Saturday, March 31, 2012

Even Fertility Friend is Confused...

   
For those who are unfamiliar, the yellow is luteal phase, the red is your period, and the green represents your most fertile days - with the egg icon being your expected day that ovulation will take place. 

Usually, I have three green boxes, max. And all in a row. I'm on CD22 and have yet to test positive on the OPKs, and yet again this week (like last), I had EWCM like I've never had before. For the second time more than a week apart, my cervix positioning was high and open. Apparently, I was very sperm ready. But my OPKs said otherwise. My period is expected in a week.

Again, I suppose if I'm going to have ovulation problems, this month is a good one to have them, now that the cycle is a wash. But it concerns me a little bit, especially now that, in retrospect, I think this same thing happened in January when we had to skip a cycle (I thought I'd just missed ovulation, so I gave up testing after CD18). 

So what's more accurate? Computer technology or a finger up the vagina?

I don't have an update yet on the clinic situation and whether we'll be able to do April's IUI there or whether we'll have to make other arrangements, but I'll find out on Monday. I plan to call the program director for an update and then my RE to speak with him about this cycle, and also tell him whether I choose Clomid or Femera... which I've yet to decide, though I'm leaning towards the latter. My thinking kind of follows X's, who is on "team if-one-thing-isn't-working-it's-time-to-try-something-else". Thank you too for mentioning that blog - I had a look.

I think I'm going to start temping again, and hope I'm more consistent this time around. It's really the only way to guarantee when you ovulate, if you do it correctly. I feel like I need to get back in touch with my cycle. That said, I'm blessed with modern technology that can tell me a lot more than I can tell on my own.

Just wanting this cycle to be over already, so we can get going again...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ovulation, Medication and Indifference

I just wanted to start with a quick note to say thank you so much for your kind words, your empathy, and your support lately. I feel sometimes that I have little positive things to say on this blog and I fear that I can get quite exhausting. So thank you for staying.

My post is three-fold today.

OVULATION

I'm in the would-be 2 week wait, which I guess is more of a 6 week wait. Even though there is no insemination this month (grrrrrr.... still not over it), I've been doing OPKs every morning, because I wanted to see when my "natural" ovulation happens.

Well, I'm almost at cycle day 19 of a 28 day cycle and I've yet to test positive. I started testing at CD10, so I don't think I missed it. I don't really know what's going on. I don't know whether I should be concerned, and I know that it is almost a moot point when I am injecting Ovidrel, because that will (hopefully) force me to ovulate if I'm having trouble on my own... right...? I know I could be having an anovulatory cycle, and I guess if I'm going to have one, this cycle is a good one. Though it will be interesting if tomorrow or the next day I test positive.

Normally, I go in for an u/s at CD14 if I have yet to test positive. My lining is always quite thin, but my follicles are very mature (23-26), so we trigger and do the IUI the next day. If I do ovulate late, I wonder if I should wait a couple of days to work on the uterine lining... but I get scared that I'm going to be too late and it will all be a wash.

You know what I won't miss when I'm pregnant? OBSESSING OVER OVULATION! I can't wait til I have OTHER things to obsess about... like discharge and the fruit or vegetable that my fetus is the same size of this week.


MEDICATION

Fertility meds: I'm also struggling with what to do for the next cycle med-wise. I don't know whether to change to Femera or stay on Clomid. I respond well to Clomid, but it does thin my lining out quite considerably and leaves me unbearably dry. What I want to know is if Femera is so much superior than Clomid, why isn't it used more? Does anyone want to try to sway me one way or the other?

Head meds: I've tossed around the idea of lowering an antidepressant, because I haven't made a change in two months. I guess now would be the time. But I've been noticing my mood slipping, just slightly, but significantly. This is the first time I've really felt a palpable shift since the major withdrawal I was having over a year ago. It scares me a little. I don't think it's to the point where I need to be alarmed, but it's just a reminder that I need to stay on top of things.


INDIFFERENCE

As I mentioned in my last post, my bestest friend in the whole wide world delivered her baby on Thursday. And, as I also mentioned, I was very happy for her. But I realized something important in the wake of her beautiful boy. It's the same feeling I've had with the last five or six really close pregnancies. It's not jealousy - at least not obviously. I realized that what I'm feeling is a strong sense of indifference. I don't care. It doesn't interest me. A new baby? So what? Even for the birth of my OWN NEPHEW last month, I just listened to my inside voice, which was yelling "meh" and potentially had an eye roll or two included with a shoulder shrug.

How awful is that?? I know it's probably not just me trying to protect myself, but I think I would feel a lot better if I was just insanely jealous and a belligerent bitch as a result. Instead, I collapse into myself and shut off. I don't even really care if I get to snuggle with my nephew. I won't say no, but I don't seek it out anymore.

This is a HUGE change from the girl five years ago that would steal babies out of arms just for that feeling of having a child against my chest that smells of newborn and milk.

I miss that girl.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A cruel, unexpected setback

This morning at 9:10, I called the clinic to ask to go in for an ultrasound tomorrow morning, day 14, and they booked me in for 8:30. I got very excited, as I always do when we're so close, called Devon and put the appointment in my work calendar and went on my merry way. I left the office to get water, came back and there was a message on my phone.

It was the program director of the clinic calling. I've never met her. She left a message with no details and just asked me to call her. I did, immediately.

She told me she had bad news. I went to worst-case scenario and thought she was going to tell me that there had been an accident and somehow, our sperm sample had been ruined or lost or spilled or something. But no, she told me that the clinic is shutting down immediately for renovations, and that the lab will be closed until the end of April. "Sorry".

What I got from the conversation: The renovations "just happened". I work in the same fucking hospital, and things like that don't "just happen"... there is a process, which is usually delayed because it's Canadian healthcare and nothing happens fast. They booked me in for the ultrasound yesterday on the hopes that they'd figure something out, but it became clear almost immediately that it just wasn't going to happen. I guess my whole post about loving the fact that the clinic wasn't a state-of-the-art for-profit institution kind of bit me in the ass, eh? 

I was in a state of shock and didn't really ask the right questions, so none of this really made sense. I asked if there was any way possible they could ship my sample to another clinic and she said there is no time and that this month is completely out. All I could say was:

Me: "So I just took a Clomid for a full cycle for no reason?"
Her: "I'm so sorry. I don't have your chart in front of me, but we do still encourage you to have intercourse with your partner."
Me: "That's great, but although we keep trying, we can't get pregnant. Because I HAVE A FEMALE PARTNER".

She was mortified, and very apologetic after that. She was actually a very, very nice lady and with the exception of that comment, was very personable. I was so upset and didn't really have it in me to ask  more questions, but it was confirmed that I would be out at least a cycle, probably two.

Heartbreak.

I called Devon and started to cry and she was absolutely livid. Which, I have to say, was exactly what I needed. She asked for this woman's number - and all the numbers - to the clinic and said that she would get some answers, and that this was unacceptable. I've always been the one to deal with the clinic and she's never had to do anything there, so I was pleasantly surprised when she took this upon herself. Gotta love the features in your partner that you lack in yourself!

Three hours later, when she finally got through to a real live person, she had talked to this program director and to our RE, who heads the clinic. Basically, there is construction going on in a building adjacent to the clinic and there is an air quality issue in the lab to the point where they were worried about what might happen to the things IN the lab. They made the decision 24 hours ago to shut it all down to deal with the issue and, obviously, the IVF patients were top priority and anything frozen took the back seat. They do not have the man power to do all the paperwork to get the sample to another clinic in time.

Devon did push a bit, but basically the RE told her that the "safest" thing to do is to sit this one out. If they rushed it somehow, or let the specimen thaw in this lab and we either didn't get pregnant or got pregnant and there was something wrong with the fetus, they were worried about law suits, which I get. Again, it's Canadian healthcare.

I get that it is nobody's fault and I get that they have to prioritize the IVF patients and I get that shit happens. It just broke my heart today. 

If the clinic is still closed in April, we are able to ship the sample to another clinic in the city - at no cost to us. I imagine we would still pay the same amount for an IUI that we do at our own clinic and not the $150 extra that the new clinic charges, but we didn't get that sorted out yet. Our RE was a complete gentleman to Devon and kept talking in a way that made us sound like a team of three, which was nice for Devon to hear. And me to hear later.

It just kills me because we'd put so much thought into choosing to go ahead this month, despite our concerns about a December baby. We were empowered by the decision and were really excited at the possibility, and now, there is no possible way we will have a (full-term) baby by the end of 2012.

Oh, and at the same hospital, my best friend in the whole world gave birth to her baby boy today. I'm honestly so thrilled for her and can't wait to meet him tomorrow, but the news came moments after I found out about all of this, and it made my heart very heavy.

I know this will just be a blip on the road to this baby, but today, it feels like a mountain.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Waiting for the Big O

[image source]
I love how trying to have a baby has taken all the fun out of the REAL "big O," though being a lesbian, I've never put "orgasm" and "pregnant" in the same sentence. Though some say an orgasm can help conception, there are many streams of thought that suggest the theory has been debunked.

Devon and I have joked about "finishing off" the IUI treatment after the nurse leaves the room, but have never gone there. I'm sure some people do. Our clinic is in an old hospital with paper thin walls, and though we have been known to be a bit risky with our (public) sex life, it always just feels really silly.

Anyway, enough with the double entendres. I'm waiting to ovulate. We're on our final round of Clomid and I'm on CD11. [TMI alert] The last few months with Clomid, I have felt incredibly uncomfortable and very dry. For some reason this month, I am the exact opposite. I actually had EWCM - like I've never had before - on day 10 yesterday, which totally confused me. OPK was negative and I'll go for an ultrasound on Friday, if I don't get a positive until then. So it's just the waiting game again.

I'm still sitting with this IVF decision and unfortunately, Devon and I haven't spent enough of a day together since our appointment to talk about it. We did have a day together this weekend, but it was my birthday and I don't think either of us wanted to make the day heavy. Devon has been incredibly busy with her "hobby" that keeps her out of the house three nights a week, and both of our jobs are too much right now (my boss still hasn't found a mat leave replacement for my colleague that left three weeks ago).

We have also been working incredibly hard at home, and I'm happy to say that our condo goes on the market tomorrow. We listed at a price that, if we sell for asking price, we'll be able to pay off a lot of our debts and a lot of the money stress will be taken care of. Here's hoping. Our place is awesome; it's just not where we want to be.

I don't know how to feel about this next IUI. Obviously, I want it to work, but I think I've finally got to the point where I think it probably won't, but it would be nice if it did. I HATE that I'm there. Maybe that will change and I can jump back on the PUPO bandwagon next week.

It looks like Saturday or Sunday will be our day, if history repeats itself. I'm excited, and I'll try to hold on tight to the excitement to try to generate some positivity.

P.S. I was overwhelmed with the comments on my last post and thank you so much for your words. I wanted to address them in a full post, but know they were very much appreciated!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We have a plan, I think...

...or at least some stuff to discuss, when we have a moment to ourselves.

We met with our lovely RE today (have I told you how happy I am that we switched REs and that we're not still with this guy?). I've said this before, but my RE reminds me so much of my father's family - my uncle, to be exact. Just a tall and lanky old British dude with a fabulous sense of humour, who is incredibly knowledgeable and very patient.

Today was the first time that Devon had met him, as it's usually just me for the non-IUI procedure visits. Devon has missed as much work as she can for our appointments, and after the first ultrasound, I didn't feel she needed to be there for every one, or for a quick meeting with the RE. But today was important, and I was so thankful she was with me.

We basically told him that we're frustrated and need to make a long-term plan, because IUI after IUI after BFN after BFN is maddening. He went through our options and was very honest about everything.

Because I have no known fertility issues, and that I have age on my side, he was quite surprised that we haven't got pregnant yet - or that we didn't keep the one that we did get pregnant with. From what I understand, although Clomid helps with increasing the odds with more follicles, it is more helpful for people who actually have trouble ovulating, which I don't.

As I have responded very well to Clomid treatment, in the sense of mature follicles, he is discouraging us from going the superovulation and IUI route. I am already producing 2-3 good mature follicles with Clomid, and with superovulation, I imagine they would cancel the insem if there were much more than that anyway. I had no idea that the rate of multiples with superovulation and IUI can get as high as 30%. A superovulation cycle will run us about $2,000.

He mentioned switching to Femera to avoid the thin lining conundrum that comes with Clomid. He wanted us to do our research, as Health Canada (our FDA) has not approved it for anything other than use in breast cancer treatment. He told us that decision was based off a very small clinical trial that showed defects in babies born to mothers who used Femera for ovulation, the results of which have been disproved since. Motherrisk, who I see as the Godfather - or rather Godmother - of all things drug and pregnancy related, does a very good job of giving the facts here. The interesting part is that the drug will probably be covered by my healthcare plan if it is not used (on paper) as a fertility medication. So silly. And, paying $50 is nothing compared to the other costs of this. The most important thing to note, however, is that when it comes to actual pregnancies, Femera and Clomid - for my situation - are essentially the same and Femera won't necessarily be better for us.

So, basically, we found out that there is not a heck of a lot to try between IUIs and moving to IVF... and IVF is what our RE ended up, in a roundabout way, suggesting. He was very understanding of our frustrations around time and money, but suggested we consider IVF after one more failed IUI attempt. At my age, the medications would "only be" around $2,000 and the procedure would be about $5,000. Add another $1,000 for sperm/shipping (just one sample) and we're looking at a total of about $8,000. And that's the absolute minimum. The costs can creep up easily.

With IVF, our pregnancy odds will be about 50%. Here is where I get tripped up: Where the hell do you go after a failed IVF attempt? After you've spent $8,000 on one cycle, where does that leave you if you end up with a BFN except in a ridiculous amount of debt? And yes, I want to feel positive about our chances, but I have to let myself go here as I sort through this stuff in my head. In what other situation can you think of in the entire world would you pay that much money for something that may or may not work out - a 50/50 chance? It's the emotional investment, as well as the financial one.

Somehow I feel better about throwing out our $1,000 a month that we spend on IUIs. But of course, so far we've almost spent the amount of money on IUIs that we would spend on an IVF treatment. It's hard to not go into this process thinking you're going to be that couple that gets pregnant on the first attempt or two. Now we know different.


**Can anyone please educate me on a second round of IVF? Specifically what you wouldn't have to pay for the second time around, using the same embryos from the first time. I imagine you wouldn't have to pay for the medications (?) and obviously some of the lab costs. Is it significantly cheaper with subsequent attempts?**

Devon and I managed to grab a coffee after the appointment and have a quick chat before returning to our respective jobs. This is what we've decided for now: We have two samples left of our donor that are paid for, so if we go ahead with two more IUIs, we would be paying for the procedures only. Two more months of IUIs will cost us $400, which is a relatively low cost. So we will commit to two more months of this. I refilled my Clomid prescription, and if this next one is a BFN, I may switch to Femera for the final month.

By May, we will have a better idea of whether our condo has sold (going on the market tomorrow) and a better idea of where our finances stand as a result of that. Ideally, we will be able to make enough money to pay off our existing debts so that will free up about $700/month that we are paying to our bank loan and the $200/month that we are saving to pay back some other money we had to borrow from other sources. Whether we apply for a line or credit, get another bank loan, or cash out my RRSPs, we haven't decided, but somehow, we will have to find a way to pay for the IVF.

I can't take much more than two more BFN, so it feels like the way to go. However, I am having trouble getting past this sinking feeling in the pit of my gut that we will never be able to get out of debt AND that's it's not a guarantee. Of course, a family is worth the costs, but it is tough to carry around the weight of debt with every step you take.

Another thing that I need to get over with IVF is the fact that our baby will not be conceived inside of my body. I don't know why I have such a mental block over that. Don't get me wrong - there is nothing wrong with it and know that it is necessary in a lot of circumstances, but there's just something warmer about it all happening within.

Then again, there is nothing warm about recurring BFNs.

Here goes...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Adding insult to injury

It's been a tough couple of days. I'm 16 dpo / CD31 with a usual 27-day cycle. As I mentioned in my last post, we didn't bother going for a blood test on Wednesday morning after the negative HPT, just because I didn't feel like getting prodded and poked.

Big mistake.

I spent the majority of the day at work on Wednesday Googling negative HPTs on 14dpo that turn into positives. And there were a lot. All I could think about was that I'd peed 2 hours before I took the test and maybe my HcG levels were just too small to measure. I decided that I should probably stop dreaming and get back to work, and was completely preoccupied.

The next morning, yesterday, I also should have gone for a blood test, but it was a friend's funeral that day (I'm not going to go there here... it's been tough) and I felt I couldn't miss more work and the morning was slow.

Last night, I still hadn't got my period, so I took a HPT at 7:30. The faintest of faintest of lines showed up and Devon and I both agreed it looked like a positive test. There was one more test in the box, so we tested again. Another very, very faint positive.

We freaked out and didn't know what to do, so I sent Devon off to get a test that we could determine more easily. She came home with a digital one, which we tested with (same urine) and it flashed "not pregnant" at us. And then Dr. Google told us that digital tests aren't as good as line tests, so out went Devon again last night just before 10 to buy two more brands.

Negative and negative. And probably about $60 later.

Got up this morning and still no period. Tested negative. Went to the lab. Beta came back at lunch time with a level of 0. I still haven't got my period.

Next time, I'm going for the frikkin' blood test on the first day possible. Yesterday's funeral was SO hard, and then coming home and going through all of that was just ridiculous.

We got a cancellation appointment to see our RE on Tuesday, which is before I'd have to start my Clomid this month, so I'm happy.

We need a plan. In a big, bad way... we need a plan.

Yesterday was also my blog's second birthday. Two years of writing about TTC and I feel like things have hardly progressed at all.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Now I know

Not pregnant.

I took an HPT this morning and it was negative. I'm saving myself a needle prick and skipping the blood work today as I want to see whether AF comes today. If it's still not here by tomorrow afternoon, I'll get a blood test for finality's sake, but we're definitely out this month. I only had about two hours worth of pee in my bladder at 5 am (my bladder is horrible through the night), but I really don't think that would've made that much of a difference.

Le sigh.

We'll be making an appointment to see our RE for next steps, as I'm not sure I can continue to do this over and over and over again without a long-term plan. The fact that I'm using the term "long-term" makes it sound kind of depressing. And it is depressing. And exhausting. And draining. 

I have a little bit of a dilemma right now, as I'm torn about whether to TTC next month. If we got pregnant next month, it would be a December baby. I taught preschool and kindergarten part-time for about 10 years and the differences between the two-year-olds born near the end of the year and their slightly older counterparts were so palpable. The young kids always struggled so much more than the older ones. Especially the boys. And then there are reports like this one that make you think.

Now there are exceptions for sure. Our niece is eight and she's a December baby and has always been the most advanced kid in the class. And in the end, it all evens out, but year after year - especially from September through to December - I'd see these little guys suffer in school and it didn't seem fair that they were tossed in with a group that obviously weren't their equal.

Maybe it's silly to think like this. And it will break my heart that if we do sit this one out, we will not have our baby in 2012. And wouldn't a Christmas baby be the best present ever? I don't know. Maybe it's not even anything to lose sleep over, because it's so kid-dependent. Hell, our donor could be a dumb-ass for all I know and our January baby could be the thickest in the class... of course those genes wouldn't come from me! ;-)

So, do I fill my prescription for Clomid, or do I sit tight and wait until we meet with the doctor? 

Maybe today is not the day to decide. 

Thanks, as always, for your support.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I don't know

AF was due today and hasn't come yet (7:30 pm). I've been wearing a pad all day because I've just felt like she'll show face any minute. I feel very crampy, and it initially felt like period cramps, but I never get them this bad before I start fully bleeding. [TMI alert] I kept going to the washroom at work because I could feel discharge in my underwear; I assumed it was my period, but every time I went to the toilet to check, it was just clear and wet CM. And a lot of it. I've heard various things about CM in early pregnancy, so I don't know what to think.

It's getting to the point - and I find this most months - where I just want to know, one way or the other. I find the first week of the 2WW so much easier than the second. JUST TELL ME YES OR NO, DAMMIT!

My mother is almost as antsy as I am. She's actually very cute. And I've never said that about my mother before.

I have my blood-work first thing tomorrow morning, (14 DPO) if AF doesn't come overnight. I will probably take an HPT first thing in the morning so that I'm not waiting all day on the test results to come through. I was tempted to test tonight, but I refuse to do another "early" test... though it's hardly that early anymore.

I don't know.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I rarely test early, but...

I got very antsy this weekend. Especially as the "symptoms" I was feeling late last week seem to have ceased. So I tested on Saturday, which was 10 DPO. The test was stark white and definitely negative. 

As soon as I saw it, I wondered why the hell I'd tested, when I knew that a negative would just be a kick in the ribs, but even Devon (who is usually very against testing early) really, really wanted me to test. I am trying to tell myself that it was too early (which it was) and that the test was wrong (or at least my beta was too low to show up). 

Regardless, I will not be testing until Wednesday morning with a blood test. I'll probably use an HPT that morning so I am not waiting all day to find out the results. But we'll see. I had some cramps this morning which felt like period cramps. My period is due tomorrow, so maybe I'll find out sooner than Wednesday. I hope not.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Huh

8 days past ovulation:
  • Mild cramping/pressure - check.
  • Fatigue - check.
  • Gas - check.
  • General and inexplicable change in the the way I feel - check.
It could just be something I ate and the lack of sleep. But hell, it could be something else too.