Back from Sabbatical

I’ve been MIA for roughly three months now, for which I am deeply sorry to those of you who follow my blog.  But, I’ve been silent for good reason.  I’ve been hiding a monumental secret.

Baby Kira

Our second round of IVF worked!  I’m currently 16 weeks pregnant with an incredibly resilient baby girl.

It doesn’t feel quite real yet.  Even as I’m watching my body change to make room for baby, I can’t believe I’m pregnant.  I’ve seen her move like a maniac on an ultrasound and heard the sound of her beautifully strong heartbeat, but it still seems so surreal.  I’m not sure when it will truly register.  Will it be the first time I can feel her kick?  Or perhaps it won’t fully sink in until she’s in my arms?  I guess time will tell.  When you spend so many years hoping for something only to be consistently disappointed, it makes it a little hard to believe when that almost forgotten dream becomes a reality.

But now, let me get something straight.  That doesn’t mean I’m not over the moon with excitement.  And I’m already completely in awe of her.  She’s an absolute miracle.  And yes, I know all children, in general, are a miracle, but she’s managed to take it up a notch.  Between two IVF cycles, we had 25 embryos.  Out of all 25 embryos, she’s the only one that survived.  That in and of itself, is pretty amazing.

I’m excited to be back in the blogosphere and sharing our story; just because I’ve been silent doesn’t mean I’ve run out of things to say.  Thank you to all of you who have followed our story, shared in our heartbreak and celebrated our victories.  The story isn’t over; in fact, it’s just starting to get good.

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If you’re wondering what the hell the title of this blog post means, it’s IVF-speak for 3 days post day 5 day transfer.  That’s how all the cool kids going through IVF talk, so I figured I’d give it a try.

It’s been a whirlwind of activity the last 8 days.  Last Wednesday was our egg retrieval and it was just as I remembered; painful as shit.  You see, they give you some painkillers, but they have to use them sparingly, as too much can hurt the eggs.  Then, a needle is inserted into the uterus to remove the follicular fluid as well as the egg from each follicle.  After, the follicle is void of fluid and egg, however, it doesn’t deflate right away, so it feels like having an abdomen filled with air.  Actually, it felt exactly like this:

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Thursday, I went back to work in a fair amount of pain and feeling fat as hell, but tried to keep myself busy.  The day after the retrieval is when we would find out whether our transfer would be scheduled 3 days or 5 days after the retrieval.  You see,  after the retrieval, my eggs are married with Lee’s sperm via a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).  All of the eggs are injected with sperm and then left untouched for roughly 20 hours to fertilize.  At the end of that 20 hours, if a couple has four eggs fertilized or less, Dr. Corfman schedules a 3 day transfer, the idea being that the woman’s uterus is a better incubator than the ones in the lab.  If there are more than four eggs fertilized, a 5 day transfer will be scheduled.  A 5 day transfer allows them to watch the embryos more closely and better determine which ones might result in a pregnancy.  Day 5 transfer success rates are a bit higher than 3 day transfers for that reason.

We didn’t find out how many fertilized eggs we had on Thursday, but we were scheduled for a 5 day transfer.  We chose not to ask how many eggs we had, as anything can happen in those 5 days.  We didn’t want to be told we had one number and then find out a bunch didn’t make it to the 5 day mark.  We did find out, however, that Lee gave one of his best samples for this cycle.  Not only was that something to celebrate, but it was sort of a feather in my cap as well:  Proof that all the nagging I did to change bad eating and increase exercise worked.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

Monday morning was our transfer.  They give you a little report card when you show up that let’s you know what you’re working with.  The report card stated the following:

17 oocytes retrieved

15 oocytes ICSI’d

14 oocytes fertilized

13 viable embryos

First off, those numbers are pretty fucking incredible.  By the time a woman gets to my age, 40-60% of her eggs are considered abnormal.  One of the great things about aging!  We knew I would probably have a high retrieval rate because of my PCOS, but the number of eggs (oocytes) that are considered normal is always going to be a crap shoot.  On our last cycle, I had 26 eggs retrieved, 19 of which were considered normal.  Because I work in accounting and numbers are my favorite, I’ll have you know that 73% of my eggs were considered normal with our first cycle.  I was pretty jazzed about that  way back when.  But look at my numbers this time.  17 retrieved, 15 considered normal – 88%.  My eggs jumped a a full letter grade and a half.  We were awestruck.  Though they retrieved less eggs this time, we actually had more viable embryos.  We left the retrieval, still cautiously optimistic, but finally, maybe, just a little more optimistic than cautious.

But we still had one more hurdle to clear.  They don’t freeze embryos until day 6, so we had to wait one more day to determine how many embryos would be freezable and allow for future cycles, in the event that this one is not successful.  So we waited anxiously for one more day, fairly certain that with the numbers we put up this time, at least a couple would make it to the freezing stage.  NOPE.  What’s inside me is what we’re working with.  We’ve experienced this before, but that doesn’t make it any easier to hear a second time.

The good news, is that Lee didn’t take this news lying down.  He did some research because, frankly, we were dumbfounded.  How on earth have we had 25 viable embryos between 2 IVF cycles and yet, we have no back up?  Well, it turns out that only about 20-25% off eggs make it to day 6.  There are plenty of cycles that don’t produce freezable embryos but still result in a positive pregnancy test.  So currently, that’s the glimmer of hope we’re holding on to.  That, and Dr. Corfman told us that my uterus had an A+ rating.  I’m basically a uterine valedictorian.

So that’s where it stands.  We’re currently in the dreaded two week waiting period, where we try to keep ourselves busy and not think about anything baby related, all the while secretly counting the hours until we find out the results.

 

Wholly Unprepared

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I’ve been staring at this empty page for what feels like ages.  I’m just not sure what to say.  Our retrieval has been scheduled and I’m feeling entirely unprepared.

We went in for an ultrasound and blood draw on Sunday morning.  At last count, I’ve got roughly 30 follicles, roughly half of which were at about 12-14 mm. The others were all under 10 mm.  At that point, the nurses weren’t quite sure whether they would try to bring me in for one more ultrasound or if they were going to schedule the trigger shot.  Sunday afternoon we received a call letting us know it was time.  We would do one more stimulation shot, two more follicle maturing shots and 3 more anti-ovulation shots.  The HCG and the Lupron trigger shot (designed to keep my ovaries from hyper stimulation – common in women with PCOS) were scheduled for 10:30 p.m. on Memorial Day, with the retrieval scheduled for exactly 36 hours later, at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

If it seems to you that things are progressing a lot faster this time around, that’s because they are.  We had 12 days between our first shot and egg retrieval on our last cycle.  This time it was only 9.  I don’t honestly know if that’s a good or a bad thing.  It just is what it is, I guess.  What I do know, is that everything seems different this time.  I don’t remember feeling bloated and achy last time, until the day of the retrieval.  This time, I feel like the fricken Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I haven’t gained any weight during this cycle.  If anything, I’ve dropped a couple of pounds, but I’m so bloated that I feel as though I look like I could already be pregnant.  I also don’t remember being this sad.  I’m sure it’s mostly hormonal, but I can’t seem to shake it.  Most days have been fine, but the last couple have been pretty terrible.  And I can’t quite figure out why.  Maybe because I have no choice but to be ready before I truly feel ready.

That’s all I know for now.  Our transfer date won’t be determined until after the retrieval and will be contingent upon how many eggs successfully fertilize.  At this point, we know it will either be Saturday or Monday.  I’m desperately hoping that we have better luck with that this time.  If you remember our last retrieval they took 26 eggs.  One of their technicians even mentioned that she’d never seen so many eggs get collected at one time.  That left me feeling pretty amazing.  Sore as fuck, but incredibly proud of what my body was capable of.  Of the 26 eggs, 19 were considered normal.  Again, great news and higher than average numbers.  Of those 19, 12 fertilized normally.  Lee and I were overjoyed at the these facts, feeling pretty confident that we would be an IVF success story.  And yet, none of those 12 ended up being viable embryos.  I honestly don’t know if I’m strong enough to endure that kind of pain again.  And I don’t know that I’m ready to find out.  But I don’t really have a choice anymore, do I?

I’m going to go underground again for a bit.  Call it self-preservation, if you will.  To those of you that have followed along through our journey, thank you.  To those that have felt compelled to reach out, just to let us know you’re hoping for the best for us, I can’t even begin to describe what your thoughts and kindness have meant.  Know that I’ll be carrying those thoughts with me tomorrow, all the way through our transfer, up to our pregnancy test, and beyond.  I hope this story finally gives us the happy ending (beginning, really) that we’ve been hoping for.

 

 

It Begins…..Again

We hit the ground running today.  Ready or not, the time has arrived.

Our first ultrasound took place this morning.  My endometrial lining is right where they want it, all of my cysts are under control, my ovaries look good.  I was instructed to go ahead with my first dose of hormones.  We should be excited, right?  Well, we are, except for one thing:  We’ve been here before.

It feels like we’re walking an emotional tightrope this time around.  We get good news and feel on top of the world.  But then we remember we’ve heard this good news before and didn’t fall pregnant, which brings us right back down to earth.  Naturally we want to stay optimistic, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves.  If our cycles had an underlying theme, this one’s would be “cautiously optimistic”.

My focus this time will be a little bit different than it was during our last go around.  Last time I was very focused on healthy eating, exercise and all that jazz.  While I still plan on keeping a healthy lifestyle, this time around I’m going to be laser-focused on my attitude and stress levels.  My emotions have been a veritable smorgasbord, much, I’m sure, to Lee’s dismay.  Emotions have been heightened for the last few months as I’ve tried to come to terms with our last cycle as well as attempting to mentally prepare for this one.  The stress and anger have been a little too much at times.  And I’m letting things that normally shouldn’t bother me throw me completely off-kilter.  I really need to focus on not letting the minutiae of every day life get to me as much as it has the last few months.  Try as I might, I can’t control everything.  I can only control how I react.  And my reactions need to chill out a bit.

The good news is, it’s almost impossible to be upset in Minneapolis in late spring.  Spring started off like an evil joke this year, but we’re finally getting the mid 70s and sunny days that keep most of us Minnesotans in the bold North.  It’s also a short week for me!  I’m two weeks from my 2-year anniversary at my job and have a few vacation days to use or lose.  I’m choosing to enjoy a 5-day weekend this week.  And I’m trying to ensure I make enough time this week to do the things I enjoy.  I have 3 books on loan from my local library, and my goal is to finish at least one this weekend.  Other plans include drinking tea on my deck, planting some flowers and enjoying the beauty of the season.  I’ll also probably spend an exorbitant amount of time with my husband.  Did I mention how much I enjoy his company?  I feel like I might have casually mentioned it once or twice on this blog.  A long weekend with my main squeeze sounds like the perfect way to spend a holiday.

I have no doubt the second cycle will seem to go much faster than the first one.  We’re excited and scared, hopeful and nervous for the outcome.  The time has arrived and now we’ve got to put our game faces on and get ready for a whirlwind of a month.

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Parade Raining

Pardon me, while I fall off the face of the earth for a while.

Today has been a stressful day and it’s only half over.  I sit at my desk trying to focus on work, when what I really want to do is eat and drink my feelings.  Or escape this reality for a little while.  Anything to take my mind off the next week.

Our IVF down payment is due next Tuesday.  We are prepared for this.  We owe $11,735 up front to cover the retrieval and transplant.  All other appointments will be billed separately with the final payment due 30 days after all is said and done.  I looked back at how much those appointments cost last year and it ended up being about $2200.  Not cheap, but we’ve got some time to save and pay those off.  I’m not worried about that at all.  After all, I work in finance, so money is kind of my thing.

What we were not prepared for, however, was the ASTRONOMICAL cost for the fertility drugs,  Remember, if you will, that when we went through this last year, I had already met my medical deductible due to my gallbladder surgery.  When we ordered our medications, I only had to pay for one drug, due to my insurance not covering that particular one.  Our drug treatments costs a whopping $450.  I knew we were lucky; I had done some research on how much fertility drugs would cost and ballpark was $3-5k.  Staggering, right?  Well, let me tell you, that even if you’ve done your research and you feel like you’re mentally prepared to handle the cost of these drugs, you’re not ACTUALLY prepared to handle the final total.  This round of medications?  $4,612.86.  To my knowledge, that doesn’t include refills on any of the medications.  Just let that sink in for a second.

I’ve been trying so hard to work on my attitude this last week.  Just yesterday, I volunteered at a place called Open Arms in Minneapolis.  Open Arms is a non-profit organization that delivers free healthy, nutritious meals to people with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities.  As I worked alongside my co-workers, I was struck by how lucky I am.  I have my health, my husband, a roof over my head.  It could be a lot worse.  Then I get hit with this fertility medication total and I’m pissed off at the world again.  It shouldn’t be this hard.  It shouldn’t cost this much.  Terrible people have kids everyday and yet, all my husband and I want is to have one (seriously, we’ll settle for just one!) child of our own and the universe says “fuck you.”  You want this to happen?  Well, we’re going to make you work really fucking hard for it, and we’re not guaranteeing shit.

We’ve got the love.  We’ve got the desire.  We’ve got the money.  We’ve got the space.  We’ve got everything we need to welcome a child into this world. Apparently, that just isn’t enough.

So excuse me, while I ponder the unfairness of it all.  Because, right now, I’ve had about enough of this bullshit.

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It’s All Happening

It’s been a weird week.  I think most Minnesotans would agree.  It’s the middle of April and we just got hit with a two-day snowstorm that left over a foot of snow in the Twin Cities area.  Spring has been an elusive slag, with temperatures averaging about 15 degrees below normal.  While I’m sure these meteorological issues aren’t the sole reason for the depression that barreled at me this week, I’m sure it didn’t help matters.

It started with insomnia on Sunday night.  For whatever reason, insomnia is a common side effect with PCOS.  There’s no real evidence that I’ve found to explain why it happens, but insomnia seems to occur frequently with my fellow cysters. For me, there’s no telling how many consecutive nights I’ll be subjected to sleeplessness.  Sometimes, it’s just a night, sometimes it can last up to a week or more.  Unfortunately, this time around, it lasted for a solid 6 days.  Each night, I’d wake up at roughly the same time, and turn on the TV, tossing and turning, hoping the voices would lull me back into a fruitful REM cycle.  Yet each morning, I would get out of bed more delirious than the day before.  By Thursday, I was so exhausted that everything took too much effort.  I went radio silent, refusing to answer text messages or phone calls.  When Lee got home, I told him I was sorry, and that I wasn’t mad at him, but I needed him not to talk to me.  Lee was a trooper, and just let me be.  He sat on the opposite couch all evening being silent, his presence so very appreciated.

By the weekend, I started to recover.  I was finally able to fall asleep and stay asleep Friday night.  I still wasn’t ready to be too social, but I slowly felt like I was becoming myself again.  The blizzard was almost a blessing in disguise, really.  I often spread myself too thin on weekends and I didn’t have the opportunity to do that.  The blizzard almost kind of saved me from myself this weekend.  I was able to lay around, be lazy and really focus on listening to my body and what it needed.  My amazing husband took care of all of the shoveling and laundry, and even made a mid-snowstorm grocery run, so that we’d have snacks on hand for the impending snowpocalypse.  By Sunday, I felt as though I was finally back to my old self.  And just in time:  We have a big week ahead of us.

We didn’t get the good news we were hoping for with Lee’s sperm sample.  We didn’t get bad news, per sé, but it wasn’t the news we were hoping for.  Lee’s sample has not improved.  It’s frustrating for both of us, but especially for him.  I see him trying everything he can think of to improve his health and lifestyle.  He had such a good feeling about this analysis, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t great.  Oh well.  I told him we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing.  No reason to derail just yet.

I have another fun procedure on the docket today of which, I’m sure you’ll all be extremely jealous.  Have you ever heard of uterine scoring?  Me neither.  But it’s a procedure that Dr. Corfman suggested.  There isn’t a lot of evidence to support uterine scoring, but he said that theoretically, it makes a lot of sense.  It’s where they go in and actually scrape a small portion of the uterus to help with implantation of the embryos when they are placed in the uterus during in vitro.  I’ve been struggling with whether or not to agree to this procedure for the last month or so.  It’s like I have the proverbial angel and devil sitting on my shoulders.  The doom and gloom version of me wants nothing to do with this procedure.  After all, it seems that I’d be undergoing this procedure based on hypotheticals.  The procedure is only going to work IF we get viable embryos.  Last time none of our embryos ended up being viable, so why would this time be any different?  However, the positive version of me is screaming at the doom and gloom through all of this.  Just because we didn’t have any last time doesn’t mean we won’t this time.  There’s no harm in trying, right?  It’s not that expensive and Dr. Corfman thinks it might help, so shut the fuck up, Doom and Gloom Katherine, and give it a shot.

After that, Lee and I have to sit down to go over our medication plan with the IVF coordinator.  That will take place over the phone, so I will have time to go home after the procedure, change in to comfy pants and make a heating pad my bitch before we dial in.  As of right now, our IVF plan is on track, with the my next retrieval estimated to take place at the beginning of June.  While it’s very surreal that this is all happening again, I anticipate that it will sneak up on us yet again, almost as if out of nowhere.  Spring weather does appear to finally be on the horizon and I’m hopeful that it will bring with it, the desire and motivation I have been lacking this time around.

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Diving In

My attitude’s gotten a little bit better over the course of the last week, if I do say so myself.  Putting our decision to try again out in to the universe made it real.  Now that it’s out there, I’m putting my game face on.  And not a moment too soon.

I had my first blood test last week.  My estrogen and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) levels came back normal, which is good.  My AMH level came back high, which is what I was hoping for.  AMH, or Anti-Mullerian Hormone, measures a woman’s ovarian reserve.  A normal AMH level ranges from 1.5-4.0.  My AMH level is 9.0.  In layman’s terms; your girl has a lot of eggs left to be harvested.

Women with PCOS often have high AMH levels, which actually bodes well for IVF.  While the AMH level can’t predict how many of my eggs will be considered normal before harvesting, it does generally correlate with the number of eggs that will be retrieved.  And of course, we all now that the more eggs retrieved, the better the chances of harvesting normal eggs.  I’m considering that a win.

It’s important for us to hear these tidbits of good news, because time isn’t exactly on our side right now.  Lee is about 6 months away from turning 42.  Our doctor generally doesn’t use the sperm of men over 42, as it is believed there is a significant jump in children developing autism with older parents.  Our doctor has made exceptions to this rule, but we can’t count on that.

I’m also now on the wrong side of my mid-30s.  As women age, so do their eggs.  Eggs that were once considered perfectly healthy, start to develop abnormalities.  The number of abnormal eggs a woman has in her ovaries jumps to roughly 40-60% around the age of 35.  That number will go up roughly 20% in the next year or two.  The good news, is that with my AMH level being what it is, I’m probably closer to the 40% abnormal number.  But I won’t be for long.

After we received the good news about my blood tests, it was time for my Sonohysterogram.  It’s a rather uncomfortable procedure, so I was thankful that Lee not only drove me to the appointment, but treated me to breakfast afterward.  It’s the least he could do, really.

**Pro – Tip:  When your wife is being subjected to speculums and ultrasounds, do yourself a favor and buy her some pancakes.  It’ll make her considerably less crabby (at you)  when she’s dealing with the aftermath of the procedure.**

We received more good news at the Sono.  My uterus is still “nice & healthy”.  We’ve officially received the green light to proceed with IVF.

Up next is Lee’s semen analysis.  We’ll be waiting (im)patiently for the results.  Lee’s already got a sample on ice, but we’ve told the lab that if Lee’s next sample looks better than the one he currently has frozen, we would like to replace them.  Even though they rarely use the frozen sample for IVF, it will still be nice to have a back up (hopefully better) sample, should an issue arise.  You know, like Lee turning 42.

So that’s where we’re at.  It doesn’t quite feel real yet, but it’s getting there.  I’ve been travelling a lot for work later (which I’ll cover in another post), but I’m hoping that once I’m done with this assignment that I’ll be able to get back home and truly focus on the things that will make me feel good as we head into this time of uncertainty.  Until then, I’m trying to keep my head up and my eye on the prize.

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Cake = PRIZE.

 

The 30-Day Challenge

In my post last week, I mentioned that I would be starting a 30-Day PCOS challenge.  Well, it started yesterday and I’m pretty freaking excited!

I found this group on Pinterest as I was looking for PCOS friendly recipes.  The group leader was touting a lifestyle challenge that teaches people with PCOS how to eat in order to reduce symptoms.  After reading through the Facebook group, I found that the majority of the women who went through the lifestyle changes found a huge improvement in their overall health.  People that have had a hard time losing weight were finally finding success, and others who hadn’t had regular period in years were now ovulating regularly.  Their excruciating cramps, mood swings and fatigue are all a thing of the past.  The reviews abated my skepticism enough that I decided to give it a try.  After all, the challenge is free, so I literally have nothing to lose.

When you really think about it, it makes so much sense that the symptoms associated with PCOS can improve or worsen based on the way you nourish your body.  It’s no secret that heavily processed foods contain artificial ingredients.  Artificial ingredients  don’t provide substance and they can be engineered to create a sort of addiction to that food.  This results in people overeating and leads to obesity.  Eating fresh and organic is obviously the way to go, but try telling that to yourself when you’re hungover and craving the neon orange deliciousness that is Kraft Mac & Cheese, am I right?

One of the biggest hurdles for me during this challenge will be re-training myself to make food ahead of time.  I’ve started to get a little bit better at pre-packing lunches and making snacks to bring with me to work, but my problem is that I’m picky and get tired of food easily.  And I don’t particularly like pre-cooked or reheated meat.  I’m basically Gordon Ramsay in every episode of Kitchen Nightmares.  You give me a dish with something that’s been pre-cooked or reheated, I will come up with some cleverly vulgar way to tell you that it’s terrible.  So what does that leave me?  Probably tons, but for being someone who loves to cook, I’m not that creative.

Do you have any go-to recipes that you take with you to work each week?  If so, I’d love to hear about them.  Ideally, they would be dairy, gluten/grain and sugar-free or can be modified to remove those ingredients.  All recipes welcome!

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Finding Normalcy

I’ve spent a lot of time researching PCOS over the course of the last week, which has been an incredible eye opener.  I thought I had done a fair amount of research when I first started my IVF journey, but it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg.

PCOS affects each woman differently.  Here I had been so convinced that while I had PCOS, my PCOS wasn’t “that bad”.  That’s not necessarily true; how my PCOS manifests itself is completely different from the next person.  My symptoms aren’t as visible as many other sufferers.  But they are most definitely there.

My depression, that seems to appear out of the blue.  My anxiety, that started rearing its ugly head in my late 20s.  The insomnia that comes in fits and starts.  The incredible fatigue that plagues me so frequently.  And my weekly headaches.  Here, I had been so focused on the visible symptoms of PCOS such as acne and Hirsutism; the symptoms I didn’t have.  “Surely, my case can’t be that bad, because of X, Y, Z.”  False confidence is a sonofabitch.

I came across a website in which a woman claims to have treated her PCOS enough to fall pregnant naturally.  While my PCOS isn’t the primary cause of our fertility issues, I figured trying to treat my PCOS and reduce my symptoms definitely wouldn’t hurt.  After all, our doctor said it wouldn’t be impossible to get pregnant on our own.  Not probable, but not impossible.  Cue my best Lloyd Christmas impression….

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The more I’ve researched PCOS, the more enlightened I’ve become about the different  types of PCOS: Insulin resistant, immune related, environmental, post pill, or perhaps, even a combination of all four.  We know I’m insulin resistant, and one of the best ways to cure insulin resistance PCOS is to lose weight.  Well, I’ve lost about 25 pounds, and yet there’s been no real change in my symptoms.  I’m still regularly irregular.  I say that because I am fortunate in that I ovulate regularly, it’s just in an irregular time frame.  Women who ovulate normally typically ovulate every 21-35 days, whereas I ovulate every 36-42.  See?  Regularly irregular.  And yet, despite that, I consider myself fairly lucky.  There are some women who go MONTHS without ovulating.

Hindsight being 20/20, I’m not surprised that my menstrual cycle didn’t become more regular with weight loss.  I’ve always had longer cycles, regardless of whether or not I’ve been at the target weight for someone of my height.  So, there’s got to be something else that’s also affecting my cycle.

My next thought is that perhaps, my PCOS is the result of immune related or environmental issues.  As such, I have an appointment with an allergist today to get my first allergy test done in close to 30 years.  My mom has been pushing me to have an allergy test for quite some time, and now that I’ve hit my insurance deductible for the year, it seemed like a good time to do it.  YOU’RE WELCOME, MOM.

In all seriousness, my mom has been an advocate of allergy testing for years.  I was the child that was allergic to everything as a young kid.  I grew out of a lot of it as I got older, but I randomly break out in hives and rashes somewhat frequently, so it might finally be nice to see what causes these outbreaks.  It’s possible that an undiagnosed food allergy could be producing a hormonal imbalance, which could affect my cycle.

Finally,  I’ve joined a PCOS challenge.  It’s a 30-day challenge that teaches you how to treat PCOS with diet and lifestyle changes. It starts November 17th, and offers meal plans, recipes and shopping lists to help with the overall success of the challenge.  The best part is that the first 9 days are spent learning how to implement the changes.  The implementation of the diet doesn’t start until day 10, so I’ll still be able to get weird with some turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing on Thanksgiving.

I’m excited to implement these changes over the next few weeks to see if they make a difference. For some women, these subtle changes can result in immediate relief from their symptoms.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I end up falling in that group as well.

 

One Month Gone

It’s been a little over a month since we found out our IVF cycle didn’t work.  What a lonely month it’s been.

Our phones have been oddly silent since we found out.  Sure, there were the initial “I’m so sorry” and “we should get together soon” sentiments.  But those stopped a few days after we went public and we’ve been twiddling our thumbs ever since.  If it hadn’t been for both my best friend Erin and my sister being the driving forces behind our social lives these last few weeks, the loneliness of the last month would have been downright unbearable.

This post is not meant to shame anyone who hasn’t reached out over the last few weeks, but is merely to let you know how these last few weeks have been for us.  It seems that the most common reasons we’re hearing for radio silence are because people don’t know what to say.  Or they’re waiting for us to bring it up.  Or they figure we’ll reach out to them when we’re ready.  Whether people realize it or not, it’s those viewpoints that help to contribute to the shame we’ve been trying to avoid by making our story public.  The idea behind going public with our struggle was to normalize infertility.  We’ve been so open and honest about what we’re feeling and thinking in an effort to make people comfortable with the subject.  And yet, now that it didn’t work, it seems no one wants to talk to us.  While I’m sure it’s no one’s direct intention to make us feel this way, it feels like everything we went through doesn’t matter.  Our feelings since we found out don’t matter.  We don’t matter.

Imagine if you lost a loved one and no one was there to help you get through your grief.  Sure, you have a lot of  initial support after it happens and you feel surrounded by love in the days leading up to the funeral.  However, once the memorial service ends, most of those that helped you mourn your loss get back into the swing of daily life while you’re left trying to figure out how to live now that a piece of your heart is gone.    That’s how it feels right now.  We had so much support leading up to the day we found out the results.  After that, not so much.  While the grief of a failed IVF cycle is not the same as losing a living, breathing member of your family, it’s similar.

We went through a procedure that has the highest rate of return on achieving a successful pregnancy and it failed.  We had our dreams of having a child in 2018 all but destroyed.   Yes, we can try again, but we also have to entertain the idea that it just may never happen for us.  When you lose a loved one, most people don’t necessarily question what you could have done to keep them alive.  Yes, there are oftentimes things you wish you would have done differently, but you aren’t the reason they died.  In a situation like mine however,  I’m questioning everything.  Did we do everything right?  Could we have done more? Maybe if we would have been just a little bit skinnier or a little bit healthier.   Maybe if I would have been more concerned about eating organically or cut out coffee just a little bit sooner, the outcome would have been different.  All the shoulda woulda couldas are a little bit overwhelming at times.

If I end up being the only person you know that has gone through IVF and a subsequent failure, then I consider both you and your friends incredibly lucky.  It’s a pretty shitty thing to have to go through and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  But, if by some twist of fate, you have to watch someone else go through the pain and suffering of infertility, please remember this post, swallow your uncertainty and reach out.  It might seem like such a small gesture to you, but I can guarantee it will mean the world to them.

 

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