Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Status quo

I haven't posted simply because I've had nothing to share. Nothing is happening on the TTC front because I am waiting to have a "normal period" before I can start another treatment cycle. (I may use an OPK or two starting this weekend, just to check.) My not-a-real-period lasted the same two days of regular flow and two days of spotting that it usually does and has been over for a few days.

I also haven't been feeling particularly angst-y about our infertility these past few days. Yes, I have had to endure two more pregnancy announcements since my last post and innumberable baby- and pregnancy-related posts on Fac.ebook. . . . but it hasn't really bothered me much. Not sure if it's because I am just focused on other things or am slowly coming to a point of (gasp!) acceptance about our situation. (I've also decided that it's OK to use the "hide" function for certain FB friends status updates.)

I have been keeping busy at work and with various other things in my life and just really haven't been focusing much attention or energy on our childlessness. I'm working more hours; I am volunteering with my goldens' rescue group in addition to my other volunteer work with foster child M; I'm pet-sitting for my best friend, who is on an Alaskan cruise; and just generally living my life.

I can't wait to see my nephew R next month! He will be 3 years old on November 8 and is quite precocious. I am totally biased, but I think R is an adorable child and am looking forward to spending time with him, even though I'm told he is a "handful" these days.

My sister told me today that he "totally rocked out" to Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" when she replayed it for him on the TiVo. . . . "complete with leg kicks and air-guitar (stuffed fish) playing." Wish I had been there to see that. I have no doubt that he will do and say many cute things during our visit.

Happily, being with my beloved nephew is such a joy when I am with him that I only feel a twinge or two about the fact that I may never have a child of my own. I am able to focus on him and what a fun little guy he has become more than my own sadness, etc.

So that's what's going on. Not much, but no news is good news, right?

Friday, August 21, 2009

What might have been

A friend of mine who is just a couple of years younger than I (actually, born on the same date/year as MM) got married the same year as MM and I. They married on April 5; we married on November 28. She and I met when we worked together at my last job, and we have stayed in touch since I moved to a larger city 100 miles away. Several times I have stayed with them on weekends, and they have visited us when they've been in town.

Her husband is a few years younger than she is, and when they got married, they weren't sure whether they wanted children. Nearly a year ago, she shared with me that they had decided to start TTC. We talked about her concerns related to her health (she has rheumatoid arthritis and had to change meds to TTC). At that time, I shared with her that MM and I had already been trying (unsuccessfully) for several months ; in fact, we had already begun our initial testing with the RE. (Back in those days, I still clung to a shred of optimism that because nothing was "wrong" with either of us, we would eventually conceive on our own, and thus talked freely about our TTC efforts with people who asked. I don't do that now.)

She was very understanding about my feelings related to our lack of success. Her only sister conceived both of her children through IVF after years of infertility, so she knows better than the average person how difficult that can be.

My friend and I have been playing phone tag for a few days, and she finally caught me last night as I sat in the hairstylist's chair with color on my roots. She called to tell me that she is pregnant.

I am happy for them. I know from conversations over the past several months that she had begun to wonder if this would ever happen for them, given the length of time it was taking. She and her husband have several nieces and nephews, and they will make great parents. They are both very "together" and fun people.

I was also proud of myself for not feeling at all envious or bitter at her news, even though they've been trying at least six months less than we have. My first reaction was excitement and happiness for her. And I continued to feel nothing but happiness for her until I asked how far along she was and she told me she is due on April 9th.

April 9th is the day I would have been due had my recent early miscarriage not happened.

To be fair to my friend, she does not know about my miscarriage, and it was very kind and considerate of her to make a point of telling me individually, early on, so that I wouldn't be blind-sided by the news if I heard it from someone else or more publicly. I know that she went out of her way to make this as easy for me as possible, knowing about our own lack of success.

Still, as I thought about her pregnancy after we hung up the phone, I felt thankful that she lives over 100 miles away and we only see one another every few months now. I couldn't help but think that every time I see her pregnant, or see her with her baby, and eventually her child, that I will be reminded of the fact that I could have been just as pregnant, or had a child the same age. And it would have been really fun to be pregnant "together" and compare our symptoms and progress, and eventually our children's progress.

Ah well.

I also found out this morning that my friend from the online buddy group is due to deliver #2 on April 12. So her little ones will be about 13 months apart.

P.S. Thanks for your comments and suggestions on my last post. I am not going to take the pill or put any other hormones into my body that aren't absolutely essential to improving our chances of getting pregnant--times I have taken the pill in the past, I've not always tolerated it well--so I am just going to have to let nature take its course. And like one of the commenters, I'm not even sure that the NP is right about this not being a "real period," so even without meds or IUI, we are going to continue to try this month.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Never mind

I got a call back from a NP at the RE's office who told me that there is no way that the bleeding I am having is a normal period because it's too soon after the miscarriage. It's just "withdrawal bleeding" from changing hormone levels. She told me to call back when I get my "next cycle day one" in about three to four weeks.

Three weeks from today is 9/8. Four weeks from today is 9/15. Either CD 1 would have my monitoring and/or IUI falling during my vacation.

Which means I am back to being screwed for next cycle unless it takes more than the four weeks they are estimating for AF to arrive.

The NP offered to find a lab in the northern Virginia/DC area where we will be on vacation for me to get my follow-up beta hCG level drawn and said that the pharmacy they use can overnight me my Follistim and Clomid should I start while I'm gone. The mid-cycle follicle check u/s, however, they must do themselves or they will not do my IUI.

Maybe I'm just not dedicated enough to my treatment, but I don't want to do either of those things. I don't want to waste any of my precious and brief time on vacation traipsing to a lab to get blood drawn. I don't particularly want to be taking injections during my vacation (though I will if the timing works out that way). There's no chance that I'm going to cut my vacation short to come home for an u/s.

I'm feeling very frustrated. When we decided to start doing IUIs in April, after a full year of TTC on our own with no results, we agreed to do up to the six cycles for which insurance will pay a portion. Since April, we have done a sum total of ONE IUI. One. In four months. At this rate, I will be over 40 before we get all six IUIs done. (My 40th birthday is 19 months from Friday.)

To recap, in May, my husband screwed up and didn't pick up my meds. In June, I had a conflict with my work schedule that could not be moved and had to do only timed intercourse instead of the IUI we had planned. In July, we had to take a break entirely because of all the work conflicts I had. (Ironically, that was the cycle when we finally saw the elusive second line on the HPT, though that didn't end well.) Now this.

(Disclaimer: I don't mean to offend anyone with the point I am about to raise.) I had occasion to read the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Facilities issued by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops yesterday for work, and they make clear that the Church frowns on what we are doing. (They disapprove even of a man masturbating to produce a semen sample.) And while I am not a particularly devout Catholic, I can't help but wonder whether all these scheduling conflicts are a sign from God (the universe? fate?) that we should not be doing any type of intervention.

I don't know. I'm just so tired of all this. I can't imagine how those of you who have gone through treatment cycle after treatment cycle, month after month, can do it. I can't seem to get it together to even do every other month.

CD 1 again

Yesterday afternoon I noticed some spotting, and by this morning, AF had arrived in full force. Happily, I am having no cramps at all--not even the cramps I usually have with my period! Odd, but I'll take it.

I placed my CD 1 call to my RE's nurse line and am awaiting a call back with instructions for this cycle. It usually takes until mid-to-late afternoon before I hear from someone.

AF arrived earlier than I'd expected, but for once, I'm glad. With today being CD 1, we can start treatment in a couple of days and not have to worry about any conflicts with our trip to DC 9/19 to 9/27. CD 11, the day when I'll have my mid-cycle follicle check, even falls conveniently on a Saturday. In fact, I should be able to test before we leave town.

Depending on how this cycle works out, if we have to do another treatment cycle, I may have a problem getting meds if the next CD 1 comes while I am gone. But I will cross that bridge if/when I come to it.

Let's hope this cycle works, I get pregnant, and there isn't a next cycle!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Random musings

In the usual wait, wait, wait mode, there is not much to do related to TTC. I think about it occasionally, but find that I think about it less than when I am actively doing something about it.

I did have a thought last night as I was driving from work to the gym. Depending upon when my period finally arrives, we may be screwed for doing treatment next cycle. We leave for an 8-day trip to Washington, DC on 9/19. If my CD 1 falls any time from 9/1 until we leave, I would be out of town during the times in my cycle when I would either have monitoring appointments or the IUI itself. (If AF arrives any time from today until 8/31 or so, it shouldn't conflict with our trip. . . though I'd potentially have to be traveling during the 2WW.)

I briefly (and bitterly) thought to myself that if I were in a financial position to do so, I could quit my job and cancel any and all travel plans for the next six months and simply focus on getting five more IUI cycles done. This would not be the first time that my daily life, work or otherwise, has "gotten in the way" of TTC.

But honestly, even if we were to win Wednesday's Power Ball jackpot ($243 million, for those interested), I am accustomed to being busy and to having my mind occupied the majority of the day. If I weren't working or making future plans, I'd have nothing to focus on but my infertility. I don't think that putting my life on hold to pursue fertility treatments would be very psychologically healthy for me. And even if I could quit work, I wouldn't want to cancel this trip: we are visiting my sister and 2-year-old nephew, who will be baptized (with me as his godmother) during our visit.

Another thought: of the 16 cycles we have spent TTC, I find it more than a little ironic that the one cycle where I finally saw a BFP--however brief and ephemeral the pregnancy--was a cycle where not only were we not using any drugs or IUI, we were doing NOTHING to increase the odds of pregnancy. Nothing. No BBT charting, no OPKs, no making sure we had sex at the right times. And I certainly wasn't relaxed: starting with the dogs' first fight on July 3 (the one where my arm was injured in the melee), the month was fraught with dog-related drama, including more fights and a Ri.madyl overdose resulting in nearly $5000 of vet bills; I had pain and multiple doctors' appointments related to my injury from the bite; work was stressful for both MM and me; and we did hardly anything fun or restful due to all the other stuff we had going on.

In addition to my higher-than-usual stress level, I also was eating like crap, exercising less, and not even taking my prenatal vitamins, fish oil, etc. My expectation of actually getting pregnant in July and the stress of everything we had going on put thoughts of healthy living well out of my mind.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this. A small part of me thinks "what is the point in pursuing more treatment when the only time we've ever managed to conceive, we did it on our own?" Another part of me thinks that surely our odds must be increased, however slightly, by using IUI and meds, especially injectables. That part says that the chances of our achieving a viable pregnancy on our own--even within another 16 months--are not high enough to justify foregoing treatment.

See how it is when I get to thinking?

Monday, August 17, 2009

No news is good news

Good, relaxing weekend, despite the fact that I had to do a 250+-mile round trip to visit M in her group home placement on Saturday. MM and I saw two movies which we enjoyed very much (I Love You Man on DVD and District 9 in the theater); I read two good books (one of which is Silent Sorority); and did no work despite the fact that I am a bit behind on my billable hours for the month. I got very little done--no housework, laundry or groceries--but got a lot of rest, which was great.

Nothing new to report on the TTC front. At MM's request, I peed on an OPK this morning, and I got a distinct negative. No cramps, spotting, or anything else going on "down there." My nipples had been sore for days (since right after my first positive HPT) and are now back to normal. Wait, wait, wait.

On the plus side, not a single friend announced a pregnancy or birth this weekend on Fac.ebook. (Though a few posted pregnancy or baby-related status updates.) So that's something for which to be thankful. ;-)

Tomorrow morning is back to the usual routine. Work, gym, dinner, walk dogs, read, sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I realize that this post portrays my life as quite dull at the moment. Actually, after the summer I've had, I'm fine with dull.

P.S. I appreciate all the support and comments. It is a good feeling to know that others are reading what I'm writing and thinking positive thoughts for me. (I do find it interesting to note that the comment that has garnered the most comments of any was Bad Karma Dog, which had nothing to with TTC or IF. It was posted during an ICLW, so perhaps that is the reason. Or maybe because it included photos of such cute golden retrievers.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Quick hCG update

I am behind on my billable hours for this month, so I only have time for a brief post.

I got a call from my RE's office, and yesterday's beta hCG level was 3, meaning not pregnant. Their take on the situation is that my body has handled the early miscarriage itself, no intervention will be needed, and I should be getting my period in the next 2-4 weeks.

When I get my period, I am to call the nurse line for CD 1 and will have to go for another beta hCG level. (Interesting, I have never had to have a beta hCG with my CD 1 before starting treatment; guess they are paranoid--as I am --that something like this could happen again.) Assuming that comes back negative also, we are cleared to resume treatment then.

Anyone have any ideas about when I might expect my period? My usual cycle length is 27 days or so, but I know that a miscarriage, even an early one, can screw things up. I am to call the office if I have not started my period by four weeks from today.

So we are back to the familiar theme: wait, wait, wait.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I've read the blogs of other women struggling with IF who have written about being "lapped" by friends and family members TTC, and I had my first experience with this myself over the weekend. ("Lapped" meaning that the friend/family member is now pregnant with #2 when she has been TTC the same length of time--or less than--the blogger.)

In the early days of TTC during the spring and summer of 2008, when my outlook was still rosy and I was sure that I'd be pregnant in short order (a big concern of mine then was being *really* pregnant for my day-after-Thanksgiving wedding, ha ha ha), I frequented the message boards of a popular fertility charting site. In early June, I joined a buddy group whose original members were four; six other women joined within the next 30 days or so.

Of the original four group members, one conceived twins the first month we were a group, one conceived the next cycle and had a baby boy in February, and one is currently 18 weeks pregnant. (The fourth member: me, still TTC.) All but one of the six women who joined after the original four have conceived and given birth and have babies ranging from 4 weeks to 7 months in age; the remaining woman took a long break from TTC due to marital problems and is not yet pregnant.

Although I no longer visit the message boards on that charting site, I am friends with several of these women on Fac.ebook and am thus able to keep current with what's going on with them. Though none of them has struggled with IF, two had early losses before going on to successful pregnancies, one had to use Clomid (one cycle) to get pregnant, and all have been very solicitous and supportive of me as we continue TTC month after month.

Last weekend, during the time between my two blood tests when it seemed I might be pregnant (after 4 + HPTs) but things were still uncertain, one of the ladies from my buddy group posted the following on Fac.ebook in an ongoing message thread we have: "on a whim I took a test tonight and got a very digital PREGNANT staring back at me! The past couple of weeks, I've really been feeling like I was finally going to start my period and I just never did.. then today I started to have 'that feeling'." Her son is just over 5 months old and is still breastfeeding.

Though they were not yet TTC, my friend is very excited about her pregnancy--they'd wanted their kids to be close in age--and I am happy for her. I must admit, though, that it stings a little to know that she has accomplished twice what I have not managed to accomplish once in 16 months of TTC. There has been sufficient time for her to get pregnant, go through an entire full-term pregnancy, deliver a healthy baby, and get pregnant again in the time that we have been trying.

Something like this really puts into perspective just how long TTC is taking us.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Feeling blah

No news on the pregnancy/miscarriage front. I will go for my blood draw tomorrow as planned, but otherwise I am still just waiting for my period to start.

I don't think I am sad about our loss because I really didn't have time to get attached to the pregnancy. From the first + HPT, it seemed to me that things weren't right, given that I'd been having cramps and spotting for two days and had had a "period" a week before (not to mention taking Clomid & Follistim). As soon as I got my first beta hCG result back and it was so low, I had a strong feeling that things were not going to end well.

At the same time, though, I am just not myself. I brought work home yesterday, intending to work from home this morning, and I have accomplished nothing. I just don't have the motivation or concentration necessary to get work done.

I lack enthusiasm for my usual activities besides work, too. Just making breakfast and packing my gym bag for this evening seemed to take a lot more effort than usual.

Maybe I am sad on some level, even though intellectually I don't believe that I am. I don't think any good purpose is served by my being mopey, so I hope I am back to my usual self soon.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Saturday's beta = 17

Thank you so much for all your comments and support. They have helped to make a difficult and confusing situation more bearable.

I got a call from my RE's nurse around noon today, and she told me that yesterday's beta hCG level was 17, so it has fallen since Thursday's 58, just as I had suspected from my fading HPT. They are calling this a "chemical pregnancy" and have instructed me to get one more blood draw on Tuesday to ensure that my level continues to decrease. I am to call the office if I have heavy bleeding or cramping or any other concerns. (I have had no symptoms, not even spotting, since early Friday.)

Assuming my beta hCG on Tuesday shows a "non-pregnant value," which for the lab my RE uses means a level less than 5, I should get my period in the next 2-4 weeks, and we will then be permitted to immediately begin another treatment cycle. I told the nurse that I have a theory that I actually starting miscarrying around the time that I had what I believed to be my period--given that I had cramps and a red flow--and that the spotting and cramps I experienced about a week later were just a continuation of a process that had already begun. She agreed that this was a reasonable explanation for what has happened.

I also talked with the nurse a little about my concern related to future cycles about having had a "period" and starting treatment, believing myself not to be pregnant, and asked whether I should plan to always check a HPT prior to beginning another treatment cycle, even after my period has arrived. She said that this is not something which they would normally advise patients to do because it seems unnecessary, but that I could certainly do so if it would give me peace of mind.

So now, as with so many other times while TTC, there is nothing for me to do but wait.

Looking on the bright side, I suppose I should feel encouraged that at least I *can* get pregnant. This (surreal) episode was the first time I have ever had a + HPT in 16 months of TTC. Everything I have heard and read tells me that the most likely reason that this happened is some chromosomal abnormality in the developing embryo, and my RE has told us that this is more common as women age, so it probably shouldn't be unexpected for a 38-year-old like me. (I do still have a small thought in the back of my mind that the Clomid and Follistim I took contributed to this. . . . but on the other hand, I'd already had bleeding and cramping before I ever took them: my "period" on 7/30.)

It seems, then, that it is possible for one of MM's sperm to reach one of my eggs, though the outcome this time was not good. I just hope I have a few good eggs left and that I don't have to wait another 16 months to see another + HPT.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saturday morning

I am standing in line behind 10-15 other people at a laboratory at a time when I would usually be in bed on a Saturday: before 8:30 a.m. I'm here to have blood drawn for my second beta hCG.

I was tempted to skip this blood test altogether because I took another HPT this morning that showed only the faintest hint of a second line. (I doubt it would even show up in a photo.) So I feel pretty sure that today's number is going to be lower than Thursdays.

Now that it's looking pretty clear that this pregnancy is not a viable one, I've been thinking more about the expense and inconvenience of this whole surreal episode. The $350 we spent on drugs for this cycle that apparently weren't needed but are now used up. The inevitable delay this will cause in starting the next cycle.

For a couple of days, there was some hope that this TTC ordeal was coming to an end. Now I'm back to worrying about never being successful, the expense, and all the rest.

I know some others have it much worse than we do. This pregnancy has basically ended before (for us, at least) it had really begun. Even from the first positive HPT, the circumstances were so odd that neither MM nor I was ever fully convinced that I really was pregnant. It's easier to have a loss like this now, before hopes are fully raised, before we've seen a little blob or heartbeat on an u/s, than it would be weeks or months from now.

Still, this stinks.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Not ideal

Yesterday's beta hCG was only 58. Although the nurse would not tell me whether this means something is wrong, she did say that it is "not ideal," especially in light of my spotting, and not where they would expect the number to be at this point in time for me.

I found the following online:

Guideline to hCG levels during pregnancy:
hCG levels in weeks from LMP (gestational age)* :
3 weeks LMP: 5 - 50 mIU/ml
4 weeks LMP: 5 - 426 mIU/ml
5 weeks LMP: 18 - 7,340 mIU/ml
6 weeks LMP: 1,080 - 56,500 mIU/ml
7 - 8 weeks LMP: 7, 650 - 229,000 mIU/ml
9 - 12 weeks LMP: 25,700 - 288,000 mIU/ml
13 - 16 weeks LMP: 13,300 - 254,000 mIU/ml
17 - 24 weeks LMP: 4,060 - 165,400 mIU/ml
25 - 40 weeks LMP: 3,640 - 117,000 mIU/ml
Non-pregnant females: <5.0 mIU/ml
Postmenopausal females: <9.5 mIU/ml

By LMP, if you consider that to be 7/3/09, I should be 5 weeks today. So they would expect a beta between 18 and 7340. Obviously I am at the low end of that scale.

I have to go for a repeat beta in the morning. I'm not feeling optimistic.

Show and Tell

The top photo is a clearer shot of yesterday's original HPT, which does show a definite second line, though not as dark as the control line. The second photo is a picture of the digital HPT I took this morning at MM's request.

It's still too early for me to know what yesterday's blood test showed, but I will post about it as soon as I know.

Thanks for all the comments. I still don't know what to think, but am beginning to think that I must be pregnant, with three + HPTs.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Not sure what to think

Forgive the poor photo quality (a friend at work took the picture with her BlackBerry), but I hope the photo is clear enough to show that this HPT has a second line! (If you can't quite make it out, try clicking on the photo to make it larger.)

When the nurse from our RE's office called back in response to my message about my + OPK this morning and scheduled me for an u/s, she also instructed me to take a HPT before coming in for the appointment. In annoyance, I left work and drove to the Walgreens two minutes from my office. (I even called MM en route to tell him how annoyed I was at being told to test when I just finished my period less than a week ago.)

Imagine my surprise when I took the HPT in the ladies' room at my office and saw that a second line had appeared. This is the first time I've EVER seen a second line on a HPT I've used!

When I called my RE's office back to report the + HPT, they sent me to a lab for a quantitative hCG test. I had that drawn around 12:40 and won't know the results until tomorrow. (Even the lab's "stat" turnaround time is four hours, so there was no chance of a result today.)

I always figured when (if) I finally saw that elusive second line on a HPT, it would be in the privacy of my own home bathroom with MM nearby to share the news. I didn't expect to see it a week after (what I *thought* was) my period, in the office ladies' room, after five doses of Clomid and three of Follistim.

At MM's urging, I peed on another HPT about 10 minutes ago, and it also showed a faint second line. So I guess at least I know that this HPT is not defective.

What will happen next depends on the results of my blood test. If my "number" is good, they will do a second test in 48 hours, and then if my second "number" is good, an u/s will be scheduled for the earliest possible date when something can be visualized.

I am a tiny bit excited but mostly confused and not sure how to feel or what to think. I'm more concerned about the cramping and spotting I've had now than I was before; I'm concerned about the fact that I (inadvertently) took ovarian stimulation drugs when apparently I am already pregnant; and I'm absolutely perplexed about how I could've had a usual period when I am pregnant. I've heard of these things happening, but I always figured that they happened to women who didn't know their bodies or their cycles well and simply mistook their mid-to-late cycle bleeding for a period. I definitely had full, red flow for two days.

I will update again when I know the results of my blood test.

Positive OPK on CD 8?!

I am a little freaked out. My OPK at 10:40 was positive! I now have to go in for an u/s at 1:00 this afternoon to see what is going on.

I hope this doesn't mean our cycle is screwed. . . .


It's hard to believe, but this is my 100th post! Wow! That happened more quickly than I thought it would.

My mood and concentration gradually improved over the course of the day yesterday so that by the early afternoon, I was pretty much back to normal. (As an aside, I want to say that I can't even imagine what my mood would've been like had I not been getting regular exercise and eating "clean," both things that tend to positively affect my mood. Yikes.) I stopped feeling like I might lose my mind, lose my job, kill my husband, etc.

HOWEVER. . . . beginning yesterday morning, I started having lower abdominal cramps identical in quality to those I get with my period (complete with low back pain) and a small amount of rust-colored spotting. Not much spotting: just enough to see on the tissue when I wipe and to require wearing a panty liner. Today, though the cramps are gone, the spotting continues, but is now a dark brown color rather than rust.

I should explain here that my usual period consists of full flow on CD 1 and CD 2 and some spotting on CD 3 and CD 4. (I know, I'm lucky to have short periods.) There have only been a handful of times in the 27+ years that I have been menstruating where my body has deviated from this pattern, and I have noticed no change in the amount or length of flow as I've gotten older.

I realize that, for some people, spotting on CD 7 might be normal. But it's NOT normal for me, and I had had no bleeding at all since CD 4 until this starting up again yesterday morning.

I've read that you can have spotting at ovulation, but I certainly wouldn't expect to be ovulating on CD 7! I won't even be using my first OPK until this morning, CD 8. Plus, I'd always thought that ovulation spotting would be red/pink if I had it; this spotting is decidedly dark.

I've made two calls to my clinic's nurse line about this and haven't really gotten a satisfactory answer. The first nurse to whom I spoke told me this could be normal, old blood left over from my last period (I disagree: it's not normal FOR ME to have spotting on CD 7) and also suggested that I might be dehydrated--also not possible, as I drink between 2 and 3 liters a day of water and have been diligent about that of late due to dieting and exercising more. Ultimately, that nurse just told me call back if the spotting continued, which I did yesterday afternoon. I am still waiting to speak with another nurse about my second call.

Being me, I google'd the heck out of this to see if this is something that others have experienced in cycles with similar drug regimens, but I didn't find anything.

I am a little concerned only in so far as this is abnormal for me. And I'm hoping that this doesn't indicate that something is going wrong with this cycle.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My mind

I experienced something yesterday afternoon that I actually hope IS a side effect of Clomid and Follistim. If it's medication-related, there is a chance that it will eventually resolve. If it's not. . . . I may be slowly headed for a mental breakdown.

One of my fears about using drugs to get pregnant has always been the effects that the drugs would have on me. (I touched in this in my post about whether we would ever do IVF.) With Clomid alone, I had some night sweats, perhaps a headache or two (though I get so many headaches normally that it's hard to judge), and some bloating and lower abdominal discomfort around ovulation time. The progesterone gel that I have to use in the 2WW takes away my sex drive, makes intercourse uncomfortable, and mimics some of the signs of early pregnancy (nausea, fatigue, cramping). I can live with all that.

Yesterday afternoon, beginning after lunch and peaking in the late afternoon, I found myself having a really hard time concentrating. I was also really jumpy and irritable. I was able to deal with the irritability by simply closing my office door and avoiding people. . . . but it is next to impossible to write a legal brief when you can't focus. Each time I would try to write a portion of my project, I found my mind wandering to random, unrelated things: everything from what to make for dinner to wondering about the relative merits of different crock pots to gettting my care serviced.

After two hours of trying in vain to work on my project, I gave up and went to the gym in hopes of clearing my head with a workout. I was only partially successful and didn't get back to working on my brief at all yesterday evening.

I can handle the irritability. (Hey, that happens sometimes in unmedicated cycles. LOL) I can handle the bloating. I can handle the vague odd lower abdominal discomfort I woke up with this morning.

I CANNOT handle being unable to concentrate! My job requires me to read and write all day, both of which require the ability to focus on your task. I don't have the luxury of taking time off, and there is no one else to complete my work even if I did. I MUST be able to concentrate in order to keep my job.

(It also didn't particularly help that my husband was not very supportive about these issues and in fact, was a jerk to me when he got home, though he apologized. But that is another topic for another day.)

I'm not sure what to do about this. After spending $350 (in co-pays) on medications alone, I am committed to finishing this cycle. I have taken three Follistim injections and four Clomid tablets already, so I only have two more injections and one more Clomid tablet for this cycle. (Oh, and the hCG trigger and progesterone gel.) But if we are unsuccessful this cycle--and I'm not being pessimistic, just acknowledging the simple FACT that the odds are against us (IUI + injectables having a success rate of about 6-20% per cycle, based on my reading)--I'm not sure how I can knowingly subject myself to this next month.

Surely I am not the only woman who has dealt with this. I would welcome comments from anyone else who found that these drugs affected her mentation and mood.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cycle 18 CD 6

I am happy to report that I have slept through until morning the past two nights without being awakened by sweats or the urgent need to pee. Either my body is getting used to the hormones I'm putting into it, or Sunday night was a fluke.

I have noticed that I seemed to be retaining water yesterday (though after drinking nearly 3 liters over the course of the day, it seems to have resolved today), and I have been emotionally labile, which is unlike me. I have moments of feeling fine, as usual, and moments of feeling sad or angry. Not sure if this is medication-related or not.

I logged onto Facebook this morning to discover yet another person on my friends list announcing her pregnancy in a status update. I'm happy for her, I guess (she is not a close friend, haven't seen her in about 20 years), but how many more of these announcements am I going to have to endure? Geesh.

Third shot of Follistim tonight. I'm annoyed because I'm having to leave work earlier than usual and work out earlier than usual in order to get home in time to take the shot. How annoying! At least I don't take the Clomid until 9:00. (BTW, is anyone else grossed out by the bitterness of the Clomid tablets? It's just awful!)

Things are moving along. Baby steps.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The process

When I was in law school, I recall talking with someone at a non-law-related event (it was at a Weight Watchers meeting, actually) who commented that law school would be so hard and take so long that she could never do it. I told her that in many ways, law school is just like doing anything else that will take months or years to complete: you just take the first step down the path, and then the next, and then the next. As long as you continue taking one small step at a time, eventually you get to your goal.

To become a lawyer, there are many, many steps. First there is the application process which starts with taking a standardized national test offered only a few times a year. You then select the school(s) to which you will apply and jump through whatever hoops they ask you to in order to be considered. Once you are accepted and enrolled, all you have to do is show up each day and keep up with the work. (Not that doing this is not challenging, but it's a totally doable task, broken up into many small steps.)

Once you graduate, the process is still not complete because you must now prepare for (and pass) the bar exam and also find a job. Each of these goals can be broken up into many smaller tasks: signing up for the bar exam, studying one subject area each day for several weeks to prepare, sending out resumes, going to interviews, etc., etc.

When I look back at the whole process it took to become a lawyer, I can see why someone who hasn't done it might find it daunting. If I had thought of the thousands upon thousands of pages of text that I would have to read, all the exams I would have to take, all the interviews I would attend, and all the rest, I might not have thought that I could do it either. But it doesn't seem as unattainable when you just take it one step at a time.

I think this analogy applies equally well to earning any type of degree and likely to many other things as well. Building a house, for example, cannot be done in a single day. At best, it will take days or weeks, perhaps even months.

I was thinking this morning about how this process compares to TTC. For the lucky majority, deciding to get pregnant is no more than going off birth control, having some well-timed sex, and celebrating two lines on the HPT. For some parents, no planning whatsoever is involved, and a pregnancy just happens.

But for those of us struggling with IF, TTC is indeed a process. I know I started off by BBT charting and having well-timed sex (thinking I would be a part of that lucky majority). After a few months, I added OPKs to the mix, and then a ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor. When we still had no success, we saw the RE and went through a variety of tests. We had multiple appointments with the RE to discuss test results and formulate a plan. Ultimately, in April of this year, we did our first treatment cycle with Clomid + hCG trigger + IUI. We did a second Clomid cycle in June with hCG trigger and timed intercourse only. And now I am in the beginning of our first cycle of Clomid + Follistim + hCG trigger + IUI.

When I stop and think about everything I have to do each cycle--let alone the entire path to our desired outcome--the process seems a bit daunting. Nearly every day of my cycle, at least prior to the IUI, there is a medication that I have to take, or I have to use OPKs, or an ultrasound is scheduled. Although each task takes up only minutes, I have to plan my day around them. So I try not to dwell on these thoughts and just do what I've been instructed to do each day.

I don't like the prospect of continuing in this frame of mind for months and even then, possibly still meeting with failure. But I know that the process takes time and many baby (pun intended) steps to reach the goal.

One key difference: in law school, despite the length and complexity of the process, I knew that at the end I would eventually be a lawyer. Now if only I could know that through this process I would ultimately achieve my goal and be a mother.

Unfortunately, in TTC, unlike in most other areas in life, the means do not always achieve the end. So frustrating.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Survived my first Follistim injection

I gave myself my first-ever Follistim shot yesterday evening. The shot itself was not as bad as I'd feared. It stung a little because I was too impatient and didn't let the pen reach room temperature, but compared to the horrible stinging I had with my first hCG shot, it was a piece of cake. I also took my first dose of Clomid for this cycle last night before bed.

Last night I woke up FOUR times to pee. (Once or not at all would be more usual for me.) And woke up one other time in a sweat. I blame both of these things on the meds. Has anyone else experienced this?

Today I feel normal. I'll be taking my second injection and dose of Clomid this evening. Fun, fun.

Tomorrow I am beginning a little weight loss challenge with some friends. I do need to lose weight, and it should be a good way to take my mind off my fertility (or lack thereof) during this cycle.

EDITED TO ADD: I was once again "slapped in the face" by the fertility of two new Facebook "friends." One is a police officer who I knew as a prosecutor; he and his wife posted an ultrasound photo of their baby boy. The other is a law school classmate of mine. He and his wife had a little girl while we were in law school, and on his profile, I noticed photos of him with the little girl and with two little boys who appeared to be twins between ages 2 and 3. I wrote a brief message on his Wall asking if he had three children now. His response: "yes, and number four is on the way in December." [sigh]