Everything No One Tells You – Trying to Conceive after Miscarriage

“You Never completely Heal emotionally from a miscarriage. When you decide to move forward with more treatments, it will sometimes feel as though you are turning your back on the child you lost. You will torture yourself with imagined scenarios of siblings, of your lost child’s reaction to your decisions. You will inaudibly consult your child on decisions that you feel they need to be a part of. A miscarriage creates a scar on your heart- and there is no healing scars. You just learn to live with them. Do not be ashamed of them. Embrace them, and make them part of your life. You will be stronger for it.”

We started our Gonadotropin injections as soon as we were allowed too, having passed the injectable class. It required a daily injection in the abdomen, a trigger shot, an IUI (Intra-uterine insemination) and the usual blood work and ultrasounds. The schedule looked something like this-

myfertilitychoices.com
myfertilitychoices.com

New Cycle:

Day 2- Blood work/Ultrasound

Day 3 through 11 – Injections + 3xs Blood work

Day 12 – Ultrasound, Blood work and an injection

Day 13 – Blood work, Ultrasound, Trigger Shot

Day 14 – A physical break

Day 15 – Specimen Collation, IUI,  Blood work

Day 17 – Progesterone Inserts 1-2xs daily as the doctor checks blood work very 5-7 Days

http://whenrugonnahaveababy.blogspot.com/2012/05/crinone-8_19.html
http://whenrugonnahaveababy.blogspot.com/2012/05/crinone-8_19.html

A side note about progesterone Inserts; They are disgusting. Stop reading  and move to next paragraph if you are easily grossed out. The are a cream filled tampon you must insert to which gravity applies. Think about it. They are gross and required everyday after an IUI during an injectable cycle. Invest in some panty liners!

Now, the Prince and I had been through the general process 3 times before this cycle and used to do every step together. Things changed after the miscarriage. We became very determined and goal orientated. instead of taking it step by step.

I no longer walked to the dungeon of shame with him and instead, I sent him on the 1 hour drive alone to give a sample before 8 am, as required, while I waited back at home for the scheduled IUI the same afternoon. It became routine; no longer enjoyable.

http://newmyanmarpyi.blogspot.com/2014_03_01_archive.html
http://newmyanmarpyi.blogspot.com/2014_03_01_archive.html

To be completely honest, I think the miscarriage took more out of us emotionally then either of us were willing to admit. We still had faith in the process, but had lost hope it would work for us.

Getting a shot in my gut was a tough transition from simply swallowing pill. Even though I took the class, there was still the mental challenge of sticking myself with a needle, on purpose. I envisioned myself trying to fall onto it, or sticking my finger or my husband instead of my love-handle. I knew that the greater purpose for this was a baby and that helped when my husband did the shots, but it was so different when I had to do it myself.

To add a little pressure, all of these medications were scheduled and needed to be given within an hour of the same time which they were given the day previous.

I recall one time in particular; I was on work travel and it was the first time I had to give myself a shot alone. At dinner, I snuck a piece of ice into my cheek thinking I could numb my gut in the bathroom. When I finally arrived to my stall, the ice was gone and I was faced with sucking it up and sticking it to my gut, all alone, or quitting.

I am Not.  A. Quitter.

At the risk of being found, passed out on the floor of a public rest room, with a syringe in hand, I took a deep breath, grabbed as much skin on my abdomen as possible and shoved that need in, like a butter knife into a well-done sirloin. As my hands trembled, I pressed the back of the syringe into the front and injected the meds into wherever the tip of the needle had landed (I could only imagine).

Success.

The only obstacle now was to exit the bathroom stall with an expression that explained the fact that my feet were no where near the usual ‘sitting on the toilet’ position and my skin tone had gone from a nice fuchsia to a translucent cream.Feet bathroom stallI smiled at the first person in the long line that made eye-contact.

I watched the tiles pass my feet on the floor, to pass the rest.

Round 1 – Not pregnant.

Round 2 – Not pregnant.

Round 3 – and the last round our insurance would cover….. and something went wrong….

Parenting for Real – Teaching Your Children about Death

Last week, our family lost the most amazing man. He was a caring Father, Son, Friend and Great-Grandfather to my children. He never spoke unless spoken too and never spoke ill of anyone he knew or encountered.

This is a man who immigrated from Italy when he was just 12 years old with his Mother and Sister back in 1933. He was the son of a shoemaker in New York. His younger sister went off to college and Grandpa-Joe went off to war in the US Army Corps Search and Rescue for downed pilots. This is a man who served 2 consecutive terms with the search and rescue team only to be relieved by another radio-man who never returned from his tour.

Grandpa didn’t have cancer, heart disease, or even a headache. He turn 94 years old less than a week before he passed, and died at home, with family.FullSizeRender_2

In Italian tradition, as I am learning, you have a wake/viewing, service and burial for each member of your family. This was worrisome to me, as my daughter suffers from Social Anxiety and Sensory Integration Disorder. This means, that any new situation or change in routine, typically tends to send her into a full physical and physiological panic attack. I was worried about having her see Grandpa in the casket, worried about the crowds of people, worried about questions she may have at the burial.FullSizeRender

There were lots of questions; “Why is Grandpa sleeping?” “Why are his hands tied up?” [Rosary] “I thought Grandpa went to Heaven, why is he still here?” “Mom….IS THIS HEAVEN?”

As my two-year old ran around shouting ‘Wake Up Gam-pa!” My 4-year old pondered the concept of death. To her, people were crying because Grandpa was tied up in a box and no one could wake him up. To her, adults were sad because they missed a man who was actually right in front of them. To her, this man of faith, was simply sleeping because he was tired. To her, death was an easier concept then to most adults.FullSizeRender_1

Bean wasn’t scared, she wasn’t worried. She wasn’t confused. She simply asked questions out loud and we as parents, hoped we had the right answers. A good friend put is perfectly when she said, “There is no fear in death but only an understanding of Heaven.” Perfectly stated if you ask me.

I learned that my child’s simplistic view on life is one we should adopt as adults. I learned that the way she was comprehending death was the same way Grandpa lived his life; in the moment. Bean woke the morning after Grandpa passed telling me she was angry because he went to Heaven before she could give him the card she had spent the afternoon crafting….I had not told her that Grandpa had died. The days following she woke with multiple dreams of Grandpa and short but vivid visits from a man she only got 4 years with.FullSizeRender_3

Do not fear facing death with your child, but instead take away some of how they do it and apply it to your life.

  • Be childlike in your faith but mature in your thirst for an understanding and history of it.
  • Defend those you love with passion, courage and consistency and without reservation or fear.
  • Love deeply and without boundaries
  • Mourn those you lose without losing yourself
  • Find the ‘happy’ in any and all circumstances

You see, this opportunity to ‘face death’ and ‘teach’ my daughter about death was really about me, learning from her. It is not something to fear, but only a part of life. Eternal life.

FullSizeRender_4

 

Parenting for Real – When You Think You Got it Wrong

Today is one of those days when I feel like I got parenting all wrong.

I lost my temper, a lot. I did enough yelling to make my voice hoarse.

I carried my son out of a store this morning, screaming in an under-arm, football hold. I didn’t leave the store as he started his tantrum, but instead, put into my cart what I came in for and held him under my arm, screaming and kicking, as I waited in line, paid and loaded the shopping cart.

I still had to run into the grocery store to get a few necessities….tantrum #2.

I continued through the store and tolerated not only my son’s screaming and kicking from the top seat of the cart, but I also endured the stares, nasty comments and pointing from onlookers. I walked as slow as I needed too, continued to check my list and compare it with the items now in the cart and head to the checkout lane. As we waited for the cashier to finish the customers purchase in front of me, I handed my 4 year old a bag on M & M candies. She had been an angel during this morning of torture brought on by her younger brother and deserved an unexpected treat.

Kicking and screaming, my son, continued as we loaded the car, buckled and drove home.

Upon arrival, I took off his shoes, kissed his face as he swatted at mine and told him he needed to rest. I placed him calmly and quietly into his bed, shut the light and closed the door.

A well-deserved silence followed.2014 11 15_4063

A nice afternoon on our bikes, leaf pile jumping, playing with our dogs and in the neighbors hot tub and we headed home for dinner.

The tantrums ensued just in time for a bath and continued as I washed his body, his hair, put on a diaper and his pajamas. I combatted the pinching and the face smacking with a yell or a quick tap on the rear. Deservedly I think.

Instead of leaving him in the room this time I shut the door, left on the light and I sat on the floor; watching as his screaming continued. I didn’t try to talk to him, or to calm him down. I didn’t worry about how loud he was or how badly it was paining my eardrums. I sat and waited.

When he was ready, and not a second before, while still screaming, he made his way to me still criss-cross-applsause on his floor and he placed his arms around my neck. One big breath and he collapsed into my lap, eyes already closing and needing to rest.

I kissed his sweaty forehead and realized that through it all; the yelling, the punishment, the structure, the screaming, the kicking, the pinching… he still knew that I loved him. And that was a win for me.2014 12 13_3978

You see, our kids may not always get the best of us as parents, but they deserve it every minute of every day. We all struggle and we all have those days when nothing seems to go right. We tend to beat ourselves up every time our child doesn’t measure up to ‘normal’ instead of celebrating how they are unique. My son is usually very easy-going, kind-hearted and loving….what did I do to make him so angry today? Our internal monologue only deepens the knife we used on ourselves.

But – It’s ok.

You see, in those moments when you think your child doesn’t deserve your love, is when they possibly need it the most. Be kind to yourself and take comfort in the fact that you are not the only one out there having THIS day. There are other parents burning the midnight oil because they need a moment alone after a long day or they simply like to revel in the quiet after bedtime.

No one ever said that being a parent is an easy job, in fact I most often hear the opposite. You can only do what You believe is right for your family and for your children.

Be thankful that you have each other. Period. No matter what kind of day it has been.2014 11 15_4098

Everything No One Tells You – Healing from Miscarriage

My first miscarriage was more painful both physically and emotionally then I ever could have imagined it would be.  I realized very quickly that those who knew what had happened didn’t know what to do or to say so, I didn’t talk about it.  Instead, I avoided the topic and secretly cried myself to sleep for many nights.

Every time another friend announced a pregnancy secretly hated them.

women suffering

I build a wall; an emotional barrier that I refused to cross as a means to protect myself and my little angel.

In March, about 8 weeks after the miscarriage, we decided to try a new treatment; Gonadotropin Injections.

A side note: You Never completely Heal emotionally from a miscarriage. When you decide to move forward with more treatments, it will sometimes feel as though you are turning your back on the child you lost. You will torture yourself with imagined scenarios of siblings, of your lost child’s reaction to your decisions. You will inaudibly consult your child on decisions that you feel they need to be a part of. A miscarriage creates a scar on your heart- and there is no healing scars. You just learn to live with them. Do not be ashamed of them. Embrace them, and make them part of your life. You will be stronger for it.

“Gonadotropins are hormones (LH and FSH) that can be given in an injection to stimulate a woman’s ovaries to produce follicles, which contain an oocyte (egg). Women who have not been able to become pregnant with clomiphene (Clomid, Serophene) may be encouraged to try gonadotropins as a next step” (www.uptodate.comcontents/infertility-treatment-with-gonadotropins-beyond-the-basics).GonadInjectables

“Gonadotropins are two hormones, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which are normally produced by the pituitary gland. These hormones stimulate the ovaries to produce a follicle, which contain an egg (oocyte).

Most gonadotropin preparations used for infertility treatment are created in a laboratory (called recombinant preparations) and must be injected under the skin to be effective. For most women, a preparation containing only FSH injections is recommended. Women who do not have regular menstrual periods and who have very low levels of LH and FSH require a preparation containing both LH and FSH” ( www.uptodate.comcontents/infertility-treatment-with-gonadotropins-beyond-the-basics).

In elementary terms, it was Clomid in a liquid form that had to be injected in the abdomen once, daily. It was supposed to increase the cd8-us-left-ovary-folliclesnumber of follicles I developed so that upon HCG injection (trigger shot) I would be able to conceive (35% chance I was told) when combined with yet another IUI (Intra-Uterine Insemination).

We had to take a class for this round. From what I was told by my trusty Google searches, I should expect in this class, to use a syringe in a citrus fruit.

Google fail. practicing injections

We showed up at the class to sit for 2 hours and listen to how to inject yourself in the gut and then sent home. No example, no practice, not even a fruit in the room.  Awesome.

For someone who was afraid of needles her whole life, this girl had some major overcoming to get through – but nothing compared to what I had just gone through.fear-of-needles-trypanophobia

We picked up our mound of needles, vials and booklets of instructions and went home to get prepared….

When suffering from infertility and trying to find away to ‘make things work’ there is a lot of stamina required . You cannot turn away from events you once ran from. You truly have to be able to face all these challenges head-on if you want to get through it. So many couples feel unsupported that they surrender and decide it wasn’t meant to be.

If this is you – Don’t Quit.

Take a break, take a vacation or have a cold glass of wine in a warm and bubbly bath; but don’t quit.  If there is a desire, a need, to feel a child grow within your womb, then follow your heart and try anything and everything you can. If that desire is there, it will come. Maybe not in our timing, but it will come.

Try not to despise those around you who seem to get whatever they want. Try not to push them away because they have what You want. Try to understand that they truly are no more deserved then you, it is just in the timing.

You Cannot experience True Joy Unless you have suffered Great loss. 

You. Are. Not. Alone.

hope

Everything No One Tells You – Our Baby Is Dying

So there I was, New Years Eve, and 2 hours from the start of 40 friends and family coming for a party and I was curled up on the cold, damp garage floor sobbing because of the news the Fertility Clinic just called with; our baby was dying.

Everything no one tells you:

  • although there is a high chance of conception with fertility assistance there is also a higher chance of miscarriage
  • every pregnancy conceived under ‘normal’ circumstances has a 31% chance of miscarriage (about.miscarriage.com)
  • each miscarriage you have increases your chances of future miscarriage
  • No One, not even your doctor can give you the actual reason you miscarry. They don’t really know

bad news phone call

I had to pull it together and muster the strength to get through the evening. I went into the house, freshened up and did exactly that. As friends and family shouted Happy New Year with smiles and laughter I faked a grin and tipped my glass (of water) to theirs.

I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed. I felt as though God was taunting me with things I wanted but wasn’t ready to have. I wanted someone to blame and the only option seemed to be myself.

yolksac
www.ultrasound-photos.com

January 4th – in for more blood work. This afternoon phone call was different then all the others had been in the last 8 months; I didn’t want it to come. When, ultimately it did – the results were the same- our numbers were too low to sustain a pregnancy but not low enough to confirm a miscarriage.

This meant – that even though the Doctors said we were losing our baby, my body wasn’t ‘doing that correctly either.’ My body was hanging on to hope.  My body was continuing as if the pregnancy was ‘viable’ and all numbers were where they needed to be.  It was on this cold day in January that I decided to stop listening to the Doctors and start listening to my body.

I gained Hope. I gained Faith that my Child might be able to pull through. That maybe I could beat the odds. I even went as far as to talk to my son. Tell him to ‘Hang in there’ and ‘Don’t give up yet.’

Somewhere in my mind I knew he couldn’t hear me, but it made the pain more tolerable to think he could.

January 8th – More Blood work.

January 11th – Blood work and ultrasound for confirmation of pregnancy loss.

On the Evening of January 11th the spotting began; a sure sign that I was going to miscarry. The Doctors celebrated – I mourned.

blooddrawStill hope?

Spotting January 11th – 17th with no pain.

January 18th – more blood work and another ultrasound.

If you have not been tracking the time line I was about 8 weeks pregnant. I had developed an image, relationship, status for this pregnancy that the doctors said never existed.  They did photos of my empty uterus other than what they referred to as a Yolk Sac….as if the word ‘baby’ made them ill. After a second ultrasound with no visual change they told me I needed a DNC.

I refused.

The last thing a woman needs when she is mourning the loss of a baby is to be told she needs surgery to ‘get it out.’ That she needs to go through physical pain in order to heal the emotional.  That her body, yet again, isn’t doing what it should,  and it needs medical assistance to ‘move things along.’ To be told she needs to ‘get on with this and move forward.’

I refused.

After a lengthy and private conversation with the office’s Nurse Practitioner Staff the Doctor begrudgingly offered a secondary option; Misoprostol.

www.abortionpilldoctor.com
www.abortionpilldoctor.com

“Misoprostol is a medication used to start labor, induce abortions, prevent and treat stomach ulcers, and treat postpartum bleeding due to insufficient contraction of the uterus” (Drugs.com)

It can also be inserted vaginally for inducing abortions – which just happened to by my doctors recommended. Punishment I guess for refusing the DNC. I was to insert 4 tablets for 2 days in the evening. Nothing other than that was discussed, no side effects other than passing the ‘yolk sac’ and bleeding precautions.

I followed instructions for two days until in the middle of the night, day two, I woke to empty my bladder and felt some of the most horrifying pain I have ever felt in my life.  I was less than half way between my bed and the bathroom and it hit instantaneously. The pain was so furious I lost control of my entire body and fell to the hardwood floor. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t catch my breath, I couldn’t muster the strength to make it all the way to the bathroom…so I stayed in the middle of the hallway shaking in pain. My husband was about 20 feet away from me and I couldn’t even call him for help.  It wasn’t until a few hours later that I woke, in a cold sweat, still in the hallway and in disbelief at what had happened. The pain was still present, but tolerable.

I slowly stood and made my way to the bathroom and then back into bed. I was too embarrassed to call my husband to help; I mean I wasn’t even woman enough to keep a baby safely growing within me so I didn’t feel like it was his responsibility to feel sorry for me.tear

I cried. I cried until my body ached and finally I fell back to sleep.

My baby died. I will carry that with me for the rest of my life with the wonder of what he looked like, whose eyes he would have had and whose sense of humor he would have inherited. I will never know.

There was only ONE thing that was said to me through the entire ordeal that felt helpful or supportive. My mother, who suffered miscarriage herself told me, “At least you know they will be there to greet you when you get to Heaven.”memory miscarriage

Something to look forward too. That is what I needed. Thanks Mom.

Everything No One Tells You – + At Last!

It was Christmas morning, Day 14 Post IUI and I was determined to deliver good news to myself and my husband on this day. I knew that I could get a false + if I took an at Home Pregnancy Test, especially because we took the HCG (trigger shot) injection, but after a trusty ‘google search,’ I decided it was worth the risk. It was 6:00am and although I had to squint, I finally saw that vertical line. I remember distinctly, placing my left hand over my dropped jaw and my eyes welled with tears as my stomach turned and heart skipped a beat.

It was positive.

I cannot explain to you the innate feeling you get when you want something or have wanted something for so long and it is finally right in front of you. The physiological reaction is inexplicable other than through emotional correlations such as happy, excited, terrified, nervous, shocked, scared, and in awe.

I had told my husband after we exchanged gifts that morning and he walked around all of Christmas Day checking on me more often than usual. His protective instincts kicked in immediately at the thought of being a father.

As with any fertility process we still needed to go for blood work on Day 16 post IUI and we did to confirm our already confirmed news. The blood test was also positive and we started to ‘settle down’ with the thought of becoming parents.

www.journal.frontiers.org

When receiving a positive pregnancy test via blood work they look at 2 specific numbers (among others of less importance). They look at Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG = the pregnancy hormone) as well as the Progesterone level (helps build and support lining of the uterus in order to sustain pregnancy after embryo attachment).

According to www.AmericanPregnancy.org there are a few important factors to keep in mind in regards to HCG levels in early pregnancy:

Key things to remember about hCG levels

    • In 85% of normal pregnancies, the hCG level will double every 48 – 72 hours. As you get further along in pregnancy and the hCG level gets higher, the time it takes to double can increase to about every 96 hours. Caution must be used in making too much of hCG numbers. A normal pregnancy may have low hCG levels and result in a perfectly healthy baby. The results from an ultrasound after 5 -6 weeks gestation are much more accurate than using hCG numbers.
  • An hCG level of less than 5mIU/ml is considered negative for pregnancy, and anything above 25mIU/ml is considered positive for pregnancy.
  • The hCG hormone is measured in milli-international units per milliliter (mIU/ml).
  • A transvaginal ultrasound should be able to show at least a gestational sac once the hCG levels have reached between 1,000 – 2,000mIU/ml. Because levels can differentiate so much and conception dating can be wrong, a diagnosis should not be made by ultrasound findings until the hCG level has reached at least 2,000.
  • A single hCG reading is not enough information for most diagnoses. When there is a question regarding the health of the pregnancy, multiple testings of hCG done a couple of days apart give a more accurate assessment of the situation.
  • The hCG levels should not be used to date a pregnancy, since these numbers can vary so widely.
  • There are two common types of hCG tests. A qualitative hCG test detects if hCG is present in the blood. A quantitative hCG test (or beta hCG) measures the amount of hCG actually present in the blood.

Our first blood test revealed to have HCG levels within the normal range of 5 – 426 mIU/ml.We were roughly at 325 mIU/ml. It was December 27th.

tracesofreality.com

As usual, we needed to return for More blood work in 4 days to confirm everything was going and growing normally. We wanted to see our HCG levels grow right along side our Progesterone levels. We had been directed by the Doctor to continue our ‘progesterone inserts’ as a precautionary measure, as there is no specific research to support or to disprove their ability to aid the progression of a pregnancy.

December 31 came quickly as we had company in town and were expecting about 40 people over that evening for a New Year’s Eve Party. I ran out of the house as early as possible as I didn’t want our family in town to question where I was headed. The last thing I needed was questions or gossip about a process no one knew we were going through.

iwishisaidthat.com

A side note – with every listening ear, comes a running mouth. If you decide to be open about your fertility process then understand that you WILL be questioned. Even when you specifically ask family members to reserve conversation about it with you and only with you – you will discover that ‘they had questions’ and as a result went to people uninvolved in your life and rambled about your fertility problems to have them answered. Do not be fooled by the label of ‘family’ or ‘friend’ as with many of those that fall into this class there is NO respect for your privacy OR your pain. (Yes – I learned this lesson the hard way and am slighted because of this experience).

I went in as planned and expected a call later that day.

The lasagna was in the oven and my husband not yet home from work when the phone rang. I took the cell phone and ran into the garage, avoiding our house guests who were in the kitchen and TV room.

“Hello?”

“Hi ShaunaBeth?”

“Yup”

“I am afraid your numbers have dropped significantly since last week.”

Silence. You know that feeling when you know someone delivers bad news but you haven’t yet wrapped your brain around what it was they said. Sweaty palms, heart pounding, knees weak, vision blurry…..

“What does that even mean?” I was stunned at this awkward conversation and beginning to get angry at the poor Nurse Practitioner on the other line as if she was at fault for this in any way.

“It is not good news.” Pause.  “We do not believe, at this time, that this is a viable pregnancy, due to where your levels have dropped too.” Pause. “We need you to come in for more blood work in 4 days.”

“Ok. Thank you.” I didn’t know what else to say….or what to do. So I hung up.

With my mind still racing and not knowing what to do, I called my mother who had struggled with fertility issues multiple times. When I relayed the news to her and she went momentarily silent and then started crying…..I knew all hope was gone.

Our baby was going to die. Before we get to meet her, see her or hear her heart beat she was going to die.

It was 3 hours before 40 guests showed up for New Years Eve and I had company upstairs that had no idea we were suffering from infertility or, at this point, miscarriage and I was more than overwhelmed. The level of emotional strain on my body was too much to handle all at once so I fell. I dropped onto the cold, damp, cement garage floor and I wept.

I wept for a time long enough for people to start wondering where I was. I wept till my stomach hurt and my eyes were puffy.

blog.walkercincinnati.com

I watched the snow fall through the garage door window while I caught my breath and wept even more.

No one prepares you for what I was feeling. No one tells you that there was a higher chance of miscarriage when you use fertility drugs. No one tells you how bad it would hurt when you have the best news of your life taken back. No one tells you how bad it would hurt. No one tells you that you carry that lost baby with you emotionally forever. No one tells you that you would start to despise those around you who are pregnant.

What do they say? Everything you don’t want to hear; The Baby wasn’t strong enough. There was something wrong so your body got rid of it. It wasn’t meant to be. It will happen again. At least you know you CAN get pregnant.

I had, in my womb, a baby. Everything in my heart was telling me to protect my child and everything in my blood stream was telling doctors she was going to die. All we could do was wait.

Sometimes the path you have laid out for yourself is not the path He has chosen for you.

Everything No One Tells You – The Clomid Monster Returns

My Prince and I had just finished our first month on Clomid and were 2 weeks post our IUI.

MONTH 1: When you go through any kind of fertility treatments, the doctors always tell you NOT to take an At Home pregnancy test and to wait until Day 16 after an Intrauterine-insemination (IUI) to come in for the blood work. Well, if you have ever WANTED to get pregnant you know you listen to no one but yourself and you will be taking every test you can get your hands on.

Day 14 arrived after the IUI and a took a test. The Doctor’s fear is that you will get a false positive – you can imagine what trouble that would cause emotionally. Day 14 post IUI – Pregnancy test = NEGATIVE. My heart pounded with disappointment as I tipped the stick left and right trying to magically make a vertical line appear. I tried to convince myself that you can get a false negative as well and that I still might get a positive blood test in 2 days. Unfortunately, that was not the case. When you start your next cycle before Day 16 post IUI, there is no need for blood work.

MONTH 2: I was ready to try again with the Clomid immediately and for us, there was no reason to wait. We got the go ahead and began the entire process again. Pills – Day 3-7  Ovulation tests – Day 7-9 Wait for Pennywise Happy face. Dungeon of shame, IUI and wait 16 days.

The process, even though this was attempt #2, was feeling routine already.

At home pregnancy Test Day 16 – No vertical line. Negative. Again.

I cannot explain to you the level of disappointment you feel when you are doing everything right, but your body won’t respond the way you want it too. The shame you feel when your body cannot fulfill what it was designed to do. I am not talking about trying to lose weight when you don’t get your rear off the couch to do so.  I am talking about working out everyday, for hours, overtime and seeing no results. My body was a lie. It was a façade of what a woman should be but couldn’t figure out whether to wind it’s butt or scratch its watch.

I digress for mild humor.

We decided that maybe he 3rd time was the charm. So we started over again.

MONTH 3:  Pills – Days 3 through 7 Ovulation Tests  and ultrasounds.

This cycle was different. I went in for a routine ultrasound to count mature follicles and on day 10 there were more then the doctor wanted to see.

Dr. O, “We need to trigger you as you have 3 mature follicles and 3 more that will mature within days. I am going to prescribe you the trigger shot that you will need to inject this evening. You will return in 36 hours for your IUI.”

A shot??!? We decided to do clomid cause I hate shots! I mean – you are looking at someone whom at 5 years old needed 3 nurses, a doctor and both her parents to restrain her for a blood draw! I was experiencing a mini panic attach when, thankfully, I remembered that my Aunt was a nurse. I called, embarrassed, and basically begged her to give me a shot I refused to give myself. Since we had not told ANYONE we were in fertility treatments she was my best shot at keeping my privacy.

I mixed the meds, she filled the needle and I sat and waited. I felt my heartbeat speed up when she flicked the syringe with her middle finger forcing all the air bubbles to the top. She grabbed my stomach and jammed that sucker in like a knife. This was a good thing – cause if she hesitated, I likely would have passed out.

Trigger shot in, 36 hours passed, IUI and wait till Day 16.

It was Christmas morning, Day 14 Post IUI and I was determined to deliver good news to myself and my husband on this day. I knew that I could get a false + if I took an at Home Pregnancy Test, especially because we took the HCG (trigger shot) injection, but after a trusty ‘google search, I decided it was worth the risk. It was 6:00am and although I had to squint, I finally saw that vertical line. I remember distinctly, placing my left hand over my dropped jaw and my eyes welled with tears as my stomach turned and heart skipped a beat.

It was positive.

That day, during our sometimes awkward without children Christmas morning, I handed my Prince a box.  In it were two clay ornaments, one of Pink baby booties and the other in Blue. He opened it and sweetly gave me a hug whispering “Soon, sweetheart. All of this will work soon.” I said “Honey, it did work. You just got two ornaments because we won’t know for months if it is a Boy or a Girl.”

He was silent. His eyes filled with tears and he didn’t say a single word. He just squeezed me with the biggest hug I have ever felt.

It worked. I was pregnant. We were going to have a baby!

Everything No One Tells You – The Clomid Monster

Clomid Round 1:

Let me start by saying I don’t like taking medication of any kind. I am not a Tylenol, Advil, Aleve or Aspirin type of girl. I always tried to ‘tough it out.’ My mother had 7 Natural, Non-Epidural births and I thought that if I could muster the strength for small pain over a lifetime, then maybe I could be more like her! (Insert Applause here for Mom)

We picked up our Clomid, Paid the Co-pay and went home to read about taking it.

You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking clomiphene: Bloating, stomach or pelvic pain

If any of the following side effects occur while taking clomiphene, check with your doctor or nurse as soon as possible: Blurred vision, decreased or double vision or other vision problems, seeing flashes of light, sensitivity of eyes to light, yellow eyes or skin

Some of the side effects that can occur with clomiphene may not need medical attention.

As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional: Hot flashes, Breast discomfort, dizziness or lightheadedness, headache, heavy menstrual periods or bleeding between periods, mental depression, nausea or vomiting, nervousness, restlessness, tiredness, trouble in sleeping (paraphrased from webmd.com)

So basically, you are a cross between a Tweedledee and Cruella Deville with a few Pops of the Smurfs. I might as well jump off a cliff now.

Fortunately, these side effects do not occur throughout the general public. Unfortunately, you don’t need to have ALL these side effects to have a difficult time with Clomid. The Mood Swings alone will keep you on your toes.

I remember after 72 hours on our first round of Clomid, sobbing uncontrollably at a commercial for hemorrhoid cream. I actually felt bad enough for those suffering from hemorrhoids that I felt the need to cry. Then I felt sorry for myself for feeling sad so I cried even harder. The cycle was vicious and endless.

Ultrasounds occur on Day 3 of your cycle, Day 5 and Day 7 and then anytime after that until they decide you have a large enough follicle to ovulate on your own or induce ovulation.

MONTH 1: Clomid as suggested. Day 9-7 you are to take ovulation tests each evening and call the office when you get a fancy little happy face. Oh yes, a freekin happy face. I can assume why it is a happy face if you are conceiving like a ‘normal’ couple as this ‘happy face’ is the symbol for a good time. For us on the other hand, I took it and got the ‘Pennywise Smile’ while in the bathroom of Chili’s restaurant, at a truck stop, on the side of the highway. An aside: have you ever tried to take a pee test of any kind in a public restroom while squatting over the toilet? Note to future self – ALWAYS travel with mouth wash cups.

So I stood in that bathroom stall for what felt like an hour, but according to ClearBlue was less then 3 minutes, until that stupid happy face appeared. Suddenly the Clomid Monster kicked in and the tears began to fall…quite literally…..all over my shirt and the floor of the public restroom stall. My bottom lip was quivering uncontrollably and my hand, holding the contaminated pee stick was shaking. I remember distinctly, putting my free hand to my mouth in disbelief. I had to remind myself that this was JUST AN OVULATION TEST and I was not pregnant as ‘Clo-ster’ had taken over my emotions again. I gathered my thoughts and cleaned up the tears. I shoved the test into my purse without thinking…Keepsake I guess.

But the next morning (insert voice inflection as to the tune of little bunny foo-foo), my husband and I by 8 am sharp had to visit the Dungeon of Shame in order to give a semen sample for my ‘insemination’ which was schedule for noon, after the sample was tested and recorded. What do those lab techs call themselves? Semen samplers?  Semenators? Seriously, think about this conversation when meeting your partners parents for the first time; “..and what do you so Son?….oh I am a Semen Sampler….”

I digress. Again.

So, when you return to the office for the IUI (intrauterine insemination), they get you gowned up and into stirrups. Whoever is performing the procedure (no, it was never my actual doctor), will come in and review the Semen Analysis, Identity and always ask if you wanted to have the IUI conducted with the confirmed sperm. Awkward! The medical worker always reviewed sperm count, motility, and morphology.

  • Sperm count. This counts the number of sperm present per milliliter (mL) of semen in one ejaculation. Range is 15-200 million. Low range is anything under 39 million)
  • Sperm morphology. This is a measure of the percentage of sperm that have a normal shape.
  • Sperm motility. This is a measure of the percentage of sperm that can move forward normally. The number of sperm that show normal forward movement in a certain amount of semen can also be measured. This is called motile density. (WebMD.com)

My Prince was ALWAYS trying to ease my anxiety and celebrated the sperm count revealed at every session. No joke. There were times he quite literally stood up and threw his arms in the air in celebration before then taking a bow. Anxiety was always eased by the laughter.

Stirrups up, catheter through & sample injected.

Then I get angled upside-down on the table and am told to lay still for 10-15 minutes. This is where the ceiling tiles were available to count as well as the number of craters in each of the ceiling tiles…my Prince and I didn’t talk much at this point, but time after time we found ourselves in prayer over something that so many people achieve so spontaneously.

The shame is the hardest part of infertility to overcome. The shame and the guilt. As women we are so proud of what it is our bodies were made to do and to have that purpose stripped from you is heart wrenching. Society makes judgments about those in fertility treatments, many judgments that have a twisted biblical references as to parts of fertility treatments being sinful.

Ignore haters. Taylor Swift had it right. Go figure.

Clomid Cycle 1; Complete. Now we wait 16 days for blood work and hopefully 2 little lines.

Fertility Treatment – Phase One

So, with the HSG gone and done with we waited. Again.

My Prince and I sat at Dr. O’s desk, just waiting for whatever news he had to give us this time. The results were in and he opened with a stinger: As a couple, and after reviewing both your files, I have determined that you have less then a 5% chance of conception without fertility assistance. Your diagnosis, ‘Unexplained Infertility.’

What the crap is ‘unexplained infertility?’ I thought we were here to figure out why we cannot conceive, not so you could tell us what we already figured out! I removed myself from an instinctual daydream in which I jumped over Dr. O’s desk, placed my hands around his neck and shook him violently as I yelled. Yoga breath in……….infertility sucks

He continued, “I suggest starting with a drug called Clomid. This is a very commonly used drug to treat female-related infertility and will help us in verifying that you are ovulating. There is about an 80% success rate in female ovulation with this treatment. We would also use an IUI or Intra-uterine insemination along side this treatment to increase your chances of conception.” He took a breath as he realized my Prince and I were silently staring at him…likely with fire balls coming out of our eyes. “Without treatment, you have less then a 5% chance of getting pregnant. A couple without any fertility issues has about 20% of conception every month and Clomid will give you about 10% chance. We have found that pairing the IUI with the Clomid increases those chances by about 5% more so you would be at about a 15% chance. “Clomid Stats

I didn’t know if I wanted to hear any more. I wanted a 100% chance….a guarantee for a baby. I wanted to go home and forget this every happened, and wake up one day to two little lines and react with ‘oops’ instead of being in awe at a miracle. I wanted simplicity in life. Wanted my ducks in a row with no bumps in the road. I hate being a statistic.

I felt my Prince’s hand squeeze mine a little tighter then before in order to bring me back from my daydream sob-story. It did.

I wanted a baby; no matter how we got there.

We nodded at the Doctor, don’t remember uttering a single word actually. Got our papers, prescriptions and a cute little red folder from the office to keep all of our ‘fertility’ stuff in. Guess we are in it for the long haul now…..We picked up our little white pill the next day and reviewed the schedule of Day 3, 5, 7 internal ultrasounds and blood work, seman samples and impromptu HCG injections and ovulation testing. We began treatment as soon as we were allowed.infertility_sucks_sticker-rd06312c70e844f93a230a1806e28d191_v9waf_8byvr_324

My husband and I didn’t tell anyone we were going through fertility treatments. We were still in the ‘ashamed’ stage of the process and I frankly didn’t want the continued questioning. It was bad enough I had family members who made assumptions of a pregnancy anytime I said ‘guess what.’ I wanted to protect our privacy from gossip, from conversation and from rehashing what we were going through as word spread. It was no one’s business – no matter what role you played in our family.

Just an aside – If You are going through a fertility process of any kind, please remember that you don’t owe ANYONE an explanation! Don’t be afraid to say ‘back off’ or ‘it is personal’ or ‘it is none of your freekin business.’ Sometimes people believe that because you have their last name, that everything you go through requires public disclosure. It does not. Do what is right for You and stop worrying about the consequences.

Tangent complete.

So let’s talk facts; the most common dosage of Clomid is 50 mg, taken for five days, on days 3 through 7 of your cycle, or days 5 through 9 of your cycle. (With day one of your cycle being the first day of real menstrual bleeding, and not just spotting.) The drug, though useful in treating some fertility issues does come with a LIST of side-effects:

Possible side effects of Clomid include:

  • Enlarged and tender ovaries (14%)

  • Hot flashes (11%)

  • Abdominal tenderness, due to enlarged and tender ovaries (7.4%)

  • Bloating (5.5%)

  • Breast tenderness (2.1%)

  • Vaginal dryness or thicker cervical mucus

  • Nausea and vomiting (2.2%)

  • Anxiety and insomnia (1.9%)

  • Vision disturbances (1.6%)

  • Headache (1.3%)

  • Abnormal uterine bleeding (spotting) (0.5%)

  • Mood swings and fatigue (0.3%)

    Mood Swings

Lets focus on the last one…MOOD SWINGS. Yup – they aint kidding! My poor Husband was living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all over again – poor guy. I would cry when he stepped on and killed ants and laugh when he had a bad day at work….terrible……but a little hysterical looking back.

Well worth is all in the end I guess.

Month 1 – Clomid with IUI. Here goes nothing.

(Source on CLOMID – www.infertility.about.com “Clomid Treatment 101”)

Next Blog: Clomid Cycle in Detail

Everything No One Tells You – Fertility Testing (Continued…)

questions
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Results? A Clean bill of health…..yup…..there was absolutely nothing in our samples that would lead the doctors to believe we would have trouble conceiving. So now what? I was even more frustrated at this point because I had no answers!

I am not getting pregnant and now they are telling me that I there is no reason for it! Do they think I am doing something wrong?

Hysterosalpingogram2
www.lookfordiagnosis.com

The Nurse on the phone continued politely and spoke softly, “Dr. O would prefer if you have what is called an HSG (hysterosalpingogram). This test will show us if you a have a blockage in either of your tubes by injecting dye into your abdomen and taking an x-ray photo.”

She paused, obviously sensing that I was both terrified and frustrated. She spoke to break the silence, “Why don’t you talk to your husband and think in over tonight and if you decide to do it we will schedule in the morning. OK?”

A brief silence. “No. Schedule it now.” I was ready for anything they were going to throw my way as long as it meant we would have an answer as to why we did not have a family of our own.

The  HSG, or hysterosalpingpgram,  is a photograph (x-ray) of your abdomen to include your uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and the areas surrounding them.

Hysterosalpingogram
www.pic2fly.com

There is a balloon placed in the cervix and inflated slightly in order to place the contract material through the narrow space and into the reproductive system. Once set up, x-rays are taken as the dye enters and travels through the fallopian tubes. This allows the scan to detect any blockages in fallopian tubes which could prevent travel of egg, travel of sperm to the egg or both.  This scan can also help in detection of issues within the uterus which could hinder blastocyst implantation. The dye in this test is also sometimes used to clear small blockages that my exist. (Paraphrased from WebMD.com)

The day comes for the test and I get ‘admitted’ to the hospital. This is a necessary process for paperwork, but completely unnecessary for your anxiety level. They send you up to x-ray, give you a changing room behind a curtain and tell you that you must be stark naked before putting on your ‘gown.’ Now if I may say…a hospital ‘gown’ is the most poorly named article of clothing in all of history. hospgown Most definitely not “a long dress, typically having a close-fitting bodice and a flared or flowing skirt, worn on formal occasions” (oxforddictionaries.com).

ANYWAYS….I digress. I do as asked (there is a lot of that in fertility testing and infertility treatments; just doing as you are told to do).

I am walked into the x-ray room by an x-ray tech where we meet up with Dr. O. He is sitting in the corner of the room reviewing papers. God I hope those are not directions….

He explains the process, “Ok, I am going to have you lay on this table and place your legs in the stirrups.” I did so, without question at this point. He talked to himself more than he did me at this point and every now and then when I thought a direction was meant to be heard; I followed.

The balloon catheter went in and he stopped, “ok, now I am going to blow some air into the balloon and dilate your cervix. This will allow me to get the larger catheter through in order to inject the dye. I need you to tell me once the level of dilation get uncomfortable so that I can stop. Ok?” I nodded.

TIP: Don’t try to be a hero in infertility. If the doctor tells you to say STOP once you are uncomfortable than DO IT! Don’t try to bite the bullet and let him get your cervix open enough to deliver a child and then say STOP. I WISH someone was there to give me this advice…

I waited too long before saying STOP and I was in more pain then I had felt in longer then I can remember. Dr. O reached over to the button under the x-ray bed to get it to move up and in position for the x-rays. There was a click and Nothing. The bed was broken.  The Doctor looked up at me with fear in his eyes and after he spoke I realized why, ‘uhm, I am going to need you to lift yourself and scoot up higher on the table so I can get the right angle on the x-rays.

So, cervix artificially dilated, speculum in place, catheter hanging, in a glorious hospital gown which was now lifted over the waistline baring everything I wanted to hide and in massive pain…I did as asked and without protest or complaint.

In 30 seconds it was over. The, dye injected, x-rays taken and balloon deflated and withdrawn. One deep, yoga-breath later, Dr. O was gone and the x-ray tech was back to make sure I didn’t pass out as I sat up.

“Everything looked good from what I saw,” she said kind while she waited for the color to come back to my cheeks. I smiled at her, but didn’t have the energy to speak.

I went behind my curtain down the corridor, changed into public appropriate attire and headed home. I waited. I waited for a reason why I didn’t have a  baby yet. I waited to find out what was wrong with me. I waited for what I thought was the answer I was actually searching for.

In infertility, you want nothing more than answers and reasons for why you are facing what you do, but something the journey teaches you more about yourself and your partner. It will grow you together or grow you apart. Force it to grow you together. The journey is not easy and you will need each other.

Everything No One Tells You from Fertility to Parenthood.