Tuesday, April 26, 2011

National Infertility Awareness Week: A harsh reality of what goes into a cycle

I am going to go ahead and put a disclosure on this post and say that it MAY be graphic, so if you don't want to read, DON'T.  But, this is a harsh reality of what may occur during a cycle when you are going through infertility treatments. 

I am NOT kidding, don't read if you can't handle it..I'm not going to hold back.  It is National Infertility Awareness Week, so I am going to make you aware :)

First off, in order to suppress cysts (if they are present) you may be put on birth control pills.  This may not sound like a big deal, but it's just the start of getting pumped full of hormones. 

The dreaded Aunt Flo.  When she comes, that is when your cycle starts.  We call this Cycle Day 1.  When she is present (generally cycle days 1-5), this is when we pretty much pop Pamprin, are bloated, wear mattress pads, sleep with heating pads, and feel like we could throw up from the cramping. 

Sometimes in a cycle we are put on a tiny pill called Clomid.  This pill is generally taken for 5 days (it is the doctors discretion as to when it is to be started) and it helps with producing eggs for ovulation.  This little pill has a HUGE affect on you mentally.  Never in my entire life have I ever experienced such mood swings.  I called these "the Clomid Crazies" and I am not kidding.  You can also experience hot flashes as if you were going to menopause.  Nothing looks more crazy than driving down the road with your head out the window when it's 20 degrees out.

Injectibles are often times used as the step AFTER Clomid.  These stimulate your ovaries and produce eggs (and yes, eggs is supposed to be PLURAL).  There is a much higher chance of multiples with injectibles.  These are once again started at the discretion of your doctor and what days they feel necessary.  ALSO, they will decide what dosage you are to be given after monitoring (which will be discussed next).  One medication for example that may be used is Follistim.  You are given a "pen" looking thing and you load it with what you receive from the pharmacy.  I ordered these through my mail order pharmacy and it came equipped with a sharps container, gauze, alcohol pads, tons of extra needles, etc.  My medication had to be given in the stomach at least 1 inch away from my belly button.  These are given according to the size of the eggs you are producing, once they are mature you discontinue.  By the end of this time, your stomach is full of dark bruises and someone might think you have been punched in the gut one too many times. 

During a cycle with injectibles (whether it be with IVF, IUI, etc) you may be monitored by your doctor.  Generally this starts with getting blood drawn and heading down to the office at the butt crack of dawn.  Once you are taken back to the room, you have to do the typical "dress from the waist down" and cover up with the not so covering paper sheet, the doctor comes in (mind you, it may not be your doctor..just whoever had the early shift that day) and your feet go into the fabulous stirrups.  You scootch your butt to the edge of the table and an ultrasound wand (aka "wandy") gets shoved up you to see how thick your lining is and how many follicles/eggs are there and their size.  This is the moment of truth...you either continue with the meds, you are ready to go, or your cycle is cancelled all together because you have been overstimulated.  If you are to continue the meds, you are told to either come back the next day to repeat it all (which means MORE blood work..we pretty much look like we are heroin addicts at the end), you proceed with the next step, or you go home to sulk and cry because the 7 shots you gave yourself in the stomach didn't matter.

The next step is probably another shot.  This shot though, can be a mother of a shot.  I had to give mine to myself in my leg, however when I did Invitro they gave it to me in my butt.  It is NOT always a small needle.  This shot is an hCG shot which is given to you generally 36 hours before the doctor wants you to ovulate.  This is used whether it be for timed intercourse, IUI (intrauterine insemination) or for IVF (which would be for an egg retrieval). 

Intrauterine Insemination could be done next.  Your partner goes in, does his "job", and they "wash" the sperm to get rid of the bad ones.  You put your legs in the fabulous stirrups, the doctor inserts a catheter into your uterus, and then puts the sperm into the catheter which puts it into the uterus.  They have you then lay there for a little while to let the sperm swim around and hopefully find your egg.

IVF (invitro fertilization) is another option.  I won't go too much into depth but you generally go through an egg retrieval (where they take your eggs out of your ovaries).  They then do what they need to do in a little petri dish and you then have to wait a certain amount of days (depending on your doctor, if your embryos have fertilized, etc) for them to be put back in.  Once there are (or IF) viable embryos that have fertilized well, they will then be placed into your uterus.  You then go though the dreaded 2 week wait.

Last up is a beta..which is a pregnancy test by blood.  Once again, more blood work...once your arm is healed from all of the drawing, there's MORE!  This is then the fate of your future..think you could focus on anything but waiting for the results that day?  Right. 

This is just general information and information from experience.  Not all cycles are the same and not all of the same things happen in the same order.  I just wanted to put into perspective of what we might be going through during a cycle, when you wake up 1 day pregnant and all it took was a night out at the bar. 

I hope you learned something, and until tomorrow!

(by the way, disregard things that don't make sense, I am SO tired!)

Monday, April 25, 2011

National Infertility Awareness Week: The PAIN associated with Infertility

Bear in mind, that I am SO blessed and SO lucky to have finally been given a beautiful daughter.  But, the PAIN that is associated with infertility is unforgettable.  I post these so that you can either A) relate to the pain and be assured that you aren't crazy for feeling that way OR B) UNDERSTAND what a friend or family member may be going through and try to be supportive of their feelings.  Some of the feelings WE feel both physically and mentally:

Angry:  There are SO many times we feel angry.  We feel angry when a long awaited cycle is cancelled (because your body is yet again not working right).  We are angry when we sit and ponder WHY this has to be happening to us. WHY our bodies aren't working like everyone elses.  We are angry when we are given bullshit diagnosis's.  We are angry when friends and family aren't supportive, etc.

Annoyed:  We get annoyed when "fertile" people complain when their back is hurting from being pregnant.  We are annoyed when you complain about ANYTHING relating to pregnancy!!  We wish that you would see how LUCKY you are to be pregnant and we would give ANYTHING to be able to experience the morning sickness that YOU are complaining about.  We are annoyed when you don't realize what a true blessing that baby keeping you up in the middle of the night is.  WE WOULD TRADE YOU PLACES ANY DAY.

Bitter:  We are bitter at pregnancy announcements.  It happens.  It's hard to see pregnancy announcements day after day on facebook.  MANY of us cancel social networking accounts because of this.  Put yourself in our shoes, please.

Disappointment:  This happens A LOT.  Imagine this:  Walking into your doctors office after shooting yourself in the stomach for 7 days in a row in the stomach, only to be told that the medication wasn't working the way it should and your cycle has to be cancelled.  The disappointment is terrible..you have worked SO hard only to be told to "forget it". 

Discouraged:  We feel discouraged often and we constantly need reminders of "hope" from our fellow infertile friends that it WILL happen. 

Miserable:  There are SO many ways we feel miserable.  Physically we feel miserable when our ovaries feel like they are the size of grapefruits after being pumped with a crazy amount of drugs to make eggs..this sometimes even results in having to go up a size or two in your pants because of being so bloated.  OR, there are the times you are so miserable and bruised on your stomach, legs, butt, and arm from being "shot up" every day.  Giving yourself shots every day and getting blood taken every other day for monitoring makes us look like we are heroin addicts.  It HURTS.

Guilt:  Whether the infertility be because of the man, woman, or both, the guilt can cripple a relationship if it's not talked about.  For example:  I felt SO guilty for not being able to provide my husband with a child.  I felt like I was keeping him from his dream.  I honestly thought about leaving him because the guilt was so terrible.  Who was I to keep this man who would be an AMAZING father from being one?  This weighed heavy on my heart, and I know that it does every single person who is battling this right now.

Indecisive: Do we keep trying to conceive? Do we attempt IVF?  Is adoption for us?  Should we use donor sperm?  Should we use a donor egg?  Do we live childless?  SO many decisions that affect your lives. 

Embarrassed:  We feel embarrassed because our bodies don't work right.  We feel embarrassed in the beginning when we have to open our legs to 5 different doctors in 1 week because THAT'S who has the early shift.  We feel embarrassed to talk about it because it seems like we are the ONLY ones who are going through this hardship.  That is what this week is about..getting the word out so that we don't have to be embarrassed any more!

Skeptical:  We are skeptical if a procedure or medication is going to work.  Cycle after cycle  we see a negative sign over and over again, yes we are skeptical. 

Lost or Alone:  We feel lost in this world.  We feel that our calling to be parents has been lost.  We feel lost because we have no one to talk to.  We feel like we are the only ones.  Did YOU know that infertility affects 1 in 8?  Indeed we are NOT alone..but it certainly feels like it.  We feel alone when it seems NO ONE understands.  Not your best friend, not your friends, not your mom, not your siblings, NO ONE..including your significant other.

Pessimistic:  I can honestly say this was me more times than not.  The WORST thing you can say is "it will happen when the time is right".  Pretty much anytime this was said to me, my eyes rolled.  My doctor would think "this is the month" but do you think I did?  Absolutely not.  5 years later I knew better.

Fatigue:  You wouldn't believe how tired the stress and medication can make you!  It is EXHAUSTING to go through the testing, the meds, the 2ww (two week wait before your period after ovulation), and not to mention if it's a failed cycle..when you're PMS'ing.

Frustrated:  We are frustrated because no one seems to understand or know the right thing to say to us.  We are frustrated because our cycle is another bust.  We are frustrated because our bodies aren't working the way they should.  We are FRUSTRATED.

Terrified:  We are terrified at the fact that we may NEVER be parents, can YOU imagine never getting something you are working SO hard to get?  Terrified at the proposed procedures or medications your doctor wants you to try next. Wouldn't you be terrified to give yourself a shot every day?  I guess this is worse for some people than others..but it's VERY scary at first especially!

Anxious:  During the 2ww (two week wait) after ovulation, we are SO anxious.  Anxious for our beta (pregnancy test by blood) or the date you are supposed to take a hpt (home pregnancy test).  These 2 weeks couldn't go by any slllooooowwwweeeeerrrrr. 

Crushed/Heartbroken:  Nothing hurts worse than seeing a negative pregnancy test.  ESPECIALLY when you thought for SURE that this month was it.  This was the first time I physically could feel my heart HURT.  You spend the 2 week leading up to the big day by thinking every single pain or twinge is a sign that you might be pregnant..only to realize you couldn't be less pregnant.  We feel our hearts breaking also when we realize that the baby we have finally conceived is going to miscarry..I have seen this happen to WAY too many of my friends.  My heart aches for them.

Offended:  We are offended by insensitive comments.  It's not cool to say things like "so, are you pregnant yet?" or "it will happen" because here's the thing..YOU don't know that..so DON'T give us false hope!  We are offended by your complaints of your kids keeping you up at night, we are offended at your insensitivity to the fact that we can't conceive what we want most.

Grief:  I am SO lucky to have not suffered through a miscarriage, BUT, many of my friends have and grief is something they have to deal with for a VERY long time.  Too many of my friends have tried to conceive for years only to it result in losing the baby.  Grief fills MY heart for them..so I can only imagine how they feel..Lord willing, I will never have to feel that.

I have made a pretty decent list, but you all need to know that this doesn't even cover HALF of what we feel.  This week is for Awareness, so that's what I'm doing, I am making you aware of infertility and how it affects those going through it. 

Remember that infertility affects 1 in 8, so chances are you KNOW someone who is feeling all of the things listed above.  PLEASE be more aware, choose your words wisely, and be there for us!!


It's National Infertility Awareness Week!

Yepp, you read it right, 1 week dedicated to spreading the awareness for those battling infertility.  I feel that this is such an important week and we need to make those going through infertility know that they aren't the only ones!!

If you don't know me, here is quick bit about OUR battle with infertility:

My husband and I started trying to conceive (now) over 6 years ago.  After about a year and I half I just knew that something was seriously wrong.  I was referred to an OB, had an HSG (showed clear tubes) and did 4 rounds of Clomid after he decided there was no more he could do for us.  We were then referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) who then did more testing, I did 2 more rounds of Clomid (added a trigger shot), injections (Follistim and trigger), had a Laparaoscopy (diagnosed with stage 2-3 endo), and Follistim + trigger + IUI (artificial insemination), ALL with NO luck.  This was all over the course of about 2 and a half years.

I was then diagnosed with 'unexplained infertility' (i.e the biggest bullshit diagnosis in the WORLD) and was told that IVF would be our only option.  We had NO way to pay thousands of dollars for IVF so God worked his magic and placed an IVF trial study in our hands and there it happened!

Reading this, it doesn't sound so bad...right?  THINK AGAIN.  There are so many more things to say but if you want to know more about our journey (as far as the IVF trial study) please feel free to read back on my previous posts. 

This is the start to my posts, stay tuned as I'm about to blog another :)