Silver Lining

For the past couple of days I have been looking for the silver lining in my fertility journey. Right now, I am in my third and final cycle of Femara and timed intercourse, just peeing on OPKs and waiting for my monitoring appointment on Friday morning. I’ve gotten so used to this process already, the Femara (and headaches), the monitoring, trigger shot, then two long weeks of progesterone, that even though I have only been doing it for a short time, I’m sort of going to miss it. Our fertility journey is going on a brief hiatus at the end of this cycle because I’ve been accepted into a graduate program to get my PhD in Bioinformatics! We are planning on picking up with 3 IUIs this fall to coincide with the three summer due dates that would be best for my program. After that, IVF…

But right now I’m not going to focus on that, instead I want to focus on the good things that will come if I DO NOT get pregnant this cycle:

  1. I’m going to run a 10k! So far I have only done a few 5ks and it has been a couple of years since my last one, but the 10k I want to sign up for is in September, so I have a good amount of time to prep if I get bad news at the end of this month.
  2. Cinci Comic Expo won’t have a pregnant Hermione cosplayer running around in full school uniform (if I could even fit in it), so that will reduce the number of weird stares in my direction by at least half!
  3. All the drinking and enjoyment at Oktoberfest and Taste of Cincinnati, not to mention not having to walk around pregnant in the summer heat!
  4. Aaron and I want to go to Kings Island this year and I love making him ride roller coasters because he is such a chicken.
  5. Warm mead at the Ohio Ren Fest is the best and I would be so sad to have to miss that this year.
  6. We are planning to buy a house this summer regardless, but having a year to recuperate our savings and get the place in good shape would be wonderful.

That’s all I can think of so far, but I’m holding on to these consolation prizes (or silver linings) as tight as I can because they make me feel more at peace with this whole process. I really hate to put our journey on hold, but I know that my AMH was good in September, so it’s unlikely to drop dramatically by this coming September, and I’m still only 26. It’s going to be painful because every week a new pregnancy announcement pops up on my Facebook news feed and it’s like a stab in the stomach. And it will be hard seeing the new pregnancies and babies in the wonderful community I’m part of on The Bump. But we aren’t going to stop trying, just stop trying with 3 different medications and doctors’ visits every cycle. Hopefully this will be the right thing for our family and I am SO looking forward to what this year will bring no matter what the outcome of the HPT.

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Down Day

Today is a down day.

I have them all the time, but they occur more and more frequently as our fertility journey continues. I have no reason to be sad today more than any other day. I’m 8 days post trigger on my second Femara + TI cycle. My follicle was big and my lining was beautiful, and honestly I have the same success rate this month as a normally fertile person. Sometimes I hold onto this thought in my darkest moments.

I’ve done a lot of research (via Google, of course) on fertility and depression and I’m convinced that’s what’s going on. It’s unbelievably common. How cruel is it to have 2 different conditions that are “taboo” to talk about? Everything is starting to look up in my life actually, the treatment seems to be working (I was ready to ovulate on CD14 when I triggered!), I applied to get my PhD in Bioinformatics and had a stellar interview, and DH and I are looking at houses in the city for our first home. Yet it’s hard to get my mind to stop going down dark paths. A couple of days ago I actually googled “infertility and suicidal thoughts” because I was having a hard time with such little hope.

I’m a lot better today. I still don’t want to move off of the couch with my comfort food, my cats, and my pajamas, but DH and I are going out to buy stuff for Valentine’s Day breakfast and dinner. Maybe we will do a little wine tasting tonight as well! No, today isn’t nearly as bad as some days, and I know that if AF comes then I will spiral down again, but I wanted to be sure to share with you how I’m feeling as I KNOW I’m not alone in this. I’m never alone, as there are so many women, maybe even my family and friends, standing silently in the shadows suffering the same way I do. The more we talk about it, the more we can be recognized, and hopefully the more we can start to heal.

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Hold on to your partner tight and hold on to hope!

Ouch!

You know, I thought I would come into this post about my HSG talking about fear and how I let my fear get the best of me, with some little drabble about how it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. Fear was going to be the theme of the post and I had written it out in my head before even getting into the radiology suite. BUT…I’m calling bullshit. That hurt so, so bad! It was probably the worst pain I have EVER felt in my life and I cursed and cried the whole time. It has taken me over a week to post this because of how different my experience was compared to my expectations.

They had trouble getting the catheter in so they had to use the balloon, which probably didn’t help with the pain. My doctor said that my tubes were clear but one of them was quite dilated and spilled about 10x as much as the other. So there’s that. My doctor didn’t seem too terribly concerned but she pointed it out.

Sorry to scare anyone who may be getting one soon but it was no cake walk for me. Right now it’s hard to find a good lesson to take away from this, some spark of light, some positive note to end on. The best I can say is that I survived, I’m strong, I’m proud of myself for getting through it, and I’m proud of any of you out there that have been through the same or similar procedure. This journey has made me both mentally and physically stronger, and I know I’ll look back one day, with a baby in my arms, and think about how it was all worth it. But for now, ouch!

Chapter Two.

Lonely. Sad. Tired. Worried. Scared. Failure.

Hopeful.

Chapter two of my fertility journey started the day after Christmas, which of course made phone calls and scheduling for this cycle more difficult than I was hoping. Today is CD9 and for the past 4 days I have taken 2.5mg of Letrozole (Femara) at 3pm on the dot. I called my RE office on CD5 in a panic because I wasn’t sure about what time I should take the pill, and then followed up with a whole slew of questions like:

-What if I overstimulate?
-Why am I not getting monitoring before CD14?
-What if I get a positive OPK on or before my HSG on CD11?
-Am I allowed to have sex before my HSG?
-Are you SURE that’s a good time to take the pill?

And to each question my nurse replied “Stop googling things!”

At first this sort of pissed me off! How dare you blow off my concerns with such a simple and unsatisfactory answer? But I’ve stepped back and took a deep breath. I’ve spent my whole fertility journey so far questioning. Questioning my OB who didn’t believe I was ovulating, questioning my husbands desire to have kids when he didn’t put in as much effort as I expected, questioning myself and my ability to hold strong. There is no need for me to question my RE. I made myself clear when I said I only want one child and that I can’t afford, nor handle, multiples. I just have to trust that she is doing everything she can to help me get pregnant and also to minimize the risk of multiples.

So the theme for this post and for this cycle is letting go. On the surface it seems so counterintuitive because monitoring and taking medicine, going in for the HSG, peeing on sticks and using progesterone seems like the opposite of letting go, but so far I have relied on my body to do everything on its own. And while I would like it to have worked right, it hasn’t, and I have done EVERYTHING in my power to make this work naturally. It’s time that I trust the professionals, trust the pills and the creams, and trust that I can finally let go of control and feel hopeful.

Luteal Phase Defect

My journey begins in December of 2014 when I got baby fever and read that it could take a couple of months (!) to get pregnant after birth control pills. I ditched the pack and figured it was the perfect time to get started since DH (darling husband) and I were getting married early in 2015. We got married on Groundhogs Day in 2015, in a tiny ceremony at the courthouse with only our parents present, him wearing a suit that cost 5 times more than my dress. Unconventional, for sure, but somehow just perfect for us.

We began the phase I call “Active TTC” when my cycle started on March 31st, with charting, OPKs, CM, prenatal vitamins, all the bells and whistles. My cycles all seemed to be in order prior to this, 28 days almost every month. I had passed that hurdle! But checking my BBT gave me a clue that something was not quite what it seemed. I didn’t ovulate until day 19-21 of my cycle, compared to day 14, which is considered normal. Furthermore, my luteal phase (the time from ovulation until your period comes) was only 7-9 days long when it really should be 14. But still, we pushed on, making sure to have as much sex as we could fit in during the fertile window in hopes that maybe one time it would work.

It didn’t. I talked to my OB and then to a RE in August and September when I still hadn’t gotten pregnant, even though it hadn’t been quite the recommended year of trying that some RE offices (and insurance companies, I would soon find out) need you to have before receiving treatment. I had done some research on my own because my favorite piece of advice is “just google it”, and found something called luteal phase deficiency or luteal phase defect (LPD), which fit my symptoms perfectly. My OB did not seem convinced when I told her about my research, but finally agreed to do a progesterone draw to test for low luteal phase progesterone, an indicator of LPD. The results came in and it showed progesterone levels under 5, which means no ovulation. But I knew that wasn’t right, thanks to my handy dandy BBT chart, so we tried a second draw and came up with the same results. It was clear from the way she spoke to me that I could never convince her there was a problem other than anovulation, so we parted ways and I moved on to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE).

After blood tests, ultrasounds, and a semen analysis we had a diagnosis: “Ovulatory disfunction with a little luteal phase disorder”. So I was right (never question the scientist!), but how this affects my fertility is still unclear. The literature is pretty divided, since some people with LPD get pregnant with no problems, while other need assistance. Nothing makes you feel more invalidated than something like this article entitled “Current Clinical Irrelevance of Luteal Phase Deficiency”. Ouch. But that first month with the RE we tried progesterone suppositories in hopes of lengthening my luteal phase, which unfortunately didn’t work. After that, we took a couple of months trying like “normal” people with no luck.

So here we are now. It has been a full year now and we are ready to move on to Chapter Two, accept that we need assistance, and maybe, just maybe get a happy ending.

Chapter One.

Infertility sucks. That’s what I really wanted to call this blog but I didn’t think it was very lady-like. The sentiment still stands, though.

My name is Erica and this is my first blog. I’m not a writer at all so bear with me on this journey, my journey through infertility making our happy ending come true: to bring home a happy, healthy baby. I’m actually a scientist, but we can get into that on another post, saved for a later date when I’m out of things to write about. My blog many not be very different from others on the same dreaded topic, but I stayed up to read DreamingOfDimples.com until 3am last night because I feel better after reading that I’m not alone. You aren’t alone either. There are many, many other women that have gone through the same tough issues that you and I are facing, and only by talking about this will the stigma disappear and maybe the healing can begin.

This post is titled “Chapter One”, but for me Chapter One is about to come to a close. Chapter One is the chapter of our journey where we humped like rabbits for days straight, bed, couch, wall (my hip still hurts from that adventure), only to see a negative test every month. Chapter Two starts with the beginning of my next cycle and the start of my new treatment plan, which is scheduled to being on Christmas. Cheers! It will be a wine filled holiday for me!