Sunday, 27 September 2015

You were supposed to get darker not lighter!

Stupid OPKs and their lines.

Cycle day 17. Today I'm about...60% on my test line. Absolutely not positive. Lighter than yesterday.

So much doubt. Don't want to have missed this month. If this doesn't work next month I'm going to ask for blood testing/monitoring because clearly I am not doing this well enough on my own...and really, with the blood testing being $150 and the pee sticks being $40 it's really not THAT much of a difference.

I wish I had used the fertility monitor this month, but I didn't for assorted reasons, most importantly that I forgot to start the monitor on the first day of my period. Bad decision. 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Fading in...

Last month, I called the clinic when the two opk lines were nearly the same colour but not really the same colour, and I didn't get pregnant. You will remember that the nurse told me what I'm really looking for is a 'change' in colour.

So I was not so delighted this morning to pee on a (first response) stick and find that this time the lines were close, but definitely not the same colour. If last month the line was 90%, this morning it was 75-80%.

Does that qualify as a 'change'? It was certainly darker than yesterday. But what if I go in too early? What if the peak is actually 6 hours from now? 6 hours plus 12-36 to ovulation, then the egg lives for about 24 hours, and the frozen sperm doesn't last that long...but what if this is it, what if this is the darkest and I just simply don't get darker? Am I not listening to the nurse if I wait? What if...

I waited an hour and used a Wondfo test. Clear negative. This should be good news, a clear sign. But the Wondfo test expired in July, and it's September, and what if there is a real difference and the instant they expire they self-destruct and stop working? It's not like ovulation tests start to smell like milk that's gone bad, or something.

Imagine my relief to find this picture on the internet:

Thank you clear pictures!!

This morning looks kind of like the CD20 12:00pm picture. Which has been deemed by someone on the internet who I'm choosing to trust for no good reason as a 'negative'. And really that's what the damn box says, but I am apparently being way too high maintenance and obsessive about this whole thing.

So I am going to wait until tomorrow and assume that tomorrow will be the actual positive surge day. And if not...I am not sure what I'll do. It may involve crying.

Believe it or not, I had been doing quite well up until now...not obsessing, not worrying, not being impatient. Damnit.

Anyhow, turns out this 'fading in' thing is an actual thing. Some women get fading in, some don't. It may be a sign of a problem. This is explained nicely here. I don't think there's a problem in my case because I did a day 3 blood test before we started with the IUIs and nothing seemed to really worry my doctor.

Welcome to me overthinking things as usual.

Friday, 25 September 2015

More sticks, more pee

Isn't this fun???

This week I've had the joyful experience of peeing on sticks in all kinds of odd and unusual (for me) circumstances. I was at a couple different conferences and so got to wait out my 5 minutes in shadowy hotel stalls after slipping away in the middle of speeches. Thankfully there were covered disposal bins. Since I've been peeing on sticks I've happened to notice this disturbing trend of open disposal baskets in stalls...or worse, no bin at all and a sign directing you to take your garbage to the public sink area. Ew.

This isn't easy for me, and I have a fairly forgiving career where I get to, for the most part, work on a schedule that suits me and where no one tracks my washroom visits. It must be impossible for workers on an assembly line, or teachers, or...

And while I've been hoping for my dark second line, part of me really wanted it to not happen this week because I've just been so busy with the conferences and some other social event type things and those have required social drinking and it's just easier to have a beer than to make up some lame excuse. And tomorrow I'm getting my hair cut and I did not want to have to cancel because I need to be at the clinic instead. So I am not disappointed that I didn't get my second line.

Except now I have to slip to the bathroom in the middle of my haircut, probably while I've still got dye in my hair, so that I can pee on a stick at the salon.

Such trials! Such tribulations! Such drama!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Plans for my next TWW

Since my first TWW went so completely sideways, I have been thinking about ideas and plans to stay more positive and ruminate less this month. I think that perhaps, if I think about this now when I'm relatively level and in between trys, I will have a plan that I can then execute. I like plans. I'm kind of thinking about this like an advent calendar of sorts. A plan for each day. Something to look forward to.

So here's my rough plans for this upcoming TWW. This assumes day 0 is a Monday, as some of these things (e.g. facial) need to happen on particular days.

Day 1 - Dinner with Aion. We had dinner together last month  on day 1 too and I'm always up for a date night.

Day 2 - Chalkboard picture. We also did this last month - those 'how many weeks' belly pictures. I know it's kind of silly to take a picture so early as it will be the same for months, but I think it makes for a nice symmetry if we can manage to keep up the tradition throughout any pregnancy. So we'll delete the two pictures from last month and take new ones for however long this takes. Yes, maybe silly, but I don't think there's anything wrong with a little silliness.

Day 3 - Thursdays are my acupuncture days. I will be sure to mention if I am feeling stressed, because I really felt that the acupuncture worked to bring me down last week.

Day 4 - Yoga for fertility. There are several youtube videos that I have been meaning to check out. I'll be sure to blog about how that goes!

Day 5 - Facial! I have a coupon so I've been meaning to schedule one, and having it during the tww sounds like a great way to relax. Although I will be careful to not have too much steam (to avoid raising my body temperature too much). I'll also let the esthetician know that I could be pregnant, to make sure any scents are pregnancy-friendly!

Day 6 - Sundays are great days for a nice hike in nature. And as a bonus - I actually enjoy hiking in a light rain.

Day 7 - Mondays are very busy for me. I doubt I'll need to worry about keeping myself distracted - life does that for me once a week! But I will also do chalkboard picture #2. With lots of fingers crossed.

Day 8 - Last month, it was about day 8 when things started to get tough. I think the second Tuesday is an excellent time to go see a movie with Aion.

Day 9 - Time to try out another yoga youtube video.

Day 10 - Acupuncture again. Focus on making implantation happen, if it has not yet occurred.

Day 11 - (Virgin) drinks with some girlfriends. Gossip and silliness.

Day 12 - We've been planning to go to one of the local 'Escape Room' things with family. We will probably follow that up with a nice dinner.

Day 13 - Hike, or perhaps go shopping. Yoga.

Day 14 - Pee on a stick! Cry, regardless of the results.

I'm feeling good about this. I like plans. I think that having a plan will help me focus. And now I know a bit of what to expect, I can stop paying attention to all my PMS symptoms and/or digestion and just get on with my life. Right? Right. I've got some pretty great things in here to keep me nice and distracted and thinking about what I can look forward to in the present, rather than thinking about what month my child will be born in if I conceive this month, so...that's got to be an improvement. I hope it works.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

I am not good at patience. (TWW)

Two week wait. I didn't think it could be all that bad. It's two weeks! That's nothing. And I wait for lots of things. Hah. I was completely unprepared.

It was AWFUL.

First, the timing of this IUI was so perfect. A few days after my birthday - what a wonderful birthday present a positive would be! My dad is visiting from out of town in a few weeks, so I could tell him results in person. I was picturing the months, where I would be at all the various just felt right. I was doing my acupuncture, taking all the right supplements, drinking only a single cup of tea a day. No tuna. No alcohol. Doing everything right.

But there was some work stress, which wasn't good. Aion and I had a bit of a fight - nothing serious, but it messed up my sleep a bit. And I hurt my shoulder, so I wasn't able to do the yoga I wanted to.

And then I started to lose it. I couldn't concentrate. I felt every gurgle in my abdomen. Never one to feel much PMS (other than the emotional symptoms) until the actual start of my flow, I had sore boobs and mild cramps. It consumed me way more than I thought it would -- than I thought possible.

I started reading weeks 1-3 of the pregnancy book, but that was useless as you aren't really pregnant yet and the book is just talking about the process of ovulation, conception and implantation. I suppose interesting, but not all that helpful. I turned to google. Bad idea. I quit google cold turkey.

I read and re-read the post-IUI instructions from my clinic, which say to take a home pregnancy test 14 days after IUI. I analysed the sentence structure. Does that mean 14 days AFTER the procedure, or 14 days STARTING WITH the day of? Could one day matter that much? I went back on google. General consensus from people who were also overanalysing just like me: 14 days AFTER. Ok. Friday.

On Sunday Aion and I got mani/pedis. I thought that might help.

By Monday I gave up and peed on a stick. $850 on sperm (plus delivery, clinic fees and storage), $400 for the IUI, $400 for acupuncture, $44 for ovulation tests, all my hopes and dreams, all translated into urine on a $7 stick. And it was negative. I was devastated. I moped for a good solid half a day. And then I completely got over it.

You know, I thought I would feel bad for 'cheating'. I didn't, not in the slightest.

The negative brought me back down to earth. It reminded me there was nothing I could do and that if this didn't happen I could try again next month. It was something to prove to me that I could stop interpreting everything I felt going on inside as evidence of a baby. And it allowed me to move on from thinking about the possibility of testing early, all the what-ifs and the hopes and the whole massive emotional mess that I was becoming.

The next few days were so much better. I thought about babies a bit, but not like before. I just let myself be. And it was good.

Work also got a bit intense, which helped too, as I simply didn't have TIME to think about babies very much.

Friday morning I peed on another stick. Negative. And it was ok. Didn't really bother me that much, actually. And then, two hours later, I started my period. I shouldn't have wasted the stick. Ah well.

So, onward and upward to try #2. At least my nails look amazing.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Voluntarily subjecting myself to needles

I hate needles. I don't think I know anyone who likes them, but I really don't like them. I have a tendency to faint. As described in my post about my laparoscopy, my veins really, REALLY do not like IV's. But a bunch of people in several fertility support groups recommend acupuncture for fertility. And since my extended healthcare plan allows me $350 of acupuncture per year, I thought I'd give it a go, to try to optimize "try # 1" to make it "first and last try."

As it turns out, the acupuncture clinic pushes starting treatments about 3 months before you are attempting to conceive / before your IUI/IVF procedure, in order to optimize egg health. But they were willing to work with me anyway, even though I had already started my cycle.

The intake form was seriously intense. Many questions that I had never really thought about or considered to be 'medical'. Questions about my body temperature or whether I thought of myself as often irritable. A LOT of questions about the quantity and quality of my menstrual flow, urine and bowel movements. Totally TMI.

The first appointment was a general consultation. No actual acupuncture, just an extensive and repetitive review of my form, more questions about my diet and lifestyle, etc. I have arthritis, so there were a fair number of questions about that. (Bonus: if the acupuncture can help my fertility AND my arthritis, I just may be a customer for life...)

Then, instead of acupuncture, I was somewhat disappointed to be recommended a special elimination "detox" diet thing with expensive protein powder supplement "Mediclear" and little else to eat, which the acupuncturist recommended I do for 3 weeks. He brought out a glossy brochure and painstakingly went over the foods that were allowed and not allowed during the three weeks. I tried to move things along but that did not work at all. And that took up the appointment time.

I said I would consider the diet. Because I had been thinking about how I could have a food sensitivity that was affecting my arthritis. Many people do, and are able to manage their symptoms through their diet. But this was just too much. I went home and read the brochure in detail - no dairy, no beef, no gluten, no tomatoes, no sugar, no food. And another thing that concerned me: the brochure warned against using the diet during pregnancy.

I decided to do some good old fashioned research.  I googled the hell out of Mediclear. Mediclear plus clinical study. Etc. The company that makes Mediclear is called "Thorne Research" and make a big stink on their website about their affiliation with the Mayo Clinic. Their website has a page called "Clinical Trials". actual trials. No actual research. Apparently the only one talking about this wonder product from Thorne Research is...Thorne Research.

The following week when I saw my acupuncturist I told him I would not be going on the diet. He asked why, and I said the brochure said it was not for pregnant women. He said that it was just a supplement and whole foods and that it would be fine. Then I said there had been no clinical trials, and I like my medicine to be at least SOMEWHAT evidence-based (see summaries on some clinical trials regarding fertility acupuncture here). He looked at me somewhat quizically at that moment, as if he was wondering what I was talking about. I gave up. Let's move on from this diet thing and onto why I'm here: needles. I did commit to reducing my dairy and gluten intake for a while (I already eat very little sugar) to see how that went. Again, that somewhat surprised me. I would have expected his focus to be on eliminating the potentially inflamation-causing nightshade group (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes etc) but nope. Gluten. He wants me to be one of THOSE GLUTEN PEOPLE. God help me. No.

I should pause at this point to tell you that in the months and year leading up to this point, I have been trying to become more healthy in preparation for this process. I have just made it to a healthy weight according to my BMI...until about two months ago I was underweight. So...the thought of eating even healthier and probably less food was not particularly appealing to me from the get go.  But I will try to (gently) exercise a bit more.

I've now had two sessions of actual acupuncture, in addition to the consult. It's fine. There are needles, you feel them, but not too much. I have had a few tiny bruises, but that's all. Laying there on the "ion something or other" bed with sounds of the ocean and a lavendar eye pillow is kind of lovely. But I'm not sure I'm getting anything out of my $90 per treatment that I couldn't replicate at home sans-needles.

When I asked some people I know about their experiences with acupuncture and what they felt they got out of it, they said 'relaxation' and 'de-stressing'. Again, do I need needles for that?

I hit the max of the extended health benefits next session. I think I'll go for 4 sessions of actual acupuncture and then stop, unless I experience some kind of miraculous something or other.

Worth a try, though. I mean, it can't hurt.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

First IUI (Oh please let it be the last)

The clinic had me come in at 1pm the day after my line stress. Aion came with me which I appreciated tremendously. When we arrived we were immediately ushered to the "Finance Department" (a desk) where we paid our $400 for the procedure, then went to sit in the waiting room forEVER. We read crappy magazines while another family came in and went for an ultrasound and another couple disappeared...somewhere.

We got taken into a room to sign papers and verify the donor number and then I got to undress from the waist down and get up on the stirrip table covered in a paper sheet. The false modesty is kind of hilarious. Aion insisted on holding my hand. Speculum and many, many instructions to 'relax'. I could not relax. Nope nope nope. Ugh.

Finally, squirt, cramping, ok, done. Unpleasant. No relaxing. Probably less unpleasant if I could relax. But nope.

And that was it. They gave me a half-sheet of instructions that basically say to take a home pregnancy test in 14 days and two requisitions for blood tests if I test positive. Oh, and an acknowledgement that the next two weeks might be 'hard'. I asked if there were any restrictions for the next two weeks - nope.

The drive back to work was hard. Being back at work was harder. At least it was a Friday afternoon. It is so hard to not think about it when you have cramps reminding you that there's some foreign DNA inside that could be so very exciting or so very disappointing. It was hard, and unexplicably so.