Antral Follicle Count

I had my cycle day 3 ultrasound and bloodwork yesterday. The ultrasound tech said she saw 6 follicles on one ovary and 5 on the other. This threw me off because last cycle I had 21 total follicles on cycle day 3. Anyone else have such a large difference between cycles? Could it have to do with the tech as well? Last month the tech seemed to take awhile to thoroughly count everything, while this tech looked very quickly and said “everything looks good!” My nurse said 11 is still a good number, especially since this time we want less to grow so we don’t have to cancel another cycle. Even with good results – no cysts after overstimming – I can still find something to worry about. ūüôā

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IUI #2, away we go!

Today is finally cycle day 1 of IUI cycle #2! I was overstimulated on cycle #1 and had to cancel the IUI and abstain from sex due to the risk of high order multiples. Although it was depressing to have to cancel our first treatment cycle, it was nice to have a little break from the stressing and wondering, know we had little chance this cycle. The 100mg of clomid caused me to produce 6 mature follicles (which felt crazy painful when I ovulated) and increased my cycle from my usual 25 days to 30 days.

Pending a good ultrasound and bloodwork on day 3, the¬†orders this time are 25mg of clomid days 3-7, back on day 11 for ultrasound and bloodwork, and then hcg trigger shot followed by IUI. All of this needs to happen before cycle day 16, when my mom and I head to¬†Charleston, SC for a girls’ weekend. Fingers crossed for fast growing follicles, but not too many!

How to Talk to Your Infertile Friend

Everyone approaches a diagnosis of infertility differently, but one thing that has struck me is the lack of communication between friends on the topic. During our first year of trying to conceive, conversations with friends went from discussing the life changes that a baby would bring, to the “you guys better catch up” jokes, and then quickly changed to sympathetic looks and silence on the topic.

elephant

Infertility is the elephant in the room

On top of dealing with the sadness that infertility brings, these changes in friendships can be very difficult.

Here are some tips on how to talk to your infertile friends:

Ask About the Elephant in the Room
Infertility can make you feel lonely and put a strain on your relationship with your partner. The worst thing you can do is avoid a friend who is struggling with infertility simply because you don’t know how to approach the subject. Keep engaged in your friendship and even if it is awkward at first, broach the topic of infertility and ask if they want to talk about it. You may¬†be surprised to find they’re looking for a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.

Resist the Urge to Give Advice
Listening is different from providing advice or acting like you understand exactly what your friend is going through. Friends frequently think they are helping by providing “words of wisdom.” Here are a few things to avoid saying at all costs:

  • Telling her to relax (Ask anyone who is dealing¬†with¬†infertility and they’ll tell you this is virtually impossible)
  • Saying you understand because it took you {fill in the blank} months to conceive. (While it is stressful even if it only takes a few months to conceive, don’t compare that to a friend who has been trying for years/undergoing treatment/dealing with loss.)
  • Talking about how quickly you got pregnant or your unintended pregnancy
  • Minimizing their situation by suggesting adoption, IVF, life with fur babies, etc. (Fertility decisions are stressful and¬†are based on many factors, including finances, religion, values. The solution isn’t always clear or easy.)

Put Yourself in Her Shoes
Be sensitive and ask your friend if she¬†wants be included in activities with kids, such as baby showers, birthday parties, dinners with other couples with children, etc. Everyone is different – while some people who are dealing with infertility find it too difficult to spend a lot of time around¬†kids, others may feel hurt if they aren’t included in activities simply because they don’t have children. It is best to ask.

Announcing your pregnancy falls into this category as well. Please share the good news with your friend, but be sensitive of how you deliver it. I had a good friend who had a surprise pregnancy. She sent me an email to tell me instead of waiting to tell me in person at an event when she told all our friends. This meant the world to me, because it gave me time to get over my initial shock and selfish sadness so I could be truly happy for her when I saw her in person.

Curb Complaining 
Sleepless nights, potty training and temper tantrums can wear you down and it can be very tempting to complain about the challenges of parenthood to your infertile friends. Keep in mind that people struggling to conceive would gladly accept all those challenges just to have the blessings that you have. Celebrate the joys and complain to other friends who can better sympathize.

Share Your Happiness
Don’t hide your happiness. While it can sting when friends announce they are expecting or talk about milestones or challenges with their kids, ultimately, sharing in life’s joys and disappointments is what makes friendships strong. A true friend will rejoice in your happiness, even when they are¬†struggling with infertility.

Additional Resources
Infertility Etiquette
10 Things to Stop Doing if You Want to Support Someone With Infertility

Survivor guilt?

I’ve heard infertility compared to the stress and sadness of losing¬†a loved one. I often wonder how much of that pain and stress I’ll keep with me if/when I have children. What is it like on the other side? Is the pain replaced with immediate relief and happiness? Or do you remember the sadness¬†and count your blessings a little more often than people who never struggled to build a family? Are you fundamentally changed by this experience?

If you want to read more on the topic, check out¬†this great article from Kathryn Kefauver Goldberg, a writer¬†who struggled with infertility and is now the mom to twin boys. She says, “I¬†still identify with infertility, as if it were a chip I’d been given in AA, though in AA, you can stay forever, whereas with the “TTC” community, you leave the minute you succeed.”

 

IUI #1 is Canceled

I just found out yesterday that my first IUI cycle was canceled because I responded too well to Clomid. My protocol for this cycle was Clomid 100mg, days 3-7. While I’m feeling pretty down about having to cancel our first treatment cycle after waiting so long to get to this point, I’m trying to see the silver lining and hoping my response is a sign that we’ll have a successful cycle in the near future. Here’s a wrap up of this cycle:

-CD9 ultrasound – 16mm and 15mm follicles with a bunch of 12s and 13s. My nurse said this was a great response and as long as they all didn’t continue to grow that we should be ready for the hcg trigger on day 11. We didn’t start the Gonal f because it wasn’t needed.¬†She also said it was fine to continue having sex, just not on the night before IUI.

-CD11 ultrasound – 1 at 19mm, 4 at 16mm, 1 at 15mm. Doctor called in the afternoon and tells me not to trigger and that this cycle needs to be canceled because I responded too well and am at risk for high order multiples. He asks me if we’ve had sex and sounds a little concerned when I say yes, the nurse said it was fine to. Yikes!

imagesSomething that struck me is how strange (not to mention cruel) it is to go from being “infertile”¬†to immediately having to worry about a Jon and Kate + Eight “high order multiples” situation (read more here). After I got the call from the doctor saying we needed to cancel the IUI and that we should abstain from sex for the remainder of this cycle, I started poking around on message boards to see how others handled this situation. It is very tempting to have sex anyway against doctors orders, knowing that you are extremely fertile for possibly the first time ever, but for me the risks are way too high.

Because the nurse said it was fine to have sex on CD 9, we did. Now based on what the doctor told me, there is a slight chance that we could get pregnant, especially if I ovulate six eggs. So fingers crossed for only one sperm with lots of endurance. If not, it’s more waiting until we can try again next month.