Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 28 - Vitamins and Prayers

Taking our vitamins and saying our prayers is really the only aspect of conceiving a child that we have any personal control over at this point, so we do it daily.

Though I haven't always been a church going regular or one to say a prayer before every single meal, I definitely believe in a higher power. There have many times over the last few years that I've privately plead to God, "I'm ready to be a mother. Please hear my prayers and bless us with a baby. Please." Even though these prayers haven't been answered yet I wont give up. Perhaps there are still some lessons I need to learn to be ready.

After our first IVF failed I lost my faith all together. The pain was so great that I felt like we lived in a Godless world and I was angry a lot. Time softened the edges and I realized that blaming and being angry with God was totally inappropriate. I needed to look inside myself for the strength to move forward and only then could God help me. My faith has since returned.

Feeling like I need more than prayers to rely on, I make sure we both take lots of vitamins and minerals daily that are recommended by our doctor to enhance our fertility health. Having healthy eggs and sperm and a healthy womb are the keys to a healthy pregnancy, so bring on the prenatal vitamins along with extra Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins C, E & D, Folic Acid, Zinc, DHA, etc, etc... It's a lot to swallow, but I believe it will be worth it!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 27 - Hope!

I am feeling MUCH better now. The first couple of days of Lupron were weird, but now I feel pretty normal and I'm still smiling! Today is the 6th day of injecting. My doctor told me keep going with the Lupron until I get a period then to call him right away. He said that it normally takes about 12 days for that to happen, but I may not get a period, and in that case I am to call his office after 14 days of Lupron regardless. At that point I will go in for some blood work to make sure my ovaries are 'suppressed.' If they are my doctor will tell me when to start using the stimulation medication. It's really moving along now and I am getting more excited by the day! If all goes according to plan we will have pregnancy test in roughly 1 month! Oh I HOPE, I HOPE, I HOPE it's positive!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was sorting through my closet today switching out my summer tank-tops for my winter sweaters. I keep the out-of-season stuff in one of our guest room closets so that the closet I share with Ben in our bedroom isn't too cluttered in any given season. Every time I go into that guest room I think about the visions I had when we first moved in. I imagined it with a crib, a rocking chair and a little changing station....the perfect baby room. While I was hanging up my summer things for the winter, I thought about the next time I would be getting them back out. I felt a jolt of excitement when I realized that it's possible I could be 4 or 5 months pregnant and most of the tanks wouldn't fit over my belly then. That would be AMAZING!! Oh I HOPE, I HOPE, I HOPE I'm pregnant then!!!!!!!!!!!!

The idea of actually being pregnant has become a novel idea to me. When you want and picture something for so long it makes a home in your imagination and the thought of it actually becoming real seems really far fetched. I will never stop believing it CAN happen for me, but I know I will be utterly shocked when it does because I've gotten so accustomed to NOT being pregnant month after month. I'm not saying that I don't think this IVF can work (I'm really praying that it does), but I've never been pregnant, EVER, so to be told, "you're pregnant," is something that would seem very surreal. AND WONDERFUL!!!! Again, I HOPE, I HOPE, I HOPE it's positive!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is mostly what goes through my mind these days as I inject each evening. With the daily medication I try to give myself a dose of HOPE too, to wash away all the fear.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 24 - Hello Side Effects!!

I am the HOT FLASH queen today! My ovaries are sore, my skin feels like it's crawling, and I'm exhausted from the insomnia the shots have given me for the last couple nights. I feel emotional and irritable all at the same time. I'm definitely not at my finest... But, hey, it's all good!! I can take it!! (Poor Ben!!)

Before the Lupron suppresses my ovary function is actually causes the opposite to happen. For the first few days it's normal for my natural hormones to surge so that's why I'm experiencing these menopausal symptoms.

Hopefully they fade in a few days!!

When I was out doing errands today I had a thought. I'm really glad that we're doing IVF during the fall. It's amazing how weather can effect one's mood. So I'm feeling grateful that it worked out to be going through this during my favorite season! It definitely makes the creepy side effects more manageable!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 23 - Injecting Lupron

I finally started injecting Lupron yesterday and, in the words of a good friend who knows what its like to go through this and have success in the end, it feels like "every shot is a little closer to being pregnant." I will continue injecting Lupron for about 12 days until my ovaries are "quiet" then my doctor will start me on the stimulation drugs.

What is Lupron?

Lupron helps shut off my body’s natural stimulation from my pituitary gland to my ovaries. Pituitary suppression is important for recruitment of multiple follicles or eggs. The more eggs I can grow during any given IVF round the higher the chances of success. By desensitizing the pituitary's signals from the brain, Lupron blocks the natural tendency of the brain to allow only one dominant follicle to grow in each cycle. Also the medicine’s purpose is to prevent me from ovulating unexpectedly during the stimulation injection part of our cycle. Basically from here on out my entire cycle will be ruled by hormones that I'm injecting rather than the ones my body produces naturally.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 21 - A Change of Heart

I met with an especially warm friend today for lunch at our favorite spot. We met for the first time in that neighborhood just prior to my first IVF round. We have continued to meet in the same restaurant (at practically the same table) about every two weeks ever since, well, except for over the summer when she was busy selling her house and moving to a new one. We met online in a discussion thread about IVF on I consider it a great friendship that blossomed from a sad topic. We've shared everything about our respective fertility struggles. It's all we talk about at our lunches. We've joked about how it seems to be our bi-monthly 'therapy session' since we are able to vent the things to each other that we fear others may not be able to understand.

A couple of those things resurfaced during our lengthy lunch this afternoon. In the past, I would have kept the conversation to myself after leaving our 'therapy session table', but now I'm vowing to lay my honesty out on this blog, so here goes...

We talked about how we feel when we learn that someone we know just got pregnant, or how it feels to be in the presence of pregnant women. We confessed to one another that it makes us feel resentful, angry, repelled and just rotten inside. Then we posed the question to ourselves... Why do react like this?

The first and most obvious answer is that we're just plain envious. It's torturous to be around someone who has something we want so much and have had so much trouble attaining. The second blow is that most of these women got pregnant easily and naturally. The third hard knock is how infuriating it can be when they complain about their physical state. We agreed that we would give anything to experience morning sickness, shortness of breath, fatigue, feeling fat...anything just to be pregnant. The final kicker is when they talk about how much they LOVE the feeling of being pregnant. When the baby kicks and turns and watching their belly move. We smile along because that's what you're supposed to do. However, to us it feels like a sucker-punch right in the gut...or uterus. It hurts terribly, and we feel the jealousy rise up as we have been longing to know those feelings for SO LONG.

What makes the envy even worse is the guilt and shame we feel about ourselves for having these emotions. It can really make you feel like an ugly person on top of all the pain that already exists from the infertility. So the only way we have coped with it is by avoiding pregnant friends, family members, and saying "ugh!" under our breath in the grocery store when we see a baby bump.... Turn the cart and head the other way!! Steer clear of the baby isle though!! ...The world is filled with land mines that are all capable of bringing that angry, resentful person to the surface. One pregnancy sighting can ruin your whole day!

Another thing is the aversion I've had to babies. It hurts to be near them so I went out of my way to avoid all contact. I would avert my eyes and do everything in my power to avoid having to hold a child. Great huh?

Several months ago after acknowledging this about myself it occurred to me, in the twilight state between consciousness and sleep, that there's a good chance that no unborn baby spirit would ever choose my angry body to grow in. It was that moment that my eyes opened wide and I realized that I needed to make some changes.

Since then I've attended a baby's 1st birthday party. I've held my friend's precious newborn daughter, and I've joined a fundraising group that benefits Cincinnati's Children's Hospital. Also I make it a point to smile at pregnant women and babies when I see them in public. It still hurts sometimes, but I believe adjusting my attitude could possibly change my karma.

I'm learning to accept that infertility has become something that will always be a part of me even if we are fortunate enough to get through this IVF with a pregnancy. I've spent so long in this that I know it's not going to just fade away with a conception. It leaves a scar inside us, and that's OK. I just need to remember to stay focused on how I let it affect me. I can let it glorify the angry person inside, or I can use it as a challenge to work on myself. I choose the latter!

For the first time in my life the babies out there are smiling back at me. Maybe they were smiling all along, but I was too jaded to look at them. Now my eyes are wide open and so is my heart.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 20 - Laughter

Before our first cycle I remember a friend telling me that she had heard about a study that looked at laughter and its effects on the success of IVF. Ultimately it was concluded that the more women laughed during their treatment, the better their success rates were. This concept made immediate sense to me. We've all heard, "laughter is the best medicine," right?

So with this advice I planned to surround myself with nothing but comedy, light hearted movies and pleasant people who laugh easily. (Just like my husband, Ben, who has an intoxicating chuckle.) However, I think I lost track of that mindset early on because of the stress of the unknown process. I just became too serious and allowed my worries to take over. I'm not saying that is reason our first IVF failed, but I have wondered.

This time I'm determined to keep my spirits bright and not forget to have a smile on my face. I believe that energy is a powerful force and we get back what we put off.

In the spirit of hearty laughter, I've decided to share this link (sorry you have to copy and paste it to a new browser window...and make sure you have your volume up too). It's a video I posted of my two dogs (Bunny & Libby) in our old back yard in Delaware. Every time I watch it I crack up! (Try to count the number of circles they's SO ridiculous!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 19 - Good Weather & Support

The fall weather today just couldn't have been more perfect. Autumns in Southwest Ohio make living here totally worth it. I walked about 5 miles in the glorious sunshine with a good friend and my puppy. The Sugar Maple trees were absolutely neon orange in the sunlight and the air was crisp on my cheeks. I just couldn't help but smile.

My friend and I talked a lot about my IVF, her previous miscarriages and the fact that these two taboo subjects are ordinarily not discussed. We both agreed that it's silly to keep hiding behind the cloak of fertility issues. It just seems unfair to us that pregnant women and new moms are constantly shown love, interest and curiosity when we TOO need that support. Because of this, we have both decided to be more open about our respective situations. It's nice to have such open dialogue with someone else who knows this type struggle.

I have several other women in my life who have been incredible to me during this time of distress. Some of them have also opened up about their fertility issues, and I believe we will have a life long bond because of that. Others are just extremely generous with their time, ears and support. Good friends are so important and I feel blessed to have so many.

My mother and older sister have also been major sources of strength for me and I want acknowledge that here too. There have been many, many hours that I have talked in circle to them about my pain, frustration, anguish and sadness. They were both beyond loving and expressed their deepest sympathy even when it seemed to me that they had no idea what I was really feeling.

That's the thing about infertility (or any other experience in life)...It's impossible to really explain, and one can't truly understand the emotional response unless they've felt it first hand.

Regardless, I am doing my best to put my truth out there. Knowing that I have friends and family who support me, especially on a gorgeous fall day like today, has me smiling and feeling whole.

Thank you loved ones, and thank you Mother Nature!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 18 - The Big Lesson

I spoke with one of our IVF nurses today to confirm the injection schedule that our doctor set up for me. I start injecting this weekend. YES!! Woo Hoo! (I'm really glad that needles don't scare me otherwise I may not be able to enjoy this excitement so much.)

I'm sure it sounds crazy that I'm looking forward to the injections, but I'm sure those of you out there who have been through fertility treatments would totally vouch for me that it really IS exciting. After years of feeling bound by the infertility, we feel like the shots are a physical representation of being able to do something about it. In a sense, they temporarily give us some power, and they make it feel like we are moving forward again after being stalled for so long.

Of course this power is merely imagined. After all, nobody really has any control over anything do they? Ben and I feel like this has been our lesson throughout. The story goes like this:

In April of 2005 Ben and Cilla meet and fall in love. They are both control freaks who like to plan every aspect of their lives. They follow rules and ultimately live inside the box...happily. They date for one year and then decide to wed. Their engagement lasts for another year before their marriage. All along they planned on having children immediately after the wedding. "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage"...right?

WRONG! For us it was more like...

"First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes years of heartache, tons of negative pregnancy tests, and multiple IVF carriage, still to be determined."

So what's the moral of the story? We have NO CONTROL over the timing of these things...or anything really.

It's the human condition to believe that we actually have control over our lives, and trust me, I am truly guilty of this. In early adulthood, it can seem that life is actually controllable. We made the decision to go to college. We chose what we wanted to study and what career paths we would take. We chose who we dated and who we married. We continue to chose where we will live and what we spend our free time doing. Basically, it has always seemed that we are in control of our own lives.

Fortunately, Ben and I have always been healthy and showered with blessings, so it was easy to mistake our good fortune in life for our control over it. Being faced with the inability to control when, how, or if we can have our own children has forced us to confront The Big Lesson: It's REALLY out of our hands!

As difficult as it has been to get to this point, I believe that we will be better people because of it. In a way, it feels like this is our first lesson in parenting...Have PATIENCE!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day 17 - We're Gambling

As much as I try not to focus on anything negative these days, it happens sometimes. I'm human. This experience is so polarizing. It's black or white! If the IVF works, we will be elated by the best news we have ever gotten, but if it doesn't, we will probably hit the floor even harder than we did the first time.

This process is so expensive (with zero insurance coverage) that it is not something we can just try over and over again. In addition, it has such extreme outcomes that we are quite literally gambling with both money and emotions. It's emotional roulette, and it's scary as hell!

But, you can't win if you don't play.

For a long time now we have felt the daily loss of being childless, so this is a risk we know we must take for the second time. Now more than ever, were are working hard to ignore the fear and instead remember to be GRATEFUL for the opportunity, to TRUST that the process can work, and to have FAITH that our baby will be in our arms soon.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day 14 - The Drugs Arrived!!

We're getting closer!

I remember last time when the giant box of drugs showed up I was VERY intimidated. This time is different. I know what to expect with the injections, so I'm just excited to start the process. Now that the medicine has arrived, it feels like we're one step closer to achieving our dream of having a baby!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day 12 - No Vaccine for Me Now

After many phone calls, it turns out that the H1N1 vaccine has not been released to the public yet. In order to get it right now, I would have to be considered a 'high risk patient.' Those that top the chart are pregnant women, but since I am technically not pregnant (yet) I will have to wait with the rest of the general public until November 9th. And that is the very earliest since the release date is still subject to being pushed back. By November 9th I might already be pregnant, and the thought of getting vaccinated with our very, very tiny new embryos inside me kinda freaks me out. I have been assured by my IVF doc, my general practitioner, and the Cincinnati Health Dept. that it is perfectly fine to be vaccinated early in pregnancy. The idea doesn't sit well, but in line with the rest of this process, I must TRUST the doctors to know what's best for me, my husband and our baby-to-be.

In the mean time, I will be washing my hands like crazy, taking extra Vitamin C (along with all my other prenatal supplements), and hoping that I stay HEALTHY!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 11 - Flu Vaccines?

There has been SO MUCH news coverage about how bad the flu season will be this year as a result of the new H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus, so today I called my doctor's office to get his perspective on the matter. He instantly suggested that I get vaccinated for both regular flu and H1N1 because of the potential risk it could present if I were to get sick if I had just become newly pregnant.

I have never gotten a flu shot in my life, and quite frankly, I have always shrugged a shoulder at the idea. I don't like the idea of some vaccines. But this time I feel differently. Having a healthy pregnancy is numero uno, and with all that we have gone through to get to this point we are not into taking unnecessary risks.

If my doctor says its the right thing to do, then we have to trust his judgement. Off to get vaccinated....

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day 7

Today I spoke with Caremark, our specialty drug pharmacy, to confirm that they received the called-in-prescription from my doctor's office. I went over the order with the pharmacist to make sure they had the same information my doctor had given me. Everything matched up and she informed me that my package will ship late next week. The drug cost is more this time around, but we expected that since we knew our doctor was changing up the drug combinations for this round of IVF. He believes that the different drugs will give us a much better outcome this's to hoping!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 4

My FSH level was 6.7

My doctor says that anything less than 9 is a normal FSH level, so he expects me to have a good response to drug induced ovarian stimulation.

Yippy! We are officially underway with IVF #2!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Day 3 - FSH Blood Work

I had blood drawn today to measure my baseline Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH).

What does FSH do?

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is one of the most important hormones involved in the natural menstrual cycle as well as in drug-induced stimulation of the ovaries. It is the main hormone involved in producing mature eggs in the ovaries. FSH is the same hormone that is contained in the injectable drugs I will be using to produce multiple eggs.

Why does my doctor measure my FSH level on day 3?

By measuring my baseline FSH on day 3 of my cycle, my doctor gets an indication as to whether I have normal "ovarian reserve". He is looking at how hard my body needs to "step on the gas" early in my menstrual cycle to get a follicle growing. This will determine the amount and type of injectable drugs he will prescribe for me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day 1

Getting a period is marked as the first day of an IVF cycle.

I got mine today, so I called our doctor to schedule some blood work to make sure everything is right for us to begin this new round.

Our IVF cycle will take approximately 60 days until the highly anticipated pregnancy test at the end. FINGERS CROSSED FOR A POSITIVE RESULT!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Here we go again!

It's been seven months since our first (unsuccessful) In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) round and we are feeling very excited for the opportunity to try again. This time we really believe that it is going to work for us! Yes, the fear of it not working again is certainly there, but we are choosing to sideline those thoughts and focus on being POSITIVE! Since we've been through IVF once already, this time we are more comfortable with the medical process. After two and a half LONG years of trying to get pregnant with our first baby, we believe that our miracle is almost here!! IVF #2 here we come!! :)

What is In vitro fertilization (IVF)?

It is a process by which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside the womb, in vitro. IVF is a major treatment for infertility. The process involves hormonally controlling my ovulatory process (injecting super stimulation drugs), surgically removing eggs from my ovaries and fertilizing them in a lab with my husband's sperm. Our fertilized embryo(s) are then transferred into my uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy.