Archive for the ‘TTC’ Category

Unexplained Infertility Explained

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Well, all the official IVF prescreening has been performed and the results have been delivered. Everything seems to be normal, except for the FSH which is borderline. The RE said that she would have liked that number to have been lower (yeah me too), but was very pleased with the antral follicle count. The higher FSH result just means that I will be started out on a higher dosage of medication. I can live with that and am trying very hard not to Google FSH 12.8 during any given moment of the day. Hopefully, I’ve gotten that out of my system and can just concentrate on the positive antral follicle count.

But then I start Googling antral follicle count only to look at the clock and realize that I’ve been Googling for 3 hours.

All the other tests are normal, though I forgot to ask for an exact number for the TSH. I assume it’s normal or the doctor would have said so otherwise  I also have no infectious diseases though there was a slight scare when one of the tests for Hepatitis B came back positive. The IVF coordinator assured me that those tests always come back false positive and that I shouldn’t freak out. Amazingly, I hardly freaked out at all, but yes, I did have a little Googlefest when I got home.

Hepatitis B is contacted through sex and blood and I logically convinced myself there was no way I could have it. Keep in mind that logic is not my strong suit. But then that little nagging voice reminded me of all the blood work I’ve had over the years. Was it possible that I got stuck with a contaminated needle? Did I have an open cut somewhere on my body when I went to the doctor? A week and a half later, the IVF coordinator called back to say that the original result was a false positive and the second test had indeed come back negative. Cue the sigh of relief just the same.

I also got the results of the mega-expensive anti-nuclear antibodies test and the Natural Killer Cells tests. Both negative. These tests aren’t routinely run for the most part, but the RE was trying to figure out the reason why it had taken me two and a half years to get pregnant and why I had four IUI failures. I’m glad that she was willing to run them because there’s a reason I haven’t gotten pregnant, even if that reason hasn’t been obvious.

Then we got the results of my husband’s semen analysis.

The test revealed that only 2% of his sperm sample was mature!

The RE believes that this is the reason for our four IUI failures and lack of success. Now, my husband has had a semen analysis before with our previous RE, but those tests only measured count, volume, shape, and mobility, not maturation and antibodies. If sperm aren’t mature, they cannot attach to and penetrate the egg (no matter how many IUIs you try). Hence, the reason for my infertility.

I have mixed feelings about this news, but it mostly sets me free. I’ve spent the last couple of years blaming myself for my lack of being able to get pregnant. I listened to my old RE whose standard answer to my questions about my lack of success was “Maybe it’s just your age.” I can’t tell you how many times he answered my questions with that response.  It left me nowhere and now that I look back, I had a gut feeling that there was something incomplete and even unprofessional about his responses.  I wasted a lot of time, money, and emotion going to him. I could go on here, say more, but I’m not. I have my answer (from someone else I should have gone to in the first place) and that’s what’s important.

The good news is that this problem is easily treatable through ICSI. As you have all heard, it only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg, and any of the 2% of a million sperm can do the job. It just takes a little medical assistance for those 2% to reach and penetrate the egg and that’s where the ICSI comes in. Obviously, if I had this information years ago, I would have gone straight to IVF, no matter how expensive or scary it seemed. I believe that has been the answer all along; I just didn’t want to see it. I’ve proven that I can get pregnant without IVF, but who’s to say when that would come around again with such a small percentage of mature sperm.

So for all you ladies out there with unexplained infertility, makes sure you have a doctor that will run a complete semen analysis on your husband. Ask the doctor to make sure that a significant number of the sperm are mature and antibody- free. If your husband has already had the basic semen analysis, ask your doctor to do a more comprehensive one. You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

 

Golden May

May

May is right around the corner and has always been one of my favorite months, mostly because of the warmer weather and blooming bushes and flowers.  When I married almost 9 years ago, I deliberately chose this month.  For me, May simply meant promise.

This year, things will be different.  May 5 is the due date for the child I lost in September.

When I found out months ago that I was pregnant (after 2 and a half years of trying) and that the baby was due in May, I thought it was a miracle and a true blessing from God.  Little did I know that my world would soon shatter.

May 5 was to be my golden day, my day when my miracle would be in my arms.  This brings to mind a poem I found several years ago:

A Golden Day by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I Found you and I lost you,

All on a gleaming day.

The day was filled with sunshine,

And the land was full of May.

A golden bird was singing

Its melody divine,

I found you and I loved you,

And all the world was mine.

I found you and I lost you,

All on a golden day,

But when I dream of you, dear,

It is always brimming May.

 

This sums up what I really feel.  I had my dream, but she slipped through my fingertips, leaving nothing but a memory and a mark.

I wonder if I will feel any differently after her due date passes.  Will it just be a difficult day that I must get through?  Will the days afterward bring the enormous amount of healing that I need?   Will I finally be “ok” from here on out?

I try to stay busy these days, keeping my mind and body occupied but it seems that the reminder of what I lost is everywhere I go.  I go out and about and everyone is either pregnant or carrying an infant.    Literally, they are everywhere I turn my head.

Work is particularly hard.  There are two women who are pregnant, about as far as along as I would have been, who are having their showers tomorrow.  I can’t stand it, because I know I should be right there with them.  I’m not jealous.  I just hurt and I don’t know how to make it stop.  It makes me want to run as far as I can and never look back.  If only that were possible.

Another co-worker’s wife had a shower last week and there is yet another co-worker who is newly pregnant.  I’m not particularly close to any of these women, but the sight of their bellies is just too much.  Just the other day, I was having a conversation with one of them and for some reason, she kept stroking her stomach over and over as I was talking to her.  It felt as if my throat had plunged to my stomach,

So, yeah, work sucks, but it is the only thing paying the bills.

Speaking of bills, they are unpaid.  This is the time that we would have been saving for and planning for our IVF, but we are swapped with medical bills from pregnancy failure number two which I can only refer to as our pseudo-pregnancy.  So, here we are, not saving and not planning for much of anything.

Do we try again on our own?  In an unbelievable twist of fate, I’ve gotten pregnant twice in 5 months after years of trying.  Of course, both of those pregnancies were lost.  I asked my ob-gyn about repeated loss testing and she felt as if this wouldn’t really tell us anything.  She believes that both losses were “random” chromosomal problems, unrelated to each other.  Maybe she’s right.  I just don’t know.

I want a child, but trying again frightens me.  It frightened me after my first loss as well.  There are so many things that can go wrong and so much that has to go right.  I need one healthy egg and one healthy sperm to do what they are supposed to in order to make a healthy child.

I need a miracle.  I guess we all do.

 

 

Baby Bumps, Sonograms, and Pee Sticks, Oh My!

I subscribe to a lot of blogs and I actually read what I subscribe to.  Like many of you, I have found them to be a source of strength through tough times. One day, just a couple of days ago actually, I was scrolling through my reader and found a few pictures of baby bumps.  Interesting, I thought, that there were so many posted on the same day.  I scrolled a bit further and found some pee stick photos. Yep, all posted within 24 hours of the baby bumps.  Even more interesting I thought.  Right below those were posts that had links to ultrasound photos.  Same time frame.

That was the day I almost quit blogging.

For good.

Yes, I have positive feelings about your good news, but at the same time seeing a visual representation of it brings back all my feelings of despair. It’s funny.  People say that silence speaks a thousand words.  I guess they underestimated the power of a photo.

I’ve more or less been an infertile for the last 2+ years and have experienced the lowest of lows that come with that.  Not just feelings of inadequacy or frustration–sheer blown despair and devastation.   I know you have experienced these emotions, too. How do I know what you have experienced, you ask?  Am I psychic?  No. I read your posts.

Among what I have read in the past, one thing I remember clearly:  many (but, not all) of you said that it caused you a lot of discomfort seeing ultrasound and baby bump photos in your reader.  Some of you even implied that when you became pregnant, you would never post such a thing.

But, you have.

To be perfectly clear, this post is not directed at one single individual nor am I trying to come across as angry and accusing though I am afraid I am doing just that.  I just want to ask this:  Is it ok to post these types of photos in your reader, even if you know how it feels to be on the receiving end of them?  If the answer is yes, what makes it ok?

I think I know the answer to the second question.  When you suffer for so long and a miracle finally happens, you simply want to share the news.  You’re beaming, bursting with joy and relief.  The news is 100% share-worthy, at least according to me.  Pictures of your body through it’s various stages of pregnancy?  Not as much so.  I cannot articulate why this brings so much grief, just that it does.

I also think people post these photos to reassure themselves.  They need to see evidence that everything is going ok.  They need to see that what they are experiencing  is real.   Let’s face it.  In the land of IF, nothing is ever certain.  Clinging to whatever reassures you, seems to be acceptable.

But still. . .

What about to those of us still left in the trenches?  We are happy for your happiness, but we are still left in a place of suffering.  That same place of suffering that many of you once inhabited.

If I could say anything to newly pregnant bloggers it would be this: Don’t ignore us and don’t leave us behind.  Be considerate of us because you have walked our road and know what it feels like.  Think about it.  Just for a minute.  We are still here and we are still standing and yes, we are still reading your blogs.  Your circumstances have changed favorably while we are still waiting for ours.   Want to tell us you are pregnant? Go ahead.  Want to share what happened at your latest doctor appointment?  I’ll listen.  Can’t wait to share your ultrasound, baby bump, and pee sticks?  Go ahead, but please put them in another folder on your blog where they don’t show up in your reader’s feed.  If I’m given a choice whether or not to look at it, I may just surprise you and do so.

And, yes, I do speak from my own experiences and not anyone else’s. There is a good chance that maybe I’m just too sensitive and should be over all of this by now.  Maybe I automatically make the egotistical mistake that other people feel the same way I do. Besides, people are going to do what they are going to do. I can’t change it, but maybe I can persuade them to look at things from another perspective.

I do know this, though.  I don’t want to cut myself off from others by unsubscribing to a blog because someone makes me uncomfortable.  What kind of supporter would that make me?  A fair-weathered one, I suppose.  I guess, at the end of the day, like all days, I”m looking for a bit of understanding.  Aren’t we all?

Where Do Babies Come From?

Seriously, I want to know.

I once heard this ridiculous rumor that a man and woman have intercourse and a child is conceived.

Really?

Dream on!

Despite giving it our best efforts, things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped (I hate that word).  I had my 4th and final IUI about two weeks ago.  The procedure went really well actually.  I was very happy that the IUI was on a Saturday which meant my husband was there.  I was also pleased that the RE, not the weekend nurse, performed the procedure.  My husband’s sperm count was also great.

For some reason, the RE said that I had a good shot this time.  I guess I misunderstood.  He obviously meant I had a good shot at it not working.

I don’t regret doing this IUI.  I don’t regret the money spent or the time invested.  However, I do regret having hope (there’s that word again).  Originally, I planned to go into this with a “This is a last-ditch effort, so don’t you dare get your hopes up or even think about it afterwards” attitude.  Well, I turned my back for one minute and hope took off like an airplane leaving the runway.  I wanted to retain some sort of control but once again I am reminded that I have no control.

Let me tell you, my body should win an Emmy for Lead Role in Showing Absolutely No PMS Symptoms.  Usually, I know when my period is going to arrive: mild cramps, upset stomach, acne from hell, and the appearance of melancholic, yet vitriolic emotions.  I had none of those.  I guess I psychosomatically erased them or something.   To make matters worse, when my period did start (which started off rather black-looking for some reason) I rationalized it away.  How dumb can I be?  A period is a period  no matter what color it looks like or how many cramps you do or do not have.

I wanted this.  Badly.  I let myself hope for it and once again hope has made me a fool.

I should know better.  If 3 IUI’s aren’t going to work, what on Earth made me think, for even one minute, a 4th one would?  Maybe for someone else, but not this girl.  This is me we are talking about.

If I’m being perfectly honest, my dreams haven’t been coming true for a while now.  Time seems to be standing perfectly still and flying at the same time.  My personal life (meaning establishing a family) and my work life (which is another post for another time)–I keep waiting for things to change and they don’t.  I just don’t have much to look forward to anymore.

I’m sorry.  I do not get it.  I have ovaries.  I have tubes.  I have a uterus.  My ovaries have eggs.   My tubes are clear.  My uterus is intact.  I’m not making this stuff up.

I have long since accepted the fact that there are no easy answers, but what do you do when there are no answers at all?  I can’t help it.  I have to have something.  I have to have a reason.  I have to have something instead of an indifferent universe. I can’t just sit in a corner and pretend that everything is just wonderful when it is not.

Sorry this is such a miserable post.  If I can get these words down, they have less power over me.  Then maybe, just maybe, I may gain an ounce of control in this world.

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Who Will I Be?

One day it’s going to happen.  It’s going to happen for me and it’s going to happen for you.  We will be mothers.

When I started this blog a few months ago, I had no idea what to expect.  Around that time I was in a very low valley, and sought help or any type of inspiring words that would prevent me from taking those last few steps to crazy.  Well, I stumbled on some great blogs that actually made me laugh at a time when nothing was funny.  I was so inspired I started my own blog and here I am.

Throughout these last couple of months, one question has lingered in the back of my mind (as I am sure has lingered in yours):  What happens to this blog when I finally get my miracle? 

I decided to write this post after reading Elphaba’s post a couple of days ago.  She is a new mother who went through her own painful journey before she got her daughter.  She stated that she felt she was in a place of limbo:  she no longer considered herself a person who was struggling with fertility issues, but didn’t feel quite comfortable joining the I’ve-always-been-a-smug-fertile mommy community.  

She is creating a new network called PAIL: Parenting/Pregnancy After Infertility and Loss and I think it is a great idea.  Many women do manage to finally get that BFP but feel guilty or odd to still be active in the ALI community.  Others are simply looking for a way to connect to mothers who can relate to the struggles they went through while they provide support to those who are still hurting and waiting.  That is what PAIL is for.  The best part is that you can be part of the PAIL network and still be active in the ALI network.   It’s simply a place to connect to others who may have triumphed over their losses and hardships. 

I think it’s hard to say for certain what kind of bloggers we’ll be after we become pregnant and have children.  We simply won’t know until we get there.  I ask myself: Would I hurt someone by announcing my pregnancy in this community?  How do I feel when someone else announces theirs?

I can’t answer that first question, but the second one is easy.  I’m actually pretty happy when I hear that one of my fellow bloggers gets a lucky break.  Yeah, it does remind me just a teensy bit of what I still lack, but I feel like we are a team.  I celebrate your victories and mourn your losses.  Though I desperately want to be in a position to join the PAIL community, I don’t think I could ever completely leave the ALI one nor could I join the hyper-fertile community of mothers who just had sex and got pregnant.  I simply cannot relate to the latter. 

Oh, but the day I do get to join PAIL. . .it’s going to be a great day!  The question is:  Who will I be? 

 

 

The Pope Thinks You’re Arrogant

I was dozing off this afternoon for a nap with the TV softly playing in the background, when a news correspondent uttered a word that snapped me back to full alert:  infertility.

Pope Benedict has attended a 3-day conference on infertility in Rome and has one piece of advice for couples: shun IVF treatment. 

Most couples do, indeed, already do this.  They are super fertile as they have so shown the world.  Many other couples have trouble, but manage to conceive by drugs or surgery.  Yet others shun infertility because they simply cannot afford it.   But, the Pope has other reasons why a couple should refrain from artificial procedures:

“The human and Christian dignity of procreation, in fact, doesn’t consist in a ‘product’, but in its link to the conjugal act, an expression of the love of the spouses of their union, not only biological but also spiritual,” the ‘Daily Mail’ quoted Pope Benedict XVI as saying.

He also told the specialists in his audience to resist “the fascination of the technology of artificial fertility’, warning against “easy income, or even worse, the arrogance of taking the place of the Creator”.

He suggested that this was the attitude that underlies the field of artificial procreation. The emphasis on science and “the logic of profit seem today to dominate the field of infertility and human procreation”, the Pope said.

I feel like these words are a slap in the face to anyone who has ever suffered through this disease.  These words coming from a spiritual, well-respected man only add salt to the wound. 

I have said it once and I will say it again:  I did not choose this!  It happened to me.  I bet the same can be said of you all as well.

The Pope’s words are demeaning on so many levels, I do not even know where to start.  Does the Pope really think that I seek the help of an RE and artificial inseminations because I am merely fascinated with technology?  Am I just bored or something?  Does he really think that I prefer needles, medicines, ultrasounds, blood work, and inseminations over “conjugal relations” with my husband?     Am I so “fascinated” with technology that I can’t wait to fork over money for an IVF?  I think the Pope thinks so. 

The Pope’s words also imply that I haven’t tried to do things the natural way with my husband.  Newsflash:  we’ve tried it that way for over two years!  We tried it last month and we tried it this month.  Yeah, just have sex and you’ll get pregnant.  Relax and it will happen!  Sound familiar, anyone? 

The most damning implication here is that people who have IVF’s or other procedures lack faith, do not persevere,  and do not trust God.  Yeah, try telling this to the infertile couple who have spent years in prayer, begging God for that one special blessing.  Has the Pope ever considered that God leads couples (some Catholics, I’m sure) to and through the path of IVF?  Can God not work through science?  The only thing I find arrogant here is the Pope’s limitations he seems to be placing on God.  I can’t quote the Bible verse, but I’m pretty sure limiting God is a big no-no, no matter what your denomination or rank in religion.

I can’t help but think of all those babies born because of IVF procedures.  Those babies and those mothers who fought with every ounce of their being just to bring their children into the world.   God did not say to those women, “Your ovaries are bad, so forget it!”  He did not say, “Oh, your faith isn’t 100% perfect, so you lose.”    He knew that those women cried, prayed, and endured and he answered those prayers in the way he saw fit.  Most importantly, he knew those women were not trying to play God but merely had enough faith to walk down a path that was unfamiliar and frightening to them.

In my opinion, IVF and other procedures simply level the playing field.  We all have the right to create our families.  We may not have been blessed with working equipment, correct hormone levels, and a perfect reproductive system, like most people on the planet.  It is our absolute right and privilege to try to make things as they should be without suffering the judgement and scorn of others.     

These days, I’m trying my best to stay positive, although that’s hard to do.  Stories like this really negatively affect me because it reinforces the idea that society just does not understand.  But that’s ok.  The Pope will never have to walk in my shoes as most people won’t.  I have to hold on to the faith that I have even it is the size of a mustard seed.