Friday, October 31, 2008

Extra Extra, Read All About It!

You know your personal life has hit an all time low, when your dad calls you and asks if you got your period yet.

Perhaps a blog highlighting all the details of my reproductive cycle is just too much information! He he. But I don't care. I'm gonna scream it from the rooftops... AUNT FLO IS FINALLY HERE! And she's here with a vengeance, dressed up as the devil for Hallowe'en! And I couldn't be happier. This means I can finally (hopefully) get this show on the road!

So many things have been happening the last couple days. I started my new protocol. So far I have taken 2 injections of antagon, and I have 2 more left to go before my suppression check on Sunday. I'm telling you though, if I thought lupron was bad, this drug is pure evil. So far it has given me splitting headaches, made me feel completely ill, and given me welts and rashes at the injection site. Dr. Schoolcraft says I'm having an allergic reaction to it, and will be switching me from antagon to cetrotide tonight, which means more rushing around and money on drugs. But fingers crossed, this new injection is easier on my body and I won't get a reaction.

After coming to terms with the fact that Dr. Schoolcraft is heading out for a conference the day we arrive in Denver right through my surgery, I realized that I may not get a chance to speak with him again. And since I'm a planner, I decided to schedule a re-group appointment in anticipation of all the questions I might have as we get closer to trigger. Just to be safe! So Dave and I sat down with our list of questions, and Dr. Schoolcraft humored us as usual. He was very patient, answered all our questions, and just touching base with him made me feel more secure and confident moving forward.

He told me that BCPs and lupron had not suppressed me, and that some patients just don't respond to certain drugs. So he wanted to try antagon in order to suppress me. It works faster and is another way to keep the body from ovulating. He wants me to do 4 injections, then my suppression check, and then start stims. At least, that is the plan. He also increased my doses of stimulation medications by double the amount! I've always been a very good responder and my E2 has a tendency to get too high, but I think since I've been on suppression meds for so long, he wants to make sure that my follies start off with a bang!

Bring it on!

I suddenly have a very good feeling about all this! I think things have finally turned a corner and I am headed in the right direction. I won't know for sure until Thursday, but I'd say I'll be good to go!

Happy Halloween to everyone!

And an extra special Halloween to my friend Aunt Flo, who makes an excellent red fiery devil. Satan would be proud. Come to think of it, so would Dr. Schoolcraft -- who should really dress up as the wizard of Oz, seeing as he is the ultimate magic man behind the curtain. If I didn't have so much else going on, I would have tried to source some relevant Halloween costumes for the occasion -- Dave as a Sperm, me as an Egg.

Oh well, maybe next year. And hopefully we can dress our 'twins' up as embryos. Wouldn't that just be the cutest? But I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself here....

I think it's best if I stay home tonight anyway. I have a mind to dress up as a crazy infertile woman and go trick or treating for a baby.

Hey, you never know. I might just get lucky!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Am A Planner

I can't help it. That's just who I am.

I'm famous for making lists, obsessing over details, and crafting big elaborate plans. I anticipate every possibility and plan accordingly. I make contingency plans. And then I make back-up contingency plans.

I like to know what's coming up ahead. I like to be prepared. I like things to go smoothly.

When I first started trying to conceive, I had it all planned out. I didn't want to get pregnant too young or too old. I knew what month I wanted to try, so that I could plan the months of my maternity leave. I had the whole thing planned out down to a T.

Looking back, I miss that innocent optimism. That notion that we could decide to have a baby, and it would just happen. That sense of control over our own lives that left us feeling like we could create the future that we wanted. But we were wrong. And our plans began to unravel, day after day, month after month, and year after year.

So why do I keep making plans? Why don't I just accept life as it is and surrender? Well. Why do birds fly? Why do fish swim? Why do planners plan? Because that's what they were born to do. Because that's what comes naturally. Because they just can't stop themselves.

I am a planner. I may have different plans. But I still make lists, I still obsess over details, and I still want to make the best plan with the cards we've been dealt. But unfortunately, even the ultimate planner, can’t plan an IVF cycle. Even the back-up contingency plans sometimes fall apart. And even the planner gets tired.

Sometimes, like right now, the plan needs to be simple and easy, and be one day at a time.

So here is my plan for today:


Sounds like a good plan to me :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Suppression Check -- Take Two

Well, as hard as I worked at it, and boy did I work at it, Aunt Flow still isn't interested in coming to this darn old party.

So that meant heading out to suppression check number two, without so much as a sign from her. I had a blood draw and ultra sound at my local clinic, and the results were faxed to CCRM for interpretation.

Then I waited for the dreaded call...


And finally, the results rolled in...

-- My Progesterone is 10.5 (last check was 19, so it has come down, but they want to see it less than 1)
-- My E2 is 206 (last check was 149, so it has gone up, and they want to see it less than 50)
-- And my cyst measured about 16mm, which seems to have gone back up a bit too.

Which means...



The whole thing was pretty disheartening. After 17 days of BCP's and 12 days of lupron my body still isn't ready to cooperate. Aunt Flow is being a royal pain in my behind. And I'm getting tired and my body is starting to feel pretty miserable. For a girl who tries to avoid needles and blood tests, I'm sure not getting off easy here.

But the good news is that Dr. Schoolcraft has decided to switch things up. So as of tomorrow I'm now changing from the long lupron protocol to the antagonist protocol. Which means, I take no lupron tonight -- hurray! -- one less needle in the million more I have to go. But I must count my blessings where they come. And tomorrow I start 4 days of antagon injections. I have another suppression check scheduled for Sunday, and hopefully, cross fingers, will get the green light to finally start stims! And if AF does decide to show up before Sunday, then I might even be able to start sooner, although not holding my breath at this point.

So all in all, my cycle has been delayed by a week and a half (with the addition of about 10 extra days of needles) and I won't be travelling to Denver until at least Nov 7th. Arrrrgh! And not only that, but this means that Dr. Schoolcraft will be at the big IVF conference right at the time in my cycle I was trying to avoid. He was sure to tell me that he does call in every day and monitors his clients numbers, so I'm feeling better, but I'm starting to wonder if all of this is a bad sign. I'm sure hoping not, and that things start to pick up soon. They have to, right? I mean surely I am about to turn some kind of corner here? Dr. Schoolcraft is on the case, and I'm going to hold out hope. This is going to be the one. It has to be!

Which brings me to the best news of the day. My antral follicle count is now 23, whereas at my last two checks it was only 15! I have no idea why my count has increased but I'll take it!!

I'll take any good news at this point.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Hug From My Mom

My mom is here! And I think she's going to bring me some good luck.

It's been almost a year since I saw her last, but it feels like minutes. It was such a great feeling to see her at the airport, and then fall into her open arms for a great big and much needed hug.

My mom and I are best friends. We talk on the phone every day. And sure, we get on each other's nerves like any mother and daughter duo, but she is also the only person (after Dave) that I could imagine having around while I am going through all of this. And I'm so happy she's here to take care of me. Because sometimes, no matter how old you are, you just need your mom.

When our vet recommended that we do not fly with our 'baby' (shhh, he doesn't know he's a dog) anymore, I really had no idea what to do. Phinnegan is 11, and has travelled everywhere with us. He's taken over 20 flights, and stayed in so many hotels I can't even count. I just assumed we would bring our baby with us! But after the vet told us that we would be risking his health, we had no choice but to leave him behind. But I could never leave my baby in a kennel, not to mention who would snuggle up with him at night? Who would scratch that spot on his neck he likes so much? And how was I supposed to stay calm at such an important time while thinking about my baby with some stranger? Well, as soon as I told my mom my concerns, she was on the next flight out. She understands how stressful all this is. She would no sooner see her 'grand-dog' go to a kennel than I would. That's the great thing about my mom. She's always there for me whenever I need it. She's the best mom a girl could want, and the fact that she decided to fly out early in order to help us out, clean our house, and just simply be a shoulder to lean on, is exactly what makes my mom so special.

As an only child, my mom and I share a special bond. And even as an adult, the bond that we share is still as strong as ever. The moments and traditions and unconditional love and support is exactly the reason why I want to be a mom someday myself. I can't imagine not sharing that with my own child. she inspires me to keep dreaming and not to give up. And I know that one day, she'll make just as good a grandma, as she is a mom.

Thanks for coming mom. I love you. xo

The Top Ten Things Never to Say to an Infertile.

Well AF has still not arrived. And maybe because I'm still in a fa-la-la mood, I will continue with my blog-rant.

This one goes out to all those uber fertile people, who need a lesson in moron management.

We know you are only trying to help, but please, if you know what's good for you, resist the urge to spew the following non-helpful, idiotic, and teeth-grinding suggestions our way.

The top ten things never to say to someone who's struggling with infertility...

10. But you're still young, you have your whole life to get pregnant.

9. Have you tried elevating your hips afterwards?

8. I know exactly how you feel. It took me 8 months to get pregnant with my third!

7. Consider yourself lucky! You and your husband get to travel and go out to dinner without worrying about a babysitter whenever you want!

6. I know this girl who tried for seven years and as soon as she finally gave up, she got pregnant on her own -- with twins!

5. Why don't you just adopt? As soon as my friend adopted, they got pregnant the next month!

4. Maybe if you quit trying so hard, it'll just happen.

3. You want to borrow my husband? I get pregnant just looking at him!

2. Have you tried reading "The Secret?"

And the number one thing never to say to someone who's struggling with infertility....

1. Maybe if you just relax...

Gee. Thanks. Why didn't I think of that!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Everything Happens For A Reason My @ss!

Maybe it's because AF has still not shown up, or maybe it's because my hormones are raging through my body like a warzone, or maybe it's because this whole situation is making me good and depressed and cranky -- but I'm going to have a little blog rant.

This one is about Platitudes.

Those famous lines that everyone says, in order, I suppose, to help people feel better when they are at the end of thier ropes. You know the ones I'm talking about. They go sometihng like, "Everything happens for a reason", "This is all part of a bigger and better plan for you", "God never gives us more than we can handle."

Well. I'm sorry, but PUUUHLEASSSE!

Everything does not happen for a reason.
This is not god's will.
And god does not only give us what we can handle.

The truth is, bad things happen to good people all the time. There is no rhyme or reason. There is no easy explanation. And all these phrases are just things people tell themselves (and tell others) when they have no other explanation or don't know what to say. I used to say them too. But now I know the truth. And I would like to remind anyone going through this situation that they did not bring it on themselves. They are not meant for a different life or a better path. They are not being dealt this hand in life because they can handle it, or because they need to learn a lesson from it. It is what it is. No more and no less. And it sucks. And it's not fair. And it's not right. And it's not happening to you so that you learn to be stronger.

And for those of you who are skeptical -- then answer me this:

Why can't I have a baby when a crack whore can? Is it because I'm not meant to be a mother and she is? Why do little kids get sick and die when others live? Is there a lesson to be learned this? Why does a good driver get sideswiped and killed by a drunk who lives? Is it because it was just his time? Why do hurricanes wipe out entire cities? Is it because God has some bigger plan for all those victims and thier families? Why do murderers win the lottery? Is this really God's will?

No! It's not!

Even if we are never able to have a baby. Even if we go on to adopt a child we love with all our hearts. I will never believe that this was somehow supposed to happen. And that I should make peace with it because it's God's path for me. Life does not always work out the way we want it to. But that does not mean it's because it's supposed to work out that way. Life is hard. Life shows no mercy. There is no plan. No will. No reason. There is tragedy all around us. These people do not deserve these tragedies. Bad things happen to good people and that is just a fact of life. There is no softening it. No phrase that can explain it. No helpful sentence that will soothe or make it sound alright. There isn't a reason. There isn't a lesson to be learned. There isn't always another path that is meant for us. We make the best with what we are given, and what is taken away from us. Simple as that. We forge forward and make a new life, a new plan, we pick up the pieces and start again. But this is not because we are supposed to, it is because we have no other choice but to move forward and make the best out of the life we have been given.

And hopefully, we are able to find a sense of peace and happiness and new beginnings along the way.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Do not Pass Go. Do not Collect $200.

Surprise, surprise.
(Insert big eye roll)

I went for my suppression check today, and unfortunately, as I was dreading, I won't be starting stims tomorrow as planned :(

Still no sign of evil AF, but the good news is that the cyst has shrunk from 17mm to 10mm. My levels on the other hand, show that I am not suppressed. At the moment my E2 is 149 (they like to see it less than 50), and my progesterone is 19 (they like to see it less than 1).

So this means I will need to continue lupron injections for the time-being, with another suppression check scheduled for Tuesday.

More needles!!

Happy bloody Friday.
(Insert bigger, more annoyed, crankiest eye roll you can imagine)

I'm with ya, cat. I'm with ya.

The Dreaded Suppression Check

Today is all about Sing Songs, Suppression Checks, and Auntie Flow.

Otherwise known as the big 'S'!

After 8 days lupron injections, my suppression check is finally here. Of course, not without problems -- that just wouldn't be easy enough!

For those of you wondering, the purpose of the suppression check is to have an ultrasound, make sure I don't have any cysts, measure my lining and check my resting follicles. I also have my blood drawn to check my baseline hormone levels, specifically E2 and Progesterone. And if all looks good, I'm scheduled to start stimulation injections tomorrow -- the egg making part of the process, the part of this process that really gets this show on the road!

But my road my not lead anywhere but to a dead end or more laps around the track first:

PROBLEM #1 -- As of 8 days ago, I had an ultrasound that showed a 17mm cyst. This is very uncommon after taking BCP's because normally you would expect everything to be dormant. So this could be very bad news for me. It's unlikely that a cyst would shrink in 8 days, which makes me very nervous that it will still be there.

PROBLEM #2 -- As of this morning, AF has still yet to rear her ugly head! I stopped taking BCP's on Monday, so technically I should have gotten my period before today's suppression check, which would flush out the old and allow me to start fresh with a new lining, not to mention help flush away that ugly cyst who could still be lurking around. I've been doing everything I can think of to bring her on -- abdominal massages, feet up on the wall to increase blood flow to my uterus, castor oil packs on my abdomen to pull out toxins and help blood flow -- to no avial. I have even resorted to putting on my favorite pair of sexy undies and parading around the house in stark white pants. If that won't bring the stubborn witch to town, I don't know what will!

Dave spoke to our nurse this morning, who told him that I should go for my suppression check anyway, even if I don't get my period before my appointment. She said that we will likely still move forward with this cycle, assuming that:

- My is E2 is >50
- My Progesterone is <1
- There is no cyst >15mm

But she also said the cycle could be delayed or canceled if:

- My cyst has grown or is the same size.
- I have bad E2 levels
- I have bad progesterone levels

So of course, we're biting our nails, trying to stay calm, and coax dear Aunt Flow out of her shell with a good old fashioned sing along.

I'm trying to remember that my doctor knows what's best. But I can't help but worry that I am starting off on a less than desirable foot. That my perfect cycle is unraveling at the hinges...

But it's not over yet! I still have 4 hours to try to get AF to come out and play, as I parade around in my white pants, singing ever so joyfully, 'cyst cyst go away, come again some other day'.

Stay tuned...

And keep singing!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Caught Between Hope & Fear

Most days I fluctuate between hope and fear.

I started out in the land of hope. And I still get there some days. I try my hardest to stay there, with all the positive energy and dreams I came into this with. But fear has a way of taking hold, uninvited, unwanted, when you least expect it to.

For many of us, infertility has become a way of life. We are stuck somewhere in the middle. Trapped between hope and fear. Praying for hope and running from fear. But it never stays far behind. It follows us, hangs over us, like black clouds, bringing with it the promise of rain, the promise of night. But no matter how bad the storm is, we wait for a new day, patiently, with hope, for the sun to come out.

But more recently, I find myself leaning towards fear. Unable to hold onto hope. And that scares me. Every failed cycle brings with it more baggage, more hurt, and more intense fear for what lies ahead. Every failed cycle marks the beginning of new hope, another chance to try again. But sooner or later, the chances all dry up. Sooner or later, you feel yourself being choked by the reality that squeezes you tighter and tighter. The reality that this might never happen. The reality that we might really fail. I mean, really, fail. Not just now. But forever. We might end up childless, alone, isolated from friends and family, and never realize the dreams that we had for our lives. And even though, I push the thoughts away, even though I tell myself no, of course this will work, of course you will be a mother, of course you won't end up like that. I can't help but get this pit in my stomach. This feeling like I'm lying to myself. Handing myself a line, telling myself not to give up, to think positive, that miracles happen, that persistence pays off. Because the truth is, that's just not true. And while I'm still not ready to face the truth, while I'm still lingering somewhere between hope and fear, I know, deep down, that the end of the road is coming for us. When this cycle is over... it's over. And if the answer is no, if the hard work does not pay off, if the miracle doesn't come -- I will have to face something that I don't know how to face. That I can't imagine ever facing. Let alone comes to terms with. Yet, it hangs out there, approaching faster than I can stop it.

Our answer...

Our whole life...

For now, I cling onto hope with everything I can. I claw at it. I pray. I plead. I beg. And I wait to face a verdict that is coming, closing in on me, day by day.

***Yesterday I came across the following video that really captures this journey, and wanted to share. Please watch and pass along.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fertility Foods

They say you are what you eat.

Well if that is the case, I should have twenty babies by now!

But even though food alone will not cure infertility, it has been proven that what you eat, or fail to eat, can increase or decrease your chances of getting pregnant.

I have done hours of research on the subject, and take my list of fertility foods with me to the grocery store every single week. It is important to note that women and men's reproductive system works on a 90 day cycle -- so what you eat today will affect your egg and sperm for the next 90 days. And what you didn't eat 3 months ago, could have an effect on why your eggs or sperm are not looking so great today. I have come to beleive that diet really is a key factor in fertility and we must do all that we can to help the process.

So without further ado, here's Lisa's Fertility Food List:

Pineapple - Contains bromelain which can act as a blood thinner, that can increase blood flow to the uterus. Bromelain is found in fresh pineapple, specifically in the core. Pineapple also contains selenium that helps to thicken the uterine lining and promote a healthy womb lining which aids with implantation.

Brazil nuts -- A top source of selenium, a vitamin that helps keep sperm cells healthy while also helping sperm motility and quality. Brazil nuts are also a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect sperm cells against free-radical damage. Brazil nuts also help with implantation and to thicken the uterus lining.

Yams - Wild yams are said to be a fertility superfood that have also been linked with multiple births. A tribe in Africa whose diet consists mostly of yams was recently found to have exceptionally high rates of twins and multiple births. Yams are thought to contain chemicals that stimulate hyperovulation, increasing your chances of conceiving.

Maca - A fertility superfood from Peru which helps to balance the hormones, increase egg health, increase progesterone in the body, increase sperm count and health, and is a tonic for the endocrine system.

Royal Jelly - A fertility superfood which is said to increase egg health, quality of egg, and general fertility. It is rich is vitamins, calcium, iron, amino acids and immune stimulating properties. Interestingly, royal jelly is the food that is fed to the queen bee which is what makes her the queen bee. She goes on to live 6 years and lays up to 2000 eggs per day. Other bees live less than two months.

Bee Propolis and Bee Pollen - Two fertility super foods that are rich in nutrients to help the immune system, and it also helps women who have endometriosis.

Whole grains - Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, whole wheat and quinoa are complex carbohydrates that contain an abundance of B and E vitamins that are essential for cellular reproduction, hormonal balance and the production of healthy ova and sperm. Women should be sure to eat lots of oatmeal.

Oily Fish - Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are the best source of essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 which play an important role in regulating reproductive functioning, improving blood flow and enhancing sperm quality and mobility.

Full Fat Dairy - Research has found that women who eat at least one portion of full fat dairy a day are significantly less likely to suffer from fertility problems that those who eat half fat or non dairy options. Whole dairy is a great source of calcium which is important in the development and maintenance of the nervous system, bones and blood. Great sources are whole milk, whole yogurt, cheese, ice cream. Have fun eating up!

Olive Oil -- Provides a rich source of vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant and an essential fertility nutrient for both men and women as it improves the viability of sperm and helps to regulate both ovulation and the production of cervical mucus and healthy hormone functioning.

Garlic - Contains an abundance of fertility boosting nutrients which enhance male fertility and help prevent the chromosome breakage that may play a role in early miscarriage. Garlic also contains vitamin B6 which helps to regulate hormones and strengthens the immune system.

Blueberries - A superfood loaded with antioxidants. They are a natural disease fighting food, high in fiber, and contain a potent dose of proanthocyanidins beneficial for cognitive function, cardiovascular, and reproductive health.

Avocados - One of the most potent antioxidants and disease fighting foods available.

Green tea -- This one is controversial, because it contains caffeine, which is a fertility no, no. But, if you are so inclined to have a cup, this miracle tea contains antioxidants useful for cancer protection and, if taken regularly, can help to lower cholesterol, improve blood sugar balance and increase your energy and fertility.

Wild Fresh Salmon -- A miracle food that is extremely high in essential fatty acids. All of the cell membranes in the body are comprised of fatty acids and our brain is over 70% fatty tissues. These fats are crucial for a healthy mind, memory, blood pressure regulation, and fertility enhancement.

Raw Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds - A great food for male fertility, as they contain high levels of zinc and essential fatty acids which are vital to healthy functioning of the male reproductive system. These seeds have been shown to help with male fertility. It is recommended that a man with a low sperm count eat 1/4 cup a day.

Almonds & Walnuts - these raw nuts are rich in healthy oils, zinc, selenium, and vitamin E that can increase sperm and egg quality.

Flaxseed - A miracle food that in known for it's cancer protective ability, along with providing a good source of fiber and essential fatty acids that will aid fertility.

Lean Red Meat - Lean red meat is a great source of iron which helps to prevent anemia, decreases the risk of ovulatory infertility and plays a role in the production and function of red blood cells. Red meat is also a good source of vitamin B12 which is essential in the maintenance and development of the nervous system.

Honey - Honey has been used to enhance fertility throughout history as it is incredibly rich in the minerals and amino acids that nourish the reproductive system and stimulate ovarian function.

Whey protein powder - Getting enough protein in your diet can have a huge effect on fertility. If you do not get enough protein in your diet, consider a protein powder that is organic or raised without hormones and antibiotics, and the protein source should never be soy.

Spirulina - A tiny aquatic plant that has more protein than soy, more Vitamin A than carrots, more iron than beef, and is easy to digest.

Spinach - Spinach and other leafy greens are an excellent source of folic acid which is important in optimizing sperm production, facilitating regular, healthy ova production and helping to prevent neural tube defects during early pregnancy. It is also a great source of iron and vitamin C which helps to enhance sperm quality by protecting the DNA stored within it from damage.

Oysters -It is the abundance of zinc that gives it its fertility boosting qualities. Zinc is often considered to be the most important fertility nutrient as it has been shown to help with both healthy sperm and egg production.

Chillies - Have been known to increase the flow of blood around the body, ensuring that the reproductive system gets a healthy supply. Chillies also stimulate endorphin production which means more fertility boosting, stress releasing, happy hormones circulate around your body. But don’t eat them after ovulation/transfer.

Red, Orange, & Dark Geen Vegetables - Getting enough vegetables is important for boosting overall reproductive health.

Citrus Fruits- Contain folic acid and can help with fertility.

Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, garbanzo)-- A good source of protein that can aid with fertility.

Eggs - High in selenium to help create a healthy uterus for implantation. Also a great source of protein to help with egg and sperm quality.

Quinoa -- A superfood that is a great source of protein that is linked to fighting cancer and increasing fertility.

2 Liters of Filtered Water Per Day(preferably not bottles) -- It should be filtered and clean to help flush out toxins from the body and increase general reproductive health. Plastic bottles could have PCB chemicals that leak into the water and contribute to cancer and low fertility.

** Remember to take a prenatal vitamin daily with extra folic acid.

** Try to buy organic wherever possible, because chemicals in non-organic foods have been linked to infertility. All vegetables and dairy should be organic. Fish should be wild, chicken should be free-range or organic, all red meats should be grass fed or organic, All grains should be whole and naturally grown.

So now you know what you should be eating. But what about what NOT to eat? Well, I have also compiled a list of no-no's, which can be just as important or even more so!

Lisa's List of Fertility Food No-no's:

No Regular Bananas -- If you eat bananas, which is a good thing, you must buy organic. There is pretty clear evidence that a common agricultural chemical used in growing bananas effects sperm morphology and motility---to the point of sterilizing farm workers. The chemical is absorbed into the growing fruit, so peeling it doesn't help. So make sure your bananas are organic men!

Cut out all Alcohol -- Alcohol can reduce your fertility by up to 50%.

Cut out Caffeine -- Caffeine in coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate has been shown to reduce male & female fertility. As little as one cup of coffee a day can cut your chances of conception in half.

Cut out Junk Food, Processed Foot and Saturated Fats -- This speaks for itself, but you need to be sure that your body is gaining nutrients from food, not empty calories.

Do Not Diet -- Even though it's tempting to want to fit into those new jeans, diets could be counterproductive to fertility.

Decrease Sugar -- Refined sugars not only make you gain weight but can disrupt your body's blood sugar levels. They will initially give you energy but later on you will suffer from an abrupt crash, and even more fatigue.

No Artificial Sweetener -- Although there has been a great deal of debate, studies have found that artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, may be linked to cancer and decreased fertility.

Watch your Herbal Supplements: Some people swear by herbs, but many doctors feel that you should cut all herbs while on fertility medications, because they can interfere with the process. This includes herbal teas, even chamomile. Instead try steamed milk, hot lemon with water, or apple cider!

After Ovulation/Transfer avoid Fish: Don't eat sushi or any raw fish. Avoid fish that have high mercury content due to their environment—including swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, shark, and shell fish.

No Soft Cheeses after Ovulation/Transfer: Avoid cheeses such as brie, feta, and anything that is creamy or unpasturized.

So there you have it, a list of foods that can help increase/decrease our fertility odds. And hopefully bring us one step closer to holding a healthy baby in our arms.

Happy (and healthy) Eating!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Second Only To Cancer Patients

Our medications arrived on the weekend -- one cycle worth, six weeks.

It's overwhelming to look at. It's terrfiying, it's heartbreaking, and it's exhausting. I feel like I'm going to be ill just looking at it all, knowing all the highs and lows that come with it. My body will swell up, I will gain ten pounds, I will be moody, cranky, tearful, and scared. I will get dizzy, feel sick, get headaches, have no energy, and feel like a zombie. We will be hopeful and scared and excited and heartbroken, as we hop back on the never ending rollercoaster ride. We will feel all the emotions humanly possible, as we pour our time and energy and hearts into this yet again. And there is no telling what the outcome will be. There are no guarantees. Yet, we go forward...

Sometimes I ask myself why. Why do we put ourselves through such suffering?

And today I can't help but remember something I read once, that has always stuck with me...

It has been proven that people with infertility, are second only to cancer patients, in what they will endure and put their bodies through to find a cure.

Second only to cancer patients.

But think about it, who would voluntarily, put themselves through all the emotional, physical, financial and medical pain and trauma, months after month, year after year -- with odds staked against them for the chance of a cure? Who would give themselves injection after injection, take medication after medication, have surgury after surgury, drive to appointment after appointment, get second oppinion after second oppinion, fly across the country in search of a specialist who might have the answer? Who else would participate in research studies, opt for controversal protocols, drugs, and procedures and cutting edge techinques that haven't been tested and approved yet? Who else would change their entire diet and lifestyle. Cut out all alcholol, all caffiene, all common cold and flu medication and tylenol? Who else would spend up to hundreds of thousands of dollars and year after year of their life of being tortured in order to cure themselves?

Cancer patients do it because they do not want to die. And thankfully being infertile will not kill you. But it's a kind of death of a dream. It's the death of an imagined future, that we do it for. Cancer patients want to be around to see their children grow up, to watch their grandchildren grow up, to have a rich full life. Infertile people do it to for the dream of seeing their children grow up, for the dream of holding their grandchildren in their arms. For the dream of a rich full life.

I'm not saying that being infertile is the same as having cancer. It's not. But it's interesting to note that the desire and determination to create a life, can be as almost as strong and feirce as the desire and determination to actually live.

Friday, October 17, 2008

First Day Behind Us!

After a total meltdown, a good cry, and flip-flopping back and forth a million times, Dave and I finally decided to go ahead and start the lupron as the doctor suggested.

We had thoughts of pulling out and stopping everything. We talked about waiting for my period and starting back at the beginning on birth control pills -- after a couple of natural cycles to be sure the cyst is gone. We rehashed the bad memories of one of our other canceled cycles, where we had a 55mm cyst that took about three months to clear. We talked and talked, like always, like any couple about to spend 30 grand on their last chance. We weighed the pros and cons. We want to start from a perfect place -- not start from a place of uncertainty and fear. We want to look back with no regrets. And this almost made us pull the plug.

But in the eleventh hour we decided to move forward.

I tried to remember that this happens to women all the time, that there is a very good chance that the lurpon along with my period will completely clear away this cyst. It could burst. It could shrink. It could just disappear. I tried to remember that we are in the best hands possible, with the best nurses and doctor who all want the same thing we do -- to get us pregnant. I tried to remember that the doctor won't proceed with the stim meds if there are any risks, that women cycle all the time with small cysts and have the exact same success rates. And that even if I have to cancel after 10 days, at least we tried.

So we held each other tight, closed our eyes, and jumped head first into our first needle and meds.

We are going to have a baby this time -- we have to believe it!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Green Light. Red Light. Yellow Light.

Does the drama ever end?

I've gone from getting the green light, to getting the red light, to getting a yellow light -- all in an action packed morning. And once again, the worry begins before we're even out of the gate!

Let's start with the good news...

This morning we had our meeting with Dr. Schoolcraft, and he gave us the green light! He went over our test results and concluded that there isn't any red flags that would indicate IVF can't work for us. Here's a quick recap:

Lisa's E2 -- 48 (Good -- they like to see less than 50)
Lisa's FSH -- 6.54 (Good, they like to see less than 10)
Lisa's LH -- 4.22 (Good, they like to see less than 10)
Lisa's AMH - 3 (Good. Anything less than 1 is low reserve. Anything between 3 and 5 could indicate POCS)
Lisa's Thyroid (Synthroid pills) -- TSH 1.6, T4 1.2 (Good, like to see it below 3)
Lisa's Pap - Normal
Lisa's endometrial Biopsy to test for BETA 3 INTEGRIN -- Positive, I have the integrin that allows for implantation.
Lisa's Chromosome Karyotype -- All 24 Chromosomes Normal
Dave's Chromosome Karyotype -- All 24 Chromosomes Normal
Dave's Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (dna frag test) - 13.7% (Excellent fertility potential <15%, Good-Fair 15-30%, Poor >30%)

Dr. Schoolcraft concluded that our official diagnosis is male infertility. Dave's sperm morphology is so low that it would likely never penetrate an egg on it's own, complicated by the fact that Lisa has antisperm antibodies that attack sperm. So together, we will never get pregnant without assistance. We basically already knew this, but it still makes me cringe for all the years we tried on our own, all the IUI's, and trying to time everything perfectly. Man, we were naive! Makes me feel like a bit of a fool thinking back to all those times when I hoisted my legs in the air and waited for those two little lines on the evil stick, month after month. But I digress, we're supposed to be talking about good news here! So let's get back on track...

Dr. Schoolcraft said that IVF with ICSI is our only hope. And he is encouraged by fact that once Dave's sperm is injected into the egg, there should be no reason that it can't make a normal embryo since the DNA analysis came back okay. Since we've failed twice before he chalks it up to immature eggs or lab conditions or just bad luck, but he did not find anything that indicates that it can't work for us. So after a little more discussion about our protocol, he gave us the green light to start our Lupron injections tonight!

Meanwhile, our drugs arrived by Fed-ex, and we had to rush to our pre-suppression ultra sound with our local clinic.

This is where the red light comes in...

We requested an ultra sound today, even though the doctor doesn't normally do an ultra sound until 10 days after suppression medications, because we are paranoid about cysts. We've had a cycle cancelled before due to a cyst and we aren't keen on starting the process and taking the injections if we already know a cyst is present. Who wants to go through 2 weeks of injections to find out, when we could find out before we even begin with a simple ultra sound? Needless to say, we wanted the ultrasound. And sure enough, our ultrasound showed a pretty big cyst! 18mm. UGH! So we came home, called one of our nurses -- who put on the brakes -- until she talked to the doctor to see what he wanted us to do.

Which brings us to the yellow light...

Our nurse finally had a chance to talk to the doctor and call us back. He wants to us proceed with our calendar and start the lurpon shots tonight. Hopefully the lupron, then my period will help to suppress and clear up the cyst before I have to start stim meds. But there are no guarantees and if it's not gone, we will either have to stay on lupron another week or so -- MORE SHOTS! -- or cancel the cycle at that time. There is unfortunately no way to tell at this point, so for now, it's proceed with caution and hope for the best.

Now we are feeling deflated before we even begin and are having memories of our cancelled cycle, which was very hard on us. We are hoping we do not have a repeat. And hoping that this cyst is not a sign of bad things to come. I suppose there is nothing to do but try to think positive and take our first shot and pills tonight.

And hope for the best.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Breakneck Speed

Things are suddenly moving so fast we can barely keep up!

Our conference call with our nurse yesterday went a long way to ease our minds and answer all our questions. But just when I thought we could come up for air, we found out a few things that changed everything.

Things never stay easy for long!

Our doctor is scheduled to be in San Francisco for the 64th Annual American Society for Reproductive Medicine Conference from November 8-12, which was going to be the exact week that I was on my stimulation medication.

This obviously threw us into a panic for several reasons, but mostly, because we really feel we need our doctor (the one we are coming all this way for) to be looking our our case daily during stimulation medications, because this is the part of the protocol that can make it or break it. Not that we don't trust all the doctors at CCRM, we do. But we don't want to look back with any regrets or what ifs. We want Dr. Schoolcrafts eyes to monitor our doses based on our blood work and ultrasounds, and decide the exact day that we should trigger. Triggering too early could mean the eggs aren't mature, and triggering too late could mean they are over mature. So, based on this information -- and taking into account that we also want to get done prior to the Christmas office shut down --we needed to make some rash decisions and push our calendar up. And fast!

So here's our tentative plan:

TODAY -- I just ordered my suppression drugs for overnight shipping, to make sure they arrive by tomorrow.

TOMORROW -- Meet with Dr. Schoolcraft to discuss our results. And if everything is okay, and we are given the green light, I will start my injections that very night!

FRIDAY -- We will be faxed our updated/solid calendar and I will order the rest of my drugs ($5,000 worth) today. We will also pay for our IVF cycle (as they require the bulk of thier payment upfront) today. Another $15,000.

THE WEEKEND -- Over the weekend, we will need to book flights, research and book hotels, figure out what we are going to do with our four-legged baby, make a list of everything we will need to bring with us, and what we can buy in Denver, and basically try to get everything organized. I've already got a to-do list that is 2 pages long, and it's only 10am!

MEDICATION SCHEDULE: I will continue my suppression injections and drugs daily, until October 25th, at which point I will add my stimulation injections. I will then be monitored locally by my old clinic with blood work and ultra sounds for 5 days.

LEAVE FOR DENVER: At this point we anticipate flying To Denver on October 30th! Then we will be monitored by CCRM and have my medications checked daily by Dr. Schoolcraft, until the time he determines to trigger me.

TENTATIVE EGG RETRIEVAL: As of now, we anticipate that my egg retrieval surgury will be on November 5th.

EMBRYO TRANSFER: Our embryo transfer will be between November 8 - 10, at which point Lisa will be on bed rest for 48 hours before we can fly home.

So after our meeting with Dr. Schoolcraft tomorrow, this will all happen very fast! We're excited, scared, and overwhelmed -- with a to-do list a mile long.

Ready, set, go!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Worrier And The Nurse

It's no secret that I tend to over-react.

I'm anxious and worrisome by nature, and I like to plan things down to the last detail. When something goes wrong, I tend to freak out, panic, and catastrophize the situation. I slide into a downward spiral and feel that everything is doomed. I obsess. And then I jump into fix it mode. I make lists. I study and rework the situation until I get it under control. Until I can breath again. Until I'm able to feel like things are going to be okay.

My poor nurse.

A few things have been 'going wrong' with my upcoming cycle in my mind, which to me, spells the end of the world. Not only because I tend to over-react in any situation which isn't going according to plan, but multiply that by a thousand -- scratch that -- a million, because this 'is it' for us. This is our one and only last chance to ever have our own biological child. The stakes are higher than anything we've ever come up against. We cannot afford room for error. Perfection isn't just a compulsive desire -- it's an absolute necessity. It's the one time when perfection actually does matter. When we really can't afford to let anything slide. When we can't afford to have even the tiniest thing go wrong. We want to be able to look back with no regrets. We want to feel like we've done everything we possibly can. And we want to be able to walk away, feeling that we did everything in our power to make it work. Because, that's the only way we will ever be able to find peace -- if such a thing exists.

So that's why we have scheduled a half and hour conference call with our nurse tomorrow. We want to discuss our concerns, questions, timing, test results, and several possible scenarios. We want to be sure we aren't falling through the cracks. That our case is getting the proper attention and consideration it needs. And that we are all on the same page.

I'm hoping this call will ease my worries and help me feel completely comfortable with our plan for moving forward. Because one thing that we've learned through all of this, is to do your own research, be an advocate for your own case, ask questions whenever you don't understand something, and request lots of meetings along the way to make sure everything stays on track.

Oh yeah, and to breathe.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Still Waiting To Start Our Lives

It seems we're always waiting.

That's what people with infertility do. We wait for test results, wait for our cycles to begin, and wait for the right days. We wait for our calendars, wait for our medications, wait for egg retrievals, and wait for our lab reports. We wait for our transfer date, wait for our pregnancy results, and then we wait to start all over again.

It seems we are always in limbo. Always waiting. But I think the hardest thing about waiting is that fact that it never stops. We aren't just waiting to get pregnant, we are waiting for our entire lives to begin. It's like they are on hold. Every day, every month, every year. Year after year, we find ourselves still waiting, right back in the same spot we began, a maze that leads us right back to the beginning. While others are living their lives, enjoying their days, planning for their futures, we are still waiting for ours to begin. And we know that eventually, whether we have children or not, this holding pattern must end. It's no way to live a life. Being stuck in no mans land, wandering aimlessly, not apart of the rest of the world, not apart of life. Not able to move forward without children, and not yet ready to give up. Neither fully alive, nor fully dead. This world is circular and never ending.

We are nowhere. Stuck in Infertility-Land.

Still waiting to start our lives...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Best Husband A Girl Could Want

My husband is my best friend.

He's funny, smart, and hardworking. He's kind, sensitive, and understanding. He's easy going and level headed. He balances out my highs and lows with an even steady nature. I can't count the number of times, he calms me down and helps me stay centered and positive. He's always there when I need him, helping to remind me to breathe, helping me keep a level head, reminding me how far we've come and assuring me that everything will be okay. But most of all, he's supportive. A rock, encouraging me forward with kind words and open arms to heal my wounds and he never stops beleiving in me -- believing in us. And I can't imagine going through something like this, with anyone but him. In a strange way, dealing with infertility has brought us even closer together as a couple. And I know that if we can survive this, we can survive anything.

I may not have lucked out in the baby department, but I couldn't imagine a better husband. I knew early on exactly the kind of man that I wanted to marry. And knew I would have a hard time finding someone who could live up to my own father, who is the best husband and father in the world. But as soon as I met Dave, I just knew that I wanted him to be the father of my children. He has a kind heart, and he would do anything for me and his family. He is the best husband a girl could want. And he would make the best father in the world.

I can't help but fantasize about what his son will look like. How his daughter might have the same eyes, or smile, or personality. I imagine him lifting our little girl up over his head, her squealing with delight, her calling him daddy. I imagine him throwing the ball around in the backyard with our son, teaching him to golf, rolling around on the grass with him in a playfight. I imagine the kind of father he will be, the kinds of values and life lesson he will teach them. The way our kids will look up to him and love him. The pride on his face when they take their first steps or say their first words. The lazy Sunday mornings with him making a mess in the kitchen with them. I imagine the bed time stories and seeing our daughter asleep on his chest. The day he teaches our son to drive. The day he walks his daughter down the aisle. How beautiful she will look, and the single tear he will wipe from his cheek. And years later, what he will look like holding his grandchild in his arms, the pride he will feel knowing that he is a grandpa, and being part of the amazing circle of life.

I would give anything to see him hold our baby in his arms for the first time. And I hope and pray that one day he will have the chance to be a father. Because he would be a truly great one.

I love you honey xo

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

IVF 101

There may be many of you out there asking -- what exactly is IVF anyway? What's the big deal? How does it work?

Simply put, IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), involves collecting eggs and sperm from each partner and placing them together in a dish. Then transferring the fertilized embryo into the uterus where implantation and pregnancy will hopefully occur.

Well that's the easy answer anyway.

But for couples going through IVF, the process is anything but easy.

Let's start with the birds and the bees...

A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever produce. There are approximately half million or so eggs. The normal woman will ovulate one dominant follicle from her ovaries each month that contains a mature egg inside. This egg moves into the fallopian tube where it waits for sperm to come and fertilize it. At least, that's how it happens for the lucky ones!

The unlucky ones may decide to try fertility treatments.

Of course, you don't move straight to IVF.

First you try on your own for at least a year before a doctor would agree to help. We tried for almost two, before we realized that something was wrong and went for our first consultation.

Following that, there is usually a period of trying fertility drugs, specifically CLOMID, a drug that helps you produce usually around 3 or 4 eggs per cycle, to give the sperm more chances. But again, unfortunately, after six cycles, we realized that fertility drugs weren't doing the trick and would need to move on.

Next comes the IUI (Intrauterine Insemination). This is a process where the women will either take oral drugs, injections, or opt for a natural cycle. The man then gives his sperm sample. The sperm is washed to remove all the bad, slow, swimmers, and at the time of ovulation, is injected directly into the uterus with a thin catheter. This process essentially places the best sperm right beside the egg in the woman's body, thus greatly increasing the chances of fertilization. Most couples will try a couple cycles of IUI's before moving to IVF, and in our case, we tried TWELVE, yep, count em, TWELVE, before deciding it was time to move on.

Next comes the biggie. The mother of all fertility treatments -- IVF.

So how does it work you may be wondering?

Well, here's the basic rundown:

PART ONE: Preparation and Testing
This is the stage we are in now, and thankfully, coming to the end of! This is where the couple will interview their first, second, or third RE, depending on where they are in the process. We, unfortunately, have failed 2 IVF cycles already, so our process was interviewing the best doctors and clinics and researching the very best options left available to us. This is the stage where if you are in your first cycle or your third cycle, you will have tests done to eliminate and help shed light on your situation. The couple will also start to prepare their bodies by eating the right foods, taking the right vitamins, cutting out alcohol, caffeine, hot tubs, and generally doing everything they can to help prepare thier bodies.

PART TWO: Planning and Preparing the Calendar
Next the doctor will go over the IVF process with you, you will be counseled on genetic issues, speak to financial counselors, therapists, and ultimately discuss your individualized protocol with your doctor. You will get your IVF calendar from your nurse, attend injection training courses, order and receive your huge box of drugs and needles, and start on the birth control pill if necessary.

PART THREE: Ovarian Suppression
Usually the doctor will want you to go on the birth control pill for about a month to quiet the ovaries and begin to suppress your reproductive system. The pill can also help regulate your cycle and allow somewhat flexibility and more control over your calendar. Now comes the part that I hate! The Dreaded Injections. The doctor will usually put you on a drug called Lupron, which is an injection twice daily. The reason for lupron is to supress your ovaries, turn off your system, prevent cysts, and to make sure you do not ovulate. You will usually take these injections, ideally, for anywhere from 7 - 14 days before you start your stimulation medication. So that usually works out to somewhere around 20 injections.

PART FOUR: Ovarian Stimulation
Now comes the point in the cycle where you need to start making eggs -- and not just one egg, but lots of them! So at this point in the process, you will get your period, the doctor will check your ovaries with an ultrasound, and a few days later, you will begin your stimulation injections. But just so you don't have too much fun, they want you to continue to take the lupron as well, to keep you from ovulating. The stimulation drugs are also an injection which you take for anywhere from 8-14 days, and there is usually not just one, but a combination of drugs -- so you will probably be taking 2 separate injections of stimulation drugs every day. So between the stimulation drugs and the lurpon, this could require around 40 more injections, in addition to the 20 you've already got under your belt. But, needles aside, this stimulation period is the most important of the whole cycle. This is where you make it or break it.

You may be wondering why you need to make so many eggs -- doesn't it just take one? Well yes, but it would be very inefficient to only have one egg available to fertilize when you are spending this much money and putting your body through so much. And many eggs do not make it, are poor quality, or will not result in a normal embryo. Therefore, the female is given very high amounts of drugs to try to stimulate many as many follicles(eggs) as they can -- usually anywhere from 10 - 20 eggs as the optimal number.

But once again, it can never be that easy, and this stimulation part of the program is a tricky line to walk. Too many eggs, and the female may hyperstimulate, which creates other problems and oftentimes leads to less healthy eggs, a cancelled cycle, or hospitalization. But too few eggs, and the chances are lower that fertilization and pregnancy will occur.

During this process the doctor will monitor you every couple of days with a blood test and a vaginal ultrasound to check your hormone levels and count and measure the number of follicles so that he can determine the most optimal time to retrieve the eggs. And once they determine you are ready. They will give you a shot of HCG, a hormone that will allow you to ovulate, and they will schedule your egg retrieval for 36 hours after you take your final (and might I add BIG!) injection.

PART FIVE: Egg Retrieval
Next comes the egg retrieval surgury, which thankfully you are completely asleep for. The eggs are retrieved from the woman's body, while at the same time, the man gives him sperm sample into a plastic cup (yes, I know, he's got a very tough job doesn't he?) After the surgury they give you pain medication and send you home -- but no rest for the wary -- you must start on new drugs that very night! But more on that in a minute, for now, the hard part is done, so take a breath.

PART SIX: Fertilization
Now for the nail biting results. How many eggs did they get? Did they all fertilize? Will they all grow? This is where the magic happens -- in the lab. The sperm is collected, washed and placed together with the egg to fertilize in a dish. Or in our case, and many other cases out there, we opt for a procedure called ICSI, where a single sperm is chosen and injected directly into the egg, allowing for even better results, especially in the case of poor sperm.

Then, once fertilization occurs the embryos begin to grow and divide. Your babies are now growing in a dish! They are watched in the lab for a period of 3-5 days where they are then ready to be placed back inside the uterus.

PART SEVEN: Embryo Transfer
The best embryos (usually 1-3 depending on their quality and the age of the woman) are chosen to be placed back in the uterus. The embryos (or Embabies as I like to call them) are then transferred by your doctor using a catheter and ultrasound guidance -- as they are gently put back inside their mother, where they belong.

The whole process can be seen on a big screen and is an amazing moment. Your embryos are now home! And now it is up to God.

The left over embryos, if there are any, are frozen, and can be stored and used for later cycles making the process less expensive and invasive for the couple the next time around.

PART EIGHT: The Two Week Wait
And just when you think you are done, you have a whole other set of medications to take. Daily intramuscular progesterone shots are given to the woman to increase the chances of implantation. Thankfully, I have always been given the option of using suppositories, but many women are not, and these shots in the lower hip, HURT! The woman will have to take these daily shot for anywhere from 2 -10 weeks, depending on the outcome. Tell me about it -- the fun just never stops!

During this 2 week wait, you also take antibiotics and estrogen patches and other various drugs. But the worst part about this part of the process is the waiting. The two week wait is complete torture as you analyze every twinge, every symptom, and every possible sensation -- as you ask yourself the ultimate question: Did it work? Am I pregnant? Will I finally be a mom? Will I finally be a dad? And you question everything and start to worry about what will happen if it doesn't work? All that time and money and pain down the drain, only to have to start all over again or give up. The rollercoaster of emotions and fears take over, as you wait for two weeks to find out whether or not pregnancy has been achieved. Then, finally, you go for your scheduled blood test, to get the much anticipated results. And you wait for your doctor to call you with the news.

Whew! I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

So now you have an idea of how the whole process works, and you can see, that it's not quite as simple as 'putting an egg and a sperm together in a dish'. If only it were!

Those birds and bees sure do have it easy, don't they?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Day 3 Labs -- All The Testing is Done!

To say that I am not a fan of blood would be the understatement of the year!

The truth is I have always fainted at the sight of it. It has been a phobia for my entire life. One that, up until last year, kept me from even stepping foot into a hospital or getting the medical help I needed. And even now, every blood test is a big production. But after all the blood tests and needles I have had over the past year, I'm finally starting to realize that I am stronger than I ever knew, and I can beat any fear that comes my way. Which regardless of how this turns out, is something that will stay with me forever.

But still. I cannot believe I just shipped a vial of my own blood from my own freezer! And, I'm quite sure, my parents will fall off their chair when they see these pictures. I've come a long way, huh dad?

For those who are curious to see me play chemist, here's low down:

First, CCRM sent me a kit containing tubes for the blood draw, freezer packs, and transfer tubes.

On day 3 of my new cycle, I took the kit and instructions to my local lab, where they drew 2 big vials of blood in the 2 red tubes, which will eventually be tested for FSH, LH, and E2 at CCRM.

We allowed for the sample to completely clot. And then had to 2 vials of blood centrifuged, and had the serum separated. The serum (which is now yellow) was placed into one of the transfer tubes labeled properly with my full name, date of birth, and date of collection.

Next I took the serum home and froze it in our freezer over the weekend because the lab must receive it on a weekday. First thing Monday morning, I called Fed-ex and arranged to have it picked up. And I got to work packing it up! I placed the frozen transfer tube into the frozen transport container, and placed the container in the styrofoam case.

I placed this in the biohazard bag. And packed the case along with frozen cold packs into the larger styrofoam box and put in the cardboard box for shipping.

And off it goes on it's ride with Fed-ex -- Denver bound!

It's still hard to believe that all the testing is finally behind me. I have been to Denver, completed the at home portion of the testing, and just packed up my Day 3 blood work, and sent it off to CCRM!

I'm done!

Oh, and about the BCP, I spoke to my nurse Jill (who I just love!) and she has called in a new prescription for a progesterone only birth control pill. I will take 2 tonight, to catch up, and (cross fingers) be back on track!

It's a good day all around.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Off To A Rocky Start

Sometimes I wonder why things can't ever be easy?

Yesterday the nurse told me I could start the Birth Control Pill (BCP), which, for those of you wondering, is the first step in the IVF process. They usually want you on the BCP (as counterproductive as that may seem!) for a month before you start drugs, to help suppress your ovaries.

So we should be jumping up and down that we got the green light, right? Well... Things are never quite so simple when it comes to us.

I have never tolerated the birth control well. I have tried many different kinds over my lifetime, and all of them have me in the same place -- green and hanging over the toilet. So I have just never been a birth control kind of girl. Until it was time to do IVF that is...

For my first 2 IVF's, my RE had me on a progesterone only BCP -- that I actually managed to tolerate (they say the estrogen causes some people to get sick.) But for my 3rd try, I didn't use BCP at all and opted for a natural start, which worked just as well.

So once we were given the green light to start the BCP yesterday, we requested a progesterone only pack from our new nurse. Unfortunately, they are only allowed to use certain types, so I ended up being a progesterone/estrogen mix. I popped it anyway, hoping for the best, but by 2am I was hanging over the side of the toilet, and my stomach has ballooned up to the size of a watermelon!

Of course it did!

And since we can't get a hold of my nurse today (it being Sunday) we will have to make our own decision, which unfortunately could risk the start date of my cycle and push everything back a month if I make the wrong one.

The way we see it, we have 2 options:

1. Go off the pill (don't take it tonight) and call the nurse Monday and let her know I can't take it. This would mean pushing for a natural start, which hopefully they would agree with but they might not.

2. Take it tonight and then call the nurse on Monday and tell her I have to switch pills to a progesterone only pack. But this means taking it one more night which I really don't want to do, and I don't even know if it's possible to switch pill types mid-cycle.

And once again, it seems the fun never stops! Now excuse me while I go find a toilet.

Friday, October 3, 2008

And a New Cycle Begins!

AF reared her ugly head yesterday -- one of the very few times I am actually happy to see her! This means that my new cycle has begun and I am that much closer to getting this show on the road.

I'm usually like clockwork. 28 days on the nose. But this time she has thrown me into a tailspin arriving 4 days early -- and making tomorrow the day for my day 3 bloodwork. It had to be Saturday of all days! What else would I expect? But thankfully my local clinic can squeeze us in for a weekend appointment, so we're all set! Except for the fact that we can't ship my blood over the weekend (yes, that's right, we will have to take and ship my blood directly to the CCRM lab), so that will have to wait until Monday. But that is another story!

In the mean time, we've sent a laundry list of questions to CCRM (our poor nurse will want to kill herself when she gets it) asking about what this means for potential start dates, and whether I should begin birth control pills on day five or if we are going to have to wait until the next cycle. I won't bore you with the details, but the long and short of it is we are trying to get our IVF cycle done prior to Christmas, which puts us on a very tight deadline.

So our weekend is lining up to be quite a treat. It gets kicked off with bloodwork on Saturday, followed by all kinds of fun fertility related events including grocery shopping for all the right foods, and is topped off with a night of financial planning and budgeting.

Stay tuned...

Coming up next: Day 3 Bloodwork -- Playing Chemist!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mayan Abdominal Massage

Last night I started up my body work again, and I have to say, I'm glad that I did! I always feel so much better afterwards.

For those of you who have never heard of a Mayan Abdominal Massage, let me explain:

It's based on ancient Mayan technique of manipulation that repositions internal organs that have shifted, thereby restricting the flow of blood, lymph, nerve and chi. Normally the uterus leans slightly over the bladder in the center of the pelvis, about one and a half inches above the pubic bone. But the ligaments and muscles can weaken and loosen, causing the uterus to fall downward, forward, backward or to either side.

The first time I was on the table, my massage therapist told me my uterus was displaced -- shifted down and to the left. I was skeptical. Why had I never been told this before? But recently I was given an image of my uterus that proved it was indeed true. The x-ray below is called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) and can be quite painful. They inject dye into the uterine cavity through the cervix and watch to see if the dye spills into the tubes and ovaries. This is done to determine whether the fallopian tubes are open or blocked. Mine were open, so that was not the problem, but the xray also showed the position of my uterus. Which low and behold was shifted to the left!

A shifted uterus has nothing to do with whether or not I can get pregnant. But. When the reproductive organs shift, they can constrict normal flow of blood and lymph, and disrupt nerve connections, which could ultimately have an impact. So by shifting the uterus back into place, the natural balance of the body, is restored.
I must admit, the first time I had this massage done I was a little freaked out. My therapist, Megan, (who is great by the way! & works on my lower back, hips, sacrum, tailbone and abdomen. I was professionally draped at all times, but it's still a little odd. It's strange having someone massage your organs. And can be somewhat painful too! But after a while, I am getting used to it. And already I've noticed a big difference. Not only is it helping to shift my uterus, but it has also helped remind me that I must take time to heal not only my body, but my soul.

Once again I am reminded that we must do things to help ourselves stay centered, calm, and positive. Which is exactly what I needed!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Infertility: The Most Selfish of all Disorders

I'm going to tell you a dirty little secret. One that we infertiles normally keep to ourselves. Because it's not nice, it's not pretty, and it's not even something that we like to admit to ourselves.

Being infertile in a fertile world changes a person.

It makes us selfish, and bitter, and jealous, and worst of all, it chips away at our soul. It is a cancer, that doesn’t eat away at the body, but worse, eats away at our hearts. Eats away at the very core of who we are as people. It takes away all that is good. It steals our innocence. Our ability to imagine and dream and believe. It gobbles up the good before we can stop it and leaves us shells of who we once were.

I used to be idealistic. Dreams could always come true. Bad things wouldn't happen to good people. I used to believe in fairytales and happy endings. I used to see the best in people. I used to be happy for other people's successes and happiness and blessings. I used to want the best for everyone.

But the truth is, I don't anymore. And this is a shameful secret that eats away at me.

I find myself crying when somebody announces they are pregnant. I find myself cringing when I see a father and son playing catch. I find myself unable to genuinely be happy for other people. It feels like daggers to my heart. Like every piece of their happiness, somehow takes away from the possibility of me ever getting mine. I find myself thinking that there isn't enough to go around. That if they are on the winning end, I am on the losing end. I find myself thinking that every happy family I see, is somehow I reminder of what I might never have. And the thought that I might never have it, is too much for me to bear. There is nobody to lash out at. There is nobody to direct my anger towards. So I direct it at the world. At everybody who I wish I could be. At every family who I envy so deeply. And instead of being happy for their joy, I find myself feeling sorry for myself. And I don't like it.

Infertility is the most selfish disease there is. It's easy to sink into a hole of our own self-pity. It's easy to feel like victims. It's easy to become jaded, cynical and guarded. It makes us prickly, oversensitive, emotional, sad, angry, exhausted, mean-spirited, hopeless, and depressed. Who would want to be friends with a person like that? I know I sure wouldn't. I can't even stand to be around myself at times. Infertility changes us into people we don't recognize, people we don't like, and worse -- people we completely and utterly despise.

But one day soon, I plan to beat this ugly beast. I plan to go as many rounds as it takes. And I hope to god I win. Because I want myself back. I want back the wide-eyed hopeful little girl who believes in fairlytales and happy endings. I want back the woman who is a good friend, a kind person, and most of all -- has a big open loving heart.