Infertility · Trying to Conceive

IUI #0.5

It’s becoming difficult to formulate my thoughts on this when all I want to do is bang my hands all over the keyboard and scream like: FHADFKJDHSKJFDHSAKFHAD  FAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH AHHHH AHAHHH AHHHH!!!!!! How, HOW do you just completely botch an IUI??????  Did they think that after experiencing the Clomid Challenge last month that this time they should feature a trial IUI?  Angry is too small of a word to describe how I’m feeling right now. Furious. Outraged. Think Real Housewives of New Jersey level mad.

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It all went downhill with the very first phone call where the nurse told me to trigger (when the day before I was told I’d be coming in again for an ultrasound) and then went on to explain how timed intercourse worked.  Whoa, what happened to my IUI?!  When I pointed out that we were planning on going through with IUI, she jabbered on about how most couples try for three cycles with timed intercourse, but that’s fine – we can have an IUI cause it’s “better anyway”.  I literally said, “Yeah, I’m not that patient.”  But REALLY THOUGH. It’s been over a year and I have bad eggs – can I get a little hustle?!

That one phone call then set so many wrongs into motion:

  • They had me trigger too soon.  No, I’m not the greatest at reading ultrasound results (and they don’t EVEN TELL ME what those results are, like, EVER), but I just find it extremely hard to believe that I’m usually a CD17/18 Oer (and confirmed that didn’t change with Clomid last month), but all of a sudden I’m ready to trigger on DAY 11?!  Is there some sort of deadline I’m not aware of? Why is this being so rushed?  I had no time to mentally prepare myself, let alone get set up with a sperm reserve just in case all the ones for the IUI immediately died off in my toxic uterus.
  • Speaking of triggers, I wasn’t given a TIME to trigger.  Just told to do it in the evening.  I should’ve known that sooner would’ve been better, but I just waited till 8PM rolled around and we were done with our rice-a-roni for my husband to inject me (which he thankfully pulled off with very little instruction because he’s amazing at everything – seriously, it’s a little obnoxious).
  • SPEAKING OF TIME…….they had me come in the very next day.  Again, not told a distinct number of hours after I trigger, just “come in tomorrow for your IUI”.  The only time they ever mentioned was that Doctor Kate wasn’t available until 11AM, which THANK GOD because I would’ve tried to schedule the IUI for 8AM since I didn’t know any better!

I was specifically told that it was important to come in the day after the trigger shot, but that a second IUI wasn’t necessary.  Even Doctor Kate told me that doing back to back IUIs only SLIGHTLY increases your odds (which as I’m typing I’m all “Jesus woman why wouldn’t you want to increase your odds by any little bit?!”) and isn’t worth the time and money and stress of it all.  Sure, fine. I know most couples do just one round, BUT those couples are also scheduled for their IUI exactly 36 hours post trigger shot.  This was 15 hours. FIF.TEEN. The poor guys die off within 12-24 hours after they’re washed!  So, I’m out. Sure there are some success stories I’ve stumbled upon during my now frantic searching, but IUI in general isn’t a very successful procedure so if we don’t even have the timing right then WHAT’S THE POINT?!

We’re not completely innocent here, some of the blame is ours for these two stupid reasons:

  1. Last month I told my husband I thought that we should move on to an RE simply because the IUI process involved him going to a completely different lab and then bringing the syringe of sperm to my OBGYNs office in what is a legit jewelry box.  I just didn’t want to deal with the headache of trying to schedule appointments that lined up perfectly at two separate locations, and the worry that something would get messed up along the way (think: overheated syringe sperm). My husband is actually the one who said we should stick with Doctor Kate for this first round, but I promise I’ll forgive him for it eventually…
  2. I still had the option of getting that second IUI.  It was my choice, and I made the wrong one. It was just so exhausting to coordinate everything and get from work to their office in the middle of the day via public transit (if we drove to work and lived in the suburbs, none of this would be a problem – so does that mean the city is to blame?) that we decided not to go through with it.  Especially after Doctor Kate attempted to convince me (or DID manage to convince me) that a second round wasn’t necessary. I’m trying to tell myself that even the second IUI wouldn’t have been timed properly, but now I’ll never know.

I could’ve researched even more about the IUI and helped make the best decision for us, but we wanted to trust my doctor.  Who are we to act like we know better than a medical professional? In the end of all this mess, I only had one mature follicle to pair with my one, early IUI.  I’m not even saying this for pessimistic purposes: I really truly believe that there is the SLIMMEST of chances that this worked. The only good that came out of it was that they sped up my cycle, so I’ve already been thrown into the TWW that I thought was going to be another week away.  

I’m going to spend this TWW shopping for an actual RE.  No more sugar coated FSH levels or poorly timed procedures – this is the real deal.  I’ve been warming up to the sour receptionist and pouty tech (literally told me she was not happy to be there on her day off while she was ultrasounding me…liiiike, my bad), but that’s not enough to keep me there.  Doctor Kate isn’t even enough anymore. Time to close the door on this chapter of our process (none of that sounds like the correct saying I’m trying to get at).

I’m still searching for hope, even though instead I’m finding more wrongs.  Every other woman seems to know her exact follicle sizes, have specific trigger times, and had their IUI no earlier than 24 hours later.  Nothing was left up to choice, or chance. This is a very teachable moment: learn from my mistakes (time and time again)! Even if you love your OBGYN, leave the fertility treatments to the specialists.  At least for me, things can only go up from here. *Knock on wood, please don’t jinx my uterus – we have enough bad luck!*

Infertility · Trying to Conceive

On The Third Day, They Giveth Clomid

Cycle Day 3 is the new Cycle Day 1.  It’s the beginning of the next round of fertility treatments: bloodwork, ultrasounds, Clomid, OH MY!  If you go to enough appointments, you might receive the honor of the ultrasound tech offering for you to insert the wand yourself, which is the most baffling and ridiculous request I’ve ever received  at a doctor’s office (and I get told to take my pants off, a lot).  Is that not what the tech is there for??  If I could ultrasound myself we wouldn’t be here right now.  It’s like going to a restaurant enough times that they know your name, but instead they know your preference of insertion (and probably don’t even know my name…something’s wrong here).  

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On my first CD3 appointment, I ended up asking the tech to do it, which I felt far outweighed the embarrassment of saying “is it in?” at a doctor’s office. My second time around, I wasn’t given an option, so I assume they wrote “refuses to be a team player” on my chart.  The tech straight up said, “You’re going to help me insert this.” Oh am I now?! It wasn’t that weird…buuuut it was also super weird.  Look, this isn’t an enjoyable experience for anyone, but you’re kind of making me feel like you’re super grossed out by this when I’m the one with a wand up the cooch, and I figured in this line of work you’d have to be pretty okay with getting constant crotch shots.  Can’t we all just be adults about this?

The bloodwork is standard (thankfully they haven’t asked me to draw my own blood).  They’re checking all that good stuff: FSH, AMH, HCG, TSH, LSD, PCP (I think I got lost somewhere in there…).  This month, I was fortunate enough to be gifted with a lovely online portal courtesy of 2018 that gives me ALL of my blood test results.  No more just what Doctor Kate deems “notable”, but everything that I’m shelling out cash for. So even though the nurse who left me a voicemail said that all my hormones were “normal” and that they didn’t discover any of those creepy tumors with hair and teeth living in my ovaries, I was able to see my not-actually-normal results for myself.

Not Normal Thing #1: My first FSH wasn’t just 12.  It was a 12.8.  You know, as in 0.2 away from THIRTEEN.  I feel like I was more than a little misled about these results last month.  I presume doctors are familiar with the term: rounding, and the fact that if you’re 0.2 away from another terrible hormone range, you round up.

Not Normal Thing #2: This FSH result wasn’t much better.  Oh heeey 10.96. Yeah, it went down, and almost by 2 “points”, but then I have to factor in that my previous blood work was done on CD4 and this was CD3 so maybe by day four I’m back up to the rotting eggs category.  Also, you’re really going to tell me that everything came back “normal”???  I was thinking I’d be blessed with an 8, or a high 9, not an almost 11!  Though, given that online it shows that their current normal range is 1.79-113.59, I can see why everyone seems to think I’m in the safe zone.

So, slightly less horrible quality this month (maybe).  Go me.

Doctor Kate is still completely delusional about my level of fertileness, so I was given the green light to again try to go through with IUI, and was told to take 50 mg of Clomid on days 3-8.  When Doctor Kate first mentioned going on Clomid (surprise! Even though you ovulate on your own we’re going to pump YOU full of hormones and make YOU go through all these procedures) she mentioned on the sly that most women experience bloating and moodiness, but those are the only main side effects.  Bloated and moody? Sounds like a typical day to me!

It was not a typical day.

I read a lot saying that you can avoid the Clomid Effects by taking the pill at night, but that must be advice for women who actually sleep.  I, on the other hand, spend my evenings sweating and thrashing around – fighting the urge to shove my husband awake and scream at him for breathing too loudly.  On the plus side, I think this means that I’m prepared for menopause (which, according to my FSH levels, is going to be here before I know it). After reading all the “Clomid is a bitch” posts, I expected my head to start spinning around while I spewed green vomit everywhere after taking my first pill, so this all seems not so bad.  If I am blessed enough to sleep, the side effects will lay dormant and spring hot flashes and headaches on me while I’m at work. Thanks infertility!

Last month, I was an unintentional participant in the Clomid Challenge, which sounds like a cleanse I’d be into for about a day.  This is when doctors give out Clomid “just to see how women handle it”. Er, what? So you just…take Clomid…for funsies? At least throw in an IUI for good measure!  In my case, Doctor Kate was (as always) THRILLED that my first IUI attempt was thwarted by my polyp because then she got to see if my body responded to the 50 mg of Clomid, which as of CD11 last month – I had two tiny follicles on my left side.  Because that’s a thing that I wasn’t aware Clomid did, beyond “encourage” ovulation in women who don’t ovulate on their own. I had no clue it caused you to produce more eggs (hence why an AMH test is V important) and that it increases your chance of multiples.  My husband has gone completely infertiley insane and literally said, “Twins wouldn’t be so bad.”  

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Says the man who isn’t the 5’2’’ (on a good day) 100 lb (on a GREAT day) woman who would have to carry said twins.  I know what he’s thinking – we could knock out our “ideal baby number” all in one go! Two birds – one stone (or more like two embryos one IUI).  But come on man. I know you learn to adapt to whatever life throws at you, or IN you, but twins sounds a lot like being on fire while you’re drowning.  Sure, that doesn’t make sense, but I have twins in this twisted fantasy and I can barely keep my head on straight!

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Since Clomid is forcing the potential of multiples on me, I’m left to hope that I’m not developing several mediocre eggs instead of one good egg.  I also have no idea where I go from here (which is a lie, I have my next ultrasound on cycle day 10, but I mean after that).  Going through with fertility treatments is very much my Jesus Take The Wheel moment.  The controller has become the controled – not that I had much control over this to begin with.  Gone are the days of determining ovulation and timing intercourse – now I’m onto ultrasounds and trigger shots and IUIs to take care of all that for me.  So long world of sticks and lubes – helloooo endless doctor appointments. I can’t even take pregnancy tests early for fear that the HCG in the trigger shot would in turn trigger a false BFP – so this experience sounds like it’s going to really test my anxiety.  The only thing gained is taking something that was completely out of my control, and giving someone actual (almost) full control. It’s a relief to know that someone else is responsible for the tracking and timing of events, but the worry is still all mine.

Some days though, it feels impossible to move forward when everything else feels so fresh.  I’m still the girl posting about her TTC anxiety in Month 3, publicly crying over her first negative test in Month 5, believing pineapple would cure everything in Month 6, and letting out a harsh broken sob when I got home after the worst day of my life.  How are we already here? We don’t have to go through with IUI yet, but I’m in the “it can’t hurt” mindset.  I’m trying to look at it as a little boost to our journey – more eggs, more sperm in the right place, but it’s also more appointments and more money and more frustration if it doesn’t work after all that.  And it won’t work. The odds are not in our favor for the first round of IUI, so might as well get it over with if it’s so unlikely to conceive the first time. Man. First-triers, how do you do it?

Infertility · Trying to Conceive

It’s Not You, It’s…Me?

I’m diagnosed-less.  Diagnoseless?  All the initial tests are finally over with, and with the exception of my sole polyp, no one has officially pointed a finger or shrugged their shoulders in defeat.  After thirteen months of my husband and I giving each other the side eye after each negative test (is it you???), I’m still left without a complete understanding as to why.  

We (a shout out of solidarity to all the women whose husbands say “we’re” pregnant) did the little men test in Month 6.  It had been our plan to test at the ‘halfway point’ since it was fairly inexpensive, could clear one of us easily, and wouldn’t involve me banging my head against the wall as a doctor starts blabbering about “up to twelve months”, because fertility centers don’t care about those crappy facts – they care about DOLLARS.  Here’s the kicker: the center that he went to also offered a discount for a combination of introductory fertility tests (nothing like a fertility center with a BOGO mentality!), and I didn’t do it.  FSH, AMH, ultrasound for antral follicle counts.  Foreign words to a woman who has been trying for a mere six months.  I wrote them off as not that important: if they’re so important then they wouldn’t be part of the deal!  Like getting the five buck box at Taco Bell, only to discover that it includes cruddy cinnamon twists and a hardshell taco.  I was still in the “it takes time” mindset, even though I’ve never fully accepted or adopted that little ‘fact’.  We should all remember this as the moment that, once time travel is invented, I will go back and kick myself in the ovaries for not going through with the damn tests.

My husband stepped up, at least.  He didn’t throw a fit about showing a cup some love, and when I asked if he minded going through with the analysis he said, “Not at all, this is what I’m made to do!”  What about what I’m made to do?  I’d say I’m not pulling my weight around here in that case.  I waited impatiently for the expected results: “Your husband has the happiest sperm we’ve ever seen!  They’re perfect.”  Or maybe they’d be so calm and laid back that they were too slow because they just didn’t see the point in rushing.  Despite the lovely nurse at the lab who wrote “may benefit from insemination” on his SA results (and, despite her being 100% correct about IUI being in our future), a urologist gave him the stamp of approval.  Beautiful balls (real statement).  A gold star.  We haven’t been slapped with the “unexplained” diagnosis yet, which means there’s only one other player in this game: Me.

I ovulate.

My tubes are wide open.

Egg reserve is normal for my age (a phrase that is most unfortunately becoming more and more common).

But the quality…well, as they say – you’re only as good as your worst FSH result.

After my first round of Year One bloodwork, Doctor Kate gave me a call and said that something should be noted.  My FSH levels came back at a 12, which she said she would expect to see in a PREMENOPAUSAL WOMAN rather than a 28-year-old.  I had this bizarre initial reaction where I first thought she was accusing me of lying about my age, and then I slowly began to digest what she was trying to tell me.  My eggs are shriveling up – raisins attempting to be a sorry excuse for a healthy egg, which probably crumble at the tap of a single sperm.  No wonder this hasn’t been working.

Doctor Kate doesn’t seem too worried about my abnormally high FSH levels, but I’m beginning to think that she’s not phased by much.  What does a girl have to do to get a little concern over here – be completely missing my ovaries?!  Doctor Kate: Oh, that’s okay!  Lots of women are ovary-less and go on to have perfectly healthy pregnancies, at least you have your uterus!  Come on woman!  She’s not worried that my body is beginning to self destruct, whereas I’m looking into the cost of egg freezing and wondering if my sister would be up for donating her eggs.  Doctor Kate has only said that we might have a bit of a quality issue, YA THINK?!  Just give it to me straight Doc – are my eggs associating with my inner eighty year old woman?  It’s like someone left me out in the world for too long and now I’m beginning to spoil.

Anger has linked arms with me, whispering sweet blamings in my ear.  Why wouldn’t they offer to check FSH and AMH for women who are trying to conceive?  It’s a blood test for ovaries sake!  Every time I go into the office I get pressured to take a genetic screening test, but this they put off?  Doctors won’t even perform IVF on women who have FSH levels of 15 or higher.  I don’t know much about how quickly you can climb scales on the hormone ladder, but I do know that 12 is 3 away from 15, and that your number only gets higher with time (and with Clomid, apparently).  I’ve done the least research on high FSH levels when compared to all my past made-up infertility problems. I learned that one fact about IVF and ran with it, not wanting to dig in further to hear about unpromising stats and premature ovarian failure (a potential diagnosis that literally spells out my body is a failure, I’m a failure).  Another rare, unexpected mark against my fertility.  There’s no procedure, no pills that can lower my FSH.  Strike ninety-two against me.  Is it too late to trade in for a blocked tube??

Infertility · Trying to Conceive · TTC

Polyps Be Gone

My uterus got a very expensive makeover last week.  This all seemed a bit rushed and dramatic in my opinion, but better than waiting to get it done next month and missing out on two potential IUI cycles.  I was just a little miffed that I had to ask for a HSG for months, but when they want to drug me and tug on my uterus they’re making me come in ASAP.  “Hooray! You have something we can fix! AND WE WILL FIX IT NEXT WEEK!” How many times do I have to explain to them that I have anxiety?  You can’t just spring this stuff on me, I need time to digest it!! You’ve probably learned by now that I’m a big baby when it comes to any sort of procedure/out of the norm medical stuff.  I spend my pre-procedure time repeating, “OR…maybe I don’t need to have this done!” and then I’m stubborn as all get-out during the healing process.

There was just enough time between my SHG and the hysteroscopic polypectomy (say that three times fast) for me to mildly begin to accept that my tubes like to play uterus, and my uterus likes to grow polyps like fungi.  Why can’t there ever just be something wrong with my arm?  I also had the perfect amount of time to finally get truly, insufferably angry over this late discovery.  I asked for an HSG after the ectopic.  I can understand not wanting to aggravate tubes (or women) that were just under a lot of stress, but I’m pretty irked that it wasn’t offered after the Twelve Week Wait.  Why not get confirmation that your tubes are open after an ectopic pregnancy? And check that your uterus didn’t decide to flourish with wannabe skin tags because they wanted to host the embryo?  Knowing I’m working with cleared tubes and a smooth uterus in Month 9, instead of Month 14, makes a difference.  I would’ve still be trying naturally, for one. I could’ve had a chance to finish up Year One with the super fertileness that’s promised after both procedures.  No one’s forcing us to do IUI next month, but I’m already in the fertility treatment mindset (I cried to my Mom about it and everything) and I know I’m not sane and confident enough to backtrack and cross my fingers that all I needed was a snip and a good flushing out.  I already feel like we’ve wasted enough months just waiting to get to this point – I had this potential issue all along and no one would just test me.

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Doctor Kate thinks all this is JUST WONDERFUL though.  She keeps referring to this procedure as what might look like a step back, but is just a little hiccup and it’s so good we found this and blah blah blah.  If she doesn’t ditch the supreme optimist act soon, we’re going to have a problem.  I was told for the second time that there’s increased odds of conception for about two cycles post op, and I tried my darndest not to roll my eyes.  I’d love for that to be the case, but at this stage – I can’t afford to get my hopes up.

My pre-appointment instructions included lots of helpful recommendations – like wear comfy pants, and call your doctor if your uterus explodes.  I was also instructed to store two prescribed pills of Misoprostol in my cheeks hamster-style an hour prior to the procedure to soften my cervix.  The pills weren’t bad – I didn’t notice a single thing, probably because they took forever to dissolve in my cheeks, but I didn’t enjoy reading something else that actually said the pills would DILATE my cervix.  That seemed a little cruel. “Oh, you can’t have a baby? Well here’s the worst part about pregnancy in pill form, just as an added bonus!” Thankfully I didn’t feel like I was going into labor, so I had time to focus on my anxiety instead.

What I was most worried about (besides, you know, dying from complications) was if this completely restarted my cycle, considering this already felt like the longest month of my life and I had only been to three appointments so far.  

Me on CD10: Doesn’t it feel like it should be cycle day 28 by now?

My Husband: I literally have no idea what that means.

A lot of threads I read (yeah, I know…stay off Google…) said that the procedure reset their cycles, so I looked like an idiot when I double checked three times (so, triple checked) that it wasn’t going to change anything.  Once with the nurse, once with Doctor Kate before the procedure, and once again with Doctor Kate post op when she told me she scraped out my lining.  “No. This will not change anything about your next cycle, because we left the ovaries alone.” – Doctor Kate, wondering how a 28 year old woman still hasn’t figured out how periods work.  I know that the lining is involved with all this stuff too, so stop making me feel like a crazy lady! My second concern was how/when exactly I get dressed post op (yes, seriously), because the last time I was put under twilight sedation I was able to keep my clothes on, and I definitely don’t remember being moved into the recovery room at that time.  I was worried they would think I was coherent and so they’d leave me to change, and all of a sudden I’d be walking down the hall pantsless looking for my husband. In my nervous chatter, I asked Doctor Kate about being pantless so often that she probably thought I was being endorsed for how many times I said ‘pantsless’ until she finally said, “Yes, modesty.  You’re just going two doors down, and you have your gown and blanket.” (The blanket was clutch by the way, as I was freezing after I woke up.)  They probably weren’t excited to see what I’d end up saying once they actually gave me the good juice.  Basically, I need to find a new OBGYN now because I’m too embarrassed to show my face in there again.

One thing I did know at least was what the procedure would entail, because I thought it was in my best interest to watch a video I found on uterine polyp removal.

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A small camera goes in to check out your polyps – which look a lot like that dangly thing (official medical term) in the back of your throat.  Then, they take little baby pliers to snip off the polyp and…well, I don’t know what happens next, because that’s where the video ended. So I was sitting there like ‘THEY JUST LEAVE THEM IN THERE?!’  I also didn’t get to see any ‘after’ pictures of my polyp removal, so I can only assume that it was left to lay on the floor of my uterus forever.

Here’s the other thing that I couldn’t find in all the blogs and threads I dug through: how are you lying during the procedure?  It sounds insane, but all I could keep thinking about was the image of me passed out on a table, spread eagle for Nurse, Doctor Kate, student who didn’t ask if I cared that she was there, and the male anesthesiologist to see.  It was such a ridiculous thought that I couldn’t stop giggling at how silly it must look. Turns out, it’s not a table: it’s a chair.  A chair with such a severe recline that I thought at one point they were tipping me back too far and I was going to slide out.  Wondering how you avoid flailing your legs around when you’re conked out?  Oh, they tie bands around your ankles to secure you to the chair.  Just another casual Wednesday!

When I woke up, the first thing I remember saying was, “Well, that was just lovely!”  It was a nice little nap, and besides my crippling anxiety – I didn’t feel much before or after the procedure (though I wasn’t given any of the strong pain meds, so I definitely felt things a few hours later).  Afterwards in the recovery room, Doctor Kate showed my husband and I pictures of my uterus (because we’re always looking for ways to be more open with each other) and we saw the one polyp that was actually in there.  One. Not even in the spot where an egg would usually implant.  I felt a little down as I asked, “So, did I not technically need to do this?”  She assured me that regardless it should’ve been done, which is easy enough to say when you’re getting paid $4,000 (TG for insurance) to play with tiny surgical tools.  I was again told that this was way better than a blocked tube, and I again refrained from saying, “But you said a blocked tube is okay too…”  Not to mention a blocked tube could be a reason for infertility, whereas a single (albeit hideous) polyp strategically placed in a non-implanting location shouldn’t affect anything.  Back to square one…

As with everything I do, the anticipation was worse than the procedure itself.  But my favorite pessimistic saying is that it’s always better to expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised, than be optimistic and something goes horribly wrong!  Almost a week later and I’m still feeling some pressure/discomfort (it’s not too late to discover I have a severe infection with no symptoms and that my uterus is going to fall out!) – and I wouldn’t be mad if my chair at work had more of a recline to it (maybe I can pick up one of those snazzy vaginal surgery chairs!).  To sum it up: if you’re getting a polyp removed, you’re probably going to want to skip ab day for a while.

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Now onto what will probably be the most uneventful, and longest, TWW of my life.  Tune in next month for: what new flaw is discovered that prevents me from going through with IUI and forces me to lose yet another cycle.

Infertility · Trying to Conceive · TTC

Don’t Call It A HSG

A sonohysterogram is actually a SHG, or I’ve heard some women call it an SSG, which seems like it isn’t correct but makes it a lot easier to avoid mixing up the two.  I can’t exactly figure out why you would do one over the other – except that my doctor only does SHGs and if you want an HSG you need to go to the hospital, and according to the cheat sheet of infertility pricing they gave me – an SHG is exorbitantly more expensive.  Basically, I’m looking forward to meeting my deductible this month. I also can’t seem to figure out if a SHG or an SHG is grammatically correct, considering ‘an’ sounds right to me, and ‘a’ seems to follow the rules of words, so I’m just going to bounce back and forth between the two before I decide what I think is best.

If you still don’t understand the difference between the two tests, considering I haven’t explained it at all, it’s that the HSG involves some sort of dye and an x-ray machine, and the SHG involves saline and an intravaginal ultrasound (if you start fertility treatments, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a day that doesn’t involve the up close and personal ultrasound).  Regardless of which test you get assigned, you’ve probably heard one major rumor circling and that is: it hurts.  I had read forum after forum where everyone said it was the most painful thing in the world, and then I thought about my friends who nearly passed out when they got their IUDs put in and I thought, “Oh my God this is like the same exact thing – I’m going to cramp out and want to die.”  I mean, objects aren’t supposed to enter your cervix OR your uterus!  Everytime I think about what this actually involves, it still makes me squirm.

Though I’m always in a perpetual state of anxiety, my nerves didn’t get the best of me until I walked into the ultrasound room and was greeted by this cart of supplies:

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I didn’t want to alarm anyone, but I was pretty sure my uterus couldn’t accommodate for that amount of saline.  Also, what the heck was this giant syringe – and where were they planning on putting it?! Per usual, Doctor Kate was late, so I was left to stare at the supply cart and also wonder why I took my socks off for this.  Twenty minutes into my wait, I was ready to wrap the paper around my waist and step out into the hall calling, “Hi! Just wanted to let you know I’m ready!” How long do they think it takes to remove your pants?? During that time I even got a confirmation text for my second ultrasound on Monday.  To which I responded “Confirmed – can you please send my doctor in?” Their fault for opening up that line of communication.

I was so on edge that I was afraid my crotch would clamp down during the procedure and someone was going to leave this appointment without a hand.  It’s a good thing they have you lay down on what I can only assume is an actual pee pad, so that if you pee a little out of nerves, no one will even notice!  How are you not supposed to be freaked out about power washing your tubes?

When Doctor Kate eventually came in, she thought she was being helpful when she said that if a tube is blocked, my other tube could go over and grab the egg from the ovary and ovulate with it, but then I couldn’t get the image of my tubes just floating their arms around like those inflatable men at car dealerships out of my head.  

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She also mentioned that the only other thing we’d have to look out for is if there’s anything in my uterus (helloooo, it’s only been super empty forever!) we’d have to take care of that before moving on with IUI.  I wasn’t even thinking about my uterus, or my left tube, I just wanted to see how righty was doing after it decided to try to host our first embryo.

Now might be a good time to mention that I was told to take 800mg of Ibuprofen an hour before the procedure, so that might be the reason for me saying: Yeah, I felt it, but it’s not that bad.  I didn’t have intense cramping during the wash – just felt OH that’s a qtip straight up brushing against my cervix (which is actually the only thing that made me cringe the days following the SHG), and AH that would be something entering my uterus!  (Afterwards though…HOLY CRAMPS! I was able to go back to work just fine, but for the next few days had the heavy ache of thoroughly worked out tubes.) The nurse who was in the room kept telling me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth, which gave me something else to focus on besides what always looks like a mess of my insides on the screen.

I didn’t even have time to worry about if the saline would push through my right side when Doctor Kate exclaimed, “Oh!  Right tube is open – that was quick!” And righty pulls through for the win!!! I hate to say I wasn’t as proud of my left side for also being clear, but that’s like an A student getting another A – I expected success.  My uterus, however, let me down. One, two, THREE polyps that could’ve been fighting off potential eggs each month. So, not quite empty after all.

Doctor Kate and Nurse I-Didn’t-Get-Her-Name were both wildly optimistic about my flowing tubes.  I was kind of annoyed. I had literally just been told how a blocked tube doesn’t even matter, but that a blocked uterus does matter.  It seems like we should all be a bit more down about these results ladies!  Especially, ESPECIALLY because this now means I’m signed up for outpatient SURGERY to remove the polyps on Wednesday.  I was told I’d need a hysteroscopy which caused me to point out that there’s been some sort of grave mistake, as I would like to keep my uterus – no matter how bad it’s been.  Turns out, this isn’t a hysterectomy and just means they use tiny cameras and tools to take apart my uterus. Oh, and once again I was given a “no baby making” requirement. One step forward, two steps back.  

Nameless Nurse felt bold enough to say a lot of women get pregnant after the polyp removal, which I didn’t bother pointing out that a lot of women get pregnant before a year of trying, and a lot of women don’t have ectopic pregnancies, and that I clearly just don’t like fitting into these typical TTC roles.  I’m not thrilled about losing a month, or jumping from one new problem to the next, but it’s still more proactive than I’ve been in the past year.  I did get a potential diagnosis (and a free pad!) out of this so – worth it?

Infertility · Trying to Conceive · TTC

The Consult

A month ago, my sister-in-law (an unexplained infertility survivor) passed on these words of advice: “OBGYNs are there to listen to you, fertility specialists are there to get you pregnant.”  She unintentionally filled me with fear – am I wasting my time with this appointment?  If I saw an RE would they tell me they can’t believe I’ve waited so long and I can start treatments immediately?  Do I want to start treatments?  It doesn’t help that every time I call my gyno’s office they volley me between the receptionist and nurse, asking me to again explain exactly what I’m wanting done, so that they can in turn explain why that won’t be happening.

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As I mentioned in my last post, I was scheduled for a little conversation with my doctor to discuss next steps (even though we all know the next step is supposed to be the HSG).  Per my usual routine, I called the doctor’s office three times in the same day  – trying to play with dates and times to get me in there earlier this cycle.  I figured if I could get the consult over with early on, that she would happily schedule my HSG for this same month and we could all move on with our lives.  I wanted, no NEEDED, that HSG this month!  After “can you please get me in sooner” call #3, the receptionist told me, “The date you have is the earliest time we can get you in for your kind of appointment.”  My kind of appointment?  What is THAT supposed to mean?!  I imagined my appointment booked as “Impatient TTConceiver Gone Mad” at 9AM.  Fine.  Two can play that game.  I came loaded with questions – prepared to blow her out of the water with the evidence of my struggle, all the things I’ve tried, and end with my closing argument that I must, I must, be scheduled for an HSG (oil-based, preferably – I hear that’s the type that can help you conceive shortly after).  We’re playing by MY rules now.

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It was like going into an interview – dressed to impress (does this sweater say “I deserve to have a baby?”) and armed with a resume of everything I’ve tried this past year (“yes you read that correctly – I mastered my shoulder stand in Month 5”).  I even made sure to do my nails – as if she was going to say, “No betch with chipped polish is gonna get an HSG in my office!” – I’m fairly certain that’s exactly how she speaks outside of work.  The worst part was feeling like I was owed this procedure, but knowing she had all the power.  Nothing makes you feel quite as impatient as someone completely disregarding your timeline.

When I first walked into the office, I could feel everything.  The ultrasound room pulsed behind the door like it had its own heartbeat.  I’ve been there since the ectopic (love me some blood work), but this felt different.  Failure whispered around me.  I wanted my next official appointment with my doctor to be because I was pregnant, not because I hadn’t had any success.  I wondered about the women who were providing urine samples, or meeting with my doctor in her official office – were they getting confirmations on pregnancies while I was prepared to get down on my knees to beg for a dye injection?

The nurse who brought me back completely underplayed my ectopic experience by starting with, “How are you doing?  I know you had a kind of rough appointment the last time you were here.”  Rough?  Let’s try worst-day-of-my-life appointment.  I had to keep myself from looking at her incredulously when she confirmed, twice, that we were actively trying.  Trying to conceive has become such a part of my life that I’m surprised people can’t smell it on me.  Pheromones of desperation creeping from my head.  She kindly noted that we wouldn’t be able to do the HSG today (does my chart say “this woman will try anything – be as straightforward with her as possible, immediately?”) if my doctor does approve my request, and left me seated on the paperlined table.

I immediately went back to memorizing the notes I had made in my phone, like I was preparing for the biggest test of my life.  My doctor was running thirty minutes late (which I can no longer complain about as I took her away from appointments during my ectopic diagnosis) and the room was uncomfortably hot.  I was on edge – thinking she’d come in to see sweat running down my face as I stuttered about ‘years’ and ‘tests’ and ‘please’, forgetting all my key points and “must mentions!” on my list.  I have never left a doctor’s office with answers – heck, I can’t even leave them with prescriptions now that everyone knows I’m trying to conceive.  This was do-or-die; she was either going to immediately say, “Of course you can get the HSG, I promised you could!” or come up with some ridiculous reason for why I couldn’t get one – like I have sensitive tubes from the methotrexate and if they push dye through them they might disintegrate.  She could’ve offered me anything and I would’ve been happy with it – a step!  Progress!  

Doctor Kate (might as well give her a name) then descended straight from the heavens, down into the room I was waiting in.  Okay, maybe she knocked and shook my hand when she came through the door, but it sure felt like she was an angel when she gave me this gift: “Some doctors might say that you got pregnant with the ectopic and they’ll reset the twelve month clock, but if you started trying in February and you’ve been consistently trying for twelve months (she didn’t even mention the three months that the methotrexate made me wait!) then we should move onto next steps, because you want a baby.”  My heart exploded.  I couldn’t believe it – she was on my side!  

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I had prepared for battle, but not for a win – I was speechless.  She went on to describe what exactly those next steps are, which don’t include an HSG yet (heart deflates – I wanted that oil based sauce up the cooch!), but instead there’s an ultrasound (hello, my old friend) with saline that will show what my tubes and uterine lining look like (OPEN!  THICK!  Please please please!)   Apparently, one problem on my end could be if my right tube was all scarred up from Little Sac.  It seems a bit ironic to me that you’re better off with a totally blocked (or removed) tube than a slightly damaged one – am I supposed to ask them to seal off righty if the path is lined with shards of my ectopic memory?  I sheepishly asked if fertility was higher after this procedure (a sonohysterogram, add it to my TTC dictionary), as I had read that it was for the HSG, and she said Y.E.S.  Lady, I can’t handle all these lovely words at once!  

She kept dousing me with information after that: but wait, THERE’S MORE!  She went into a discussion where she attempted to dumb down clomid and IUIs for me and I wanted to say, “Yeah, I’ve heard of these things, I’ve been trying for a year – remember?”  But I couldn’t get the words out because she was telling me I could do this next month.  This could be my real life in a matter of weeks – I could join the realm of drugs and trigger shots and sperm injections.  I’m trying to not get ahead of myself – IUIs are generally not very successful, buuut neither am I, so maybe it’ll be just what the doctor (literally) ordered.

She gave me a list to outline what my next cycle could look like if we went the sono and IUI route and I shuddered in pleasure.  A list!  A timeline!  A PLAN!  Her final parting words, “Call us on the very first day of your cycle to get started, and obviously if you’re pregnant this month then all of this will be moot.” – Aaaadorable.  I grinned sarcastically, “I’ll call you.”  

Now I’m torn on this decision.  Do we go all in next month?  Or should I take it one procedure at a time?  If the tubal flushing could make me (potentially) more fertile, shouldn’t I start with that?  But then you play the what-ifs: what if my right side is too scarred to transport a healthy embryo?  Then maybe they wouldn’t let us do IUI in April, which would push our first attempt back to May.  Should I take everything I can get?  If I end up going through IUI anyway, isn’t it worth it to do everything in one go?  I’m slowing starting to put my walls of pessimism back up as I’m debating my options – caution whirring in my head.  Why are they already throwing IUI at me as an option?  Is it that unsuccessful that they don’t even care when you start?

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I can hear my sadistic genie hissing in my ear: be careful what you wish for.

Infertility · Trying to Conceive · TTC

Inconceivable

We’ve successfully not gotten pregnant for a year (how’s THAT for positivity?!)…and there’s nothing I can do about it.  It’s a strange sensation to hit the year mark and be left saying, “Sooooo – let’s just keep doing this!”  

Definition Of Insanity Quote Definition Of Insanity Ben Franklin

To kick start us taking this trying to conceive journey full circle, I received one negative pregnancy test, followed by one HSG rejection call.  My HSG!  The one thing that I was looking forward to at the year mark (looking forward to an HSG?  What is this life?)  I was told that I could schedule a “consult” to discuss the procedure (which was already previously discussed) and that we had a date scheduled for Valentine’s Day.  One year, and I’ve booked a conversation.

Every woman who struggles to conceive has their 12th month marked on her mental calendar, an end goal that no one wants to reach.  One year should hold the start of answers – the beginning of a new process, new frustrations (clomid makes me dry! The IUI didn’t take! Turns out his count is zero…), but I haven’t gained anything with this time.  Instead of a baby, I’ve spent the past year becoming fluent in TTC acronyms and memorizing conceiving stats, even occasionally beefing up my vocabulary with a new potential diagnosis.  There’s a world of facts and terms that I wouldn’t even be aware of if this wasn’t my story; I crave to be anything other than a walking TTC encyclopedia – wrapped up in a soft cloud of ignorance.  I’ve had to explain chemical pregnancies, HSGs, and how OPKs work through gritted teeth, my undesired education in (in)fertility expertise.  One of my first-trier friends didn’t even know what the two week wait is.  The bane of my existence, the monthly sanity-sucking Dementor that has plagued me for an entire year, and she hadn’t even heard of it.  

I pour fear down the throats of my childless friends with the tales of my experience: what if that happens to me?  And dole out small doses of affirmations to those with babies; as they go home to wrestle toddlers to bed and awake to screaming newborns they think: at least that isn’t happening to me.  Because, whether my baby-blessed friends want to admit it or not, I make them appreciate what they have by sniveling over what I lack.  I’m the car accident you drive by that fills you with sympathetic relief.  My husband is incredible (an extreme understatement) – I have him, but then you pair that with the knowledge that he’d be the most amazing dad, and suddenly the World’s Best Husband isn’t enough.  Our relationship has adjusted to make room for conversations on ovulation dates and spotting – it’s been brought to a level that I never wished to reach.  This must be how oversharing starts in marriages.  Are we only a few years shy of throwing open the bathroom door and crying out, “Honey, come look at this!” – and it’s not a pregnancy test?  We’ve become the couple who can’t stop talking about their kids – and we don’t even have them yet.  

Yet.  This is the word that I try to imprint in my mind as I attempt to kill the vision of my last negative test with moscato.  The endless hope that these last twelve months – the counting, the waiting, the heartache – haven’t all been for nothing.

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Each month feels longer than the last, but still I’m left with a shock of cold water – a year passed in a blink.  It’s only when I think about how according to Plan Me I should’ve had a complete pregnancy by now – baby and all, that I realize how long a year really is.  I’ve watched countless announcements bloom into births, only children promoted to big siblings – all while I’m playing a mental game of frogger, trying to duck and dodge my way out of prying questions.  The desire to open up about my struggle becomes stronger every day, word vomit burning it’s way up my throat.  “We’ve been trying for a year and all I got was this ectopic!” – not the best souvenir.  I’ve moved on from planning baby announcements to planning infertility announcements.  What will I say?  When will I say it?  What happens when I rip off the bandaid, only to reveal a gaping, oozing wound beneath?  

There’s still a little voice begging me to try to do this on our own.  Once you enter the world of fertility treatments, that’s it.  You’re never going au naturale again.  At the same time, I feel cheated, wronged by this process that promised if I saw a second February, I’d be welcomed into a fertility clinic with open arms.  “Twelve months, you made it!  Can we interest you in some blood work?”  My body’s version of the statue of liberty – give me your tests, your needles, your ultrasounds!  Give me a piece of hope.

Constant disappointment is my normal – negative tests are becoming commonplace.  The calendar is resetting in my mind.  One year down.  Round Two: Begin.