting into tears at the technical difficulties. I use these TomCat Catheters that are attached to the end of a syringe. The length enables the deposit of sperm all the way into the uterus ideally as close as possible to the fallopian tubes. This is easier said than done. Depending on the angle of the cervix and the uterus the angle can be a little difficult. Such was the case yesterday. I had terrible cramping afterward, and basically spent the remainder of the day in bed because A) It stormed super bad the night before and there was very little sleep so I was exhausted and B) I was cramping like a son of a biscuit eater.
By evening I felt better, and I'm almost back to normal this morning. I hope that that cramping was sperm swimming up and eggs coming down as opposed to angry uterus spitting out everything that went in there. My cervix was already almost closed for this insemination, so I elected to not move forward with a third one. I'm hoping the last vial can make it back to Cali intact with the holiday weekend.
Holy temp spike batman this morning, which I was relieved to see. Here's this months chart so far; see the drop yesterday and then the significant rise today? This is exactly what we want, and now we need it to stay that high or higher for the next, oh, nine months or so....
I have a great pee stick post for y'all in the next few days *I know, you're holding your breath*
So stay tuned! I'm not sure how great I feel about the insems, or my chances this month, but I'm going with the mantra from one of the lovely ladies on my TTC forum.
One insemination down, two to go! I'll post pictures (don't worry, no girly bits) of the process tomorrow, but for tonight I'm going to take it easy and think fertile thoughts!
I noticed yesterday that I had the sweetest feeling while looking at the ultrasound screen. I guess I realized that one of those little eggies I was watching in there *would be* my baby, and I already love it so much. It may not be this month, or even this year, but my little peanut is in there somewhere waiting for just the right moment.
∞ If I peed on a pregnancy test it would be positive because I got an hCG trigger shot in my right booty last night, and have 10,000 units of hCG swimming around in there *sticks out tongue*
∞ I got an hCG trigger shot in my right booty last night.
∞ We'll do the first insemination this evening!
∞ I have a plan and I'm not worried or stressed about the timing.
∞ I get to open the sperm box and take pictures for y'all today.
∞ Tomorrow is Friday and I have a nice long weekend to rest and concentrate on, you know, creating human life ;)
∞ I have THREE count em THREE vials of sperm and can spread them out over 36 hours instead of trying to guess with one attempt.
∞ I feel really peaceful.
The shot wasn't bad at all, just a little soreness after but all in all very bearable. I'll have some wacky pregnancy hormone/symptoms side effect for the next 2 weeks, but *hopefully* my body will get so used to that good stuff it will decided to keep a little bean around to make some more!
****Turns out waking up with the hormones of a 6-8 week pregnant chick is a little tiresome, there may have to be a nap in my future...
FABULOUS news! I went for the ultrasound this morning, and there are still viable follicles!!!!! *pause. happy dance. shake ya tailfeather* There are at least 4 that could mature enough to be good eggs, with the lead follicles (the biggest ones) being 13 mm and 15 mm. Keep in mind that follicle isn't considered "mature" until it's 18-20 mm, and they grow at 1 to 2 mm a day. SO I'm still a few days away, but NOT TOTALLY OUT! The ultrasound wasn't too unpleasant, and the staff was really friendly. I went for acupuncture tonight, which was SUCH a welcome rest after the crazy weekend.
*Non Fertility Related Moment*
Our sewer system backed up last night and there was poop spewing from every orifice in the house. If this was some sort of test, I think I passed, but Oh. My. Goodness. The gross factor was unimaginable.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT) is the temperature immediately upon waking. Before I wiggle around, pee, make the coffee, or check my phone I rummage around under the pillow for my Basal Body Thermometer, listen for the beep, and slide it under my tongue.
BBT is a wonderfully addictive and informative way to track your cycles, but you need to have some sort of chart to add the data to in order to see the patterns. BBT's have very specific patterns each month, and it becomes easy and natural to find those patterns once charted out. There are different variations of "normal" but you will almost always have at least a biphasic chart (2 phases) meaning lower temperatures before ovulation and higher temperatures after ovulation. It's really fascinating actually. Here's an example of my chart from last month. I use FertilityFriend, which is helpful because it also lets you track symptoms, cervical mucous, position, and medications.
Ok, so you can see that my temperatures were generally lower during the first part of my cycle, then I got a big dip (this doesn't always happen, but is really helpful when it does) right before ovulation, followed by huge jump during/immediately after ovulation. THEN the temps stay high. The longer the temps stay high, the better. If they stay high past the day you would normally start your next cycle, then there's a very good chance you're pregnant. A big drop later in this phase usually means you will start your period the next day. In this chart, the program is putting together all of my information to estimating ovulation (it probably actually happened one day sooner though, after the drop). Once you have 2-3 months of charting, the program gets smarter, and more accustomed to your patterns therefore becoming more accurate the more you use it. There is also an overlay feature so that you can compare months/cycles on the same graph.
One thing about the temperatures, they don't lie. As much as I didn't want to see that temp drop in my chart yesterday, I knew in my heart we missed it this month, and my huge jump today confirmed it.
Here's to starting all over again. *clinks my giant cup of coffee* I'm going to go ahead with internal ultrasound on Monday to check on things in there post Clomid and make sure there aren't any problems. I'm guessing the Clomid is the culprit for these last two bizarre and short cycles, so I guess we'll try our hand at a natural cycle next month. (now where did I put that butter knife....)
I rambled on before about OPKs (ovulation predictor kits) and how unbelievably maddening they can be especially for some lucky folks *myself included*. OPKs are normally urine based, they range from super cheap, to ridiculously expensive, and can provide lots of peace of mind and direction or total confusion and frustration, but usually some mix of all four. We'll talk more about peeing on things later, today is all about another fun bodily fluid, SPIT.
OPKs mostly measure Lh (lutenizing hormone) the hormone that surges immediately before ovulation to shove that eggy outta there. It is normally detectable in urine 12-48 hours before ovulation. This is that magic window we're shooting (pun intended) at with IUI/ICI. The problem is when you are shipping frozen sperm in a 22lb tank from California to Texas, you need more than 12 hours notice. ALSO, sometimes the Lh surge isn't detectable, or is easy to miss, in which case you miss ovulation and wait ANOTHER MONTH to do it all over again. Most sperm banks will guarantee the quality of the sperm out of the bank, in the tank for no more than 7 days. (That was a Dr. Suess moment, no?) Some of them only five. So basically, counting a day or two shipping each way, you have to hit it pretty dang close to have them on hand for possible ovulation, and still be able to get them back to the bank if you don't end up using them. Remember, we're talking about $2,000 worth sperm flying around here.
The OvaCue fertility monitor measure Lh in your saliva. Evidently Lh shows up first in saliva, then your blood, and finally urine. SO the Ovacue can give you a "Peak Day" estimation five to seven days ahead of time *and the crowd goes wild*! This is priceless information for folks in my situation, and helps SO much in scheduling/shipping/medicating etc. You put the sensor on your tongue for five seconds first thing every morning, before eating, drinking and brushing your teeth, and it magically (in my humble opinion) gives you your reading. You can also purchase it's magic accessory (which actually *does* look like a magic wand) the Vaginal Sensor to confirm ovulation after the fact. While that part might seem inconsequential, since it is *after the fact* it's actually priceless. The sensor gives you an idea of how your ovulation symptoms correlate to ACTUAL ovulation AND let's you know after an insemination how good your timing was.
Below is an example of my current-ish (August) OvaCue screen. As the blue days get darker, I'm getting closer to my "peak" day of estimated ovulation. August the 10th was my darkest peak day, and then it turned pink because I got ovulation confirmation that night. You can also see that it has already estimated my fertile period for September, but those dates will most likely adjust with more readings, and as it gets closer. I can see how it would be SUPER helpful to couples conceiving the old fashioned way (notice I didn't say "normal") and with an endless supply of sperm, but it is especially helpful for those of us that are having our swimmers flown in, and having to be so specific on timing. I've had ovulation confirmation on my "peak" day every cycle so far! I'm IMPRESSED!
Oh the things you suddenly become open minded to when it comes to fertility. On the recommendation of several other women on the TTC roller coaster, and my lovely therapist, I decided that spending an hour or so with dozens of little needles stuck in me sounded like JUST THE THING I needed. Turns out when Googling "Acupuncture" in El Paso, you only get two results, so at least I wasn't overwhelmed with choices. I picked the one that had the prettier website (really, cause that's how I roll), and emailed for an appointment.
A few hours later I got a phone call from the calmest woman on the planet. NO. REALLY. She had a soft spoken, slowish speech, and sounded happy. Over the phone. It was one of those moments that make you stop for a second and realize this is a "moment". She worked me in to accommodate my insemination schedule, and I set about looking forward to our appointment two days later.
Her office was about 30 minutes away from my house, and I relished the time to gather myself beforehand. The building was AWESOME. It's an old house in the historical district, and the second I walked in I felt a difference. Im not crazy, (ok...I am crazy, but not about this). It was so cute on the inside. Calm and clean, but bright, warm and inviting, and just the coolest old house anyway with crown molding and a stone fireplace. The energy in that building was perfect, and I felt calm and ready right away.
She had the brightest smile ever, and filled the room right when she walked in. She wore the exact same green scrubs that we wear at our clinic every day, short hair, glasses, and no jewelry. (Important detail to follow-->) She had the best handshake. Strong and firm and determined. This detail really stuck with me after the fact. We filled out some paperwork, looked over the labs that I brought, and then headed back into one of the treatment rooms. I think I kept saying "This is the greatest house", "I love this building", "this is such a great place"! She did a full round of medical questions, fertility questions, looked at my tongue, took my pulse, and up on the table I went. I was face up with my legs up on a block, and still felt abnormally calm. (Aside: I am never, ever, ever calm)
She talked softly, and a slightly slower than a normal conversation, and continued to ask me questions about my inseminations, plans, sperm, etc. I hardly even noticed when she inserted the first needle between my eyes, but I felt the energy from it immediately. The best way to describe it is the feeling that you get when you try to push two magnets together that are the same polarity, you know that "force" that pushes back? It's a milder version of that. Before I knew it she was smiling big and saying "You're all set! Here's the bell for you to ring if you need me, if not, Ill be back in 45 minutes." She told me to relax, breathe, visualize, and rest, which is exactly what I set about doing. This turned out to be more difficult than expected because A) I wanted to know where all the needles were, and what they looked like, and B)I kept thinking THIS IS SO DANG COOL!!! After carefully raising each arm & leg to get a look at my Frankenstein moment, I settled in for the most relaxing half hour I've had in years.
She knocked lightly and came back in, telling me to stay still and "in the zone", and how did I feel? "To be honest, that is the stillest I have been in oh....say..... 27 years!!!" She said "it's amazing what happens when I pin folks to the table"! She removed the needles effortlessly, and we talked about scheduling for our next session. As I got up from the table I felt myself breathing deeper and easier, and feeling calm and quiet. We proceeded back to the front, scheduled my follow up, and went over pricing. She had a "fertility package" already in place! Knew what she was doing! Had experience with all of this mess! I was thrilled. She gave me the biggest real hug, and sent me on my way.
I cried when I hit the car door. For the first time I felt like I had a REAL ally in this whole mess. Someone who understood all of the process and the jargon, genuinely knew what I was dealing with, and how to help me physically and emotionally. I never felt like a bother, or a mess, or crazy (well, crazier than normal), I felt like I finally had someone else to bear a portion of this massive weight. On top of all of that, I felt calm, hopeful, and peaceful.
I've been back several times since, and the awesomeness doesn't wear off. These are "moments". Last visit I asked "Do you think I'll ever be as calm as you?", her answer, very sweetly, was "No".
It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new liiiiife (okay not really but it kinda feels like it), and I'm feelin good. The start of a new cycle is always exciting, and has the amazing ability to make you forget that the last cycle was a complete and utter failure and get ready for another chance at the crapshoot that is TTC.
I'm going big guns this time, no messin around. I'm planning a round of Clomid (most likely 50 mg day 3-7), and I'm going to be monitoring follicle size via ultrasound. I think normal protocol is to do the first ultrasound on CD11, and then assess the situation from there. This will allow me to give myself an hCG trigger shot (the brand and dose have yet to be determined) when the follicles are at least 18mm, and then know WITHOUT A DOUBT that I will ovulate 24-48 hours later. I'm planning to trigger and then inseminate 24 and 36 after in hopes of catching that little eggy right on. I am hoping that this will relieve some of the uncertainty and anxiety that tracking ovulation creates, ESPECIALLY since I don't seem to get very clear signs during Clomid cycles.
For some reason this was an exceptionally short cycle, which is not particularly good news as the post ovulation or luteal phase has to be a decent length in order for the egg to have time to implant before your next cycle starts. Lots of women end up with progesterone shots or vaginal suppositories to lengthen that phase and make a nice cushy place for the egg to stick. I'll cross that bridge in a few days I suppose.
I'll be making my Auntie Kristen rounds today to see all the yoga babies and soak up some more of those newborn baby pheromones. If you see a West Texas Amber Alert, you'll know it's me, start preparing the guest room.
Hooray! The last yoga baby was born on Wednesday, happy (well, mostly) and healthy. I had two year old duty for 48 hours while Mommy was in the hospital, and it went great! He is super smart, and high energy, so Im pretty pooped, but he was a good boy. I now have the theme song to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse memorized, and yell "OH TOODLES!" when I have a problem I can't solve. :)
The most exciting part about all of this for me is that I'm no longer the only one not pregnant!!!!! AND I'm the *only* one getting any sleep this week!
It's been a longer journey for me than it was for them, and I realize that as in most things, it's more about the journey and what you learn from it, than the destination, but MAN I hate long road trips.
Normally reproductive age women ovulate one mature egg, from one ovary every month. Some studies show that women may have one anovulatory cycle per year, but there are not many conclusive statistics to prove this theory. For women having good ole normal sex to try for a bun in their ovens, this situation works out just fine. The bazillion sperm to one egg ratio is alright, and the timing is much easier as fresh sperm can live in a woman's body for pretty much ever (not really, but compared to frozen it seems like it), and timing gets a lot less complicated.
For those of us shooting (pardon the pun...okay not really) for some version of the "turkey baster method", one egg just isn't enough. I've read that success rates for IUI (intrauterine insemination) and ICI (intracervical insemination) can be as low as 6% for unmedicated cycles with just one little eggy. For women/couples spending thousands of dollars per cycle, and waiting months for their BFP (Big fat/freaking/f*#$ing Positive) 6% doesn't cut it.
Enter ovulation stimulating drugs. There are several on the market, some in tablet form, others that require injection into the system. These medications stimulate multiple follicles (the casing that grows the egg in the ovary) so that a woman will release multiple eggs per cycle. Clomid is probably the more widely used specific medication that falls in this group, and happens to be the one I use (not because I necessarily *want* to) . Once you raise the odds a little and have 3 or 4 eggs (or more) released each cycle, the success rates jump up to around 25%. STILL not stunning odds, but certainly better than 6%. Studies suggest, at least with Clomid anyway, your chance of multiples is only raised by 10% (twins) and around 1% (triplets). For most women in my position, this is a risk we are not happy to take, but in my case, after months of natural cycles to no avail, the next necessary step. Contrary to popular belief, drugs like Clomid alone are *not* responsible for Kate Gosselin having a dozen kids and being rude to her husband, or for OctoMom ending up in her ridiculous situation, but they are certainly not without risk.
The side effects for these drugs vary BIGTIME. The most prominent one in the drug literature is multiples (see above), but they also focus a lot on PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). Ovulation stimulating drugs can cause cysts to grow, or new ones to form, so most specialists will order a pelvic ultrasound before and after a course of these medications to check for and monitor ovarian cycts. It can also cause "hostile" (I swear that is the word they use) cervical mucus. For women doing ICI, or even normal intercourse, this can be a big issue as cervical mucus helps the sperm travel, and keeps them safe from the acidic nature of our bodies in their trip through the cervix. Other women complain of headaches, crankiness, fatigue, nausea, etc. Mine are pretty inconsequential, in the grand scheme of things. I get cranky for sure, gain 5 lbs when I'm trying hard not to, and feel like I need wheelbarrows to carry around my ovaries. That last part may very well be in my head, but I definitely feel "fuller". My biggest complaint about Clomid is something that isn't in the books. For some reason it makes my ovulation VERY hard to track. When trying to inseminate within 6 hours of ovulation, this little point becomes HUGE. I normally do *not* get an Lh surge the months I take Clomid, and therefore about half of the cycles I use it, I end up missing ovulation completely and sending back $2000 worth of sperm and wasting $220 on shipping a 22 lb tank clear back to Cali. Since it isn't without risk, this makes for a super frustrating situation.
I *hate* that I cannot have decent odds without medication, wasting eggs, and crappy side effects, but I want a child, of my own, and refuse to settle into societies rules of how that has to happen. Hopefully the benefit will outweigh the risk and I can still be proud of my choices.
So like I said, yoga baby # 2 was born about lunch time yesterday. I would like the record to state that I totally called it the day before at lunch. She is happy and healthy, and I had a breakdown. The first one was a scheduled c-section, so I was a little prepared for it, but this one was a "oh my goodness is 4 am but I think I'm in labor". It is their first child, and they had a hard time conceiving too.... and I was totally "bitter party of one" all day yesterday.
There have been easier sections, and harder times throughout their pregnancies for me. Hard at first, easier for awhile, hard when they started showing, easier again, almost devastating as they welcome their new little peanuts. I realized that through this whole process I never really prepared myself for the day they would actually *have* their babies because I just KNEW I would be pregnant by then, and it would make it a whole lot easier as I had my own due date too look forward to.
OF COURSE I am happy for them, and so thankful that their babies are healthy, and that the deliveries went well, but I'm so ready for my turn.
The baby I lost would have turned one this week, and while I don't think about it daily anymore, weeks like this are always a little harder to swing my feet over the bed and rise to meet the day.
For those of you that haven't experienced it, I'm sure all of this sounds a little dramatic, but mother nature and women's biological clocks are NO JOKE. Mine is ticking so loudly I can hardly hear myself think.
There are four "yoga girls" that take over El Paso together several times a week, I am one of them. We were all shooting for a bun in our respective ovens last year, and they all got pregnant the same week. No. REALLY. The. same. week. They are all 39 weeks now, and the first little yoga baby was born yesterday. I just knew that I would be shortly behind them, turns out, not so much. I am greatly looking forward to holding little baby Arianna this afternoon, and getting some of those powerful new baby pheromones. Here's hoping I can do it without A) Making a run for it, and B) Bursting into tears.
Wish me luck.
No baby snatching, and I didn't even cry. She is tiny, beautiful, precious and makes me even more ready to be in those shoes. I went with my other two *about to pop* pregnant yoga girlfriends, and they were very sensitive. The only downside was the nurse saying "Oh look! You're ALL pregnant!! Oh, well, except you...". Lovely.
Looks like yoga baby number two is on her way today. It's gonna be a rough week.
So while it might seem that tracking ovulation here in 2010 would be an easy task, technological advancements in medicine and everything else are insane these days, so surely someone would have come up with a fool proof method of timing inseminations, or sex even, perfectly for ovulation. Such is not the case as was evident, and not for the first time, this cycle. After weeks of fertility meds, natural remedies, acupuncture, meditation, spitting on things, peeing on things and checking cervical position and mucus, and waking up to a beeping thermometer, I missed my ovulation. Therefore the $2,000 worth of sperm I have sitting in my kitchen will have to pack their little bags and head back to California today. An entire cycle, and $300 shipping wasted.
There are four common ways to track ovulation. Cervical position, cervical mucus, basal body temperature, and Lh surge. Hormone fluxes reign over your entire cycle, and you can tell a lot by what is surging, and falling. Your pituitary gland regulates these various hormones, and the timing of their rising and falling. Immediately before, usually 12-36 hours, ovulation, an Lh surge will be detectable in your urine. These tests are called OPKs, or ovulation predictor kits. They range from cheapy to super expensive, and just wading through the waters of OPKs is like being up to your neck in a quicksand pond full of alligators. Not everyone, every cycle will get a positive OPK. I have NO idea why this happens, but about a third of the time, I get nothing but negatives, yet still ovulate normally. This was one of those cycles.
Lh is first detectable in your saliva, approximately 5 days before your urine. From what I understand it goes saliva, then blood, then urine. So for those of us trying to time the shipping of sperm, this extra notice can be extremely helpful. There is a newish machine on the market that measures your saliva every morning and anticipates your "window of fertility". This machine also has a vaginal wand that provides "ovulation confirmation". This is a jackpot for those of us TTC for multiple reasons. 1) It confirms that you are indeed ovulating, 2) Gives you the ability to track timing after the fact, i.e. okay, we inseminated today, and got ovulation confirmation tonight, so we know we got the timing right this cycle, and 3) It tells you that you can stop peeing on things and have a total breakdown because you missed your window and have to send back your sperm. (as was the case for me this cycle).
Frozen sperm lives anywhere from 8-24 hours once inseminated, so the object is to inseminate as close as possible to ovulation without missing it on either side. Most research indicates that it is virtually impossible to get pregnant by inseminating *after* ovulation, so you always want to err on the side of early.
Since I'm still in breakdown mode, I'll save basal body temperature and cervical mucus and position for another post, go have another huge bucket of coffee, and figure out how to pass the time for the next month.
Since there happens to not be a male member in my little domestic family, the issue of sperm becomes,
well, an issue. There is a whole world of frozen sperm out there that is really pretty fascinating. For instance, it ships Fed Ex, can be frozen for years Austin Powers style, and is incredibly, incredibly expensive for those of us whose households don't have a free flowing supply.
Let's start with the bank, the cryobank. Our particular one is the California Cryobank, one of the most well known and well respected out there. I continue to be so impressed with their professionalism and compassion. We start on their website (www.cryobank.com if you're interested in poking around) with a donor search. You can literally see, pick, and screen more about your potential donor, than most of you probably did for your potential spouses. Height, weight, eye color, hair color, skin tone, build, blood type, heritage, occupation, GPA, complete medical history, complete family medical history going back 3 generations and including aunts, uncles, first cousins, and siblings, exposure to chemicals, almost ANYTHING you can imagine. You can purchase a baby picture of the donors, handwriting analysis, facial feature report, audio interview, staff impression, even see which celebrity the staff thinks the donor most resembles. There are anonymous donors, and open donors. The open donors agree to at least one instance of communication after the child is 18. Of course, you pay a little more per sample for open donors.
I am adopted, and possess a freakish amount of personality from my birth parents both of whom I met for the first time at twenty years old. I would be an excellent nature vs. nurture experiment, and let me tell, nature is very, very powerful. It is because of my background that I A) Have chosen an open donor, and B) am very particular about which donors I consider. I would have been furious had there been absolutely no chance for me to meet my birth parents, both of whom I am extremely close with now, and I would never want to deny my child that opportunity. I also have first hand knowledge that no matter how I raise my child, they will have an extremely significant amount of their biological father in them, both in personality, and physical appearance, and I want to be sure I find exactly what I'm looking for. Now, I realize this sounds a little "designer baby" ish, and I can assure you there are moments when you realize you just scratched through that donor because his sister was big boned and his cousin had acne in high school, but for the most part, you find yourself "attracted" to donors that possess the same attributes you would be looking for in a partner, whatever those personal priorities might be. For me, it's things like intelligence, creativity, athleticism, and a passion for family.
After a certain age, cryobanks "retire" donors. This can create a problem for families that are having a hard time conceiving, or that are attempting multiple children from the same donor. Most banks have a "storage" program for families who want to buy now and squirt later, but that option pretty much depends on financial situation. In our case, we used the very last available vial from our donor last month, to no avail, and had to pick a new donor for the first time since this whole thing started. I was basically "in love" with the last guy, and it was incredibly hard to realize that it wasn't meant to be. I am pleased with our new donor, and hoping we have better luck in the very near future.
Lastly, lets talk price. There are several types of samples, ICI or unwashed, and IUI or washed, are the two most common. ICI samples are samples that have not been pretreated and are suitable for intracervical inseminations. They average $535 for a ONE milliliter vial for an open donor, and about $430 for an anonymous donor. IUI samples are washed before freezing, removing the dead cells, waste material etc, and are suitable for intrauterine inseminations. They are $645 for ONE ml for open donors, and $535 for anonymous donors. Most doctors, couples shoot for two inseminations per cycle, so at minimum two vials per month. Do the math. This doesn't count shipping the 22 lb tank over night both directions, or the extra donor information you might purchase. You can imagine for a couple struggling with fertility for two years how much the costs add up. However, I know when we bring our new baby home, every single cent will have been worth it, but what a struggle in the mean time.
It's been a two year journey so far, and I'm no closer to my destination than when I started. It is the kind of journey that holds hostage every day, every thought, every action, every reaction. Two years of tracking, charting, temping, waiting, waiting, waiting, only to find bitter and complete disappointment at the end of those 28 long days. I have found that fertility is far more elusive than I had ever imagined. It's the hardest thing to go through alone, yet so many women and couples are struggling with this emotionally impossible situation and never saying a word. These posts will be my outlet, and hopefully connect, educate, and give hope to others at the same time.