An unconventional journey through assisted reproductive technology (and hopefully pregnancy and parenthood.)

About Me

My photo
They say 30's are the new 20's. My wife and I have been together for over a decade now. We both work in the fast paced world of academia. Our state (and recently all others across the country) have finally allowed all marriage so we made that happen October 2014.

I'm a pretty big nerd, I'll be the first to admit. I love video games (yes, as a girl and yes, at my age). I have lots of other nerd hobbies and since I was unceremoniously banned from RuneScape, I've been playing Civilization and Skyrim. My real first nerd love is Magic the Gathering. 10,000 cards and growing, but that's an expensive hobby when you have two babies.

I have other grown-up interests too, especially reading. I like reading so much I have 3 Kindles and I also used to be a martial artist (one belt away from black belt. I'll finish someday.)

But now I've got twins and I have a feeling a lot of those hobbies are going to change.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Medication Consultation & Begin Lupron Injections- January 30, 2011

We met with one of the nurses today to learn how to use the new medication. My girlfriend picked me up after work and we made the long journey across town.

Since we did the IUI cycles, our doctor has expanded into a bigger office and hired new people. So we weren't familiar with the girl we met with today, but she was really nice. She started out giving us a new flow sheet of the cycle as the dates have changed for some of the upcoming procedure. One of the dates that has changed was the date of the pre-Lupron scan.  It was supposed to be February 1, but it was changed So I got another surprise dildo ultrasound.

The nurse turned on the ultrasound machine and took us back into the room. Another thing that was upgraded with this office is that there was a cute Japanese-style privacy screen by the door. Maybe she got tired of walking in on people trying to figure out what to do with their tampons :/

Anyway, I took off my pants and underoos and got on the table. Part of what we're paying for this time is the doctor herself does all of the ultrasounds, or is at least present for them. Before her assistant usually did them. She came in, did the ultrasound and said I should expect a 'hefty period' once I finish the birth control. I can't wait for that! I mean, having a period is just all kinds of fun anyway and every time I always think to myself "Damn! I wish my period was much heftier!" Wishes do come true!

We met with the nurse again after the ultrasound and she explained the new medication. She was really helpful and answered all of our questions. Unfortunately, there were some questions we forgot to ask. But we will probably be going back next week. The last day I take birth control is Friday and I should expect my hefty period a few days after that. They want me back for another ultrasound at that time.

Another thing that changed is the date to start Lupron. They had us start that tonight. This medication is usually used to treat prostate cancer, but in fertility treatments it is used to control ovulation. Basically it makes your body think it is going through menopause so you don't ovulate until they want you to. This means that I will likely have the symptoms of menopause, which is why this drug has such a bad reputation. Who the hell wants to experience menopause in their 30's knowing that it's coming again later in life?

This medication is a subcutaneous injection, but it's not in a pen like the Gonal-F. It comes in a vial and has to be drawn up into a needle.
After that, you pick a spot (thigh, back of arm or stomach) and poke it in. I go for the stomach and we alternate sides each night. It didn't hurt going in and it didn't immediately after. Then it started itching a little and then it started hurting. I picked a tiger print band-aid but my girlfriend said the picture of my hairy stomach was too gross to post.

We'll be doing this each night until my menses. I can't believe I'm waiting for my period again!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

This last flashback brings us to the present. All posts after this will be on the current cycle and they might not be as frequent. It will just depend on how the events of the cycle and since this is all new, I don't know how often I will have enough information for a new post. But I will keep this updated with new and major information. We meet with the doctor this week to learn how to use the new medication, so I assume that will be the next post.

Segue from IUI to IVF - December 2011/January 2012

After the third failed IUI, we asked the doctor what our options were. First, she said it would not be wise to spend any more money on IUI. She also said that being in our position we could try switching partners. And she said that we should take a couple of months to think about it.

We agreed to take some time. I became really depressed after the third attempt. I needed to be hormone free for a while and clear my head anyway.

My girlfriend and I discussed our options. Switching and having her try wasn't a viable option. The initial decision on who would try was easy, I wanted to and she didn't. But if our only choice left was to switch, she would have. However, I get paid for maternity leave and she doesn't. So if she has to take 2 months off or more if there were complications, that's time with no paycheck and possibly not being considered for a position the next semester. Plus, she really didn't want to before and now that she had seen everything I had to go she really really didn't want to. And I still did so we knew the next step was to figure out how to pay for IVF.

First, I applied for a loan through a medical financing website. They only approved me for around $13,000 which would not be enough. Plus it was like 17% interest or something like that. We added my girlfriend as a cosigner and got a better loan, but we wanted to see if our credit union could do anything for us. We had a home equity loan years ago to help pay off credit card debt so we figured that we could easily get another one. What we didn't know is that property values had sunk so low that we no longer have equity so that option was out.

Luckily, my girlfriend had just paid off her car completely. The loan officer suggested an auto refinance loan because the rates were way low, like around 3% and then a personal loan for the difference. I was hesitant because I didn't want her to have to put her car on the line. But she made the point that we basically got the credit union to buy the car for $11,000 and we only have to pay 3%. And we got to keep the car, so I felt better, though I still feel a little guilty even today.

We turned over the title and signed the papers the same day. Armed with $20,000 in my savings I told the doctor we were ready to move forward. They called in a prescription for the period pill again and a birth control pill for the month. These are gearing me up for a February cycle.

We're cautiously optimistic going into all this. My doctor claims that the IVF method she has developed has a 70% success rate, which is insanely high to the point where people kind of don't believe it. But she says that 70% of people will take home a baby on the first attempt. That implies to me a successful pregnancy to term, not just a pregnancy that ends in miscarriage. And we get 3 attempts with this method, so yeah...we're letting ourselves get our hopes up, just a little.

Now, for my picture today...this is one of the first things I'm going to buy once I'm finally pregnant. It's just so perfect.

"Made With Love and Science"

Thursday, January 26, 2012

This is my current most-amusing-thing-in-the-world. If you know the Adele song Set Fire to the Rain, you'll get it. This is pretty much exactly what goes through my mind when I hear it. 
I can't take credit for making this hilarious thing. It's way too creative for me!

I've had this typed for a while, but it's been a busy week. Plus I've been really tired.  Well, here it is now.

IUI Cycle #3 - August/September 2011

After two back-to-back disappointments, we really weren't sure what to do next. We had only paid for 2 cycles and though we weren't ready to give up yet, we were in a financial bind. Fortunately, around this time my mom came into some inheritance money. And she wanted to share it with us! So we scheduled one more cycle with the doctor and crossed our fingers.

I had cysts again, so I had to do the pill to get rid of them and then wait for another period. Since my mom was paying for this cycle, I invited her to my first ultrasound appointment. I thought it might be awkward, but it wasn't bad. So many people had seen my va-jay-jay by this time that I really didn't care. Plus, she enjoyed seeing my ovaries and talking with the doctor so it was all good. We used the same injections as cycle 2, but with a higher dose to ripen the eggs more. They came along OK.

This was toward the end of summer and the beginning of another school year. Teachers usually have to report before the new year for meetings and other stuff. My district has us report the week before and we were afraid that the insemination would be scheduled for one of the mandatory days. At first it was scheduled for the day after I had to report, which would be easier to miss because there would be no meetings, but work time in classrooms instead. But then the doctor called and said that my eggs were riper than they originally thought and they pushed it up a day to the first reporting day.

Well, there was nothing I could do. If the eggs were ready, they were ready. I told my office manager I was having a medical procedure (I hadn't told anyone except my close friends at work what I was doing) and I could bring a note from the doctor, but she didn't press it. I would only miss the morning anyway.

The night before we stayed in another hotel for the night. This one was actually for my birthday, a gift from my girlfriend. The room had an awesome tub and a great view! It was another nice evening, but we had to do the ovulation trigger shot in the room. It was a little funny and we didn't want to leave a used needle there. We didn't have the awesome sharps container that we do now, so I think we just brought it home and disposed of it there.

My girlfriend brought me to the insemination and then to work. Remember how I had to move from the portable to my permanent classroom recently? Well, this was the time I was moving out of the classroom and into the portable. But one of the restrictions after an insemination is no heavy lifting, so she was going to help me move and unpack, but the movers didn't even get to my room until 2 days later. When they did, she practically set up the whole classroom because I was in meetings all that day, pretty much.

So, I started the new year with this hanging over my head again. The anxiety, the wonder, the worry. Then the bloodwork started and the results were the same as cycle 2. I immediately was disappointed. And with good reason, even if it was premature disappointment.

On the day of the final bloodwork my girlfriend and I switched phones for when the doctor called. I can't take calls at work but she was off that day. She talked to the doctor and e-mailed me the information. I checked my e-mail on prep (while the students are at specials like art and music) and though I already knew, I got emotional anyway.

As I was sitting at my desk sobbing, the fucking fire alarm goes off. Even though I didn't have students at the time, I still had to evacuate as well. So I composed myself as best I could, but I know I still looked like shit because people were giving me really funny looks on the field. I just tried to stay out of sight until it was over and I could go back in my room and hide. Looking back, this part was kind of funny though at the time it certainly was not.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

In current IVF cycle news...

We met with the financial coordinator this week and made our payment. It's $15,000 for 3 cycles and everything that entails. We both now have a ton of reward points on our MasterCards. The bummer is that if it works the first time, we don't get the difference back. They make that pretty clear. Oh well.

Anyway, besides the medication, we still need to order sperm also and then we're set. Another piece of good news we learned is that the cost includes genetic screening, which we knew, but that also includes gender screening too. So we'll get to pick! It's not sperm separation, though. They figure out the gender after it has been fertilized when they do a chromosome analysis and we're really hoping there will be some boy embryos to implant! But if we have a girl we will love her just as much and never speak of this again...

After looking at all the medication we got and how many injections I'm going to have to take, we decided to buy some cute band-aids for all of my upcoming puncture wounds.
We might have gone a little overboard, but they were cheap and all really cute! I'm wearing an Angry Birds  right now because I cut my thumb when we got home.  I decided to buy a little container for them so we don't have boxes floating around and getting lost. We found the perfect box at Office Depot.
It's actually called "Really Useful Box" LOL.
I realized today that I'm almost done with the flashbacks, which is pretty good timing because soon I'll be completely involved with the new process.

IUI Cycle #2 - July 2011

This story is very similar to the first cycle so I have left out some of the details that I already wrote about in cycle 1 and focused on details unique to this cycle.

After the first failed cycle, we were ready to try again right away. But you can't do that because after over-stimulating the ovaries they tend to develop cysts. It's nothing serious. They are just fluid filled sacs from the follicles that were released and some that didn't make it. You can't stimulate the ovaries again until they are cleared. You take a pill for a week and then just for an extra treat, the pill brings on another period. And then the cysts are taken care of.

Then you have to wait for your period again to start the next cycle. That's why there is so much time between the cycles. We decided to start with injectibles from the beginning, but we ended up having to pay more because the cycles we paid for were for Clomid only. It was confusing, but my girlfriend is gifted with numbers and she said the amount was ok, so we paid it.

This was the first year my school was 9 months. I jumped at the opportunity to teach summer school for the extra money, to help offset the cost of some of this. Summer school is only in the mornings so it was much easier to get in to see the doctor for all the ultrasounds and procedure work.

During this time my girlfriend and I started staying at more hotels for evenings. We both had the time and the opportunity presented itself to get some rooms for free, so why not! We had one such evening a few days after we started the Gonal injections. It was a really nice hotel, but there was no refrigerator for in-room use. There was one that had soda and beer but they charge you a lot if you take them. And the fridge also has sensors so if you put anything in there, it can tell the weight inside has changed and they will charge you for that also! If you read the medication haul, you know the Gonal has to be kept refrigerated. So we had no choice but to carefully place it in the fridge on top of some sodas and hope it was light enough that it wouldn't set off any weight sensors.

We had a lovely evening at the hotel and the next morning we packed up to leave. The television in the room had an express check-out so we did that. You use the remote to view charges and there was nothing in there for the fridge, so we were relieved. I hit the button to check-out and I heard a loud CLUNK! The damn fridge locked itself after check-out and I hadn't taken the Gonal pen out yet!

I went into full panic mode. There was a $300 medication pen in the locked fridge! I tried every way I could but it was not opening. I tried to call down to the desk but there was no answer. I guessed they are really busy during check-out so my girlfriend said I should just go down there. I did and there was such a long line at the desk that I understood why nobody answered the phone. I got in the back of the line and waited, feeling more and more anxious every minute. I finally got up to the desk and told them what happened and they said it was no problem. He took my room key and re-checked me in so the fridge would open again. My girlfriend got the pen and brought our stuff down so we could re-check-out and be on our merry way.

The rest of the cycle went much like the first one. I did have to take one morning off from summer school for the insemination. They only do it at certain times and its in the mornings. Mine was scheduled towards the end of summer school and we had a field trip planned for the last day of class. So while my students were running around enjoying their last day, I was completely focused on whether or not the swimmers made it this time.

I started to get a bad feeling after the first bloodwork. My progesterone levels were low, so low that the doctor had me use even more of the nasty vagina cream applicators every day. The next bloodwork the levels were even lower and like I said before, that doesn't indicate pregnancy one way or another, it still gave me a bad feeling. And my bad feeling was confirmed on the third blood test. No baby this time either.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I see this on YouTube a lot. People buy stuff and make a video about their haul. Well, we dropped $2,000 on all this so I figure it's worthy of a haul post.

So, what does $2,000 worth of medication look like? Well, get ready because you are in for a picture-heavy treat right here!

This isn't medication that you can just call into your neighborhood Walgreens. You have to get it from a specialty pharmacy and although I live in a big city, there is no pharmacy in town that stocks some of this stuff so we have to get it out-of-state. It's delivered by courier, which amuses me because it seems kind of old-fasioned.

Well, here's what the box looks like. It's huge (note the box of Wheat Thins for comparison).
Box opened up.
Let's start with the awesome red bag. The Gonal pen has to be kept cold, so it ships in a cooler bag with ice packs. We have a few of these bags now.

We got 2 of these.

Next is a medication called Lupron. It's main use is for prostate cancer but somehow it is used in fertility also.
A whole mess of syringes and needles for the Lupron.
This looks fun. It's only use is to treat a yeast infection, so I guess I have that to look forward to.

Two of these pills are hormones and one is an antibiotic. I remember having to take an antibiotic before one of the tests before, I think it was the HSG. You take it it so you don't get an infection from the procedure.
This is the shot to trigger ovulation. It's actually HCG, like that diet everyone is going crazy over. Only this is a much higher dose.
And my favorite is last. This came with the order, free of charge. How many people can say they have their very own sharps disposal container!

We also have the Crinone, but that didn't come with the order because the doctor is going to give us that at the office. We have an appointment on the 30th with our coordinator to show us how to use all of this stuff and we're a little nervous.

So, after unpacking the box and looking at my goods, something occurred to me. I'm going to put all of this...into my body. In one form or another...some of it will be injected into my stomach, some injected into my ass. Some I'll swallow and some I'll shove up my cooter. But this is all going inside me. And I don't even know what most of it is or what it's going to do to me! It's a sobering thought.

Monday, January 16, 2012

It's been a busy day. My school is remodeling and we had to move from our temporary portables to our permanent classrooms. Everyone got to move on Friday or Saturday and have the weekend to set up.  Everyone except me, that is. I had today, and not even all of today. Basically I had about half an afternoon to go from this:

To this:
It may not look like much to the untrained eye, but any teachers out there know what setting up a new classroom entails. Mine would not look this good if it were not for my girlfriend helping me. It's still not done, but it's ready for students tomorrow and the rest will work itself out this week, I hope. We're both very tired now, but I already had this flashback typed up, so here it is for your reading pleasure.

IUI Cycle #1 – May 2011

After the horrific HSG, we were finally cleared for an insemination attempt. We had picked out a donor months beforehand and had ordered the sperm back in March. But about this time we got a call from the doctor’s office saying that they needed the sperm by a certain date. I told her we already ordered it but she said they didn’t have it. Fantastic. Well, it turned out that it was there, but it just wasn’t logged in my chart correctly. That was pretty stressful because sperm isn’t cheap. Well, frozen sperm from a sperm bank isn’t cheap, anyway. But the sperm was found so we were really ready to start.

We had to wait until my next period, of course, and then things started rolling. I started on the Clomid and we went in a few days later for an ultrasound to see how things were progressing. They weren’t progressing well. So the doctor suggested we switch to injections. We both thought the nurses there would be doing the injections, but no. They gave us a little blue case with a pen-syringe and some vials and needles. They showed us how to put on a needle and load the pen. And then she said it was a subcutaneous injection so it needed to go in my abdomen area.

We were both pretty mortified. Neither of us had any desire to stab me in the stomach, but it had to be done.  We asked a bunch of questions and finally went home, though we were still not very sure about ourselves. When we got home we took the tools out of the case and read the instructions. We figured out how to get the needle on and load it. Now it was a matter of the injection itself. We decided my girlfriend would give me the injections instead of me injecting myself. We were both pretty nervous so I sat in a chair and closed my eyes. She steadied the needle and counted to three.

My girlfriend says that it was really surprising how easily the needle went in . Like butter. I guess they make them pretty sharp. What’s really gross about this is that after you get the needle in, you have to click the pen to inject the medication and then wait 5 seconds so nothing leaks out of the puncture hole. Then you pull the needle out and put a band-aid on and call it a day.

The first time we both felt like barfing after. But in actuality it didn’t physically hurt at all. It was just mentally nerve-wracking. Now we’re old pros at it.

After a few days of injections we went back for another ultrasound and the eggs were looking much better. The doctor had us continue for a few more days and then she gave us a date for insemination. 48 hours before, we had to trigger ovulation with another injection. But this one was with a regular full size needle, an intramuscular injection in my ass. We had to mix this one as well. It came as a powder and a bottle of special water. My girlfriend says it was like being a chemist. She mixed it all up, drew it into the syringe and switched to a thin needle.

I laid down for this one. It hurt about the same as any shot in the ass at first, but after it was more painful. Like how a tetanus shot hurts more later.

Two days later we went back for the insemination. They gave me a hospital bracelet to wear, which we found kind of amusing. When we went back we had to read the numbers on the bracelet aloud to make sure they match the numbers of the semen, so we didn’t get someone else’s sperm. Once that was all set and I was naked from the waist down, the doctor came in. She had a medical student with her to observe the procedure. I agreed because in teaching we were all student teachers at one point so I know what that’s like, in a way.

An IUI is actually pretty simple. They open you up with the good ol’ speculum and then insert a catheter into the cervix. The sperm is loaded into the end of the catheter and is then injected into the uterus. No turkey baster, contrary to popular belief. There isn’t enough junk to even fill a turkey baster anyway. It’s a surprisingly small amount because they wash the semen and just inject the sperm. The vial is about the size of a perfume sample vial, but there are around 20 million little swimmies in there.

What’s really cool is they do a regular abdominal ultrasound at the same time so you can see the sperm going into your uterus. They then had me lay still for about 20 minutes. They left us alone in the room so we shared a special moment there.

When the nurse came back, she had some discharge instructions. Stuff like no hot baths, no heavy lifting and…no sexual activity! This was a big disappointment and I have since read that this may be an unnecessary precaution, but we didn’t want to mess things up. So we didn’t.

After a few days I had to start going for bloodwork to check hormone levels. The levels were really good, progesterone was high. Although this in itself doesn’t mean pregnancy, just like low levels don’t mean that there’s not a pregnancy, it was still reassuring. 

As I got closer to day 14, we got antsy and bought a pregnancy test. I would be getting an official one from the doctor, but we were curious anyway. So I peed on the stick and we nervously waited. After a few minutes the results were in. Not pregnant.

I sobbed. We tried to comfort ourselves that the test might not be accurate because I hadn’t actually missed a period yet. But we both knew. I went and got the blood test the next day anyway but it was confirmed. Cycle #1 was a failure.

Friday, January 13, 2012

We got some good news today. Our doctor is doing a research study and asked us to be one of the participants in our upcoming IVF cycle. They're studying some sort of correlation between progesterone levels and pregnancy and some other stuff. The good news is that for participating they are going to pay for part of the medication during the cycle and for 10 weeks if I get pregnant! We figured it's going to save us over $2,000. Any bit helps.

This is the medication they are covering. It's a vaginal progesterone cream. You can probably figure out by the shape how it works. But let me tell you something, this shit is gross. It doesn't get completely absorbed so it builds up in the vag. Only you don't notice this until white chunks start falling out. Nobody told me about this the first time and I panicked. Once we figured out what the hell was happening, then I was just disgusted. I got up there with the detachable shower head and still couldn't get it all out. And there's a lot because you have to do them twice a day. You start after an insemination (or after an implantation in IVF) and you continue if you're pregnant, but if not then you stop. But let me tell you something else, the stuff that comes out with your period and this cream would give you nightmares.

Sorry, hope you weren't eating dinner while reading that. Next, flashback please.

The Hysterosalpingogram – March 2011

This was supposed to be one of the first tests I had, but it actually was one of the last. You can only get it done during certain days in your cycle. They won’t do it during menstruation and they won’t do it after day 10 because if you’re pregnant, the test can cause a miscarriage. So you have to call them on day 1 to schedule for days 5-10. They actually had me call the same day of the surprise dildo ultrasound consultation appointment in February, but there were no appointments available. So I had to wait until my March cycle to call and even then it was a pain. The first radiologist still didn’t have any availability so I had to call the only other radiologist our insurance covers*. They did have an appointment, but I had to take a day off. It’s hard to get appointments after school hours.

We went one afternoon to get this thing done. This was probably the worst of the testing, so it’s probably good that it was last because if we had done this first, I might not have wanted to continue. This was the only thing I had done that I cried from physical pain. Let me tell you a little about this thing.

A hysterosalpingogram is an x-ray of the uterus and fallopian tubes. It’s done to make sure there are no injuries or blockages or anything like that. You lay on a table with an x-ray scanner above your abdomen. Then you spread ‘em and they insert every woman’s friend…the speculum. They open you up, clean the cervix and then insert a catheter. Then it gets really fun because they pump a dye through the catheter into the uterus and fallopian tubes. The x-ray scanner above you picks up the dye and shows what your uterus and tubes look like.

I had to go back alone. With radiation, they don’t let other people in the room that aren’t getting tested. Safety issues, I guess. They brought me back to a room with a table and a bunch of equipment and screens and stuff and she told me to put on the cloth gown. I sat on the table and after a while the radiologist came in. I was a little surprised that it was a dude. I figured this was the kind of test they would have a female doctor perform. I had never had a male doctor look at my hey-nanner-nanner before. My regular gynecologist and fertility doctors are both female. It was a little unsettling but after talking to him for a minute I got the feeling that he was gay. It still didn’t make me feel much better, but it was something.

During the test they showed me the screen but it was so painful that I didn’t really care to see.  Nothing I read before said it would be that bad so I don’t know why it worked out like that for me. It was just an unpleasant experience, even after everything else that had already been done to my poor vagina. But at least this test yielded good news. My uterus was fine and my tubes were open. We were finally good to go.

* I should probably point out that my insurance ended up denying this procedure as well. I actually had high hopes that they would pay for it because people get it done for reasons other than fertility, but I still got a bill for over $1,000 a few weeks after. I was in no position to pay it at the time so I decided to wait until after income tax money came in (second Christmas, as we like to call it). By then the insurance did pay for a part as another write off, but I still had to pay quite a lot out of pocket.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I finally got my menses Monday.  At work, of course. Anyway, now this means the cycle officially begins. It's different this time. For one thing, I'll be taking a birth control pill starting today for the next few weeks. Seems counterproductive to me, but I guess it has something to do with the hormone balance the doctor wants. Then I'll be taking an injection of something called Lupron. We've read up on it and it doesn't sound fun. Plus we have to take the medication to the doctor to have them show us how to use it, so I'm a little nervous about that. All this doesn't happen until near the end of the month, though. Until then I'll continue posting my flashbacks from the last cycles. Oh, yeah and my random pictures. Um, lets see...what's in the ol' picture folder in my documents...
Yeah, I don't really have any good pictures for today. Most of my pictures have my ugly mug in them and although I don't really care if my face is on the Internet, I don't know if my girlfriend wants people oogling me. Plus I'm still on the fence with some anonymity issues like where we live and stuff and a lot of my pictures give that away. Like I said, I mainly don't want my students reading this and knowing its me, but the Internet is full of other weirdos too. Not that any of you are weirdos. I appreciate anyone even caring about this. Anyway, so I guess I'll have to figure that out. Until then, here's the next flashback.

The Sonohysterogram & Hysteroscopy – March 2011

After the doctor reviewed the bloodwork and everything was good, next on the list was a sonohysterogram. This is a procedure similar to a transvaginal ultrasound, but with one painful exception. A balloon is first inserted into the uterus with a catheter and is inflated with saline. I read about the procedure before I had it done and most of what I read described the feeling as cramping but for me it was painful. Plus it has to be done with a full bladder, which adds to the discomfort.

I squeezed my girlfriend’s hand as they inflated the balloon, that’s when it started to get painful. Once that was done, the vagina wand went in and they started checking things out. It didn’t take long for them to see I had polyps. And even though it wasn’t that serious, I cried because it’s always something with me. 

Around this time I had also found out that I had nodules on my thyroid and had to have two biopsies for that. Why two, you ask? Not for shits and giggles, I can tell you that because that shit hurts too. But because the doctor didn’t get a good enough sample the first time. This was the same doctor that told me later that if I got pregnant I would certainly miscarry. I have since ended his services and found a new endocrinologist.

Anyway, back to me sobbing on the table. It took a while to compose myself, but I did and put my clothes back on and headed out to talk to the doctor. She said that it was a simple procedure to remove the polyps called a hysteroscopy (not to be confused with a hysterectomy). They first dilate the cervix and go in with a scope to get a better look. Then they take out the polyps and anything else in there that might need to go. It’s also sometimes called a D&C (dilation & cuttage).We decided to try to see if my regular obgyn could do the procedure and that way my insurance would at least pay for that, which they actually did minus the regular surgery co-payments.

I called them up and got everything scheduled. I took a Tuesday off from work (the doctor only did surgery on Tuesdays) and we went to have my polyps removed. It was a long wait because they always make you get there hours before, like the airport or something. I’ve had a few surgeries before and it’s pretty nerve-wracking, sitting in a paper gown and hairnet reading a People magazine that’s at least 4 months old. At least this place gave me a blanket while I waited.

Finally, the nurse came in to brief me on the procedure and take me back. By which, I mean I walked back and I found this odd because the surgeries I had in the past they wheel you the surgery room. Well, anyway, when the door opened I kind of panicked a little because there was so much machinery and it was really intimidating. If you’ve seen medical shows, you know what I’m talking about but it’s crazy seeing that stuff in person. They had me lay on a table in there and hooked up a tube to the IV I already had in. The last thing I remember is the doctor saying “Start the propofol” and I swear to God I said “Isn’t that what killed Michael Jackson?” And then I was out.

I woke up in the recovery room and the nurse said “I know we just met but I’m going to check your pad here.” They had me in a giant maxi-pad to absorb the blood from the surgery. I was still pretty woozy so I didn’t care much. She brought me some juice and let me sleep for a few minutes before calling my girlfriend to come pick me up.

We went home and I slept most of the rest of the day, well into the afternoon. I felt fine when I really woke up, no pain or anything and I went back to work the next day. I went for a follow-up with the doctor and she showed me the polyps she removed (in pictures, not in a jar she saved or something). She said she would send the report back to my fertility doctor and wished me luck. So, with one more obstacle past, we were ready for the next step.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Here’s a fun picture. These are my brother's dogs Gabriel (left) and Daisy (right). They are all dressed up in their Christmas clothes. D'aaawwwwww.

Before this post, I feel I should point out a little something about insurance. I do have insurance through work, but very little of this process was covered. Ironically, all fertility testing was covered until about a year before we started this process. Go figure. I mention this now because this post is about the first item on the financial ticker, and our first reality check at just how much this would cost. They didn’t charge me at the time when I got the bloodwork, but they did send me a bill when my insurance denied almost all of the tests as "not covered". I think they paid for a small percent as a write-off because I remember the original bill was over $500 but I remember paying around $450.

I’m also not going to argue whether or not insurance should or should not pay for fertility treatment or even just the diagnostic testing, but just realize that most don’t so don’t get your hopes up that yours will. Always check first.

Initial Bloodwork – March 2011

This is routine before any fertility treatments. It makes sense to check everything out before they start sending swimmers in there.  And they check for nearly everything. They check for STD’s, hormone levels, blood type, plus I also had to give a urine sample so they also check everything you can find out from pee too.  

I made an appointment for a Saturday morning because I had to be fasting and I didn’t want to go to work after having that much blood taken. So my girlfriend and I got up bright and early one morning and headed to Quest Diagnostics. Just as a side note, you should always make an appointment before going to Quest. Especially in the morning. It is very busy and this Saturday was no exception. But we got to bypass the standby line and walk right up to the appointment counter. We checked in and then sat.

It wasn’t very long before they called me. Appointments get called almost as soon as they check in so you can imagine how this pisses off people who didn’t make an appointment and have been sitting there a while. They see you check in and get called quickly and some people get all kinds of pissy, especially old people. Sorry if that sounds bad, but it’s true.

Anyway, the phlebotomist takes me back and I hand her the bag of tubes the doctor gave me. She gives me a funny look and says “What’s all this for?” I told her fertility testing. She looked at the orders and then said “Ah, I be right back.” That’s not a grammar mistake either. She had an accent. She leaves and comes back with an armful of more tubes. I know armful isn’t an official unit of measure, but it’s a pretty good estimate.

She asks me which arm I want to use and I told her it didn’t matter. I have small, thin veins and it is always such an ordeal when I have to get blood drawn. And it doesn’t matter how much water I drink before, either. I drank almost half a liter before this and it didn’t help. Later in the process when I was getting blood drawn for all those frequent hormone checks, the phlebotomist at my fertility doctor just used the veins in my hand because it was easier than the arm. 

She decided to start with my left arm. I knew it wouldn’t work because I’m right-handed anyway so the veins tend to be a little better on that side. But she tried the left anyway. She had me squeeze a foam ball and she flicked my arm for a good five minutes before giving up and switching to the right side. After more of this I asked her if she could just use my hand but she said not for that many tubes. It took about 10 minutes to find a vein in my right arm she was happy with and right before she poked me she said “I hope this one doesn’t dry up and we have to do this again!” I hoped not too.

So started the long process. Drip, drip, switch. Drip, drip, switch. It didn’t hurt much past the initial poke, but I did start to feel a little sick at just looking at all the tubes of my blood. She put them in a container in front of me every time she switched a tube. I don’t remember the exact number of tubes now, but I do know it was over 30. And I’m not even exaggerating. 

Once the last tube was finally filled and she bandaged me up, I felt better because I figured I was almost done. Not quite. She left again and came back a good 5 minutes later with a long strip of name stickers, one for each tube. I had to check every one and make sure it was my name and it was spelled right. Then I had to sign that they were correct. THEN I had to give the urine sample, which by that time I totally forgot about. I didn’t have any trouble producing because of all the water I had drunk, but I just wanted to go. I was really hungry by this time.

I went into the little bathroom, made my water in the cup and then put it on the specimen table and I was finally on my merry way. When I walked in the lobby my girlfriend said “What happened to you?” She had seen so many people come and go after I went back because it took so long. Well, we were done now and we went and had a lovely breakfast together. And all of my bloodwork came back normal, so I guess it was worth it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Still no menses. I felt crampy at work yesterday but it was probably because I was holding in a poo all day. I just can't bring myself to go number two except at home. People have told me that will change when I get pregnant, though. Anyway, before we continue the trip down memory lane, here's my picture for today.

This is my collection of Magic the Gathering cards I told you about in the about me section. I wasn't exaggerating. It's pretty damn close to 10K cards. Oh and the brown binders are my sticker books. 

Well, on with the flashback now.

The Consultation Appointment – February 2011

This is actually one of my most amusing memories from the process so far.

Our appointment was on a Friday.  I know this because I had taken it as a personal day off from work even before we made the appointment because my girlfriend and I were going to stay in a nice hotel for the evening.  Shortly after our arrival we were taken back to one of the doctor’s assistant’s office.

The beginning of the appointment was pretty normal. We discussed procedure options and pricing a little.  We went through my medical history (I had to fill out a really long questionnaire before the appointment).  After that it got interesting.

She asked me when my last period was.  I had just started that week so I told her it had been a few days.  She then suggested that since we were already there and I was in about the right part of my cycle, I could have an ultrasound to check my egg reserve.  Just for funsies.  

Sure, why not? No harm in an ultrasound.  She took us into an exam room and told me to undress from the waist down.  I must have given her a O_O face because she then said “It’s a transvaginal ultrasound.” My face then went O_o and I hesitantly asked (though I was pretty sure I already knew the answer) “What’s that?” She simply said “It’s inside the vagina, with the wand.”

I thought this would be a problem, me menstruating and all but no. She said to just take out my tampon and toss it in the trash and hop on the table. She left and closed the door and my girlfriend and just looked at each other.  Surprise dildo ultrasound! Not what I had thought my day would entail when I woke up that morning, but it was happening nonetheless. I slowly started to take my shoes and pants off and then the underwear. Now I’m standing in the room half-naked debating about the tampon. I must have taken a little too much time because the door opened and the doctor started to walk in.

I quickly tried to pull my shirt down to my knees, the picture of modesty.  In hindsight that was probably not necessary since she was going to be looking inside my hoo-hah anyway, but it was my gut reaction. She saw I wasn’t ready and backed out to give me more time. After we got done silently laughing at the hilarity that had just happened, I finally yanked out my tampon, wrapped it in a paper towel and threw it away.

Now, the sink was a little too sci-fi for me to risk using it. It had this swirling metal hose-thing around the faucet, I don’t even know what it was and I had no idea what would happen if I turned it on. So I didn’t. I did have hand sanitizer in my pocket (I am a teacher, after all) so that would have to do for the moment.

I got on the table and after a few more minutes the doctor and her assistant came in again. We talked for a few minutes and then she told me to assume the position. If you’ve had any sort of gynecological exam, you know the position. Feet in the stirrups, ass to the end of the table. Then came the transvaginal wand. It didn’t hurt at all, but it wasn’t as pleasant as a real dildo. Maybe it was the context, I don’t know. Once I got past that and started paying attention to the screen it was really very interesting.

Now, I’m no dummy. I have a decent understanding of human biology but I’ve learned some things in this process and the first new thing I learned was on this day. I know during the menstrual cycle an egg is released and if it’s not fertilized it is expelled during your menses (lol, great word). Up until that day I had assumed only one egg matured per cycle and it was released right from the ovary. But it turns out that during any cycle, there are many eggs that form in follicles in the ovaries and it’s really the most mature egg that gets released of the bunch and the rest go away. I was amazed that I had so many little spots (follicles) on my ovaries! The doctor said that was a good sign. Lots of little potential future babies.

They poked around my vagina looking at my uterus and ovaries for a little while longer. After, they told me to get dressed again and meet them in the office.  We did and talked more specifics with the person in charge of financials.  We signed up for 2 IUI cycles with Clomid and were very excited about it.

Before we left the nurse gave me some orders for initial bloodwork and she gave me a plastic bag with about 17 empty tubes to take to Quest (local pathologists). The O_O came out again and she said “Oh, and there will be more tubes when you get there.” Now, I’m no stranger to bloodwork. I have a thyroid condition that requires regular bloodwork. But 17 tubes? And more when I get there? Holy crap.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

With the exception of a few circumstances, most women don’t look exactly forward to their period. I am in one of those special circumstances right now in that when I get my period that means we can finally start the next step in our baby-making journey. But until then I thought I would start my blogging with some memories of our adventure last year.

I have to admit, when my girlfriend first suggested doing a blog I was pretty meh about it.  But I thought about it some more and here we are now.  I do enjoy writing and I fancy I’m pretty fair at it and I’ll try to make this interesting.  This is my first blog so I know it's not great, but it will get better. I also know very few people will probably actually read this, and that’s ok too.  This is mostly so I have a narrative for myself. Now that I’m doing it, I wish I had blogged when we started last year because there was so much that happened and it’s only in the jumble of my memory now. But I’m also going to try to unscramble those here too.

The Fertility Seminar – February 2011

When we were doing research on doctors, one I came across offered fertility seminars, which is right up my alley.  So we signed up for one and set out one Saturday morning.  We live in the southeast part of town and we knew we were going to the west so we left in plenty of time.  We even Mapquested the route, which turned out to be a big mistake. Mapuest told us to take a street that does NOT go through to where we needed to go so the actual trip took about twice as long as it should have. We had to make some crazy turns and backtracking, but we finally got there with about 3 minutes to spare. Thanks for nothing, Mapquest!

When we walked in, the lobby was packed and we were a little surprised. Could that many people really be looking into IVF? It was literally standing room only, but we finally found some chairs way in the front.

The seminar itself was basics of fertility, IUI, IVF and what the clinic can do and so on. We got to talk to the doctor and ask questions. When some of the other people started asking questions we realized why it was so packed. Turns out that one of the nursing instructors at the local community college was there with her class on a field trip! That made me feel a little odd, but then they said that we were going to tour the clinic, so I was excited again. I love tours of stuff.  Factories, museums, you name it. Anyway, we got to see the exam rooms, all the equipment and stuff. They have something called a 'class 6 clean room' and that reminded me of Runescape (class 5 sacred clay...). At the end we made an appointment for a consultation and that is where I will pick up in my next post.

When will that next post be? Hard to say. I don't want to lock myself into a posting schedule, but I'd hate to leave you hanging too. It will be soon, though. In the meantime, I've heard that blogs need pictures to be interesting, so I leave you with my two cats. Don't let their cute posing fool you. They can be the biggest pains this side of the Mississippi, but since they're so damn cute, we keep them around.

Still working on my HTML for actually having the pictures where I want...