Thursday, July 25, 2013

Back to Basics

Well here we are again. I feel like it’s over 2 and ½ years ago when this journey started. Since we’re “taking a break” from the fertility meds I’m going to try some different things this time then I did way back in the beginning when we first started to TTC.

I am not temping this time. I was a religious BBT temper (Basal Body Temperature). Every morning for a year and half (no matter where we were) at 5am my alarm would go off and I would stick that BBT thermometer where the sun don’t shine in my va-jay jay. Hubster had no idea what I was doing and I think after a while he stopped hearing my alarm. He is a very deep sleeper… me, not so much. So a lot of times after I would take my temp I would not fall back to sleep. Made for some pretty tired days. The idea is that at the same time every morning before you really move you take your temperature. It’s your base temp and you will see throughout your cycle it should go up when you’re going to ovulate and peak at ovulation. Then during the 2 week wait it’ll either go up up up until you have a positive pregnancy test or start to fall when you’re going to get your period. I did this every day for over a year and a half. I have a nice big folder filled with charts. On the charts you also put what your cervical mucus (CM) was like (dry, sticky, egg white) and when you had sex. It was really interesting to see how my cycles went, they were (are) really long and it was good to have that to show my OBGYN and then later my Fertility Specialist. I read the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, and it was really really informative. I recommend anyone who is starting on this journey to read this book. I learned a lot about the goings on in my body. But this time I feel like I do not need to go through all that again because frankly after a while it stressed me out.

I also will not be using OPK’s (ovulation predictor kits). Well, I should clarify – I will not be doing OPK’s like a mad woman. I would get the “cheapies” from Amazon (like 40 for $6) and use them in conjunction with the temping. I would start them on day 8 or 10 and then do them 2x a day until I ovulated. Sometimes I would not ovulate until day 25 (during 40+ day cycles- that sucked). I had a whole system down pat. I would stop drinking liquids at 9 am, hold my pee, and take the OPK at 11 am. Then I would stop drinking liquids at 2:30 pm, hold my pee, and take the OPK at 4:30 pm. I would do this until I ovulated. Talk about stressful! So yeah – I will not be doing that whole thing again!

I had mentioned in the prior post that I was looking to get a Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor on eBay. Well I got one! This seriously makes the whole process so much less stressful. I ended up getting it the day that I wrote the last post and then it arrived at my house on Monday! I read the booklet and you can set the monitor up for a new cycle up until day 5 and my day 5 was Tuesday so it was perfect timing. Every morning you get up and push a button on the monitor. You have a 6 hour window of time to do this, for example, I pushed the button for the first time at 7 am. So I can now get up and push the button anywhere from 4am-10am. That is SO MUCH less stressful than temping! Starting on the morning of day 6 it asks you to insert a stick when you push the button (of course it’s a special stick for the machine). Same concept as an OPK- hold your pee (so it’s more concentrated) and then pee on the stick (or like me I pee in a Dixie cup and then dip it in there for 15 seconds because I pee all over my hand the other way), then insert it into the slot in the machine. It then flashes for a couple minutes and it tells you if you’re low, high or peak. You want to have sex every other day starting on your first high. Some people have sex every day starting on the first high but my doctor said that once a man gets over 30 they could be shooting blanks if it’s every day. This machine is worth it just so that I’m not temping and peeing on OPKs all the time for days on end. That all seriously stressed me out because it was all that I was thinking about. I might start doing the OPK’s once a day (probably at like 4 pm) once I get a high but we’ll see. I might just see what happens with the machine this month.

I also have to keep in mind that I only have one tube… so even if I ovulate every month it’s not necessarily on the side with the tube. Grrr frustrating.

Anyhoo – nothing I can do about that. But I am taking the CoQ10 that the FS told me to take. I also started to drink something called “Fertili Tea.” I got it on my favorite place (Amazon, of course) after reading a bunch online about it when I was looking into the CBE Monitor. It has Vitex Agnus Castus (Chasteberry), Green Tea, Red Raspberry, Ladies Mantle, Nettle Leaf, and Peppermint Leaf. These are all things that are supposed to help women with long cycles (*jumps up and down waving hand, “Me! Me!”*) and general reproductive health. It was created by a fertility specialist and all of the ingredients have been scientifically proven to enhance fertility. Sign. Me. Up. It’s a lose tea so I used a mesh tea ball. I actually made it last night and drank it today, haha. I filled a glass quart mason jar with boiling water (4 cups) and then the tea ball with the lose tea and let it steep overnight. This way I was able to pour it over ice and drank it on the way to work this morning. It’s just too warm out for me right now to be drinking hot tea. I didn’t put any sweetener in it and the only way I can describe it is that it tasted almost like peppermint tea. If you do not like peppermint then this is not the tea for you, lol.

I am still trucking along with the Paleo. I’m mostly doing a modified version of it though. I’m sticking to the basic premise of no dairy, no legumes, and no grains/carbs. So pretty much veggies, fruit, meat, egg whites (because I can’t eat the yolk, makes me physically sick) and nuts (but no peanuts). I will be honest that I do cheat sometimes. Like last night we had tacos – I always have a taco salad versus the shells because I can’t eat corn (I’m allergic to it). I tried to have the taco salad with just a mescaline lettuce mix, shredded carrots, tomatoes avocado and the taco meat… but it just wasn’t cutting it without a little sour cream! So I had a little spoon full and all was well with the world. I feel like if I really stress myself out and not let myself cave every once in a while then I will not stick with this. I know myself. The Paleo diet also says that you should have all organic fruits and veggies and only grass fed meats. Well… I do what I can. But I will say I’m certainly feeling better and sleeping a lot better. I’ve also started to slowly but surely lose some weight too (halleluiah).

Hubster and I have been getting up almost every morning and taking our boxer for a walk. We have a small manmade lake near us that is a mile around that we do at least 2x (depending on what time it is since I have to get ready for work). We also live in a very rural neighborhood so it’s nice to walk around there as well. He has been working on his final thesis for his masters so this gets the dog tired out so that she’s lazy for the rest of the day and he can work. I think it’s good that we’re both getting up and getting the blood flowing – I know it’s beneficial for my reproductive organs and I can only assume it is for his as well.

Clearly “taking a break” doesn’t mean just going with the flow! My cycles are so irregular that I felt like if we just did our thing I would be constantly wondering if we had missed my ovulation and (I know myself) stressing out about that. I feel like the monitor takes all the guess work out it.

So… here we go :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Doctor Visit

We had our appointment yesterday with Dr. B. There was also a new OB fellow who sat in – we go to a clinic which is a part of a large teaching hospital so we are used to students and fellows being in on the appointments. This gal was not one of my favorites because she sat there the whole time picking at her nail polish while I was making a tissue pile on the desk because I was crying (of course I was). That was annoying.


Dr. B said that the entire team (meaning all of the doctors/students/fellows in the practice and the embryologists) sat down to review our case. There is no real cut and dry reason as to why we aren’t getting pregnant. My eggs look good and really the only “thing” with me is that I only have one tube. Hubs sperm look good and he had had some additional testing done on his stuff after the first failed IVF and all those tests came back with great results. They do not know for sure why when my eggs and his sperm are combined for IVF that the embryos aren’t surviving. Good news is I did get pregnant so one of the embryos did attach but bad news is obviously the embryo started to die.

He then presented us with 4 options.

1) Cornell University in New York. They would take some of the cells from my uterus and use them to make a base medium for the embryos to grow in the petri dish. Not a new procedure but not something that our place does. The thought is that the embryos could do better in a medium made from my own cells that would closely mimic the natural environment. He said that he has referred patients there and some have gotten successfully pregnant and some have not. This costs upwards of $15,000 with no insurance coverage and most likely this price doesn’t include medication. I would be able to do some of the blood work and ultrasound monitoring at the clinic that we currently go to in CT but the majority of the monitoring and all of the procedures will need to be done at Cornell. They are at least 3 hours from us and with 6 hours of travel time alone this is not a feasible option with my job,

2) IVF with ½ Donor Sperm. The embryologist has a “gut feeling” (those are Dr. B’s words) that the issue is the hubs sperm. Even though all of his testing has come back with flying colors she thinks that this is what the issue is- that it’s something with his sperm not meshing correctly with my eggs. So we would do the same long down regulation medication protocol like the last IVF. He said they would try a different medium in the petri dish for the embryos but they would fertilize ½ of my eggs with hubsters sperm and ½ with donor. If there are good embryos with hubsters sperm then we would use them and freeze any left. If there aren’t any good embryos with hubsters sperm and the only good ones are with the donor then, obviously, we would transfer the ones with the donor sperm (and freeze any left). We would then know if the issue is in fact hubby’s sperm. The IVF would be $8,060 (the financial gal gave us this price due to our combined income). This doesn’t cover meds or the donor sperm. The donor sperm is about $600. My meds last time were almost $7K but I have a lot left so I’m not sure how much we would have to spend on medication. There is a program that we can apply for that if we meet the criteria we can get assistance with paying for the meds. But in any case, this is the option that Dr. B recommends.

3) IVF with Donor Eggs. The embryologists say that it is not my eggs and we didn’t really go into the details of this option because Dr. B isn’t really that convinced that it’s my eggs either. But if the donor sperm option doesn’t work then we would know that it is my eggs. However… donor eggs alone cost upwards of $10,000. That’s just the eggs. I’m not sure if this is an option that we will explore because of the price but we will cross that bridge if we get to it.

4) IUI with ½ Donor Sperm. Dr. B threw this one out there merely because of the cost. This is the most “cost effective” option. Donor Sperm is $600 and the IUI is $300. So without meds it would be $900. Without meds it is a crap shoot though because I would have to be monitored to see what side I’m ovulating on. Since I only have one tube if we did a non-medicated “natural” cycle and I ended up ovulating from the non-tube side then the procedure is a no go and we wait for next cycle. So it could potentially end up costing more than $900 if it’s over the course of more than one cycle because of the monitoring. But if we go this route and it ends up not working we won’t know why it didn’t work – was it the sperm or did we just not catch the egg? No way of telling.

Afterwards we met with the woman in the finance department. That’s where we got the numbers I mentioned above. Needless to say we left there with our heads spinning and a lot of paperwork.

We didn’t talk about it for a couple hours; we both took the time to process everything that we had heard and sat on the deck later that evening to talk. I’m having a hard time with the donor sperm option. I honestly didn’t think that I would but all of the dreams that I’ve had about our kids and any time I’ve thought about them I always envisioned little boys who look like the hubs. Of course I know how stupid that sounds. I take full ownership of how moronic that whole thought process is. I have no idea why I feel that way and I think in time I’ll get over it because hubs doesn’t have a problem with it and he’d be the one without his DNA in the mix. If we chose to use donor anything we need to have a consultation with the psychiatrist anyway, which I think makes total sense. That’s a huge step and I think meeting with a professional to hash it out is a good idea.

Another thing I have a problem with, and hubs agrees, is that this is a whole lot of money without a guarantee that it will work. I know that we have been very very fortunate to have had the insurance coverage that we have had and that a lot of people go through this process paying out of pocket and taking that risk that it won’t work on the first or even third try. But for us that’s a huge gamble and we’re not sure if we’re ready to take that yet.

So what we agreed on is that we should take a few months off and just try on our own. Dr. B said that there isn’t any reason why I can’t get pregnant on my own. In thinking about that now I don’t get it since he said that the issue most likely lies with my eggs and his sperm coming together but maybe that’s just when it’s done artificially? I’m not sure. In any case that’s where we are now. I went on eBay and got a Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor and some sticks to go with it for a pretty good deal. I feel like we’re starting right back at square one but I’m almost excited about it. I had borrowed a CBE Monitor from a friend way before we started all this IF jazz but I only got to use it for one cycle. When she lent it to me she was pregnant with her third (she has 7 year old twin boys) and she ended up losing the baby at 14 weeks to trisonomy 13. It was heartbreaking and of course I was ok giving the monitor back because they wanted to try again. Once they were ready to try again she ended up getting pregnant rather quickly and now has a 7 month old little guy. I decided to just buy my own because it will be good to have if it works and if we end up trying for another one in the future.

So yeah. Lots and lots of info. I ended up getting my period today (which makes the huge waterfall of waterworks yesterday make more sense). I think I have to use the CBE Monitor starting on day 1 so I wouldn’t be able to use it this time anyway. Maybe we’ll just have sex starting on Day 4 and then every other day for 10 days. The monitor comes with some ovulation sticks that aren’t for the monitor so I might use them. I don’t always ovulate in the middle of my cycle and my cycles are not a “normal” length (this time it was 39 days).

So we’ll see how this all works… onto the next adventure in baby making!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Twiddling My Thumbs

The nurse told me on June 10th that the doctors and embryologists will be meeting to review my case and then the doctor will give me a call.

By June 28th I still hadn’t heard anything so I decided to call myself. The nurse said that the doctor was on vacation but that he wants us to come in for a meeting to discuss some options as to what we can do next. One of them is using ½ donor sperm and another one is going to Cornell in Manhattan. She briefly explained that they would take some tissue from my uterus and make some sort of fluid that the embryos would be grown in. I would have to go to New York for the ER and the ET but I could still do the blood work and ultrasounds in their office. So we have an appointment for July 18th to go in and talk to Dr. B about all these new things. What we need to know first though is what, if anything, our insurance will cover. Unfortunately at this point it comes down to what we can afford. We have been extremely lucky for the insurance coverage we have had so far but we know it won’t last much longer and we may have tapped it out.

The doctor has had me start to take CoQ10- 300iu 2x a day. I Googled it a little bit and it is for heart health mainly but it also helps with cellular growth. I also saw it discussed on some message boards and from what I read, a lot of women credit it for helping them conceive. So… we’ll see.

We have actually been enjoying this little break. I haven’t had all this weighing on the fore front of my mind 24 hours a day… thinking about when my next shot will be and when I have to go in for blood work and ultrasounds. There have been moments when I forget and just live and have an honest to goodness good time laughing and being happy. My sister was here from Germany for the month of June with her husband (he was only here for a few weeks) and their 2 ½ yr old daughter. It was so great to have her here for this month and I hate when she leaves.

On Sunday, after my sister left, the hubs and I were floating in the pool on our rafts and talking about all this stuff. Bottom line is we have to wait and see what the doctor says and we’ll figure out the money situation. I’m nervous about spending all that money when there is no guarantee that it’s going to 100% be successful. Of course I can’t go into this thinking that way but it is hard not to. We also discussed adoption. Hubs knows 2 couples who went through the adoption process and hearing their stories really freaked him out about. Neither couple had a positive experience and because he knows people in real life it makes it harder for him to take in the shiny happy stories that you find online. We decided that it is an option to keep on the table but for now it’s something for down the road for “if.”

On a completely unrelated topic I have been experimenting with Paelo. It actually hasn’t been as hard as I thought to cut out all the dairy and wheat/gluten. I even refused ice cream the other night – which is huge for me because ice cream was one of my loves! But I didn’t have the craving for it like I used to, which is something that I read about in one of my books. So we’ll see how this all works out but I have definitely been sleeping better and I noticed when I do eat like I used to (we went to my grandmother’s for a BBQ and I didn’t follow Paelo) I felt like garbage and slept horribly. The food prep is a lot more work and it’s easier to grab for processed convenience foods but I know that I feel better eating the Paelo way so I am making the effort. So far so good :)