Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Life of Appointments

A week in the life of a lady buying a house and starting fertility treatments who also has other shit going on is apparently a week full of appointments.

Monday -
9am - Movers came by to check out how much crap we have in our tiny apartment and then to tell us how much it'll cost to pack it all up and move it into our much less tiny soon-to-be (fingers crossed) house. Hey, apparently it's not that much more for them to pack everything. Um, done and done!
After they leave - Blood test to see if my thyroid medicine is doing the trick. (It is. Yay!)
12:35 - Therapy
2:30 - Walk-through of house with inspector (all went well).

Tuesday -
9am - Orthodontist (On track for a July removal of braces. Yay again!)
Then - Work

Wednesday -
Then - 1pm First appointment of my first IUI Cycle! Soooooo....I got blood drawn. Then I got blood drawn again (back to the intravenous drug user look). Then I had an Ultrasound. I have 10 follicles in each ovary. Everything looks good to go. Got assigned my random drug and it is...DRUM ROLL PLEASE....not the one that I have to inject every day! Nope! I get pills! So, we don't know if it's clomid or letrozole, but we know it isn't the gonadotropin (injection). I waited for the call to make sure my E2 (Estradiol) levels were OK and when I got that a couple of hours later, I was cleared to go. So, I take two of these bad boys every evening:

Last night I was at dinner at friends' apartment for my first dose. The only thing I can say about them so far is that they float. THEY FLOAT! This means when I took a big gulp of water, they rose right to the top of the gulp and stuck to the roof of my mouth, making it very hard to swallow them! But other than that, it was fine. I have a journal where every day I keep track of what I took when and how I feel and if Ian and I hump and all kinds of fun stuff.

I asked Ian if it was weird that I was a little disappointed to not have to give myself an injection every day, even though the side effects of that medication seem a lot worse AND also hey I'd have to give myself an injection every day. He feels that, yes, it is weird. But he also finds this not surprising. I'm not sure if I should be insulted. Apparently, I am weird, and I like weird things, and I have a strange fascination with all things medical, so thus he understands why I am a little disappointed. So, there's that. At least I still get a once-per-cycle trigger shot to give myself! Anyhow.

That brings us to
Thursday -
Today I have a meetingful day at work and a straight from work appointment to get my hair cut. But blissfully house and medical appointment free (although plenty of house and medical record-keeping, task managing etc). And haircut = YAY! Think I'm heading toward this kind of cut:

And that's pretty much that. My back is a little sore, and I'm not sure if that's from the medication making my ovaries more pendulous (more on that later) or just cause sometimes my back is sore. I have no appointments tomorrow, but Monday morning I go back in. That'll be the morning after my last dose of pills and they'll test my blood (not sure which hormones they test - probably E2 again and maybe FSH) and do another ultrasound and look at how things look. If I have enough follicles that look egg-ful, but not TOO many (don't want to be an octomom K thanks) they'll either tell me then when I should do the trigger shot, or they'll schedule me to come back in a couple of days later and look again to decide. I feel like after this first cycle I'll have a better sense of what to expect at each of these appointments and what the timing of everything looks like.

But, what I do know is that at some point they'll say, if all continues to go well, "Give yourself the trigger shot on ___________ night and then we'll do the IUI a day and a half later" and that will be the exciting that.

Dirty Little Secret

Every single month, once I get my period, I use an online due date calculator to figure out when my estimated due date would be if I got pregnant in the upcoming month.

If I get pregnant this month, it would be Sunday, December 2nd. Just in case you were wondering.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Book Club

Been quiet here on ye olde Ova Achiever blog. I haven't had much to report. I am a ball of nerves lately. Ian and I put an offer in on a house and have been going back and forth over the past week. As of last night we've had an offer accepted and are about to head over during my lunch to give a huge check to the title company.

I have barely been able to sleep and my stomach has been in knots. I wanted the house SO BAD and was so nervous about if we would or wouldn't get it. Now that we have it, I'm nervous about the process and nervous that something will go wrong and we won't get it after all. I'm excited, but also know that this is a huge big deal life change of home ownership, non-city living and the whole shebang.

Aside from this, I've just been waiting for my period to start. I have to call UCSF when that happens and then we get moving on IUI Cycle One. According to the calender where I've been keeping track - today or tomorrow should be the day. But with so much going on in my stomach with this house buying stuff, it's hard to even tell what else is happening in there.

In the meantime, while I sit and wait for the telltale feel of a menstrual cramp, I thought I'd tell you about the three books I've read over the last few months that deal with all this Infertility stuff.

A Few Good Eggs: Two Chicks Dish on Overcoming the Insanity of Infertility
by Julia Vargo and Maureen Regan

This book, while it has a lot of good information, was not the right book for me. There's a certain tone some authors take in their books that really rubs me the wrong way, and this is a perfect example of it. A knowingly talking directly to you like we're good buddies obnoxiousness that I can't stand. I don't need my advice coming from someone trying to pretend she's my good girlfriend and yelling at me for making the wrong choices because she knows better. It just doesn't work for me. BUT, if you are the type of gal (or dude) that loved the book, Skinny Bitch, for example, this might be right up your alley. And it does achieve what it intends - it gives you a look at the insanity of infertility and a sense of what to expect on this journey. And it has some really helpful tips on how to navigate a lot of aspects of this journey - from money and choosing a doctor to talking about it with friends and family to mood swings and your relationship.

Good Eggs: A Memoir by Phoebe Potts

I love a good graphic novel, so I was super excited when I found out this one existed. A great little book showing the ups and mostly downs (in this case) of Infertility. Phoebe Potts does a really wonderful job of showing her emotional state through several rounds of treatment. The only warning I give about this book, is that she doesn't get the happy ending you might be (I was) looking for. But it is laugh-out-loud and cry-out-loud and deeply personal.

Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and One Woman's Quest to Become a Mother by Peggy Orenstein

This one was the winner for me. I think it was exactly what I was looking for. At times gut-wrenching, Peggy Orenstein is no holds barred in terms of the bad and ugly side of infertility. I think this book resonated for me because I relate to her so much. Jewish-raised, bay-area living feminist, 30-something career woman suddenly only able to focus on this one thing - having a baby. I read some reviews on Amazon and Goodreads where people were disgusted by some of the things that she thinks, feels and does during the course of her story. But I felt like every single thing was reasonable, given her circumstances. And I applaud her honesty in terms of coming clean about what this process turned her into. This is not the book to go for in terms of technical and medical information - it's not a how-to book. But in terms of feeling less-alone, it worked wonders.

So, there ya go!

Any other book recommendations for me???

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


So, on Monday morning Ian and I were officially oriented on IUI. This 2.5 hour orientation is a requirement before undergoing IUI at UCSF and was very informative. There were about 6 other couples and a few single women also in attendance, and the orientation is held weekly, so it really gave us a sense of how many other people are going through this at the same time we are. We were surprised to see how many of the women there had already been on Clomid at some point in their treatment - folks for whom IUI was maybe a 2nd or 3rd step for them, as opposed to a 1st, as it is for us.

In addition to the IUI Orientation we had a couple of other things to take care of. The final tasks before we were officially Good To Go. I had to have more blood drawn - this time fasting blood, so I hadn't eaten or drank anything for the past 10 hours. A mere 5 vials this time. I swear, I look like an intravenous drug user at this point with the number of holes in my arms. Anyhow, they also had to press a weird thing against my forehead and measure the oil (another something odd for the study). So there was that.

And Ian had to "produce a sample," as we know now to call it, to be sent away and refrigerated for all time (for the study). Anyhow, he was going to be late to the orientation due to the sample production required, so he missed the first 30 minutes or so, during which I got this sort of NSFW photo as a text from him:

Well, alrighty then! Looks like the UCSF Fertility Clinic takes better care of their male patients than the lab where he produced his first sample where they stuck him in a regular bathroom while sirens went off and someone was having a Code Blue outside the door. Sexxxy.

Anyhow, aside from a plethora of information, at the orientation we had to learn how to give injections. I will be getting one injection a month, for sure, at home. And I have a 1 in 3 chance of ending up with a drug that requires daily injections for 10 days each cycle. For some reason in my head we would just learn how to do this, like in a watch and learn kind of way. Maybe, I thought excitedly, we'd get to practice on an orange! Um yeah, no. We get to practice on ourselves. Ok ok, maybe I should have figured that out. Perhaps it was obvious. But I went in all naive and innocent. And left, having poked my own belly with a needle, all innocence lost.

In case you wondered, Ian had the option of poking me or himself, and I made him poke himself. First. I was totally freaked out and scared, which was strange, since I'm not afraid of needles at all. I'm just not good at inflicting pain upon myself. When I finally got brave enough to do it, I sort of chickened out at the last second and made things way worse. Basically, the needle went in way easier than I thought it would, so when I tried to back out, it was too late. And I sort of bounced. BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE aka POKE POKE POKE. I made three little bleeding holes in my tender belly flesh. Then I injected myself with the salt water, or whatever it was, and all was fine. Lesson learned - it really doesn't hurt, so don't fuck around. Just poke! Once!

I'm still not sure if I'll do my own or have Ian do them for me when the time comes. It'd be nice to let him play nurse, but the truth is I am way more scared of lack of control than I am of needles. So we'll see.

So, what's next? Well, day one of my next period, I give our coordinator a call, and she makes an appointment for me the following day. I get my drugs and instructions and we're off! At that point they will nearly continuously be monitoring my response to the drugs (by ultrasound and blood test) to see when my follicles are filled to bursting with egg. Then I inject myself with the trigger shot, which triggers ovulation, before bed on the night they determine. Not the next morning, but the morning after that, Ian goes in and "provides a sample" and later that day I go in and receive said sample. If ya know what I'm sayin'. Then we wait 2 weeks and see if it worked. Repeat as necessary.

Ian is actually building a little program that'll help predict out for months at what point he'll be needed to provide a sample. This will help with travel planning, since he has a lot of work planning coming up. This first month is a bit unpredictable, since we don't know when Day 1 will be. I haven't tracked my ovulation this month, so it's a bit of a mystery. But once we plug in Day 1, the program will give us a calender with windows of likely timing. Each month after should be more predictable since the drugs will be regulating and controlling my cycle. My hubs is a smart dude.

I think one of the more interesting things I learned in orientation was how these drugs work. So, in a normal and healthy cycle, Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Leutinizing Hormone (LH) are released, and they do exactly what it sounds like - stimulate the ovarian follicles. Usually when one follicle is ready with a nice big egg, it releases estrogen. This estrogen tells the brain to stop producing FSH and LH and the rest of the follicles that had started to develop stop. So, the fertility drugs work by tricking the brain into thinking estrogen levels are low, which means LH and FSH continue to be released, which, if all goes according to plan, causes the follicles to keep on keeping on, hopefully getting another one or two nice and filled with a ready to go egg. Once that has happened, you take the trigger shot, triggering the follicles to release those eggs aka ovulation! So the drugs both potentially create a situation where you have more than the one egg to work with and they work to control the timing of the cycle very precisely so that insemination can occur at the exact right time. Ba-da-boom!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

In or Out

One of the reasons I've been reluctant to talk about this all publicly (on Facebook, Livejournal, Twitter etc, let alone on its own blog) this whole time is that I have this weird feeling like it will ruin the experience. So many people have known we were trying for a baby and I love the idea of that moment, when we've made it past the first Trimester, and can be like, "YAY! WE MADE A BABY IN MY BELLY!" and everyone goes "OMGZ YAY!" and it's happy surprise fun times. Ian and I have talked about who we would tell prior to that 12 weeks - which people in our lives would know if we lost a baby etc.

So, I've been struggling with how that works with/meshes with me telling you every detail of fertility treatments, now that we are at this point. If I mention on this blog that they are turkey basting me up on a Wednesday, y'all are gonna wanna know when I find out if it worked. And then y'all are gonna wanna know if it did work. And of course, I could just wait and not tell you. But then it's sort of like if I suddenly order orange juice and decaf coffee instead of a mimosa and latte - I think the radio silence would be pretty obvious. I'm still not sure how I'll handle this, and it's something to talk over with Ian. I feel like there are two options:

1. I share everything, as I'm going through it. All the ups and downs.
2. I plan to go silent post my first IUI Cycle for a couple of months, so that either way I just am not talking about it. Then I can come back at some point and give a nice update either way.

If I go for option 2, I could continue to blog privately, and just post everything when it makes sense. Or I could blog about things that don't give away results. I don't know.

Maybe there is another option. Maybe I just order the decaf and OJ and go silent if I'm pregnant and I feel like going silent and not announcing until we're past the first trimester. And maybe you guys figure it out/guess what my silence means. And maybe that's just fine and a lot like how it'll look in real life, as well as on the blog. You can cross your fingers and wait to hear for sure and everything will be just fine.

It's very like me to overthink these things. It's also very like me to be worried less about how *I'll* feel sharing things, but about how you all will feel and react. Am I ruining the experience by sharing every detail? Am I denying you that fun a-ha moment? And why do I always go the negative route - like instead of feeling like knowing what I'm going through will make people extra-excited for me, it'll make the whole thing seem less special. Like I'm removing the magic by talking about this all. And maybe that means you won't love my baby as much? I don't know. It isn't the most logical.

But if I'm not the most logical now, well let's just call that a preview for how it's going to be when I have crazy amounts of hormones coursing through my body!

We went to our IUI Orientation yesterday and I do want to tell you about that. But I think that's a different post.