Surprise Pregnancy Announcements

Fall is a time for many of my favorite things, including beautiful foliage, chilly mornings, boots, and college football. College football means meeting up with old college friends to relive our glory days. Or at least it used to. We’re now in that stage where almost ALL our friends have kids/babies. The college friends were among some of the last to bite the bullet, so there are lots of babies and surprise pregnancy announcements are always lurking.

Let me say that I’m typically not one of those people who can’t handle pregnancy announcements. If you’re one of those people, I totally get it and I’m not judging at all. But usually I can keep it together and put on my happy face. In two weeks we’re invited to a little reunion with a bunch of college friends. There will be a bunch of kids, a newborn, one friend who I found out today is five months pregnant, and another who I have my suspicions about. I’ll be about one week into my stims and I’m a little worried about how everything is going to go. Some of these friends know we’re having trouble conceiving (an understatement at this point) but others have no idea. I can deal with all the baby/pregnancy talk, but I’m dreading the conversation turning to us and when we’re going to have kids.

Today’s strategy for the surprise pregnancy announcement was to toss my greek yogurt and veggies back in the fridge and binge on some of these bad boys for lunch. Hey, it is the first official day of Fall!

My Fall Weakness - Candy Corn!

My Fall Weakness – Candy Corn!

I’m still working on my strategy for our reunion in a few weeks. I want to be open, but also don’t want to turn into an emotional mess. It can be a fine line to walk. I’m curious to know how all of you cope with surprise pregnancy announcements and friends who aren’t clued in to infertility? I’m very open to suggestions! 🙂

Mock Embryo Transfer

I’ve been slacking on the blogging, so today is a double post kind of day! This morning I had my mock embryo transfer/sonohysterogram. I went into it a little nervous because I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. They essentially do this procedure before an IVF cycle to practice for the big day. They want to make sure there aren’t any surprises, such as a strange position of the cervix or anything blocking the uterus that could impede implantation.

I read many different perspectives about the procedure, from it being just like an IUI, to it being worse than an HSG test, so I popped three tylenol just in case! Turns out it was no big deal for me and felt very similar to an IUI. I felt the pinching when the catheter was inserted and a little pressure when they injected the saline — maybe a 2/10 on the pain scale. Everything looked good, so we can check this off the list. It is very exciting to think that the next time they do that it will be the real deal! Next on the list is nine more days of birth control pills, pre-IVF ultrasound and bloodwork, and then I start stims.

One Lovely Blog Award

20140915-one-lovely-blog-award

A huge thank you to Electric Mystery, Our Greatest Desire, and While We Wait for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award! I’m pretty new to blogging and didn’t even know blog awards were a thing, so I’m very flattered to receive one! One of the best rewards of blogging about infertility is to connecting with others who understand and feeling so much support from a community of strong, amazing women. Thank you to these three amazing, strong and brave bloggers who share their infertility journeys so openly. Make sure you check out their blogs!

The criteria for accepting a One Lovely Blog Award are:
List the rules.
Thank your nominator.
List seven facts about yourself.
Nominate 15 other bloggers and let them know you did.
Display the award logo and follow your nominator.

Seven Random Facts About Me
1. I’ve been to 5 of the 7 continents. South America and Antarctica are next on the list!
2. I’m obsessed with genealogy. I can trace my dad’s side of the family back to the American Revolution.
3. When I was five I got a zipper (attached to a sleeping bag) stuck between my two front teeth and had to have it surgically removed by my dentist!
4. The craziest thing I’ve done is skydiving in New Zealand. I loved it but wouldn’t do it again.
5. People always ask me about my ethnicity. I’ve gotten Lebanese, Hawaiian, Eskimo, Spanish, Mexican, Brazilian, and mixed asian and/or African-American. I’m actually boring old German and Irish with a killer tan! I suspect some Native American ancestry, but have yet to prove it.
6. I work in communications and love to write and edit. I’ve been called the grammar police before and I take it as a compliment!
7. I married my college sweetheart and feel so blessed to have him in my life for the past 12 years.

Nominate 15 Other Lovely Bloggers
Here are 15 other inspiring blogs about infertility that are absolutely deserving of a follow. Please don’t feel any obligation to accept the award — I know many of you have already been nominated. Just know that you inspire me and help me on this difficult road every day. Thank you!

Awaiting Autumn

Infertility, Why Me?

Sea of Infertility

Solving the Four Years of Infertility Mystery

The Hopeful Worrywart

Eventual Momma

Waiting for Baby Bird

Hoping Hope Floats

A Calm Persistence

Baby Are You Coming?

Waiting for the Bump

WTF Ovaries

Our Journey With the Lost Stork

The Almost Mom

The Barren Librarian

IVF Protocol: High Responder Antagonist

Didn't think I'd ever see these guys again

Didn’t think I’d ever see these guys again

We had our second IVF consult last Friday and made a plan to move forward. We were able to get all our MANY questions answered and I’m feeling excited and optimistic heading into this cycle. Our protocol is High Responder Antagonist. From what I’ve read, the antagonist protocol is very common, and my doctor is choosing to use Lupron for the trigger because he feels I’m at extra risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) due to how well I’ve responded to small doses of meds during my IUI cycles.

One big thing we discussed is whether to do intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or not. Our RE recommended it for us, but said as long as we get a decent amount of eggs (8+), he would be comfortable doing 2/3 ICSI instead of all of them. This will help us to know if our problem is with fertilization, and we also like the idea that some of our eggs/sperm have the possibility of meeting “naturally” and making an embryo. I completely understand why couples with low morphology choose ICSI, and I think it is a great option. Since this is our first IVF, we think doing partial ICSI is the right choice for us.

We also expressed our desire to do a single embryo transfer (eSET). Our RE agreed that this is the best option for us, based on age and diagnosis, as long as we have quality embryos. This will be a decision we make together after we see how everything is progressing.

So I’m on birth control for 2.5 weeks and then will start stimming. The fun has already started as I’m feeling nauseous and breaking out after five days on the pill. Lovely. I have a feeling that is just the beginning of the IVF fun. Below I’ve listed a breakdown of my meds and timing:

-Birth control (Alyacen 1/35): Sept 13-Oct. 1
-Pre-IVF ultrasound and bloodwork: Oct. 2
-Start stims (175iu Gonal F, 75iu Menopur): Oct. 5-? (10-12 days, typically)
-Add in Ganirelix when instructed
-Trigger (Lupron): ~Oct. 15-17
-Retrieval: ~Oct. 17-19
-Start estrace after the retrieval
-Transfer: ~Oct. 20-25
-Start progesterone after the transfer
-Beta test 14 days later

IUI Survival Guide

I don’t want to brag, but I consider myself a bit of an old pro at intrauterine insemination (IUI), so I thought I would blog about some tips and tricks that I learned over the past six months of treatment. If you’re new to my blog, I’ll start by telling you that IUI didn’t work for me — but it does work for many people and I think there are a lot of good reasons to start with a low tech option like IUI before you move on to IVF.

It really is low-tech
IUI is MUCH less invasive. The procedure is outpatient and seriously over in about five minutes (15 minutes if you count the 10 minutes that ask you to stay laying down after the procedure.) Seriously. The first one I had, I was shocked by how quick it was. I’m pretty sure I said, “Really, that’s it?” They literally shoot the washed sperm through a small catheter and into your uterus. You lay down for a few minutes, and then you’re done!

It is cost effective, compared to other options
Depending on the cost of your medication, IUI can be very affordable. Compared to IVF, which can cost $10K+, IUI only costs around $300-$700 plus the cost of your medication. Medication could bump it up a lot though, depending on what you’re taking and what your insurance covers. Generally, if you’re starting with a less aggressive approach, medications like Clomid and Femara are very cheap. Once you get into injectables, the price increases drastically. Your insurance may cover IUI, even if they don’t cover IVF.

It may hurt a little bit
I went into my first IUI thinking it would be smooth sailing, so I was surprised to feel some brief pain when they inserted the catheter. It was nothing major, but since I would told it was a painless procedure, it did catch me off guard. One more fun experience to add to the poking and prodding!

You can still try on your own
I liked that we could still try to conceive on our own during an IUI cycle. We were able to try up until the night before the IUI, when they asked us to abstain to build up hubby’s supply. We were also encouraged to have sex the night of the IUI. You probably won’t be in the mood and a little sore, but it is worth it if it ups your chance of success. *Every situation is different, so always take the advice of your doctor when it comes to timing sex.

Your doctor has less control
I always thought that most multiples resulted from IVF, but it turns out many twins and higher order multiples come from IUI because your doctor has much less control. IVF has improved to the point where single embryo transfers are frequently recommended, greatly reducing the number of resulting twin pregnancies. With IUI, the goal is usually to have 2-3 mature follicles, so you’re always at risk of multiples. It can be a cruel game of hoping it works, but doesn’t work TOO well.

Get ready to leak
After IUI, you’ll most likely be put on progesterone suppositories to make sure you have enough progesterone to support a pregnancy. These little jelly bean-like pills are inserted right into your vagina and then slowly dissolve throughout the day. Pantyliners will be your new best friends.

Your chances are improved, but not that much
I was surprised to find out that based on our diagnosis and ages, with IUI our chances of pregnancy were about 16%. While that is better than the 1-2% that our doctor told us we were looking at after trying to conceive for 1.5 years on our own, we were still a little disappointed that the chances weren’t higher. With IVF, the chances are much higher, but so is the cost, time commitment, and physical toll.

It’s a time commitment
Because each cycle has no more than a 20% chance of working, my doctor recommended doing 3-4 IUIs before we moved on to IVF. I became discouraged after the first two because I was so ready for something to work, but ultimately was glad we ended up doing 4 IUIs (plus a cycle where I took meds but over-responded). I felt like I had fully exhausted that option and was ready to move on.