Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Some Hope

Ever since September 29th, I have been running around like a chicken with no head (CHICKIN!!). I kid you not, my days have consisted of the following:

  • 15-20 pills a day
  • 2-3 injections a day
  • Up to 2 blood draws (about 2-3 a week)
  • Probably a doctors appointment in there too (about 2-3 a week)
  • Phone calls to work out something important
  • Even an infusion (weekly from here on out)
It's all making me a little (read: A LOT) nuts. 

I don't even know where to begin... SO MUCH has happened in my absence from this blog. I love blogging. I love blog stalking. But I haven't been doing much of either lately because I've been so damned busy!!! I'll do my best to update you on at least what's going on RIGHT NOW :)

The Status of My Ute: I've been working with my RE and RI to get my uterus in tip-top shape for our next cycle. I went in for a lining check last week, and in the words of my RE, my uterus is, "sitting pretty. It looks like it's just waiting for a good embryo." It measured at 7.3mm on Wednesday, the texture was tri-laminar, and the implantation zone was fluid free! SQUEE!! Hopefully we can get a good embryo to occupy my primed and prepped uterus VERY SOON!

The Status of My Sjogren's: Ugh. I don't even remember if I updated on here that I have Sjogren's Syndrome. Don't worry, I didn't know what that was either until I researched it. Clicky here to visit the Sjogren's Foundation website. The good news is that it seems to be a condition of inconvenience more than anything else. Dry eyes, dry mouth and the like. The not so wonderful news is that it puts us at additional risk for fetal heart block. I'm not a fan about that, but let's just try to get me KTFU first, mmm kay?

The Status of My KK Trip (11/7): IT WENT SO WELL!!!! Most of my levels have come back into check thanks to all of the (insane) measures I have taken over the past six weeks. The blood flow to my uterus is GREATLY improved (down to 0.53). Thanks, Lovenox+Baby-Aspirin!! The autoimmune thyroiditis is under control thanks to the Synthroid. My blood sugars are at an appropriate level. Thanks Metformin+diet-that-I-hate-but-appreciate! The only thing that is still out of control are my positive ANAs. Thanksbutnothanks, Sjogren's. Hopefully increasing the dose of prednisone and the frequency of the IVIg will help.

The Status of My Sanity: Certifiable loon. I nearly lost my mind yesterday. Actually... I think I did lose it for a bit. But I'm back on track, and trying to manage my stress level. My Sjogren's/RA are flaring BIG TIME thanks to the stress. I have to get it in check. I saw my PCP today. And got a massage. Both were very therapeutic. 

That's enough for now. Since you made it to the end, you get a sticker!! Woohoo!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Worst Blogger Ever

Ok, maybe not the worst in all of blogger history, but I've been majorly slacking off! I have been SO BUSY running around, trying to get everything in order for our (fingers crossed) hopeful cycle... Dr. KK has been keeping me BUSY. I can't keep count of all the blood draws I have had over the past four and a half weeks... it's been insane. Here are my updates... quickly! Because I don't have much time:

Rheumatologist: Dr. KK recommended that I see a rheumy to have a full evaluation after my positive ANA. Dr. B, my rheumy, ran a lot of blood work (nine vials) and diagnosed me with Sjogren's Syndrome. She also mentioned something about my Rheumatoid Arthritis test coming back high, but said that she doesn't think that I have RA. Then something about inactive lupus in my system.... oh god! I had a classroom full of students, and I couldn't really process the information fast enough on our phone call. I will be sitting down with her next Tuesday to do a formal follow-up. I will have a lot of questions.

RE: I've been working with my RE to get a plan in place so we are ready to cycle the SECOND that we get the OK from Dr. KK (the Dr. KK OK, LOL!). I've been doing all of the cycle prep and am PRAYING that we can get this thing going in November. I'll be seeing Dr. J on Wednesday next week to check in on the status of my ute.

KK: Sooooo much blood work!!! And pills!! And injections too. Today's cocktail includes Synthroid, Prednisone, Metformin, Supplements Galore, Baby Aspirin, Lupron, and Delestrogen. Next Friday is the big day. I'll be starting Lovenox over the weekend, and we'll be checking to see how well that is working with another doppler ultrasound. Then I'll be sitting down to talk to Dr. KK and get all the results from our endless blood work over the past month. And finally, if all the stars align, I will have my first IVIg infusion. There are a lot of stars that need to get in order for that to happen... including the appeal to my insurance for coverage. Ugh. So much stress. I don't even want to get into it!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

***Warning: Depressing Topic***

Don't ask me how, but I got to thinking about our traumatizing experience with IVF #2 today. I have been keeping a private journal, and writing as I glide in my fancy reading room chair. Time has passed since that day in December, but the pain is still there tugging at my heart, swelling up my throat, and tearing up my eyes.

I can't fully explain how deeply that cycle hurt me - hurt us - and every time I think of 8:20am December 9, 2013... I go right back to that awful moment when I saw the doctor's name show up on my caller ID. Devastated. We were devastated.

dev·as·tate
ˈdevəˌstāt/
verb
past tense: devastated; past participle: devastated
  1. destroy or ruin (something).
    "the city was devastated by a huge earthquake"
    synonyms:destroyruinwreck, lay waste, ravagedemolish, raze (to the ground),levelflatten;

I am not exaggerating when I say that was the worst day of my life. ::deep breath, heavy sigh::

A revelation I just had concerning the information we learned that day: we have been dreaming of having a baby for three years now, and in that time how many times have we had conception? Fertilization? A blastocyst? Implantation? A positive pregnancy test?
...conception? Probably 80% of the time... Fertilization? I think 70% of the time... A blastocyst? I suspect 5% of the time... Implantation? Maybe (if I'm being generous) 0.5% of the time... A positive pregnancy test? 0% of the time.
That's depressing.

How does that make me feel moving forward? Scared as hell. I am completely traumatized by our experience with IVF. To the point where I don't know if I could actually do it ever again. Sure, Dr. KK is working with us now, and hopefully she will make a world of difference for us. But that doesn't change how completely anxious I feel at the prospect of enduring another week of ER to ET... and the aftermath if history repeats itself. Quite frankly, the thought makes me sick. So I will stop thinking about it.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

9+1 Status: COMPLETE!!!

Over the past five and a half months, I have been working on a goal that is very near and dear to me as an avid marathon runner: earning entry into the 2015 NYC Marathon.

Most races, you can just pay the registration fee, and you're good to go as long as it doesn't sell out first. Well, it's not so simple with NYC. There's such a high demand for spots, that the race organizers had to develop a system to keep it fair. In order to run in the NYC Marathon, you have to qualify. Here's how you can qualify:

  1. Time Qualification - run another marathon really fast... not going to happen for me!! I'd have to run a marathon under 3:10, or a half under 1:30... my current PRs in those races are 3:42 and 1:45 respectively.
  2. Charity - join a charity team, fundraise their required minimum, run the race! The only catch is that $3,000 is the average minimum!!
  3. Lottery - pay $11 to enter the lottery and hope you get lucky. My problem? I've applied six times and have never won a spot!
  4. 9+1 - run 9 NYRR marathon qualifying races (distances vary from 1-26.2 mile races) and volunteer at 1 race. All races must be completed in one calendar year, and you must be a member.
***Possible Tissue Warning***
I started my 9+1 with a 4 mile race on April 27th... just five days after saying goodbye to Ninja. I wore my Team FUIF jersey on my back, and my Ninja on my mind and heart for each and every step along the way. Today, October 12th, I completed my 9th and final race. I have officially earned a spot to the 2015 NYC Marathon!

9+1 Status
9/9 RACES COMPLETE
VOLUNTEER: COMPLETE 
for guaranteed entry to2015 TCS New York City Marathon
Giving up my spot to the 2013 NYC Marathon was heartbreaking... in my eyes, that loss went hand in hand with the BFN of IVF #1. The plan was to defer the spot if I got pregnant from that cycle and run the race this year... and if I didn't get pregnant, I planned to give the spot to a friend. I am so happy that Amanda got to run the race, but it was very hard to hand over my bib. Along with the bib and the medal I should've kept for myself, I was giving up our hopes for a baby in 2014. </3

So you can probably imagine how important it is to me to get back to NYC and run the marathon. And I will. I dedicate these past 5-1/2 months of work to Ninja... I did it all for you, dear, and when I cross the finish line of the marathon, that will be for you too.
***End Tissue Warning***

Today's race was also bittersweet for another reason: it was my last race until we resolve our journey with infertility. One of the restrictions that Dr. KK has made for me includes no marathon running. She originally said no running at all until I advocated for myself. Now, I am allowed to run up until we cycle again, but under significant restrictions. You can bet your bottom dollar that I enjoyed every second of the race today. Even the parts when it was uncomfortable... with running, I take the good with the bad (and sometimes ugly), and today was mostly good though I did have some issues with my stomach. Maybe the meds contributed, or maybe it's the nutrition adjustment that I still can't figure out (after all these years!!!). Either way, I am overjoyed and so proud! Here's a collage I made of two jumps for joy after crossing the finish line:


Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 6, 2014

It's All Coming Back

Being on the bench for the past five months, I have completely repressed just how stressful infertility is. And it is stressful in every single way imaginable: physically, emotionally, socially...

I have been off the bench for a few days, and I'm already feeling completely overwhelmed by it all. There was even a moment over the weekend when I wished I was back on the bench! That's how I can tell that it's bad. I've wanted nothing more than to get moving for the past five months.

At this particular moment, it's the physical stress that is bothering me most. I woke up with a headache, and feeling nauseous and hungry. I blame the meds and low-carb diet. My body has to get with the program, and hopefully it'll figure it out quickly.

Emotionally, I am hoping that I can keep my stress level down to a minimum. We'll see. Infertility is stressful, and so is work, and life in general.

I'm going to push on. I'm thinking about all the plans I have for the day, and at first they make me groan, "How will I do it all when I feel like shit?" But maybe if I just get started, I'll get distracted from the discomfort I am feeling now.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Dr. KK Follow-up

We had our follow-up with Dr. KK on Monday, and all I can say is WOW. It was a lot of information to take in, and it seems like we have a lot to work on. I am still processing everything, and I wonder if my head will ever stop spinning! I will say that after being mostly unexplained for so long, I am happy to have something concrete to focus on. Hopefully it'll make the difference we've been looking for. 

In a nutshell, I'm going on quite a few additional supplements and medications before we get going with our next cycle. We are hoping to do a mid-November ER/ET and will freeze-all if my uterus doesn't get sorted out by then.

The details if anyone is interested 
  • High IgG
  • Moderately high NK cells = IVIg
  • Vitamin D deficiency = supplement
  • Protein S deficiency = Lovenox
  • High PAI-1 = Metformin, low-carb diet, regular exercise (though marathon training does not qualify)
  • Autoimmune Thyroiditis = Synthroid
  • Low-normal DHEA = supplement
  • POF 
  • Positive ANA = see a rheumatologist, treat with Prednisone & IVIg
  • Restricted blood flow to the uterus 
  • Recommended Supplements: CoQ10 (600mg), Vit D (4000iu), Vit E (400iu), Fish Oil (2000mg), DHEA (25mg)
  • Recommended Medications: IVIg, Prednisone (10mg), Lovenox (40iu daily), LD Baby Aspirin (81mg), Metformin (500mg), Synthroid (25mcg)
  • Recommended Lifestyle Changes: low-carb diet, regular exercise, maintain current BMI, no marathons
This past week was a bit chaotic (ok, it was REALLY chaotic) as I scrambled to get supplements, prescriptions, and attempt a low-carb diet. Let me tell you, I suck at the low-carb thing and I hate it. I made an appointment with a nutritionist for Tuesday. Hopefully he can help me make sense of all this (especially since I need to maintain my BMI). 

I also made an appointment with a rheumatologist for October 14th. Dr. KK recommended that I get a full evaluation because my ANA panel was a strong positive (with a speckled pattern, which is suggestive of Sjogren's Syndrome). Hopefully all is well in that department, and I get away with a clean bill of health...

Coordinating the demands of three doctors, two nurses, and a nutritionist is already stressing me out big time. I am praying that I don't lose my mind through all of this. 

And finally, yes, the no running thing... Sigh. What can I say? Of course I am disappointed. When Dr. KK said that I should get regular exercise, I had a little glimmer of hope that the marathon training would be ok. Nope! She is concerned that running to that extent could cause an autoimmune inflammatory response that would be detrimental to our cycle. We have invested a lot of time, energy, and money into this cycle already. I do not want to jeopardize it for a race, so I am ok with letting go (though it was a bummer to have to turn down a last minute spot in this year's NYC Marathon). I asked Dr. KK how soon I should stop marathon training, and she said immediately. .......... :'( I was able to advocate for myself, and told her my concerns about triggering another depression. She agreed that I could continue running up until the start of my cycle (no more than 10 miles on the weekends and 3-4 runs under 60 minutes during the week). Once my cycle starts, then no running.

Thanks for stopping by to read my update :) Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ninja Nostalgia

I will never, ever forget about our precious Ninja, and not a day goes by when I don't think of her. Our precious little Ninja might have only existed as a blastocyst for a few weeks, but she represented all of our hopes and dreams while she was with us. She still does. I love her and miss her. I pray that she comes back to us someday in some shape or form.

I should be honest here and admit that the Reading Room is truly dedicated to Ninja. Sure, it's my special room in the house, and I'm making all the decisions for how to decorate the space. But I'm doing it all for Ninja. And my grandmother. And for my heart.

I plan to turn the largest wall in the room into my personal art gallery. I have a vision. It is a bit difficult to describe, so just take my word: it's going to be fabulous. I want to display my paintings in a special way, and I can't think of any better place than the Reading Room's Art Gallery. Maybe I'll even go so far as to make a plaque that dedicates the room in Ninja's honor. Maybe I already did that with my most recent painting (pictured below).

Sigh. I love you, Ninja! I always will!



Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Reading Room

Travel back in time with me to learn the history of our Reading Room ;)

June 18, 2012 - we closed on our dream house after quite the struggle to sell our condo and find a new home. We were living in John's mother's old apartment (in a 55+ community...) while we were house hunting, and 75% of our belongings had been in the moving company's warehouse since January.

June 20, 2012 - moving day!!! We decided the Reading Room would be a nursery someday, and over time it became the dusty storage room. We kept the door closed because I didn't want to see all of our junk.

June 29, 2012 - the hardwood floors in the house were stripped and refinished. They went from drab to fab :)

April 10, 2013 - we saw the RE for the first time. The door stayed firmly shut on the Should-be-a-Nursery as it was too painful to think of the shouldas and wouldas. Every BFN and failed cycle opened the wound.

The Should-be-a-Nursery quickly became a catch-all
So much stuff...
April 22, 2014 - the day we said goodbye to Ninja, our BFN :( John & I decided in the hour of receiving the news that we needed to take control of the Should-be-a-Nursery and turn it into something else... Something useful for us right now rather than a sad reminder of what hasn't happened for us. 


Purple is my favorite color. It has always made me think of my grandmother.

Look at all the work we did in one day!! 
July 7, 2014 - paint in progress!!


Accent wall!! I love this deep, rich purple!!

John & I made a super team. He rolled the paint, and I cut the room. 

July 21, 2014 - we learned how to install new baseboards!

August 1, 2014 - I started searching for the perfect chair to relax in. We already have four recliners in the family room, but I wanted something that would rock or move. So I found a stunning white glider with gray damask on eBay. Only problem was that it was astronomically expensive!!! A few weeks later, I found a knock-off at Target.com!! And was able to get the matching ottoman for cheaper than just the chair on eBay!!!

September 14, 2014 - the chair and ottoman were delivered earlier in the week, and we moved it in! Looks perfect!! This room is now declared the Reading Room!

September 20, 2014 - decorating!!! I got a fancy crystal lamp and mirror accent table... Completely not my usual style, but wow!! I love it!!

I guess I'm fancier than I realized! I was texting Renee from the store and she reassured
me that the lamp & table were perfect. I'm glad she did, because WOW!! I love it!!
Lights on!!
This mirror will look fabulous... now, where to put it??
There's still a bit to do before the room is complete, but it's already so special to me. I'd like to hang the valences, get a bookcase, decorate with a few nicknacks, and hang some art on the walls. I have a few paintings that will be displayed on the main wall that the chair is facing. So the Reading Room will also function as my personal Art Gallery!! I'm so excited, and I love it so much!!!



Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ramblings

::tap tap tap:: Is this thing on??

So, yeah, I've been sorta MIA around here, and the last time I checked in wasn't exactly pretty. But things are better, and busier than ever now that we're back to school. I ran the marathon two weeks ago, and it was challenging but incredibly rewarding.

I feel like so much has happened, yet there's not really much to report. We are getting closer and closer to our follow-up with Dr. KK. 8 days to go!

I have been running a lot. And it has been so wonderful to have that back in my life. I have one more race to complete of my 9+1 and then I'll be guaranteed a spot in next year's NYC Marathon. Rachel & I set an aggressive yet reasonable goal for our next race: run the Staten Island Half Marathon in 1:53:00 on October 12th. This past week, I did a 5K time trial on the track (23:17!!) and a race pace run on Thursday (8:31, 8:28, 8:31). Tomorrow, we're going to go out and run 20 miles.

Why exactly am I running 20 miles when my marathon is behind me? Well, Rachel has a spot in this year's NYC Marathon... and it looks like I do too!! Things are still up in the air. I need to ask Dr. KK if running a marathon will have any impact on doing an IUI or IVF cycle (I have no clue what she'll recommend for us...). I also need to finalize the details with my friend who has the bib. Regardless, I told Rachel that I'd help her train, so that's what I'm going to do!

I went out shopping today and found a lamp and accent table to go in the new Reading Room along with my new chair. After our FET failed, John and I decided to clean out the bedroom that we'd been saving for a nursery. The mountain of stuff in there needed to go! So out it went, and we painted the walls purple. I ordered a beautiful gliding chair with a matching ottoman, and ever since it has been delivered last week I've been gliding to my heart's content. The lamp and accent table are perfect!! Much to my surprise, all this stuff is so fancy... the lamp has crystals... the table has mirrors... the chair and ottoman are white with a gray demask pattern. It's really not my style, but for some reason it just feels right for this very special room.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Ugly Truth About Being Last

Let me just start this post by saying that I really am ok. I'm not spiraling out of control or cascading down the slippery slope of depression. Consider yourself warned, this post is going to be whiney as all hell. And I'm not filtering any of the yucky negative thoughts, so I'm sorry in advance if it's hard for anyone to read. I'm just...

FUCKING SICK OF THIS!!!!!!!

When is it going to be MY TURN? At this point, I really feel like the answer to that question is NEVER.

You know, I was doing so well the past several weeks... all summer long really. I honestly and truly repressed the pain that infertility brings and did a really great job of focusing on other positive things in my life. I put the baby brain aside and was able to focus on spending quality time with my friends and family (all of whom have children and/or are pregnant). I buried myself in my marathon training, I let myself get consumed by my house projects. I was happy and light again. I was free.

The negative thoughts all got triggered on Saturday. It's a long, complicated story... I'll spare you the boring details, long story short: my one and only frenemy got her first BFP.... Whatever, I really am happy for her, and hope that this is the real thing. But WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. This was IUI #2, the first that was medicated. It's not fair! It sucks that she had to go through infertility at all, but I'm just jealous that it was "so easy" for her (I know that no IF journey is ever easy... it doesn't matter if it takes three IVFs or if you get lucky on your first IUI... this shit is still hard. Just... play along with me here, cause it's my pity party and I'll whine if I want to).

I mean... are you kidding me?? Why do some people get to swallow a few clomid pills (and she didn't even have any side effects... lucky) and take ONE, that's right ONLY ONE, injection and get KTFU??? Why do some people get the luxury of a fun romp in the sack with nothing but the cost of a bottle of wine and find themselves shocked when they finally have the bright idea to POAS??

NONE OF THIS IS FAIR.

When you first start TTC, I think it's only natural to feel the sting of jealousy when other people announce their happy news. But then you rationalize to yourself, 'it could be my turn next and besides, she didn't take my baby from me.' Then when you start to realize that you're having Trouble-TTC, you think, 'ok, so we need a little help from the doctor to make this happen... hopefully we'll get lucky and this will happen in the first IUI or two.' And then when you try enough IUIs to realize that you have to move onto IVF you think, 'well, at least we're trying something new with a much higher chance of success... this should actually work!!'

But what happens when it doesn't work?

That's a thought that I was too afraid to ponder for a long time. I used to shake it off telling myself, 'that's a negative thought and I don't need to bring myself down with destructive thinking... besides, the chances of nothing working for us... well, that's not going to happen.'

Well, I guess the joke's on me. Because now here we are two and a half years later, one and a half spent with the RE, with nothing but BFNs to show from all of our well-timed natural cycles, 5-1/2 IUIs, and 3 IVF cycles.

So that brings me to the question: what happens if nothing works? We're going all out for this next (and most likely last) cycle. I don't want to recall the long list of doctors who have looked at my vagina and case, but it's l-o-n-g. We're not going to make our move until we have all of the information set out in front of us. It's going to be fully and fairly considered. We will have done our due diligence.

THIS BETTER FUCKING WORK.

And if it doesn't? Ugh. It just makes me sick to think of it. So I won't.

All of that to say, I'm fine with being the last person in line. And at this rate, I see that I really, truly am. But when our number is finally called, there had better be something left for us besides heartache.

END RANT. If you read all of the above and don't think that I'm a horrible brat, then I've got Ben & Jerry's and I am willing to share.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

30

29 days until Dr. KK Part II. 

Lots of my blood tests have already come in, and the results are posted on my patient portal. At first, it might as well have been in Greek or Chinese; I didn't understand a thing! But thanks to Twinkie and Dr. Google, I was able to get a basic understanding of the results. 

Lots of the tests came back normal, but when you're running 40 tests you're bound to find something abnormal in the mix. 

My Vitamin D is low. Hmm. Ok. A bit surprising in the summer and as an outdoor runner who is currently training for a marathon. But no big deal, I'd imagine that I'll just have to increase my dose through supplements. 

My CD3 results have one abnormalty. My IgG is slightly high. Dr. Google says this could be anemia... Alrighty then. 

I have a Protein S deficiency. This sounds like a blood clotting issue which could possibly explain the poor blood flow to my uterus. 

My ANA panel came back with a strong positive and a 'speckled pattern.' This is where Dr. Google could really cause you to lose your mind. I could be among the 15% who gets a positive and is perfectly healthy. It could be a false positive. Or I could be walking around with an undiagnosed autoimmune disease. I am choosing to put it out of my mind until I talk to a doctor. 

Finally, one of the results on my NK panel came back a little high. Again, no need to panic. Just gonna wait to hear what the doctor says. 

One thing is for sure: I'm really glad that I didn't cancel this appointment. I wanted to pull the plug and chicken out several times along the four month wait. I'm glad I didn't!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

0/40: Dr. KK Part I

0 days until Dr. KK Part I.

40 days until Dr. KK Part II.

Yup, you read that right! Today was my long awaited appointment with Dr. Kwak-Kim!!! It was quite the adventure which included two plane rides, a rental car, a hotel stay in a far-from-home city all by myself just to get my hiney to the office.

All the travel plans went smoothly, and I arrived at the doctor's office first thing this morning with a full bladder and an empty stomach in order to satisfy the requirements for the necessary fasting blood work and ultrasound.

The ultrasounds were first, beginning with the abdominal. After the nurse (technician?) got the images she needed, she mercifully allowed me to empty my bladder before beginning the transvaginal ultrasound.... which took 40 minutes!! It was really very cool to watch the screen as she did her work. She explained that she was measuring the blood flow to my uterus and ovaries during the exam, and wouldn't you know it, there was a quavering line on the screen pulsing along to my heart beat. It was pretty neat to see my blood flow measurements right there in front of my face!

Next, I went for my blood draw and was pleasantly surprised to learn that they 'only' needed 18 vials, not 22 as I originally thought. I offered up my good vein right away, and I'll be damned, righty was not interested in playing along today. At all! The nurse eeked a vial and a half out before my blood simply stopped flowing. Awesome. Thankfully, she was able to find another good vein right next door (who knew that was even there?!) and we successfully got the 18 vials.

I sat down with the physician's assistant next to go over my medical and family history and to get a basic physical exam on record.

Finally I was ushered into the room to see the wizard herself ::cue music from Wizard of Oz:: Dr. KK and another doctor (perhaps a resident?) went over my results from the ultrasounds along with my treatment history. She was soft spoken, yet demonstrated her expertise in an approachable manner. I liked her! I didn't really like everything she had to say about my case, but that has absolutely nothing to do with her (and 100% to do with my busted reproductive system).

THE RESULTS: the ultrasound showed that I have blood flow issues to my uterus. Ironically, the blood flow to my ovaries is fine. Dr. KK was very interested and concerned about my endometrium lining history (max documented thickness was a one-time 8.2, though my lining usually peaks around a 6 or a 7 during medicated cycles. She was particularly concerned about the two cycles where I had fluid in my lining). She said my blood work results may explain our poor embryo quality but said it is likely that there won't be answers there. The blood work should also provide a better picture about my uterus and lining, so now we wait for our follow-up on Sept 29th. We discussed the possibility of doing a natural FET with any potential IVF cycles in order to minimize any negative reactions my lining may have with the estrogen.

HOW DO I FEEL ABOUT THIS?? My head was spinning out of control for about two hours after leaving the office!!!!! Thankfully, my fellow Dreamer & technically now IRL friend, JayTee, was there to help me regain my balance and talk me off the ledge. My immediate reaction was 'what if I wasted Ninja' but JayTee was able to help me stop that destructive thinking.

Then I started to realize that I am more broken than I thought. I have just barely begun to accept that my ovaries are intent on sabotaging our efforts to build a family. Now my uterus is a problem too?? Ugh....

But I am stopping the one way train to crazy town right there. We won't really know what we're dealing with until our follow-up on September 29th, so what's the point of playing the what if game?

I have accepted the fact that my desire to control the timeline doesn't mean a damn thing in this process, and can see that this will surely take longer than I had ever imagined. Fine. So be it. I will wait. And in the meantime, I'm going to go out for lots and lots of runs and live my life as fully as I possibly can!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Butterfly Garden

For Petey and Rowan
Today, August 15, 2014, is Petey Nugget's EDD
For Ninja

Saturday, August 9, 2014

10/50

10 days until Dr. KK Part I.

50 days until Dr. KK Part II.

Most of the arrangements are made for the first trip. I haven't made any arrangements for the second trip though. Maybe I'll just stick with the phone consult after all.

In other news, marathon training is going well! 28 days till the race :D Rachel & I ran 20 miles yesterday. It was the first time since April 13, 2013 that I have run that far.

I remember that day well. Just earlier that week, we had our initial consultation with the RE. I told myself that I knew my period was coming, but deep down I was in denial about the whole thing. I woke up on the 13th to CD1 and horrible cramps. John had something going on, so it was just me and Mocha curled up on the couch all day. Then around 4:00 in the afternoon, my cramps eased enough for my denial and sadness to melt away. Anger and rage took their place. I grabbed my iPod, laced up, and went out the door for a long run.

I didn't have a plan. No course mapped out, no distance in my mind. I just wanted to run until my legs and uterus felt numb. I ran up the steep and long hills in my neighborhood and just ran and ran. 20 miles later, I was back at my house feeling triumphant. I didn't have a race I was training for, but I suppose that run was training for the IF marathon that would follow.

Yesterday's 20 miler felt good but for different reasons. This time, IF is still there, but I have pushed it to the side where it belongs. The marathon is my goal, not beating the monster that is infertility. Though I'd love to do that (and kick its ugly ass!!) I am beyond obsessing over it every waking second. Clearly, that didn't work the past year and a half.

The first ten miles were so easy that Rachel & I hardly noticed them tick by. I didn't start to pay attention to our distance until we hit 15 miles. We stopped twice to refill our water bottles, but other than that we kept moving. By mile 17, I had to start the internal monologue to keep pushing myself forward. It was hot, and my stomach is sensitive. I was trying to keep myself balanced yet I didn't want to latch onto any 'excuses' in my head. You see, when you reach this point of the run, your legs will be tired. But they can keep going. It's the mind that nags at you to stop. So the sooner you shut your brain off and accept that it's going to hurt, the better.

At our last water stop I filled my bottle with ice & water. Every half mile, I rewarded myself with a little squirt on the top of my head. It.was.heaven.  The last mile was so tough. All I wanted to do was to stop running. But I bargained with myself that I would be allowed to walk the second I hit 20 miles, and I could drink the rest of the ice water.

When my watch finally hit 20.00 miles, I felt so relieved and proud. I walked to the nearest shady place, and parked my butt on the grass. Ohhhh, sitting felt so good! It wasn't long before I was laying down, sprawled out all over the grass. I looked up, and there were train tracks above me. Rachel turned back to check on me, and she sat down in the grass (and took pictures of the moment. Holy crap, I cannot emphasize how happy I was to not be running anymore!!). A minute later, a freight train zoomed over me. Car after car went on for several minutes. I just looked up in awe. I was laying directly beneath the track, but I was too tired to move. It was fascinating, and I found so much beauty in this moment. After the train passed, I rolled over and exclaimed, "That was SO COOL!!" Finally, Rachel & I got up and walked back to her house.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Valuable Resource about Embryo Development

Thank you to one of my fellow Dreamers for finding this blog post. The writer explains the development of an embryo from fertilization to blastocyst. It is fascinating to me and bravo to the writer! She does a great job of explaining a complex subject in a simple manner.

After reading this, I feel like I have a much better understanding of what is going wrong with our embryos. I think this is what the doctors meant to say or should have said rather than simply saying that our embryos have 'metabolic issues.' There is no explanation for why this happens. Or how it can be fixed. But at least it makes our issue a little less mysterious. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

20/60

20 days until Dr. KK Part I.

60 days until Dr. KK Part II.

When we first scheduled these appointments, they seemed like an eternity away. It's still pretty long of a wait until the follow up, but the countdowns are chipping away :)

I went on the pill a week and a half ago. I know that seems counterintuitive... why would you go on the pill if you're trying to conceive? My pharmacist gave me an inquisitive look when I filled the prescription and asked where the prenatal vitamins were in the same visit. Ha! I decided to go on the pill this cycle because I cannot have my period for my appointment in 20 days. After all of the IVF fun I've been through, my neat and tidy little 26 day cycles have gone rogue. The past two unmedicated cycles have been 31 days, which means that CD1 for this cycle would have probably been the day of my long-awaited-for appointment. No freaking way! So this chick got herself on the pill.

I have to say... it feels SO GOOD to know that there is absolutely no chance in hell that I could have a surprise miracle pregnancy right now. That might seem like a weird statement to read if you've been around this blog the past year. I want nothing more than to become pregnant, and I don't care how it happens. A surprise miracle... wow, I'd take it!!

But it's just so exhausting to go through a natural cycle knowing that our chances for success are 2-5%. I have never been a lucky person. I don't play the lottery, I don't gamble, I don't call into radio shows hoping to be the 100th caller for that awesome prize. Why not? Well, I have learned from the past that I am never the lucky one who wins unless the odds are seriously stacked in my favor. So you can imagine why I'm happy to take a break from my one in fifty odds this month.

So what have I been doing? Am I weeping in a corner while watching the clock tick down? Hell to the no freaking way!! I can't believe it, I don't know how, but I am enjoying my summer. Here's a few ways how:

  • Marathon training - 38 days until race day!!!! Which means four runs a week (including a weekly long run... this weekend is 20 MILES - holy shit, I'm a little scared!! But I know I can do it!), yoga, core & strength workouts, fuel & nutrition, running gear, and otherwise scheming with my Soley & Bestie, Rachel, on our next big run :)
  • Sleeping - I'm enjoying sleeping in most days (hooray for summer vacay!!), and it's a rare occurrence if I don't get my afternoon nap :)
  • Hanging out with friends & family - John & I have enjoyed lots of quality time together with our doggies. And my little sister just spent the past three days staying at our house. We had lots of great times!!
  • Home improvement projects - we've been working on the Fab Room for the past several weeks. It is shaping up so wonderfully!!! Paint and new baseboards are all done! It looks awesome!! We're working on furnishing the otherwise empty room. It's going to look AWESOME!!
  • Lots and lots and LOTS of relaxing :)
What have you all been up to? How's your summer??

Sunday, July 20, 2014

30/70

30 days until Dr. Kwak-Kim Part I.

70 days until Dr. Kwak-Kim Part II.

Today is also CD1. My ovaries are getting shut down. This chick is going on the pill. I can't risk getting my period for my appointment (my average cycle has been 31 days after all this IF nonsense). These ovaries have caused me nothing but pain. They had their shot.

Marathon training has been going well. Rachel & I pounded out 18 miles yesterday. It hurt. But it felt great.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

40/80

40 days till Dr. KK Part I.

80 days till Dr. KK Part II.

I ovulated later this cycle, and if it goes the same way for the following cycle then I will get my period for my appointment. That's a no-no, so I'm planning to go on the pill just to make sure.

We did HIO with great timing for this natural cycle. I don't expect anything at all, but it'd just be silly to let it pass us by. Stranger things have happened!

Marathon training is going well. This weekend is a 16 mile long run. Rachel and I will take it down (possibly in the rain, but I personally love running in the rain! Just no lightening. That's dangerous!).

Have a happy day & thanks for reading!

Monday, June 30, 2014

50/90

50 days to go until Dr. KK Part I. 

90 days to go until Dr. KK Part II. 

My ovaries are doing their usual thing. Presumably making a big fuss over producing another sub-par egg. I don't know if or when I ovulated, because I'm making no efforts to figure it out with OPKs or BBT. 

Other than that, marathon training is where it's at! This is week 4 of 13 until race day! Woohoo!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Hormonal Fog Has Been Lifted!

I tell you: these hormones are no joke! Even on an unmedicated cycle, the power of your hormones can turn you into a certifiable loon. Add fuel to the fire, and the results are downright turbulent. Sheesh!

I think the hormone haze from the last cycle is finally leveling out. Thank goodness! I can think again. I can see clearly. I don't feel the need to eat pint after pint of ice cream while sobbing one second and raging the next.

I am focusing on my marathon training and it is glorious! Even if I can't seem to stay up on my two feet (yeah, I kinda fell... again... while out on my long run this weekend. Second time this month! What do you do when you fall? Well, I get right back up and run 10 more miles!).

The Dr. KK Countdown is slowly ticking away. We are down to 56 days until Part I (initial consult with testing) and 96 days until Part II (follow up with results). I have to admit that I don't know much about the world of reproductive immunology. I worry that it's too late for me. Maybe there's something that can be done to improve our chances, but I'm worried that it's not going to be enough to make the difference for us. ::shrugs shoulders:: I dunno. There's only one way to find out!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

How do you put the glass down?

I read a quick photo caption on Facebook about how heavy a glass was perceived to be when you hold it. The longer you hold it, the heavier it becomes. Hold it a minute, it's not heavy at all. Hold it an hour, your arm starts to get sore. Hold it a day, your arm becomes numb and you are paralyzed from doing anything else. The concept was then related to the thoughts that we hold onto.

How long have I been holding onto my infertility glass? To be honest, I haven't put it down since before we saw the RE. The obsession started in October 2012. We were still TTC on our own, but it was the first time I realized that we had been trying for over six months, and I was obsessed.

I was crushed when I got my period (again) and realized that our cycle did not work. The previous cycles weren't as hard to brush off. "Next time," I said, "That just wasn't our baby." Then I 'decided' that John and I could use a TTC break. I tried to put the glass down.

The problem was, I couldn't forget about it for long. It was like I put the glass down, but I was still attached. Maybe I was walking around and put some distance between the glass and myself, but there was a string that held us together. The 'break' wasn't much of a break, because I agonized over when I ovulated and still kept track of my cycle. And when I got my period I was crushed again. That time did not help that it was in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, we were displaced from our home due to power outages, and it was the period from hell.

Now here I am, a year and a half later... almost two years... will be two years by the time we can have hope again for a cycle... The glass is still in my hand, my arm is a dangling appendage, nearly rotted off my body by now. I am trying to put it down, but I am still bound. This time the string has evolved into a chain with barbed wire. And the distance has shortened so severely that there may only be an inch between us. I can put it down, but I can't walk away. I am a prisoner to my glass.

So how do you escape? I am going for a run. Thank god for marathon training. It is one of the few things in my life that brings genuine relief. I wish I could constantly be in running mode. I wish I could run so long and hard that my ovaries would become numb.

**********************

This is not the end of me,
This is the beginning.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

I've been doing this whole "pretend I'm ok even though I'm not" thing the past few weeks. Today, it blew up in my face. I woke up to the usual PMS cramps at the usual dpIUI time.

When I was leaving the house to go to work, I looked down at my thumb nail... as silly, sad, or pathetic as it sounds, I had painted my nails with my Ninja manicure on April 20th, two days before our beta. I never had the heart to remove the chipped polish, so I let time chip it away. Well, the final speck was gone when I looked this morning. Cue Ugly Cry #1 of the day. Not fun or recommended while driving. Why does that always seem to happen?!

I started the usual PMS spotting late this morning. And I don't know what set me off, but suddenly I was swept away by Ugly Cry #2 at my desk at work. It's usually a safe place to let loose, but I heard the door open and a man's voice. I made a run for the storage closet, but didn't get away with it. The sales rep from our local music shop was making his rounds, and followed me asking, "Hey! So now you see me and run?" He was joking until he saw my red-eyed, blotchy face. Awwwwwwk-warrrrrrrrd. Then he couldn't run out of the room fast enough. He was abundantly apologetic, saying that he was so sorry and that he would come back later, so sorry to bother, you should really get a cup of coffee, do you want me to get you a cup of coffee?? Oh, god, so awkward.

So, I guess I'm not fine. I wish I could shut off my ovaries for a little while to give my brain a break. Sigh.

And, this just in, I just got my period. BIG SURPRISE, IUI #5 is a bust. I don't know if I should count today as CD1 or if tomorrow is CD1. I DON'T CARE. In the end, it doesn't really matter. We are not doing another IUI.

I AM DONE. D-O-N-E.

I had the realization - why am I torturing myself with more IUIs while we're in this holding pattern?? I didn't have a single shred of hope, I knew that it was basically going to guarantee when my period would come and that is it. It is not worth the pain. It is not worth the planning. It is not worth anything at all!!!

So what now? We continue to wait. 62 days until Dr. KK Part I, 102 days until Part II.

Somehow I need to find a way to keep my brain distracted. I will be running a lot to numb the pain.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Nice Weekend

Yup, you read that right :) Things on the TTC front are at the same standstill as before. I don't care (or at least I'm trying not to) and I'm living my life peacefully and happily.

I picked out my next big race - marathon!!! I will be returning to the LVM in September and running for some revenge! I did this race in 2011 and dropped out at Mile 23.8. This time, I will get my medal!! So you know what this means?! I'm officially training! Woohoo!! I went for my long run and got a little lost so I ran a little extra. Oops ;) I'm so happy to be running like this again! I even ran two miles at my 'race pace' (I set a somewhat arbitrary pace goal, though I could care less if I fall short. I just want something to aim for). My body was a little stubborn about getting to the pace, but once we got there we held it. Just need some practice to remember ;)

Other highlights from the weekend include a concert (we performed) and seeing my dad for FD. It was lovely :)

My dogs are currently snuggling me. I'm happy :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Deja Vu

AGAIN!! I can't believe it! Though, I guess given the circumstance, I should not be shocked.

I'm at work, tracking down kids to let them know about a schedule change. I walk into a 6th Grade classroom to deliver the note to one of my clarinet students. And what's on the screen? The health lesson. You know, THE health lesson. There's the perfect little female reproductive system with the perfect little fertilized egg floating down the perfect little Fallopian tube on its way to the perfect little uterus. So perfectly easy, right guys?!?!?

AUGH!!!!!

Same deal as last year (here's the blog link if you'd care to review). And ironically the SAME EXACT POINT in my cycle. Well, last time it was 2dpIUI #1... this time it's 3dpIUI #5.

So much has happened in this year. When I read back last year's post... wow. My tone is genuinely optimistic. I really thought that there was a shot that all this would've worked. One year, five IUIs, three IVF ERs, two IVF transfers, and one laparoscopy later... I'm over it! I am not so foolish to invest my heart this time around. I know where we stand.

I don't mean to sound completely negative. I'm not over here crying my eyes out day in and day out. All things considered, I'm back to living my life (something that I was not doing from September through March of this year). Though I did have a serious wake up call this weekend. Somehow, my head was so far up my ute that I missed out on some pretty important details. Thankfully, I have an understanding family. But still. Holy shit.

I spent so long singing Mumford & Sons's I Will Wait as my anthem for our TTC journey. You know what? I am done waiting. I can't let my life pass me by and sit around here praying for a miracle. If it is meant to come, it will come. And if it does, I will be overjoyed. But for now, I have to carry on.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Oh, My Aching Ovaries

IUI #5 is officially in the books. As I said in previous posts, I am officially guarding my heart and am at peace with the probability that this won't work. I am NOT at peace with how intensely my ovaries are hurting me. I'm telling you: the ovulation pains from several follicles is far greater than anything I've experienced in all three of my IVF cycles. Ouch :-/

The good news is that it will pass. And I was able to take the day off from work so I can cuddle my dogs on the couch. As a teacher, it is not possible to just gut my way through the work day. Could you imagine?! The kids would be running circles around me saying, 'Mrs. Z, why are you laying on the floor?!'

The technical info for those of you who care to know ;) ovulation pains made it pretty clear that the timing of the IUI was absolutely perfect. Post-wash left us with a decent sample of 13.5 million swimmers to go after our 3-8 possible targets (don't worry, given our history and what we know from our poor embryo quality as demonstrated in all three IVF cycles, the chances of this working or for me becoming the next Octomom are slim to none).

I made a conclusion today... I am usually a 'never say never' kind of girl, so don't hold me to it, okay? I don't want to do this ever again. The physical pain is significant. And the emotional anguish... going through all of this hassle with regular blood work and ultrasounds, giving myself shots and taking hormones, allowing my ovaries to dictate my running life, and the intense pain of ovulation... all for something that I believe in my heart will not pay off. It's just hard to keep going like this. Perhaps I will talk to my doctor about doing an unmedicated IUI for the next one. It just hurts so damn much. And I really don't think it's improving our chances by enough to make the difference.

Anyways, like I've said before, I am still praying for a miracle. Why not pray for this to be it? I'm trying anyway. But I have found comfort in our 'plan' for the future. Regardless how this cycle turns out, I am reassured by the faith that something will work out.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

IUI #5 - Trigger

Today is CD9, and I went in for my second monitoring appointment (first ultrasound) for this cycle. To say that I'm more relaxed about this time around is a major understatement. I haven't been obsessing about cycle days, or even asking the nurse about my hormone levels. I was doing my core workout last night when I suddenly realized that I FORGOT to take my Follistim. I was two hours late for my date with the needle - no big deal, I took the shot as soon as I remembered - but it just slipped my mind. Honestly... I don't care! I know this isn't going to work, and while I'd love to be graced with a miracle, I'm not counting on it. Maybe that sounds sad to most people who will read this, but I am at peace with it.

I saw most of my favorite people at my monitoring appointment this morning. The nurse who did my blood draw is so funny - we always crack up whenever she's there. Dr. J and my favorite nurse did my ultrasound. My lining is measuring at 6.6. That's great! Time for the follicle count. Oh, lawd, my ovaries are WORKIN' IT just like they always do. I have three in the mature range and five in the 'gonna catch up' range.

As my doctor was calling out the measurements, my favorite nurse said, "Is this a typical response for Cici?" Why yes. Yes, it is. My ovaries are a couple of annoying bitches! They're always like, 'Heyyyyyyy, we're working so hard up in here! Notice me! Notice me! Do you feel that??' I swear, it's like they're fishing for compliments or something.

I am triggering tonight and the IUI will be on Friday. Probably the best part of all this is that Johnny's cup is currently in the refrigerator AT WORK. (My clinic puts a liquid in the cup that needs to be refrigerated up until 30 minutes before sample production) Ironic when I think of all the times people around here carelessly stated, "There's something in the water!" in response to all the pregnant teachers.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Plan

Ay, ay, ay. Let me tell you: the power of a solid plan is a wonderful thing. The problem? Our plan sucks.

About three weeks ago, I had one of those sleepless nights when my brain just wouldn't shut off. I decided what I thought was a genius plan. John even woke up, listened to the plan, agreed it was good, and rolled back to sleep. The next morning, I asked if he remembered the conversation, he said he did and he thought it was great. Ok, so we had a plan.

As it turns out, it wasn't The Plan. It seemed like every other day, I had a sudden panic stricken realization that I hated the plan. Are we headed down a dead end? Is this going to be a waste of valuable resources? Time, money, energy? I started to notice along with these questions that I just want a baby in my arms. Now. Yesterday!! I am so, completely exhausted of being in crisis mode. I just want this chapter to be over. I want to move on and resume the otherwise happy life I once lived.

But it's not that simple. Because I simply cannot imagine living a full and happy life without becoming a mother. So we must press on.

But how? Where do you go after the most aggressive form of baby-making fails you? IVF was supposed to be the last resort that should have worked. We were stunned when IVF #1 failed. We were absolutely blindsided when IVF #2 produced not a single transfer-worthy embryo by Day 3. We were heartbroken that our one and only blastocyst from IVF #3 failed to implant from our FET.

It is clear that this isn't working. The definition of insanity... Well, you get it. More IVF and more IUIs is just insane.

I have learned though the many running accomplishments I have made to never say never. I remember the days I said, I could never run a marathon! I could never run a 5K in under 24 minutes! I could never break 4 hours in the marathon! I have run 10 marathons, I have run a 21:45 5K, I have run a 3:42:54 marathon. Never.say.never.

But I find myself saying at this point that I never want to do IVF again. It has been so traumatizing... The time from ER to ET... Watching them all die... Knowing how expensive it is and how there's nothing we can do to fix it.... I cannot put myself into that situation again and expect to come out sane on the other side. It makes me sick to even imagine doing another IVF.

So what next? How are we supposed to overcome this great obstacle set in our path? What will The Plan be?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

IUI #5 Baseline

Don't ask me why we're doing this... it feels futile.

I went in this morning for my baseline scan. The computers were down so they were running very slowly. And I'm on CD2, so that means I'm a mess.

I'm starting Letrozol tonight for five nights, and will overlap with Follistim (75iu) beginning on Saturday. I'm going back in on Monday for monitoring.

I wish I could be more positive about this right now, but all I see is reality.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Feeling Like Myself Again

And how you might ask? Well, running of course :)

When we first started our treatments with the RE one year ago, I had to cut my training back pretty significantly. For a while, I fought the uphill battle of trying to fit my training in during the 'safe' times of my cycle. This ended up causing more frustration and disappointment than anything.

Then when we started IVF in September 2013, it was another drastic cut to my already minimal training.

Running means so much to me. It is my saving grace, my mood equalizer, my source of strength and balance. It is my social outlet, my validation and confidence builder, my happy drug. So to take it away at the time I most needed it took a bad situation and made it worse.

After I recovered from my IVF #3 ER at the end of February, I started the difficult task of staging my running comeback. It was challenging and frustrating. Suddenly, I was a beginner again, starting at square one. Yet my experience and trophy room boasted 10 marathons, countless half marathons, and numerous 'victories' from shorter distances.

I had to come to peace with the fact that my speed and endurance were gone for the moment. But I did realize going through this that they would come back as long as I stuck with it.

But, man oh man, did it ever feel terrible! Every single run for the first three weeks felt absolutely awful. Lungs gasping, heart pounding, legs burning. And this was at a pace that was more than 2 minutes slower per mile from my previous 'easy pace.'

Even though it felt yucky, I knew with each run I was getting stronger. That part made me feel good.

Finally after three weeks, it started not to feel awful again. By the time I hit my five week mark, I had lost most of my IF weight. But I was still s.l.o.w. That's ok. One thing at a time!

Then I had to take a two week break from running for my FET. I was so focused on our precious Ninja that I didn't care that I wasn't running. I knew my fitness wasn't going anywhere.

After our crushing BFN, it would have been easy for me to slip into a deep depression. That spot on the couch with the carton of ice cream was looking good.

But something within told me to lace up and just get out there. Every fiber of my body screamed in protest, but I forced myself out the door.

It was the best thing I could have done for myself. I am not exaggerating when I say that I felt happier and lighter within my first stride.

Run, run, run. Repeat. That's what I've been doing for the past several weeks. And today, I get bragging rights!

My first caped race at the Superhero Half Marathon!

I am so proud of this medal. I worked hard to earn it.

Kicking it to the finish line never felt so good!