life, love, and maybe babies

Friday, August 29, 2014

what a tangled interweb we weave

Three years ago when I finally came to grip with the fact that Hubs and I needed help in the baby making department, I became best friends with a horrible, nasty, awful bee-otch.

Her name is Internet.

Don't get me wrong. The web is good - maybe even great - for all sorts of things. If it weren't for the Internet, I wouldn't have this blog and access to all of you ladies and gents who can share in my reproductively challenged misery. After all, without the Internet, I would actually have to ask my doctor in person, "now where exactly are my ovaries again?" Thanks to the magic of Google (and not Bing. Never, ever Bing), I can just bring up a wonderfully explained and graphically colored diagram of my inside lady parts and figure it out on my own.

Too much of a good thing, though, is not so good. And after about three months into our fertility treatments, I found out just how not great the Interwebs can be for me and other ladies like me.

Take for example, my dive into Clomid. I knew Clomid helped me ovulate and therefore produce follicles, but the Internet opened me up to all kinds of things that could go wrong with Clomid.

Hot flashes (those turned out to be legit)
Weight gain
Decreased urination
Increased urination
Chest pain
Vision Changes
etc. etc. etc.

As usual, reading the list completely freaked me out, but I knew that not all side affects will hit every person that uses the drug. So I did the logical thing and went to some infertility message boards on Clomid.


I planned to be there only a few minutes, but got sucked into this huge thread where a girl used Clomid and it made her gain 20 pounds and bleed internally and she puked three times a day and her husband left her and her dog died.

Okay, it wasn't that dramatic, but her story was scary as hell. Which prompted me to call my husband at work and relay the entire story. It went something like this:

Hubs: Hello?

Me: Carrie gained 20 POUNDS on Clomid.

Hubs: (shuffling papers) I'm sorry, what? Who is Carrie?

Me: This girl on an infertility message board. She gained 20 POUNDS, babe. TWENTY! And she puked a lot.

Hubs: Is this someone that's being treated at our clinic?

Me: Um, no. She lives in Andover, I think.

Hubs: So you don't know her personally and she doesn't live anywhere near us?

Me: No.

Hubs: Is she the same height as you?

Me: No.

Hubs: Is she the same build? Are her circumstances anything like yours?

Me: No. Actually, she doesn't ovulate ever. And I think she has PCOS. Her dog's name is Gino.

Hubs: You don't even have PCOS, babe. And you ovulate every month. So she's nothing like you and you don't know her situation. (mumbles to his co-worker about where to eat for lunch) You're making yourself crazy. Stay off the Internet.

Me: BUT WHAT IF I GAIN 394394 POUNDS? Will you still love me?

Hubs: I'm hanging up now.


But I can't stay off the Internet. In the early days, before IUI's and potential IVF cycles, I would get online right around cycle day 27 to symptom spot for preganncy. And I always had them all.

Dizzy?   Check! (Although I did forget to eat lunch until 3:00 yesterday. That could have contributed.) Let's see what else there is.

Discharge?     YES! 

Sore boobs?    YES! But always yes with the sore boobs. Every damn month.

Metallic taste in mouth?     OMG I TOTALLY HAD THIS ON SUNDAY. I remember my Cheetos tasted like pennies. I am so pregs.

And then Flo would appear three days later and my heart would be crushed and I'd want to die. And Hubs would - once again - remind me to STAY OFF THE DAMN INTERNET.

The real issue is, the Internet gives me hope. I see all those flashing emoji's that say "BFN on 5-12!" and I think to myself, "that could be me next month!" I want to have a flashing emoji!

So I hope. I carry it with me every day.

My current fertility doctor encourages hope, but vehemently discourages going online because there is such a huge amount of misinformation out there. If every time I come to his office I have a list of all the reasons he's treating me incorrectly, then what the hell am I paying him for? I mean, we want our doctor's to be experts, but then we second guess them? And while there is nothing wrong with being your own advocate and researching options, at some point, we have to just 


We have to try and trust in our doctors and believe they are doing all they can to get us knocked up, short of crawling up in our vaginas and implanting the damn egg themselves. 

So ladies, use the Internet. Use it for support, use it for laughs, use it to look at funny cat photos, use it to shop. But if you can, steer clear of using it to self-diagnose and second guess your doc. Your job is to lay back (literally), put your feet up (literally) and let the magic happen.

And try not to gain 20 pounds.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

no fear

This is a story about the day I walked into my current fertility clinic to begin the journey to IVF. The day I had waited for for months.The fertility clinic in our home town wasn't doing it for me. I felt like a number, I felt like a chore. I didn't feel that my opinions mattered or were even considered - I just needed to shut up and do what the doctor told me.

No thanks.

I approached my husband very carefully about the idea of switching clinics. We'd spent quite a few dolla dolla bills on treatment at our current clinic, and to him, all seemed fine. But in my gut, I knew I wanted to try somewhere else before we moved from IUI to IVF. So being the thorough gal I am, I did my research. I printed out the live birth rates of the clinic in town and the clinic in Colorado I wanted to try. There was a nearly 20% difference in live births between the two. 

That is massive.

In addition, I calculated how much one round of IVF would cost at home, and how much it would cost in Colorado with travel included. It was about a $6,000 difference, which is no small potatoes. But when you're already spending $40k, what's another 6 for a 20% higher chance of success?

My ego loves to think that my research and carefully crafted speech is what convinced Hubs to go for it, but my ego is full of it. Hubs will do whatever it takes to make me happy, and if flying to Colorado is what's going to do it, he'll sign on the dotted line. 

If we get a baby out of it, even better.

The day finally came for our "one day workup" in Colorado. That's just fancy shmancy speak for "we're going to poke a lot of holes in you and look up your hoo ha a lot. Oh, and Hubs gets to make love to a plastic cup."

All new patients at this clinic who are participating in IVF go to a one hour "class" before they begin their work up. This class is meant to give you a bird's eye view of what is coming down the road. The class began at 7:00 AM.

Hubs and I pulled our rental car into the parking lot at 6:40. Because preparedness.

We were the first to arrive, so we had the conference room all to ourselves. We were instructed to go in, relax, and wait for the other couples. I had been nervous/excited the entire night prior when we flew into the airport, but now I was really feeling something new.


We pulled open the glass doors to the conference room and stepped inside. It was a large rectangular room, with the requisite wood table in the middle, a projection screen against the wall, and several boxes of tissue boxes perched on the table. Standard stuff.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, I started shaking, unable to catch my breath. Tears streamed down my face. My poor husband. He had no clue what was wrong. Was I getting cold feet? Did I want to go home? After all, this is what I wanted, what I begged us to do!

I stood there, crying, and couldn't take the thoughts floating around in my head and put them into my mouth.

How did we get here?

Four years ago when this all started, I never thought it would go this far. I made jokes after the first year saying, "well, maybe I'll just have to do that thing where they take the egg out and cook it in the microwave!" I joked about it, because I didn't think I'd ever get there.

Four years ago, if you had told me that Hubs and I would be going to go to Colorado for potentially two weeks in 2014, I would have said, "Shit, what contest did we win?" Never would I imagine that it would be for this.

And yet there I was. In a conference room I shouldn't be in. It shouldn't have come to this. It should have been easy to get pregnant, because we're good people. We deserve to be parents to our own biological children. We deserve to have something tangible grow from the love we have for each other.

Why the feck is this happening? Why do we have to do this?

And what if it doesn't work? In that moment, I was completely crippled with fear that IVF wouldn't work...and then where would we be?

Hubs put me in a much needed bear hug and softly reminded me that this is necessary. With infertility, if you're not moving forward, you're standing still. If we want a child, this is what has to happen. We made it this far, and we have to keep pushing on. Past the fear, past the anxiety. Forward.

And so we did. We pushed on and made it through the day. A lot of information went in my ears, but I don't know how much of it stuck in my brain. It didn't matter though, because I left feeling hopeful. I left feeling glad we came, and my husband's thoughts echoed my own.

Forward. Always forward.

Our journey is finally beginning. We just have to have the dedication to see it through.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

'til infertility do us part

We all took vows when we married our sweethearts. We promised to love each other, no matter what.







What amazes me as I look back on those vows, is how little I really knew about them. I really wasn't even paying attention to them. After all, I was fit, happy, healthy, employed and marrying a super hot dude that I loved more than life. The only vows that I related to at that time were health, better, and rich. I planned to have them all in spades.

The vow that I paid the least attention to was "sickness." I mean, c'mon. My husband and I were 27 years old when we got married. We weren't going to get sick anytime soon. "Sick" was for other people. People with a history of cancer and allergies and all that stuff I never paid any attention to.

I didn't even know infertility fell under a category of "sickness." But it does. Infertility is a disease. And while it isn't terminal (thanking my lucky stars on that one), it is a disease. It plagues the heart, the mind and the soul. It sneaks up on you very, very slowly. It sneaks up on your marriage even slower.

I remember the first time I met with my infertility specialist. She rattled off a list of the ways infertility was likely going to affect me if I moved forward with treatment.

Financially (rich/poor) Emotionally (better/worse) Physically (health/sickness)

Little did I know every single one of those wedding vows I spoke 7 years ago would be tested by being infertile. But they are. Every single day.

I'm luck to have an incredibly supportive husband. He's in it all the way. He knows about my treatments, he knows about the hormones, and he does his best to empathize with me. But at the end of the day? He will never fully understand.

He will never understand the conversations I have with myself when I'm peeing on that stupid stick for the 349th time, at 2:37 in the morning because I had a dream that the IUI worked.

"Okay, Kim. It's probably negative. It's not a big deal, no one gets a positive on the first try. Just be prepared for the negative. Be ready. But also, be optimistic! No wait, optimism is a gateway drug. It leads to thoughts about baby announcements and strollers and showers and epidurals shots. Don't be optimistic, but don't be a pessimist. I wonder what Hubs will think when I show him the test and it's POSITIVE! But it isn't going to be positive, and I've got to accept that. BUT WHAT IF IT'S POSITIVE!!!!"

He will never understand waking up at 3:00 in the morning experiencing hot flashes like a 53 year old menopausal woman because the stupid Clomid is fecking with my hormones. He doesn't know that every Facebook post with a baby announcement is like 100 daggers in my heart. Even though I smile and say, "Aw, good for them. No really, it's okay. I'm okay, Hubs. I'm happy for them." 

He will never understand how much a negative pregnancy test hurts me, even though I knew it was coming. He doesn't understand that it IS a big deal, because somewhere, in the back of my mind, I really did think this was the month. After all, he's the one who encourages optimistic thought. What he doesn't understand, is that when I do force myself to be optimistic and the result isn't positive, it hurts that. much. more. And the fact that he's so calm about it, so positive, makes me want to slap him across the face and scream, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! It's NEVER going to be okay!" Even though it probably will be...eventually.

Most importantly, Hubs doesn't know that I'm so mentally and emotionally exhausted from all of this that sometimes I don't even know if I WANT a baby anymore. Maybe it's too much. Maybe if I do finally get pregnant, I won't be able to handle it. I mean, is the universe giving me an infertile stamp because it inherently knows I'm not able to be a mother? Am I forcing nature to do something it's programmed not to do for a reason? Should my amazing stepdaughters be enough for me?

Infertility has been hard on my marriage. We argue about silly things, ridiculous things. He wants me to be more positive, I want him to be more realistic. He wants to be left alone, I need hugs and warmth and kisses. After an argument, we always find our way back to each other and that's how it should be. But each fight makes the next month just a little harder. We lose a piece of ourselves every time that damn stick says "not pregnant." And we can't get those pieces back. 

We're both fighting the same fight. I might be the one who is infertile, but he's suffering just as much as me. And in those moments when we're each hurting the most, in a strange twist of irony, that's when we hurt each other. For no reason. For no reason at all.

That sickness/health vow is such a big part of our lives right now, it's hard to imagine that at one time, it was at the bottom of my list. But here we are, and we're in it - for better for worse. We're a little less rich and a little more poor, but we're here. Fighting.

And better is coming. I know it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Go for launch...

Houston, we don't have a problem.

I just heard back from the doc office and my 3 day levels (which were tested via my blood last week) are all good. I can't remember what all they tested. Something with an F and an L...all I know is put my personal brand of vampire food under a microscope and looked at it and were happy with what they saw. This means we are on track to do an IVF cycle in September!!

Pardon me while I hyperventilate.

This hasn't been an easy week for me. I traveled a lot for work, I saw 3 pregnancy announcements on Facebook, I fell off the horse and got back on Dr. Pepper...I don't know. It was just rough. But news like this, even though it's small news, is recharging my batteries.

This is what it's like with infertility. The smallest, most mundane thing can make all the difference in the world. Just hearing my RE say, "your levels are exactly what we were hoping for" put me right back where I wanted to be. Back in Hopeville.

To make things even better, I heard back on the terrible, awful endometrial biopsy I had to endure a few weeks back. I found out that the protein the biopsy tested for is, in fact, missing for me. This could help to explain why I haven't had any luck with getting pregnant. At the very least, it is a contributing factor. Just having that teeny bit of knowledge has taken me from "unexplained infertility" to "we might sort of understand what's going on infertility."

It's a small step. But I'll take it.

Happy weekend to you all!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

when in doubt, don't ask

It amazes me how insensitive and simultaneously nosy people can be when it comes to what they will ask a complete stranger.

Case in point, the other day I was getting my eyebrows waxed with a gal I had never used before. If you've never had your eyebrows waxed, the whole process takes maybe 6 minutes from start to finish. You're esthetician isn't someone you spend a great deal of time with, and it isn't someone you're likely to share your deepest secrets with.

But this gal saw the ring on my finger. She complimented it and asked how long I'd been married. I replied that we just passed the 7 year mark in July and yes, we were very happy and loved our life. Yes, we do own a house and we love it.

You guys. The question that followed floored me. She did some mental math in her head (it took awhile) and then she whistled quietly and said, "Wow - you'd better move along if you want kids, right?"

I almost fell off the table. I also considered pouring the hot wax on her head. I did neither and simply replied, "if it happens, it happens." 

(Incidentally, she got no tip.)

This leads me to ask you...what is the most annoying fertility question or statement you've ever been faced with? For me, it is the following:

1) You're not drinking tonight? ARE YOU PREGNANT!!??

This question seems to come from people who a) barely know me and b) I don't particularly like. Maybe the fact that they think this is an acceptable question is what makes me not like them. The fact is, there are approximately 465 reasons that I can think of that could contribute to me not drinking.

* Maybe I'm a recovering alcoholic
* Maybe I actually believe in designated drivers and have assumed that role tonight
* Maybe I'm on medication 
* Maybe I'm trying to get pregnant and haven't succeeded yet
* Maybe I've just completed an IVF cycle or IUI cycle and have been told not to drink 
* Maybe I hate beer and that's all that's here
* Maybe my social life doesn't involve around alcohol

It really doesn't matter the reason. There is no time and no place in which it is acceptable to ask a woman who is without an alcoholic beverage if she is pregnant. NEVER.

I mean, would you walk up to a dude at a strip club and say, "I noticed you don't have a boner. ARE YOU ERECTILEY CHALLENGED??"

2) I totally know how you feel. It took me 6 months to get pregnant with Charlie...

I feel like this happens a lot when I do confide in someone (usually the wrong person) that we are struggling with infertility. I understand it comes from an honest place, but where did this obsession with one-upping each other start? Why can't someone just say, "Ooh, that sounds like a tough situation. I'm sorry to hear you're going through that. I don't know a lot about it, myself."

At the same time I start to get angry, I have to remind myself that a huge percentage of the population has NO idea what infertility really entails. They don't understand it is a medical issue. They don't know what constitutes an infertile person. And, hey, 4 years ago, neither did I. So I do try and cut some slack - if I have the patience. 

3) Well, enjoy it while you can. Before Cassie joined us, we went out to the movies all the time and now we can't! It sucks SOOOOO bad.

This is one of the most insulting things I've heard during my infertility. Seriously? You think I should be glad that I'm spending thousands of dollars and putting my body through some of the most excruciating experiences ever because I can still go to a movie when I want? As if that's what is important to me? Again, this is usually someone who just isn't thinking about what they're saying, trying to put a positive spin on things. But it doesn't work and usually makes me want to hurt someone really, really badly.

4) I heard you're struggling with getting pregnant. Want one of mine?  HEE HEEE HEE! 

 Seriously. Shut up.

5) I just KNOW it's going to happen for you. OOH! If you get pregnant by March than our kids will only be 3 months apart! Maybe they'll get married someday!

Here's my problem with this. I understand it's people thinking positively and wanting things to work out. But you can't possibly know it's going to work out. There are people who never have biological children. They are out there...and I could be one of them. At some point the money will run out. At some point, we will have to walk away if things don't happen. And you promising me that it will all work out? Just makes me feel that much worse.    
6) You need to try acupuncture/clean eating/paleo diet/yoga/gargling orange juice/praying.

If my doctor isn't telling me to do it, I'm not doing it. Thanks, bye.

7) Okay, you totally won't believe me, but I knew this girl...

...who couldn't get pregnant and then she stopped trying and then they decided to adopt and the day they filed their paperwork they got pregnant?

Yes, I've heard that story 42 times. I've heard it all. Please don't tell me any more stories. 

Maybe just listen to mine.


Monday, August 18, 2014

to tell or not to tell

To be an infertile person is to live a life of tough decisions - most of which you get no advice on (except from people you don't want advice from). 

Should you give Clomid a try? Should you just skip straight to IUI? What about going to IVF right away? Should you get acupuncture? Should you eat a gluten free diet? Should you stand on your head for 15 minutes after sex?

Questions, questions, questions...with too many confusing answers. Like many dilemmas in life, there is no official "Infertile Lady's Guide to Getting Pregnant." (At least not yet - I might have to write one.) But before you even think of starting down the road of treatment, you have to answer one very, very important question.

Who are we going to tell?

The answer to this question can drastically impact how your journey through infertility goes. Tell too many people and you'll feel overwhelmed with giving constant updates, especially when that update is "nothing has happened."

Tell too few people and you become a giant emotional balloon that's set to pop at any moment. And you don't want that shit popping at the wrong time. 

The situation is different for every couple. As for me, I'm a teller. Screw wearing my heart on my sleeve, I wear it on my forehead in neon flashing lights. However, I learned the hard way that if too many people know what's going on with my infertility, I start to feel completely out of control and get major anxiety.

After several years of playing the infertility game, I've learned to be selective about who I share our story with, and who to withhold it from. (Obviously I'm now okay with strangers knowing since I've started this blog.) This isn't really an advice blog, but I'm going to hand out some anyway. Here's my take on who to tell and who to keep in the dark.

Do Tell: Your best friend

I realize you're super popular and you have 3,449 best friends. But you might consider whittling that down to a smaller circle of peeps. Friends are perfect because they're always on our side, they don't judge, and they're comfortable enough to tell us if our "meet our doctor for the first time" outfit is hideous.

Chances are, when you and your Hubs (partner, etc) first started trying for a bambino, you told at least one of your friends. I mean, who wouldn't? So that friend knows that things haven't progressed as you would have hoped. She will be more than willing to listen to all your boring acronyms (TTC, AMH, HSG, BFP, BFN) and will probably learn them just as easily as you - because she really cares. 

The absolute best thing about this friend? You don't have to begin every conversation with "okay, remind me, now how much have I told you?" You've kept her up to speed on every progesterone insert, every cramp, and ever WebMD search that said your kid is going to have three heads. She's a keeper. All the way through from beginning to end.

Don't tell: The office gossip

It's hard not to let people at work know what's going on, because many of them are likely people you call friends. Just be careful. There's always going to be that guy or gal who doesn't particularly care about what you're going through - they just want some dirt so they can say they knew first. This is the person who, once you've announced on Facebook that you did get pregnant, will post a comment that says, "I'm so glad you can announce! I've been DYING to tell people!" when they've actually already told everyone, including the copy repair guy. 

Maybe tell: Your boss

This is a case by case basis. I'm certainly not going to tell you what to share with your manager. I will say, at the beginning of the infertility journey, keep things close to your hat. Your boss need not know every single medical thing that's going on with you. But if all of a sudden, you're needing to leave for three appointments a week and you just say it's "for health stuff," you're going to attract some raised eyebrows from the boss man. Unintentionally, you might give the impression that you're looking for a new job. For me, I shared everything with my manager after we made the decision to go forward with IVF. Up until then, I was able to use PTO and maneuver my appointments. With IVF, I know my moods are going to be wackadoodle, I'm probably going to get cray cray bloated, and I may or may not become a modern day Jekyl and Hyde. My boss deserves to know what the heck is going on with me. And thankfully, my boss is amazing and supports me all the way.

Think before you tell: Your family

This is another good one to think all the way through. At the beginning of my infertility journey, my parents and siblings and in-laws seemed like a no brainer. They're my family and I love them and they care about me and Hubs. Duh. But as time passed and the doctor appointments and medications and potential issues grew more intense, I found myself unintentionally leaving some members of my family out of the loop. Not because I don't love them, but because I was getting super stressed about telling them. Why? Parents/siblings/in-laws are close to you. They understandably except to be told all the details right now before you tell anyone else because I'm your mother/father/brother/sister. When all you really want is for them to say, "hey, I know you went to the doc this week. Hope it went well. Want to go eat guacamole?"

In addition, sometimes family can overreach. They love you SO much and want to help, and often times they can be the first ones to offer advice they found on their own (also likely through WebMD). Thankfully, because they're your family, you should feel no guilt in saying, "We're working with a doctor that is very knowledgeable, so thanks for your input, but we'll just stick to his advice for now."
Do tell: Anyone you feel like telling

In all truthfulness, you can tell whomever you want, whenever you want. Yes, it may backfire at some point, but you're a human being and sometimes you need to talk.

A few weeks ago I was talking to a client of mine over lunch. We were chit chatting, but in the back of my mind, all I could think about was my upcoming trip to Colorado for our consultation. My client, being the sharp gal that she is, knew I was distracted. She asked if I was doing okay and boom...the whole story came out. I started to apologize all over myself for bogging down our conversation with my personal problems, but she stopped me. Turns out, her children were both conceived with IVF and she was completely empathetic and glad I told her. Awww...

It doesn't always work like that. There are going to be some people that you spill the beans to, that end up being less than supportive, or nosy or know-it-alls when it comes to your infertility.

Ladies, listen to me.


If you get to a point where sharing is no longer caring, you have every right to say, "from now on, we're just keeping fertility stuff to ourselves. I appreciate your concern and I'll be sure to tell you if anything happens!" Let that be the end of it. The three people who need to stay informed are you, your partner and your doctor. Other than that, you make the decision on who gets to join your circle of trust. Feel free to boot people out and then let them back in again. Like I said before, there is no instruction manual on this, so you can do what you want.

 And if anyone gets mad, just blame the hormones.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Inside Out: My Super Awesome Experience with an Endometrial Biopsy

Warning: this post is a little graphic.

Getting poked and prodded and tested and evaluated is an annoyance and necessity that infertile and sub-fertile women endure. We put up with it and allow it because it is a means to an end that we so desperately want - but that doesn't mean it's fun.

As a woman who began testing for potential issues during the last year, I'm pretty far into the procedures. For those of you who haven't gone down this path just yet, allow me to enlighten you on a few of the joys you might get to experience.

1. Blood work: Lots of it. Lots and lots and lots of it. Get used to your arms looking like they belong to a recovering heroin user.

2. Transvag ultrasounds: A penile-looking device goes up in your lady parts while the nurse looks around for your ovaries, uterus and her lost car keys. You'll watch it on a screen and it won't make any sense. The tech will say, "See? That's your uterus." And you'll be like, "Ummm. Where? It looks like blankness."

3. HSG - Basically the doc shoots some weird purple dye up your vajayjay to see if anything is blocking your Fallopian tubes. Oh look! There's a blockage! Let's increase the velocity and speed of the dye to see if we can get that puppy out of there. It's basically like when you dump Drain-O down your bathroom sink. Except in your vagina...

4. Hysteroscopy: This is just a bundle of fun. Doc puts a thingamajig (also called a hysteroscope) way up through your cervix and into your uterus. He then shoots some gas up there to expand the uterus so he can look for polyps, fybroids, etc. After a few seconds he pulls everything out and you're done. But remember the gas he used? It needs to escape. So it slides up into your shoulder like a sadistic snake and you feel like you're having a heart attack for about 20 minutes. Wheeee!!

5. Endometiral Biopsy - This one requires a more in depth explanation. Mostly because I just had mine last week. My hands are shaking just thinking about it. Let me tell you what happened.

We recently began infertility treatments at a clinic in Colorado. Most of you probably know which one I'm talking about. (I don't know if I should say their name, so I won't. Even though they're awesome thus far.) Hubs and I went in for our one day workup, which consists of a round of baseline testing. Once completed, we did have a small list of tests that we needed to have performed back home. One of those tests was called an E-tegrity test. In plain terminology, this is a uterine biopsy. The biopsy is sent to a lab and the lab then looks at your sample to see if your body is producing a certain protein that helps the fertilized egg implant. If you don't have this particular protein present, it could be one of the reasons pregnancy isn't happening.

The hardest thing about this test was finding someone who would actually do it. I called my OB, I called my prior infertility one knew what the hell an E-tegrity test was and refused to do it. After I made about 20 calls, I discovered that I was asking for the wrong thing. All your doc needs to do is an endometrial biopsy (which is a relatively standard procedure) and the E-tegrity part is just the test the lab does on the sample.

Are you following? It's okay, it doesn't matter anyway.

The long and short of it is, I finally found a doc who agreed to do it. I scheduled the appointment and that was that. Hubs asked if he needed to be present and I seriously considered asking him to come. However, I had done my homework. I read up on endometrial biopsy and the general consensus was, if you can tolerate some mild cramping (similar to an HSG) for about 10 minutes, you're golden. Incidentally my HSG was minorly awful, but I survived it, so I knew I could handle this solo. I told Hubs to skip it.

The day of the test arrived. I checked in and was led back to an examination room. A moment later, the nurse practitioner arrived and basically said, "Okay, what exactly are we doing again? I'm confused."

I re-explained that I just needed a uterine biopsy and the sample would then be sent to a lab where the test would be performed. She looked confused but ultimately seemed to understand. And so we began.

I assumed my favorite position and waited. The nurse informed me there would be some cramping as she got that little catheter through my cervix. No biggie, I'd had this done several times. I waited for the cramping and it showed up quickly. And then it got more intense. And more intense. 

I teared up a bit.

Thankfully, a moment later it was over. Until the nurse hit me with, "Um, don't get excited. I didn't get through. I only made it about half-way through your uterine wall...I need to get all the way through. Let me try again."

So she did. Three times. Pain pain pain. No luck.

At this point she enlisted the help of an actual doctor. When he came in, he explained that there could be an issue with the way my uterus was sitting. Would I mind if he kind of twisted it around and moved it?

Sure. Play tinker toys with my insides, doc.

He pulled, he clamped he yanked. I prayed to any God that would listen to make it end. Eventually he said he thought he had a better angle to get where he needed to get and do what he needed to do. So it was time to try again.

He tried 5 times without success. At this point, I heard the nurse say, "Okay, honey, we're going to try and stop the bleeding and then come up with a game plan to see what we might try next."

By all means, please stop the bleeding before anything else.

I sat up and doc told me in no uncertain terms, he couldn't get through the uterine wall. Would I consider returning tomorrow or Friday? He may as well have said, "A serrated knife doesn't seem to be working for removing your head. Could you come back on Friday and we'll try the guillotine?" 

Here's what I knew in my heart. If I left that office without the test being completed, I was never going to come back and I might possibly even burn the building to tiny little ashes and wee wee on them. It had to happen now or never. The doc and nurse quietly consulted with each other, used a bunch of terms I didn't understand, and finally came up with something.

"How about this?" Doc sighed, running his hands through his hair. "If we take you over to a room where we can do a sonogram, I might actually be able to see what I'm doing, and it could help. Would you be willing to do that?"

At this point, I was willing to do anything if it meant this awful process could be over. I got dressed and the nurse led me down the hall to the sonogram room. Same drill. Bottoms off, assume the position.

Doc came in and informed he would begin by clamping my cervix so he could hold it still. 

"I'm sorry, did you say CLAMP?" I asked, incredulous. I hadn't heard the word clamp since my 9th grade shop class.

"Yes, I know," he replied. "But if I can hold it still, it will help me out."

Fine. Whatever. Do it. 

The sonographer put the goop on my stomach and suddenly,up on the TV were my insides in all their HD glory. I felt him reach up and grab my friggin' cervix and I felt the clamp. So fun. Then on the screen, I saw the little catheter appear and I watched as he tried to get it to the correct spot in my uterus. With the help of the sonogram, he was able to very quickly determine where he was being blocked and bent the catheter around the trouble area. Bingo. He was in.

I thought that was it. I thought it was over. No no. Not even close.

If you read this website, it will give you a clinical explanation of what has to happen next. I'll give you layman's terms: he puts a friggin' wire through your uterine wall, roots around for a few seconds, rips out a sample of the LINING OF YOUR UTERUS, then pulls the sample out.

I didn't know what to expect, but when that wire went in...I swear I can feel it right now all over again.  All I saw was light and stars and red and blue and green and pain. The kind of pain where you can't even make noise. You just gurgle and basically have a full body seizure. I might have kicked the doctor in the face. I know I practically broke the sonographer's hand.

I felt the wire retreat and the pain began to subside. Through tears, I sniffled, "Please tell me that was it. Please." 

I didn't get an answer. I know now it was because the doctor didn't get a large enough sample. He needed to go back in but didn't want to tell me.

And so he did. 

The pain hit again and this time I really thought I saw the other side. The light everyone talks about in near-death experiences. I think I saw my grandfather. He was smiling. 

Actually, turns out it was just the doctor standing over me and telling me it was all over. He patted my hand and apologized for going back in, but thought it would be better to ask forgiveness than permission.

I won't like to you, I wanted to rip his man parts off. But I didn't, because I can't get pregnant if I'm in jail. Besides, it wasn't his fault. He did what he had to do...but I still kind of hate him.

The nurse gave me a pad to catch the inevitable blood that was going to occur, told me I was a brave girl and sent me on my way.

I made it all the way to the car before I had my meltdown, and for anyone in the parking lot that day, I'm sure it was quite a show. I couldn't help it. The physical pain was gone, but I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I just couldn't take it. I cried for at least 10 minutes before I had the strength to dial Hubs' number and tell him everything. Of course, he felt terrible for not being there for me. Personally, I'm glad he wasn't there. No one wants to watch their spouse go through pain and suffering, even if it is only for a few minutes.

From the hospital, I drove straight to my favorite Mexican food place and got the largest cheese dip they offered, complete with a huge vat of Dr. Pepper. I came home, crawled under the comforter and didn't move for the rest of the day. 

I'm not telling this story to scare you. I could have been a rare case. I've talked to other ladies who just experienced that "mild cramping" the internet promised me. I've heard other women say their doctor let them have VALIUM before the procedure. (I want that doctor next time.) More than anything, I want you to know that I take pride in my experience. As women, we're often told we're wimps, whiners, not tough. Well, I challenge any man to have a needle stuck up his swizzle stick over 9 times and just "tough it out." Ladies, we are unbelievably strong. We are emotional and physical warriors to put ourselves through all of this for the CHANCE that we might get a baby out of it. There are no guarantees and it might not all work out. But that fact that we are willing to try is amazing and it should be celebrated. With lots of presents. :-)

Don't be afraid to say it hurts. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to yell, yell. Don't try and tough it out. That causes wrinkles and constipation anyway. This isn't easy. And just a hunch, but I don't think it's going to get easier for me anytime soon. IVF doesn't sound like it's going to be a walk on the beach with a mimosa in my hand. It's going to be hard. But dammit, I can do it. I will do it.

And it's so going to be worth it.

PS- I still don't have the results back on my biopsy...stay tuned

Saturday, August 9, 2014

RX marks the spot

Yesterday I looked through old photos on my phone.

Big mistake. Huge. I have to go shopping now.

Okay, sorry for the "Pretty Woman" reference (and if you didn't catch it, shame on you), but if you can't laugh at times like these, what else are you going to do?

Look at that girl down there. So happy. So full of hope. This was the day I picked up my first prescription of Clomid. We had finally jumped through all the fertility hoops (basal body temperature tracking, ovulation kit purchasing, mid-month mucus evaluating) and had landed on "let's give Clomid a try" with a doctor that I felt mildly okay with. But I wasn't going to complain - we were on our way to a resolution.

So I got to Target the second they opened, filled the RX, got out to my car and texted this photo to Hubs with the caption, "This is the month!!!" 

In that moment, here's what was going through my head:

Should I really take a pic of this moment? I mean, if it doesn't work, then I'm going to be really sad and depressed. But if it DOES work, and I didn't take the picture, I'll be sad I didn't capture that moment. I guess I'll take the picture and hope for the best. I mean, if it doesn't work this time, it probably will the next time. It's not like I"m going to end up having to do IVF or something. *takes picture* Oh good. My double chin is hardly noticeable and damn, I love Essie nail polish. 

I can't help but cringe and feel sorry for the girl in that picture. She really thought it would work. She really thought IVF was for other people who have non-functioning ovaries and who don't ovulate every month. IVF is for "them", not for her. She has a normal cycle and has never missed a period in her life. All of her tests have come back fine. This little pill will be the answer. It will work.

But three months of it didn't work. And here I am, presumably one month away from a fresh IVF cycle. I have become one of those "other" people. And I have learned the hard way that infertility doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care about your ethnicity or your college degree, or your which shampoo you use or even if you're a good person. (In fact, sometimes I think being a good person makes you more likely to be infertile.) 

Part of me wishes the girl in that photo hadn't been so naive. I almost wish I could go back there and tell her, "sweetie, you've got a looooong way to go, so slow your roll, mmk?" But then I think to myself, "Yo, she didn't know any better."

And she didn't.

The girl in that photo is blindly hoping for a miracle, with no true understanding of what could be going on with her body. She doesn't really even understand how conception happens. She doesn't know about AMH levels or progesterone or how important Vitamin D is for her fertility. She doesn't know whether her insurance covers Clomid and she doesn't care because THIS time it's going to work. She doesn't have to worry about all of that other stuff. She is cluelessly hoping.  

We're often told, with infertility, hope is all you have. I say horse pooey. Hope is wonderful and it's amazing, but infertiles also have brains. I'm no longer the girl in that photo. I understand my body in ways I never thought I would. I know my insurance will cover prescriptions and I'm not afraid to get on the phone and duke it out with a receptionist if I need to. I am my own advocate.

Yes, I do believe in a miracle and I believe in hope. I also believe in pushing myself to learn as much as I can and share that knowledge with others like me. And so I keep going forward. Was looking at that photo painful? Yes it was. But guess what?  Looking back can only make me truly appreciate how far I've come.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hindsight is 20/20

Hubs is a fertile turtle. He dated his ex in high school and she had PCOS, cysts on her ovaries, and was told quite conclusively that she would never, ever, ever bear children.

She got pregnant by Hubs not once, but twice. I mean, WTF?

So when Hubs and I got married, we were extra careful. I'm talking condoms, birth control, spermicidal lube. All of it. I wasn't taking any chances. At 26 I was not ready for a kid, especially as a new stepmom and wife. We were happy to wait.

And then, at 29, we were ready. So we pulled the goalie, expecting two pink lines after only a few months of trying. And then a few more. And then a few more. Nothing. Nada. I  made the mistake early on of telling everyone within ear shot that WE ARE GOING TO TRY AND HAVE A BABY! Naturally, everyone started paying close attention to my waistline, as well as my alcohol consumption. For the first few months it was fun, even cute. After about 10 months, it started to get old. I'd be at a party and get a beer and friends would joke, "guess no baby this month, eh?"

No shit, Sherlock. Thanks for the reminder.

Then came the advice. Oh, my God, the advice. 

"I know someone who knows someone who just quit trying and BAM! Pregnant! Have you just stopped trying?"

"What you need to do is lift your legs up after sex. Are you doing that? Are you leaving his stuff inside you overnight? Cuz if you pee it out, you won't get pregnant."

"You know what? You've got to do hot yoga and then make Hubs drink this weird brand of tea. I can't remember what it is, but I'll ask my friend. I'll have her call you. Her name is Destiny."

You can all identify with me. After a year of trying, you're past the "just stop trying" phase and into the paranoid, "what is going on here?" phase. You want answers from a doctor that does this for a living, not from your friend's aunt's hairdresser's psychic dog walker.

They tell alcoholics that admitting they have a problem is the first step to recovery. Being infertile is no different. You don't want to believe it. You don't even want to say it out loud. Who wants to admit that all those times (allegedly) in college, sitting up at 2:00 in the morning, clutching your roommate's hand and hoping the Morning After Pill worked were all unnecessary? Who wants to admit that something isn't right? You're married, in love and want to create a little piece of you and your husband. You want to start a family.

And it isn't working.

Hubs and I had been trying for 19 months when I finally admitted we needed help. He was more resistant, insisting that I was just obsessing about it. It's strange to say this, but I knew it...deep in my ever-expanding gut from stress eating. I knew something wasn't working right. 

I wanted answers. And after some time and a few doc visits, I got my answer.

Unexplained infertility.


What. The. Hell.

That's not an answer. That's a non-answer. That's the same as telling a kid "because I said so" when they ask why they can't have a lollipop. It's a load of BS, but it's all I have. 

My first doctor told me we needed to begin the route of infertility treatments. And so we did. Little did I know just how far and how long and how dreadful that road was going to be...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

...and so it begins

Wow- I'm really doing this. I am really starting a blog and telling a whole boatload of strangers about my infertility issues.

Am I crazy?

For a brief history, let me sum it up like this:
  1. Been married 7 years
  2. Trying for a kiddo for 4. I've enjoyed all the practice, but c'mon already.
  3. 2 failed IUI's
  4. Have begun the journey to IVF...and when I say journey I mean, tumultuous, crazy, balls to the wall nuts, loony-toony, what-the-hell-have-I-gotten-myself-into journey.
  5. I need an outlet, and I need support. Hence this bloggy blog.        
 And now, a list of warnings, right up front so there's no confusion.
  1. I curse. Maybe a lot. I couldn't curse as a kid or teen, so I'm making up for lost time. Besides, expletives are fun.
  2. I will tell stories about my lady parts. I won't show pictures of my lady parts.
  3. I have sort of come out of the anonymous closet by posting my real first name and photo of myself. But that's as far as it goes. My stepkids' names will be confidential, as will my husband's. I don't really know why, and it all might change. But we'll go with it for now.
  4.  My posts will have no rhyme or reason. And not every post will be about infertility. So there.
  5. I'm not a typical infertility person. I don't use acronyms like BFN and BFP and TTC and DH. If I get a negative test I'll just say I GOT A GOD DAMN NEGATIVE!!! Mmk? 
Even though I've been dealing with baby making trouble for 4 years, I feel like I'm just now learning so much that I didn't before. I'll share it all with you.

So take off your shoes, pour some wine and come along with me. Cry with me. Laugh with me. Be completely paranoid with me.

Getting pregnant is conceivable - or at least I choose to believe it is.

Love to all,

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