Saturday, January 31, 2009

A forced break

Well, our plan of no breaks in 2009 did not last even a full month. When we met with Dr. Dunn yesterday, he had some pretty honest and difficult news for us. I guess I figured that was coming, but it was still a tough day. My lining isn't responding to the medication. It's actually measuring less now than it was about 6 months ago. He said this wasn't really what he expected at the time of my surgery. My body - for some unknown reason - just isn't taking over to reproduce and spread endometrium inside my uterus. There is no evidence of additional scar tissue, but my body just doesn't seem to want to recover. It wouldn't make sense to keep trying the same thing at this point, so he said he'd like for us to take a 4-6 week break and try estrogen patches. He wants me to wear 2 at a time. The patches are more effective than pills, because the hormone is absorbed directly through the skin and into my system. With pills, they must pass through the liver first, and some of the potency is lost in that process. He warned me of some side effects with the patches - mainly bloating. I am used to that by now!

At the 4 week mark, he will do a scan and see if the lining is thickening. I expect it will, but my concern (and the doctor's concern as well) is that with a few periods, it will just shed again and leave me back where I am now. Nothing is going to be a permanent fix unless somehow my body will kick it into gear and begin spreading these cells on it's own.

So, after we discussed that, he finally brought up surrogacy to me. This was a pretty big signal to me that he's beginning to reach a point where he can't help us anymore. I told him that surrogacy was basically financially impossible for us right now. He said most people try to find a friend who will do it for them at a low cost, because they love them. Unfortunately, I don't think Jamie or I have any friends that love us that much. Going through IVF and being pregnant for someone else is a HUGE sacrifice. I don't know one single person who is at a point in their life where they would do that for us at a price we could afford. Most surrogates run in the neighborhood of $30,000.

Then he gave me a business card for a counselor. I guess I must have looked pretty depressed. And I guess I am feeling depressed.

I ordered a full copy of my medical records before I left the office. I need them for the acupuncturist and I also thought I might make some additional copies and see if some other RE's might be willing to look them over and do a consultation - just to see if they have any other ideas. I guess we're grasping at straws at this point, but I want to exhaust every possibility before I give up.

I canceled my acupuncture appointment for today, because I'd rather go in after I have all my records. Plus, I guess I'm not in the right mindset today either.

So, I guess there won't really be much going on for the next month or two.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My First Acupuncture Appointment!

I just scheduled my first acupuncture appointment. I am so excited!!!!!!! I truly believe in the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine, and there is scientific data to back it up as well. I spoke briefly to someone from the acupuncture clinic on the phone - he was difficult to understand! :) I will be going this Saturday for a consultation and he said they would actually do an acupuncture treatment while I am there as well. He told me to bring all my basal body temperature charts as well as my medical charts - specifically the information on my diagnosis. This works out well, since we are going to see Dr. Dunn tomorrow and I can get my records from him. I am ready to get started. The only discouraging part is that insurance won't pay for acupuncture treatments related to infertility, so I'll have to pay out of pocket. At $70 per visit this could become costly, but hey, it's cheaper than a $15,000 IVF cycle, right?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Testing out the trigger

It's well known (well, among infertile people anyway) that a trigger shot will cause a woman to produce a positive pregnancy test for approximately 7 days after it is administered. I know this to be the case, but I've never tested the shot out of my system before. I know women who do this, because they want to be sure if they get a positive pregnancy test at the end of the cycle, it's not just leftover hcg from the trigger.

So, anyway, today I decided to take a pregnancy test. I've been feeling so nauseated for a few days now, and I know it's the shot tricking my body into thinking I am pregnant. I've had it all - exhaustion, nausea, cravings, you name it! I truly feel pregnant.

Sure enough, I got a positive result on my test. And I cannot tell you how much that thrills me. You have NO idea how many of these things I've peed on during the last 2 years! To see that second line pop up tonight was enough to make me giddy. Of course I know I'm not really pregnant (or if I am, it's way too early to get a positive test). But still - it's so fun to see 2 lines. It feels so much better than seeing nothing but the control line staring back at me. I am so proud of this silly pee stick that I'm considering saving it! I know people who haven't been there will think I sound nuts, but I am confident that anyone else who has ever tested out a trigger shot will understand how I feel.

Isn't it pretty??

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yesterday's Scan

The follicle on the left had increased in size and is now measuring 20. I was instructed to continue the OPKs (finally got those working properly!) until Wednesday. If I don't get a positive OPK by Wednesday, I will take the Ovidrel shot to make me ovulate. My lining is still looking quite pitiful, measuring only 4mm even after more than a week of estrogen. Still, we will cross our fingers the egg can be fertilized and find a small spot to hang out for the next 9 months or so. Hey, nothing is impossible, right?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What is the deal with Clearblue Easy Digital OPKs??

How the hell do you make these damn things work??

I'm college educated for crying out loud. The stupid thing keeps giving me an error.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My ovaries are confused.

I had my mid-cycle scan and follicle check today. Not the greatest news, but I'm staying positive. I didn't have any mature follicles, but I had one on the left side that was measuring 10. The largest one on the right only measured 5, so it's pretty much out of the game. I'm disappointed to only have one follicle on a medicated cycle - I mean, I can produce just one all on my own.

I'm not exactly sure what's going on, but Dr. Dunn explained to us some number of months ago how Femara and estrogen would interact in cycles where we used both. Femara is stimulating the ovaries and making them work harder to produce multiple follicles. Then we come in and add estrogen, and it confuses my body. During a natural cycle, estrogen levels increase after ovulation. So, by supplementing estrogen prior to ovulation (in hopes of thickening my lining), it confuses my ovaries into thinking maybe I already, they stop working so hard to produce follicles. This is a tricky balancing act, because we have to find just the right amount of Femara to get multiple follicles and just the right amount of estrogen to thicken the lining without preventing the maturation of the follicles. I think the issue is we don't have the balance figured out yet. I'm on extra estrogen this time, since my lining hasn't responded in past cycles. And now I think the estrogen is affecting the amount and size of the follicles.

So, I'm trying to look at this cycle as a learning experience. Now we have some additional information about how my body responds to the drugs. And knowledge is a good thing. I'm guessing some adjustments will be made, if not some changes in the drugs I am taking next time around. I feel like I'm getting pretty close to a point where we might move on to injectibles - which is kind of scary for some reason. I guess it's scary anytime we exhaust one of our options. Plus, injectibles carry a much higher risk of twins/triplets.

I don't really like my nurse. I LOVE my doctor...but the nurse is just not very compassionate. She pretty much said she doesn't think I can get pregnant this cycle. I appreciate a straightforward approach as much as the next person, but gosh, she could at least act like she cares! After all, this news is difficult to hear.

Anyway - she wanted me to come back on Monday for another scan and continue the estrogen in the meantime. She also wanted me to start OPKs to see if I could pick up a surge sometime over the weekend. If we can get that follicle on the left to grow a bit more, we can do the trigger shot early next week and still salvage things. At this point I am just ready to move on with this new information we've gained.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

II Corinthians 12:7-10

"(7)And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8)For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (9)And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10)Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong."

This was the verse on which today's sermon was based at church today, and I thought it was really great timing. God must have known that Jamie and I needed to hear a sermon about His grace. Jamie is dealing with some employment related issues at the moment in addition to all of our TTC woes, and it was just the message I think we both needed to hear.

It reminded me that God's grace is sufficient to deal with this thorn in my side. Similarly to how God told Paul that he would not remove the thorn from his side, perhaps he is telling us that he will not remove our thorn. But his grace will see us through this either way.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Medicated Cycle #4

I was able to get in for a scan today, but could not see Dr. Dunn. His nurse talked to him about me, and he gave her instructions for me.

CD 3-7 5mg Femara
CD 8-13 2.5mg Estradiol
CD 13 Mid-cycle Scan

I'll need the trigger shot again this time. This means I jump right in with Femara starting today and will go in for the scan on Jan 15. She said if my follicles are mature on the 15th, she'll instruct me to do the trigger shot that day. If not, we'll continue the Estrogen for another day or 2 and then do the shot. Judging from past reactions to the meds, I am going to guess that I'll be good to trigger on the 15th. So, we should know something by the end of the month.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Feeling down

I'm feeling kind of bummed tonight. And depressed. And resigned.

I need to call Dr. Dunn in the morning to see if he can work me in tomorrow. I have to get scanned tomorrow if I am going to be able to do meds this cycle. And since we never met after my last cycle, I don't have any idea what protocol he wants to do next. That means I'll not only have to see a nurse for the scan, but I'll have to sit with him as well. I don't know if they'll be able to fit me in on such short notice. I guess we'll see what happens. I'm going to be disappointed if I can't get in. Especially since I'll be in the office around 6:30am tomorrow morning to allow time for me to leave during lunch to go to the doctor. Let the fun begin.

We really should have scheduled the sit down with Dr. Dunn for sometime during this last 2 weeks when we were both off work. But we didn't really decide what we were going to do until a few days ago.

I keep telling myself to just let go. None of this is ultimately under my control anyway, so no amount of over-thinking or worrying will help. Actually it would probably just hurt.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Another year and acceptance is upon us

For some reason, all of our TTC woes seem to bother me on holidays more than regular days. Especially holidays that seem to accentuate the passing of time. New Years is one of those kinds of days. Here we are, entering another year, and still no baby. And this year I don't even feel any closer to achieving that much desired goal. Last year I had a lot of optimism, since I had just had surgery in November 2007. I had a lot of reason to believe 2008 would be the year that we would get pregnant. Now that 2009 is here, I really don't have any reason at all to believe that this will be the year.

I learned from experience during 2008 that dealing with infertility causes people to experience the 5 stages of grief. At first there was denial. Why else would it have taken me several years to acknowledge that my body was not normal after Elise's birth? Then anger - I had a lot of anger. It has been primarily directed at the doctor who performed the surgery that left my uterus unbelievable scarred. Some of it has been misdirected at others. Since getting past the anger, I've done my fair share of bargaining, and there have definitely been feelings of depression. And now, as we begin 2009, I feel myself moving closer and closer to acceptance.

This will be the year. By the end of this year, we will either be pregnant or we will accept that our family is complete. We will not carry this burden into another year after this one, no matter what. With that in mind, we decided that we will begin to get VERY aggressive with treatments. We will not take any breaks or skip any cycles (unless medically required). I should begin a new cycle in the next day or two, and I will be on the phone to Dr. Dunn's office to schedule a baseline scan and appointment to determine what meds we will take next. I am also going to do some alternative treatments. Western medicine is a wonderful thing, but don't underestimate the power of acupuncture, yoga, and other techniques practiced in Eastern medicine. I am researching castor oil packs as well as a few other alternative options. I am going to come at this with everything I have this year. If a baby is not meant to be, I refuse to have any regrets about not trying every single method available.

So that's it. This is the year. You have no idea how great it feels to know that no matter what, there is an end in sight.