Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The cat's out of the bag, and Grandma-to-be is in the loop!

I wanted to dedicate a post to telling my mom about my plans.  A little background first: when I told her I was pregnant all those years ago, she said, "I hate your guts," and hung up on me.  She now denies doing so, but that's not the kind of thing you can hear wrong. . .or forget.  I was 21 years old; not as mature as I should have been, but not exactly qualifying for a spot on Teen Mom either.  I was the exact age she was when she got pregnant with me.  In fact, we both conceived around the same time respectively.  She later told me that she was worried about the relationship my ex and I had.  She didn't want my child to grow up with parents who were in an unhealthy relationship, always breaking up and getting back together.  She knew how much that affected me, and she didn't want it to happen to another generation.  She eventually came around-sort of.  She answered my questions about how to combat morning sickness, what to talk to the doctor about, etc.  When I started to miscarry, I called my dad first for support, but then realized that I had no idea what to do, or what to expect.  I didn't want to go to the hospital; truthfully, I was hoping that the ex would show up to support me, but he decided to turn his phone off (insert insults and hand gestures here).  When I started to feel what I later learned were short contractions, I called my mom, who was in the hospital being treated for pancreatitis at the time.  She talked me through everything on the phone, then told me what to do afterwards.  When I went to the doctor's office the next day, she reminded me to ask for a Rho-gam shot.  When I had a memorial service for the baby, she was there.  Granted, she and my dad sat on either side of me and didn't speak to each other, but they were there nonetheless, and it meant the world to me.

You can see why I had decided to keep her in the dark during my TTC journey.  I realized that she would be supportive in the end, but I know that it is imperative to be surrounded by people who are going to be behind you 100% during this process.  Her feelings would be indifferent at best.  So, I told my dad, other family members, and a few friends, all of whom have been amazing.  When the PCOS card was put on the table as a possibility, the midwife said that my mother could provide me with helpful information.  Her fertility/pregnancy issues were likely caused by PCOS as well, and any information she could give me could help the clinicians come up with a treatment plan to prevent me from having the same issues.  So, I tried probing her gently, phrasing the questions in such a way that they wouldn't alarm her.  This is hard to do, especially when I was trying to ask specifically about her fertility.

I decided it was time to tell her the day I had the ultrasound.  I knew I had symptoms already, so when I got a good look at my ovaries, I knew right away what was probably going on.  When I talked to my mother that afternoon, I was very upset.  She said she didn't understand why, since I could be treated with birth control pills like she was.  I told her that that wouldn't be a possibility and asked her to sit down.  Beating around the bush was only going to prolong it, so I simply said, "I purchased donor sperm earlier this year with the intention of becoming pregnant early next year."  She dropped her head to the desk she was sitting at; many "Oh God"s were said.  She asked for a drink, which she rarely does.  I made her a screwdriver.  She made a face and said it was strong, then thought about it, and decided maybe that was a good thing.  :) I let her know that other family members knew about it and were supportive.  I told her the same thing I told my dad: she could be involved as much or as little as she wanted to; it was her decision.  I let her know that I had been thinking about it and planning for quite some time.  I made sure to tell her that I didn't need any financial support.  I asked her if she had any questions.  She said she didn't want to talk about it, so I let it go, went into the garage, and cried.  This was not how I wanted this conversation to go.  We were at my grandparents' house cooking dinner, so I put a happy face on until we were cleaning up later on.  Mom asked me why I had been crying, and I blurted out, "I might be barren and you don't care!"  I know that I am probably not "barren" (what a disgusting word that is!), and that this was a bit reactive of me, but I was upset.  She took a deep breath, and reminded me that she was able to get pregnant with twins at age 35 with half an ovary and scarring from the surgeries.  I giggled and told her that it was a bit more complicated since I wasn't getting the sperm for free.  She went back to the "Oh God"s and stared longingly at her now-empty glass. 

A couple of days later, she did mention that some of her old colleagues might know of some REs I could consult with.  I think that this is her way of supporting me as best as she can.  On Christmas Eve, she was going bananas over my 6 month old neice (cousin's daughter, but I call her my neice).  I asked her why she was so ecstatic over her sister's grandchild, but so uncomfortable with the thought of her own.  She smiled and said it would help if the child called her Auntie instead of Grandma.  I suppose that's a good start for now.  The cat's out of the bag, and hopefully that will be a good thing.  One of the ladies on the SMC forum said some reassuring things to me.  She said that once she sees the baby's sweet face and realizes all the love I have for him/her, she will come around.  Come to think of it, my aunt was the same way with my cousin's baby.  She wasn't sure at first, but eventually, it was apparent the idea of a new baby was growing on her.  While my cousin was in labor, she never left her side.  She adores that little girl, and even dresses her in my cousin's baby clothes!  So, maybe all will be well in the end...we shall see!                    


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ultrasound results.

Well, I went in for the ultrasound on Tuesday.  Those hours on the phone paid off and I was able to get in on my one day off.  Right when I saw my ovaries on the ultrasound, I knew what was going on.  No need for the radiologist to tell me.  It was hard to visualize the right ovary, which is the one the clinician was concerned about, but the left one was covered in cysts plain as day.  It looked like many of the PCOS ovaries I have seen online.  Like a blackberry about to pop.  I was very upset for the rest of the day, and I ended up telling my mom about my plans later that evening (this needs to be devoted to another post entirely).  BTW, thanks to the great group of ladies on the SMC forum; your words of encouragement are honestly what got me through that day :). 

I called the clinic and asked for the radiology report, which they told me could not be released to me, only the ordering clinician.  WTF????!!!!???   They're my medical records!  I think I can honestly say that I will never be going to that clinic again.  With the trouble they gave me with scheduling and now this, I've had enough. I was only at that location because of their appointment availability in the first place. 

So, I called the midwife I saw last Friday, and she said that that aside from the ovaries, the ultrasound was unremarkable, i.e., normal.  The ovaries are covered in "several small follicles."  She tried to steer me off the thinking-I-have-PCOS track, but with the absence of AF, I know that something along those lines is going on.  I told her as much, and her response is to wait and see if the progesterone works to bring on a period in the next week or so.  If not, she will run more tests then.  I remember being told in the past that some of my hormone levels were, "borderline, but normal;" whatever that means.  I'm trying to track down old medical records so I have as much info as possible for the RE that I now intend to see in Feb, when I will have insurance that will cover the consult and tests.

What frustrates me is that everyone keeps telling me to, "wait and see what happens."  I keep hearing that, and I want to be investigating what is going on.  Even though I keep telling the "professionals" that I am using donor sperm, and they claim to understand what I am going through, it seems like they are still treating me like a married/partnered woman who can try to conceive naturally.  I can't wait and see when I am paying for the sperm!  Diagnostics are very important to me at this point to reduce the chances of repeated failed IUIs, or even miscarriages.

At this point, I have modified my plan a bit.  I took the last Provera tab today, so we'll see what happens there.  Assuming I get my period, I will start the aforementioned "full-on charting" using multiple methods to really get a handle on when/if I am ovulating.  I will probably make an OB/GYN appointment to have the necessary blood work done to confirm/rule out PCOS.  That way I can have a few weeks of medication and monitoring by the time I get to the RE.  I want to at least get the second opinion before moving forward in any direction.  Assuming I don't need ultrasound monitoring, I will probably go back to the midwife for my IUIs because of the costs.  I can still have the pre-natal care, birth, and post-partum care in an alternative environment like I wanted, but I think I need to be a bit more aggressive to help ensure my success in this process.

So, that's that for now.  I'm going to go nibble on some carrot sticks and dream about brownies.  :)       

Monday, December 17, 2012

Problem-Free Provera (?!?) and Panicking...

The title says it all.  Remember the friend who told me to watch out for turning absolutely insane on Provera?  It hasn't happened yet.  Three more days to go, and all I have felt is a little tired, and some crampiness.  Nothing that can't be attributed to PMS.  Of course, the paranoid side of my personality is constantly wondering if it is even working, but we shall see. 

I did call one of the local CRM offices today to see about scheduling an appointment with an RE.  Although the website does talk about helping single women get pregnant, the huge packet of info (of course) is designed for couples.  Half of it is about my "partner's" health and social information.  I'm half wondering if I should fill out the donor's info, just to be a smart-ass.  :)

Although I haven't told my mother about my intentions to become a choice mom yet, I did call her today to ask about her history.  My mother did suffer from recurrent miscarriages, and I knew that she had some ovarian cysts that required surgery.  I found out today that she had her left ovary removed completely, and half of the right ovary.  Then she had to have adhesion reduction.  Oh my...now all of a sudden, the "mass" the midwife found on my ovary on Friday is starting to freak me out.  My chances of becoming pregnant as a single woman aren't very high under normal circumstance, but factoring in these new developments makes the chances less and less.  I'm 28 years old; this should not be happening to me! 

I have been on the phone for forever trying to make an ultrasound appointment.  I have the order in hand, but they needed it faxed, because they refused to make the appointment unless they could see it. Called the midwife; she faxed it.  Then they called me back saying they had to call her back because need diagnostic codes.  Look them up for Christ's sake.  I have limited availability to get this done soon because of my work schedule, and I need to be able to have some answers already!

I am trying to stay calm, but it's not very easy.  I'm so tired of everyone telling me to wait and be patient.  I don't want to wait anymore.  At least if I turn into a total bitch towards everyone, I have the Provera to blame.       

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I have been an insubordinate patient.

Well, I haven't posted in awhile.  As you can probably tell, I have been a bit stressed out by my body lately, and I have been doing everything I can to distract myself.  I started taking pilates reformer classes.  Let me just say, I remember learning every muscle in the body during anatomy and physiology, but even the most intense Tae Kwon Do workout hasn't made me FEEL some of them like pilates does.  The goal is not so much to make me lose weight, but to reduce body fat.  Hopefully, that will make me start to have natural regular cycles. 

In other news, I have been a bad patient lately; well, probably an insubordinate patient in the eyes of my midwife.  I finally broke down and called her asking for progesterone.  It's been almost three months with no AF, so I figured it was time.  She said she wouldn't prescribe it until I had been taking the fertility blend supplement for three months.  That puts me to February.  I was not happy.  So, guess what?  I went to another midwife at the OB/GYN clinic yesterday and she gave me the script.  And..I don't feel bad about it.  Quite the opposite.  It's my body, my cycle, and my TTC journey.  My hope is that it will jump-start my cycle and perhaps I won't need it again.  If not, I will probably go and see an RE after my new insurance kicks in in February.  I really wanted to do this naturally, but it's becoming apparent that I might not be able to.  It never hurts to have a second opinion regardless.  I haven't told  my midwife that I saw another provider yet, and I'm not sure how I will handle it.  I'm taking charge of my situation for now and I feel pretty good about it.  So I will cross the bridge when I get there.  Anyways, on that note, I am wondering if anyone who has had to use progesterone could give me some feedback.  Did you have to use it every cycle or was your body able to get "back on track" after one or two cycles using it?  I'd appreciate all the info I can get.  Thanks in advance!      

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"I'll just say it's a contract...."

I haven't had a chance to post this week; I spent the weekend at my parents' house, then had a bunch of work to catch up on.  But, here I am at last.....I went to the UPS store earlier today to overnight my finalized contact with the cryobank along with a money order for one years' storage.  I'm most definitely NOT storing my entire supply for a whole year, because I hope to be good and pregnant a year from now.  I can get the pro-rated difference back if I end up using all six vials of juice while TTC'ing and I still get the first three months free.  It feels good to know that no matter what, I don't have to think about storage for the next 15 months.  When they asked me to declare what was in the package, I told them it was a contract.  They asked me what it was for.  I replied storage.  They asked what type of storage, and you should have seen the look on the sales associates' faces when I told them.  The gentlemanly guy looks down at the keyboard, and says, "Yeah, I'll just type that it's a contract."  I'm glad I got some amusement out of it. 

On that note, you should see my night stand.  In addition to the mess of pre-natals, cod liver oil, and acupuncture herbs, I have now added moon cycle tea, red raspberry leaf tea, and fertility blend vitamins.  AF still hasn't shown up.  This is the height of my frustrations.  It's like my body is saying, "I know you're ready to rock and roll on the baby making, but I feel like f*cking with you a bit, so I'm going to throw you completely out of wack.  Oh, and here's two and a half weeks of PMS symptoms just to f*ck with you some more."  So, what am I doing about it?  Let's see...I already posted about the acupuncture.  I've been to the gym every day this week.  I'm trying to de-stress as much as I can (not easy).  I even broke down and called a couple of transgendered friends of mine to see if they had any progesterone.  No luck; they are both on estrogen only.  Interestingly enough, one of them said that she would pay me to take the progesterone off of her hands if she had it, because it made her turn into a violent psychopath.  Good to know what I might be like if I end up going that route.  I know the midwife wanted me to wait a couple of months, but I am seriously contemplating calling her tomorrow and telling her,  "I give up, shoot me full of hormones."  It's CD 60; the longest I've had yet, and I'm tired of waiting.  Ugh...          

Friday, November 23, 2012

Come out, come out, period come out!!!!

As I write this, I am curled up in bed under the electric blanket.  We had our first snowstorm of the season yesterday, which of course hit while I was driving home from my cousin's house.  The last week has been quite eventful.  I was at my regular job all last weekend, then I was working at my family's business this week.   More about Turkey Day later....

On Tuesday, I had an appointment with the midwife.  I went into it with some apprehension, because I had felt that she hadn't been very attentive to my calls/questions over the last few weeks.  I had called the clinic with questions about and ultrasound and some blood work that I would like to have done before my first IUI.  I left a voice mail and never got a call back.  So I called the office and spoke to one of the doulas who works as a clinic assistant.  But still never got a call back.  This made me quite upset, because I was trying to have my "juice" transferred to a bank location that is closer to me so that I don't have to pay shipping every time I need to get one of the vials out.  I needed some paperwork filled out by the midwife in order to make this happen.  After much talking to friends/family and posting on the SMC chat boards (you ladies are AWESOME, by the way!!!), I called back the next day.  I spoke to the same assistant, who explained that the practice was very busy and they were in the process of expanding.  They had just hired a new medical director and another midwife.  What I appreciated was that she said that everyone's needs are important and apologized to me without my having to point this out.  I then explained that this is a process where I need to be working with people who are going to be supportive in every way, and she said that she knew that A (the midwife) was on board, and that the occurrences in the past couple of weeks were a matter of timing.  That day, the paperwork was done, and I had another appointment to discuss my labs, scans, and other concerns I was having.  I decided to wait until then to discuss this with A in person.  She had been very good right up until this point, and I could very well have been "lost in the shuffle" recently.

So, I went there on Tuesday.  The nice thing about this practice is that it is operated out of a freestanding birth center.  It's a house that has been converted to suit these needs right down from where I used to live when I was in college.  It has exam rooms and a chiropractic practice upstairs, as well as large open room where they have classes and yoga.  In the back past the reception desk, there are two birthing suites with queen sized beds, whirlpools, heated floors, etc.  A mom was laboring when I arrived, so the back was closed off this time, but when I saw it before, I knew that it was the type of place I wanted to give birth at.  It's also located about a mile away from a hospital with a level 1 NICU if the need for that arises.  When I found out that they had a fertility practice and could help me conceive as well, I knew that it was the place for me.  I was surprised to find an alternative environment that could provide all of this.  I had checked out other practices, but I when I asked if they had done inseminations, they all replied with, "at your age, we suggest you and your partner/husband try for at least six months, maybe up to a year, before we would refer you to a specialist."  Ouch...assumptions much?!?  Plus, every single person I talked to admitted they had never helped a single woman get pregnant.  So, I was pleasantly surprised that when I told A I was going to be a choice mom, she not only knew what that meant, but she was willing to work with me.  She even gave me the names of sperm banks she had worked with in the past.  During our first 1.5 hour visit, she did my annual exam and developed a step-by-step plan to get me ready to TTC.  So, I was kind of surprised when things seemed to be going south.

Anyways, when I arrived, we talked about my concerns, and A assured me she was on board and "very excited" to be a part of this journey with me.  I feel ok with where things are at right now, so I have decided to wait and see.  We went over all of my recent progress.  I told her about the length of my cycles and the increasing PMS/luteal moodiness.   She wants my cycles to ideally be 25-35 days or so before my first IUI.  So, we are changing the supplements I am taking, as well as making more changes to my diet and upping my exercise to try and level out my hormones.  We're pretty sure I am ovulating regularly,  and my periods aren't overly long, but they are more intense than when I was still on BC.  A is hoping that these changes will help regulate my cycles, but if not, she is willing to add a small dose of progesterone to the mix.  (Ugh, last time I got knocked up, it wasn't this hard.  Hell, I wasn't even trying!) 

So, when I went to the acupuncturist after my appointment, she had me pull my skirt down so she could put some needles in my abdomen.  I laughed so hard when she told me that her primary professor when she was in school used to call one of those points the "come out, come out, period come out" one.  Too funny!

So that is where I am at.  Waiting for my period to start so the magic white box can continue to try and pinpoint what exactly is happening when.  "COME OUT, COME OUT, PERIOD COME OUT!!!!"  Of course, it hasn't yet.....          

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My arsenal...

So, I’m sitting at work during a call weekend about to embark on my first cycle of what I am calling “full-on charting.”  Meaning, I am going to be doing a multitude of  tests/observations in attempt to determine the following:

The above picture represents the question that has been hanging in the back of my mind for the past seven years or so since I was unfortunate to have the experience of finding out I was indeed expecting, only to lose the pregnancy.  Can I get pregnant and can I STAY pregnant?  Although I admit to still occasionally having “what-ifs” running through my mind (i.e. what would it be like to be a mother of a child in first grade?), I am thankful for the time in many ways.  First, the time has given me a chance to grieve and reflect.  Second, I have been able to, frankly, grow up a bit.  Although I wasn’t a teenager, at 21, I was still fairly young.  I feel better equipped emotionally at this point in my life, and I have the resources and the wherewithal to establish a better support system for myself.  I also have the maturity to realize that an unhealthy relationship is not worth trying to maintain for the sake of a child, born or unborn.  Finally, I have been able to research what may have gone wrong so I can prevent myself from having this experience again (another post perhaps?).   

Which brings me to the collage of items pictured below: 


Oh my God right?!?  Who’d have thought that it took this much equipment to do something that people have been doing for thousands of years?  Here’s a rundown of my current conception kit:

First Response FSH test kit:  Tests for an accurate level of follicle stimulating hormone.  FSH is what your ovaries ask the brain for when they need a little help ripening eggs.  The less amount of FSH your ovaries need, the higher your ovarian reserve is and the more likely your chances of achieving pregnancy are.  You use the test just like a pregnancy test on cycle day 3.  It’s little ambiguous because it is read similar to a standard pregnancy test.  You look for lines and how dark they are.  Hint: one dark line is good, two dark lines, not so good.   After the $2 off coupon available on the website, it’ll run you about $20.  If you need actual numbers, which you will eventually, you have to get them run at a lab, but it gives you a good idea of what you are working with.  For me, the peace of mind is worth it.    

Clear blue ovulation predictor kit (OPK):  This is the white box that controls my life.  See previous post for a full description :).

Clear Blue test strips:  The white box is very particular and has high end taste.  Amazon is my best friend at this point.

Clear Blue digital pregnancy tests:  Came as part of the “Clear Blue Fertility Starter Package” I bought on Amazon.  They are expensive though, so I’m saving them for when I know for sure what they are going to say.  (Yeah, I know :).

And finally, I recently bought this (TMI ALERT):


Yes, you can buy them online.  I got mine here. But why in the hell would you want to, you ask?  If you’re trying to conceive (TTC), getting to know your cervix is very essential.  I was totally against it because it CREEPED ME THE F*CK OUT!  I thought I’d stick with the OPKs and labs until I learned how much the lab draws can cost and how they only tell you half of the story.  Your cervix changes a lot throughout your cycle and the hole in the center (the os) also dilates during times when you ovulate, then closes up again when your fertile window has closed.   By getting to know what these changes look like, you can get an idea of when you will be ready for action.  It can also give you an indication of when you are pregnant.  For in-depth details on this and how you can examine yourself, you can go www.beautifulcervix.com.  If you would like info on how to determine what size you need, I'd be happy to tell you.  I don't mind at all; the woman who said having babies makes your pride go down the toilet was SPOT ON.  

That's all I have in my bag of tricks....for now.  Here's to a blissfully short work week!   

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It takes a woman to do a man's job....

So, years of consideration/hemming/hawing, and months of serious planning and preparation, I am ready to take the plunge.  I have decided to become a single mother by choice.  This is the type of thing that you don't just wake up and decide to do.  Unlike what you see on movies and TV on a regular basis, this process isn't as easy as walking into a sperm bank, plunking down some plastic, leaving with a vial of sperm, and getting pregnant immediately.  (I keep thinking of a certain Family Guy episode, but that is another post altogether).  Until you go through this yourself or know someone who does, you have no idea what you are getting into.  I admit it, I knew this would be hard, but I had no idea either.    

My first visit to the doctor for "pre-conception counseling,"  aka, "getting your ass in gear so your body cooperates with you" was this July.  I left that appointment with two pages of what is, "the first layer" of the plan of action to get me ready to try to conceive.  First up was getting a head to toe once over, the kind that only a woman can truly experience if you know what I mean.  Next, I had to go through a string of doctor's appointments.  After that, I had to undergo a lot of tests.  Then, I had to wean myself off of medications I was taking which were contraindicated in pregnancy.  Then, I went through health insurance crisis (still fighting that one out).   Finally, I entered into an indentured servitude under the control of a magic white box.  This box now dictates what I do every day.  I have a window of time in which to get up and receive my instructions for the day.  Because visits from my monthly friend are not coming as scheduled, I have to deposit my first liquid bodily excretions of the day on a miniscule magical white stick.  I have quickly learned to keep a disposable cup readily at hand to collect said deposit, since the white box is occasionally unhappy with my chosen magic stick and demands another.  Of course, only the best quality sample will do, and I only get one shot per day at producing it. 

Long story long, it's now mid-November and I am off to the midwife next week to discuss "the next layer."  And, although I have what I have currently decided to call "juice" on ice at an overpriced laboratory ten miles from my house ready and waiting, I still have no idea when I will get the green light to buy a ticket to what I am affectionately referring to as the "big show."  (It had better be by my birthday in Febuary or I will flip a lid...just sayin').

You're probably thinking, "But in that one movie Jennifer Lopez got preggers the first time she tried, and she didn't have to do all this."  Yeah, I've come to realize something.  Hollywood movies are made by men.  Men who portray things as a means to an end in the way they would like to see them happen.  I.e, when it comes down to it, when men make babies, their participation comes down to grunting, depositing, and rolling over to let the boys do the work.  (Male factor infertility issues not included in here; again, another post).  Ergo, men make the act of entering choice motherhood just as easy.  The beyond attractive woman lays on a table in stirrups while the MALE doctor does his thing in about 30 seconds.  She wistfully stares off into oblivion while internally chastising herself for not getting a pedicure before the appointment.  She lets the doctor "finish" quickly, then is magically pregnant two weeks later.  Then, prince charming walks into her life, and she lives happily ever after.  Moral of the story:  don't believe everything you see on the screen.  If you're read this and want to take away anything at all let it be the following statement:  It truly takes a woman to do a man's job.