Why Me? Now What? (A Personal Journey Through Infertility)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Perfectly Uneventful Saturday...

I have never been one to sleep in, but MAN it felt great lying in bed hours before the sun came up. I found myself tightly sandwiched between my husband, who was still snoring; and the cat who had recently taken up sleeping alongside me with this head on my pillow.

When we finally decided to face the day, it was nearly noon and it was time to get some household chores done. Couldn't I have slept for a bit longer???

After 6 loads of laundry, we were off to pick up groceries and then, you guessed it.... another hockey game. (Ok... they are really impressing us... they won AGAIN!)

I know, a boring day by anyone's standards. No clomid headaches, no running around... nothing. But I don't mind. It was kind of nice to have a day where everything went according to plan.

Friday, January 27, 2006

MAN I am Cranky!


Oh my god... it's nearly 1:00am! I must have fallen asleep. SHIT I forgot to take my clomid!

After jumping out of bed, causing the cat to jump 1/2 way across the room and scaring my husband half to death; I madly searched in the darkness for the pill package and a glass of water. Stumbling around until I reached the bathroom I yelled at Mike (that's hubby's name) for letting me fall asleep so early. Groggy, and likely a little scared of what I might do next, he simply muttered "sorry" and turned over. (Grabbing the extra pillow I had stolen earlier and slipping it under his head.) I know I know, it wasn't his fault... but still!!!! As I looked at the clock again and downed the pills, I hoped that there was still enough time for the clomid to move through most of the side effects, while I was asleep.

I feel like I got hit by a bus. Not only am I dead tired from dealing with the "sweats" all night... but I think the Clomid has taken over my body. I've already snapped at a coworker and nearly hung up on a client, all before noon! Dont they KNOW that I am overly agitated today? I dont remember the sweats being this bad in other cycles, but man... it's bad! My husband said I felt like a radiator last night. (And he likes the sheets cool when he sleeps)

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. Ran a few errands after work, came home & quickly changed before off to another hockey game. (Which we won in overtime WOOOHOO!) And now... I'm home. Tonight there is no forgetting my clomid, Mike reminded me the second I walked in the door, since it WAS nearly 10pm. There was no way he was going to go through THAT again tonight!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Doing Nothing All Day Sure is Tiring.

When the alarm went off this morning to send me and my husband off to work, I could feel the effects of the Clomid I had taken the night before. I was sooo tired! It's amazing what a little white pill could do to your morning routine!

The day was an uneventful one... other than the splitting headache that seemed to linger from the moment I awoke (surely another result of the damn drugs!), the day pretty much carried on as most do.

What seemed like a perfectly natural decision at the time, has now proven to be more stressful than imagined. We are building a house. Our dream house to be exact. Not that this isn't in itself, stressful enough... but add that to the raging hormones of a woman on Clomid and trying to conceive???? Not Good. It will be a beautiful house... it really will... I have to keep reminding myself of this fact as I beat my head against the wall trying to explain to the architect that YES we DO want a door to the bathroom. Today, we finally received the completed Blue Prints... we could actually be seeing some progress in the near future! At least this gigantic task has helped (somewhat) in keeping my mind off the zillion fears and stresses of this whole fertility thing. Or at least it fights for it's rightful space in the stress department!

After meeting with builder finalizing the details; the exhaustion hit like a ton of bricks. For someone that had done nothing for the majority of the day, how could I be this tired? Thankfully, my hubby made dinner (lasagna to boot!) and let me curl up in front of the TV to unwind. He's amazing that way... and is one of the reasons I feel confident in moving forward with IUI and IVF; knowing that he is so patient and helpful. I am sure I couldn't do it without him! I had barely put my fork down at the end of dinner, when I was out like a light... propped up with all the pillows under-head, there was no awaking me... and my favorite show was just going to have to wait for reruns.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mathematical Challenges

Ok.... Let's think here. Today is day 3 of this cycle and the 25th of January... SOOOOO if my cycles are normally 28 days, then that would mean my NEXT cycle would start on.. (1,2,3)... February 19th! Ok. So the 19th of February and add another 28 days for my first month off Clomid would take me to.... (let's see here, we can't forget it's a short month)... Ahh the 19th of March. (Is that right?) Ok... then ANOTHER 28 days for the second month off Clomid... (damn I should have pulled out a calculator, or at least my calendar!!!) April 14th... wait let me recount that one.... Nope the 16th of April. NOW... I think she said it averages out at about 7-71/2 weeks for the whole IVF process to lead up to ET (No not the alien... embryo transfer). So that would be about 50 days later. Meaning.... if my math skills haven't failed me, and everything runs on schedule (and let's be honest that hardly ever happens!) We would be looking at having an embryo transfer on June 5th. (I THINK that is right!). Hmmmmm June 5th, let's add that to Microsoft Outlook right now, I would hate to schedule a meeting that day inadvertently. In fact, to be safe, I had better mark that whole week as "Busy-All Day Event". There.... that should do it!

But wait... what is with all those highlighted dates from the 12th-17th... I don't remember seeing those before!!! And then I remembered. "National Sales Meetings" popped boldly up on my screen as I clicked on the date in question. Shit. I was supposed to be flying to Toronto that week. I was supposed to be PRESENTING at this thing... how in the world would this work? Could I fly so soon after the treatments? Would I be wasting the 7 weeks of preparation leading up to the whole thing by hopping on a plane and standing up playing "business woman" for 5 days? How could this be happening???? All the planning... all the math... all the- calm down.

Ok think.

Got It. I would simply call my boss and tell him that I would be unable to attend due to.... ok, maybe that wasn't the best plan. I would HAVE to attend these meetings, there was no way around it. Pulling out the stack of pamphlets & books I had gathered on the issue I scanned quickly for an answer to my gnawing questions. Hmmm... right here on page 134 it reads "1 day bed rest following procedure, then regular duties can resume in moderation. Was that it? Only 1 day of rest? Did it say anything about flying? Well no... it didn't, but I am aware of women that fly across the country for IVF at the clinic and then head home shortly after. Could this have been a false alarm? A short but sudden panic attack brought on by the fear of the unknown? It would be ok... I would still attend my meetings, present the 2006 summer marketing campaign as promised, carry that precious cargo that would be just recently implanted, and be that woman that could "Do it All". As I walked to the office coffee station with a new found optimism, I realized... everything would be alright... just as soon as I completed my "managerial responsibility" of brewing a fresh pot of coffee.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Things are moving... at a snail's pace

Perhaps they were right. (THEY being the scientists that had titled January 23rd 2006 as the most depressing day of the year). Today doesnt seem NEARLY as gloomy as yesterday. The sun is shining, the Federal Elections are over and decided... and I think I heard something about reaching record temperatures by this afternoon!!! Things are looking up!

I donned a dark brown blazer & slacks as I admired proudly in the mirror the "cheery" image I was putting out there for the world, despite the turmoil that was within me. Today WOULD be a good day. I would smile and maybe even laugh. Yes, it was decided... today would be the start of something wonderful.

When I arrived into the office; there sitting in it's rightful place, already full & inviting, was the coffee pot. Someone had actually MADE coffee this morning!!! Working in marketing surrounded by men, it was always something of a battle to remind them that although we had different anatomies, it did not proclude the males in our office from doing such "domestic" roles as starting the coffee pot in the morning. Something that somehow managed to fall into my job description as the Director of Marketing out of sheer necessity. But there it sat... steaming, rich & black. Surely this sign of good fortune was a precursor to other wonderful events yet to unfold today... wasn't it?

As I dialed the nurse, returning her call from the day prior, I was anxious about what she may say. Jennifer... I think that's what she said her name was when she quickly picked up the phone. I would need to remember that in case I had any more questions and wanted to call back. I jotted the name down amidst dozens of others on a scratch pad near my phone. An act of futility I am sure, since undoubtedly the bright pink post-it would land in the trash later this week when I could make no sense or reason of this seemingly random list of names on the tiny square.
Great News! I could start the IUI process... I was officially on to Step 2 in this whole thing. (Step 1 being the last 4 months on Clomid to increase egg production and better time my cycles). That sounded promissing... and not having to delay to offer my body a break was good news. But what about... "And you are wait-listed for IVF" she piped up, interupting my thought pattern. What was she saying? I would need to stop drawing stick people around the name Jennifer on the pink square of paper and focus. "You can do this round of IUI, and then take the next 2 months off to prepare for IVF." "That will be about right since the wait list is nearly 3 months"... "would this work for me?" she asked. Would it work for me? YES! YES most definitely. It seemed near perfect actually. And so it begins... this journey was officially starting.

What a day! Phew!!

After returning a zillion emails and phone calls, finishing the last of the coffee & attending a conference call; I hurried to the Fertility Clinic to purchase the clomid required for my IUI & to pay our deposit for the IVF program. Thankfully when I got there, it was quiet and I was in and out within a 1/2 hour. The receptionist was SO nice and managed to schedule us for our information meeting required to be accepted into the IVF program... March 16th! That seems SO long away! But at least we can start planning right?

Then, after wrapping up a few promotions set to roll at work, I headed home in time to change into a pair of jeans and grab the tickets to the hockey game. Just what I needed... a night with my husband to keep my mind off of everything that has been going on. We have come to love the fact our season tickets get us out with friends a few times a week, and tonight was certainly no different. Nearly 3 hours later, pocket dogs (a hotdog and baguette combination of sorts) had made a delicious dinner... a malt made an even more delightful desert and the home team won the game 2-0. Yes it was most certainly a great day.

Monday, January 23, 2006

How DID I get here????

Today; A Monday... with all the ugliness of a typical Monday morning. I heard on the radio as I drove into work, that today has been appointed the most depressing day of the year according to scientists measuring the effects of light, air quality and moods of people across North America.

Great... just great... So this is how my day is starting huh? With some anonymous announcer on the other side of the radio forecasting this uplifting news.

As I took the 20 minute drive into work that followed the same path as it had for the last 5 years, my mind began to wander (as I could likely drive this route with my eyes closed) I thought about how I got here, what I was likely to face in the months to come, and continued the internal battle that had me up 1/2 the night tossing and turning with anguish.

When I married 17 months ago... it was picture perfect. My life seemed complete (or at least well on it's way to being complete). At 33, I was ready to start a family; change the priorities that, up until then, had been a fantastic career, to pull back and raise the family I had always dreamt of creating. Being healthy and active, I assumed that after a few months of "practice", I would be complaining about expanding waist bands and swollen feet. Yet after 12 months... nothing. Hmmm.... perhaps my husband was to blame! That MUST be it! I quickly sent him off to have a "sperm analysis" which he wasn't thrilled about. Despite his hesitations, he went, and got back "rave reviews"... I never would have predicted the site of my husband strutting around the house boasting about motility and morphology... but there he was, all 6'4" of him proud as the day he scored his first touchdown.

Well if it wasn't him.... could it be.... ME???? Impossible! But at a loss, I anxiously awaited the phone call from the Regional Fertility Clinic here in Calgary (That I had casually requested entry to 6 months prior) to look into the possibility that the problem was mine and not my husband's. The RFC boasts the highest success rates in the country, and wait lists are long... but at least they were here in Calgary and I was lucky enough to get in shortly after.

When I left the doctor's office that afternoon my head was whirling... IUI, BD, OPK, HPT, IVF, HSG, LAP, Progester-what?, U/S... what did all these mean? How was I ever going to keep them straight? It sounded like an awful lot of poking and prodding...How did my husband get away with only flipping through a "girlie" magazine and walking out with his "work" complete in a jar to be analyzed! Ahhh to be a man! But as I went through test after test... everything came back clear. So what did this mean???

So I returned to the doctor's office with more questions than answers... hoping to leave with a plan of action and a baby a month later. I mean, what's the value in working with the top fertility specialists in the Country if they couldn't give me the miracle answers right off the bat right?

ahhh.... Clomid.... the ever feared, hot flashing, bloating, cranky booster, tiny little pills.... so THIS was the magic potion! It sounded easy enough... 2 pills making up 100mg every night before going to bed, for 5 days.... and then 5 days later start having sex like crazy. (Those trying to conceive call this time "BD'ing" for Baby Dancing.... which I guess is fitting! This was the protocol prescribed by my doctor. 4 months worth... WOW it couldn't POSSIBLY take 4 months.... could it? I mean, this is ME we're talking about. I never get sick, I've never had as much as a cast on my arm... this would be a piece of cake!

Month 1 went by, nothing.... that's ok...after all, it takes a while for your body to get used to the drugs right?

Month 2 came and went with no success... maybe we weren't "doing" it right.... was there something I missed in grade 8 "health class" that has mislead me all of these years????

Month 3 STILL NOTHING. Ok, now I am pissed.... how is this happening to me? I am frustrated, bitter and overly cranky (confirmed daily by my husband) and am now 100% fed up. It was time to go back to visit my doctor and find out what was up. There HAS to be something that can be done. Surely they must have given me the placebo sugar pills or something, and this will all be explained as some sort of University experiment for the betterment of women everywhere.

I arrived at my doctor's appointment confident that we would sit in the sterile little office, and he would simply prescribe something stronger, or recommend a change in plans.... tweaking things a little bit, since after all that would be all that was needed right?


That is how it felt. Like a swift slap across the face as I sat stunned across the table from my doctor. Unfortunately my husband was at home waiting for a delivery of a 60" TV ordered on boxing day at Best Buy... a task much to important to accompany me to such an expectedly mundane appointment. But Whoa.... as my world seemed to be spinning around me out of control, I heard my doctor's voice somewhere in the distance. "The Fibroids are larger than I would like to see"... "unusual crystallization in the ovaries"... "we need to take a closer look".... SCREEEEEECH....... WHAT???? He wants to conduct an Ultrasound right here... right now? What underwear was I wearing? Was I WEARING underwear? Damn... I don't think I shaved my legs, and OH MY GOD I think the shoes I am wearing make my feet stink. This cant possibly be happening. But as I lay there, with my feet up in those awkward stirrups praying he had a cold and couldn't smell the scent of gym shoes; he walked me through the areas of concern he felt needed discussing. Apparently my mother had not only passed on her ability to tan without ever burning, but also her fibroids. I had several... not unusual for a woman of my age, but there was one... in a bit of an awkward place between my stomach and the outer wall of my uterus that was a bit larger than he had hoped to see. 8cm to be precise. Along with that, he also pointed out what looked like a galaxy of stars in my ovaries. Apparently these were also a bit concerning. Dermoids.... that is what he called them. Something I had never read about in all the surfing and reading I had done leading up to this day.

And so we were back in the sterile room... shoes back on and the pink polka dot underwear back safely where they belonged. He was frank, honest and without opinion... feeding me the facts, and leaving it at that. What I did with those facts, was up to me.

Option A) Have an operation. Right Away. Something called a Myoectomy, more invasive than the Laparoscopy I had previously read about, that left a scar across the stomach much like a C-Section. They would go in, scrape out that "gunk" in my ovaries and get those nasty fibroids out. And hopefully, this would do the trick. But this may cause further complications or worse yet...the fibroids could grow back.

Option B) Delay the operation, for a little while. In the meantime, go forward with IUI. (IntraUterineInsemination) The Turkey Baster, so to speak. If after 3 months of treatments, there was still no success... then we would examine IVF (The whole shebang. $10,000 & some pretty invasive procedures) Then, in a few years.... have the operation and carry on with life.

Option C) Just keep taking the Clomid and see where that take us. But if I wait to long for the operation, he warned me that there could be a possibility of needing a Hysterectomy down the road. Scary... and confusing... and enough to make me cry all the way home from the appointment.

So I chose the only option I felt was plausible... the second. I would move on to IUI at the start of my next cycle, and try to have a baby with a little more medical intervention. After 3 months, I would move to IVF... meaning that by May, I should be pregnant... 4 months... I could do that couldn't I?

And so a week later, with a plan of action in place and a holiday scheduled to the Dominican Republic that was a Christmas Gift to my mother... we all boarded a plane looking for an escape from the exhaustion and the cold of home. Dancing with sand between our toes, and laughing at silly moments while floating in the pool beneath the Caribbean sun... our troubles at home seemed miles away. But we all knew that when we returned, they would be there waiting for us.

Last night I tossed and turned, knowing that this morning, I would be calling the clinic as directed; to tell them that it was the first day of this new cycle.... my IUI cycle... and that we were now moving to the next phase! But why was I so conflicted? 3 months of IUI.... was that to long? Would it be a waste of time? Should I be changing the plan and going straight to IVF? Could we afford to do that? What about adding acupuncture, or progesterone supplements... so many things that seemed unanswered. Would I know what I would decide before calling the clinic when I arrived at my office?

The Office... I had driven straight past the 3 Tim Horton's along the route to work... around the icy corners not yet sanded after a snowfall that must have occurred some time during my restless sleep... and had come to idle in the lone spot left in the company parking lot. I had arrived. Safe, and warm... filled with a nervous excitement at WHATEVER today would bring. This would truly be the first day of the rest of my life.

Why haven't they called me back? I am sure it has been hours now since I left a message at the clinic asking someone to call me back in regards to my IUI cycle that was scheduled. Had they lost my file, were they having second doubts? Call me!!!!! And then.... "ring ring"... the call display flashed the familiar number across the screen and the time had come to make my decision.

The nurse was nice... she let me babble about my fears, questions and ideas. Listening (I'm sure using all the patience she could muster) and then... after I was done, offered what she could to address my concerns. Yes, I was officially listed as an IUI patient for this cycle.... I would take the clomid starting Wednesday, and then 10 days later, we would likely be completing the process with a trip into the clinic where they would inseminate me with what would promise to be a cleaned up and perfected version of my husbands usual "contribution". She would talk to my doctor and ask if I could be placed on the IVF wait list... this wait was about 3 months, so that sounded about perfect to me! But wait... there was bad news. Apparently, in order to start IVF I would need to be off the clomid for 2 months previous... that would put us back to July before we would possibly get pregnant. Hmmm.... And then the whole process would take 7 weeks before transplantation... WOW... that's nearly 2 more months, and now September. Could this be happening???? Could it BE any worse? Yes... apparently it could. Reading my chart she remarked that it was unusual to continue on Clomid for longer than 3 months in a row. Doctors prefer to have 2 months break between every 3 cycles.

HOLD ON... I can't be hearing right. What was she saying? That it our plan to start IUI this month may be delayed? That we may be waiting until April to start this whole entire process.... let me figure this out... April to start... 3 months of IUI.... then 2 months break off Clomid to prepare for IVF and THEN 7 weeks for the second procedure to conclude? That would be OCTOBER... further out than if I got pregnant tonight and carried the baby full term like most women on the planet. Un-Acc-Eptable.

And so I asked the question sure to make her batty... could I scrap the original plan, of which she had spent the first 15 minutes of the call scheduling my appointments, detailing the program and ordering the required tests and paperwork. I wanted to throw the plan out the window... stop taking the Clomid immediately, and get on the waiting list for IVF right away. Of course, she couldn't answer that for me... and would need to consult my doctor before giving me the decision that would alter the outlook of this upcoming year. And so... I hung up the phone and well.... waited for my future to begin.