Saturday, July 28, 2012

The One with the Birthdays

I turned 30 on Thursday.  30 - as in no longer in my 20s.  30 - as in half-way to 60.

Seriously, guy?!

I was never really one of those people to say "Oh I want to be married by (insert age)" or "I want 7 babies by (insert age)."  But, when faced with the big 3-0 this week I couldn't help but think "Oh shit, I'm 30 and there is no baby yet."  I'll admit it stung a little.  It was tough to realize that I've now entered a new decade of my life complete with increased life insurance premiums (I promise I'm going to get one of those policies soon Mom!) and a "biological clock [that] is - stamps foot three times - ticking like this!" (obviously said in full Brooklyn-Marisa-Tomei-in-My-Cousin-Vinny accent) and I still don't have a baby to call my own.  I allowed myself a few moments of being a Grumpus.

But, then I put on my big girl panties and remembered that the stabiness of each needle is helping me get that baby.  I just kept repeating to myself, "We will have a take home baby soon.  We will have a take home baby soon."  I'm finally starting to believe it.

And I may add that the donut cake - even with its huge declaration of 30 - definitely helped me feel a little less nauseated by my age.  Never had donut cake?  Your life is incomplete.  Get on it.  Now.  You will come back and tell me how it fulfilled you.  Trust me on this.

Life.  Changing.  'Nuf said.  
(More on the bone-shaped cake below).

On a side note, I happen to share my birthday with this furry guy...

Yes, he's 95 pounds and under our bed.  Yes, those are dust bunnies under there.  Don't judge me.

He turned one year old on Thursday.  We celebrated with a special doggie cake from Jack's Snacks.  Max thoroughly enjoyed it.  We didn't want him to eat the whole thing in one sitting, so Hubs and I took him outside and kept him on the leash while he licked the frosting.  Then we cut off a piece for him.  

I give you - Max's attack of the birthday cake in pictures.

Longest "stay" of his life!

Full attack mode.  Notice the wide stance.  He's not messing around.

Found the little treats on the cake.

We cut off a piece for him.  One gulp and it was gone.

More please Mom and Dad!
Max respectfully requests that you don't make fun of his weird tongue.  He had to have a piece removed a couple of months ago because of a calcium deposit.

Despite the few moments of woe-is-me, it was a great birthday.  Hubs and I went out for lunch and my best friend and maid of honor flew in that night from Chicago.  I got some great cards about dreams coming true this year.  I believe those dreams are going to be a reality soon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The One with the First Stabbing

So today was the big day - the first of many days of stabbing myself with needles.  I tried not to think about it too much last night.  I tried not to think about it too much when the alarm went off this morning.  I tried not to think about it too much when I was in the shower.  I tried not to think about it too much when I was making breakfast.  Obviously, I was super successful in this endeavor because I only thought about the stabbiness forty-nine million instead of fifty million times.  See, I can do non-obsessive.

I decided I needed to practice before I went in for the big stab so I did the most logical thing and got an orange.

Keep trying to trick me with your cuteness, baby sharps container.  I will not be fooled.

I took out one of the zillions of needles they sent me and practiced injecting air into the orange.  

Ms. Orange was very brave and only cried a little.

When I felt sufficiently practiced, I grabbed a new medieval torture instrument needle, alcohol swabs, and the Lupron.  This medicine helps to suppress my ovaries and kinda puts them in sleepy mode.  I will be doing one injection of Lupron each morning until the egg retrieval.  The dose gets cut in half once I start the stimulation medication next week.

This entire process caused Hubs to go into cold sweats.  He is petrified of needles.  Yeah, he clearly was a huge help this morning.

I got the area on my belly cleaned and sucked the Lupron into the syringe.  I stood with it hovering near my stomach for a minute or two, Hubs closed his eyes, and I poked the needle in.  I definitely felt the pinch, but it was pretty minor.  Little awkward trying to stab, hold the needle, and inject the med with one hand, but I figured it out without too much drama.  Stabby instrument went into the oh-so-adorable sharps container and I cleaned up the rest of my supplies.  

Many hours later, I can definitely feel that something "happened" in that spot today.  Slightly tender, but nothing to whine about (except to gain sympathy from Hubs).

I know this injection will get easier and most people say the Lupron is a piece of cake compared to the other meds.  But this makes it really real now.

I'm just proud of myself for making it through my first shot (takes bow as she exits stage left).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The One with the UPS Fairy

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

The UPS Fairy with your mini-pharmacy delivery, complete with stabby needles and a baby-sized sharps container!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my box of meds arrived yesterday morning.  And honestly, I was like a kid at Christmas!  I carefully brought the box into the kitchen and stared at it for a minute or two.  This was for reals now.

Huge box, complete with small cooler inside to keep meds cold.

I started to unpack everything and I will admit it was a little overwhelming at first.  The fact that I was going to be responsible for administering all these meds to myself made me kinda super nervous.  There were four different kinds of medicine in the box, along with eleventy jillion needles, alcohol swabs, and a mini-fied sharps container.  

Holy pharmacy, Batman!
Note the baby-sized sharps container.  I think they send that size to you to eff with your mind.  "How could something so cute and little hold anything that will hurt you?!" should be written on the outside.

Two of the meds need to be refrigerated so I found a spot next to the mayo - obviously the most logical place - and got those in their chilly home.

Note to self: Do not mistake hormone injections for condiments and put them on a sandwich.

This is where the extra organized, super OCD, maybe a touch crazy teacher in me kicked into high gear.  If I was going to be dealing with all these supplies for the next few weeks, I wanted them to look pretty and maybe a little less intimidating.  So, I found a pink basket left over from our wedding and got to work.  Enter looks of "I seriously married this whack job?" from Hubs.  After a little rearranging, I give you - Project No These Meds Do Not Freak Me Out and Send Me Into Cold Sweats Because The Needles are Stabby and the Hormones May Cause Me to Get Even Crazier. 

That's Hubs in the background doing his morning web surfing.

Once I start each med, I'll do a post explaining what it is and all the instruments of torture accessories that go along with it.  I finished my organizing and found a spot in our dining room on top of a bookshelf for the basket.  I hung up my "I actually made something I Pinned" paint chip calendar above the basket and completed the project.

Note the color coordination.  That's just how I roll.

Tuesday is the big day.  Injection #1 of four gagillion (over exaggerate much, Jess?)


Completely unrelated side note, I started reading the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy.  (Mom, stop reading the blog now...)

Oh-em-gee, these books are pure smut and I LOVE THEM!  They are such a welcome distraction from the crazy world of IVF and I cannot put my Nook down.  I've taken to biting my lip and hoping that Hubs will go all Christian Grey on me.  Yeah my seduction skills need some work...  

TMI warning: These damn BCPs have totally screwed with my body already and I am in a constant state of some kind of period.  Super fun when you are reading an extremely explicit book.  Yay. Life.

Hope everyone has a fabulous Sunday.

Laters, baby.

The One with the Co-Pay

My meds got ordered this week.  When we started this IVF process, the financial coordinator told us to expect the meds to cost anywhere from $2,000-$3,000 with insurance coverage.  Sure, a drop in the bucket.  But, we signed up for this crazy ride so Hubs and I were prepared to pay for it.

I had been back and forth with the mail order specialty pharmacy all week trying to get things set up for delivery before my first injection on Tuesday.  They told me I would receive a call on Friday with the co-pay amount.

I had a pit in my stomach all day.  I have an exact cost for the IVF procedure.  Not knowing the costs for the meds was stressing me out.

The pharmacy called on Friday while I was out with a friend.

Phone convo went something like this:
Pharmacy lady: Hi, this is I-was-too-nervous-too-remember-her-name.  I'm calling to give you your co-pay amount before we ship your order.

Me: Oh, hello.

Pharmacy lady: So, your co-pay will be...(insert pause during which I'm thinking "Please don't be crazy expensive, please don't be crazy expensive")...$122.78.

Me: Uhhh, can you repeat that please?

Pharmacy lady: $122.78.  I will need your payment over the phone before we can ship the order.

Me (wanting to do cartwheels but I have no idea how): Umm sure, let me grab my card.

I was ecstatic and so was Hubs when I called to tell him.  We realize how extremely lucky we are to have such fantastic insurance.  

This makes me feel like we are going to kick infertility's ass!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The One with the Meds and Appointments

This post is really for my mom, who may or may not ever read it.  This will save me from having to answer the same questions 9 million times!  Love you mom! :)

Here's a tentative calendar of the meds I will be taking to abuse prepare my body for IVF:

July 8th: Start BCPs.  The BCPs help to suppress my own hormones and kinda put my ovaries in shut down mode for the time being.
July 24th: Start 10 units of Lupron.  This is a daily injectable medicine that helps to further suppress my ovaries at the beginning of the IVF cycle.  The Lupron injection will continue for the entire cycle to make sure that my ovaries do not produce too many eggs once the stims start.
July 28th: Take last BCP.
August 3rd: Start 175 units of Follistim.  This is a daily injectable medicine that helps to stimulate my ovaries to produce eggs.  So now there will be two injections per day until egg retrieval.
August 12th (tentative): Take Ovidrel injection to induce ovulation.  The egg retrieval happens 36 hours after trigger.
August 14th: Start taking Endometrin progesterone vaginal suppository three times a day.  This helps with implantation.  If I become pregnant, I would continue taking these for 10 weeks.

Here's a tentative calendar of the appointments I will be going to:

July 18th: Consult with IVF nurse to go over meds and how to administer. (I did this yesterday and it went well.  I'm sure I'll still be a wreck when it's time to do it, but for now I'll pretend like I'm fine).
August 2nd: Baseline ultrasound and blood work.  This will provide the doctor with a starting point against which to measure the stimulation of my ovaries.
August 3rd-August 12th (tentative): Monitoring appointments with ultrasound and blood work to check on how things are going with the ovaries.  Med changes may happen based on how everything looks.  There will probably be 3-5 appointments during this time.
August 14th (tentative): Egg retrieval.  Doctor goes in and sucks out my eggs while Hubs does his dance with the sample cup.  This procedure involves anesthesia and I will provide more details on this as we get closer.  Everything gets mixed together (or in our case individual sperm get injected in eggs because we are doing ICSI - intra cytoplasmic sperm injection - to increase our chances of fertilization).  Embryologist watches over our little embryos until the transfer.  We get daily fert reports on how everything is looking.
August 17th or 19th (tentative): Egg transfer.  We will transfer one or two embryos depending on how they look that day.

Lots of info and my head is swimming already!  To keep up with all my meds and appointments I made this really fun paint chip calendar that I saw on Pinterest here.  I figured if I have to remember to assault stick my body with needles, I should at least have something pretty to look at to remind me.  Plus, I decided I should make at least one thing I've pinned!

Here's the finished product.  I don't know where I'm going to hang it yet, but I think it came out well for a quick and easy project.

I'll update along the way as protocols for my meds may change depending on how my body is responding.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The One with Getting To Know You

I thought I would do a quick post with a little more info about our hopefully-soon-expanding family.

I am almost 30 years old and a first grade teacher.  I knew I wanted to be a teacher more or less since birth (ask my mom about me "teaching" her daycare kids) and chose my major on my college application.  I did grad school right after I finished by undergrad degree and was lucky enough to get a position in my current district after a few years in a parochial school.  I love shopping, watching old episodes of Sex and the City, going out to dinner, reading, and going to the beach.

Hubs is 45 years old and a truck driver for a local beer delivery company.  He grew up in the house we live in and with lots of convincing graciously allowed me to completely gut and renovate the house shortly after I moved in.  He loves his truck, our dog, and me (in that order).  Hubs is also a big Nascar fan who spends his free time working in the yard, watching TV, and surfing his car and truck websites.

Here's us on our wedding day...

The Wiggle Butt:
We have an almost one year old Rottweiler named Max.  He is rambunctious, a terrible listener, and the biggest mushball ever.  He gets into everything and cannot be trusted alone for more than 30 seconds.  He will play with tennis balls for hours and is thoroughly enjoying his kiddie pool this summer.  The Wiggle Butt nickname came from the fact that his entire butt shakes when he is excited, as his tail stub is quite little!

Here are a few pictures from when he first joined our family:

And here is The Wiggle Butt now:

So that's just a little bit about us.  Hope that gives you a little more info about the members of the Project Make a Baby family.

The One Where She Gives "The History"

Alright, this post will most likely definitely be a long one.  Since I didn't start this blog until well into our journey through infertility there is some stuff you need to know.  I am notorious for saying "Long story short..." and then telling a super long story, so I won't even pretend like this is going to be short.

Hubs and I started dating in 2005.  We met through mutual friends and neither one of us had any idea how old the other was when we went on our first date.  I got carded and we discovered a 16 year age difference.  Fast forward through lots of dates, a few vacations, and a major house renovation, and we got engaged on Christmas Eve 2008.  We threw a big wedding on July 3, 2011 with lots of family and friends and had an amazing time.  Hubs and I had a big fat family honeymoon (yes, we took 40 people along with us!) and returned knowing we wanted a baby right away.  I stopped birth control pills back in April 2011 and we hoped for the best.  Charting, basal body temps, and ovulation prediction kits (OPKs) were the norm in our house for several months and still no baby.  In my heart I knew something was wrong, but we kept trying on our own until May 2012.  I went in for my yearly appointment with my gyno and explained the situation.  He immediately referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) to help us figure out what was happening.  I had my initial appointment and met with the RE (who will now affectionately be referred to "Dr. Bow Tie" because they are his neckwear of choice) and I immediately knew he was the right doctor for us.  He was straightforward and funny and talked almost as fast as I do.  Dr. Bow Tie ordered a sperm analysis (SA) for Michael, blood work for me, and two tests based on his exam - an HSG and an SIS.  The HSG test is a dye x-ray test that looks at the structure of the uterus and fallopian tubs and checks for blockages.  The SIS is a saline ultrasound that checks for fibroids (which Dr. Bow Tie suspected I had).

We got the tests done and the results in a few weeks later:
HSG = normal (good news)
SIS = small fibroid that isn't impacting the uterine cavity (more good news)
blood work for me = normal (very good news)
SA for Michael = low numbers across the board - number of sperm, motility, and morphology (not so good news)

Did a few more follow-up appointments and tests and the official diagnosis was male factor infertility (MFI).  Hubs and I talked a lot about what this meant and how we felt about it.  He jokes around a lot but I know it's something that bothers him.  But, with this piece of information, we met with Dr. Bow Tie again and decided on a plan.

On July 5, 2012 we made the decision to move forward with in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Some of the precursor treatments (timed intercourse, IUI) were not options for us because of the low counts with Hubs' sperm.  This was going to be an invasive, costly, intense process but we knew that it was our only choice if we wanted a baby.  I couldn't, in good conscience, toss this choice out the window because of the potential side effects, difficulties, high costs, and emotions involved with it.  It was our best shot and we couldn't walk away from it.

I made calls to our insurance company and spoke with the financial counselor at the center.  We are extremely fortunate that our insurance covers 80% of the costs involved with IVF.  Most of the meds are covered at 65%.  That means we are talking about a cost in the thousands as opposed to the tens of thousands.  Still a lot of money, but it pales in comparison to what a lot of couples shell out for IVF.

And then I waited for my period to start.  It arrived on July 7th and I started birth control pills (BCPs) on the evening of July 8th.  I spoke with a nurse at the center on July 10th and she told me that Hubs still had blood work that needed to be done.  He got that done on July 13th and I received a phone call from the IVF coordinator on July 17th.  I am going to do a separate post about all the dates and meds she talked to me about on the phone that afternoon.

So, that brings pretty much catches you up through today.  Hubs has one more SA to do next week to make sure that he isn't allergic to his sperm (could explain some of the low numbers) and then we move forward with our cycle.

Just remember I warned you this wasn't a "Long story short..."

The One with the Virgin Blogger

I have never written a blog before.  I didn't think I'd ever be one of "those" girls...those girls who put the story of their lives on the Internet for all to see and expect someone to care about what they have to say.  But then Hubs and I decided to try and get pregnant and nothing went as planned.

Somehow I think I'll want to remember this time in our lives - I imagine I'll look back on it with a different attitude than I currently have.  Current attitude is one that involves a lot of swearing, a lot of tears, and a few (or maybe a lot of) minor (or major) meltdowns.  So, here I am, writing my first blog post.  I don't expect one person to read this besides me, but I'd like our future child(ren) to understand how much we wanted them.  I want to remember the feelings - good, bad, and horrendous - while we are on this infertility roller coaster.  So here goes nothing...