Our Infertility Story: IUI Round Four – Ultrasound

“And if you were to ask me
After all that we’ve been through
Still believe in magic
Oh yes I do!”
~Coldplay 

  
Just when I think I’m ready to throw in the towel and give up completely on the whole optimism thing, something happens that gets me excited again about the possibility of conceiving.

Monday, I was DONE with this whole process. I was ready to move onto IVF even if it meant taking out a massive loan or opening up a new credit card. I had so little faith that this process could ever actually work for us, and I was tired. I was so so tired.

I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but since getting my period this cycle, I’ve developed a little bit of an “F it all” attitude when it comes to trying to conceive this round.  I have not been eating well, I probably drank in excess a bit too much (birthday week amiright?), and I have not really been getting any exercise, aside from what I usually get at work. I mean, I had my ultrasound yesterday morning and then got fast food and soda on my way to work. Who am I?!

As usual, the Letrozole made me hormonal, though it didn’t seem as bad as it has in previous cycles. I got a little emotional last Friday watching a Discovery Channel show where a donkey was reunited with his best goat friend (okay, I totally cried), and Monday night at work I went from feeling super depressed to super wanting to punch people in the face in about one hour. Other than that, things were not too bad.

What concerned me was the lack of the usual ovary pains I normally experience on these meds. Though nowhere near as bad as the Clomid made me feel in IUI cycle one, the Letrozole is still no picnic. The dull ache and stabby pains are not my favoriote, but at least they indicate to me that the pills are doing their job.

I had none of this type of discomfort this cycle, and was therefore unsurprised when I went in for my ultrasound yesterday to the news that I didn’t have any large follicles in my right ovary. This was a bit of a bummer, because if my follicles were not large enough, we may have to wait until Monday to inseminate. I work Monday nights, and so I would have been forced to go to work after the procedure. I worked after my first IUI (which was super painful thanks to my stenotic cervix) and I felt terrible the whole day. 

As much as possible, I try to take it easy for a day or two after the procedure…and my job is super physical. 

The ultrasound tech continued to perform the ultrasound, moving over to my right ovary, and she gasped. She seemed very pleased as she told me I had one follicle ready to go, but before she said more, she found a second. Both of them were located in my left ovary, and were already measuring at 18mm. “You’ll do the shot tonight,” she told me. “Come in Thursday for insemintaion.”

This was all really good news. To my knowledge, these are the best follicles I have produced thus far, and the first time that I had two strong ones on the same side. I’m hopeful that this increased our chances of conception this month. And yes, I know that it also increased our chances of twins. I was told in my HSG that I have a good size uterus, so we have no reason to cancel this cycle due to the possibility of twins. 

I’m also super pleased that we are going in early Thursday morning, because I am off from work until Saturday afternoon. This means that I can take it easy and relax for the few days following my IUI. 

I worked really early today, so once I got home I stared cleaning. My husband had already taken care of the kitchen (my hero) so I picked up my office, the living room, and the bathroom. After that, I walked to the nearby coffee shop to grab an iced coffee, before heading across the street to get a pedicure. 

I normally tend towards teals, blues, greens, or natural colors for my pedicures. Today however, I was drawn to a pretty light purple. It reminded me of Easter and spring, and fertility. It’s nice to do something different now and then. 😉

  

 I sort of love how they turned out. 

I still need to put away clothes in our bedroom and vacuum, and clean out the fridge. I may even do a bit of meal prep if it doesn’t get too late. My husband is out with a friend, and it will be nice to get things done now so I can enjoy my restful weekend. 

I didn’t think anything was going to make me feel optimistic about this cycle, but I was wrong. The news about the follicles really perked me up, and I find myself filled with a significant amount of excitement once again. To protect myself, I always feel like I should stay guarded…but it certainly feels a lot better to feel joy and happiness in the days leading up to and immediately following my IUI. 

My dearest wish is that this cycle will be the one; that we will get our miracle and start our (human) family. 

March has always been a big deal to me. I love Saint Patrick’s day, my birthday, and spring. I really hope March will bring us a bit of magic this year, and the best belated birthday gift I could ever hope for. 

~Sam
 

 

All I Want For My Birthday…

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.”
~Robert Browning

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The only thing I want for a birthday gift is a positive pregnancy test; the only thing I want is a baby. The only thing I have wanted for some years now, is a baby.

I tried to make a bigger deal of this birthday than I really wanted to, for my friends and family who love me. I told Mark I didn’t care at all if we didn’t celebrate…but he wanted to celebrate me. I guess that’s romantic. And I get it.

Mark’s birthday is one of my favorite days of the year…because it’s the day he was born. That day (that came a few years before I was even conceived) is the day my other and much better half came into existence. I love that he wants to celebrate my life in the same way that I always want to celebrate his life.

I took four days off work (both my regular job and my freelance job), and though we didn’t actually do much, I’ll admit that the downtime was healthy.

We went to Universal Studios on Thursday to meander a bit at Harry Potter World. Traffic was terrible, and the lines were outrageous thanks to spring break, so we didn’t even go on any rides.

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We drank Butterbeer, ate some British food at the Leaky Cauldron, and got the most ridiculous milkshake either of us had even eaten at the new Chocolate Emporium at the way out of the park.

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We met my parents for a teppanyaki dinner at a nearby Japanese Steakhouse. This is easily one of my favorite types of food, but the best part is that the meal comes with a show! My husband is always endlessly excited by that part. 🙂

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On Friday, we finished ripping the tile out of our kitchen to expose the remainder of the terrazzo flooring (we refinished what was under the carpet when we closed on the house last March). We won’t buff, wax, or seal the floor until we install the new cabinets in a few months. Though it was hard work, and not the way I usually prefer to spend St. Patrick’s day, it was so awesome to finally check this huge project off the list.

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Saturday (my actual birthday) we had my parents, and few friends over (and one super cute baby) for a cookout. Since I’m not really drinking, we made fun nerdy beverages instead of booze. I made Butterbeer, and my friend Tina made some awesome pumpkin juice.

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Sunday, I hit the local Renaissance Faire for a few hours. It was a bit windy and dusty, but I always love a good Ren Faire. I picked up an awesome hand drawn map of Middle Earth for my office, got Mark a super cool clay shot glass (he was at work), and even bought one of the “Official” shirts.

Probably the best part was catching up with a friend who owns a jewelry company. She travels the country doing Renaissance Faires, and conventions, while making her own jewelry. She is amazing!

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After the faire, I came back home and got a bit of work done once my parents headed back home. I’m a bit bummed to have to go back to work so soon, but the distraction is probably for the best.

Tomorrow morning I have my ultrasound for our fourth IUI attempt. I wish I could muster up some of the optimism that I had last month, but it is failing me. I feel defeated. Actually, I already feel like this journey is over. At this point, I am just waiting on the last two rounds to finish so we can start IVF. I have zero hope left that IUI will ever be successful. I don’t know how we will manage IVF, but it’s the last hope I have at this point.

The positivity didn’t come all at once last time. Who knows, maybe I will find my way back to that peaceful place before the IUI.

~Sam

Our Infertility Story: Another Disappoinment (IUI Round Three)

“It was one of those times you feel a sense of loss, even though you didn’t have something in the first place. I guess that’s what disappointment is- a sense of loss for something you never had.”
~Deb Caletti, The Nature of Jade

My last post was at 10dpiui, and sort of signaled the end of my hopes for pregnancy that cycle. I wish I was finally posting again today at 16dpiui to tell you that the news was happy, and my 10 day assessment was wrong…but I’m not.

My period came early yesterday morning, one day late…but only actually about a half of a day late since I have been starting my period mid day for the last 6 months.

I cried when it came, as I got back into bed with my husband, and curled up into his arms. I didn’t cry as much as my last failed IUI cycle back in October. That one came as more of a surprise, since I had been so busy working (and it came mid day). This time, I knew we were out 5 days ago.

I had been so hopeful after this third IUI. It was my first since surgery and I had been so certain it would work…so I think I had been holding onto some hope that those 10dpiui craps may have been implantation cramps…but I know my body. We have been at this for over three years.

I don’t know what pregnant feels like. I may never know what pregnant feels like. But I think I have a pretty good idea of what not pregnant feels like. I know that feeling all too well. We start again, with hormones during my birthday week…

So I will be an emotional mess again, on my birthday.

Because the hormones are finally leaving me and I’m feeling like myself again, I’m sort of dreading knowing that I’ll be a mess again just in time for my birthday…a day I am reluctant to celebrate. Because why? What is the point in celebrating?

My husband still wants to celebrate. He wants to get me out of the house and away for a mini vacation. That’s not going to happen. We just don’t really have the money with the very real possibility of IVF looming, and I can’t say that I even WANT to go away anywhere. I don’t really want to do anything.

We will, of course. Do something, I mean. I think we will just keep it low key.

For now, it’s back to reality…back to life. I’m glad my period started on a day when I didn’t work, but today I have to. I have a terrible headache (no doubt from the gallon of wine I consumed last night in my frustration) and I’m tired.

I’m just so tired…

I have a lot of work I’ve been neglecting, so hopefully I’ll have a productive week as start my new two week wait: The wait to try again, though I’m not sure why I’m even still bothering.

Until next time,

~Sam

Waiting for Aunt Flo…

“She’s strong but she’s exhausted.”
~R.H. Sin

  

Well, I woke today at 10dpiui and I think this cycle is a bust. 

The cramps started at work yesterday. The pain wasn’t too terrible, but it took all of my strength not to start sobbing. I did tear up a bit, but otherwise was able to keep myself together. One of my bosses seemed to sense a shift in my mood, and he kept me busy for the rest of my shift which really helped. This is the upside to being open about my struggle at work. Most of the time, I don’t have to explain myself. 

Whatever hope I had when I went to bed last night that the cramps didn’t mean anything, evaporated when I woke up this morning. My breasts got really heavy overnight, and when the puppy snuggled with us this morning he pushed at me with his paws. It hurt so badly. I normally start to slowly develop breast pain after ovulation, and it gets to the point of being super painful a few days before my period. 

I have observed that all of these symptoms are worse during the three IUI cycles we have done. I’m assuming this is because of the additional hormones that I have pumped through my body. 

So, I’m feeling pretty down and defeated today. I was so hopeful about this cycle, and another failure is only going to make our next round even more difficult. I’m going to have to find a way to keep my spirits up before we try again. 

My birthday is in about two weeks. I used to love birthdays, but the longer we try and fail to get pregnant, the more difficult birthdays seem to be. They just serve as a reminder that another year had passed, and I’m still not pregnant. They also remind me that the older I get, the more difficult it will be for me to ever conceive.

I had been hoping I’d receive a nice birthday gift this year in the form of a positive pregnancy test. I guess not…maybe next month?  

Alright, sorry for the super downer post. All that positivity was going to come to a cross road eventually. Hopefully now that I have vented, I will feel a bit better and be able to get through my day? 

Thanks to those of you who read my blog. Your support has meant so much to me. 

~Sam

Our Magical Harry Potter Wedding

“‘After all this time?’
“Always,” Said Snape.”
~Harry Potter and the Dealthy Hallows

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I have not mentioned this yet on the site, but I also co-write a geek fashion blog called, Fashionably Nerdy with my friend Stephanie. I love fashion, and I love all things geeky, so the site is a fun hobby that helps me feel fulfilled. I must admit that I do not post as much as I would like lately, as the infertility has taken a toll on me. Since Stephanie is pregnant, and has been posting almost completely about maternity fashions, I have had a difficult time even visiting my own website. 😩

Today, however, I was feeling nostalgic about my super nerdy wedding.

My husband and I had a super magical Harry Potter Wedding in Pennsylvania on May 18, 2013. I finally decided to share photos from that wedding on Fashionably Nerdy this afternoon, and thought that everyone who reads this fertility blog might also want to see photos from this very special day. My husband is and has always been my best friend and planning this wedding with him was such an amazing part of our story. Since I don’t have the patience to re create this entire post again, I decided to do a simple reblog. If you would like to read about our wedding, you can check it out below. 🙂 All photos were taken by the amazingly talented Raffa Stock, who beautifully captured every single special part of our perfect day.

~Sam

For my husband Mark and I, it didn’t take us very long to decide to create a whimsical Harry Potter Celebration for our big day. Both lifelong nerds, he and I had bonded over multiple fandoms over the course of our five year relationship, but Harry Potter had always been particularly special to our relationship. [
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via Fashionably Nerdy Weddings: Our Magical Harry Potter Nuptials — Fashionably Nerdy

Schrödinger’s Uterus

“The Two Week Wait:
The human version of Schrödinger’s Cat.”
~Unknown (Some E Cards)

Schrödinger’s cat is what is considered to be a “thought experiment,” sometimes called a paradox. The experiment was created by Erwin Schrödinger in 1935, and illustrates a scenario in which a cat can be thought to be both alive and dead, simultaneously.

Basically, if a cat is placed in a box with poison, that will be dispersed at a random unknown time, the cat can be considered both alive and dead until the box is opened.

This is the strange limbo that I find myself in now (and during every two week wait since I have started treatment). Until I receive my period or a positive pregnancy test, I think of myself as both pregnant and not pregnant. It’s absurd, but it influences every decision I make.

I have been avoiding alcohol, limiting caffeine, eating well, taking my time when performing strenuous activities (like at my super physical job) and trying (but not succeeding) at getting enough sleep. The other day I declined to try a raw cheese someone offered me, but then went into a slight panic when I realized I’ve been eating lunch meat all week.

See what I mean: Pregnant and not pregnant. I’m making some of the right choices since I feel pregnant; but completely forgetting about other things, since I also feel not pregnant.

My two week wait started out pretty well. I was able to maintain much of the positivity that has gotten me through the last couple of week and months, and I felt excited again about trying for the first time in years.

I have been keeping myself pretty busy as well. My two jobs are certainly enough to focus on, but I have also been sort of, “nesting.” I mostly say this in jest, but it is how if feels in some small way. Since my husband and I bought our first house last March (a fixer upper) we have had a multitude of projects that we have been keeping on the back burner. We did MOST of the painting before we moved in, but I do still have some touch ups to do, and trim work that has been neglected. However, the biggest task I have been focused on in the last week has been organization. When we moved in, I busted my butt to get unpacked and decorated as quickly as possible so we could feel like we were living in our “home.” This was important to us, but after a while I reached a point (like you do) where I was just over it and any non-essential items were shoved into a closet or the shed. This way, we at least felt “done,” even if it was only an illusion.

Fast forward to nearly a year later and all the closets, and the bathroom cabinets were still a mess of random junk and cardboard boxes. So…I’ve been dealing with that. I have a tentative goal to get all of the closets finished before the one year anniversary of our close. I hold no unattainable beliefs that I will get to the shed in that time…maybe before next year?

So I am now halfway through my two week wait, and feeling more anxious than I would like. I am trying to remain positive, but the negative part of me that has been trying to get pregnant for over three years still isn’t expecting to be pregnant. I hate to admit it, but she is a larger part of me than the positive part.

I am still clinging to the hope that it is good news we will receive in one week, and not more of the same. In the meantime, it looks like my Living Room exploded with all the clothes that I have ever owned ever, so I should probably get back to my organizing.

How do you keep busy (sane) during the two week wait?

~Sam

 

 

Our Infertility Story: IUI Round Three

“Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!”

~Wicked: Stephen Schwartz

 

I’m not sure what changed, or when the change occurred exactly, but I am not the same person that started this blog four months ago.

Without a doubt, this infertility struggle has irrevocably altered me; altered us. No matter what happens next, I’m certain that many of the effects of that will linger for the rest of our lives. For example, should we be lucky enough to conceive, I’m sure I’ll always be a little more worried; a little more cautious than other women are during their first pregnancies. It’s more than that, though. I’m a stronger person than I was three years ago when we started trying to conceive; I am stronger person that I was four months ago when I started this blog.

When I began writing Ariadne’s String I was a broken, hollow, shell of my former self. I cried all the time, and had difficulty finding joy in even the best of days. I was drowning, and this blog became the only life line I could grab out for. During my first two IUI attempts, I don’t think I ever really believed I would get pregnant. I was anxious, paranoid, afraid to do anything that might mess up our chances.

Learning that I would have to undergo surgery terrified me, and I spent the month leading up to the procedure living in abject fear.

But I had the surgery, and it was successful. There were no complications, my endometriosis was not as advanced as it could have been, and my doctor was even able to successfully remove much of it. I came out of surgery a stronger person. Returning to work quickly post op, and feeling myself heal more every day made me stronger as well.

In the two months that followed my surgery, when I was recovering and healing and therefore could not undergo fertility treatments, my depression faded away. I’ve been happy, more relaxed, and I’ve felt more like my true self than I have in a long time. I think taking a break from treatment was good for my mental health. It was certainly helpful for my relationship with my husband. When I am a happier person, he is a happier person.

Just a few days ago, due a jolt of fear combined with hormones that always make me a little cranky, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about starting treatment again. But the very next day I realized how much I’ve changed. I had surgery, and if the doctor thinks that will help, who am I to say it won’t? This realization made all the difference in the world going into our third IUI procedure this morning.

I cleaned the house last night, tediously creating a relaxation retreat in our bedroom; deep cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, organizing my office, and picking up the living room. I even organized the bathroom cabinets (something I have needed to do since we bought the house last March).

I started cleaning so that I could feel relaxed when we came home from the doctor’s office today, but staying busy also kept my mind off of the procedure and prevented me from feeling anxious.

I slept well last night, and when I woke at 6:30 I got dressed in my favorite maxi skirt, my “dauntless” bracelet, a fertility necklace (a gift from a former co-worker), and my new “Nevertheless, She Persisted” shirt. Because I will continue to persist in this as with many other things. 🙂


We had a bit of a wet ride into the clinic, but still made it with a few minutes to spare for Mark’s 8:00 appointment. He was called back after a few minutes, and I read Facebook and looked at the news from my phone while he was gone. After he came up we went to grab bagels and coffee while his sample was prepared.

I felt calm, relaxed, and completely at ease. We joked and laughed as we talked about work, our dog, and our plans for saving money if we get pregnant. Once back at the doctor’s we waited patiently as we looked at more news, and again laughed and made jokes about news reports, political memes, and our own lives.

I almost felt a little guilty. The office was pretty busy today, and a fertility clinic is not generally the happiest place. In the past when I have been there I’m usually quiet, reserved, anxious, and…probably a little intense. For our last IUI they were pretty late calling me in because they were super busy, and I totally lost my cool. This time I was called in nearly 40 minutes late and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. It was then that I realized my calm demeanor wasn’t an act. I felt so calm because I was actually calm. How strange.

When the doctor’s medical assistant came to get me, I hopped up eagerly to follow her. She led me into a room and told me that the doctor was still with a patient, but would be with me shortly. I got undressed and waited, while watching House Hunters Renovation on HGTV. More waiting, and I still wasn’t freaking out. Who is this person?

The doctor came in about ten minutes later. I was pleased to see him, and we talked for a minute and made a few jokes. Have I mentioned how much Mark and I both love our doctor? I told him that I was feeling much calmer and more relaxed than I ever have before. He could tell, and had already picked up on this fact. It was the first time he didn’t have to tell me not to stress out his eggs.

He looked at my chart and realized that we have been seeing him for a year. “One year,” he said. “We need to get you a baby.”

“Well, we have been trying for three years,” I said. “But we have been seeing you for a year.”

“Yes, but I’m all that matters,” he joked.

“Why does everything seem to revolve around the Mark’s in my life?” I asked (my doctor and my husband are both named Mark).

“That was funny!” The medical assistant laughed.

I laid back and we did the procedure. I was bracing for the pain, despite still feeling calm. I have a stenotic cervix, so this process always results in pretty bad cramping. The first IUI we did, the cramping was severe because it had been months since my cervix had been opened for our HSG. I was expecting this to be at least nearly that bad, since our last IUI had been way back in October.

I waited for the cramping and the pain to hit me, but it never did.

Don’t get me wrong, the procedure is no picnic and the catheter doesn’t feel awesome, but I never started cramping. After about a minute, I told the doctor and the assistant that I wasn’t feeling any discomfort for the first time.

“Your cervix wasn’t stenotic at all,” the doctor informed me. “You can jump Mark’s bones tomorrow,” he added with a smile as he walked out of the room.

“Lay here for ten minutes,” the assistant said as she followed the doctor out. “Call us with good news.”

I didn’t know what it meant that my cervix no longer seemed to be stenotic. Was it something that had been corrected via the surgery? Is that something that just goes away? I pondered this and many other things as I lay there in the dark. I was calm. I did some visualization exercises in my mind, and I wondered if this news about my cervix was a good sign.

Since I wasn’t in any pain, we headed to the grocery store after we left, and I picked up stuff to make my favorite British comfort foods on this dreary, English feeling day. We also grabbed lunch at our favorite diner.

I’m in a bit of pain now, but it isn’t from the procedure; it’s from my ovaries. The both feel a bit like they are being stabbed, though the pain on the right side is much worse. I don’t know if this means that an egg has been released, or if it is still in there and just big? Either way, I’m gonna relax a bit today, watch some movies, and make a huge pot of onion soup. If I feel up to it in a bit, I may even do some work.

I feel good. I’m hopeful, I’m calm, I’m excited. I know that this still may not work. I know that our odds of success are still not amazing, but I know that I prefer this happier, more positive self over the gloomy and moody version that had taken up so much of my time.

So I will wait. I will have a fun, relaxing, joyous two week wait, and if we don’t get pregnant this time…we will persist. Our story isn’t over yet. I think it may just be starting.

~Sam