Home Sweet Home!

The cats are alive and well.  The house survived the storms and is generally still in one piece (apart from a few gross piles of hairball vomit and one chewed up oven mitt).  The suitcases are unpacked.  We are surrounded by piles of stinky washing.  But there is nothing better than the feeling of climbing into your own bed after two weeks of being on the dusty road, cramped up, sleeping in a camper van!! (Albeit a wickedly amazing campervan)

This was our 'cosy' home for the last two weeks - AKA Trippy.

This was our ‘cosy’ home for the last two weeks – AKA Trippy.

Home sweet home feels great right now!!

Our 2200 mile road trip is sadly over and I have much catching up to do.  Apparently a lot happens in 2 weeks when one has stepped away from the internet and phones!

I am absolutely stoked to be back blogging again after my long 2 week break.  I have had a lot of thoughts running around my head because, well, I have had a lot of time to think!  Most days we were hiking somewhere, occasionally in the ‘wilderness’, so there was plenty of opportunity to go off into my thoughts in the deep, dark, corners of my brain…and of course there was also ample opportunity for Chris and I to talk about some of the deeper and meaningful things in life.

There was the odd occasion when it was just the two of us for miles alone.

There was the odd occasion when it was just the two of us for miles alone.

So with all that time ‘alone’, I have some future blog posts in mind I will be writing over the next few weeks…

1. A discovery – How far Chris and I are both willing to go with fertility treatment

2.  The future size of our family

3. Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness month & the wave of light (I missed the wave on the 15th October as we were camped out somewhere in the desert, but Chris and I had a long discussion about it) 😦

oct15_banner

4. Recognising the signs and symptoms of depression

5. What are we gambling? (inspired by our stay in Las Vegas!)

vegas

Our grand total winnings from the Ultimate Poker Table – 2 x Half Dollar Coins

6.  An introduction to Dib Dab – our traveling cat

Dib Dab at Bryce Canyon

Dib Dab at Bryce Canyon

Dib Dab at Mesa Verde

Dib Dab at Mesa Verde

Our holiday was just what the doctor ordered (Well not what my doctor ordered, who actually wanted me back at home for weekly beta blood tests!! Ha!).

Tomorrow I am back in the thick of work, as well as hopefully my last beta blood test (fingers crossed it is 0 now) 🙂  Also there is some catching up to do on reading some other wonderful blogs!  I’m hoping to read some good news !!!

Advertisements

IVF DIARY VOL I: 29 JULY 2015

IVF_Diary_Vol1Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). 3 injections: (AM) Cetrotide 0.25mg, (PM) Gonal-F 300iu and Menopur 75iu.

The cetrotide was a bit better this morning, but as I was distracted with getting to the clinic on time for my monitoring appointment I didn’t feel as bad as yesterday. Phew!

Medical procedures undertaken. Ultrasound and Estradiol blood test.  My appointment was at 8AM, I arrived at 0750 and the receptionist told me that they were a team down and there may be some delays.  I commented that was fine because it just meant I didn’t have to work for quite as long!  However, it was at 0945 I was getting a little annoyed at the wait, AND I had drained my phone battery googling IVF success statistics.  I had a new doctor I had not met before, she apologised profusely that she had been stuck in surgery.  Oh well stuff happens.  As soon as the doctor inserted the ultrasound wand and I saw all the follicles in my right ovary I almost cried with relief!

How do I feel today? Still feeling positive!  My mum arrived from the UK today and we won our game of softball (that I managed to drag myself to despite feeling poo every time I bend over) so it was a pretty awesome day despite some of the pains in my tummy.

What are my symptoms? My stomach is still painful from the injections, but not quite as bad as yesterday.

How does Chris feel today? He tells me he is feeling good.  He stabbed me four times with three injections today.  I was watching this time and I burst out laughing as he managed to get the needle with the second attempt, which is NOT a good idea – jiggling about with a needle hanging in you!

Any results? 9 lovely follicles in the right ovary, so a couple of new ones have had a growth spurt, only 4 in the left….as the doctor said, it’s the lazy lefty ovary.  But everything is on track and no adjustments to my medication required.

What’s next?  Focusing on getting my project at work completed so I can focus my energy on next week.

Weight. No gain or loss today.  Still not sure how.

Waist.  Oh my waist is still a little pot bellied bloated.

Boobs. NSTR

Hours of Sunshine 🙂 About 15 minutes as I had a walk at lunch time with a friend to get some fresh air, and then about 1.5hrs in the glorious evening sun playing softball (well attempting to play softball without bending over too much, which is pretty difficult as I play Catcher!!!)150729_IVF1_Stats

150729_IVF1_Follie

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

Infertility Awareness: Sharing our Journey

It’s national infertility awareness week soon, 19-25 April 2015.  The theme is “You’re not alone”.  There is a blogging challenge under this theme which I have been thinking about writing.  I asked Chris if he thought it would be a good idea for us to write a joint blog post under this theme and post it onto our personal facebook pages.  After all, it is the making people aware of infertility week – how better to make people aware than to share our journey so far?  But Chris quickly pointed out that this would be too much to share.  We would get more questions like, “Any news?”, we would be asked about our troubles at times when we just don’t feel like talking about it, we would also get the unintentional insensitive thoughts, ideas and suggestions (a great post about this “Pardon me whilst I burst into flame” I re-blogged here).

This all makes me so sad.  Sad because I feel like we should make people more aware of the statistics (how common it is), the hidden suffering, the variety, complexity of infertility problems and the many options/choices of treatment.

Our journey is getting a bit rocky

Our journey is getting a bit rocky

The infertility journey is a rocky wild path, that will throw all types of extreme weather at us, it’s physically exhausting and mentally draining.  We know the peak is high, we may come across false summits.  Some of us may fall down, some of us may find shortcuts (we always hope to find shortcuts!) and sometimes the path simply becomes longer and windier than we ever imagined.  We can ask directions from the experts along the way, they help us to see the path as a gentle winding pleasant route, but they can rarely help when nature creates that avalanche and cuts you off.  If we have our friends with us, they can help us round and scale the new challenges that pop up…they  don’t need to be there all the time, they can relay it up the mountain with us, but surely we are better off not going it alone?

via ferrata2In some ways this journey reminds me of the play we saw last year, K2.  This is a story of two climbers who scale K2 but come across difficulties in their climb, death is near as they fight for survival together.  The two contemplate the meaning of life, family, friends, God and our existential existence.  Ultimately, if there had been at least one other person with them, they all may have survived.  Is our infertility journey like this?  If there were more than the two of us, if we fall, will it be easier to get up and keep going?  Movies often portray climbers that find themselves like the K2 scenario as egotistical and selfish.  But climbers are misunderstood, climbing is more than adrenaline or ego, big climbs are often an exercise of self examination, a chance to get away from the daily grind. I am not saying that in this case infertility sufferers are like climbers.  But what I do wonder, is that we similarly are misunderstood.  We are misunderstood because no one knows we are out here on our journeys.  Should we make more people aware?  How can we do this?

We are out here on this journey because the top is going to be beautiful, it will be worth it in the end, worth the financial burden, the mental exhaustion, the physical pain.  I’ve heard it is amazing up there.  I just don’t want to be alone.  But I’m not sure we are ready to invite everyone to join us on our journey just yet.

Top of the world

Top of the world

Work in Progress…ARTApp

I successfully completed another module in my Data Science course! Woohoo!! Eight modules down, one to go. Now I have one week off of study, then onto the home straight.  I can’t wait to finish it.

Part of my final project was to develop an online web App; I decided to develop an App that uses the data provided by the CDC on Assisted Reproductive Technology and presents the data in more user friendly way.  I bit off more than I could chew for this project because the data the CDC provides is a bit messy and required some cleaning up in order that I could manipulate it easily.  Now I have ‘cleaned’ the data, I need to spend a bit more time making the visualisation useful.  I got 100% for my project so I passed with flying colours, but I have a lot more to do before I share it with a wider online community.  You can have a sneak preview!

You can see my ARTapp here.  It was supposed to look a bit more like this…

Screen shot of my ARTApp

Screen shot of my ARTApp so far

My idea is that someone can select a state they are interested in, it shows all the fertility clinics in that given state, then the user can select a fertility statistic they are interested in comparing their clinic against the state wide average.  There is also a map of the states that shows the statistic average for each state. This is just a prototype for now, I will keep working at it and include all data available from CDC, not just data for fresh embryos.  Also add in some more interactive charts for looking at ART data over time.

Now, wouldn’t it be good to know what the IUI stats are like too?

View the latest U.S. Fertility Clinic Data

The big question – What if we can’t have children?

As we were about to head to bed for the evening, Chris quietly asked “What if we can’t have children?”.  This is a question we have discussed before – several years ago in fact.  It’s the kind of question you ask just after your boyfriend/fiancee asks you to marry him.  It’s one of those BIG questions.  And we had much time to talk about it back then.  Chris proposed to me just 1/2 hr into our 4 day hike in the remote Italian mountains, the Dolomites.  Of course I said yes when he asked me to marry him (If I had said no it would have been a rather awkward four days in the mountains 😉 ), but this left four days of ‘just us’ to talk about ‘the big things in life’, to double check that we were in fact right for each other.  Well probably more of me doing the double checking, after all, he had been planning to propose to me for months, he had all that time to think about it.  We concluded that love conquers all, you couldn’t really argue with that logic.  Oh so naive?

This time around, Chris asked the question with a genuine sadness in his eye.  With a little bit of wine in me, my eyes welled up instantly and hit some kind of nerve.  Because yes, love does conquer all, but it hurts to think that this could be a reality in the not so distant future.  I have thought about it a bit, but I haven’t really looked into it in depth.  We discussed potential future options of donor eggs. donor sperm, gestational surrogacy, adoption and being ‘child free’.  These discussions were brief and emotionally fuelled, with neither of us having much understanding about any of them.  We concluded that we do not both agree on each of these options, we have our differences of opinions, however we recognised that these feelings are likely to change dependent on our situation and once we have done more research together.  We did agree on one thing – that we would use all of our savings if we had to, but we would not get into debt.

The discussion was brief, we were tired and emotional, it was not the best time to ask this BIG question.  But it is a question we need to be prepared to think about more if round 3 of IUI does not work.  This doesn’t mean we are not hopeful about round 3, far from it, it’s just something we might want to start smarting up about.  Education certainly never hurt anyone.

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 🙂 /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/——

Welcome and unwelcome advice

I read a lot of other blogs and forum posts where people suffering from sub fertility have had bad experiences with unwelcome advice from friends, colleagues, families and even strangers.  I have been lucky enough to not had any unwelcome advice from people I have confided in.  In fact, I have been overwhelmed with the love and support we have been offered in return for confiding in our journey to conceive.  Am I lucky or have I just been super careful to who I tell?

I asked my husband if he had any unwelcome advice so far….he has been very open with our journey with his work colleagues, so I was intrigued if they have been helpful or unintentionally upsetting?  (My husband is tough skinned though, so he can take a lot and not take things to heart like I can quite as easily).  Apparently, he has only had one bad experience where he felt like he wanted to punch his colleague in the face, but it was surely unintentional.

We have had amazing support and advice which has been welcome so far…but to what extent do you risk putting yourself out there to get hurt by a friend’s unwelcome advice (unintentionally, of course, it’s not their fault, they don’t know)?  For example, this week I am on my work travels in Paris, but I have had to cut my trip short by one day for my CD 12 ultrasound – how do I explain this to my work colleagues?  So far only two people at my work know about our journey.  Worst of all, how do I explain it to a group of people I am just about to meet and work with for the next year and a half? I am having moments of bravery, where I fell like just coming out with straight away:

“I’m very sorry I have to leave a day early, I have an important medical appointment back in the US – oh no, nothing serious, it’s just that my husband and I are going through fertility treatment”

Hmmmmm, doesn’t sound very professional. But I don’t want to lie either. I have approximately two hours to figure this out before I meet the group.

My conundrum is not really about sounding unprofessional, but more about exposing myself to unwelcome advice from colleagues I barely know. I probably wouldn’t want to punch them in the face, but I would probably want to run away and cry. And when I cry, it takes hours for my face to return to a normal colour again!

I’ll let you know how it goes and what I decided to do!

A new day, a new cycle and new worries!

Yesterday sucked.  Today sucks still, but not quite as much as yesterday.  Cycle Day (CD) 2 and tomorrow is start of Letrozole!  Wait – tomorrow??!?! Wow, where is the time to breathe?  I don’t even have a prescription yet.  The nurse didn’t mention anything about my medication for a new cycle.  She just told me that if I was pregnant I was to call in and arrange a blood test and keep taking the progesterone, but if I was not pregnant, to stop the progesterone and my period would come (late, not to worry, that’s normal because of the progesterone) and then we would follow my doctor’s plan.  At the time, this all made sense.  But my period came full flow three hours after I took my pregnancy test (seriously, what a waste of a test!!!).  My period wasn’t late, and suddenly I realised I don’t have my prescription ready for CD 3.  In addition I realised that CD11 for my first ultrasound was due the day I was planning on returning from Paris for a work trip. Uhoh.  And if all went to plan as the last round of IUI, we would be doing the IUI either the Saturday that my brother is visiting from the UK (sorry bro, you’ve come all this way and we just got to pop to the doctors for half a day) or potentially the day I will be travelling to DC for work (sorry bro, was supposed to be taking you to DC with me for some site seeing). Aghhhhhhh!  Too much to think about. How much of my best laid plans could I reschedule?

All of this came quickly.  I thought about it yesterday, but was in no state of mind to deal with it.  So I dealt with it all today…I decided to still go to Paris, just come back one day early (fingers crossed my flight isn’t delayed by more than 24hrs), we have a plan for when my brother is visiting, and I can delay my DC work trip (My boss has been helpful in this respect).

Today I called the clinic to schedule my CD11 ultrasound, check about medication, how I go about refills and to check the status of them passing on our medical records to our insurance company.  It turns out some of my prescriptions were on refill, but not the Letrozole (the nurse asked me if I still wanted to carry on with it – I guess so??).  The nurse said she would arrange it immediately.  However, when it came to my medical records, there was no note to say that my medical records had in fact been sent to my insurance company.  However, there was a note to say that they needed to do it… But not to worry, because I can always check again when I come in for my CD11 ultrasound.  Well I do worry because I still do not have approval from my insurance company to have IUI treatment – and there is nothing I can do but let them figure it out together.  We can afford the IUI, we have the savings for it, but we would rather know now than later down the road what we do and don’t have to pay for.

On a more positive note, today is our 3 year wedding Anniversary.  We celebrated this evening and I enjoyed a lovely big glass of Merlot.  Good timing 🙂

Happy Anniversary Mr F!

Happy Anniversary Mr F!

Half way through the two week wait and feeling low…

So this is it…the half way point in the 2 week wait (AKA the 2WW).  I am feeling a little low.  It is probably as a result of a mix of things – first of all, being stuck inside all weekend behind a computer, second of all, I am impatient being in the middle of the 2WW, thirdly I am fed up with the progesterone suppositories leaking everywhere.  Is there a chance that my feelings are related to hormones and medications?  Maybe, I can’t tell.

diesel worried

Diesel don’t look so worried, it’s gonna be OK

My lowness hasn’t been helped that I had two course projects due this evening.  Both were programming assignments….the first project I developed a web app that uses the CDC’s most recent data on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Here is some info on it).  I was unable to fully deploy the app online before the deadline. It worked perfectly yesterday on my computer and all day today I have bee trying to figure out why it won’t go live. Sooooooo frustrating.  Hopefully my graders will see my code and be generous.

My second project was a little dull, statistics and investigating relationships in cars between Miles Per Gallon and transmission types (amongst other things).  I completed my report, but in the last hour before the deadline I could not get it to convert to a pdf file.  Such a simple task.  I am gutted.  I will have to re-take this module as it counts for 60% of the grade.

I will admit that I have screamed and cried at my computer several times this weekend.  I am not very good at not being in control of it!

Our cats, Sushi and Diesel, have been overly affectionate the last couple of days.  I am sure they can sense when we are down or ill.

Next week is a new week, no more snow, warmer temperatures, back to some gentle exercise, and the end of the week we are having friends over to watch rugby, eat some bad foods, and play some board games.  Something to look forward to.  With all that fun it will then be time to take the test. Which incidentally, will be the same day as our 3 year wedding anniversary – it would be a good present to ourselves if we got the big fat positive.  Monday Monday!!!

These guys help when I feel low

Sushi and Diesel being cute together, can’t help but me smile

go home cat, you're drunk
go home cat, you’re drunk – Classic Diesel

My what big follicles you have – all the better for inseminating with!

Today is Cycle Day 11 and I attended the first ultrasound for my first ever Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).  The clinic were very efficient today, I was in and out within 15 minutes.  I sat waiting in the examination room for the doctor to arrive, and there on the wall was a poster explaining the differences between fraternal twins and identical twins – A handy guide or perhaps more of a handy reminder of the increased risk for multiples with IUI.  Today, the doctor had a student shadowing her, I had no problem with this, but I think he looked a bit awkward throughout – bless his cotton socks.

The doctor showed the student my good uterine lining – apparently three lines is good.  This is all new to me, so I appreciated her explaining everything.  I had two follicles in the right ovary (as I had predicted) one 20mm and the other 28mm.  I also had a teeny tiny one in the left ovary, only 6mm, but she said it might be nothing.  So I am ready to go.  They don’t open on a Sunday, so my appointment is on Monday 16th Feb.  As a romantic Valentines day gift, I get an injection of Ovidrel at 1130pm.  Not looking forward to this given my phobia of needles.  I am undecided yet whether I will do it myself or get Chris to poke me in the abdomen.

This is all assuming my medication arrives tomorrow as freedom fertility pharmacy have promised me.  Today I called them to check the status of my order with regard to my insurance approval.  They had the approval for the Ovidrel, but not yet negotiated the progesterone.  I don’t understand how this system works in the background, but from what I understand, it is crazy.  So I said I would go ahead and pay full price for them rather than wait for the insurance company to do its thing.  If it is covered, then I can just try to claim it back later….but I needed my meds ASAP!

The progesterone was $49 and the Ovidrel was $123 full price, with the insurance agreeing to pay up, my 10% copay made it only $12.30.  Not too bad.

Cost of this IUI cycle, full price:

  • Meds inc. letrozole, ovidrel & progesterone: $311
  • Ultrasound: $225
  • Sperm Wash:$140
  • Insemination:$225

Total: $901

Expensive stuff!! Chances of success? Our doctor told us our chances were about 20%.  Advanced Fertility.com breaks down the success rates even further depending on age, sperm mobility and treatment options. Apparently there is a 7.6% chance of success with one follicle, and an increase chance to 26% with two follicles. Wooohooo!  But those numbers are still pretty small. there is almost a 4 in 5 chance that we won’t conceive.  Putting it like brings you back down to earth.

Fingers crossed for a Valentines baby (Just like Chris is!).  Happy Valentine’s day everyone!