Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Another year older, another egg dropped

These mid-2WW entries are always the most daunting to write, only because I feel as though I have nothing to say. Not that I always write about TTC stuff, but it certainly is first and foremost on my mind. 

A week has passed since my IUI and so far, I've had no symptoms. My ovaries were killing me since the IUI up until Sunday night and I was going to contact the clinic come in on Monday had the pain not subsided. It was like ovulation pain but worse, and longer, and moved from one side to the other. Thankfully that has passed.

I can't really explain why, but today for about five minutes, I just "felt" pregnant. Whatever that means. It passed quickly, but I took note of it and tried to hold onto it as long as I could. 

March is just around the corner. In March, I turn 32. Birthdays have never really bothered me before (my wife is 40 this year and apparently I am not allowed to complain) but as each birthday number passes these days, all I see is my eggs getting older and this TTC process getting harder. I know that technically, I'm at a pretty decent age to go through this. I just wish sometimes that we'd have gone through this three or four years ago... and that if I was going through the process, it was for a second child. 

Obviously, I wasn't ready three or four years ago, and the present time is the best time for us. We're settled and very ready. We weren't like that a few years ago. Our relationship wasn't as strong and we didn't share the same dreams. Now, we are both on the same page and in a lot better and safer place to do this. It's hard not to see the stats for IUIs change for the worse at age 30, and then again at age 35. Which really means nothing. We have two friends in our city who both got pregnant with their first IUI at the age of 38. I get it, and I know I have to get my head out of the research, and just feel within me that my time will come very soon.

Like next week. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today's IUI

Today's IUI was okay. Actually, it was incredibly painful. More than any other IUI I've had before. We've had one of two nurses for all of our IUIs and one somehow makes it painless, and the other - the one we had today - does not have that ability. I was a little sad when I saw her walk into the room (she is awesome otherwise).

The nurse had trouble "finding" where to put the syringe today, so after a while of her inserting things into me, I had to prop my butt up on my hands so that she had a better view. Everything was uncomfortable. The nurse always warns me that I'm going to feel pressure, but it's more than just pressure. Devon asked me what it felt like and the only way I could really describe it was that it feels like an electric shock right in my core. I guess it's the nerve endings...? Anyone? Bueller?

At least it is over relatively quickly, though today with the hiding uterus, it was longer than usual. I have bled quite a lot since this morning. There is still blood when I wipe (sorry, TMI). It's tough because I so want to be "in the moment" during the IUIs, and to look into Devon's eyes as it is happening, but all I could do today was shut my eyes super tight and squeeze the hell out of Devon's hand. I have a very high pain tolerance, so this is all a bit surprising to me. 

As the nurse (who we haven't seen since November) walked in the room, she said, "What are you guys still doing here, you should be pregnant by now!" It was meant to be lighthearted and funny, but it felt like a bit of a burn. She did follow it up with a "well, today's going to be the one," so that is what I chose to focus on. She's actually incredibly supportive and lovely and jokes around with us quite a bit, so I got over myself pretty fast.

I've taken the day off and have managed to rest, without even checking my work email, all day. It's lovely. Devon and I were supposed to go and see our new nephew today (Dev has yet to meet him), but I got a text from my brother that they were at the hospital with him. He has yet to keep down any food. He's had nothing to eat in his three short days on earth. They are running some tests now. Poor thing. He'll be fine, but it's scary. 

Instead, tonight we will continue to build our vision board. We wanted to have some visual aids to inspire us and remind us of our dreams, so I did it the new media way and made some pregnancy and newborn boards on Pintrest. Cutest newborn pics ever. 

So another 2WW begins..........

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

IUI Tomorrow: Contenders Ready!

So we are back at another mid-cycle and are ready to try again.

Things have been pretty normal, I guess. I am back on Clomid this round. Today is CD14 and I hadn't tested positive with the OPKs so asked to go in to check where I was at (I ovulate anywhere between CD12 and CD17).

One of the docs started the u/s on the left side, where there were four follicles - one of which was decently sized (25"). So I was happy. Then she moved to my right and I had two more mature follicles at 24" and 26". I freaked out a little bit, but was told, considering my uterine lining is not thick (thanks to the Clomid), my chances of triplets are few and far between. Anyone had more than three or four contenders and ended up with one baby? Please??

My RE gave me a script for Ovidrel and I walked to the pharmacy before heading back to a bathroom stall at work to inject it. I was kind of rushing because I'd already missed a bit of work and had some deadlines. As I was pulling off the top of the cap, I slipped and stabbed myself in the hand with the needle. Holy crap, there was a lot of blood. The needle bent and I was terrified that it wouldn't work, but managed to get the majority of it into my tummy fat. Once the needle was out, I spent 5 minutes trying to clean up the bathroom. If people knew how sexy this lesbian baby-making thing was, they'd be blown away.

Work today was horrible and I realized as I left early that I'm not doing well there right now. My colleague has four days left before her mat leave starts and we haven't even started interviewing for a replacement. Ergo ipso facto, my work is going to double starting next week. It's year-end and my manager wants me to spend $30k on a project that I don't believe in (extensive "band-aid solution" changes to our website, when we can get a really nice brand new one for $30k) and needs all sorts of quotes, documentation and plans to present to the president this week. I was feeling quick sick (nauseous, crampy, sweaty, chest pain) today and because I was planning on calling in sick tomorrow, I did something I never do and told her needed to go home, right before a big one-on-one meeting about these projects. I don't want to deal with the stress right before/after a possible conception tomorrow and I knew that after this afternoon's meeting, my work load would be impossible and I would feel extra guilty for not coming in tomorrow. Like I don't have guilt right now.

After physically leaving the office, my heartbeat returned to normal, I stopped sweating, my nausea went away and I began to feel much better. I think work stress is affecting me far more than I realize. Unfortunately, I don't know how I can change that. It's going to be a shit show when I return on Thursday, but I can't let my head go there right now.

We're really excited for tomorrow and feel good about this IUI.

If we get pregnant this cycle, our baby will be due exactly 9 months and 3 days after our new nephew, my brother's baby, who was born on Sunday. He's gorgeous. He brings the count to 3 nieces and 3 nephews, so I am feeling rather balanced and blessed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The cost of paying for the family I've always wanted

A scary thing happened this week. I was getting all my banking in order to pay my bills for the 15th. I got paid on Friday, so all was like any other month... I had the money in my account, so took care of mortgage payment, phone bill, hydro, etc.

I have $98 left over in my chequings account to hold me over until my next pay cheque in two weeks.

These two weeks include a $100 doctor's appointment, a $50 hair cut (I can't see right now my hair is in my face) and getting together with friends for dinner - something I set up weeks ago. I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to swing it. [Good thing I haven't paid into those RRSPs yet this year...?]

Right now, I have an account specifically for TTC costs, which is separate from the above account. I saved for about three years, and was able to save close to $10,000. We have already blown through more than 75% of that money. We're only 6 months in.

We have a shitload of debt to deal with outside of this. I married into about $30,000 debt (unfortunate circumstances) and we have been paying that off in the form of a bank loan for the last 4 years. We still have more than a year to go before it's gone. We owe our strata $5,000 for upgrades. We owe $2,000 on our car.

I owe my father close to $8,000 for emergency money that I had to go to him for. I hate owing my father. Hate hate hate it.

Unfortunately, with the amount of debt that Devon has and has had for years, she is unable to save anything to help with this process, so the costs of TTC has fallen solely into my realm of responsibility. I was okay with that for a while, but I am realizing it is not sustainable. Not if we have to do this for much longer. About 30% of my salary (net) goes to TTC costs. And I don't have a measly salary. Though it feels that way now.

So what happens if we have to keep going? Do we just create more debt? I can't imagine stopping just because we run out of money, but how fucked up is that? There is nothing else in the world that you would pay $1,000 for on the off chance (10-15%) that you'd end up with what you wanted. That's up to a 90% failure rate. And that's just IUI. With IVF, we're looking at about $10,000. 

I find that the emotional investment is far more of a struggle than the financial one, and is the only one you listen to through this process. The costs associated with building a family (that most people get for free!) this way makes my stomach turn.

When my family moved to Canada from the UK, we came here with very little money. My parents were incredibly frugal and as a result, I am frugal too - sometimes to a fault. I do not spend money on myself, other than necessities. I don't treat myself. Wherever possible, I save. Right or wrong, there are times when I see debt as failure - even "healthy" debt. It just scares me so much. Especially in this day and age, and especially as the city I live in has just been named the most expensive city to live in in North America (recently surpassing every single US state).

We are selling our condo and we're going to rent somewhere "cheap" for a while (cheap in this city is $1,800/month for an 800 sq ft apartment). It is no longer worth it to own anything here. We won't make money on our place, but I'm hoping to god we break even, after all the realtor/legal/moving costs.

It scares me that I have no idea what is going to happen once we've blown through the rest of the TTC money.

Not a nice feeling. Not a nice feeling at all.





Sunday, February 12, 2012

Antidepressants: Safe During Pregnancy?

I came across a good news article the other day, which I am going to post in its entirety here, as I think its important for people to read. These are the thoughts that go through my head daily. What will I be doing to my future child, when I take antidepressants during pregnancy? The literature out there is all over the place, and each "side" has a strong and valid voice. You can find the original article here. It quotes someone from Motherisk, which is a fantastic resource (for more than just mental health), found here.

Antidepressants and pregnancy
Women must consider the impact of drugs on baby, and of depression on baby, themselves 

Upon learning they are pregnant, most women dutifully nix the alcohol, sushi and caffeine.
But what about antidepressants?

Headlines about the potential risks of antidepressants on a developing fetus, including miscarriage, premature birth and newborn breathing problems, have produced angst for many moms on medication. But of greater concern, some experts say, are the harmful effects of untreated depression on the baby, including low birth weight, irritability and developmental delays.

"There's no path that's really risk-free," said Pec Indman, a San Jose, Calif.-based therapist who specializes in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. "Illness has risk, and treatment has risk."

Which is riskier, of course, is the tough question.

Dozens of studies exploring the safety of antidepressants during pregnancy, especially the popular class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, have yielded mixed results and suffered from design limitations.

A chief limitation is that it's not clear whether adverse outcomes are the fault of the medication or the depression itself, said Dr. Kimberly Yonkers, professor of psychiatry and of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive services at Yale School of Public Health.

So far the most consistent data have linked antidepressants with preterm delivery, though studies haven't shown any long-term effects on the child, Yonkers said. A study last year that linked antidepressant use in the first trimester with a fourfold increase in the chance of a child having autism was met with a flurry of warnings from experts to not read into the findings, as it was the first and only study to make the association and there were methodological weaknesses.

One of the more common consequences of antidepressant exposure to babies is post-delivery withdrawal-like symptoms, including tremors, respiratory problems, feeding difficulties and jitteriness. In a 2006 Israeli study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, a third of the antidepressant-exposed babies experienced such symptoms, compared with none in the control group, though most symptoms resolved themselves within a few days.

Other potential dangers pose a very small risk.

Writing last month in the British Medical Journal, European researchers found that taking SSRIs during the second half of pregnancy can more than double the risk that newborns will develop persistent pulmonary hypertension, a condition that prevents babies from getting enough oxygen into their bloodstream and, if severe, can result in multiple organ damage and death.

But that means the risk jumps from 1.2 in 1,000 babies to 3 in 1,000 babies, which is still very rare.

To compare, the risk of any woman developing a blood clot during pregnancy is 2 in 1,000 and of having a stillbirth is 6 in 1,000, said Dr. Avi Patil, who specializes in maternal-fetal medicine at Duke University Medical Center.

"Many more women will have depression in pregnancy that needs to be treated than will have this adverse event," said Patil, who in December published a review article in the journal Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey examining data on common antidepressants taken during pregnancy.

Left untreated, depression itself could harm gestating babies. Babies born to depressed moms have shown elevated cortisol levels and reduced serotonin levels, plus depressed moms are less likely to seek regular prenatal care or take prenatal vitamins and more likely to smoke or drink alcohol, Indman said. They also are more likely to experience postpartum depression, hampering their ability to interact with their new baby, which can interfere with development.

Studies have associated depressed moms with preterm delivery, low birth weight and low Apgar scores (a test to measure the health of a newborn). Untreated anxiety has been linked to babies with inconsolable crying, sleep problems and developmental delays, Indman said.

Women with mild depression might consider gradually tapering off their medication dose before they conceive (if they have the luxury of planning) or in the third trimester (if they don't) to decrease the risk of withdrawal symptoms in the newborn, Patil said. But if it's likely the mom will relapse, it's best to stay on. He recommends patients seek guidance from their OB-GYN and mental health providers to determine the best course of action, including alternative therapies.

It's never a good idea to discontinue medication abruptly. In a 2000 study of women who stopped taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills upon learning they were pregnant, 70 per cent reported adverse physical or psychological effects, 30 per cent had suicidal thoughts and 10 per cent were admitted to hospitals.

"It was pretty sad," said study co-author Adrienne Einarson, a nurse who has published extensively on the topic. "It can be more harmful for women not to be treated, but no one seems to look at it that way."

Einarson, who is semiretired as assistant director of Motherisk, a counseling service for pregnant women based at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, worries the stigma and misinformation about the risks might dissuade women from taking medication they need. Injury lawyers haven't helped; last year, a family won a $2.5 million settlement from GlaxoSmithKline after a jury found it negligent for not warning the mom's physician of the risks of taking Paxil during her pregnancy. Her son was born with a heart defect.

Several studies have linked paroxetine, the generic form of Paxil, to heart malformations, but others have found no greater risk, Einarson said.

"Now they're going to think for the rest of their lives that it was her fault because she took Paxil," she said.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Picked up off the floor

Hi all.

I just wanted to thank you so much for your support after this week's BFN. Because I've belonged to this community for two years and have followed many of your journeys, there are times when I feel that I have no right to complain in writing the way I'm feeling, as it may come across as trite and disrespectful to those of you who have been trying for a hell of a lot more than 6 months. 

But, once again, I was overwhelmed by your acceptance that yes, trying for 6 months sucks, regardless of what others are going through. So thank you. It's much appreciated.

I feel better today and I'm trying to focus on the month ahead. Hopefully the re-introduction to Clomid and ultrasounds and trigger shots will help. But who knows.

So far, TTCing has not had a negative effect on either my relationship or my mental health, both of which actually surprise me. Yes, I get sad when we get a BFN, but it's not like I lose my shit and spiral into a deep depression. My sadness is real-people sadness, nothing more. With all of the relationship problems that were there at the beginning of this journey, I assumed we would keep having trouble throughout the TTC process. But Devon has almost been more excited about this process than I have. During my 2WWs, when the alarm goes off in the morning, she'll spoon me and put her hand on my tummy and talk to the (potential) baby and won't let me leave the bed until she's filled me with good, fertile energy. She buys baby onesies that we hang from our mantel so that we can be reminded that we will have someone to put in them soon. She reminds me to drink water, take vitamins, sleep and relax. She’s awesome. It is like night and day from when we started this. TTCing has actually been good for our relationship so far. That may change the deeper we get into the process (and the deeper into debt), but for now, I’ll take it.

I’ve been impressed with the mental health side of things too. I feel as though I have a really good grip on things, and am not lying to myself or anyone else about how I’m feeling just so I can go ahead and get my baby. I’ve been honest and smart about this process, and though I would love to come off more meds, for right now, I’ve done all that I can. And I’m proud of myself for that.

The potential for depression during pregnancy and for post-partum depression is going to be the big test, I think. It’s scary, scary stuff. It’s far enough away that it’s not constantly on my mind, but it’s something that I have to give some thought to, and prepare for (or at least prepare my very well-structured support network). The increased risk of miscarriage while on anti-depressants is quite scary too, but I can’t let myself go there, and I won’t at this point.

I will pick myself up from this last disappointment and try to be as positive and inviting as I can be. Whether that makes a difference or not, I don’t know, but it’s better than not believing. 

Thank you for helping me feel supported.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And the answer is.........

No.

We tested with a home pregnancy test at 5 this morning before the official blood test and it was negative. Figured we'd do the blood work to prolong the pain/make sure. That came back this afternoon as negative.

This sucks.

We've been officially TTC-ing for 6 months now (which includes the miscarriage and forced break). Half a year, which I know to many of you feels like no time at all, and I imagine many of you have had to deal with many 6 months of infertility piled back-to-back on top of each other. I understand that in the TTC world, 6 months is nothing, but today, it feels like an eternity. And today, I will let it feel like an eternity. Because I'm very sad today.

Devon and I commute to work together, and on the way home today, she asked me if there was anything else we could be doing. The shitty thing is, the answer is no. And that's what I hate. We are doing everything we can right now, and we are getting nowhere. Drink more raspberry tea? Sure. Not sure it's going to make a huge difference, but that's about all I got.

Tomorrow, I have to go out and pick up presents for my best friend's baby shower, which is on Sunday. I feel like pretending I'm sick on Sunday so I miss it, but I also know that I can't do that to my best friend. I will go. I will celebrate. I will swallow my pain and ooh and aah at the cute baby things. That's what a best friend would do. I'm just going to have to put some walls up by the weekend.

I'm sorry guys - please forgive the pity party. Things will get better and in two weeks we get to try again and all of this will be forgotten. I'm just having a really tough time with this today. I really thought this new donor/new attitude would reward us plentifully. And today, today is very difficult.

I came across a news story about infertility today while I was working (I work in healthcare PR/communications) which struck a chord with me. I wanted to write out the last paragraph, which lists what not to say to someone struggling with infertility. It's a good read and a good reminder:

What not to say

As if infertility weren’t harsh enough, sufferers can become objects of pity, blame and unwelcome advice, says Pamela Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority: A (Barren) Woman Gets Busy, Angry, Lost and Found. Here’s her list of five things not to say to an infertile couple.

“Your day will come.” (It may not.)

“Just relax.” (That stresses people out more.)

“I know a couple who gave up trying to have a baby and just after filing for adoption, the woman got pregnant.” (Miracle stories may not apply.)

“You can have my kids.” (Glib comments dismiss the pain.)

“Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.” (Ouch.)

The best response, Ms. Tsigdinos says, is “I’m sorry, it must be really difficult.” 

And yeah, things seem really difficult today.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

One More Sleep

Believe it or not, I'm 14DPO, my period was due today and hasn't come, and I haven't yet tested to see if I'm pregnant. And I won't. Not tonight.

Tomorrow is another day, and I'm really really looking forward to testing, but we have consciously tried to keep this nonchalant attitude this month. I haven't been super positive about being pregnant, but I've also not given up hope just because we didn't do it with all the bells and whistles of Clomid and ultrasounds and hCG shots. This was one of the most "natural" rounds we've had. And that's pretty funny to say, considering everything.

We'll be going in for a beta test first thing tomorrow morning and I'll know by the afternoon for sure. We may take a HPT in the morning just so I can actually not spend the day freaking out and waiting. The only "symptoms" I've had are several days of cramping, which could be premenstrual or something else completely. Other than that, nada. But a girl can dream, right?

Work is better, and my mood has improved. My workload has actually almost doubled in the last week, but I'm doing work I love so when it's this kind of busy, I thrive. I could do without the stress of deadlines, but that's all part and parcel. My boss is being a little more human this week, and I've been feeling a lot more confident in my abilities, which is huge. I talked to my shrink last week about my mood and we both agreed that it was more specific to my work situation. I think it was a shitty week rather than red flags, which makes me feel incredibly relieved.

Despite my wanting to continue to drop the doses of my existing medications, my shrink has said that it's time to stop. I have not been on so few medications since before I was diagnosed, but I still want to keep going - for the health of this child. I asked him whether I could take one medication out of the factor completely, but he's hesitant to let me, as he still thinks the low dose is significant to the cocktail. I'm a bit disappointed, but I trust him. I also know that I shouldn't be making any major changes during the pregnancy, but I'm confident that what I've done so far is enough for a healthy pregnancy. I'd like it to be a perfectly unmedicated healthy pregnancy, but this is what I can do. And I always said - what I can do, I will.

Now, bring on the test results!