"Begin at the beginning and go till you come to the end: then stop" -from Alice and Wonderland.
It's hard to even remember the beginning, and I can't even see the end. I know there is a story in there somewhere, it's just a matter of coming up with how to tell my story. First, I can tell you there have been a few joyous moments, a lot of tears and disappointment, tons of hope, a fair amount of physical pain, many receipts, and no babies. But in the beginning there was hope.
In the beginning there was hope. It was exciting and new. We were met with an immediate challenge. I had been loosing weight for a while and my doctor didn't believe me until August when I dropped to about 95 pounds, and my clothes were hanging off me. As we tried to figure out what was causing the weight loss, we were also trying to convince my primary doctor to sign a medical certification. That is to say, we needed permission from my doctor to try and get pregnant. Obviously, it helps to be healthy, but it felt unfair to need permission when all the crack heads out there don't need permission, health care or prenatal vitamins. It took months to gain the weight back and be diagnosed with.....STRESS. Finally in January 2009 we were ready to go!
The Brain and I sat down and sifted through online profiles of potential sperm donors, made lists of ones we liked and met our criteria, and joked about the things we didn't like about other donors. The Brain picked a donor who sounded just like Kermit the Frog, and another one that sounded just like a hippy. Can you imagine a small child looking up at you and in Kermit's voice saying "I love you mommy"? Well, I did...ewww.We picked our donor and The Brain bought the wrong type of vial. Instead of the vial for IUI she purchased the vial with a fraction of the amount of sperm which is used for IVF. Oops, small frustrating hiccup, but we got over it.
I still remember how excited and nervous we were that first IUI. The Brain and I brought sparkling pear cider to the office to celebrate being able to TRY to get pregnant, and poured it for everyone. The Brain injected the sample and then were were left for about 15 minutes with my butt in the air. I looked down at my abdomen and said "go little Ys, go little Ys!" We waited two weeks to take a pregnancy test. When we only saw one line we were surprised, but not discouraged. We figured it would take about three attempts, so we brushed it off and were ready to go again.
Next chapter...the OPK. The OPK looks like a pregnancy test, but is an ovulation predictor kit. When you have two lines, one the same or darker than the control line, then you are about to ovulate. Month one, no problem. Month two...another story. We got weird results and so went in for an ultrasound. The US and a blood test confirmed that I wasn't ovulating that month, but had a bunch of cysts. So, we had to wait. A few months later we changed OPK brands but ended up needing ultrasounds. This time, the Brain was out of town and was "with me" on the phone for the IUI. Two weeks later, another negative HPT.
The next month looked promising again, good lining, big follicle. And then after a bad night at work it was gone. I had almost passed out at work, had a head CT, a chest x-ray, an EKG, blood tests and a couple liters of saline. I was scolded about my stress levels and put on the birth control pill for two months. During that time I also had a formal ultrasound.
At the end of the two months, I was put on clomid. I was never told that I would need to be monitored by ultrasound, so I was off on vacation across the country when I was supposed to be up in stirrups again. Oh well, we weren't going to let this stand in our way. When we got back we went in for another ultrasound and were told my lining was thin and there was fluid around my ovary which could be a ruptured cyst or ovulation. Our NP said it was a 50/50 chance. We went for it and I was put on progesterone suppositories. I'll skip the details of that. The blood test was negative, but we weren't surprised at all.
At this point I was done with my NP. I'm an emotional person, and this had been an emotional roller coaster. I had cried numerous times at her office, and not once had she stopped and addressed my crying. Besides needing more medical interventions, I needed someone to care about my feelings. I was referred to a reproductive endocrinologist in October 2009. We felt a renewed hope after speaking with him. He was going to "put my reproductive system on steroids" with some pills and shots. He seemed hopeful, like getting me pregnant was going to be easy. We were positive this was it!
In November we did a round of tamoxifen, which is actually a medication used to treat breast cancer, and femora, an injectable medication. My coworkers and the Brain gave me my shots. I had hot flashes and had to run out of patient's rooms to vomit. When we went in to check on things, I wasn't even producing any follicles. I broke down in tears, yet again. Yes, I'm a cry baby, I admit it. My RE stopped, held my hand and assured me I would ovulate. He said he'd double my meds, no problem. Except we were out of money. We had already spent about $10,000 to date and didn't have the money for more meds. He whispered something to his nurse who left the room. She returned with a sample gonal-f pen, which they gave me. I wanted to throw my hands around my doctor and give him a hug. He was treating all of me, physically and mentally. In the end I had three perfect follicles, three little chances. But, again...it didn't work. We were not pregnant.
We weren't pregnant, and we didn't have any reasons why. We were out of money and had nothing to show for it. I decided to change my focus. I needed answers and so we did blood tests, and an HSG. The only abnormality we found was high prolactin. We had thought that I'd have PCOS, but those tests were negative. I was put on a medication to reduce my prolactin levels. For months every time I stood up I was dizzy and felt sick to my stomach. I had my blood drawn every four to six weeks to test the levels, and then had the dosage adjusted. I was really getting impatient and feeling a bit hopeless.
In November 2010 my results came back normal and we had the green light to go ahead with IVF. The Brain and I were at Disneyland when we got the news and were beside ourselves with joy. It was one of the happiest moments of 2010. We expected that I would be a hormonal bloated monster and took a moment to prepare ourselves before the chaos begun. Amazingly, I never bloated and was never emotional. I stayed positive until the day of my beta. I produced tons of eggs and narrowly avoided ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. I had a fantastic fertilization report and was told that putting one embryo back would be best. The embryologist told me that the embryo was perfect and there was no reason it shouldn't work. The transfer went well, and we starred at the ultrasound image of our little "Eggbert" as we waited for half an hour to be able to put my legs down and sit up. The Brain brought me pineapple core to munch on and all the potatoes I craved. I built a pillow fort and she had almost no room in the bed. It was the Christmas season and we were ready for our little miracle. The morning of my beta I broke down in tears. Luckily my sister in law talked me off the metaphorical ledge as I waited for the nurse to arrive. She drew my blood and then it was off to bed.
The nurse called and informed me that she was smiling. When I asked if I was pregnant she hesitated. She said the test was positive and the level was 10. I knew this was very, very low, but still positive. We would retest in a couple of days and see if it doubled. I was in limbo..."a little pregnant." I didn't feel happy, or relief or sad. I was trying to guard my heart. By the time I had my second beta drawn, I was having cramps and knew in my heart that I wasn't pregnant. This was confirmed by the blood test. It had been a chemical pregnancy. It gave me hope that maybe I could get pregnant. It was more pregnant that I'd ever been before. We knew we had frozen embryos, could do frozen embryo transfers and another round of IVF. We had planned well and purchased a package of two IVFs, knowing that nothing comes easy when it comes to me. I had really believed that I would get pregnant on the first try, but also needed some insurance in case it didn't.
We decided to take some time off and enjoy ourselves. We traveled, drank, and learned to scuba. All of which we couldn't have done if I had gotten pregnant. We're on track to begin meds for a FET tomorrow. As I look back over this long, and very boring story, I can think of so many things I didn't talk about. I didn't talk about the pain during the HSG or the hysteroscopy. I didn't talk about the burning pain in my abdomen from the shots. Or all the bruises on my abdomen and butt from shots. I didn't talk about how the Brain and I have developed a routine when I puke, since it happens so often from the various medications. I didn't talk about the pain and jealousy I felt every time someone came bouncing up to me to tell me they were pregnant, or complained about the nausea and stretch marks. I didn't talk about the rude comments people have said in either an attempt to give advise or be cruel, I'm not always sure which. All that can be addressed later, or forgotten. Tomorrow will be different, a new start of another adventure in my IF journey. This brings us up to date, and up to speed.