Wednesday, April 30, 2014

So this is happening now. . .

We took the plunge.

We bought the meds.

We are officially poor again!

Oy, I've spent the last ten years saving for a "house."  Well, hopefully that house is going to look like a fat, naked baby that I pop out of my hoo-ha.  I am now an expert on administering injections on myself.  I stab myself four times a day.

It's kind of like a baby advent calendar.

Each day that passes is like I'm opening a tiny window, only, instead of a piece of cheap, waxy chocolate, I treat myself to about 5 Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Cups.  They are the devil.  But truly, it feels like each time I'm poking myself with my fancy, ritzy, rich lady medication, I'm counting down to the day where I might actually get to meet my baby.  Checking off days on a calendar has never felt so exciting.

My belly looks like the surface of the moon.  It's been bashed and bruised and generally effed up.  I have to go on a hunt each day to find a spot that isn't full of nerve endings or bruises.

And I couldn't be happier!

Honestly.  In many of my posts, I feel hopeless.  Now I am full of hope.  I am responding well to medications (I'm above average in all categories: size of my follicles, number of my follicles, amount of smiles I give to nurses in the office and level of patience with blood draws).

It's not fun, really, to prick yourself, but I'm trying to look at the glass as half full.  Pretty soon, they are going to take me to their alien spaceship and steal my eggs, and then the real waiting game can begin.  Right now I have the feeling that as long as I inject myself correctly and do what they tell me, I'm in CONTROL.  That's big for me.  I know I'm not fully in control.  Anyone who thinks they are is an idiot, but at least I feel like I can help this stupid situation.

I'm going to ride this pointy wave all the way into next week when I go for my egg retrieval.  Who knows, maybe the BEST will happen.

Wish me luck!

Gettin' all Chuck Norris on my uterus. . .

On New Year's Day, I moped around my apartment and had a long conversation with my dog.  I knew that if anything was going to change as far as my husband and I becoming parents, I needed to do something, and fast.

Obviously, we're all different, and age 35 is not a cliff we are all running towards in regards to our fertility, but as it's 2014, and I'll be hitting 34, the concern is certainly there for the future of a family that we can create "by ourselves."

I was on a break from work, so I had a lot of time to get all up in my head and freak myself out.  I had time to contemplate the "ins and outs" of what our next steps would look like.  I considered everything from IVF to adoption to not having kids at all and raising golden retrievers and traveling the world.  The thing that I often forget is that the conversations that happen in my head don't happen in my husbands simultaneously.  I mean, sometimes it SEEMS like we're the same person with the exact same thoughts, but as it turns out, we do not have telepathy.  Bummer.  After thinking deeply about what I wanted for our future, I was excited that the next day was Saturday, and we'd be able to have a nice talk about the exciting possibilities that lie ahead of us.

You know, the decision that I had made for us.

My husband was less enthused to hear of this, and at first, I did not understand how he could not be 100% behind the idea of starting IVF treatments, it made so much sense.  After some time passed and I let my emotions subside, I realized he was not being unsupportive, but he was trying to wrap his head around the idea.  It took me years to come to this conclusion, and I was expecting him to understand my point of view with a hour long conversation.

I should point out that I'm a very lucky lady who has a very supportive husband.  I know that I'm lucky.  I can't imagine being in this situation with anyone else.  I never feel blamed (I do enough of that myself), and I feel like he's in my corner, preparing me for the big fight.

Enough sappiness.  Back to the story.

We met with the doctor and ran some baseline tests.  Here's the thing: infertility treatment is kind of a bitch.  I'm not really sure what's going on with my hormone levels, but at the beginning of all of this, my AMH level started at 1.2, then it was 2.1, and now, it's 8.3.  The first two tests would indicate that I am at the at risk end of not having enough eggs to ever conceive on my own, but the 8.3?  What?!  That's in the normal range.  There must be some mix up, that can't be my blood.  I'm hearing more and more that AMH can be a volatile hormone, but then, why put any weight on it?  Is this really how we're determining who needs IVF?  More research, please!

Anyway, we decided to start right away.  Here's the part where I get all Norma Rae on you.  You MUST be your own advocate!  If you think something is not right, you need to be the one to call.  As nice as my nurses and doctors are, I am still a patient to keep track of.  I'm not saying that I feel like a number, because I don't.  I just know that people are human, and mistakes are going to be made.

For example: If you are going through fertility treatment, more than likely you've heard of the Attain program.  The problem here is that you are dependent on someone else to submit the application for you.  This should take all of a matter of moments for them to do when they fax it.  However, if you meet with the person who faxes the info over on the day they are leaving for vacation, and you don't hear from Attain for over a week, you should call your doctor's office and ask someone to verify that the Attain program has received your info.  The people at Attain are very nice and supportive, and very understanding, but it's a stress you don't want to deal with, especially on the day that you also have to purchase all of your medication.

TIP: If you are planning to pay for your own treatment, but your credit card company won't up your limit, ask them if you can overcharge your card.  Shockingly, we were able to put three times the amount of our limit on our card.  Of course, I wouldn't recommend this if you are going to gradually pay it off, since the interest rate is so high, but if you have a special account for this sort of thing, and you need just need to transfer it to your credit card, go get those travel points!

Now, let's talk meds.  My husband and I are in the minority, I believe, when we decided to pay for this all out of pocket.  Our reasoning is that we could either pay back a company more than what we borrowed, or pay ourselves back at no extra cost.  It's hard to say goodbye to all of those hard earned dollars, but we'd be saying goodbye to even more if we financed.  When it comes to medication, talk to your doctor's office about the fact that you are paying out of pocket.  As soon as I mentioned that, I was able to get about $900 worth of meds for free from samples.  Also ask your doctor/nurse if there are any coupons, particularly for Gonal-F rediject pens.  They are quite pricey, and every little bit helps!

This is just a bump in the road for us, but we will be fine.  It all works out how it should!

Monday, March 10, 2014

That awkward moment when. . .

So, I'm wondering if all my Infertile Myrtle's out there have ever had any of these things happen to them. . .  Here, I provide a laundry list of my MOST awkward moments through this journey. . .

10) That awkward moment when your friend tells you she's pregnant, and you have to think really hard about how your face looks at that exact moment, you are relieved that your eyes are squinting and your lips are turned upward. . .a smile. . .SUCCESS!

9)  That awkward moment when you're lying on your back in a freezing cold room while someone puts dye through your fallopian tubes and asks you how work is going, and how much they appreciate what you do.

8)  That awkward moment when you are getting 15 vials of blood drawn and the phlebotomist is telling you how bummed he is that his wife is pregnant (you know, a damn accident).

7)  That awkward moment when that same phlebotomist is telling you how bummed he is that she's pregnant. . .with a GIRL.

6)  That awkward moment when your cell phone rings while your teaching a group of nine year olds and you see that it is your reproductive endocrinologist calling to give you test results.  Good luck focusing on the Gold Rush!

5)  That awkward moment when you're about to get a progesterone shot for your upcoming Intra-Uterine Insemination and the 45 year old woman giving you the shot is telling you about her 18 month old and starts giving you advice like she's a freaking doctor.  Seriously, shut up.  Why do you even work here, stupid?

4)  That awkward moment when your doctor inseminates you and tells you "I think this was a good one."  Ew.

3)  That awkward moment when your husband tells you what it's like in his "special room."

2)  That awkward moment when you burst out crying so hard that your spit hits the doctors name plate.  P.S. You walked into her office looking quite put together, and now you look like a lost member of the KISS army.

1)  That awkward moment when that same, stupid effing phlebotomist (see #7 and #8) starts complaining about how he has to do all the dishes during football season.  Seriously, nimrod?

What awkward moments have you had?  Infertility related or otherwise?  I mean, please, everyone, I need a freaking good laugh!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Recently, there have been a few loved ones around me who have passed. One was a family member, and the other a friend. A young, vibrant and wonderful person.

After I heard of a friend's husband passing, I listened to a podcast on miscarriages, though the two events are not related.

The podcast got me thinking about all of the shame, heartache and disappointment that goes along with a miscarriage. The presenters discussed how often times, women are told "Don't worry, you'll get pregnant again," as though their loss is trivial. Clearly, if you lose a child at or before 20 weeks (the definition of a miscarriage), you would not feel that your loss was trivial. Just because the child has not yet made it into the world yet, does not mean that you did not feel that you were a mother, and that this was not your child, who is now gone.

As I thought about myself and my friends who have endured a miscarriage, of course, my thinking came back around to my own infertility. The presenters of the podcast discussed the rise in depression amongst women who miscarry. Statistics were also cited to state that women who experience infertility, and then a miscarriage undergo a longer bout with depression.

But what about those of us who have yet to even know what it is to be a mother? Sometimes, I feel like my life is a constant disappointment. I feel the surge of hope, usually right around day 15 or 16 of my cycle, only to bury my head down and fight my way through the deepest, darkest valley when my cycle begins again.

I'm sure that many people think that we, as the infertile community, cannot fully understand loss (I have personally experienced a miscarriage, btw). However, I think we do. I also think it happens more frequently. I feel like the feeling of loss has a parallel with the process of weathering. Let's say that you are a healthy (i.e. not infertile) woman who has had a miscarriage. You are devastated, of course. The impact of this feeling has the fierceness of a tsunami. Your world is turned upside down, inside out, and you don't know which end is up. After a while, the pieces start to be put back together, and you begin to feel that life can continue. Maybe you even feel a sense of hope.

For an infertile woman, each month is like being a cliff, who is being beaten and bashed each month by a rolling wave of disappointment. There is no time to put anything back together, because it is always falling apart.

I think a rocky cliff is a good analogy. . .either that, or the Tom Hanks movie "The Money Pit." You could even interpret that literally and figuratively.

We shall see what the future holds.

P.S. If you are not a Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast listener, check them out.  They do their research, cite their sources, and are generally quite entertaining.  Tip o' the cap, smnty!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Testing your ovarian reserve (AMH). Is it accurate?

So I'm sure that the spike in my page views was full of people who were thinking, "Ew, why is she talking about this?" "This won't happen to me." and "If I can't get pregnant, I'll just adopt, babies from Africa are a-DOR-able!"
These were pretty much my thoughts as well, before I fell down the rabbit hole.
The thing is, infertility affects approximately one in ten couples. That doesn't seem like too many, but when I think about it, say, in terms of my students in my classroom, that means that 3 of them are going to have to deal with this in their lifetime, at least. There are a lot of problems plaguing our environment that people are speculating are contributing to the rise in infertility. Another aspect that people don't consider, is the fact that if you are a woman who will suffer from premature ovarian failure (or early menopause), you may not know until it is too late. By the time my husband and I were ready to consider having children, my body was already in a state of decline.
Let us begin, however, with what you can expect if you are diagnosed with infertility. Mine is unexplained. I've been to many doctors who applaud my healthy "numbers." They really don't know why I can't get pregnant. All of my lady numbers are in the normal range, some on the lower end, but still within the normal range.
In the beginning, I thought, "Okay, we'll go see this other doctor, and she'll tell me everything is fine, and we may just need more time." However, she did not say that. She looked at ONE number on my chart that gave her pause. It's called Anti-mullerian hormone, or AMH. It is basically determined in a blood test to find out how many eggs you have left in your ovaries. . .FUN! So, they took a look at my blood and said, "Woah, girl, you are really on the low end." So I cried, pulled myself together, cried some more, and then decided that we needed to start some invasive procedures.
We tried three rounds of IUI (turkey basting), to no avail, and I told them I wanted my AMH tested again. They assured me that it was not going to be much different...
So, this "reserve" level (I feel like my ovaries are a fine wine), should be what you are born with, and decline over time. The only direction it should go is down, right? As eggs die off, there are fewer, hence a lower AMH. Well, when I went back and got tested again, it was UP. Nearly a whole point. In these matters, a point can mean everything.
I asked my doctor, "What is this? Why the change?" to which she replied that it was not an exact science and they're still working out the kinks.
And this is the part that really bothers me. Just the week before, this same doctor had told me that based on my current levels (before the new blood test), I should consider IVF. In-Vitro Fertilization. I'm sure they have higher success rates, and no doctor wants their patient to suffer through the agonizing hurry up and wait scenario, but the fact that she told me that one of my best chances was to pay for a $20-30,000 procedure was based on an inaccurate number that they know little about? Sounds sketchy to me.
So, here's where the insecurity and uncertainty comes in. My husband and I have worked really hard to save what we do have, and of course it's not enough, but do we throw it all at IVF and hope for the best? Should we start to consider adoption? It's hard to know which direction to go when the information you are getting from your doctor is based on a science that appears to be in it's infancy.
I will recommend, however, that even though my numbers are off, they are still at the low end. Knowledge is power. If you are thinking of having a family, I would urge you to just ask your doctor to perform this simple blood test. You may think you know how you will feel, but in my humble opinion, I wish that I would have known there was a test like this out there. I believe it would have let me understand what was going on in my body before there was really a problem to worry about. Even if I still had waited to have children, it would have been a choice that I would have made and I would have been more accepting of the idea that I may never carry a child. All I'm saying is, it couldn't hurt to know.

Friday, January 3, 2014

New trend: Bento Lunches

Maybe I'm behind here, but I recently discovered something called Bento Lunches. It appears that a crafty mother, or father, decided to spruce up their child's lunchbox by creating themed lunches. They are kind of cute, but just imagine the time one must spend in the kitchen with cookie cutters and paring knives to create such a scene?! Here are a few of my favorites:

Spooky Halloween Bento.

Easter Bento. . .you had better hope those eggs are perfectly boiled. If not - you fail as a human.

That is just awesome.

I have to say that I love the creativity here. However, as an educator, I have seen the disturbing ways children treat food at school. They literally throw their lunch boxes into our lunch basket sometimes. Of course, I ask them not to, but I can't help but think what a terrible waste of time a bento might be for a child's lunch.
An ADULT'S lunch on the other hand, well, that's another story!

Ninja? Absolutely.

Pandas? Of course.

My personal favorite. I love this beyond words.
I don't think I'll be Bento-ing any time soon, because it's all I can do to actually think about lunch before 7:30 the morning I am packing it, but I can appreciate the efforts. Do you Bento? I'd love to see what you have created!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The scariest thing I've ever done is admit this. . .

The people pleaser inside of me is really worried right about now. As much as I want to come clean about why I've changed so much these last four years, I can't help but think "what will they think of me?"

I'm worried that everyone will be really uncomfortable, that they will think I'm revealing too much about myself. The fact of the matter is that I have been dealing with a lot during the last 1,500 days or so. I am pretty sure that I know what you will want to say to me. You'll say that I should "talk to someone about this." "Join a support group." "Lean on your friends and family, that's what they are there for." There comes a time, though, when that just isn't enough. I'm at a place where I need to start working things out, like, for real.

With the new year, comes the realization that I will be one year older. Duh, right? Each year since my husband and I have been married, we've thought "this is the year!" Only to be curled up on New Year's Eve feeling disappointed, old, and tired. I want 2014 to be different. I want to figure out a way to make this work, and if I can't, I want to work towards being okay with that.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. . .

So, obviously, I'm talking about infertility here. It's the elephant in the room. It is something that many people have never thought about. Well, at least 9 out of 10 of you. And to those people, I am so thankful that you never have to think about it. If you have a child, you truly should treasure each moment that you have with them, even if they are peeing on you while you change their diaper. I know, kids can test you, and kids have their "moments," but really, the fact that a human grew inside of you or your wife is something so incredibly amazing that it should not be overlooked as something that simply just "happens."

And if your child came out healthy? Well, you should probably feel like you won a major award or something. The fact that everything can line up and we can create these people and nurture them in our wombs is so incredible. Well, they may have grown in your womb, I suppose, and you nurtured them. I imagine it is a wonderful feeling to know that you have given life.

Ew. I feel like I'm getting all sappy and depressing here.

Anyway, infertility is hard, y'all. It rears it's ugly head at you around every corner and slaps you in the face when you're least expecting it. Think you're just going to a staff meeting at work? Surprise! It's a pregnancy announcement for a co-worker! Everybody slap that stupid smile on your face and clap while she runs laps around the staff room and high-fives everyone! Ohhhh, work party? Perfect! Your boss brought his new baby boy, why don't you hold him, what a smashing idea. You don't feel uncomfortable at all! And my personal favorite moment: Answer the phone and answer your friend's question of "How's it going?" by telling her that your latest IUI didn't work, and you're not sure how much of this you can handle, only to end the conversation with her in tears as she tells you she's pregnant. Winner!

Perhaps the hardest part of infertility is realizing that you just aren't you anymore. The things you used to be thrilled about: planning showers for your friends, picking out adorable tiny baby outfits with socks and bibs to match, holding a little one while their mom takes a well deserved bathroom break. All of these things used to get you excited about the future. Now? It's a tiny dig in your heart with a little shovel that is hauling away the excitement and happiness you used to feel about life and your future.

Sounds extreme, doesn't it? Yep.

I mean, what is life supposed to be like without kids? Obviously, I have a mom and a dad (technically, I have a mom and a step-dad, my dad lives far away and I don't see much of him). So does my husband. All I've ever known is living with brothers, and he living with sisters. All I've ever known for holidays is getting to my mom's house early to help with dinner, talking with other relatives, helping clean, sharing stories with neighbors. I'm not saying I can't still participate in family gatherings, but there is a piece missing when you feel like you can't contribute to, well, a family.

My face right now looks like I just bit into a lemon. I'm so hesitant to publish this blog. I'm so nervous about the reaction from my friends and family (if they even can read it). I have to say, however, that I am really tired of the topic of infertility being taboo. I am tired of having to explain to anyone that no, in fact, I do not have children. I don't think that those awkward moments will go away by pushing the publish button, but I wonder if I will feel any different in my own skin.

You see, there is a lot of shame associated with infertility. Shame that I am not living up to my potential. I want to be a mom, I want it so badly. I know that my parents and my husband's parents want grandchildren to spoil. The hardest thing, I think, is the fact that I know my husband would make such an amazing father, and I feel like I'm taking that away from him. It is something he so deserves. And I deserve it too. I deserve to be a mother. I have so much love to give. I am so ready to take on this role. I can't imagine my life without a tiny human in it.

Finally, I want this blog to serve as a place where family members, friends, and husbands can go to support their loved one with female infertility. I also want it to be a celebration of the good things in life. 2014 is going to be filled with ups and downs, just like the last four years, I am hopeful that when I look back on it, I will see more hills than valleys, and I hope to help some friends along the way.

All the best to you and yours this year!

Oh, and a little infertility humor for you all. . .