5 days a week.

As previously mentioned, we are on a a pause; the length of which is still yet to be determined. During this time, I have decided I need to bring some normalcy (and sanity) back into my life.

Over the course of my adult years, I have regularly had an on-again off-again relationship with the gym. I started to remain more regular with my gym attendance over the two years leading up to our first (DE)IVF cycle and it became a lifestyle for me; one which I really enjoyed. I felt stronger and healthier than I had in years. That being said, my weight still fluctuated as it would be an understatement to say that I. LOVE. FOOD. But I was healthy and was not overweight in any sense of the word.

After our first failed cycle, I began doing some reading and found that maybe I shouldn’t be pushing myself so hard at the gym. I spoke to my RE about it and was informed that I could do more body weight style exercises but I should slow down on my cardio and weights. Unfortunately, I struggle when it comes to balance and I started to get it in my head that if I couldn’t do what I wanted at the gym, there was no use in going at all. I spent nearly 8 months being extremely sedentary and eating all of my emotions. Very quickly I started to notice changes in my body; I was no longer balancing my love for food with keeping active. It got to the point that walking up a set of stairs was making my heart rate increase quite a bit – something I hadn’t experienced since my high school/college years.

I have been ashamed of how sedentary I’ve been, how much weight I’ve gained (I would need to lose 20lbs to get back to where I was when I used to think I needed to lose weight!!!), and honestly, where I’ve let my mental health get to. You see, I began really taking the gym seriously after struggling with migraines and headaches for a spell of FOUR MONTHS STRAIGHT(!) – every hour of every day without relief. After seeing my family doctor every other day for weeks, and then a CT scan and referral to a neurologist, it was discovered that I was actually just suffering from tension headaches. Awful, horrible tension headaches caused by stress. Rather than choosing to medicate constantly (which would barely even touch the pain), I worked out and the tension began to ease. So even when I started to wane in my interest with the gym, within a week I would get a headache that would send me back to work out.

Undeniably, physical fitness does such amazing things for my mental health. Silly me, let this coping mechanism go by the wayside during THE most stressful time of my life; and my mental health suffered considerably. My anxiety has increased, I have struggled with feelings of mild to moderate depression, and, as previously mentioned, my relationships have suffered as well; compounding the aforementioned issues. I have tried a couple of times to get back to the gym between our December and March cycles, as well as following the most recent failed March cycle; however, nothing seemed to work for me.

I was struggling with some significant anxiety related to the gym because, as it was later pointed out to me, it felt like just another area of life in which I had failed. Prior to (DE)IVF, I had always been a leader at the gym amongst my girlfriends; creating workouts and pushing them to keep going. While I had relegated myself the my couch for eight months, my girlfriends had actually kept going together and were well beyond my current fitness level. This has been rather difficult for me to accept.

So nearly a month ago, I made the decision to switch gyms and it has made a WORLD of difference. I feel like my girlfriends struggled with this decision but they have come to accept that it was what I needed to make the change in my life. The new environment has been motivating and I am 100% happy with my decision. Since starting, I have been attending the gym 5 days per week and have already noticed a significant change in my mental health and physical fitness level. Now, in saying this, I still haven’t lost one pound on the scale – in nearly four weeks – which at times is extremely frustrating; however, I am stronger and happier. I know the rest will come in time.

How I’m failing.

This post could be focused on so many different aspects. Failing to get pregnant, failing to let it be, failing to save more money, failing to keep the weight off… the. list. goes. on. What I’m actually want to focus on is how I’m failing everyone around me.

 

Infertility is hard. Staying sane through infertility is hard. Keeping even a shred of your former self is hard. Over the last year, I have come to realize that I have been drowning; however, it has been a slow realization. A part of me thought that I was handling things rather well, and maybe considering the shit storm that is infertility, I actually am; just not in everyone else’s eyes. I know it’s easy to brush this off (as I have done for the better part of a year) and rest on the fact that I need to focus on me throughout this journey and who cares what everyone else things because THEY JUST DON’T GET IT. This is 100% true; however, I have tried very hard not to let infertility become my whole identity. Since I have been drowning in my own feelings, I have forgotten about the feelings of those around me and the affect that this has had on them.

 


I have been having some rather difficult conversations over the last month with those that I love and have been failing. My husband, my closest friends, and my family.

 

My husband and I do not fight a lot. Communication is key for the place we work and as a result, we do our best to communicate as effectively as possible at home too; unfortunately, because I have been in cycles and so emotional, there have been some things that my husband has just chose not to bring up. He finally shared those thoughts and feelings with me and although it hurt, it hurt mostly because I didn’t realize the ways in which I was neglecting him and hurting him with my actions or non actions.  I have been doing my best to take what he said and work toward making improvements. It helps that I haven’t had an abundance of hormones in my system lately and am able think a little more clearly. He wasn’t rude in telling me, he didn’t use mean words; yet I knew that he was feeling hurt and left behind. It’s hard that the focus has been on me for the better part of a year and although I tried to check in with him to see how he was doing, I didn’t do everything I could to really ensure that he was okay too.

 

Two of my really close girlfriends (one was my maid of honour and one I became super close with in the years following our wedding) are aware of my infertility journey. I’ve spoken about each of them before as they have always made an effort to be supportive but aren’t always sure how to do so. They both have two children each. They both live a different life than I do because of those children. Don’t get me wrong, I love their children, one of which is my Godson whom I absolutely adore; however, as you all know, it is not easy being around children when you’re going through this process. Mix that with me getting frustrated about having to schedule my life around their ‘mom schedules’, it all became too much. I spent more time at home, and spent more time segregating myself from others; to the point that I would just binge watch tv shows because it was just easier than hanging out with people. As time passed, I became jealous of their friendship with each other – which I know was just a product of my actions, the fact that they are both at the same place in life and their schedules lined up much easier with each other. I was sad that they were working out together the whole time while I was staying out of the gym to try to benefit this infertility process.

 

Both of these girls are amazing friends and I don’t know what I would do without them; it’s hard knowing that I have been pushing them away for so long and the effect it has had on our friendships. I approached my best friend a few weeks ago, on a particularly low day and burst into tears, telling her that I was worried that I was losing her, that I knew it was my fault, but I had absolutely no idea how to make things better because I was so wrapped up in this infertility bullshit. She assured me that she wasn’t going anywhere, that she was still my person, and that we could work it out. Since then, I have been putting forward a better effort to be a better friend and be there for her, as much as she has been for me.

 

Just this week, I spoke to my other friend while we were working a shift together. It was hard because she’s not as outwardly with her emotions and it was difficult to get her to really open up and be honest with her feelings. I knew I had hurt her with my actions and really wanted to sincerely apologize so that we could begin moving forward and getting back to where we used to be.

 

I have another friend who is long distance, she lives about 4 hours away from me and we only see each other 2-3 times a year. Again, since I have been so wrapped up in my own shit and have become reclusive, I have let our friendship down. Another failure of mine. When in a cycle I internalize everything and it’s hard for me to open up. I’m physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted all of the time and have very little energy for anything. I’ve allowed this to keep me from reaching out as much as I should, and that’s not right or fair to her. Since we don’t see each other very often, I need to be making my best effort. It’s been obvious that I’ve upset her too, so I have been making more of an effort to reach out to her and keep in touch.

 

Infertility sucks. It’s hard to navigate. Half of the time I don’t know my own feelings and yet I’ve put expectations on others to be able to navigate them when they’re around me. How is that fair?  I have started working on me again lately, and with that, working on who I am as a wife, a friend, and a co-worker. Let’s hope I can stop letting people down, because, honestly, I want these people to still be in my life when this infertility journey is over; I have sacrificed so much during this journey and I don’t want these relationships to be on that list.

The Pause. 

I know I have been MIA for a while, mostly because there hasn’t been anything to say on the TTC front. We’re on a pause. We’re not sure how long this pause will last at the moment as I haven’t even spoken to our RE for a follow up to our last cycle yet. As I’ve previously mentioned, our RE/Nurse/Clinic does not even make a follow up call after final bloodwork of a failed cycle; it’s up to us to make contact. My husband and I still need to sit down and come up with a list of questions to ask when we do call in. I have started one, but need his input to make sure I am not missing anything. In the mean time, we’ve been getting quotes for roofers in our area as our shingles are literally flying off our roof at an alarming rate; the best part is that it has not stopped raining in weeks it seems so if it wasn’t leaking before, it probably is now.  Some days I hate adulting.

 

Following our failed cycle, I chose not to go back on birth control for a bit (something that I have ALWAYS been on as a hormone replacement #bumovaries) to see just what my body might do on it’s own. The answer to that folks is NOTHING. My body chose to do NOTHING on it’s own. I shouldn’t be surprised, but like always I held out a little bit of hope that I might get a natural cycle (without ovulation as I don’t have eggs). Well, thinking back I guess it’s unfair to say that my body did nothing, what it did manage to do was start going through menopause. See, that is why I have been on hormone supplementation since I was 11 years old; my ovaries suck so I have been keeping menopause at bay constantly since then with the use of birth control. Let me tell you, menopausal hot flashes are no joke (I cannot tell you how much jokes about hot flashes/menopause piss me off – if only people knew how shitty it all is…). Not only have i been experiencing hot flashes, but I have also been experiencing dryness *ahem* down there. After not having sex for the six weeks of our cycle, this is not something that is welcomed. So finally, after 36 days, I decided enough is enough and started back on birth control. It’s been a week now and yet I’m still dealing with the hot flashes. I guess patience is a virtue…

 

I have been talking with my close friend about different medications and approaches that we might want to consider moving forward to help with thin lining and implantation issues. She is dealing with very similar situation and has been excellent in the research that she has been doing. I’m guilty in of getting tired of reading the same information over and over again and sometimes take a break from it; whereas she sticks to it and tends to stumble upon new ideas. So my list of questions/suggestions is growing for my RE and I guess I need to get on with booking a follow up appointment with him so we can start working on a plan. A plan that probably won’t be implemented until the end of summer, but we shall see.

 

It’s not easy taking a break, yet at the same time I think it’s necessary. My husband refers to me as a fighter that he, as a coach, keeps putting back into the ring no matter how beat up I get. He feels bad and wishes that there is more he could do. He’s wonderful and it’s good that he makes me step back and breathe every now and then; otherwise, I’d be jumping head first into the next cycle and that might not be best for my mind, body, spirit or wallet.

Sometimes it takes the person you love, not just to pick you back up, but to hold you back from the fight once in a while. 

FET #3 – Cycle Day 8…

On Friday I had the Endometrial Scratch….OW. I wouldn’t put it at a 10/10 on the pain scale but for the brief 15 seconds that everything was happening, it was pretty damn close! I just bit down on my hand to stifle my scream and took some deep breaths to get through it. As my RE told me before hand, “there are going to be two people in the room and neither of us will want to be there.”  I think he was pretty spot on. The cramping and spotting lasted the rest of the day but was fine by Saturday.

I had a brutal cold that lasted all weekend so I had trouble trying to figure out if the headache I was having was from all of the nasal congestion or if it was due to the medication. Luckily, I’ve figured it out now – it’s definitely from the medication as it has stuck around. Two nights ago I went to bed at 8:30pm; I was a sobbing mess. I stood in front of my husband crying and asking him to make me feel better. I had had enough and it was SO painful. I’m a migraine sufferer and have gone through phases where I have a tension headache for, literally, months; however, there are few headaches that have brought me to full on tears as this one did.

Though, now that I think back, it might have something to do with the fact that since I have begun taking Menopur, I have turned into a blubbering mess. Quite seriously, I cry at the drop of a hat these days. On Saturday, while laid up on the couch all day with the cold – I cried FIVE TIMES before noon!!! Whether it was a sappy commercial or movie, or just my puppy being super sweet; it did not matter, it brought me to tears. 

Now, I have had heightened emotions during previous cycles as well, but this has brought it to a whole new level. Thankfully, I seem to be able to avoid such breakdowns at work so far and hope very much to keep it that way due to my chosen field.

Yesterday, I went for my second set of scans and blood work. My husband had to come with me this time as we needed to sign all of our consent forms by Monday (yesterday) in order to continue with our cycle. I’d like to point out that we were given our consent forms on Thursday and had been asked to complete them by my Endometrial Scratch on Friday (again, we were told that we would not be able to continue with the cycle if we didn’t have them completed by that day); however, they require the signatures to be witnessed by someone at the clinic OR by a Notary! My husband was not able to accompany me to the Endometrial scratch as they had given us less than 24 hours notice for that appointment and I was already having to take time off work to go and we were working opposite shifts on Thursday – so how the heck does one manage to get the consent forms signed and witnessed within that short time frame?! The answer – we didn’t have them done by Friday. I had him sign the forms anyway and I brought them in but informed them of the circumstance. My RE was able to smooth everything over for my Endometrial Scratch to go ahead as planned but told me I would need to have the forms completed properly and submitted by Monday at the latest. This means either travelling back to the city (2 hour drive in each direction just to sign some documents in front of someone at the clinic), find a Notary that was open over the long weekend (yes, Monday was a holiday here so nothing was open then either), or my husband could accompany me bright and early for my scan appointment on Monday to our monitoring clinic.

My lining measurement has always been a source of apprehension for me as I’ve always had trouble. As my RE says “kid, no doubt you are talented in a lot of different areas – but growing a lining isn’t one of them!” (Don’t worry, I love my RE and in no way do I find this hurtful or offensive, he actually manages to make me laugh EVERY time I see him.) I had a bit of an internal panic moment when I looked at my file and my measurement was noted to be 0.4!!! I had a bit of a heart attack while thinking to myself that it might be a little earlier than I am used to having scans, but usually am scanned around CD10 and have at least 4mm(ish). For nearly three hours (even after getting to work and trying to distract myself with other tasks…) I was under the impression that I had the thinnest lining on the face of the earth. …And then I realized that my clinic has always recorded my lining measurements this way and that in fact my lining IS measuring at 4mm as they record their results in centimeters! I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten this from previous cycles and had spent so much time freaking out; oh, I think my brain is broken!

So I have calmed down significantly, I’m actually feeling a little hopeful as this scan was about three days earlier in the cycle than usual so my lining *might* actually be behaving better this time?! I don’t want to set myself up for failure but I’m letting a little bit of the hope shine through. I go back for another scan and blood work on  Thursday so we’ll see then how it’s going. I haven’t been for any acupuncture yet as it hasn’t fit into my schedule/budget for the past two weeks and now I don’t know if I should hold off to see if everything is going fine without it and save a little bit of money if it is OR risk having my lining not respond as well without it….BAH!

On a more positive note,  since the day it arrived in the mail,  I have been wearing a bracelet that I received this Christmas which has meant so much to me. Through this blogging world,  I have found someone that really gets it. We have such similar stories and experiences that it’s actually kind of crazy when we compare similarities. She sent me this bracelet and it’s a constant reminder of strength this  cycle and it’s helping me to believe that our wish will one day come true. I am beyond greatful for the many people the blog has brought into my life! 

XO ❤️

  

FET #3 – Cycle Day 3…

Things have started up again. My husband and I chose to wait a couple of extra weeks before starting this FET cycle in order to make sure our heads were on straight before jumping back into the craziness of it all. We chose to do two extra weeks of birth control which wasn’t an issue with my Doctor.

Two days ago, I got my ‘withdrawal bleed’ (the only ever type of period I have experienced as I do not, nor have I ever, cycled naturally). The bleeding has been slightly irregular for me, in the sense that it has been very light flow, and brown in nature after the first night (which actually started around 10pm on Monday). That is until today when things started right up and the flow became heavier and more red. I’m not normally one to have such a slow start to things – and just my luck – on the day of my baseline scan.

As I previously wrote up in a recent post, today I am to start Menopur; which is another first for me. As our protocol for this FET has significantly changed from our last three (two FETs that resulted in chemical pregnancies, one fresh transfer that was cancelled at the very last minute), there are going to be a lot of firsts coming up. The next one being an endometrial scratch. I got the call a few minutes ago that I will be having the scratch done TOMORROW at 11am. I must say, they are great with the advance notice! I will be travelling to the clinic in the big city (where we have our transfers done) for this so I now need to book off from work as it will take most of the day and I was scheduled to work from 8-4. Thankfully, my boss has been great thus far is working my schedule around any appointments that arise.

I am currently waiting for another call, from our other clinic (where our monitoring is done) to let me know all of the instructions surrounding the scratch procedure. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little nervous as a friend has informed me (as has my RE) that it’s going to hurt like bloody murder. Great. My husband has plans out of town; which he’s ready to drop at a moment’s notice to take me if I want – the trouble with that is, I have a very strong resolve to try to keep our lives as normal as possible during all of this as the stress and enormity of it all is always extremely overwhelming. I don’t want this to be our lives. I want there to be more for the both of us through this. His plans out of town are for something that he looks forward to on a yearly basis, all of his friends from near and far are coming for it and I don’t want to take that away from him. He’s offered, and made it very clear that this FET is his main priority right now (have I ever mentioned how damn amazing this man is?! He really is…). Now I just need to let him know if I’ll take him up on his offer; something I’m not even sure of yet.

So I guess I’ll get back to work for now as I’ve been distracted long enough and now my week is going to be shorter than expected already. Hope my instruction phone call comes in soon so I can start making decisions….what to do, what to do?….

The new plan.

First off, an update since my last post.

My last cycle came to an official end on Dec 31. I took this as a symbol of a fresh start with the new year – see you never fucking again 2016!! Hello 2017!

 I could feel the hormones wear off as the days passed and I got back to the gym a little bit which has helped incredibly with my mental health. That last cycle was a real bitch. I was most affected by side effects from the medication; from feeling the mood swings from hormones to having the skin on my neck blister and peel from the Viagra. It was awful but it’s what we do when we want something oh so much!

So finally, two weeks after starting birth control I made the call to our RE to find out the next step for us to take. As much as I had wanted to know our plan earlier, I needed time. Time to get my hormones levelled out, to get my head straight and to just chill the fuck out. I hadn’t even cried since finding out that our pregnancy was a chemical pregnancy and that it was ending again, I had shoved it all so deep down that although the emotions always seemed to feel right at the surface, they seemed to stay buried.

That changed the day I called the clinic. I had left a message for the receptionist to let her know that we had an early loss (my monitoring is completed at a different clinic in an entirely different city) and I was calling with regards to getting a plan in place for moving forward. She called back the next day looking for clarification and informed me that the last beta she had on my file was only 9 so it wasn’t a chemical nor was it an early miscarriage as 9 is technically a negative result. She went on to say that for it to be a chemical pregnancy, my beta would have needed to have at least gotten into the double digits. I quickly explained to her that my earlier betas HAD gotten into the double digits and that my beta of 9 was the final bloodwork I had completed before stopping meds.

You want to know how she replied? (you really don’t as I know anyone reading this blog is going to find this as awful of a response as I did)

“…Bummer.”

No joke.

She proceeded to ask if I wanted an appointment with the RE or if I just wanted him to write up another protocol and send it over. I quickly tried to ask for an appointment and say goodbye before hanging up as I could barely keep it together. I bawled – a big, heaving, ugly, sobbing cry. My phone immediately starting ringing again and I saw that she was calling back but there was no way I could answer so I let it go to voicemail. Then she called again, right after. I thought maybe she had realized what she had done and was calling to apologize. I listened to the voicemail and it said that she had just gotten a call after we hung up (it must have been her very next call because she was calling me back within 2 minutes) with a cancellation for 930am the next day and was wondering if I could make it as it is in the city 2 hours away. I immediately contacted my boss to take the day off and called her back to take the appointment.

I worked until midnight that night and was rather tired from my big sobfest but was up at 5am the next day to catch the bus, which took me to the train, which got me to the subway system that took me two blocks from the clinic. I made it a half hour early and waited in the waiting room with a number of other patients. I usually have no problem driving to the clinic; however, we had a solid 24+ hours of freezing rain and didn’t want to get my car into an accident on the busy highways.

My RE came out to the waiting room to get me himself and sat with me for over half an hour as we discussed our next plan. He’s amazing and every time I see him, I’m reminded of that. My RE cares about me and that alone means the world to me. He even told me that he wants to get me pregnant because he wants me to get him out of my life as soon as possible. He also told me that I’m a tough project for him – which is par for any kind of medical issues that I’ve had and I always hear this from Doctors; I kind of find it entertaining now, especially since I know he’s working super hard to finish this project. Between the afternoon that I got the last minute cancellation to the next morning at 0930am, my RE had met with the head Embryologist and his team to come up with a new plan for me and get new ideas.

He is still trying to avoid using Neupogen in my cycles so the plan we have moving forward is this:

  • They will be trying to mimic a natural cycle (which I have never had)
  • As I am on BC now, I will continue to take it for the usual 21 days and stop and have a bleed
  • I will call in my CD1
  • On CD3 I will start Menopur 75 units for 11 days (dose may be adjusted based on FSH levels)
  • Somewhere between CD3 – CD6 I will have an Endometrial Scratch done
  • After 11 days on Menopur, he will jack up the dose to 300 units for 3 days
  • I will then take 10,000 units of HCG
  • Three days later I will start on 50mg (1cc) of PIO shots
  • On day four of PIO, I will have another Matris Ultrasound to check the receptivity of my endometrial lining
  • On day four, I will also start 5 days of Medrol (corticosteroid)
  • If my Matris score is between 6-10, on day six of the PIO shots I will have the transfer

I have been fully warned that this may not work as there is no way to know how my endometrial lining will respond to these medications. He was worried that perhaps the Viagra is only creating a cosmetic effect for my lining; therefore, although it is getting thick enough the quality might be suffering. I had suggested the scratch, which he was supportive of, as well as Prednisolone but he was hesitant to us it. He has prescribed a different corticosteroid, Medrol, for the days surrounding the transfer.

Fingers crossed for this upcoming cycle. Let’s hope we’ve found the right steps to make it a successful one!

Officially non-viable. 

Due to the holidays being right in the middle of my beta needs, I had to wait 5 days from my last beta which was only 19 to confirm what the Doctors suspected. I had to get different paperwork to get my blood drawn at a local lab as both of my clinics are closed over the holiday. They had instructed me to go to my family doctor to have the HCG tested but when I called, I learned that they were closed even longer than my fertility clinics!!

I had spotting that started on Christmas Eve so I knew what to expect. I thought I would be able to escape having a miscarriage over Christmas – and I guess I still was for the most part but the spotting continued until Boxing Day before it stopped. Today, at 6 weeks pregnant, I was finally able to get my blood work done at a local lab that I found where I could check my results online; there was no way I was waiting another week for my Doctor to interpret my results.

I had confirmed with the nurse last time I spoke with her that if there was a significant drop and I was close to or less than 5, I could stop the meds. So…my beta came back this morning at 9  which is the significant drop they were waiting for – this pregnancy is confirmed to be non-viable and all of my medications have officially been stopped.

Did I mention that pregnant my sister-in-law who I haven’t seen in months (whom I was anxious about seeing because I had not seen her with a belly yet), showed up to Christmas Eve (the night I started spotting) wearing a Christmas shirt that said “Baby” with a candy cane heart across her stomach?! It hurt. I was already having a rough time with everything and already having anxiety about the holiday and that was like a kick in the stomach. AND SHE KNOWS WHAT WE’RE GOING THROUGH!!!! I’m not saying she shouldn’t be able to experience all of the fun and amazing aspects of pregnancy but maybe be a little bit more sensitive?! Her step-daughter (she has 4 step-children with her partner) even made a comment about how she had already worn the shirt twice this week, so it’s not even like she had JUST received the shirt and wanted to wear it for the first time.

I don’t think it’s all hit me yet. I pushed everything deep down over Christmas and slapped a smile on my face to put people at ease. Even though we told my family where things were headed,  it felt as though no one really understood. I don’t feel like anyone really understands that I am pregnant but now headed for yet another early miscarriage. I’m sorry, I know what I am experiencing is no where near as awful as seeing those ultrasounds or heartbeats and then finding out later that the baby has died,  but I’m still losing my baby. I’m still doing everything I can not to crumble into a million pieces.  It’s still devastating losing this pregnancy at 6 weeks as it’s the furthest we’ve ever made it. 

I’m going to try to go to sleep and find comfort in the fact that I’ve survived every hard situation in my life to this point –  what’s one more… I’m strong and even though I feel alone in this grief right now,  I will get through it again.