Coming out of the infertility closet

When I first got pregnant, I was open about the IVF on Facebook because I wanted to post all my ultrasound pics from egg to baby. But I didn’t tell the whole story and how much of it was a long struggle and I had never mentioned anything about even trying to get pregnant before the big news. So this morning I decided to share the story and posted this:

Just sitting here this morning, with my belly almost blocking my keyboard, thinking about the long road I took to get here and the long journey I have ahead.

Around this time, eight years ago, I was pregnant for the first time. It only lasted seven weeks, but it was enough to make Sean and I realize how much we really wanted to start a family. With the first time being a total surprise we had no idea we were about to endure seven years of struggling and the heartbreak of repeatedly failed cycles.

We tried everything- timing, charting, fertility drugs, IUI’s. We even tried not trying. With Sean’s long deployments our efforts would be derailed, sometimes a year at a time. We finally sought the help of a fertility doctor who diagnosed me with endometriosis. I had surgery to remove it, along with a battery of tests that concluded we shouldn’t have any problem conceiving. But we still did.

Over the next year I quickly got over any fear of needles and learned to give myself shots, though I still preferred to shut my eyes and have Sean do it for me. I tried multiple drugs to ramp up my follicles. We did several rounds of IUI, where sperm is injected directly into your uterus through a catheter. It’s as fun as it sounds.

And still nothing. Not even a “maybe” line ever showed. Stark white tests. So we gave up again. Thought about adoption. Thought about maybe another dog. Sean got deployed for another 6 months.

I considered maybe I didn’t really want kids. I wondered if I was doing this because it was expected. I imagined us growing old, traveling the world and not worrying about raising a kid. As appealing as that sounded, it also seemed like something was missing. It was a little nagging feeling I couldn’t shake. I knew there was one thing left to try and at 38, time was running out.

So we tried a new doctor. By now my test results were dismal. We had a 15-20% chance of success. There was no sugar-coating this time. No “you got pregnant once, you can do it again” BS. Age plus years of endometriosis had left me with low ovarian reserve so there wasn’t much to work with. The doc suggested we get started on IVF right away. After years of disappointment, we both went into it with the last shred of hope we could muster.

The shots were brutal. Every day for over two weeks, all in the stomach. Twice and then three times day. We were running out of spots I didn’t have bruises. Sometimes the shots left large red lumps as well. I was bloated and miserable, but most of all determined to get through it.

The results of all that work were pretty crushing. I had managed to produce one mature follicle. A follicle does not even guarantee they can get a decent egg out of it. Most IVF patients get five or six. Some get as many as 20. I had one.

So they gave me the option to cancel the cycle and try again the next month with hopes I could produce more eggs. They said most places would go ahead and cancel the cycle anyway. I thought about how hard we had worked to get that one follicle and all the shots I had gone through and that there was no guarantee I could even make more. We held onto the mantra “It only takes one” and decided to go for it. The egg retrieval was a success and when we got the call to let us know it actually fertilized, I couldn’t keep the shock out of my voice. When the embryologist commented that I sounded surprised, I could only think to respond “We’re just so used to disappointment.”

With our first couple hurdles cleared we let ourselves get a little excited. Our little embryo grew and divided and reached the crucial stage for implantation 3 days later. We may have had just one shot, but it was starting to look like a good one and we were about to put our only egg in our only basket.

Throughout that last seven years I had grand ideas of how I’d surprise Sean with positive results if we got them. All that went out the window with the first hint of a second line on that little white stick. I think I just ran into the bedroom with a big smile waving the wet stick and asking him to squint at the little hint of color that was starting to show.

And now we’re here. Anxiously awaiting the day that little egg, who grew into our little son, will make his first appearance in the world. Sean calls him our lion among the sheep, and I can’t wait to hear his first little roar.

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The IVF Confession

fyi_i_m_ivf_funny_baby_one_piece_bodysuit_short_sleeveAfter becoming pregnant, I kind of thought I was done with uncomfortable fertility related conversations. (Silly me!) Nobody could bug me about when we were having kids anymore, and I was very open with our IVF treatment with friends, family and Facebook. What I didn’t count on were complete strangers.

It happened for the 3rd time last night- a woman I was talking to at a party asked me how old I was. When I told her 39, she got very excited and said “Oh that gives me hope! That’s so great! I’m 35 and I worry it is too late sometimes.” And then I feel weird. So I just said “Yep, it’s possible!” But then she continued with “Well, I know it’s possible, I mean, I see the movie stars doing it all time into their 40’s but I figure they had a team of specialists and some help.”

And that’s where I feel I have fess up and crush their hope a tiny bit. I confessed I had a team of specialists myself. Still not getting it, she starts to stumble over her words, mumbling…”oh! Well…help? You didn’t need to…? Did you…? I mean…?”

Finally I took pity and just straight out said it – “IVF. I had to do IVF. The whole shabang. The shit really works!” Big smile and I sort of moved on the the next person at the party.

 

The Infertile and the Baby Shower Guilt

Seven years. It’s a LONG time to shun baby showers and announcements. And to mostly avoid friends with babies all together. After the MC seven years ago and the years of infertility issues that followed, any desire to be around babies and pregnant people just shriveled up and was shoved deep down in a place of grumbly indifference with a touch of jealousy. I was reduced the compulsory “congrats!” on Facebook immediately followed by a blocking of all subsequent posts.

I did at least send gifts (by mail of course) to a few good friends but I avoided all showers. These same friends have gone on to have 2 or 3 children who’s names I don’t even know and who’s announcements barely made it through the door before they went in the trash.

And now I’m pregnant. And I want to announce it, and have people celebrate with me and bring me presents and send out cute little baby pictures. And I feel like a TERRIBLE person :-/

How do you handle this? What’s the etiquette? I don’t want to leave anyone out, yet I feel bad sending invites to people I basically ignored. Should I look at it as a chance to make amends?

What do you guys think? How have you or how will you handle it?

First trimester screen and nuchal done, good news and bad news

I went in last week to get the first trimester screen and nuchal scan done. Everything measured great on the nuchal scan and the nasal bone was present. They did a finger prick for the First Trimester Screen and that finger thing is no joke. It hurt worse than taking blood out of a vein! I was expecting a little poke and the thing is more like a little knife slice. And then they squeeze the hell out of your finger. My poor finger was all purple on the end for the rest of the day. Typing was particularly painful.

I got a call on Monday with the results from the blood screen. Everything was in the normal range- yay good news! EXCEPT my Papp A levels were low. Boo, bad news.

Papp A is an important pregnancy hormone and it seems low level results are common with IVF. Here’s a bunch of medical jargon on the topic: http://www.geneticstesting.com/pdfs/publications_references/03_FirstTrimesterScreening2.pdf

They said I’d be coming back after the anatomy scan weekly to check the growth of the baby and my placenta. The nurse didn’t seem overly concerned but of course I went into panic google mode and managed to scare the poop out of myself reading stories about preeclamsia, stillborns, low birth weight, pre-term labor.  ….deep breath…. ….deep breath….

And then I also managed to find many stories where it was nothing. I was so freaked out I didn’t think to ask how low my levels were, but I will at my next appointment at the end of the month.

It does suck that this little dark cloud had to show up but I’m not going to stress over it. If anything, it just means I get extra good care and extra monitoring and I don’t mind that one bit.

I also got the Materni T-21 done at the same time and am anxiously awaiting the results. Hoping for all good news there of course, but can’t wait to find out the sex!!!

A POAS addict comes clean

I was cleaning up my desk and ran across my pee stick collection from the IVF.  I saved 3 DPT all the way to 20. Sometimes I did 2 a day. I figured it was time to get rid of it but thought it would be funny to show my husband. I hadn’t showed him before for fear he’d think I was crazy, weird or just gross.

15dp3dtSo I walk into the kitchen and am like “Hey look what I found. See, it shows how the line got darker. I figure I can toss this now right?”

And he actually thinks it’s cool and tells me to keep it!

I’m like, you know I dipped all these in pee right?

So he’s like, ok that’s a little gross, but you should still keep it, at least a little longer.

So I did. Now I have to find a nice safe spot for my unique stick collection 🙂

A lion among the sheep

That’s what my husband keeps calling our one little egg that could. The nurses and docs at the fertility clinic keep calling it the “miracle baby.”  I wasn’t sure why at first, but I learned some interesting info on my last RE appointment.

The doc said most places would have cancelled the cycle and suggested donor eggs.

I did not do well on the “Clomid challenge” where they pump you full of Clomid and see how many eggs you can make. I did not respond all that well to the IVF drugs and only managed one barely mature follicle. My state of diminished ovarian reserve from both endometriosis and being in the dreaded “over 35” age range did not indicate I’d ever be able to do better than that.

They did give me the option to cancel and try again for more eggs. I would have loved to been able to transfer two and hope for twins. I would have loved to have extras to freeze for the possibilities of future children. But at that moment I had a choice to see if this one would be the one and I took it. And thank God it was.

I read blogs every day on here with women crying and angry over only getting 2 or 3 eggs to fertilize. I guess that’s not much compared to all the women getting numbers in the double digits. But I also read blogs with those same women going through multiple losses and when that happens I understand the intense desire for back-ups. While I was not thrilled with my results, I was very happy to have made one egg. I kept thinking I had “one egg in one basket.” And when I found out that one egg had successfully fertilized, consider mind. blown.

As nothing had ever gone right in my IF experience, all the way up to my crappy egg production, I was not expecting good news. It must have been evident in my voice because the embryologist on the phone said “you sound surprised.” And yes, I was.

This whole time my husband’s mantra besides the oh so popular “It only takes one” was that it was better to be “a lion among the sheep” than to have a whole mess of eggs that weren’t as strong. And he was right.

So yesterday we “graduated” from the RE’s office and were sent out into gen pop with an appointment for the OB/GYN next week. I am getting to wean off the prometrium and estrogen, which I am very happy about coupled with a small dose of terror that that is the only thing keeping this going. The nurse assured me the placenta had taken over already and I could stop cold turkey, but could wean off if that made me feel better. So I’m weaning.

We got a beautiful new ultrasound pic that looks like an actual little baby. We can see tiny arms and legs and a humongous head. He takes after his dad. Just kidding, lol. I’m looking forward to continuing this journey on my new pregnant path, but I just won’t know what to do with myself now that I won’t be getting crotch probed every week. I have to say- I cannot wait to be far enough along for that on the belly ultrasound!

When does the smooth sailing start?

I had a couple worry-free blissful days after the 1st ultrasound.  Then last night after dinner I felt a weird sharp pain and got a bad feeling. Went to the bathroom and there was spotting 😦 It’s still going on today. The rollercoaster of emotional turmoil continues! My ultrasound appointment for next Tuesday seems like eons away. Oh how very much I’d like to sink into the couch with a bottle of wine, but instead I sit here, drinking my sad little decaffinated coffee and trying to concentrate on work. 6 weeks 5 days, just trying to hang in there!