What’s infertility got to do with a terrorist attack?

I have been surprised at how many people have commented on my apparent levelheadedness during the terrorist attack in Brussels airport.  Although the absolute fear and terror was running through my mind, my actions seemed logical.  I’m surprised, because I just did what I did – and even I am somewhat surprised at my own response.  However, I think that it is all mostly about an element of luck.  Some people have told me, they believe in some kind of divine intervention (I personally do not believe that, whether god exists or not).  The luck was the third suitcase bomb didn’t explode.  The luck was that I wasn’t closer.  The luck was that the terrorists were ill prepared to carry out a more sophisticated attack.  (Apparently, they had been planning more, but for some reason failed to implement it).  The luck was that I was in the right place and it simply wasn’t my time to die.

A friend of mine made a really interesting comment about the difference between a man and woman’s propensity to take risk.  A woman’s appetite to take risk varies with her menstrual period, where as a man’s appetite for risk remains relatively stable.  When a woman is in her ovulatory stage, she is less likely to take risks.  Therefore, hormones surely have a role to play in risk taking.  So what does that mean for a woman who is going through infertility treatment and jacked up with lots of hormones?  Does this mean that a woman’s propensity for risk is heightened or lowered depending on the stage of their treatment, how different would it be compared to if they were in their normal menstrual cycle?

During the attack, I was on Day 12 of the down regulation part of my IVF cycle, preparing for my upcoming stimulation phase.  I had already been experiencing some of the side effects from these drugs (I wrote about them in my previous diary entry here).  The question I have is – had I not been on these drugs would I have reacted differently to the situation?  We will never know the answer, because we will never know what could have been.  But it is an interesting question never-the-less!

I can tell you that the feelings and emotions I have been experiencing after getting caught up in the attack are not dissimilar to how I felt after being told our pregnancy was not viable.  I’ve experienced random crying over what could have been.  Sadness, frustration, anger and numbness – all feelings that have washed over me in the immediate days past these traumatic events.  I never thought I could ever liken an impending pregnancy loss to surviving a terrorist attack.  But I am, and that is simply how I have been feeling over the past couple of days.  I’ve also experienced the overwhelming feeling of love and kindness from friends and family after these events.  And I mean overwhelming to the point where I have been dumbstruck.

I anticipate that I might attend some kind of therapy after experiencing what I did this week.  The question I have is, why haven’t I been so accepting of undertaking therapy for infertility after our loss and constant failure? If these feelings I am experiencing are so similar, perhaps I should have gone to therapy over our infertility sooner? I don’t know, but perhaps I just didn’t realise the intense emotions and trauma infertility slowly piles up upon us.  Or maybe, the reason is because I feel like I have absolutely no control over a terrorist attack, and maybe I *believe* I have some control over my infertility.  I think my perspective might have changed over the past week; I know some of you wonderful ladies have tried therapy for infertility and swear by it.  Going to therapy doesn’t mean I am weak, it means that I am strong, strong enough to recognise that help is there for the taking.


 

For those inclined…a couple of journal articles on risk taking and a woman’s hormonal cycle:

Variations in risk taking behaviour over the menstrual cycle:  http://people.uncw.edu/bruce/hon%20210/pdfs/risk%20taking.pdf

The influence of menstrual cycle and impulsivity and risk taking behaviour:  http://www.ledonline.it/NeuropsychologicalTrends/allegati/NeuropsychologicalTrends_17_Iannello.pdf

 

IVF Diary Vol III 15-20 Mar 16

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Ovulation Control Pill (OCP) Reclipsen 0.15MG-30MCG x 1 per day, Lupron 0.5mg (10 units) injection AM.

I started the Lupron injections on Thursday morning.  Although the amount of liquid is tiny and the needle is small, I still freaked out about giving myself the injection.  I tried to do it, but the needle bounced off my skin, so I asked Chris to do it so I could feel how hard it needs to e to pierce the skin. But on Friday, I did the injection myself! It didn’t hurt, I was just slightly hesitant and the needle went in slower than I expected.  Saturday, the needle bumped off my skin again!  I’m sure I will figure it out.  Also, there is barely any blood after these injections so I don’t really need gauze and I can’t tell where I just did the injection which means I am finding it difficult to figure out where to put a plaster over it!  I discovered putting a plaster over the injection site means that I don’t have to remember the next day where I just did my previous injection.

Medical procedures undertaken. Nil.  But – I did have a post op follow up appointment with my Doctor to go over my results from the hysteroscopy.  I knew the biopsy results were good because they come through on my clinic’s app and I am sure she wouldn’t have had told me to start the Birth control pills if there was anything wrong.  However, on the day of the appointment I started to get a bit nervous because I thought if everything was OK, why did she still need to see me?  When I arrived the nurse asked where my husband was?  At first I just joked with her “He’s working – I hope!!!”, but then it dawned on me….should he be here with me because it’s going to be bad news?  I didn’t even think about bringing Chris along.  The nurse did the usual vitals check and took me to the Doctor’s office to wait.  As I was sitting in her office there was one pamphlet on her desk that stuck out – it was about uterine cancer.  My heart started to beat faster!! My head was  racing.  Fortunately the doctor arrived quickly after I sat down.  She cut straight to the chase and said everything looked just fine! Phew.  She took a look at her computer and said that there was just one area of redness of my uterus she had seen on the camera that she thought might be inflammation, but the biopsy did not show any signs of inflammation. So all good!  A very quick appointment, I was in and out in 5 minutes…it was just like being at a doctor’s office in the UK!!!!

What are my symptoms?  I have two symptoms I want to talk about – my upset tummy and my hormones!

At my post op appointment I asked my doctor about my upset tummy.  I told her my diarrhea has been playing up, maybe it’s just my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) being bad or, is there any chance it could be something related to the hysteroscopy?  The only thing that could cause diarrhea is the cytotec pills I took that ‘softens the cervix’ prior to the surgery.  Maybe it caused a mis-balance of bacteria in my tummy, but it should go away soon.  It wasn’t the most helpful advice I’ve received from a doctor…but as usual not knowing what causes my poorly tummy I am used to.  So I decided to put into practice my knowledge of things to make diarreah go away.  The first is to take some probiotics.  After my appointment I went straight to the shops and looked for a probiotic yoghurt drink.  Now in the UK, there are these little drinks that you can take daily – there are different brands like yakult and actimel, they are very common in the supermarket.  But here in the US, I haven’t ever noticed before until now, they are not common!  I tried looking for a US store that sells Yakult and it’s typical!  The only place nearby is the Commissary!  As a civilian, I am not allowed to shop at the Commissary!! (The Commissary is where the military can buy their groceries at a discount).  Anyway…I did discover something similar in the organic section – Kefir.  Kefir is a fermented milk drink with kefir grains in it.  I wasn’t sure if this would aggravate my upset tummy or the probiotics would do its thing.  There were also some juices with probiotics added, this to my mind didn’t seem the best for my tummy because real fruit juice can make things worse for me.  Anyway either the Kefir has had a positive effect or my tummy is getting better on its own.  The past few days I have returned to normal upset tummy (where I experience diarrhea about once a day rather than 4-6 times a day for the past two weeks!)

My hormones.  I am going to do a separate post on this, but in a nutshell, the Lupron and Birth Control Pills are doing weird things to me.  On Friday evening as I was getting ready to go to the ball (!!!) I was curling my hair and tried to pin it up how I like to.  But for some reason it wasn’t working.  My hair looked awful, I was getting frustrated at it…then I flipped out at my inability to make my hair look half decent.  Like seriously got mad and threw stuff across the room.  I looked in the mirror and I felt nothing, I looked back at myself and felt nothing.  I didn’t feel sexy, I thought I looked hideous.  Chris kept telling me my hair looked lovely down and I should leave it, but I just kept looking at myself and I felt like I was out of my body – I was in somebody else’s body. I felt…..nothing.  It was weird.  I didn’t like it!  Could it be the Lupron doing this to me?

How do I feel today? Chris and I had an evening of sharing our feelings about this IVF cycle.  It got emotional.  We realised we have both been bad at not sharing our feelings, we both made assumptions about things and came to wrong conclusions.  We just didn’t talk enough about what was going to happen this cycle – the changes in my protocol and the uncertainty around dates of key things happening in the cycle like when the Egg Retrieval and transfer might be.  Particularly with the transfer (Day 3 v Day 5).  The difference being that this cycle came around quickly (we both felt unprepared for it), and my period started much earlier than I anticipated.  Because I had been so busy with work, we just hadn’t been keeping the communication lines open…but we re-opened them – that’s good, but it took us a while to figure that out!

Any results?  Other than my post op results being clear!

What’s next? I stop the Birth Control Pills next week and keep the Lupron injections going.  I am off on travels to Europe next week so I have the added issue of figuring out what times to take my pills and injections!  I made a mistake of taking my Birth Control Pills after my dinner, so now in Europe with them being 6 hours ahead at the moment, it means I would need to be taking them at 2AM! Doh!  The Lupron injections won’t be so bad – I can take them at 1PM at lunch time.  I may also have to give myself an injection on the plane as I fly transatlantic!!!! Double doh!

Weight. I still haven’t got on the scales yet!

Waist. NSTR.

Boobs. NSTR.

The Final Countdown!!!

160320_IVF3_Calendar_Countdown.jpg

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal), 5mg Melatonin at bed time and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

IVF Diary Vol II: 29 Dec 15 – 3 Jan 16

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Ovulation Control Pill (OCP) Reclipsen 0.15MG-30MCG x 1 per day

Medical procedures undertaken. Nil

What are my symptoms? As per last time I took the Birth Control Pills, my period lasted a few days longer and I am still spotting.  It’s no biggy.  Especially as I know now that this is exactly what happened last time.  I also appreciate what some women go through who have more than 3 or 4 days of menstrual bleeding…I feel bad for you ladies!  I consider myself lucky that I don’t bleed for 7 days normally.  Today I had quite a heavy ‘spotting’ and had some sharp pains around my right ovary that I would ordinarily feel around ovulation time.  But a hot water bottle fixed that pain and now all is back to normal.

How do I feel today?  Chilled and relaxed.  That could be something to do with the fact that I have been off work for over a week!  With no travels this festive period, it had been true relaxation, probably more laziness more than anything.  But it’s back to work tomorrow, and despite the unknowns about what the year ahead will look like for me, I feel a bit excited to be starting with a fresh mind, ready for the start of my stim injections 15th Jan!  I am also really pleased I kept a diary from my first cycle….I can look back and read what happened so I have some kind of ‘objective’ truth to what happened.  I think it’s useful because it removes some of my anxieties about what to expect next!

My medication arrived on time…I decided to see how high I could stack up the boxes for this photograph 😉  It looks like a terrifying amount of medication!

ivf2_med pile.jpg

My meds for IVF cycle 2: Gonal-F, menopur, cetrotide, Ovidrel, progesterone in oil (generic), doxycycline

There are a couple more boxes extra compared to last time because they plan on upping the dosages a little.  It was interesting to see the differences in prices in the medication.  Not much, but some of them have gone up a few cents.  And every penny counts.  The lady at Freedom Fertility Pharmacy was very kind to ask if I needed to split my order or wait to the new year for my insurance in case it changed or I had reached my limit.  Fortunately, my insurance limit is ‘lifetime’ rather than a fixed time like every calendar year so it makes things very simple.    (I have also updated my ‘The $$ Lowdown’ page. – counting my blessings I have great insurance coverage for all of this)

Any results? NSTR*.

What’s next? Another week of Birth Control Pills, first baseline appointment is 14th Jan, so it’s all quiet until then.

Weight. I am 10lbs heavier than when I started my first IVF cycle.  Most of that extra weight is from after my miscarriage and Christmas.  I am going to be doing some more exercise, I am not getting too het up about it, I can still fit into my clothes, there are perhaps a few pairs of trousers I won’t be able to wear when it comes to the stimulation phase of IVF!  I will start tracking my weight like last time, but I haven’t bothered with a baseline weight prior to birth control pill.

Waist.  NSTR

Boobs. NSTR

Hours of Sunshine 🙂 For my first IVF cycle I recorded the amount of sunshine I soaked up.  It was summer.  This time, it is the deepest darkest time of winter, so getting sunshine is pretty difficult!  Having said that, we did get out onto the water to see some humpback whales.  The sunshine was glorious although the photo below you can’t quite tell how blue the sky was!

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal) and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

whales.jpg

A humpback whale blowing – at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay

IVF Vol 2 begins!

Yesterday my period arrived, just one day later than anticipated, but that’s all good.  I called my nurse and started with the Birth Control Pills (Reclipsen).

IVF2_BCPs

Birth Control Pills (BCPs) – YEY!!!!

I will be on Birth Control Pills for 14 days (1 day longer than last time), then 3 days later we go into the Clinic for my Cycle Day 3 baseline ultrasound and blood tests – this time we won’t need to have all the lessons on injections – but we will need to sign some paperwork and sort out the finances.  Then the next day I get my instructions for injections…and we are off on IVF/ICSI cycle 2!  Here is a calendar of our cycle…

151230_IVF2_Calendar

Planned Dates for IVF Cycle 2.

It is all happening a week later than I expected, which puts me in a conundrum about work travels.  This would mean travelling for work almost the day after I take my first beta blood test.  If it is positive, then I will be flying transatlantic to the UK just 4 weeks pregnant, and have to figure out how I’m going to do these progesterone injections.  Or if it is negative and I am not pregnant, then I will be away from Chris at a sad time. Either way, it kind of sucks.  If I don’t go on this work trip then I will be a real let down to my team.  I’m hoping Chris might be able to come with me on this trip, but it is really hard for him to get the time off work.

Anyway, I am genuinely excited to be starting this cycle, but I had a little cry yesterday.  I think it was all the period hormones running around.  I cried because of the whole situation of fitting everything in life around this IVF cycle.  I’m trying to make it easier for myself by taking some leave off work, but it is a busy month for my team, there is lots of work to be done, I have already had to pull out of one work event (in Switzerland :-|) and so I feel guilty.  Despite feeling like this….I still have hope for 2016 🙂

fierce.jpg

2016 is the year I will be stronger, braver, kinder and unstoppable.  This year I will be fierce!!!

For those of you who are new to the whole IVF process or want a reminder of how IVF works you can find a summary on my “What does it all mean?” page here.  Currently I am in Step 1 of the process!

 

Starting my IVF diary

I have been thinking about writing an “IVF Diary”.  Something a bit more formal and structured than my blog.  I will of course post my IVF diary on my blog and keep posting other things, but I wanted to create a bit of structure to my diary to help me.  Plus, I am all about the data (did I tell you I’m an analyst??!), I can’t help but think of it as s kind of data collection plan. Soooo this is what I think my template will be, but I would really like some input from anyone who has been through this before.  I’ve crawled some blogs to try and figure out what would be useful to monitor:

Day X, date, cycle #, cycle type

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s).

Medical procedures undertaken.

How do I feel today?  (i.e. my emotions)

What are my symptoms? (i.e. my physical reactions)

How does Chris feel today?  (i.e. his emotions, if he is willing to share them that is)

Any results? (i.e. blood tests, ultrasounds)

What’s next? (any thing significant in the next 24-48 hrs)

Weight. (has it changed?)

Waist size.  (has it changed?)

Boob size

Temp?? (should I do this or is it pointless because meds screw temps up?)

I want to start this week so I can capture a baseline of some of these stats before I start Birth Control Pills next week, like weight etc.

Do you think I have missed anything???