Period Pants (The trouser variety)

I took a home pregnancy test last night just to be sure.  I had a bit of spotting so I was still holding onto hope.  But at the same time, I didn’t want to take another progesterone suppository if I didn’t have to.  No matter how much I squinted at the test this time, there was nothing but white space.  I awoke this morning to the fat lady singing.  And no she wasn’t a beautiful opera singer, rather the heavy ugly type, and a little bit out of tune too.  And so the period pants come on.  Both the knicker type and trouser type, just to be clear.

Our appointment with our doctor to discuss the next steps is scheduled for 4th May, the earliest appointment possible.  I am looking forward to it, but mostly I am looking forward to not trying to conceive this month. After 17 months, its time for a little break.  Time for some alcohol (just a bit), exercise (a lot), some dangerous sports and diet (just a bit because I’ve put on a bit of weight the last few months, time to get into that bikini!!).  No more temperature taking, no more peeing into a cup, no more hormones, sex when we want to and hopefully a little less pain.  Doesn’t sound so bad, does it really?

Ps. Oh and if anyone tells me it will happen now we are relaxed I’ll punch them in the face.  Sorry.

Time to get back to some of the more 'dangerous sports'...sorry mum!

Time to get back to some of the more ‘dangerous sports’…sorry mum!

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Understanding: #YouAreNotAlone, #NIAW, #WeAreNotAlone

NIAW-CMYK

The baby shower

I sit in the corner, quietly observing the group, hoping no one talks to me and asks me how I am.  I’ve been dreading this day for weeks.  I am not really sure what the etiquette of baby showers is.  I’ve learned about wedding, birthday parties, funerals and baptism etiquettes, but as a Brit living in the US, baby showers are new to me.  One thing I do know for sure is that sobbing away in the corner, trying to make sure no one sees is not part of the celebrations.  Why all the tears?  Because this should be my time for my baby shower.  I don’t mean to sound self-centred, but you see we have been trying to conceive for 17 months now.

Like the singleton table set aside at weddings, baby showers should come with a table reserved for infertiles.  After all, 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age could have a seat at this table.

My tears are short lived, of course, as the excitement of adorable ‘mini-me’ baby gifts and funny games take the course of the day.  Our friend who has that beautiful pregnancy glow to her skin, was happy.  So happy.  For me this was all I needed to prevent me from drowning in my own misery and enjoy the party.

Unfortunately, it seemed that not all of us could cope this well.  One of the guests left within 10 minutes of arriving.  She had driven hundreds of miles for the baby shower.  Why would you drive all that way just to stay for 10 minutes?  And so the speculation and rumours started.  My husband interjected with a suggestion “Perhaps she is trying for a baby and found it all too much?”.  We both looked at each other with that ‘knowing’ look.  Sadly, no one in the room bought this excuse, dismissed it and the speculation continued. The departing lady, who I did not know personally, may have been infertile, or perhaps she had some other good reason for leaving the baby shower as quickly as she had arrived.  Statistically, the chances were high that at least two of us at the shower were suffering from infertility. With both my husband and I in the room, it was easy to wonder who else is silently suffering?  If it was this lady, I wish I could have told her:

You are not alone

I would have held her hand, hugged her and told her it’s OK, I understand, we can face this disease together.

wish2

But for some people experiencing infertility, a hug from a stranger will never make the pain and hurt go away.  I know this.  I feel more comfortable on my infertility journey than I ever have been because I discovered a place where hugging strangers is quite a common place. The blogging world.  I have been surprised to discover comfort and understanding from the ‘virtual’ hugs, support, discussion and love from the biggest group of ‘strangers’ I know.  It’s not just strangers that have joined us on our journey, but a small group of family and friends too.  The ability to communicate, open my heart and share my feelings has been a therapy for me.  But not everyone we care about knows of our struggles because it is not easy to talk about.

Please help us on our journey.

As it is infertility awareness week, we are taking a big leap and inviting you to join us on our journey – or more aptly put – the hunt for the great pudding club.  You have been invited because we trust and love you.  We want you to know that this week we will be starting a new chapter in our journey.  Ironically it is National Infertility Awareness Week.

We have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility, it is a surprisingly common diagnosis for about 25% of those with infertility.  To date we have tried three rounds of artificial insemination, known as IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination).  This week has been particularly difficult for us as our final prescribed round of treatment failed.  With each round of treatment the sad news of our failure does not get any easier to digest, rather, the sadness stacks up and our hearts grow heavier.

The IUI procedure summed up

The IUI procedure nicely summed up

We are now at the cross roads stage where we do not know exactly which route we will take: IVF, gestational carrier, adoption or even child-free.  Whichever route we do decide to take, we want you to be there with us.

How you can help us

Opening our hearts about our infertility journey leaves us with open wounds, and the occasional feeling of self-inflicted nausea (wishing it was nausea from pregnancy, of course!).  If you would like to come with us we have some ideas on how to help us through our journey…

  1. Ask us how we are doing, and if we do not to tell you every intricate detail of our treatment, please don’t be offended. Sometimes we just don’t want to talk about it because we have been thinking about it all morning and just stopped thinking about it.
  2. We love hearing stories about how your little one was conceived, especially the funny stories. But please do not tell us that we should try this position, or that method.  After all, I am pretty sure we have tried everything we could possibly google.  Legs up, from behind, on top, downward dog, on holiday, when drunk, herbal tea, with a full moon etc… The chances are slim that we will be able to conceive naturally.
  3. Although telling us about your friend that conceived after X time, with X procedure might seem affirming, everyone with infertility is different and so your story probably won’t apply to our situation. The obstacles each one of us faces will be different and the path we take will be unique.
  4. Please don’t ask us 14 days after our fertility treatment procedure if it worked. If it worked, we will tell you in our own time if we find out I am pregnant (it won’t be long after we find out, I am sure the excitement will be too much!); if it didn’t work, we need some time for ourselves to contemplate our next steps and to just have a big old cry.
  5. We like emails, phone calls, skypes and messages that remind us that there are other things going on in the world. We don’t want to think about infertility and babies all the time.  It can be emotionally exhausting at times.  Send us photos, tell us funny stories or pass on a couple of memes.  Please don’t feel like you are treading on egg shells around us or worry that we are too busy to speak to you.
  6. We also want to hear about your little ones too and would love to be invited to events and parties too, after all we are going to be parents sometime soon too 🙂
  7. Finally, please don’t suggest ‘You can just adopt’ to us. If you look into adoption you will quickly learn that this process is not easy, cheap or free from emotional baggage.  There are no guarantees. The casual statement of ‘you can just adopt’ makes it seem like not being able to conceive isn’t that big of a deal and ironically is often said by people who already have their own children. Such a casual, throw away statement makes the whole process seem like we can simply go to the store and pick the type of baby we want from the range on the shelves.

The list above is specific to us, not everyone who suffers infertility will feel comfortable with what we are suggesting, each couple will deal with it in a different way, so if you know someone else who is going through this you should ask them how you can help.

Regardless of the individual items on people’s lists, one thing we can all do is be cautious, being a little more sensitive and take a little time to think before asking anyone about having children. If you know a couple that has recently married it is easy to ask ‘so when will we hear the pitter patter of tiny feet, eh?’ but what if the couple is struggling to conceive? Such an innocent question and yet it could be devastating. We’re not saying don’t ask questions, just don’t make assumptions. Until we had gone through this experience I would often be the one asking such questions, I only realise now how hurtful those questions could have been.

What else can I do?

Come join us, support National Infertility Awareness Week by adding a twibbon to your facebook profile.  You can follow my blog or facebook page, read the links below to help understand more about infertility.  Share your awareness so that others who quietly suffer do not feel like they are alone.

Thank you for understanding as we go through some challenging decisions and supporting us, giving us hope like you have already, we feel very much loved in the knowledge that we are not alone on our journey.

Dani & Chris X

#WeAre1in8 #YouAreNotAlone #WeAreNotAlone

Injecting in the car park…not your average day!

I never finished my story of ‘Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring‘.  Not long after I wrote my blog post, Chris called me back. He could not make it home to give me my injection because he had a meeting in less than an hour.  Rather begrudgingly I agreed to meet him at his work for him to administer the Ovidrel I needed.   Just as I was leaving,Chris called me again.  He had read my blog post and felt guilty, so was going to come home.  But I missed his call as I got in the car, so at his work it was to be!  Unfortunately, his work place does not have any ‘private’ meeting rooms we could use, they are all glass walled, so we decided to just do it in the car park (AKA parking lot for my American friends).

Yup, this is where it was going to go down!  I got out of the car and handed him the equipment.  He could tell I was in a grump; I said I didn’t want to talk about it, rather to just get it over and done with.  I held up my shirt so he could wipe my belly down with an antiseptic wipe, he got the air bubbles out of the pre-filled needle, took the cap off, and whilst I squeezed my belly, he injected the needle into me subcutaneously.  He didn’t even count this time, I just held my breathe, closed my eyes and didn’t move until he told me it was over.  He threw away the needle in the mini bio-hazard bin that the pharmacy had provided me with.  And that was it….within seconds I felt dizzy, as usual.  I sat back down in my car, I didn’t think driving to work would be a good idea for a little while.  Chris went back to work, and so I sat there in my car eating the sour jelly beans I had brought along as a treat to myself.  These were the only things holding back the tears.  I think it is actually impossible to cry whilst stuffing your face with jelly beans.

I was upset at myself for being so pathetic!  Why couldn’t I have just done the injection myself?  I was psychologically torturing myself. I hope that is the last time I ever have to do it, otherwise next time I am going to have to get the nurse to coach me through it.  All you ladies that have managed to inject yourself – kudos to you. Kudos.

IUI round 3-AKA third time lucky

Today we went for IUI round 3. It’s Cycle Day 12 and I’m feeling the ovulation pains. My body basal temperature jumped almost a whole degree and my Ovulation Predictor dip stick was dark, verging on positive.  

 

  I’m pretty confident today is the day my eggs will release.

Chris’s sperm stats were excellent again. 61.2 million motile sperm. Good job Mr F!

We had another new doctor do the Insemination procedure today I’ve seen a total of 5 different doctors so far, if we were playing doctor bingo I’d be doing quite well to date!

Our new doctors had a med student in tow. We are at a clinic based at a medical college so this is to be expected and is the second time I’ve had one observing. Chris grilled the med student about what his dreams and aspirations were as an OBGYN and pointed out how lucky he was to be part of this moment of creating a baby. I kept telling Chris to stop making me laugh because I thought the speculum might pop out and ruin the procedure! It was funny though, the poor student didn’t know what he was letting himself in for sitting in on our appointment!

So another positive looking IUI procedure done, fingers crossed this one does what it’s meant to do.

Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring!

You know how I said third time round means I must be expert on IUI and I felt at ease with this round of treatment?  Well today is Cycle Day 11, everything had been going to plan so far…..But this morning I had my CD11 Ultrasound to check how my follicles are doing.  (By the way, you know you are in serious business when they send my actual doctor to do the ultrasound – they were obviously sending in the big guns for round 3!  It was good to see her.)  Back to my follicles, they are looking good.  I have two maturing, one in the left ovary and other in the right.  Both are 22mm – perfectly sized!  My doctor commented on how good my uterine lining was – 7mm.  She pondered on why the eggs hadn’t wanted to make a home in this nice uterus already!  She knows all the right things to say 🙂 I told her that I thought I was about to ovulate in the next 24hrs because this morning I had a 0.53 degree drop in my body basal temperature and my Ovulation Predictor Kit came up with an almost positive line.  She thinks I will probably surge on my own, but I should take the Ovidrel shot, just in case.  But this would mean I would have to take the shot now for an IUI procedure tomorrow pm (Weds).  OK….sounded good! Just one problem – I’ve got to go home, get the shot out of the fridge to bring back to room temperature – and I’m going to have to do this thing alone! Oh and I’m supposed to be back at work too. Cue panic attack.

I furiously attempt to call Chris to see if he can come home to give the shot, because I really don’t want to have to give myself a shot for the first time under pressure.  Chris must be busy. So here I am, sat here with my Ovidrel shot warming up next to me, whilst I wait for Chris to call me back. I’m freaking now because it’s either do it myself or nothing. And nothing is not a valid option.  You’d have thought stabbing myself with a needle is a very small price to pay to have this chance of having a baby and my logic would take over my fear.  But no logic does not dictate in this case.  Come on Chris!  Call me back!!!!!

For those of you who have not heard of the ‘saying/quote’ “Don’t Panic Mr Mainwaring”, here is a little video excerpt….

Lost: one unopened clear blue digital pregnancy test

Today was meant to be the day that I unwrapped the ‘highly Gyn/Ob recommended’ Clear Blue Digital pregnancy test.  But it’s currently ‘Missing In Action’, I couldn’t find it…I know it’s in the house somewhere, I just can’t remember where I hid it from myself.  Incidentally, I bought it about 7 months ago.  Do these things go out of date?  Oh well…it doesn’t matter because Aunt Flo arrived anyway.

I would like to thank Aunt Flo for the big glass of Wine I shall enjoy this evening and the trip to Busch Gardens now planned for tomorrow – and I am going to go on ALL the rides, many times over, probably until I am sick and dizzy.

Infertility, you sure do suck, but today I am not pregnant and I am going to enjoy this short time of drug free freedom (except the good good Ibuprofen to help alleviate my period pains).  Yes I cried with Chris early this morning, but now I am more determined than ever – whatever is stopping us from getting pregnant – we will overcome it, together.  Round 3 – Ding Ding!

TTFN X

(TaTah For Now)

Reflections upon being pregnant in a war zone – what scares me

The big question: why did I write about something that happened way back in 2007?  Why did I open up some old wounds by writing and thinking about when I was pregnant in Iraq? For the most part, it’s because I drove for four hours on my own, so I had plenty of time to think.  Very dangerous, I know!  Thinking AND driving!  But actually, it is because I have a fear, a fear of being pregnant again.  It sounds rather silly writing it down on an infertility blog. But of course I want to be pregnant more than anything in the world, but this fear is about suffering the ‘side effects’ of severe morning sickness like I did before in 2007.

Hypermesis Education & Research Foundation

Hyperemesis Education & Research Foundation

Last time I was pregnant I suffered severe morning sickness (also known as Hyperemesis gravidarum) and horrific abdominal pains (compared to my normal Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) pains, these were what I considered to be horrific anyway!)  The worst of the symptoms lasted for over three weeks and the nausea continued until the end of my pregnancy of 10 weeks.  There was no way I could have worked during this period.  But to what extent were those symptoms as a result of the environment and conditions I was experiencing at the time – heat, exhaustion, stress, poor food quality and choice?

When Chris and I first met with our Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), Chris asked her if my previous pregnancy could be a clue as to why we were not pregnant yet.  I didn’t think it would be so I hadn’t mentioned the severe morning sickness in my questionnaire.  The RE did confirm that it was not likely to be associated.  But, now that I think about it, perhaps it wasn’t such a silly question after all.  Because quite frankly, any explanation to our fertility troubles would be nice right now.  I’m quite bored of asking ‘Why me??’

Today I am 12 Days Past IUI number 2 (12DPIUI#2), and so far potential symptoms of pregnancy:

  • Short sharp cramps just around both sides of my ovaries
  • Sharp cramp like pains under the left side and right side of my ribs.
  • Sore boobs, but not tender to touch, just achey.
  • Today I have felt a little nauseous, but Chris has had a funny tummy today, so potentially we ate something funny.

And that is it, not much to go by, but the sharp pains reminded me of my previous pregnancy so I have been more positive about this cycle so far.  Just two more days to go til the big test.

I am afraid to be pregnant but want to be pregnant more than anything.

And that sums up my emotional roller coaster right now 🙂 /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/——

IUI #2 off to a better start than #1

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) round 2 is off to a better start than the first one – we think anyway.

A matter of timing

The first round of IUI was, of course, all new to us.  I had taken an ultrasound on the Friday (Cycle Day 11), took an Ovidrel Shot to stimulate ovulation on Saturday evening, and had IUI on Monday (CD 14).  At the time we wondered whether the IUI procedure too late because my clinic are not open on Sundays we could not do IUI that day, the Doctor had indicated that I needed the IUI procedure early on Monday, rather than later as my follicles were rather large.  I had a positive result from my ovulation predictor kit on the Sunday morning, the day BEFORE the IUI.  I simply thought that this was the Ovidrel in action, and the doctor had everything timed well.  But now we are suspicious that all this meant is that the IUI was too late….

THIS time around for cycle 2 it was a slightly different story.  I had my ultrasound on the Thursday (Cycle Day 11) and I had slightly smaller follicles, but big enough to go ahead with the IUI.  I took the Ovidrel shot on the Thursday evening, and had IUI on Saturday (CD 13).  This time, I got a positive result from my ovulation predictor kit on the morning of the IUI, Saturday morning.  This makes me believe that we were too late last time around as it seems that the Ovidrel doesn’t interfere with ovulation predictor kits.  This cycle I decided to monitor my Basal Body Temperature (BBT) for the first time ever.  Today, Sunday (CD 14) I got a spike in my temperature confirming my suspicions that I most likely ovulated yesterday.  Woohooooo!  This cycle, it feels that the IUI procedure was better timed.  I was also having horrible ovulation pains on the way to the clinic and all day yesterday.  A good sign?

The sperm stats low down

Another excellent sperm sample Mr C!

  • semen volume: 1.2mL
  • Sperm Concentration: 129 million per mL
  • Percent motile: 51.9%
  • Number of motile sperm: 80.3 million
  • After washing (centrifugation)
  • Number of motile sperm in vial: 72.5 million
  • Motility:  86.8%
  • volume of vial: 5mL
  • recovery rate for processes sample: 90.2%

The IUI procedure

As we were a bit more knowledgeable about the whole procedure this time around so the whole appointment took about 20 minutes, of which 15 minutes I was laying down on my back resting whilst the sperm figure out which direction they need to swim in. Chris joked we knew that about 15% of the sperm were just swimming around in circles, confused, not knowing what to do with themselves.

The doctor was a new one for me – a sweet lady who seemed very happy for an early Saturday morning!  I asked Chris later if I had just been treated for the first time by someone younger than me.  Eeeek we are getting old! But he believed she was actually in her mid thirties, so not much older than us.  The doctor was very kind and kept apologizing for any pain she might cause.  She told me she would use the smallest speculum and the smallest catheter possible so it wouldn’t hurt.  This made me wonder whether all this time other doctors purposefully use big speculums and catheters out of choice!  She was good at explaining everything she was doing.  She put the (smallest!) speculum into my vagina (No lubricant because this kills sperm).  She told me she was going to open the speculum up and I might feel some pressure.  Which I did, but it did not hurt.  After this she inserted the catheter into my uterus via the cervix and the sperm was injected via the catheter directly into my uterus. I barely felt a thing and it was over with in less than 2 minutes.  I had no cramping until later in the day.

Here is a short 2 minute 3D animation of how IUI works.

The nurse set a 15 minute timer and I lay down on the bed feeling a bit surreal. This time the 15 minutes went much quicker than last time because we spent it talking about our next holiday – a road trip to the West (Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Santa Fe etc).  We have been planning on going in October, but have been waiting for the last 4 months to see if we were pregnant before we book anything.  This will be the last cycle we wait before we book it.  No more holding off!

Naughty Gift – no not that kind of naughty

The morning of the IUI I decided to give Chris a gift I bought him a few weeks ago.  I have declared before that I believe it is unlucky to buy baby name books, pregnancy books, baby clothes etc before actually conceiving.  But seeing as we have been unlucky so far I thought we cant possibly have any more bad luck so what the hell, I bought a pregnancy book for men.  It’s a slightly funny book with interesting facts about pregnancy.  I couldn’t resist!  But I won’t buy anything else.  I just wanted to get him something we can share together along this journey.

My naughty gift to Chris

My naughty gift to Chris

2 Week Wait and greasy progesterone suppositories here we come!

When using the counting method…

If you use then counting method with your partner when injecting you with your hormone of choice…you should agree in advance at what number you are finishing the injection at! Especially if you choose not to watch.

Last night was Ovidrel shot time.  As Chris counted down, I moved away at 3, he was planning on going to 4, as I wasn’t looking – ouch!! I moved away just as he was pulling the needle out of my abdomen.  I Was a tad sore afterwards and still am 😦

By the way. I decided to read the bumpf that comes with the ovidrel injection. Under the section about how ovidrel is made it says…

The production process involves expansion of genetically modified Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells from an extensively characterized cell bank into large scale cell culture processing…

This tickled me, does it have to be from the Ovaries of a Chinese Hamster? Could it be from the ovaries of a Russian Hamster? But they are fluffier so maybe not…

Cycle Day 11 Ultrasound – its’s go go go for IUI #2

Today I went in for my Cycle Day 11 Ultrasound to check my uterine lining and follicle maturation.  The doctor was a little more smiley today than the last time she performed the ultrasound.  I felt a little more at ease this time around.

So here are the results from my ultrasound:

8mm Uterine lining – that’s apparently very good

3 follicles in total: 2 in the left ovary, 23mm & 16mm in size and 1 in the right ovary, 25mm.  All three looked good.  So more of a chance of multiples than last time :-s, but it is a risk we agreed to take.

Chris asked the doctor about the last cycle where two of my follicles were a bit bigger, were we too late and missed our chance?  But the doctor said that with letrozole, follicle size can be up to 28mm.

Tonight we get to do the ovidrel injection and then IUI is scheduled for 0800 Saturday morning. Woohoo!!! (but not woohoo to the injection though, that stuff is just mean).