Just Relax

In a previous post I mentioned that one of the things you shouldn’t say to someone struggling with infertility (IF) is “just relax” or “go on vacation.” I’m not retracting that statement. Going on relaxing  vacation will not make the medical conditions affecting my fertility go away.

Having said that, taking a vacation with your significant other is a great way to get away from the all-consuming madness that IF comes with. Last week Andrew & I had the opportunity to take a short trip up to Massachusetts in celebration of our 8 year wedding anniversary (which isn’t until October).  Our mini-vacation couldn’t have come at a better time! School had been kicking our butts since the semester started and we’d barely seen each other, and we were still recovering from the stress of all the failed treatments we’ve had this year while also adding the stress of going public & making the decision to pursue one IUI and then IVF. So last week we packed up the car and got lost in Massachusetts for 3 days.

The best part of the entire trip is that we only talked about IF once, very briefly, for about 3 minutes. The rest of the time was spent ogling weird things at curiosity shops in Salem, learning about pirates, eating too much delicious food, hunting ghosts, conducting our very own anthropological study at a hotel bar, and following a man dressed in period clothing around Boston while he told us about the city’s history. It was fantastic to get away from IF and all the other stressors in our lives. It was just the little getaway we needed to remind ourselves that we’re best friends and we have fun together!

You see, one of the worst things IF does is drain a relationship of laughter and fun. It’s so easy to fall into these cycles of mourning and silence and forget that your relationship isn’t actually defined by whether or not you have children. School is still stressful, IF is still awful, but getting away for a little while left us with renewed affection for one another and renewed perspective about our priorities within our marriage.

So if you’re struggling with IF (or if you’re not struggling with IF), just relax! Go on vacation, even if  “vacation” means going on a hike together on a nice day, or carving out some time for a date.

What things do you do to “just relax” with your partner?

Full steam ahead!

I had a consultation with my RE today to discuss different protocols for moving forward with infertility treatments. Long story short: he highly recommended going straight to IVF. So that’s kind of what we’re going to do. I want to try a medicated IUI at least once & we scrounged up enough pennies to pay for one cycle, so we’re on track to do our first and only IUI in October. If that fails we’ll have to start digging in the couch cushions for more pennies because IVF will cost $20K-ish (more on that down below).

Honestly, though I’m excited to continue moving forward with treatments and hopeful that there will be a baby in my arms sooner than later, I’ve been having a hard time wrapping my head around IVF. I never thought I’d need to go that far. In my mind, as soon as I fixed the whole not ovulating thing I’d be able to start popping out babies. That seems to not be the case for whatever reason. Moreover, having to resort to IVF for conception totally changes what our family will look like. You see, I’ve always wanted at least 4 kids (ideally 6). Yup. You read that right. With IVF, unless I have twins or triplets twice, that just won’t be possible. A couple clomid cycles or IUIs here or there are manageable costs. Dropping $20K every time we want a kid doesn’t seem like it’ll ever be feasible.

Don’t get me wrong though! I’m not complaining. Just processing what IVF means for our future. All in all I’m very fortunate to go to Shady Grove Fertility, where they offer a shared risk program for IVF that I qualify for. Basically that means we pay an upfront fee that covers everything associated with 6 IVF cycles (except meds … nothing ever covers meds). If by the end of 6 cycles I haven’t delivered a baby, then we get all our money back.

So there you have it. Next month we’ll give it one last go for the year (IUI), and if that doesn’t work we’ll start saving for IVF in the (hopefully) near future!

Have any of you been through IVF? How did you feel when you made the choice to go that route? I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’re willing to share!

5 Things NOT to Say to Someone Struggling With Infertility: Part 1

Now that I’m “out of the closet” about our troubles conceiving, I thought I’d give you a few tips about things that are not very helpful to say so we can avoid awkward conversations later. You’ve been warned, so I can’t promise you won’t come to bodily harm if I’m hormotional and you say one of these things 😉

(1) JUST RELAX/DON’T THINK ABOUT IT

I know. Everyone has a friend with a cousin whose boyfriend’s sister’s coworker’s wife got pregnant the minute they just relaxed! When it comes to infertility those scenarios are the exception not the rule. You see, as much as I wish it would, taking a vacation won’t suddenly whip my ovaries into shape and get them to stop producing excess follicles that never mature into eggs. I need a doctor and lots of different hormones to do that.

Not thinking about it isn’t really an option either. I’ll outline a typical treatment cycle to help you understand why this is so.

  1. On cycle day (CD) 3, I go in for an ultrasound to make sure I don’t have any cysts or polyps. If all is clear, I start a round of clomid that lasts from CD3 to CD7.
  2. Five days later, on CD12, I go back to the clinic for an ultrasound and blood draw. The ultrasound helps my doctor visualize my ovaries and see if there are any follicles maturing. The blood draw helps confirm the ultrasound findings — they check to make sure my hormone levels back up what they’re seeing on the screen. I have to go back every other day until I have at least one mature follicle. Sometimes I’ll go in up to 6 times because my body refuses to cooperate. It’s invasive, uncomfortable, and terribly frustrating.
  3. Whenever the ultrasound and blood draw confirm the presence of at least one mature follicle, I’m given the go-ahead to trigger ovulation. This involves giving myself a shot of hCG in the stomach. I’m covered in tattoos, so you know needles aren’t an issue for me; but it’s one thing to sit down and have someone stab you with needles, and quite an entirely different thing to have to do it to yourself. I digress … back to the hCG. In case you didn’t know, hCG is the pregnancy hormone. For one reason or another it helps trigger ovulation. Once I give myself the injection, I know I’ll ovulate in 36 hours. I get terrible side effects from the shot — you can literally time my mental breakdown (20-24 hours after administration). Starting 36 hours after administration, I’ll experience mild ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) for a few days.
  4. After ovulation I start taking progesterone and estrogen twice daily in hopes that if there’s a baby in there it’ll stick. I take these until pregnancy is confirmed/denied. If confirmed, I’d continue to take them for 8-10 weeks. If denied, I stop taking them. Those hormones come with their own long list of side effects, including hot flashes, night sweats, vivid dreams, and eating all my feelings. Glamorous, yes?
  5. After ovulation comes the waiting. 14 days of it. 14 days of symptom spotting. 14 days of wishing, hoping, praying. 14 days of convincing myself that I must be pregnant because I craved milk that one time, then telling myself I’m obviously not pregnant because wouldn’t I have felt nauseous by now?
  6. Then the 14th day arrives, and it’s time to go back to the clinic. Another blood draw to check hCG levels, generally referred to as a beta. After the blood draw it’s time to wait anxiously for the phone call with my results. Usually Andrew will spend the day with me — we’ll get some lunch, go to a movie, anything to take our minds off of the waiting. And inevitably the results come, and they’re negative. So we’re back to square one and the entire process starts all over again.

So you see … simply relaxing won’t change the fact that my body doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, and not thinking about it isn’t humanly possible. And the process only becomes more involved the further along you go with infertility treatments. Clearly I’m a sucker for punishment since I’m just not willing to stop.

If you’d like to help us save for our next round of infertility treatments, you can make a donation to gsandor@gmail.com via Paypal (or in person if you’d prefer).

We have a secret to tell you.

I’m scared but I’m going to tell you anyway.

Are you ready?

Andrew and I have been undergoing infertility treatments since the beginning of this year.

I wish I could tell you that we have another secret to share, that the treatments were successful and that we’re now expecting a child. Sadly, that’s not the case.

You see Andrew and I have been trying to start a family for a really long time. Years, actually. We started out by trying to deal with all the side effects of my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), in hopes that in controlling it we’d be able to conceive naturally. I tried herbs, teas, diets, exercise, and finally prescriptions that wreaked havoc on my body, all to no avail. Finally, fed up with getting no results, I asked to be referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE).

I started seeing my wonderful RE at Shady Grove Infertility a little over a year ago, and it took months before I could start any actual treatments. First I had to be poked and prodded  — there were blood draws, ultrasounds, x-rays, more ultrasounds, more blood draws, etc.  We were finally given the green light to start infertility treatments at the beginning of this year.

We prayed; we crossed our fingers; we held our breath; we waited and waited and waited. I had a very rigid schedule of medications, ultrasounds, and blood draws that I had to plan my life around; I had to learn to give myself injections in the stomach; it felt like I spent more time in doctor’s offices and waiting rooms than anywhere else. We did everything correctly, yet every month brought disappointment. Every month my body failed to do the one thing that it’s supposed to do easily and naturally. Every month more and more friends announced pregnancies or had beautiful babies while we still had no good news. Each announcement is a reminder that our hearts and our home are ready for another little life, and that that place still remains empty.

My RE told me that I’d get a certain amount of treatment cycles before having to go up to the next tier. Those cycles are up and it’s time to move on. Sadly our insurance doesn’t cover the next tier of treatment. Though our circumstances are such that we live comfortably, they don’t allow for the expense that comes with the treatment, and so we’re stuck in a very unfortunate place.

Still reading? Good. Because this is where you come in.

We’re fundraising so we can have a baby.  Some of you may think this is in poor taste. That’s ok. We don’t much mind being tacky. We’re desperate for a child. We feel an urgency to start a family, an urgency that is compounded by certain circumstances that have arisen and that I’m not quite at liberty to share (otherwise I would, I promise). We’re scrambling for anything that will get us closer to having a child.

So here are the hard details. The cost of treatment is $1600 for each cycle, not including the cost of medication. We’d like to save enough for 3 cycles. That’s $4800 total. We don’t expect to fundraise every penny. In fact, Andrew has started a part time job that will give us a bit more disposable income to put toward treatment. But even then, it may be months before we can save enough, and those are months that we don’t really have to spare. Any help you can give gets us closer to having a child. Donations can be made to gsandor86@gmail.com via Paypal (or in person, if you’d prefer). Will you please consider helping us?