Gravida 4, Para 1 – An Announcement

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I’m currently more than a year behind the blog. The next post I have planned, if I can get it posted on time, will catch me up to a year behind, and then the posts are going to be more general instead of cycle by cycle.

The reason is: we finally had success with IUI#7 and our son was born October 2016.

If you are currently struggling with infertility and success stories are difficult to read you might want to stop reading new posts. Here is a link to the very first post of the blog back when we were just trying; here is a link to the first post when we started seeing specialists. If you read forward from there you can read chronologically up to this post and stop again. Well, one more post after this has more details of our last testing and last IUIs, and only has a quick reference to the first positive test which I thought was a false positive brought on by treatment.

I hope our meandering wander through this hellscape can still provide insight to future couples mired in this shit. And although we have a baby we are not cured so I’ll still have thoughts to share that might be of interest to fellow infertiles.

All the best to all my readers.

A Little Bit Pregnant — A Primer

So you’ve peed on a stick and seen two lines or a + or a dubiously-scientific “2-3 weeks pregnant” note on an insane piece of instant electronic waste (whyyyyyyy did we manufacture and dispose of a battery for this).

Are you pregnant?

Trigger warning. (more…)

Mourning Sickness

Concerning Weeks 4-7 of first successful pregnancy

I learned early on a hard lesson about denial and how much one is in control of one’s own experience in pregnancy.

I found myself more pregnant than I’d ever been and without any signs out of the ordinary. Totally textbook: no bleeding, nice and bright positive home tests, fine labs. Enough that we told our immediate family right away. (Who were well trained, by the way — “We’re pregnant.” “For real?”)

But not enough to feel out of the woods, even a little. Maybe I’d feel better once there was a heartbeat at our dating ultrasound, but that was still 3 weeks away. I wanted to stick to my trying-to-conceive diet. I didn’t want to make any plans (although I totally did get us a midwife without delay because those can book up fast and we wanted a specific practice at the end of our street).

(I’ll split off all the things I know of that can go wrong between a positive test and a confirmed heartbeat into a hypothetical future blog post, so that it’s easier to skip and come with a content warning. Suffices to say I knew enough than to even be sure I had an actual embryo growing inside me.)

The strangest part was I refused to believe I was feeling sick. Sore boobs, sure; those hit me even with my blink-and-you’ll-miss them miscarriages. But nausea? Ha; I’m not some Fertile Myrtle symptom-spotting 5 days after I ovulate. What’s next? “oooooh I don’t like the smell of fish TIME TO DECORATE THE NURSERY.”

Except… I was sick. Before six weeks I was already ucky enough I didn’t want to eat much except salty, processed crap. It came and went throughout the day (so I prefer “nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP)” to the moniker “morning sickness”) and I stopped being able to take care of dinner every night, a responsibility I felt very possessive of in my quest to pull my weight as a childless homemaker.

It was hard to accept I was sick as if doing so was buying into the pregnancy emotionally. Even harder was the fact that I didn’t feel at all what I had heard of from my girlfriends. They had stories of puking all the time (but it always sounded like the puking was punctuating an otherwise normal day) or ending up in the hospital with the most extreme version, HG. But here I was, not puking, yet not able to go about my day either. The degree of nausea is correlated with viability, making me wish I was sicker if I was going to be useless anyway. I was miserable.

A Week of Positives

10 days post IUI: “Fucking trigger!

After blogging that, I couldn’t help but laugh at how TROLL my body is. “OH YOU WANT A NEGATIVE HOME TEST? HAHAHAHAHAHA HERE’S A POSITIVE ONE! I THOUGHT YOU ALWAYS WANTED POSITIVE ONES!”

12 days post IUI: “Um, that line is not any fainter than the last one.”

Around this time Facebook offered to post the most recent photos from my phone when I used the app, to hilarious effect. “No thanks Facebook, I don’t want to tease my friends with probably-false-positives.”

facebook trolling

14 days post IUI: “Holy crap, I haven’t even had any spotting and this test is definitely darker than the last one. Today, I am pregnant.”

test progression

15 days post IUI: “No honey, still no period. No, I don’t think I’m going to take a test tomorrow morning. Yes because I already did. No I won’t tell you what it was; you said you didn’t want to know. Ok, if you insist.”

Knowing it was too early for morning sickness did not help the feeling I was going to stress-vomit.

17 days post IUI: Bloodtest. The clinic calls and gives a result so good that there’s no need to retest it to look for the right pattern of increase — it’s just a routine positive test, stop taking your supplements, see you in 3 weeks for an ultrasound to confirm it’s a viable embryo.

At this point I’m the most pregnant I’ve ever been, and I’m having textbook pregnancy symptoms: no period, sore boobs, an excellent blood test, bright and happy home tests. I’m living the dream.

While I had the feeling that I should be more cautious as home tests had backfired before, it turned out that this read differently since I had no signs of imminent loss. I had trouble managing expectations, and kept thinking that if something did go wrong, any future positives would be even harder to celebrate.

IUIs 6, 7, and… 8?

Super-Secret Post
Concerning cycles 51, 52, and 53 (November and December 2015 and January 2016)

Faced with trying IVF again after only producing a single transferable embryo over two rounds — costing immense amounts of money, time, and pain — I wanted to make sure we had exhausted less-invasive and less-expensive treatment first. After all, we had been pregnant twice on IUIs and zero times on IVF so it seemed to make sense to focus there. We purchased a three-pack (buy 2 get 1 free). (more…)

The Pain Olympics

Let me present to you two different couples and what got them pregnant:

Woman A takes a pill prescribed by her gynecologist, uses a home ovulation test, has timed intercourse, and lands pregnant first month of the prescription. They don’t even meet with a specialist.

Woman B does a long IVF cycle with genetic testing, necessitating freezing all embryos. So, one cycle for birth control, one for stimulation and egg retrieval, one for recovery and waiting for results, one to prep for a transfer of an embryo, then the actual embryo transfer. The first transfer is a success.

Which couple had it harder? I would guess more people would think Couple B.

Welcome to the Pain Olympics.

(more…)

IVF #2 Post Mortem

Super-secret post
Originally composed Cycle 50 (early November, 2015)

We were able to see our doctor fairly quickly to get a debrief on the new info gained from a second failed IVF on a completely different medication protocol. Basically, the doctor was stumped. She had no idea why I wasn’t making embryos with IVF.  (more…)

Environmental factors and things “it doesn’t hurt to try”

It’s indisputable that there are certain lifestyle/environmental factors which can affect fertility. Street drug use is a big one with pot use usually having a negative effect on sperm quality/count at least in the short term.

But what about everything else? And since dose makes the toxin, how much of those things? How much coffee? How much alcohol? How much weight loss is enough and how much vigorous exercise is too much? Do you need to switch to boxers three months ahead of trying or does it even make a difference in effective fertility, i.e., whether or not it might increase count/quality a little, does it actually move pregnancy rates over a year? (more…)

An Exercise in Futility: IVF#2 (and fallout from IUIs 3-5)

Super-Secret Post
Concerning cycles 47, 48, and 49 (August, September, and early October 2015)

This post is really long. I’ve decided to add a tl;dr section.

  • Our doctor didn’t care that we had a third loss in our preceding IUI since it was so early as to be deemed diagnostically insignificant. This seems to be consistent with other practices.
  • We proceeded with a slightly different round of meds to try to improve my egg quality and resulting embryos, over the course of two cycles, which hilariously involved taking birth control pills for three weeks.
  • I learned how to give myself shots! Out of pure, desperate necessity.
  • The egg growth phase went well with many fewer “junk” follicles meaning I didn’t have the adverse reaction and longer, more painful recovery of last time.
  • The egg retrieval went much more smoothly thanks to improved pain management (both medication and also frame of mind) but the nurses showed their ignorance to the realities of the process which was frustrating.
  • All these successes were for naught when all 7 embryos were too abnormal to consider transferring back. The result was two cycles (and an obscene sum of money) completely wasted. The first protocol was technically more successful, since at least then we had something to put back and hope it implanted.

(more…)

Summer IUIs – Gravida 3, Para 0

Super-Secret Post
Concerning cycles 44, 45, and 46 (May, June, and July 2015)

In May, we kicked off a “three-pack” of IUIs. Our clinic has a pricing option where you pay upfront 200% the price of one IUI and get three credits. You can use those credits within a two-year window unless you have a live birth from one; in that case you lose any unused credit. But basically it’s no extra money unless you get pregnant on the first cycle, and then the third is free if you don’t get pregnant after the first two.

We did change our inputs from the last IUIs by adding progesterone support. This is somewhat controversial. Are early embryos lost because of low progesterone, or is low progesterone just a symptom of a lackluster follicle whose egg sucks and whose resulting embryo wasn’t going to make it anyway? In my case, it held off pesky spotting until my period came in earnest, even though I don’t think it actually extended that phase of my cycle. It’s inexpensive and not too invasive so we just went ahead with it. (Clarification: in other kinds of cycles where no ovulation took place (e.g. in preparation for a transfer of a previously-grown embryo) progesterone support is extremely important since the body isn’t producing any of its own and, as the name implies, it’s crucial to pregnancy support.)

(more…)

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