Thursday, April 30, 2009

Postponing our next injectable cycle & counting our blessings

Jamie and I have decided to postpone any further medicated cycles until we get home from Jamaica. This means we'll sit out the next 2 cycles. I'm really at peace with this decision. I finally started a new cycle yesterday, and boy did it come with a vengeance. I was literally in bed in the fetal position for about 2 hours until I finally caved and took some Advil. I have tried REALLY hard to stay away from it, because I know it's not good for the lining. But I was not going to make it without some help last night. I took 2 and was still miserable, so I ended up taking 4 to get relief. I hate that I did it, but oh well. I don't know what it was about the Gonal F cycle that made it so horrid, but I can tell you that I do not look forward to doing that again. I don't know what I would have done if it had happened at work, so I am really thankful I was at home. I'm now wondering if my endometriosis has returned. That kind of pain isn't normal.

Our decision to wait was prompted by 3 things. The first and most obvious is the cysts. I know I'm out for this cycle anyway as I wait for them to reabsorb. The main thing is our vacation. I did the math and figured out that I would be finished with the injections and doing the progesterone suppositories by the time the trip rolls around. In theory I could do that while traveling. In practice, I choose not to put myself through it. I know I'm going to have side effects and may not feel very good while taking it - I felt pretty cruddy during the luteal phase of my last Gonal F cycle. Also, I really would like to be able to wear my bikini without fear of progesterone leaking everywhere! Then there is the issue of taking the suppositories through security at the airport. I am sure I could get through, but I don't really feel like explaining it to the security agent!

Then there is the 3rd reason we are waiting. As I've mentioned, I belong to 3 online communities for moms. Two are smaller private groups, and one is a larger public message board. I'm most active on the large board, and this is a group of women who I've been with for somewhere around 6-7 years. Most of us met on a fertility related site, and we've made a few migrations to different boards as our needs have changed (and sometimes out of necessity due to drama). It's really hard to describe the bond we feel for each other to people who are not involved. Most of us have never met in person (although I have met a few, which is super fun!), but we've been through so much together and gotten VERY close over the years. We've been through marriages, divorces, tons of births...and unfortunately a few deaths. Over the past few weeks, our group has been hit with tragedy twice. One of our members lost her husband following a 5 month battle with cancer at age 33 and another member lost her 8 month old daughter in a very sudden and unexpected manner. To say these 2 horrible tragedies have shaken us as a group would be an understatement.

I really can't come here and feel sorry for myself right now. I've cried for my friends so much over the past few weeks. I've hit my knees and thanked God for Jamie and Elise more times than I can count. I find myself at a total loss for words, and I wish there were something I could do for these 2 dear women who have experienced something no one should ever have to experience. All of a sudden, being infertile does not seem all that bad. If this were the worst thing that happens to our family, we are incredibly lucky.

So, I find myself not as focused on getting pregnant right now.

Of course, I still desire a baby. But I feel like the best thing I can do at the moment is just appreciate what I already have.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's slipping away

For those who read my other blog (It Feels Like Today), you may have noticed my recent post with all the pictures of Elise sleeping. I was just looking back at those tonight. They are some of my very favorite pictures of her. It dawned on me while looking at some of the sleeping baby memories of that time are slipping away. And all of a sudden I feel so sad. I am trying really hard not to be sad that Elise is growing up. After all - this is a great thing! I can have full conversations with my daughter now. She is blossoming and growing into a young girl. This is what I want for her! But at the same time, I am losing track of what it felt like to hold a baby. I have to really strain to remember what it was like to greet her each morning in her crib and pick her up & snuggle her. I know EVERY mother goes through this at some point - regardless of how many children she has. There comes a day when the oldest child is no longer a baby, and the memories begin to fade. It's a universal thing we all experience. I guess in my case, I just feel a little sad that I didn't grasp how important it was at the time. I really took for granted the fact that I would do it all again. Now, here I am faced with the fact that I may never do it again. And I just wish I'd cherished it a little bit more back then.

We had a really great sermon at church today. I've been thinking about it all day. Our pastor is beginning a series on prayer - and what a fantastic subject for me right now! God knows exactly what I need to hear. Anyway, the topic today was focused on some misconceptions about prayer as well as learning about what prayer is meant to be and what it can do in our lives. Something the pastor said has really stayed with me. He was talking about how many incidences there are in the Bible about God being ready and willing to answer prayers - just waiting to be asked. He is there and ready to answer many of our prayers - but first we have to ASK. It dawned on me as he preached that I have never directly asked God for a baby. I've prayed about our situation extensively, but I've never actually come out and directly asked Him for a baby. I guess on some level I have viewed that as a bit overly presumptuous. I tend to focus my prayer on other things - such as asking for strength or grace, asking for His will to be done in our lives, asking for clarity, etc. But maybe what God really wants to hear is my true desire for a baby? Perhaps I need to ask him directly?

I struggle with this concept quite a bit, since obviously God does not answer every single prayer in the affirmative. If this were true, my friend would not have buried her husband today - on what would have been his 34th birthday. She would not have been sitting in that church with her 3 boys under the age of 5 bidding farewell to their beloved father. So, part of me wonders...why bother asking for anything? At the end of the day, His will rules regardless of our desires. But then the Bible tells us to go to God in prayer and He will listen. I'm very torn on this issue right now. I want to be faithful and obedient, but at the same time, I am just not sure whether or not prayer can really change things in our case. Part of me thinks that it can't hurt and it might help - so why not? But I know this is the wrong attitude. Until I can get to a point where I truly believe that taking my wish for a baby directly to God can actually change things, it probably won't do any good to do so. Up until that point, it's just empty words.

So, I think this will take a bit more consideration on my part.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Update from last week's appointment

I talked with Dr. Dunn last Wednesday and got a scan. As it turns out, I do not have a cyst. I have THREE cysts! I just kind of giggled when they told me. I mean - what can you do, right? :) I think it was to be expected - but wow - THREE!

So, the nurse told me to stay on the birth control pills until the entire pack is gone. I'm supposed to get checked again when my next cycle begins. I'm not really expecting the cysts to be gone at that point, so I am going to make an educated guess that we're sitting out at least one more cycle to give them some time to reabsorb. I'm at peace with it. I'll just be thankful when I'm finished with the birth control, because some very weird things are happening to me, and I am wondering if it has anything to do with all the hormones.

I woke up on Thursday feeling like I'd been hit by a truck. I have a lot of pain that seems to be entirely concentrated on the right side of my body - interestingly enough, all 3 cysts are on my right ovary. Hmmm...

Anyway, I am just rolling with it. :)

The plan for my next cycle (whenever we get the all clear) will be to take the Gonal F injections again, but a much lower dose - less than half the dose from last cycle. We are getting closer to our vacation to Jamaica now, so it may have to wait until we get back. I won't be able to do an injectable cycle while out of town, since I have to go in every other day for monitoring. It will work out one way or another! Hey, maybe I'll get knocked up the natural way while we're gone! A girl can dream, right??

Dr. Dunn mentioned egg donation to me during our visit. He said I was such an amazing responder to the meds that I might consider it. He said I have a lot of physical traits that are "in demand" from those who are purchasing donor eggs. I've been thinking about it a lot since we talked. Part of me really wants to do something to help an infertile couple achieve their dream of having a baby - but the larger part of me just can't part with my DNA. I think it would haunt me to know I potentially have babies out in the world who I've never seen and can't raise myself. It sounds weird, but I think I would worry about them. So, unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to donate. :(

Sunday, April 12, 2009

You can't do it alone

I want to talk about transgressions tonight. I know it seems unrelated to my infertility journey, but bear with me. Today is Easter - the single most important day in the Christian faith. The belief in the fact that Jesus went to the cross and made the ultimate sacrifice to save us from our sins is the cornerstone of Christianity. Because God loved us so much that he sent his only son to die for us so that someday we could live in Heaven with Him is the ultimate showing of grace and mercy. We are saved through grace and mercy alone. Because we could never be good enough on our own. No human could ever be perfect enough to earn a spot in Heaven with Jesus based on our actions on earth - we all fall short of the standard He set for us. We all have transgressions.

It is on this day each year that I think most about my transgressions. I think this is even more true this Easter than any other before. I've mentioned several times how dealing with infertility has brought me back to my faith. I've always considered myself a Christian, but I think for a long time (okay, most of my life) I was a Christian in name only - not in action. I think most Christians are aware of their sins on the surface. This has always been true for me. But at some point, just in the last few months, I have really recognized the depth of my sin. I see how it has been pervasive in my life and the number of excuses I have made for myself.

"Lord, I know I shouldn't speak unkindly about so-and-so, but they have spoken unkindly of me."

"Lord, I know I shouldn't gossip, but everyone gossips."

"Lord, I know I should honor my parents, but sometimes they are unfair."

"Lord, I know I shouldn't use your name in vein, but it just slipped out that once."

"Lord, I know the glory for every single blessing in my life belongs to you, but I really like to take some of the credit myself."

"Lord, I know I should not be greedy, but I really want xyz."

"Lord, I know everything I own truly belongs to You, but I just want to keep this one thing for myself."

"Lord, I know you taught us the Golden Rule, but it's just too hard to live by."

"Lord, I know you have a perfect plan for my life, but what about MY plans?"

If I take a long, hard look at myself, it is hard to find an area in my life where I have truly made a sustained effort to live as a Christian. I've always believed in God & I accepted Jesus into my life many years ago, but I've never truly submitted to Him - until now.

I'm having an epiphany of sorts over this realization. A really common question for people enduring infertility is "Why me?" I think I may finally understand the answer to that question in my case. Because if it were not for this struggle, I don't think I would have taken this long, hard look at myself. I've been a very fortunate person in life. Success has come easily to me in nearly everything I've attempted. I was a wonderful student, an all-state athlete, went to college on scholarship, built a successful career. I have a gorgeous little girl who is bright & loving. Jamie and I have built a strong, loving marriage.

I spent the better part of the first year of this battle trying to handle it myself, feeling that I had it all under control. I did all the research. I put my trust in doctors, confident they could fix the problem. I felt certain we could overcome this hurdle on our own.

The truth is, we can't do this alone. We can't fix this ourselves. Doctors can't fix this. If I am ever to become pregnant, it will be through the work of God alone. He has brought me to Him in pain, on my knees, and begging for help. I am ashamed to say that I don't think I would have come to Him any other way. And He knows this about me. And because I matter to Him, He's worked in my life to get my attention. I finally hear him today, and I know I need to change my life. For the first time, I can be truly thankful for all Jamie and I have endured, because I understand that it is not without purpose. I have been slowly coming to this point for a while now, and today I am finally there.

We are sure to experience more disappointed feelings (He never promised it would be easy), but something good has come of this. In a lot of ways, it is probably the best thing that could have happened to us. Jamie and I are a stubborn pair, and He's put us together to go through this. I'm so glad that Jamie is with me in this journey, and I am thankful to God for giving me a Godly husband who wants to grow in his faith with me. We finally hear Him, and we know we can't do it alone. We will never be perfect, but we can do a better job in our daily lives. We can start truly living for Him today.


An excerpt from a song that Jamie and I are enjoying lately...

I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

~Casting Crowns, Praise You In This Storm

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Our first injectable cycle was cancelled today following the second follicle scan and E2 blood draw.

I had 9 follicles on the right ovary today and 5 on the left. Although there were a lot of follicles, only 3 were completely mature, so I was somewhat hopeful when I left the office that I might be able to trigger tonight.

Unfortunately I just learned from the nurse that my E2 has risen to 3,333. It is just too high to proceed.

I will begin birth control pills today or tomorrow to assist my body in reabsorbing all the fluid from the follicles. It feels so wrong to take birth control at this point, and I know the pill is quite detrimental to the uterine lining so that is disappointing. I'll stop the pills after 2 weeks and return for another baseline scan once I get my next period. Hopefully from there we can adjust the medication and get a better, safer outcome next time.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed, but I am trying not to focus on that. I'm just thankful for the doctor's wisdom and the fact that he's being cautious with my health.

I'll see Dr. Dunn on April 22nd to talk about adjusting the dose for our next try. I guess that's about it for now.

Monday, April 6, 2009

First injectable cycle, monitoring scan #1 **UPDATE

Lining is measuring 7mm *insert happy dance here*

Right ovary has 5 follicles measuring 11.5, 12, 12, 12, and 13. A mature follicle is somewhere around 18-21, so they are getting there.

Left ovary has 2 follicles, both measuring 11. So 7 potential eggs for this cycle. I am sure they won't all develop to maturity, but even if just half of them do, this will be great.

There are about 8 more small follicles (all measuring 10 or less). These are not likely to develop and release eggs, though. They were training a nurse to do ultrasounds, so I actually got a bit of a lesson myself during my scan. It was neat to hear exactly how they read the ultrasound and how they measure the follicles. The nurse was very pleased with how I'm responding to the injections. She thinks Dr. Dunn will want to watch me very closely due to the number of follicles I am producing. Pending the outcome of my E2 check, I have an appointment to return on Wednesday to be scanned again.

It's a bit tricky with the holiday weekend. Normally they would want to see me Monday/Wednesday/Friday, but since Friday is a holiday, they are seeing patients on Thursday/Saturday instead. She seemed to think the doctor may not want to let me go until Thursday without being checked again. She had me go ahead and book a Wednesday appointment and said she'll call me later this afternoon to change it if necessary (depending on how the E2 comes back and what the doctor thinks when he looks at my scans).

In light of my post last night, this sounds kind of crazy...but I think this just might actually work...


Okay, just heard from the nurse. My E2 number is way high. It's 1,154, whereas last Wednesday it was only 59. She expected it to be around 500, so it's more than double that amount. I've been instructed to reduce my Gonal F dose from 125iui to 50iui for the next 2 days and return on Wednesday.

Good news - I am a good responder.
Bad news - If my E2 is too high on Wednesday, we'll have to cancel the cycle.

One step forward and 2 steps back.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

How do I make myself believe?

As the months have gone by, I've experienced a diminishing in my ability to believe that I can actually get pregnant. I'm not sure when this shift occurred, but somewhere along the way I have lost faith. I realized it tonight. I cannot honestly say that I believe there's still a chance. I try to talk as though I believe, but when I am honest with myself, I realize that I don't. I can remember some times along the way when I still really believed it would eventually happen. So when did I lose that optimism? And more importantly, why have I let it go??

If I am going to inject myself with high powered fertility drugs for 10 days straight, you would think I would be doing so with the belief that it could actually work. Otherwise, what sense would it make? It's like I am just going through the motions at this point, and that worries me. The mind controls the body, so I need to convince my mind that my body can get pregnant again. How do I do that??

I think I know the key, but it scares me. As long as I don't believe it's possible to get pregnant, seeing negative pregnancy tests doesn't hurt quite as much. It's almost like I've found a way to control the situation. It's a defense mechanism. If I really let myself believe again, the pain is so much worse. But I think I need to do it if I am really going to give this a fair chance to work.

But letting go and allowing myself to believe is really hard. Really, really hard. My desire to self preserve is strong. I have a life to live, a job to do, a child to raise, and a husband to love. I can't afford to be falling apart. I think I've been in denial for a long time about how I am going to feel when we reach the end of the road. Knowing that we have maybe 2-3 medicated cycles left before Dr. Dunn tells us that medicine has nothing more to offer is both relieving and daunting. I've been thinking that I'll be okay when it's over. At least then I'll know the answer and I'll be able to move on. But the truth is, I am afraid I'll be devastated.

This whole journey has changed things. It's changed me, and I'll never be the same again. It's changed our marriage - not necessarily for the worse, but I think we've each dealt with a lot and reacted very differently. Sometimes I feel like we're each going through this alone. The truth is that we've laughed a little less in the last year or so. We've gone to bed angry a few times. The contrast between our first year of marriage and our second and third years is dramatic. The first year was pure bliss. It was hands down the happiest year of my life so far. I really don't think my feet even touched the ground during that time - it was a high unlike any other. And the only thing that's changed since then is infertility. We're still happy, in love, and committed, but it's tempered by stress and sadness much of the time. I think I've changed more than Jamie. I might even go so far as to say that I am the only one who has noticeably changed. I've closed myself off to him quite a bit - buried myself in message boards and books. I think it's the way I've handled my grief, and I know it needs to change.

Sometimes I wonder if it's been worth it. As much as I want another child - and specifically a child that is half me and half Jamie - the effort to make it happen is coming at a high price. I know even when this all ends, we'll never be able to rewind back to the first year feelings. We're different now. We've been through this together, and it's changed us. We can't do one of the major things God commands married people to do. That is a major disappointment, but it's also given us strength. We're a team through it all. I just wish it could have been different. But here we are, and there's a reason for the path we've taken to get here. Don't ask me what it is, because I have NO idea.

I wonder if Jamie still believes? We haven't talked about that - truthfully we don't talk about these things much anymore. I think he tends to be more optimistic than me. I hope he believes. I wonder if he would tell me if he didn't?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Let the poking commence!

I haven't been sleeping all that well, so forgive me for the dumb title.

I was scanned yesterday and the cyst is gone! So, I began the Gonal F injections last night. They also did a blood draw yesterday - I think to get my baseline E2 and FSH numbers. I'll have to go for 3 appointments next week to be monitored. They'll measure the E2 each time as well as do scans. This will allow them to keep close track of how I'm responding to the meds and adjust my dosage if necessary. I believe my last shot will be on Good Friday. Then if all looks good, I should do the trigger shot that day and ovulate sometime on Easter Sunday.

That is kind of a neat thought, should this cycle be successful. :)

The Gonal F shot hurt worse than the trigger shot, but it did not leave a bruise and I have minimal soreness today, which is great. I think I could inject the same site again tonight if had to, but I am going to move them around a bit. From what I understand, I'll get better absorption if I change the injection site each time.

I'm glad to finally be doing something again, but I am also nervous. Since I know this is basically our last option, I worry about my disappointment level if it doesn't work. And I do realize the odds are not in our favor. At the same time, I am glad to be close to an answer, either way.

My writing is not very interesting these days, but at this point I am tired and just trying to get everything documented.