The follow-up.

I started writing this post on June 22 but have not come back to complete it until now…

I FINALLY had my follow up appointment – for my March cycle. Yes, you read that correctly. As previously mentioned, my clinic does not reach out to you after a cycle; therefore, it has always been up to me to call them when I am ready. This time it took a little longer for me to reach out and give them a call. When I did, the receptionist asked me if I really needed an appointment or if I could just email her the questions that I had for the Doctor and she would review them with my RE and get back to me. So that’s what I did. I had quite an involved list of questions because, you see, we only have 3 embryos left. Three tries and that’s it as far as I can see. Even if we could as our friend (and egg donor) to go through the process again, we couldn’t afford it; and honestly, I’m not sure if she’d even be willing.

So I sent her the email with our list of questions. It took her a number of days to get back to me, just to have her leave me a voicemail telling me that I indeed need an appointment, she offered me a date (which obviously did NOT work within my schedule as I was out of town speaking at a conference), and proceeded to tell me that she hopes that date works for me as my RE is about to go on a month long vacation and fitting in an appointment right now is difficult. Excuse me?! It wouldn’t have been so difficult if you had booked me an appointment three weeks ago when I had originally asked for one!! I informed her that I would not be able to make the appointment she gave me but she was able to re-book it for the following week; which, happened to be yesterday.

My anxiety began creeping in a week leading up to the appointment. Not that I felt I had anything to worry about, just that it was bringing everything back to reality – you see, I had been sticking my head in the sand since March and had ignored the whole process. Now it was time to face it all over again. Yesterday morning, I woke up at 5:30am and was on the road by 6:15am to make the drive to my clinic for 9am. I really don’t like being late so I gave myself just shy of 3hrs to make the 1h40m drive. Yeah, I’m crazy like that, plus I knew I would be facing some big city rush hour traffic as well so it allowed me for some slowdowns. Well, let me tell you – I was fifteen minutes late for my 9am appointment because of all the traffic/accidents on the way. Cue the stress and anxiety. As my clinic is downtown, I also take the subway system part of the way so that I only have to face the highway craziness, not the downtown drivers as well. Being late meant that I had to RUN the 5 blocks from the subway station to my clinic; and, let me just say – I sweat on a cool day, sitting still…let alone on a high humidity sunny day, running 5 blocks. It was not a pretty sight.

My appointment didn’t get much better from there. Thankfully, I love my RE, he has always been amazing and comforting with everything that we have faced. I apologized to him for being late and his response was “I think we have a long enough relationship for you to be late once!” I appreciated the sentiment but immediately we jumped straight into the deep end of our conversation. He started by telling me that if money weren’t an issue, ideally he would move to discussing surrogacy as this would be the easiest solution for us bringing a healthy baby into this world.

Have you, dear reader of this blog, ever fallen on your back and had the wind knocked out of you? Well, that’s how it felt. 

He immediately clarified that he was not giving up on me, nor would he ever do so; however, it made things very clear as to where his thoughts stand and the likelihood of us ever being successful. Three embryos. That’s it, that’s all we have to work with.

My RE had printed out my list of questions I had sent ahead and went through each point one by one, explaining why we should or shouldn’t try each item. We discussed a number of different medications and have settled on adding in a blood flow medication closer to transfer, in addition to a high dose of ibuprofen and an extra shot of PIO to reduce my uterus from cramping at the time of transfer. We will continue to do the Estrace tablets and patches, as well as the POI injections, and aspirin. He mentioned Viagra again but my last cycle was my most successful lining thickness and we didn’t use the Viagra so he let me off the hook for that one! It’s probably the worst for me, symptom-wise, so it’s best if I don’t have to take it. We will also complete Matris testing again prior to transfer to check the quality of my lining.

He brought up the possibility of doing ERA testing (Endometrial Receptivity) which I’m a bit hesitant to do at this time. He doesn’t think it’s necessary at this point, stating that if we only had one or two embryos he might be more apt to push it. We talked about how our last cycle may have just been a byproduct of statistics; something I had wondered about all along. My lining had been the thickest they had seen it, the embryo looked beautiful, transfer went off without a hitch; yet for some reason our pregnancy test was negative. In my heart I believe it’s because of statistics. Each of our previous cycles had resulted in at least a positive pregnancy test (even if we haven’t made it further than that…) so what were the chances of another positive test when only 60% of transfers work in the first place.  I’m also hesitant to complete the ERA testing because of the cost. The test itself is $1075 to have done PLUS the cost of a cycle’s worth of medication – all to wind up not completing a transfer. Then, if my endometrium isn’t receptive, would I not have to repeat the process again, have another biopsy, spend all the money just to confirm that my endometrium IS receptive on whichever day they think it is?! We just don’t have the money for this right now, just going through with another FET cycle will be pushing our limits right now, so to me, at this stage, it would feel like throwing away money that we don’t have.

So as things stand, we are hoping to go ahead with a cycle starting in September. We’ve taken the summer to just enjoy ourselves, and each other, without the added stress. I think this is the best option for us right now as summer always helps me to refill my happy-meter. I’m nervous about starting another cycle, yet itching to get going. Being in this holding pattern is an odd feeling because part of me feels like we’re wasting time, even though I know it’s what is best for us.

Hope everyone has been enjoying their summer so far!

xo.

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.

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.