Sunday, September 29, 2013


I've been blog-stalking this weekend at work and I have realized that one of the first things I look for first at a new-to-me blog is the timeline.  How long have they been at this?  The length and intensity of a blogger's struggle has become important to me.

Stupid Stork once wrote a post discussing how we in the IF community have a tendency to "grade" each other by how long we've been trying, and use that grade to scale how much support we can muster for their struggle.  It's sad, but for me anyway... it's true.  I find that I am more supportive of someone who has

1)  Been in the trenches for a few years OR
2)  Been through more tortuous attempts -- though there is a small part of me that still is a little jealous over this person's ability to PAY for said multiple attempts, while we're being honest here...

It's an odd scale. Degrees, on degrees on degrees, but I dare you to say you don't have one and that you are equally supportive of Mary-It's-Been-3-Months-No-Luck and Jane-10Years-IVF#5-MC#3.

It occurred to me that I didn't have such a timeline anywhere on the blog detailing my IF struggles prior to Mr. R and that is where the bulk of my time in the trenches was spent so I added a handy second page you know... for your consideration when handing out support points. ;)

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Like what I did there?

Well, here we are a few months in to my supplements.  As I mentioned, I did skip a few days here and there back when I went through my gloom and doom phase, but I picked them all back up the day I found out about the study... and here we are exactly two weeks later and I am noticing some stuff that I want to mention and see if anyone else has had similar experiences.

1)  Spotting.  I have a little spotting almost every single day of my cycle, regardless of when I ovulate.  It's really minimal and (TMI) only when I wipe, but it's there.  It's not a problem other than it really puts a damper on any possible non-baby-making sex... :/

2)  I was due to start my period this week.  Don't ask me the exact date, but it was this week sometime.  (Note:  Due to the vasectomy there really is no point in temping and tracking my cycles since there is 0% chance of falling pregnant without assistance.  That, and the fact that charting is a BIG pain in the ass, plus the fact that I did it for 6 years during my previous marriage without success means that I just don't care to chart at the moment).  Anyway, I have all the period start signs: aching, swollen breasts; some cramping; some spotting (again this has been going on all month); some lower back pain... It's been like this for about 5 days now, but still no period and today is Saturday. 

3)  (TMI) Those Chinese herbs have seriously kick-started my digestive system.  I have never been as regular as they say.  I'm told you should "go" twice a day to be considered regular.  My whole life I have been an every other day kinda girl.  Not any more... Since starting the herbs (8 pills with every meal) I am going at least 4, sometimes 5 times a day.  Everything appears normal, but I am just going a LOT!  Did anyone else find this?  I mean, my acupuncturist said they would remove blockages but DAMN!

4)  I started the DHEA slowly this time, for the first few days I took just one pill a day with my nighttime supps, then I raised it to 2 pills, one at lunch and one at night.  This week I am up to the recommended dose of 3 per day and I am not noticing the same adverse effects I noticed the last time.  No DHEA rage at all!

5) Melatonin dreams.  Oh man, I sleep like a rock, but I have some crazy-ass, vivid dreams on this stuff.  And because I also drink so much water (1 gallon a day) I get up to pee 2-3 times a night, but the dreams continue when I get back into bed seamlessly.  I do find it harder to get out of bed when I take them, but I know that the sleep I am getting is better, more restful sleep so I just go to bed a little earlier than normal and set my alarm a little earlier too.  (I wake up at 4am for work, so the new 3:30am alarm isn't my favorite part of this!)

Other than that everything is going along swimmingly.  I am moving to two acupuncture appointments starting next week.  Still no official start date for the trial, but I am going to be all good on the acupuncture whenever it starts.  Nothing for us to do now but continue taking our supps and wait... Mr R took his first Clomid last night, will be back with an update on what/if he notices any effects.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Urologist

As a reminder, not only do I have DOR (Diminished Ovarian Reserve) but Mr. R has a 14 year old vasectomy that is beyond the recommended cut off age for effective reversal.  We were referred to this Urologist by our RE.  Their offices are in the same building, and they work together often.  We'll call him Dr. B.  Dr. B studied at Harvard and Duke University and specializes in male fertility so I figured he was well qualified to handle my man's nuts ;).  He is a large, soft spoken, African American man - think Mike Tyson.  Mr. R was not amused... "Really?  No pressure or anything!" haha

 We met him at a location closer to our home, he sees patients there every Monday in a shared office set-up that is common around here. (i.e. today it's a Urologist, tomorrow a Foot and Ankle doctor and on Wed it's an Ear, Nose, Throat doctor.)  The place was not exactly super sparkly clean- note the yellowed seat of the examination bench BLEURGH!- , and we were greeted by the receptionist with "Sign in here." No time wasted on pleasantries at all! We were finally ushered through to the back a full 30 minutes after our scheduled appointment, and waited there an additional 30 minutes before Dr. B breezed into the room dragging his laptop table behind him.  Mr. R was grumpy, I mean REALLY grumpy! He grumbled several times that this was ridiculous and that he already didn't like this doctor, and he wasn't sure he wanted him anywhere near his "bits".  By the time Dr. B walked in I was sure Mr. R was ready to walk out. But 2 minutes after meeting the good doctor Mr. R softened and joked, and relaxed and all was well again.  I had all my questions answered.  He was not at all condescending (as some of the doctors we've met on our journey have been).  He really put my mind at ease and I am very happy we are working with him.

Some notable notes from this consult:

-  We will not freeze any sperm and will do the aspiration on the morning of my egg retrieval.  This unfortunately means that they will most likely be wheeling Mr. R out of the room and wheeling me in.  No hand holding.  No calming talks while all the "science" part of this is going on.  Cold sterile rooms, on our own, separately.  I was bummed about this, but I trust that Dr. B knows  his stuff when he says they have MUCH better success with fresh over frozen.  Dr. B is therefore ready to go at a moment's notice whenever I am ready for retrieval -- which I thought was really quite remarkable!  Down side is that we will have to have a fresh extraction with every IVF attempt.  Upside is we cannot afford more than one IVF attempt (aside from the trial) and because they are able to work from same room at same time per Dr. B the cost of doing a fresh extraction every time is very, very reasonable... around $1,000.  Anyone else had experience with this sort of procedure and can chime in on costs?

He will not be doing an extraction through the vas, but will rather take a section of the testes and extract sperm from there.  Strangely Mr. R finds the idea of him cutting away a piece of his testes less painful sounding than them threading a tube through there and sucking up some swimmers.  Men!  Go figure.  He described the pain relief, anesthesia which Mr. R found to be agreeable.  This was the area he was most concerned with.  He will have a valium cocktail before entering the surgery, he will then receive shots in his lower abdomen and only then will they move to the more area-specific anesthetic.

Dr. B thinks Mr. R is perfectly fertile and doesn't suspect any issues with count or quality of his sperm. He ran through a number of questions designed to "guesstimate" Mr. Rs fertility.  I like to call it the Man Test.  The questions were as you'd expect:  How often do you have intercourse, do you have other children, etc.  My favorite part was when he asked, "How often do you shave?" and Mr. R who is meticulous about his grooming replied, "You mean my face?" I nearly fainted. Anyway, based on his answers and the physical examination Mr. R is guessed to be perfectly fertile behind the vasectomy, but we won't really know until the day of, which of course is going to drive me crazy with worry.  For now Dr. B has prescribed clomid.  (I know right? Wierded me out too, but apparently it boosts testosterone production and will create what Dr. B describes as "super sperm" and while we're not too concerned about sperm count or quality, we need all the help we can get).

Lastly... We have been talking about our plan C.  Our final attempt, our last hope.  We are not going to be able to afford to keep trying with IVF and donor eggs and other measures.  Adoption is also out of our price range.  After the trial we have one IVF cycle and then ??  Mr. R has a 14 year old vasectomy and doctors we have spoken to advise against a reversal saying it's a complete waste of time, with million-to-one odds.  I have read enough on these blogs and forums to know that any shot is better than none.  Right now, every cycle goes by with a zero percent chance.  I am so happy for, (but secretly quite envious of), those of you with DOR and no male factor issues because the supplement cocktail has been working all kinds of miracles in the IF blogosphere... but no amount of wonder supps will ever help me as long as we have the vasectomy to deal with.  I asked Dr. B to be honest about his feelings about a reversal being our last ditch effort.  He was supportive!  He said he has seen people overcome amazing odds and he sees nothing wrong with a reversal up to 15 years.  After that there really is no hope because of the "sludge" that accumulates in the tubes.  So IF we fail at these two cycles, that is what we're going to do.  The cost is about half of a full IVF cycle, which is still a LOT of money, but it's an amount which secures us multiple months of possibilities instead of one single shot at success.  Mr. R has some concerns about our age.  He is 41 and doesn't really want to be successful for too much longer.  He has issues with the idea of being an "older parent" and we're talking about this... bottom line is, with me being pre-menopausal already at 35 we really won't have too much longer anyway!

So that in a nutshell is our visit to the Urologist.  Now we pick up the clomid script and get him going on those in addition to the Fertility Blend supps for men and I continue with my fitness, supps, acupuncture and TCM and we wait to hear back from the Dr. C about the start date for the trial. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

First Acupuncture

 Friday was my first ever acupuncture appointment.  It's on everyone's fertility to-do list, and has been on mine, but the cost is just too much for me to cover in addition to all the saving we have to do to pay for our own IVF.  I called the clinic on Friday morning as I still hadn't heard anything more about the trial.  We have a urologist appointment today (Monday) and I wanted to make sure I knew what we needed to tell the Urologist about the trial... Okay, being honest I totally just used the urologist as a reason to call so that I could hear someone say again that I was for sure in the trial...

I left a voicemail and heard back from them just before the acupuncture appointment time saying that yes, I am still in the study and that there is nothing special I need to tell the urologist about it.  Hmmm.... She also went on to say, "Oh!  I do have more firm dates for the trial."  Me: "Really? AWESOME!" Her: "Yes, we're looking at October."  Me: "Yes, last I heard we were looking at first or second week of October.  No firm start date yet then?"  Her:  "No, that's all we have for now."  Honestly, how is the month of October a firm date?  Is it just me?  I dunno. I wish they were more decisive and firm about this... this airy-fairy, up-in-the-air attitude makes me panic!  I just need to remember that this is going to cost us 10% of a full pay cycle and suck it up. Ohhhmmmmmmm Ohhhhhmmmm

So anyway, back to the acupuncture... I decided to get started with this since we are essentially about 2-3 weeks out from start of the trial and it needs time to work properly. I had no idea what to expect barring what I heard from other IF bloggers who have done this treatment.  Let's start off by saying that I didn't feel super confident in his abilities on walking into his tiny office.  Firstly, he was late. Secondly, the office was decorated with cheap Chinese tchotchkes and smelled like massage oils. Thirdly, my heart kind of sank when a 6ft tall blonde man walked into the room and introduced himself to me as Dr. H. Am I wrong for wanting a Chinese person practicing acupuncture?

He glanced over the 12 pages of history I had meticulously filled out and then said, "So you want to get pregnant eh?" Understatement. Of. The. Year.  He then walked me through to the treatment room. Oh my!  Bordello red walls.  Giant Chinese fan. And my favorite part... leopard print silk sheets... cos nothing says "China" quite like the print of an animal found in Africa....

He started with the needles and I was pleasantly surprised by how painless they were.  I won't say that you don't feel them at all, because you do, they feel like a tiny scratch and then it's over.  I had them all over my face, legs and feet.  A couple of them did hurt though.  There was one just below my left knee that felt like he had pressed down on a bruise.  I yelped and he said, "Yes, that is your spleen.  That's the source of your blockages." Another on my other leg was also quite tender and he said that was my stomach, also where he believed I had some blockages.  The only other painful one was under my skull on the right where I have a swollen gland, and have had as far back as I can remember. He inserted the needle right into the gland and it HURT. He had to remove it and go at that spot from a different angle.  He also pinched down on my stiff shoulders and said that I was clearly very stressed as he inserted a needle there.  Note to self:  Tie up your hair for your next appointment! Aside from the needles he said were in my ovaries (didn't hurt at all) that's about all of them. He then lowered the lights and left the room for 30 minutes telling me to relax and sleep if I felt so inclined.

I've been wrestling with the whole "think positive!" thing... I hear it from everyone.  I am sure you do to? I have found in my life that if I think positively about something I really want my heart takes over and runs with it and before I know it I've planned out and pictured every single moment related to that thing.  I go through positive images so much in my head it's as though I've lived them.  And 9 times out of 10 it falls through.  Positive thought doesn't work for me.  But what if I NEED to think positively for the IVF to work? All I know is, if I open my heart and dare to picture myself with a baby at the end of all of this and it doesn't happen my heart will break into a million pieces and I don't think I will ever, EVER get over it.  But I feel like it's important to try it.

So I've decided that I am going to try a little moderation.  During my acupuncture sessions and ONLY during these sessions, in the 30 minute  relaxation time I am going to picture the blockages being freed, my eggs coming back to life and my ovaries becoming bountiful.  I will picture the whole process from start to finish, step-by-step, ending with me holding my child in my arms. As he turned the lights down I was excited to try it.  Excited to allow myself for the first time to think about a positive ending to all of this. And guess what?? I couldn't do it.  I got all the way through to the IVF process in my head several times, but when it came time to see the sac in my first ultrasound I stalled.  No matter how many times I brought myself to that point I just couldn't bring up that image in my head.  It's like my body is acting in self preservation mode. 

There are two ways I could look at this: 1)  I am about to spend a LOT of money on a no-hope project. 2) I couldn't picture myself driving when I tried it before I got my license and that worked! Maybe this will be the same... I dunno... I guess I will keep at it during my next appointment. 

I was also interested in the traditional Chinese herbs everyone has been talking about, but it seems my guy (who I should add is the ONLY acupuncturist within a 45 minute drive from my house) dispenses little pills in decorative bottles covered in Chinese text.  I am to take 8 of one and 8 of another with meals.  He doesn't seem to have any dried herbs, or anything like what everyone else has described and I had to ask him for these... he didn't recommend them to me.  One is labeled in English as "Relaxx Extract" and the other "Six Noble Combination".  I can tell you that these taste AWFUL and have to be taken with a liquid that has flavor.  Water is not going to cut it with these little suckers -- which resemble rabbit droppings.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Waiting... Waiting... Waiting...

Well, it's Monday.  Officially 9 days since I last spoke with the clinic about the trial and I still have nothing in my hands that says I am in.  No email, no follow up paperwork, nada!  It's still super early, but I am really REALLY hoping to hear from them today with "next steps".  I just need something tangible to bank on.

My crazy infertile brain is already playing the fate game.  "Don't be too confident that you're in, then something will come up."  "If you pretend to yourself that you aren't in, then you WILL be in."  Make plans, LOTS of plans for the first week of October.  Make plans that require deposits.  If you already have good plans, then you will be in the trial.  Guaranteed!" 


Saturday, September 14, 2013

I'm in a STUDY!!!

We recently took a road trip and managed to tune into a radio station that Mr. R loves, but we can't get in our area of Texas.  It's a local station, but for some reason won't play for us out in the sticks.

I just got off work that morning and was dead tired and napping all the way to our 4 hour destination, but Mr. R heard an ad for an IVF trial for women over 35 years old and woke me up at the tail end.  I heard the name of a clinic which sounded something like mine.   You know how they are all named Fertility Treatment Center of, Texas Fertility Associates, Texas Center for Reproduction, etc. I wasn't totally sure... besides... if it was MY clinic, surely they would have let me know about a study, right?
We went about our camping weekend and I didn't give it another thought until Monday when we returned.  Mr. R reminded me to call the clinic and find out...

Guess WHAT?!?!?  It IS my clinic holding the trial and I DO qualify!!!!  (Why they didn't call me and tell me about it is beyond me since I am glaringly perfect for the trial since it's for DOR/POF over 35!) Anywhoo... I spoke with the nurse who gave their list of requirements and only two things are an issue... 1)  I have to have an FSH under 12... now my most recent reading was at a 10, but the one before that was at 19.... so who knows where it will be when the trial starts.  and 2)  There cannot be any male factor issues... we don't know about that. Mr. R as you know has two healthy children already, but he has a 15 year old vasectomy that may pose a problem.  We're meeting with the urologist on the 23rd to see about that, but luckily the fact that we will need to do a sperm aspiration for our trial does not disqualify us, but that portion will be out of our own pocket.  At $2,000  that's a DEAL!  The trial is also not completely free, it's going to cost me $1,500 but that is just 10% of the required amount for a self-pay so I am stoked!  We currently still only have about $8,000 saved because of various car troubles that have set our savings back, so when she said this I cried!  She was all freaked out -- really?  You deal with desperate infertiles every day and my crying freaked you out?  Wow!

One thing that struck me is that when she said, "There is a small cost involved." I replied, "I have $8,000 saved so far, what's the cost?" She said, "Oh no, with $8,000 you can do a few trial cycles..."  I was so shocked I didn't think to ask her what she meant by that... Ladies who have trial experience, can you tell me if these trials usually have multiple cycles?  Or is it a one time deal?  I don't want to be the squeaky wheel who keeps calling with questions so I don't want to call and ask.  Also... once you're accepted for a trial... don't you need to receive some paperwork or something?  I guess since they already have all my information since it's actually with MY RE they don't need much from me.  But all I have that says I am in the trial is her word (which I checked multiple times, "So I am in?  You're sure I am in?  I qualify for the trial right?  Okay, so for sure... unless my FSH is too high, I am in??") over the phone.  It's only been a week, and trial isn't due to start until first/second week of October... (they're waiting for their current trial to finish). Eeekk!!!  I feel like I want something written.  I want to have a to-do list.  I need something physical to make this feel more real!

So the plan... I have lost a bunch m ore weight since I last posted.  I am down to 188lbs which is 10lbs away from an official "Healthy" BMI.  I am proud of that.  But here's truth time... I did pick up a few cigarettes in the last few months.  I am not proud of it, but the stress got to me!  I am back on the quitting wagon now though and will be smoke-free again before the trial starts.  I also started slacking on all my supplements.  The harder it became to save money, the more despondent I became.  Honestly I had almost given  up hope when this trial option came up.  Now I am all about it again.  I will (HOPEFULLY) get one shot in this year.  And can continue saving for a second shot in the new year... unless of course this trial involves multiple cycles.  SQUEEEEEEE!!!

Okay, that's enough out of me.  Time to go check in on some other blogs now that I am feeling a little less sorry for myself. I am not proud, but at least I am honest, right?  xx