Friday, February 29, 2008

The B*tch is Back!

I woke up at 4:00 this morning with the most horrible cramps ever. Sure enough, I went to the bathroom and AF had arrived!

I'm still amazed by what a roller coaster of emotions comes with getting my period each month. Sometimes, I'm excited because it means I can start a new treatment. Other times, I'm devastated by the fact that yet another cycle is a bust. This month, I really shouldn't have been surprised when AF reared her ugly head considering multiple ultra sounds had clearly shown that there weren't any eggs cooking in my follicles. But despite the fact that by now I know better than to expect a miracle, when I started get O-like symptoms followed by typical 2ww signs, a little bit of hope managed to creep in. When I saw that swipe of red on the toilet paper this morning, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. And that's the paradox of IF for me. As hard as I try to manage my expectations, I think I'd go insane taking all of these medications, spending each trip to the bathroom analyzing what I see on the TP, peeing on sticks twice a day and getting up at the crack of dawn several times a week to be stuck with needles and have a camera shoved in places no one but my husband should ever get to see if I didn't have a little sliver of hope that it would all result in a BFP. So that's why this morning, at 4 am alone in our powder room, even though I should have been overjoyed that AF arrived without the Provera and that my first injectible/IUI cycle would be starting, I still grieved a little for what might have been.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Well, here we go....

I've been inspired, encouraged and comforted by so many other blogs out there that I decided to start one of my own in the hope that my feelings and experiences can help others in the same way. Here's a little bit about me and my journey with IF:

I just turned 34 years old, have been married for a little more than three years and live in New York City. My husband and I having been actively TTC since December 2006, although I went off the pill five months earlier. Now that I think about it, I probably should have anticipated we'd have problems getting pregnant. I'd been on the pill for almost 15 years and even then, never got my period regularly. When I first went off, I went months without menstruating which is what finally led me to my OBGYN in February 2007.

After that first appointment, I was a little overwhelmed but still super hopeful. My doctor ran blood tests on me, had my husband go for a semen analysis and sent me for an HSG (side note: How typically sexist is it that men get to pleasure themselves in order to be tested while women have their uterus and tubes filled ink to make sure everything's working? Okay, rant over). Everything came back normal, so he prescribed me Provera to jumpstart my period and Clomid to help me ovulate. Several of my friends have also used Clomid and got pregnant pretty quickly, so I was confident it would do the trick. Boy, was I wrong!

The first month, I took 50mg and didn't ovulate so I took Provera again and my dosage was upped to 100mg. That cycle, I did ovulate, but got a BFN. Since I ovulated and got my period that month, I was sure the Clomid was going to work and I'd get be pregnant in no time, but the next month, I didn't ovulate. That meant more Provera and another round of Clomid, this time 150mg. At this point, all of the drugs were really starting to affect me. The Clomid gave me horrible headaches and terrible cramps, along with hot flashes so unbearable that I vowed never to mock my mother and her complaints about menopause again! I also started to do some research on the Internet and realized that the protocol my OBGYN was advising wasn't necessarily in my best interest -- Clomid has several "invisible" side effects, like a thinning of the uterine lining, the drying up of cervical mucus and the growth of ovarian cysts, and women taking it should be closely monitored by their doctors to prevent any complications. I wasn't being monitored at all and it started to worry me. When I didn't ovuulate on 150mg either, my doctor wanted me to do one more round of Clomid at 200mg, which, despite all I was learning, I was willing to try because the prospect of seeing an RE terrified me. Taking that step meant admitting I really had a "problem", that I really was dealing with infertility. I wasn't ready to admit to myself that it might take more than Clomid to get pregnant. But at the same time, I vowed to be more proactive if the 200mg didn't do the trick.

Around this time, I started acupuncture. I was skeptical about the benefits but I was willing to give anything a try. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed it. Not only did it help relax me, but my acupuncturist kind of became my therapist. She encouraged me to start charting and she helped me decipher what was going on with my body. She had me re-vamp my diet and gain some weight. And most reassuring of all, she validated my concerns about the treatment I was getting from my OBGYN. I did take the 200mg of Clomid and actually ovulated. DH and I timed intercourse perfectly and I was sure this was going to be our month.

My period arrived while we were at a wedding upstate and I was devasted. I had spent the night before only drinking Sprite, convinced I was going to get a positive pregnancy test when we got back. I literally cried on the toilet and wanted to crawl into bed and never come out. When we got back to NYC, I called my OBGYN to let him know what happened. Since the 200mg of Clomid had made me ovulate, he suggested we do one more round but I was done. On his advice, I spent seven months doing five rounds of Clomid and only ovulated twice. Who knew at this point if my lining was thinned beyond repair or if I had cysts? I was angry with myself for not taking charge of my care earlier and was ready for a second opinion.

I made an appointment with an RE at one of the most prestigious clinics in NYC but it was more than a month's wait before I could get in so my acupuncturist and I tried to make my month off medications as productive as possible. The day I should have ovulated came and went so I assumed the cycle was a bust. I went to the appointment with the RE assuming I'd be back on Provera again soon but when he did the ultrasound, he said I was about to ovulate. I was ecstatic that my body had managed to do its job without the Clomid and hoped I'd be one of those miracle break cycle BFP's. My doctor said everything looked good on DH's side and other than needing to gain some weight, he saw nothing wrong with me that would indicate why we were having issues. The RE said he should tell me to put on a few pounds and send me home, but since we'd already been trying for a year, he'd treat me. We were classified as having "unexplained infertility" and if I got a BFN that month, he wanted me to do another cycle of 200mg of Clomid while being monitored. He said if the Clomid didn't work, the next step would be Gonal-F but that in that case, he recommended we do IVF due to the risk of high order multiples. The idea of moving so quickly to IVF terrified me and I was confident that in his care, I would definitelt get pregnant on Clomid. Again, I was so so wrong.

I did three more round of 200mg of Clomid with the RE. The first two, I ovulated and got BFN's both time. Because I was being monitored, we realized the drugs were thinning my lining and added Estrace into the mix, which corrected that issue. But my cervical mucus was also becoming a problem. I tried to use Pre-seed to conteract it, but I really feel like it was the reason these two cycles were a bust. I started my last round of Clomid in February knowing that it was our last chance for a BFP before moving on to injectibles (and, possibly, to IVF) so I asked the doctor if we could do something to improve our chances and he agreed to add in a trigger shot and IUI. I was excited about trying something new and really felt that an IUI would make all the difference -- my lining was looking good and cervical mucus wouldn't be an issue. This time, I was sure we were going to be successful!

But my body had other plans. Namely, not ovulating. I had three ultrasounds in a row which showed my follicles had stopped growing. That meant no IUI for me. The only good news was that my RE said we'd be able to do a few injectible cycles with IUI's, as long as I understood that they would be canceled if I produced more than three mature follicles. I was overjoyed! The idea of moving straight to IVF seemed so extreme and honestly, after all of the struggling and heartbreak trying to get pregnant, the idea of twins was getting more and more attractive. The RE prescribed me Provera, scheduled me for an injectibles class and told me he'd see me on CD2.

That was in mid-February so you'd think I would be busy injecting myself with Bravelle every night by now. But no -- once again, my body decided to throw a wrench into the plans. I got my Provera prescription on February 14th (my 34th birthday!) but since DH and I were heading to Florida the next day for more than a week, I was paranoid I'd get my period while we were on vacation and wouldn't be able to go in for my CD2 tests, so I decided to take the pills when we got back. I figured I was on a mini-break from TTC, so I stopped temping, didn't count cycle days and felt like a normal person again! It was so liberating not to be worrying about those things for the first time in a year. But lo and behold, I woke up last Saturday morning to find a huge amount of EWCM. I hadn't seen anything like it since I started Clomid almost a year earlier and it made me think maybe I was ovulating. Sure enough, when we got back from our trip two days later, I started temping again and my temps were well above my usual coverline. Since then, my boobs have been super sore and I have all of the normal 2ww symptoms so I decided not to take the Provera. Based on what my body's telling me, either AF is on her way or we got one of those surprise break BFP's. I should know for sure later next week. If she comes, I'll start my injectibles and if she doesn't, either I'm pregnant or I'll start taking Provera. I'm not very hopeful at this point but I feel like I have to give it a shot.

So that's my story! If you're actually still reading at this point, thanks for taking the time. I promise not to be so wordy in the future.....