Monday, March 31, 2008

The second beta results are in!

I went from 126 on Thursday to 271 Saturday! The numbers just more than doubled. Dr. H said my numbers looked really good so there was no need for any repeat draws. I got to schedule my first ultrasound today, too.

We'll get to learn if we have one or two and hopefully hear the heartbeat on April 14th. These next two weeks can't come fast enough! While I know we have a long way to go before we're out of the woods, I'll feel so much calmer if I can just hear the heartbeat!

After I received the news this morning I just wanted to cry. A part of me wished the second number was a little higher but really it's a great number. I think I just have this overwhelming sense of everything sinking in. We tried for so long and went through so much pain, emotionally; I just find it difficult to grasp the concept of complete happiness when, at times, I expect the other shoe to drop.

Everyone says motherhood only makes you worry more. I'm just over 4 weeks pregnant and I'm already worried sick! This poor kid is doomed to have one of those over-protective parents, huh?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Blood draw, take two

I had my second beta draw this morning. Unfortunately, since it's Saturday, I had to travel to the main lab clear across town since it was one of two open today. I signed in and when I was called back, the plebotomist immediately asked me if she saw me yesterday or the day before. I told her that I had been in on Thursday. She laughed and said she drew my blood on Thursday. It's a sign...I had Lisa again!

While she was taking the draw we were chatting about Thursday's results. She asked if we had good news and I told her we did so she must be good luck. Sweet Lisa did a little good luck "doubling" dance with my vial before she put it in the specimen container to be sent for the results.

If this little bambino hangs in there for 40 weeks we just have to promise to request Lisa if he or she ever needs his/her blood taken. Not a problem, Lisa....we'd be happy to have you take our child's blood, if needed!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The first beta is in!

I needed to be at least 25 or above. My number was 126 at 13 days past IUI.

That's a very strong number! I go Saturday for draw number 2 and should have those results on Monday!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A moment of panic

Tuesday night, while I was lying in bed, awake, I had a moment of panic, albeit brief. You see, I'd never allowed myself to think ahead to pregnancy. I never wanted to be wistful about something that may not happen for a long time. Tuesday, it started sinking in that I really was pregnant...those test sticks weren't wrong! I don't really feel any different but I seem more aware about everything.

In my brief moment of panic I just thought to myself, "I have no idea what to do next!" Sure I've had lots of friends and family members who have been pregnant so I'm not completely clueless but it's those little questions that I need to know about. I need to know what to expect, if what I'm feeling is normal, am I being a crazy pregnant lady, etc.

I've decided I can make it through the next week or so flying by the seat of my pants and looking a few things up on the Internet. Once we have our beta results back and things will seem to be okay then it's off to the bookstore for me...I have lots of reading I need to do!

In other news, I had my first beta draw today. I'd called Dr. H's office, as instructed on Monday by Receptionist B, to confirm that everything was set for Friday. This time I got the very nice receptionist and she told me I didn't need to wait. She asked if I could go in today so that I'd have the results tomorrow and could go for the second draw on Saturday, if necessary. Of course I agreed so I headed into town for a quick blood draw.

I had a very nice phlebotomist named Lisa. She'd asked if this was our first baby and I said yes. She asked if we had been trying long and when I told her 19 months her response was "Oh sweetie, I really hope this is positive with high numbers. You don't need to wait any longer!" I couldn't agree more, Lisa!

More proof

I know, I know...why keep testing at home when you've already gotten 3 positives?? Who knows? Maybe I'm crazy. Seeing the second line appear each morning is rather comforting.

Test #4 - 12 days past IUI

Test #5 - 13 days past IUI

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Seeing is believing....

Test 1 - 10 days past IUI

This was the very first test I took Monday morning. There is a second line to the left of the control line but it's very, very faint. I didn't even believe it was there!

Test 2 - 10 days past IUI (afternoon)

Since I didn't believe the first test, I had to take a second one. I waited until the afternoon for the second one. The line is slightly darker than the first one.

Test 3 - 11 days past IUI

This was the result of this morning's test. Yep...that's a definite line!

Monday, March 24, 2008

We're pregnant!!!

Today was the first day I was supposed to test. Admittedly the thought was constantly in the back of my mind. Sunday I had kind of forgotten about it until we were driving home from Easter dinner then it dawned on me that...."Oh crap! Tomorrow's D-day!" I started to get nervous but I was telling myself I really wasn't expecting any results today.

I ended up having a really restless night's sleep. The dogs were restless, Y was restless, and I had an upset to the bathroom at 3:30am. I settled back into bed but continued to toss and turn. I was really warm and just wasn't getting a sound sleep. Y was up at 6:30 for a call with the east coast and I was going to try to get a bit more sleep. This continued until about 8 when I finally gave up.

I took my temperature, just like every morning, and it was up! Yay! I eventually dragged myself out of my warm cocoon of a bed and into the bathroom to test. The control line immediately appeared and I figured for sure it was a negative. I'd seen this happen so many times before. I took the stick to the sink and laid it on the vanity. I washed my hands and brushed my teeth to start my day. I was disappointed but not terribly upset since it was what I was expecting. As I was brushing my teeth, I glanced over at the stick and thought I saw a second line. My head whipped around and I stared at the stick with the toothbrush dangling from my mouth. There seems to be a second line! I quickly finish brushing, pick up the stick and stare at the second line. Am I seeing things? Is it really there? I think it is but it's SO faint! I now have a huge grin on my face and start jumping up and down. Wait! I'm pregnant! I better not do that!

I get dressed, walk out of the bedroom and there stands Y....he had just finished feeding the dogs. I just stand in the doorway, looking at him and said "Ummm. I think we are!" He laughed and said "We?" I replied, "Okay, me, but I need you to confirm I'm not seeing things." I take him into the bathroom where the test stick remains on the vanity. Y says, "I was going to let you sleep in since you had a rough night." I told him I didn't care about that and asked him to look at the test stick. "Do you see a second line?" "You mean this one? Nope. Don't see it." Jerk. Leave it to him to pester me over something so important. I begin to get really excited and go grab the camera for proof.

I was seriously on cloud nine. Grinning from ear to ear, not quite sure I believed it but knew this was good news. I then head straight for the Internet....yes, my Internet friends knew before the rest of my family! How is anyone supposed to keep this news a secret!?

My mom called this morning with some sad news about her sister (my Aunt). In hopes of cheering her up, I told her our news. Her response was less than enthusiastic. I know her mind was elsewhere but I was hurt.

I then called my RE's office since they told me to let them know when we got a positive if it was before the 28th. Of all days, I get the bitchy receptionist. I told her I tested and got a faint positive this morning. She then goes on to berate me as to why I tested so early. I told her I had asked Dr. H when we could start testing and he told us 10 days out which was today. She continues her rant, apparently NOT believing that Dr. H would tell me such a thing since they can only tell patients to test at 14 days out. Whatever. Just schedule my beta draw, dangit! I was told a positive would be a positive so I really needed to wait until 14 days past my IUI but I can call Thursday so my draw can be scheduled first thing Friday morning. Great. Fine. Hurt times NO ONE happy for us!?

The one person I knew would be thrilled is my sister. I call her up at work, trying to make myself sound normal and told her I had a question for her. I asked her if she was ready to be an aunt which was met with immediate screams. (My sister works in an elementary school office so I found this amusing.) Then when reality hit she kept asking if I was serious. Yes, yes I'm serious! FYI, one of the other secretaries and assistant principal know as well.

Well...there went our plan for telling everyone! At this point, since two people knew, we decided to tell the rest of the family. I emailed my brother and sister-in-law at their work, made signs for my nieces and nephew to tell them over the web cam that said Coming soon....December 5, 2008... Baby J....I'm Pregnant, and called Y's family.

While this is the best news of the year we have to remain cautiously optimistic. I still have several Beta levels to be tested every two days, beginning Friday. If those double (or more than double) we can breathe a sigh of relief. The next hurdle will be hearing the heartbeat.

I can't believe it! WE'RE PREGNANT! 19 months of hell and now we're finally pregnant! I think this news may sink in least I hope it's well before the baby arrives!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Look on the Bright Side

Lots of times, when blogging about infertility, we focus on the negative things that are happening. We're sad, distraught, angry, frustrated, devastated, and slowly losing hope. It's normal that our posts tend to focus on the negative things going on (or not going on) with your treatment processes.

In hopes of looking on the "bright side" of things, I'm going to make a list of the positive things that have happened in the time we've been trying for a child.

1. I've lost 22lbs since November 2007.
2. I found a Dr. I love and have every confidence in his abilities.
3. I have some terrific, online friends who are also dealing with IF and can understand when either I don't want to talk about it or I just need to complain.
4. Y and I have grown closer despite our days of anger and upset.
5. We have managed to save extra money which we know will be needed to help pay for treatments and the future child.
6. We adopted 2 greyhounds that are our "kids".
7. We made a return trip to Disney World in 2007
8. I've started working toward my dream of my own Photography Business.
9. I can do 3+ miles on the treadmill in an hour.
10. I can still sleep in on the weekends if I want to (and the dogs cooperate).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

"How are you feeling?" "Are you feeling pregnant yet?" "Do your boobs hurt?" "I'm sending good thoughts!"

Those are just a few of the questions and statements I've had since the insemination last Friday.

I'm feeling good. I have been for several days. I've been rather tired lately but that can be attributed to the fact I've been staying up later than usual and not getting the sleep I need. Y's had to be up at 6:30am a few times lately for meetings and deadlines with the East Coast. While I go back to sleep when he gets up it's still not a completely sound sleep.

I am not feeling pregnant yet but not having BEEN pregnant before I have no idea what clues to look for. Everyone is different so it's hard to say if my symptoms are true pregnancy symptoms or if I think I'm feeling things because I want to be pregnant. Besides, I'm currently only 5 days past insemination. According to my temperatures and charting, it appears I ovulated sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning. Perfect timing for the insemination!

And stop asking if my boobs hurt! Sheesh...nosy people! :) No, my boobs don't hurt...yet.

I do appreciate every prayer, crossed body part, positive thought/vibe and everyone that has kept us in their thoughts during this time. We're not pregnant yet so keep praying, crossing, and sending those good thoughts!

Infertility is one of the hardest things a person and a marriage can go through. It may sound completely cliche but we have grown closer. We know our limits and have learned how much we can truly handle before losing our mind.

I'll keep everyone updated as my testing date approaches!

Monday, March 17, 2008 told by my niece

I was chatting via the webcam and Skype with my sister and her family today.

Apparently our insemination was the topic of conversation at their dinner table recently. Dinner that night consisted of burgers and fries from Wendy's. The account was retold by my 11 year-old niece on Monday. The conversation went something like this.....

So the hamburger is the egg and the fries are the sperm. The egg (hamburger) is released and the sperm have to try to find the egg (fries wiggling around). Some sperm get lost along the way and then there's one good sperm (a fry) that finds the egg (hamburger) and burrows in (Picture the fry being stuck inside the hamburger at this point.). Eventually a baby is made.

My niece then goes on to retell how she took a fry and said "Look! I'm a lost sperm!" and eats the french fry. Oh....if only she knew!

I have to say, I'll never be able to look at burgers and fries the same way again!

Friday, March 14, 2008

54 Million....

No, we didn't win the lottery. Although that would be a nice occurrence!

54 Million was the number of sperm that were cleaned and prepped for the IUI today. We had a really early start to the day. We dropped off Y's sample around 8:40 (after a 50-minute drive to the office) then went for breakfast while we waited for our insemination time.

I was all prepped in a new room. Y and I were joking that the room had mood lighting with just a small tabletop lamp lit. We think maybe they need to start piping in some Barry White to help set the mood.

Anyway, Dr. H brought the specimen vial in all labeled. He explained what was going to happen. The sperm were going to be loaded into a syringe. A catheter would be attached to the syringe and placed through my cervix until it reached just the edge of my uterus. He said 27 million will go to one side, 27 million to the other...all going willy nilly. He even warned us that some may leak out when the catheter is removed but it's usually very minimal. Before we got started Dr. H asked us if we wanted to save the vial. We laughed and said no thanks. He then shared a brief story of a patient who kept the vial, syringes from the HCg shots, and other memorabilia and put them all in a shadow box. That was a good laugh to help me relax even more.

The sperm was injected. The catheter going in really wasn't that uncomfortable nor was the insemination. We did lose a bit when the catheter was removed but Dr. H guesstimates 40-some million made it into the uterus. Much more than we needed. A minimum of 5 million sperm were needed for insemination....Y's apparently an overachiever!

While lying still for the 10 minute post-insemination wait, we talked with Dr. H and asked all the important questions...most importantly..."How soon can I test?"!

I can start testing in 10 days (for those of you counting that's March 24th). I am to take any negative results with a grain of salt until AF arrives. If I don't get a positive nor a period by the 28th, I'm to call the office so they can order blood work. If I DO get a positive or blood work reveals one, I'll have blood drawn every two days to check that my Beta levels and progesterone are increasing at the correct rate. A good pregnancy, the hormone levels will double (or more) within two days and continue to do so. A possible miscarriage will plateau or not increase so they'll be able to prepare us for a loss if one should occur.

So now the wait and countdown begins. I feel really positive right now and hope I can continue feeling this way!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Super sperm and uterus tanks!

I had asked my friends, on a message board I frequent, to come up with ideas of what I should wear to our insemination date Friday morning. I think their ideas were great. Here's Y's outift....

Here's mine:

Yes, that's an image of a uterus.

I think they're both quite fitting, no? Many thanks to Meredith and Lida for the laughs these images created!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Appointment update

To all my blog readers (all two of you :P) I apologize for not updating sooner.

I've been all over the map, emotionally, the past few days. I've really struggled this cycle with sadness and anger. It all came to a boil Monday night and I had myself a complete meltdown. I told Y, midst my sobs, that I just couldn't take anymore and my breaking point had been reached.

Fast forward to Tuesday. I've been really worried the Letrozole wasn't working. I use the Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor to help me know when I'm ovulating. It gives readings of low, high or peak. I'd been having several days of low readings when I should have at least had a high by now. Tuesday morning I get a high and begin to feel some hope.

We head to the appointment and Dr. H, bless his soul, walks in to the room and immediately compliments "You're looking thinner!" I smile and say thanks. He asked a few questions, one of which was "Are you still losing weight?". I told him I had lost a few more pounds but nothing too major. He just smiled and said "It brings tears to my eyes to have someone finally follow my instructions and see the benefits." He asked how I did on the Letrozole to which my reply was "It was a lot better than Clomid. I just hope it works!"

I get all settled into the stirrups and in goes the dildo cam. He checked my uterine lining first. I noticed on the monitor that it didn't look like it usually did but he said it was good and thick and had the three layers it should have. On to the left ovary....lefty was usually the one to produce the dominant follicles. I watching the monitor and I'm not see much of a follicle. He finally gets a good view on one but it's rather small. Dr. H's voice sounded somewhat disappointed. I was so close to tears.

He then moved over to right ovary and things were looking up! He gets a perfect view and excitedly comments "Now THAT'S a dominant follicle!" I didn't hear the exact measurements but that one was 20-some mm in diameter. That's really huge for me! I was thrilled, he was thrilled and I'm just excited to be considered on the verge of "normal"!!

After much discussion and my admitting to Dr. H that I was rather emotionally fragile we're going ahead with an IUI this cycle. Dr. H's comment to me was "This all get rather old, huh?". He understands where I'm at and agreed we needed to maximize our chances. Insemination in no way guarantees us a pregnancy but it does increase our odds. We do have a small, 5% chance of twins. Dr. H said he had seen that smaller follicle grow and end up releasing come insemination time.

I have a trigger shot of the HCg hormone to inject late tonight. Friday morning we'll drop off the semen sample for the team to clean and select the best of the best. We'll return an hour later, at 9:45, for the actual insemination.

I can't even begin to express how much relief I feel right now. I know this may not work but to have the conception not be 100% on our shoulders is a huge relief to me. I know this whole process has been stressful but I had no idea the amount of stress I was carrying until I felt this sense of relief.

Please keep us and the medical team in your thoughts on Friday. I'll be sure to update after the insemination!!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

What I know

Tuesday brings another appointment with Dr. H.

I've been wondering all weekend what I really want the outcome to be. I have no idea if the Letrozole is working. It's definitely not been as bad as Clomid. While I've lost my appetite, I haven't had a whole lot of nausea or pukeyness. One of the side effects of Clomid, that I hadn't really thought about before, is drying up of the cervical mucus. This can also prevent some women from becoming pregnant since the cervical mucus is needed to aid the sperm in traveling through the cervix to the uterus. I've recently discovered that's not a problem on Letrozole.

While I would love to be able to conceive on our own (with a little medicinal help), I can't help but wonder if I can really take much more. I've been very emotional this time around. Sad. Angry. Tears shed almost daily. Is this my way of letting myself know I'm at my breaking point? Is it a side effect of the drugs? I don't know.

I do know, that the more I think about things the more I know I want to be pregnant. I guess that means come Tuesday I want to be perfectly stimulated so we can move ahead and do an IUI this cycle.

So, those of you with divine your thing, please. You don't have divine powers? Fair enough...just send your positive thoughts, prayers, whatever. My ovaries need all the help they can get and me, well, I just need help in the way of love, support, and understanding.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring Training Baseball

One of the benefits of living in the southwest, we get to enjoy Spring Training baseball the every March. We took some time off work this week to enjoy a Wednesday afternoon game between Chicago Cubs and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The weather was almost perfect. It was partly cloudy with a light breeze and temperatures in the low to mid 70's. We couldn't have asked for better weather!

Carlos Zambrano

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A lot can change in 15 years

My nephew turns 15 on Sunday. FIFTEEN!!

I was 15, myself, when he was born. My sister allowed my Mom and I to be in the room with her before delivering. At the time I had no idea how momentous that actually was. I remember watching her contraction monitor and commenting when it would spike during a contraction. Sorry sis, I had no idea at the time how clueless I was.

I remember when we were finally allowed back into the room to see her and meet my newborn nephew. He was tiny! Despite loving kids and having babysat for several years prior, I was terrified. I couldn't hold him. I was afraid I'd fail at being a good Aunt and have no idea how to hold this hours-old baby. I had never held someone so small. I felt so unprepared and yet in complete awe of this tiny little guy. He was mine, my nephew, someone I would have influence over yet I was a teenager myself.

Thinking back I was so excited to be an Aunt but no where near ready to be a Mom (as well I shouldn't have been at 15!). Now here I sit 15 years later and I want nothing more. I wish I had pushed all those scared, child-like thoughts out of my head and held that tiny little miracle in my arms just hours after he was born. I certainly missed out on a magical moment.

My nephew means so much to me and while my sister has often said I'm a second Mom to her kids I really do feel that way. When they hurt, I hurt. When they're sad, I'm sad. When they're happy, I'm happy. I'm proud of their successes and sometimes disappointed in their failures.

I'd like to think being so close to my nephew and nieces has prepared me for being a Mom to my own children some day. I just hope that some day comes sooner rather than later.....

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Pill Count!

If you're ever around me and wonder what that rattling noise is, it's just me. Pharmaceutical drugs are a part of my daily life now and I now understand where my parents were coming from when they complained about taking so many pills. Here's my pill count on an average day:
*1 - Mercury-free Omega-3's, twice a day (2 total)
*2 - Metformin caplets, twice a day (4 total)
*1 - Acidophilos caplet, twice a day to counteract the bad tummy from the Metformin (2 total)
*1 - fertility drug of choice, this month Letrozole (1 total)
*1 - Pre-natal vitamin (1 total)
*1 - folic acid supplement (1 total)

So on a good day I'm at a grand total of 11 pills a day. Now if it's a bad day like today, add in a few Tylenol for headaches, a few Immodium for the drug/diet induced diarrhea, and a few papaya extract for the nausea. Those bad days I could be seeing 15-20 pills a day. We often joke in our house that I need one of those daily pill dispenser boxes because I'll often sit down for a meal (when I feel I can eat) and ask "Did I take my pills?"

Monday, March 3, 2008

Tears and Hope

This video says everything I have ever wanted to say and more....

Please take a few moments out of your day to watch it.

Empty Arms

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My business logo!

I'd mentioned back in January that I was going to try to start my own photography studio. I've had a couple of shoots but my real job has taken over all my time so I haven't had much time to spend on promoting my business. I took one huge step this weekend thanks to Meredith at Addie Kate Creations. She created a beautiful business logo that I can now use on my website (when I get it going) and business cards/promotional materials. She does fabulous work and, if you're ever in the need, makes gorgeous birth announcements and photo cards!

This is my photo but her creative genius on the logo: