Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Resolve Article

A fellow bumpie posted the link to this article: The Top Ten Things I Learned About Infertility

Reading through the list, all I can say is it is 100% true to how I feel. Check it out!

The Top Ten Things I Learned About Infertility
By Susan Bisno Massel
Published in Resolve, for the journey and beyond, Summer 2013

After three years, I am stepping aside as the leader of the Chicago Northside Fertility Support Group—a group I deliberately called a Fertility Support Group (vs. Infertility) to focus on the positive side of this journey.

I looked into being a volunteer host after my son was born because I felt like a bit of a fraud when I hung out with other new moms. To them, I was just another lady with a baby. But, of course, there is so much more to our story than that. I see now that leading the group was a way for me to support other women struggling with infertility and also a way for me to find closure and move on to the next stage in my life. For me, after a five year struggle, nine months wasn’t nearly long enough to move from infertility to motherhood. Having a child doesn’t erase infertility; much as arriving at a destination doesn’t eliminate the journey.  

In saying goodbye to the women in our group, I put together this Top Ten List, to share what we all know, but sometimes can’t find the words to say. Our group will continue; a new host will guide the group to keep listening, laughing, and traveling this road. Good luck, everyone. If you’ve had success and have your miracle child, or if you are still on your journey, think about volunteering as a RESOLVE leader. It may be just what you need to help others, and in the end, help yourself too.

Top Ten Things I Learned About Infertility (from a retiring volunteer support group leader)
  1. Infertility is linear...you don’t know how you’re going feel about any treatment or any part of it until you get there.  One minute you may say “no way” to IVF, and then you find yourself giving yourself shots and counting follicles!
  2. Men (husbands/partners) do care, and they will be great fathers. But, in my experience, I’ve noticed that their highs are not as high nor are their lows as low on the path to parenthood. Most of them are able to picture life without children without tears coming to their eyes and can easily see how life with more money and no children can be a viable version of a happy ending. I don’t completely buy the conventional explanation of “it’s not happening to their body.” I think it’s more that many of them are Cubs fans and are used to painful disappointment for the team they love.
  3. There’s no dipping your toe into the infertility world. You’re either underwater or by the side of the pool.
  4. You cannot understand this until you go through it. Period.
  5. Pick a few people to talk to this about, and then forgive them if they ask you how it’s going when you don’t want to talk about it. Letting people in and talking about this pain can really ease the burden, but once they’re in, they’re in -- no two ways about it.
  6. Baby showers, baby pictures, hearing moms complain about their kids -- these are all things that can, and probably should, be removed from your life for the time being.  
  7. Jealousy and intense dislike (I intensely dislike the word hate) are a natural part of the human rainbow of emotions. Feel them, forgive yourself, and move on.
  8. It’s likely that not all relationships in your life will survive infertility. Friends who get pregnant while you can’t may be casualties. It happens.
  9. Have talking points when you go to Christmas dinner....or just out for coffee. When people ask if you have kids or if you plan to, have something ready to say, so you don’t have to think on your feet.  Mine were: “It doesn’t look like it’s in the cards for us.” That seemed to make people feel a little bad for asking (which I have to admit I wanted) and let folks know we’d tried, which, for some reason, I also wanted.
  10. Nothing stresses a woman out more than being told to relax. This is not your fault.  
Susan Bisno Massel lives in Chicago with her husband and son.  She works in public relations for the City of Chicago and also volunteered for RESOLVE by leading a support group for three years. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Running My Ass Off

I'm on CD4 and feel absolutely liberated! I don't have to go for blood work; I don't have a date with the dildo cam! No more clomid for this girl! I am on a break cycle of sorts, and it feels great to be free!

Of course, I do have this little surgery looming over my head. My laparoscopy and hysteroscopy are scheduled for August 7th. I'm keeping my nerves at bay by focusing on the results rather than the actual procedure. Whenever I think about going under full anesthesia, the breathing tube, or the incision... I kinda freak out a little. But I have more resolve to find out what the hell is going on in there, so the momentary panic is replaced quickly with determination.

In the meantime, I'm taking advantage of my shrinking ovaries to run, run, run! I went for a kickass trail run this past weekend with my buddies from Team Bacon (yes, I am a member of a running group where all the members are obsessed with bacon!). We spent three glorious hours and 10 hilly, rocky and bumpy miles taking in the scenery. My favorite part was about a five minute segment of tearing down the mountain, dodging trees, roots and rocks. The only way I can describe the moment is to say it was sheer joy!

Having way too much fun out on the trails :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Oh, you shouldn't have...

I woke up this morning to heavy cramping. I went to the bathroom with a HPT in one hand and a tampon in the other. I used the tampon, officially declared IUI#3 a bust, and marked the day as CD1.

As you may know from previous posts on this blog, this came to me as no surprise. I've been bracing myself for a BFN even before we began this cycle. I told my doctor flat out that I didn't believe this would work, but agreed to go through with the cycle because of his advice. I knew all along that I'd be calling to set up a laparoscopy and not a beta test. I hate that I am right.

The icing on the cake is that AF made no exceptions this time around with playing her cruel mind games. She was late. Even still, I never had more than a second of hope. Her final joke for this cycle was that she was late so that she could arrive on this day, July 26th, our fifth wedding anniversary.

If this is your idea of an anniversary present, well, you can take it and shove it!!

Nonetheless, I decided a little while ago that I wasn't going to let IF ruin anymore special days. So I took care of myself and moved on with my day... funny thing is... it actually worked! I had an amazing day celebrating with My Johnny :)

We got each other a total of five anniversary cards. Funny that there's a card for each year! We did not plan that, but it sort of worked out that way. John got me a gorgeous tree... honestly, I don't know what it's called, but it's beautiful!

Anniversary Tree!
He always gets a combo gift from me because his birthday is five days after our anniversary. This year, he got a new TV. He says it's as much a gift for me as it is for him, but who's he kidding?! I'm always running! I don't have time to watch TV :)

We went on a hike with the doggies then to our training class. It was so much fun! Coda is a natural on the trails! He wanted to run a bit, so we ran. He wanted to go in the water, so he did. It was nice to see him come to life on the trails. He's going to be my bestest running buddy :)
Mocha & Johnny 
Cici & Coda
Even Mocha had a good time on our hike!! I can't wait to do it again :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Here she comes...

Yup, these cramps are undeniable. For the moment, it is CD28, 13 dpIUI. I haven't "made it this far" in a while. Like clockwork, I've been getting to 12 dpIUI just to have it disintegrate to CD1 the next minute. Now, let's not get too excited. I know that when I get up to go to the bathroom I'll be changing the status of this day. And taking some Advil. And calling my doctor to schedule the lap. But for now, I'm going to lay here in this moment for just a bit longer.

I moved the one and only baby item in the house to the future nursery.
I heard it was good luck and it's supposed to help bring a baby into the house. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Merrily We Bloat Along

Working on my Wish-Stitch Project
this lazy Saturday morning
There should be no surprise at how much bloating I'm experiencing based off my response to the clomid. Seven follies were present at my mid-cycle monitoring measuring at 21, 19, 18, 16, 16, 13 and 13mm. My estridol levels were over 900, so it is safe to say that five of those follies fired off when I triggered later that night. I was worried about being overstimulated. Five eggs could result in five babies! Ummmm... I don't think we could handle that! But as I was reassured at my RE's office, the likeliness of all five fertilizing and implanting (especially based off of my history from the past two cycles) are extremely minimal. If you're not a stranger to this blog, then you already know my thoughts on the matter.

Over the past few days, I have been experiencing some mild OHSS symptoms. I didn't help the matter by going on a(n awesome, kickass, super fun) run on Tuesday night. Amanda & I logged six miles on the trails as we went on a quest for ice cream at the local shop. The first 4-5 miles were fine. I felt great, and we stopped several times to take in the scenery (which included a few lakes, a bagpiper, and ice cream mixed in the trail run). But as the sun was setting and we decided to take it to the road, I started to feel like I should cut the run off. We were still about a mile from the house, and Amanda didn't complain at all when I asked to take a walk break as we went up Newmans Never-ending Hill.

It wasn't until later that night when I was in the shower and I looked at my belly. I was extremely bloated. I could tell by looking at the size of my abdomen and the feeling of fullness. I asked for some advice from my internet friends on how to deal with the bloating. Their answer was lots of Gatorade, water and protein... and no running.

I took their advice and have been downing lots of fluids, consuming high-protein meals, making sure not to overeat, and taking it easy with the running. I haven't run since last Tuesday's (awesome) adventure. If it weren't for this heat wave, I'd be downright depressed about this setback. Surprisingly, I am doing fine.

My weight has been fluctuating a lot throughout the day. In the morning, I am my normal weight. At the end of the night I'm up by 6-7 pounds. I've also measured my waistline and noted a peak of +10 inches from my usual number. Thank god for loose fitting clothing! At times, I feel a bit uncomfortable, but mostly I just feel full all the time.

We are moving right along over here in our corner of the world. John, Mocha, Coda & I all went to our first training class yesterday. We have a few skills to practice throughout the week. Mocha has already mastered Sit. Coda is still a beginner, but finally figured it out by the end of this morning's practice session. Mocha has mastered Watch Me but only when she's in training mode. I tried it on our walk this morning, and we only had about a second of eye contact. Coda is really struggling with Watch Me, but we will keep trying. Mocha is getting better at Loose Leash Walking (LLW). She likes to pull, so we are working on it. Coda is the opposite. He decides that he doesn't want to leave his comfort zone and then he lays down. I tried all of the tricks our trainer showed me and was able to get a 5-house-walk out of Coda this morning. That's one better than his usual 4-house-walk! Though I really had to push him to get to the extra house. Hopefully we will make it to the end of the block by the end of the summer!!!

I met some of my internet friends in person last night. It was awesome! I had a nice time. And later today we are heading down the shore to visit friends. John is very excited about seeing his friends. I am gearing up for 24 hours away from my house and in the presence of two small children under the age of two. I can do it. There will be plenty of booze, and we're bringing the dogs. If I'm feeling like I need a break, I will always have a non-judgmental walking buddy or two. Neither one of them will say a word, they'll just be by my side wagging their tails. Plus, this trip makes John so happy, so I'm doing it for him. I'm sure I'll have fun, and I certainly don't want to spoil it for him. Wish me luck!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Racing Schedule

Yup, that's right. I'm working out my racing schedule, just like I said I would in my Clarity post. Here's what's on the agenda:

  • July - Pizza Run 5K
  • August - TBD. I'm looking at a mud run close to home
  • September - Color Me Rad 5K
  • October - Runner's World Half Marathon
  • November - New York City Marathon
It feels so good to have a race on every page of my calendar. I feel like me again! Of course, I am registered for each race with the understanding that IF might muck it all up. But having these races to look forward to makes me happy; keeps me sane. I feel like I have a purpose again and am so excited about my training!

Operation Put a Smile on my Face is underway ;) Happy Running!

Friday, July 12, 2013

I am convinced...

I've been saying it for about a month now. These IUIs are not going to work. I didn't understand why, but after a lot of thought I have at least a theory to work with. Humor me.

We have been trying to fix something that isn't broken. I ovulate on my own. I have regular cycles. DH's numbers are great. Of course we are going to take things one step at a time (even though I've been prepared to cut to the chase with IVF from the beginning of our testing cycle). Naturally, our doctor recommended that we start with a less aggressive treatment plan, which is why we have been doing the clomid, ovidrel and IUIs. 

I believe that the issue is not the sperm nor the egg. I believe everything is where it should be when it should be. I believe the problem is my uterus. I've had an unsettled feeling ever since I learned that I have a Mullerian Anomaly. My uterus is all out of wack. It's tilted and arcuate and I probably have endometriosis.

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. I am almost sure that I have at least a mild case of endometriosis. I present so many of the symptoms. I have had extremely painful periods and mid-cycle pain for as long as I can remember. The only time it got better was the 11 year period that I was on the pill... and then it gradually came back over the course of the past two years I've been off the pill. Now I'm on these meds that are causing my ovaries to work double-time. I'm overstimulated and hurting so badly. I'd be willing to bet that if there's endometriosis in there, that is making this whole experience that much more painful. 

That's it. I'm getting the lap. No more waffling on this decision. It is scary to me to go through a surgery and under anesthesia, but I will find the courage. I need to know what the hell is going on in there, and this is the only way to know with 100% certainty. As an added bonus, I can probably get a hysteroscopy at the same time and then confirm my arcuate uterus diagnosis. That peace of mind will be worth its weight in gold when the day comes that I actually see two pink lines.

My cross stitch project is coming along.
Mocha is demonstrating the ability to dream.
I was inspired by the piece to add a design to my pedicure. 

IF Hurts

In so many ways. Right now, I'm experiencing the more obvious version and am doubled over in pain on the couch. My ovaries feel like they are exploding inside my body, and if you think about it... they kind of are.

I went in for IUI#3 this morning. I think ovulation is happening right now. Ouch, my poor swollen ovaries :( As I've mentioned in previous posts, I don't believe that this will result in anything more than pain. My body will ache for the next three days, my mind will agonize for the next 11 days, and then my heart will break all over again when we get to CD 1.

I have five, yes FIVE, follicles that are rupturing at this very moment. I have been very responsive to the clomid from the beginning of this IUI journey. And DH's numbers have always been fantastic.

  1. IUI#1 Follies: 22, 22, 17, 13, 13, 13, 12. Moving Sperm: 18 million
  2. IUI#2 Follies: 22, 20, 16, 15, 14, 13. Moving Sperm: 41 million
  3. IUI#3 Follies: 21, 19, 18, 16, 16, 13, 13. Moving Sperm: 21 million
With numbers that good, we should be pregnant with 11 babies by now. ::eyes rolling:: 

I simply cannot be positive about this cycle. Why should I be? It takes too much energy, and it's useless. So I have resolved to just dismiss the negative thoughts as quickly as possible, and move on. I am working out a long term plan, because going cycle by cycle is too damned painful. My aching heart can only handle so much.

I am reminded over and over again that this journey is like a marathon. And as a marathon enthusiast, I am comforted to think of that. I am a warrior. I have run 10 marathons. I have pushed through pain and made it to the finish line nine times. The one time I didn't make it to the line, I pushed my body, mind and soul to her limit. Vomiting three times on the course, being examined by the EMT, struggling to get control of my core temperature... it was crazy that I made it as far as I did (23.8 miles...). 

I am not afraid of physical pain. That doesn't mean that I like it (though I do seek out self-inflicted abuse in the form of hill repeats and track intervals), but I can tolerate quite a lot. I have also demonstrated the ability time and time again of my stubborn will and mental fortitude. This struggle with IF is teaching me to endure the breaking of my heart and spirit. IF may win the battle on most days, but I'm going to win the war.

I spent three years working towards a personal goal that I haphazardly set for myself while I was on my runner's high from my second marathon. I had such an effortless race and crossed the line in 4:08:05 at the 2010 Disney Marathon. So naturally, I thought the next thing was to aim to break 4:00:00 in the next marathon. How hard could it be?

Turns out, very. I spent the next 10 months training my body for the perfect race. My training was "flawless" (and by that, I mean that at the time I thought it was perfect, but now I look back and see how foolish I was to think that) and I never deviated from my schedule. Race day came in November at the 2010 NYC Marathon. Everything seemed to be going well until I came unglued on the Queensboro Bridge at mile 16. I spent the next 10 miles resenting everything in my path and especially marathons.

As horrible as that race was at the time, it is the best thing that probably could have happened to me. My results from that race were actually pretty amazing as long as you look at it from the right perspective. At first, I was devastated. I crossed the line in 4:33... 11 minutes slower than my first marathon. What went wrong? I spent weeks thinking about every possible thing. There had to be something, and I was determined to fix it.

Finally, I decided to turn to an expert to get some help reaching my goal. That's when I reached out to Coach Vinny. I am not going to go into the significance of this moment right now. Just take my word for it: my life was forever changed in an overwhelmingly positive way.

Throughout the course of those three years, I ran seven marathons where I did not meet my goal. You could call each race a failure, but I don't see it that way. Each "failure" has brought me closer to meeting my goal, even if I was going backwards on the time clock. When I finally crossed the 2013 Shamrock Marathon finish line this past March and the clock said 3:42:54... I simply cannot put into words the emotions I felt in that moment. 

The countless blood, sweat, and tears became worth it in this one moment.
So, long story, but to get to the point: IF is like marathon training. Except now I'm in training for pregnancy. I may not achieve it this cycle, or the next cycle (or if it's anything like my experience with breaking 4:00:00, several more after that). But I.WILL.MAKE.IT. And at the finish line, there will be tears of joy, and a baby (which is so much better than a medal... even though the medals are pretty grand). When I'm looking down at the miracle in my arms, it will not matter how how much pain I had to persevere to get to that moment. I just have to keep going. And of course I will!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


You don't need to point out that I've been absent around here for a little while. I know, I know. I've been having a difficult time dealing with my reality ever since CD 1 (well, actually, since CD 22 of the previous cycle).

The truth is, I have been especially lost for the past two weeks. I have not felt like myself. The emotional roller coaster of IF takes me up for a day, sun is shining and I have hope, and the next day I come crashing down, it is gloomy and I have despair. This is the pattern that I have been going through daily without fail for the past two weeks.

Things got really confusing when I went to my WTF appointment with the RE. At our consultation, he presented us with three options for moving forward in the event that this cycle fails. I am convinced without a doubt in my mind that this cycle will fail. I know that is sad and horrible, and I need to think positive... But I'm not saying it as a cry for attention. I'm saying it because I really, truly, honest to goodness believe that will be our reality. I would love to be proven wrong, but I'm not holding my breath. Sigh... Anyway, here are the options we have for the next cycle:
  1. Laparoscopy to look at my uterus and diagnose possible endometriosis. 
  2. Injects with IUI
  3. IVF
I have spent the past eight days tormenting myself over this decision, because I just didn't know which was the right one for us. Each option has it's pros and cons:

Option #1 - Lap:
  • Pro: it is the only way to diagnose endometriosis.
  • Pro: it will give the doctor the chance to look at my uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
  • Pro: it may give me peace of mind about my arcuate uterus diagnosis.
  • Con: in order to do the lap, we will have to TTA for a full cycle.
  • Con: it is a surgery which requires full anesthesia and a breathing tube.
Option #2 - Injects with IUI
  • Pro: the injects may produce a better quality egg and increase our chances for success.
  • Pro: the doctor will have the chance to figure out my medicine doses so that we have a better quality IVF cycle (should we get there)
  • Con: I do not believe it will work. If I have had a "perfect" response with the clomid and IUI's, then why would there be an advantage with injects? I just don't believe the ovulation is the problem. It is deeper than that.
Option #3 - IVF:
  • Pro: the chances for success are much higher.
  • Pro: I believe it will work quickly for us.
  • Con: it is a much more invasive form of treatment.
  • Con: ER (egg retrieval) is a painful procedure.
  • Con: if we cut right to IVF without ruling out Injects + IUI first, and if IVF fails... it will be devastating.
I went for a solo run tonight. It's been a while since I have run alone because I've been so lucky to have so many running buddies. But it was exactly what I needed to clear my head. Just me, my Brooks, and the road. I swear, a good run can solve any problem. I came home with so much: a clear head, a clear plan, and hope.

Not only did I work out the plan for the next cycle, but I also came up with a plan to train my body to prepare for pregnancy in the absence of marathon training. 

My Plan:
  • I will do the lap in the next cycle. It will be hard to take a break from TTC, but I need it right now from a mental standpoint. Andplusalso (as Jodi would say), I just want to know what the hell is going on in there.
  • We will decide on the following cycles after getting the results from the lap. For now, I'm letting myself off the hook. I don't want to think about it until I have to. IF is making me crazy.
  • I am going to talk to the RE again about my training plans. I think I understand more clearly now what his main concern is about the running (he's worried about an ovarian torsion). I have been ultra conservative, and think that I can push myself a little bit more without putting myself or a baby at risk.
  • I am going to get a new pair of running shoes. I've always wanted to try out a pair of Vibram FiveFinger shoes. This is a good time since I'd have to "ease my way in" for a while. 
  • I am going to register for a race or two. Enough sitting on my ass feeling sorry for myself. And feeling slow. I'm going to get my damn speed back.
  • I am going to keep track of my food intake on MyFitnessPal. I need to make sure that I'm eating enough, and the quality of my nutrition has been a little under par lately.
  • I am going to continue living my life as happily as possible. It will probably be a while before I get pregnant. I need to accept that reality.
Yay for a plan!! I hope this is all I needed to finally get off the roller coaster. 

Top Left: I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way...
Top Right: I am a warrior. Hear me RRROOOAAARRR!!! And I will have a little cub soon.
Bottom: Making progress on my cross stitch project.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Stitching My Way to Positive Thinking

Making slow but steady progress on my cross stitching project <3

Searching for Hope

I've been having a hard time bouncing back from the last failed cycle. After IUI#1, I was devastated and spent all of CD1 on the couch with my dog crying until there were no tears left. But the next day, I woke up with new hope and energy. This time around, the "mourning period" has quadrupled. Yeeesh!

I don't want to come across as completely pessimistic... but I have had a feeling that these IUIs wouldn't work for a long while now. I'd love to be wrong, but I just can't shake the feeling off anymore. I'm trying so hard to be positive. I really do believe in the power of positive thinking. But this runs deeper than just being a Negative Nelly. I am not saying it to be dramatic. I just see the probable reality that IUIs will not be the way for us.

I went in for my baseline monitoring this morning and scheduled a mini-consult with my RE. We would discuss our options if this cycle fails. One thing that I really love about my RE's office is that they don't keep you waiting. I was able to schedule the appointment for later the same day! 

I went in for my blood work and then for my ultrasound. I wasn't even really paying attention when the doctor said that there was a small cyst on my left side. Shit. Did he really just say that? Don't cry. Hold yourself together. The doctor told me that he wanted to look at my hormone levels from my blood work before giving me instructions for this cycle. 

I was driving to meet Rachel before work for a run and doing everything I could to hold back the tears. When I pulled up, I couldn't even look at Rachel for the first few seconds because I knew it would open the flood gates. I just wanted to get out there on the road and run. I wasn't expecting a cyst, and now here I was just hoping and praying that we wouldn't get canceled this cycle!

The run turned out to be the perfect thing for me. Rachel pointed out the similarity of a marathon training cycle to an IF 3T cycle. The analogy is perfect. I ran ten marathons before I finally met my goal of breaking four hours. That means that I technically failed nine times (although I don't see it that way. Every marathon was a victory in my mind!). But when I finally did it, oh boy, was it ever the best feeling in the world. I still get chills when I think back to that glorious moment. The whole race was everything I had dreamed of. And crossing the finish line... I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it.

Running with my solemate soothes my soul
I went to summer band next which turned out to be pretty insane thanks to flash-flood warnings. There was a tornado that touched down literally one mile away from the school! It was pretty scary. The program director told us to move away from the windows, so we brought our rehearsal into the (windowless) gym. 

John & I went back to the RE for our mini-consult after summer band was over. First and foremost, we didn't get canceled this cycle!! I started my third round of clomid this evening and will go in for mid-cycle monitoring next Wednesday. As far as the future plan goes, the RE gave us three things to think about:
  1. Laparoscopy to see if I have endometriosis (I have some symptoms, but have never been diagnosed)
  2. IUI with injectables
  3. IVF
We haven't finalized anything yet, but John & I both agree that we are not interested in the lap at this moment. I'd rather not go through a surgery unless it was absolutely necessary. If we make it to the next cycle I think we'll try at least one IUI with injects. At the very least, it'll give our doctor a chance to see how I respond to the meds. Depending on how that goes (and also how things go with my insurance approvals), we'll see about how many more IUIs we try before saying, forget it, time for IVF. 

I'm happy that we don't have to figure it all out right in this moment. I'm sure I'll have a clear vision of the whole thing after a few good runs.