The Shock of a Lifetime.

It has been a hectic few months for us. Our baby girl turned 1 in May for which we threw a huge bash, I had bridal showers, a handful of weddings, bachelorette parties, BBQs.

Just last week after a crazy drunken wedding, I suddenly had a painful (TMI) hemorrhoid Sunday morning. I’ve always had a couple small ones that didn’t hurt after the baby was born, but I had to do something about this pain. So Tuesday I saw a colorectal surgeon, he shot me up with lidocaine (ouch), and removed them, put some dissolvable stitches in, and prescribed me some Lortab, which I was told I would need. As soon as the local wore off I realized this was the most painful thing I’d ever experience. I was unable to go to the bathroom for 4 days, and when I did it was only because of laxatives, and was just awful. This horrifying surgery and the aftermath is really maybe the subject for another post, but I just wanted to give you an idea of what my past week was like. (Painkillers, napping, laxatives, and more painkillers).

Since the beginning of May, through all the fun and games of summer, and this nasty little procedure & recovery, I have completely neglected my cycle. I had gone on birth control in March, but the low dosage wasn’t doing much. I asked for a stronger dosage, and stayed on it for a couple months until my spring vacations were over. Since the medication wasn’t making me regular, with plenty of breakthrough bleeding and spotting the entire time, I decided to give up on it. Besides, we didn’t really need to prevent pregnancy with our severe MFI diagnosis.

Just this past Sunday (3 days ago), I decided to go to the drug store for more post-surgery pads, possibly tampons in case I got my period any time soon (where is that old thing anyway?), and a few other goodies. Before I left I told my husband maybe I’d buy a pregnancy test, half-joking, realizing I hadn’t seen red blood in probably 2 months, just the usual brown spotting. While at the drug store I debated even buying the tests since they’re so expensive, and really, what a waste of money.

Fast forward to a half hour later, I’m peeing on a stick in the upstairs bathroom. Within seconds, both lines appeared. I was stunned. I cried a single tear (probably due to worry over my drinking/recent painkiller use), and ran downstairs to show my husband. He was in total disbelief, and obviously thrilled. I took the other test in the box I bought, and had him run out to buy a few more brands. Six positive peesticks later and we were pretty convinced that I was somehow pregnant, despite my wonky cycles and his severely low sperm count, and in utter disbelief. I didn’t sleep too well that night.

Yesterday I called my doctor, still panicking, begging to come in for a sonogram to date this, since I had no concept of when my period last came. I could be 5 or 6 or 9 weeks along. All they had me do was go in to a lab for a blood test, and I FINALLY found out today at 3pm, after several phone calls to my doctor, staring at my phone for 6 hours, and shaking all day with nerves, that yes, “Congratulations”, I am pregnant. WHAT?!?!

We are stunned. I feel like I’m watching a movie about someone else’s life. It’s just so unexpected, it’s something we were told would likely NEVER happen. The first couple days I was terrified, upset that I wasn’t prepared, that I’ve drank pretty heavily several times at weddings/parties, taken Lortab for surgery (just for a couple days, but still, when does THAT normally happen), not to mention no prenatals. I feel like a freaking Teen Mom. How irresponsible. How could I be so out of tune with my body? I didn’t notice any symptoms. With my IVF pregnancy I did everything right: prenatals for a year beforehand, no alcohol for months before our cycle, and here we are now, doing a total 180. I guess I feel for those “I didn’t know I was pregnant” ladies? Wtf.

So, Monday I will go in for an appointment and sonogram. As someone who knows this routine all too well I’m super nervous, and just praying we will see a little growing baby with a heartbeat, even after all I’ve put it through. I can’t wait to find out how many weeks I am. I can’t wait to actually get to surprise our families this time. Is this real? Am I really saying these ridiculous, naive-sounding things? Am I not going to have to go through IVF again? Am I really going to have a not quite 2-year-old and an infant at the same time?

I really really hope so…

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Appreciation for my new life

I’m feeling very appreciative this morning.  

I just read a couple articles and blogs that I was linked to through PAIL bloggers, about the effect of infertility on men when MFI is a factor.  It brought me back to the dark emotions that took over my life in February 2012.  I still remember the voicemail from my RE when he said not to start taking my Femara prescription, as my husband’s sperm was a factor, and “actually quite poor”.  We were in such disbelief.  Everything changed. 

But here I am now, only 16 months later, staring at my baby girl in her lamby Fisher-Price swing.  She is perfect.  I can’t even believe how lucky we are to have a baby, let alone a healthy baby, let alone a gorgeous baby.  It’s hard to believe the despair I was feeling just last year at this time.  Not knowing if we’d ever get to experience this.  

Often I feel somewhat removed from the pain of infertility.  I am so grateful to have her, but now I’m just like any new mom: overwhelmed, overtired, wondering if I’ll ever have a social life again, wondering how I’m going to shower that day.  I don’t think about the lengths we went to get here.  I’m just living minute to minute, trying to keep her fed, healthy, and happy.  

Then there are times like today when I am reminded of the pain.  And my eyes well up with happy and sad tears, and I’m extra grateful.  And I hope I always remember.  It makes the sleepless nights a little easier, it makes me stare at her a little longer, and give her a few extra dozen kisses a day.  Our road to this wasn’t an easy one.  

I dread having to go through IVF again.  I dread the needles, and the anxiety, and the fear. But I’m lucky in that I know it can work.  I know that I just as easily could have been someone who had to endure round after round of IVF, or a miscarriage, or something worse.  

And when I look at her sweet little face, I know I can go through it again.  And I’ll be okay.  

On we go!

Whoo hooooo!!!

I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to all you lovely ladies who wished me well, sent good vibes, and kept your fingers crossed.  It worked!

My scan went great!  I didn’t see my RE at my visit as they had a case this morning,  so I just met quickly with the ultrasound tech, and had my blood drawn.  As soon as she located my right ovary I could see the little bubbles and I let out a huge hypothetical sigh of relief.  There were follicles!  I could see them!  She counted 5 on the right.  One was only very slightly larger than the rest, and the other 4 appeared to be growing at the same rate, which she said was good.  I can’t remember the size, it was either 8-10, or 10-12 mm.  On the left, I had 2 larger ones (about the same size as the ones on the right) and a very small guy in between them.  I know that’s not a ton, but it’s better than nothing!

I left feeling much more confident than I had felt all week.  Even if they had to cancel the cycle, at least I knew I was somewhat stimulable, even if I’m not quick to respond to the drugs.

Later this afternoon I got the call from one of the IVF nurses with my instructions.  CONTINUE current dosages (375 IU Gonal-F) tonight and tomorrow, have blood draw on Saturday morning.  YES!

I asked her if things were looking better (obviously).  She said “Oh!  Dr wanted me to tell you, he is very encouraged by your blood work and the scan.”  Super!

Can I just tell you, that was probably the first phone call we’ve ever received from any of these IF docs, that was actual good news.  I didn’t know that could happen.

So, on we go.  I can’t wait to shoot up in a couple hours, since I know it’s working.  Although, I could definitely feel some ovarian action going on the last couple days, more so on the right, so I suspected SOMETHING was happening in there (even though my pesky blood work didn’t seem to reflect it.)

I know a lot of things still need to go right for the rest of the cycle, but for now, I’m feeling good.

In need of some positivity …

So I started Gonal-F on Friday at 225 IU, with LH solution at 10 units.  Had my first blood draw on Sunday morning.  Got a call from my RE, saying that “everything looked fine”, but we’d need to up my dosage to 300 IU.  I was slightly worried.  

This morning I had my second blood draw since stims.  I got a call from the IVF nurse in the afternoon, and she left me a voicemail saying that my dosage would need to be increased yet again, to 375 IU.  

I called her back a few hours later when I finally had time to get away at work, and spoke to her for a few minutes.  I realized we’d probably run out of our Gonal-F with this higher dosage, and wasn’t sure what to do.  Luckily she said she was able to get her hands on 5 more pens, and I can pick them up on Thursday at my ultrasound.  

So I then asked her, “What is going on?  Am I going to be on stims for longer that normal?”

She said, “Oh yeah.  You’re just not really responding to the drugs at all.  The doctor doesn’t want to bail on this cycle yet,  he seems to think if we increase the dosage for a few extra days it might help.”

UM.  WHAT?  

So I tried to remain calm and not start bawling immediately. (I did as soon as I hung up the phone.)  I’m so mad I didn’t get to talk to my RE.  When I finally got out of work and got a chance to call again, he’d already left the office. 

What the hell does this mean?  Clearly I’m not a very good responder, but what is this indicative of?  Is it hormonal, is it poor ovarian function?  I am so terrified right now.  This is our only option.  This has to work. 

If anyone has any insight or has had a similar experience, please let me know.  I’m gonna go hug my dog and stress-eat for the remainder of the evening.  

The only test I can’t pass

I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but I’ve always done well on tests.  I’ve always had good grades, been on the high honor roll, took advanced classes, etc.  I pass every exam, driver’s test, CPR course that comes my way.

It didn’t all necessarily come naturally; I would work for it.  I was a neurotic child, the kind who would cry if she forgot her homework on the kitchen table.  I remember bawling my eyes out in 3rd grade when I got a 103 instead of 104 on my spelling test, because I forgot to capitalize one of the bonus words, “Spanish”.  (Seriously)

I’m still neurotic, and I definitely think I have some tendencies bordering on OCD, but I like to stay on top of things.  And I worry.  I worry way too much.  I worry for days when I say things that might have offended someone; I worry over the things I didn’t say.  Now, I constantly worry that we may never get to experience having our own child.

So back to test-taking, it came as a shock, when no matter how hard we tried,  I could not pass this test.  I could never make 2 lines appear on a HPT.  Every month for 8 months (I know this is not that long, but I stopped when we got our male factor diagnosis), I’d pee on a stick once or twice when I thought the time was right, but no dice.  There was a time when I hallucinated and thought I saw a faint line, but it turned out to be a shadow.  My best friend got pregnant TWICE in one month (don’t ask), but me? Never.

It really sucks to be a type A, in-control kind of person, and not be able to pass a freaking pregnancy test, when every 16-year-old on MTV has no trouble, nor anyone on my Facebook feed.  It really feels shitty.

Since I met my husband, everything had gone perfectly according to plan.  He was everything I ever wanted in a potential mate.  After dating for only about 8 months, he bought a house for us, and we started our life together.  When it came time a year after that to get engaged,  I picked out my own ring.  (Neurotic.)  We found the perfect venue for the wedding, and since we started planning so early, we got everything we wanted.

When you are so accustomed to being able to get what you want if you work hard enough, it is such a helpless feeling to want something so bad, and to then find out there isn’t a damn thing you can do to get it.

I’m keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that modern medicine can make our bodies do what they’re supposed to do.  I’m putting all my faith into our RE, who seems not only brilliant, but very kind, that he can make this work.

It has to. If I couldn’t handle not getting a perfect score on a 3rd grade spelling test, can you imagine my reaction to that?

We are not alone

I’ve been casually looking around the blogosphere, to find other people with similar infertility stories.  One thing is certain.  I feel for all of these people.  In my case it’s primarily male factor infertility, but I feel as though I can relate completely with women who have their own infertility issues, PCOS, Endo, etc.  The bottom line is the same.   The video below made me cry like a little baby, hiding behind my computer so my husband wouldn’t think I was crazy and overly emotional.

I’m still fairly new in the struggle (1 year), but every line from her video I could relate to.  Especially the line about resenting people who got to do it naturally.

Anywho, 8 days until our IVF consult!  My husband had a follow-up appointment with his urologist today.  He didn’t have much to say about the HCG treatments not working, other than he’d still like to get a sample at the end of the month to see if the 2nd round of shots had made any difference.  I guess he is going to stay in the loop via our RE, but from here on out we are only going to be dealing with the RE.  Thank god.  This urologist was not only a pompous ass, but I also think he didn’t quite know what he was talking about when it came to IVF and infertility.

At our first appointment I left in tears because he said that given our current numbers, even IVF wasn’t an option for us. (Ummm was he thinking of IUI? Does he know there’s a difference?) Then today he asked my husband if our RE had mentioned extraction of the sperm from the testes, so we could obtain his “DNA”.  From what our RE previously told us, we’d be fine for regular old IVF.  My husband has SOME sperm in his samples, just not a ton.  I’m sure more testing of the sperm is warranted before we start IVF, but what I’m getting at is, I will not miss this urologist.

Let’s get this show on the road

Only 9 days to go until our first IVF appointment.  I am so eager to get in there and find out what we have to do.  I have read a zillion blogs and websites and googled just about everything combination of “IVF, MFI, ICSI” etc etc that I feel I have a general idea of what it will entail.  I just can’t wait to hear our specifics, exactly how it will go, and when when WHEN! 

I feel so many different emotions regarding the whole situation, and they all run through my mind every day.  Excitement, worry, fear, anger, happiness. I wish we were as lucky as all the pregnant people I see in my every day life, absent-mindedly rubbing their bellies in my face.  I wonder if there will ever come a day when I see a pregnant woman and don’t feel bitter.  I will say, particularly for my good friends, I am happy for them.  But the sheer NUMBER of pregnant women I now see on a daily basis is mentally exhausting.  Hopefully this IVF thing will just work, and maybe then, when I’m finally one of them, I will let those feelings go.  I don’t know though.  They might just always be there.