Tag: fertility

What’s in a name…

An attempt at explaining the deep significance behind our son’s name

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We’re just volunteering to be head sheep of this weird little herd in our area, with every intention of pointing to our Shepherd.

Gray

Its been a minute, I know.

The last post was nearly 4 months ago, when we heard a heartbeat that didn’t belong to either one of us, but then again sort of did.
I’ve struggled a lot with what this blog and our story would look like once we got our happy answer.

It been a fantastically wonderful difficult hard beautiful gross confusing 4 months.

As a quick update:
We’re having a boy.  His name is Truitt Charles Bush.  More on his name in another post, because that’s a meaty one.
Our boy is big, healthy, active, and we already see ourselves in him.

Struggle

I know, this may sound a little ridiculous and probably makes me look extremely hard to please.  It is what it is.
Being pregnant is hard.  Harder than I was prepared for.  If it were just the physicality of it, I’d probably not post about it.
Physically, I am mostly fine.  My body, however, was not “made for this” as so many crunchy folks like to say.  No judgement to the crunchy, i consider myself partially crunchy (as partially crunchy as one can be after taking the amount of hormones I did and excising weird stuff off my innards with laser beams).  If one more person looks at me and says “your body knows what to do!” I am going to give a very detailed explanation of how NO my body DOES NOT know what to do, it is VERY CONFUSED.  There is another HUMAN in there.
My migraines are now peaking at 5-6 days a week.  I am still able to work full time by keeping a watchful eye on the weather, my sleep schedule (lol at sleeping while pregnant, amirite?) and medicating (safely) often.  I am on a strict no-Botox diet until Truitt says hello from the outside (we listen to a lot of Adele, I’m not sorry), and since I’m bellybutton deep into the second trimester, it doesn’t look like they are letting up any time soon.  That’s difficult for me, because I feel like a flake.  Beyond work, I can’t make a lot of commitments,  because having migraines and hurting almost constantly is exhausting.
Beyond that and some scar tissue induced round ligament spasms, I’m a pretty perky prego.
Mentally, I’ve been a mess.
“WHY?!  You’re pregnant!  It worked the FIRST TIME!”
I know, it usually doesn’t.
“This is exactly what you’ve been praying for, working for, trying so hard for!”
Indeed.
“You must be so EXCITED!”
No doubt about it.  The English language is not adequate enough to explain how we feel.

But why us?

I decided to go public with our journey because I didn’t really know anyone who’d been through this.  I’d found some random faceless women on some message boards and online groups, and I’m thankful for them.  But I thought surely someone I know has done this, been through this.  And then I thought maybe I/we could be that someone that someone knew, when they dealt with this.  There had to be others.  I wanted to find the others that I already knew I knew, I just didn’t know.

Boy, did we.

We have been overwhelmed with the echoes of “me too” we have gotten after going public.  People who have told us publicly and in confidence.  People who are searching for community.  Families who are actively dealing with this hurt and struggle and journey and understand the hardship and just get it on a level that no one else can.
We have found so many great confidants in this journey.  People who are public with their journey, people who are not.  Several have reached out to us, as we are a bit ahead of them in the journey, just as we reached out to a few couples who have been instrumental in our own journey.
We were made for community.  Doing this alone is not healthy, I honestly don’t get how people do it.  We need one another – we are good for each other.  We would have been lost and overwhelmed without this little community that we scrounged up from the depths of the internet and high school and and friends of friends of friends.

In this community, not everyone wins.  Not everyone has the happy ending they set out to find, especially not on the first try.

Sweet friends that I knew that I knew (I just didn’t know) who are dealing with this are seeing more loss, failed cycles, bad news.  My heart is so broken for them.

They didn’t get to/haven’t yet heard their heart beat.  Or they heard their heart beat, and then have experience the death of their baby.

My heart hurts.  A lot.

I feel so guilty that it worked for us.  Like I should maybe hide my joy and excitement and annoyance with migraines and pregnancy discomfort because how dare I?  These friends still hold such a special place in my heart, and I want so much to follow their journey, hold their hand, be a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear.
But I am pregnant shoulder.  My ears still hear my baby’s heart beat.  My belly feels his kicks.  He is still “mine”, for now.

Solution

I don’t have one.  This post doesn’t really resolve into a great epiphany of understanding and enlightenment.
I don’t have it figured out.  I don’t know that I ever will.

I know that we are not pregnant because I ate enough pineapple, or took the right drugs at just the right time, or prayed hard enough with just enough faith.  I am pregnant with a healthy baby boy because of God designed science, and because God has a plan for this person.  It has nothing to do with me.  It is for His glory alone.

We are living in a weird gray area.  Yes, both Mister and I.  This is a family journey, not a female journey.

We are over the moon excited about our son.  We have a son.  I feel him move so much, he keeps me awake, he’s sassy and possibly left handed.  He parties all night and is a total grouch like his Daddy at early morning ultrasounds.  He is soothed and calmed down by listening to Mister snore.  Yes.  Snore.
Pregnancy is what we’ve gone through hell and high water to achieve.  I am so excited I get to experience it, I love it.  I thought it may never happen for us, for me.
Its gross and weird and sometimes it sucks and is hard and it hurts, a lot.  The anxiety we’ve both experienced during our short time with our boy is overwhelming, and he’s not even “here” yet.

We are broken over those who are still struggling.  When we see a friend get told “I’m sorry…”, again.  When another family learns that IUI isn’t enough.  When they don’t know why its not working.  When they don’t know what to do next.  When someone else tells them to “just relax” or “quit thinking about it” or “have enough faith.”

This community is still so important to us.  We are still very much a part of it.  We are attempting, again, a support group of sorts, beginning next month.  I have mixed feelings about leading a group of struggling families as a big ole pregnant lady.  This is too important to us to ignore just because we have our baby growing, but its something that must be handled with a grace and dignity I haven’t quite figured out yet in order to be sensitive and understanding to others.

We are overjoyed.  We are anxious.  We are broken.  We are thankful.  We are conflicted.

We are gray.

 

 

IVF – Cycle 1

Whelp, we’re doing this.

January 18 – discontinue birth control (lol)
January 22 – initial u/s, start stim protocol
January 26 – monitoring
January 28 – monitoring
January 30 – monitoring
February 3* – retrieval, 2 days bed rest.
February 8* – transfer, 3 days bed rest, begin post retrieval protocol
February 18* – beta 1

*give or take a day, subject to change, pending no OHSS

So, there’s that.
Its scheduled.  We had our teaching session today in Jackson after our initial baseline assessments.  All the tests, all the poking.  Four shots a day pre-retrieval, 1-2 shots a day post transfer.  Lots of supplements, lots of pills.
My doctor paid me the nicest compliment today:

Your uterus is boring and warrants no comment.

That’s seriously the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my uterus.  I was thrilled.  Usually I get a lot of “hmms…”, “uh-ohs”, and “yikes!”  Is now a good time to plug excision surgery?  Who am I kidding.  Its always a good time to advocate for efficient and effective treatment of endometriosis.
Educate.  Empower.  Advocate.
I wore new socks I got from my #ttcmugexchange2015 buddy, and boy did they give my doc a giggle.
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He didn’t see them until he was already in the middle of my exam.  Then he laughed so hard he had to stop what he was doing and get himself together.

You’re SO “gangsta”, Anna.

I KNOW, RIGHT?

As much as I hate the fact that I have to go to a fertility doctor to even have a chance at growing my family, I was reminded today what a rockstar team I have there.  My nurses both hugged me, gave me “real” advice (“you’re going to be emotional during all of this, because, well my God, look what it involves?  But the b**** factor of these meds is nothing like Clomid was…”), laughed with me, asked about my pups, and answered every question I had (all day… I’ve already emailed them twice since this morning).

As we’ve drawn closer and closer to appointments, and as we’ve started taking the first initial steps down the IVF road, my anxiety as skyrocketed to levels I didn’t even know I was capable.  The funny thing about my anxiety – its all somatic.  In my head, I’m totally fine.  I have NO freaking clue that I’m anxious.  But I’ll get off the phone with my clinic after scheduling and appointment or confirming a payment figure, and all of the sudden I can’t turn my head to the right, or its hard to breath, or I start to stutter, or I will talk 90 miles an hour.  After a somatic symptom pops up, I’ve learned (through some therapy) that I need to mentally recognize the fact that I am stressed, and take active measure of de-stressing, even though I don’t feel stressed.  Does that make sense?  Its been a weird couple of months.
I actually went to my GP about it after a severe stuttering episode, ready to seek a little pharmaceutical assistance.  I brag on my doctors all the time, and with good reason.  Doctors are so smart, so much smarter than me.  They know so much!  I have a fabulous team.  But they are exactly that – a team.  To get anything done, they all have to be in agreement.  My GP is not going to prescribe me anti-anxiety meds that maybe my FE has an issue with, or my OBGYN would not want me on while pregnant, or that could possible interfere with my migraine protocol my neurologist has given me. See what I mean?  Its like assembling the Avengers just to get some Zoloft.  This makes me Nick Fury, right?

SLJ

Turns out, not all of my Avengers saw eye-to-eye on this.  So yoga, the never ending grace of God, a new therapist, and a new coloring book it is.

Next week, Mister and I will celebrate our 4 year wedding anniversary.  Its a weird fact that we’ve been on this trying-to-conceive journey for 75% of that time.  My substitute hairstylist (long term stylist is on maternity leave, ironically) asked me last week if we had anything special planned for our anniversary, and before thinking about it too hard, I said,very excitedly:

Yes!  We’re doing IVF!

She paused, a little shocked I think, but to her credit her response was perfect.  Wow, congratulations, that’s huge, its a drag you have to do this but how exciting that you are able to, y’all must have been planning this for a while, etc.  PERFECT.  Stylists are like a special hybrid of therapists and sorority recruitment.  How many problems to they hear in a day?  They are NEVER short on small talk, they probably have dirt on half the town, all while balancing ridiculous expectations of “get the dead ends off” and “JUST a trim…”  I’m on a rabbit trail, I know, but clearly I’m comfortable in my salon, and clearly this woman is no stranger to weird answers to questions.
But yes.  IVF is our big anniversary present.  Its suppose to be the flowers and fruit anniversary, but we’re being modernly liberal about it, and going for “be fruitful and multiply.”

Through all of this, I’ve been shown time and time again the beautiful relationship between God’s sovereignty and modern medicine/science.  Its is absolutely ridiculous to me when we try to separate the two, only accepting one or the other.  God has revealed Himself so much to me through research and finding wonderful physicians and healers who work miracles under a microscope.  Another thing we’ve learned is how common this problem is, how many other families are hurting.  After some discussion with one of our pastors, Mister and I will be leading a co-ed “Fertility Care” group at our church.  This is meant to be a place for families struggling growing their family (infertility, secondary infertility, infant loss, miscarriage, etc.) to come and find peace and understanding in Christ.  Our goal this entire journey has been to bring glory to The Almighty, whatever His answers may be.  By investing in other families and shedding the shame and stigma that comes with infertility, particularly in the deep south, I think we can bring comfort and encouragement to others.  If you’re in South Mississippi and interested in a biblically based support group, shoot me an email at southernfertility@gmail.com; let’s talk.

We covet your prayers as we continue this winter.  Its going to be a surreal journey, one I’m looking forward to chronicling.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen!
Ephesians 3:20, 21

Round 4

After a couple of weeks of waiting, we’ve finally been able to start our 4th and final round of IUI. My cyst ruptured without causing too many problems (besides several days of fever and general feelings of icky-ness). Medusa is no longer “a problem we need to be concerned with”, and my hormones have jumped back into gear.

After the general tests and exam last week, DocJax cleared me to start round 4. We’ve gotten our meds and Mister has been giving me my injections every night this week. This round, the hormone migraines have been particularly difficult to reign in, but I seem to be getting a handle on them finally. We go for a progress check (and more blood work, of course) on Tuesday, with a procedure likely on Thursday. After that we will enter the two week waiting period for the last time in 2014. As we bought alcohol swabs and band aides at the pharmacy (yay, shots!), Mister grabbed a pack of blister-healing band aides.

Go ahead and grab these since they’re on sale. If we get another negative, I know you’re going to need to run it out, and it’s going to jack your feet up when you do.

That right there, folks, is true love. He gets me. My blisters/calluses also gross him out.

This weekend was suppose to be our first weekend with no minimal traveling, and we were looking forward to fellowshipping with other believers today. Other than Mister covering the game at Mississippi State and my responsibilities at a downtown event, our weekend was more or less “free”. Then significant car trouble (quite possibly in a location one might meet the Devil for dealings) at a very late hour and a tow truck that was in absolutely NO rush at all (Hail State, y’all) changed our down weekend into an impromptu road trip two hours north in the wee hours of the morning for a rescue mission. We finally all got home and in bed at 6:00am this morning. Shout out to my baby brother for riding with me and keeping me company, even though he had to work all day today. I am far to old to be pulling all nighters anymore, and I’ve now got an appointment with my eye doctor. Night driving is a lot more difficult than I remember. We didn’t make it to church a few hours later. The sleep was greatly needed, but we really miss the rest of our local body of believers.

This week brings more Jackson, more needles and tests, more salmon (omega 3s, y’all), and more football. It also brings a quick weekend trip to Memphis to see the first baby I have prayed for since half of her DNA was contained in a mature follicle. I’m told her parents will be in Memphis too, and we’re pretty excited about that.

We have decided a few things in the last few weeks of dealing with the cyst. As mentioned before, this will be our final round of IUI. We are still hoping that this 10-15% chance will be our yes, and this will be our last round for wonderful happy reasons. However, we are planning for other outcomes. If this round does not work, we will be moving on to IVF in the spring. After speaking with our doctors in Hattiesburg and Jackson, we have decided that our funds are better spent procedures with better odds and more doctor-control. We will spend the rest of the winter saving and praying and preparing. We are also gathering all of my records and sending them to a group of surgeons in Atlanta that specialize in the removal of endometriosis, and we are having out case reviewed. The Center of Endometriosis Care does amazing work removing endometriosis from all areas of the body (more on my particular case in a different post) and we are looking forward to hearing ALL of our options.

We will be taking a (much needed) vacation in December. A vacation from work, and a vacation from infertility. This season of our life has been overwhelming and over scheduled (I’m looking at you, football…), and we are in serious need of a recharge.

We are a little terrified. We don’t really feel like we know what we’re doing. We are seeking God and we are following where we feel He leads. Both IVF and surgery come with some pretty scary “what ifs” and procedures. Both are much more invasive, time consuming, and energy consuming. We know that before this month ends, we will be looking towards more invasive medical procedures, whether that be pregnancy (!!!!) or IVF/surgery. You are probably starting to grasp why we need a vacation.

I have the best friends, the greatest family, and the most supportive spouse to face this with, and that makes things a little less scary.

My Helper

It is recorded in Genesis that God took from Adam a rib and formed him a Helper: Eve.

That is my favorite definition of a spouse. Some people say they married their best friend, their better half, their soulmate, etc. When my Mister and I promised to love each other for ever and ever, and signed papers with the great state of Mississippi, we married our Helper.

This post is a shout out to the Helpers that married endometriosis and infertility.

I cannot imagine going through endometriosis or infertility without him. He has been my Helper with this disease even before we were married. My first surgery for endometriosis was 2 months before our wedding. My next surgery was before we’d reached our first anniversary.

He has helped shoulder the daily (sometimes crippling) pain that my endometriosis causes. He can go down the “feminine hygiene” aisle and not flinch, he can even pick out exactly the right thing by himself. Every.Time. He understands my monosyllabic communication when my pain reaches a 9.5 on the 10 point scale.

When we first started talking about infertility, I told him straight up that we both had to be “all in.” This couldn’t be “my” thing. He accepted that, and has been amazing.

Our first two rounds of IUI, Sister Nurse gave me my shots. I knew that these hormones make me a less-than-rational reactor at times, and I didn’t want to have any reason to take that out on Mister. According to him, however,

If I can give the cat her insulin shots, I can give you fertility shots. It’s basically the same thing, right?

You can giggle. I did.

For our most recent round of IUI, he gave my shots of liquid fire ant Menopur, and even gave me my trigger shot. It may not sound like a super marriage bonding moment, but it has been. It’s intimate in a way that I find very difficult to explain.

He has held me and cried with me every time a treatment has failed. He has gone to every single appointment with me. He is on a first name basis with Doctor in Hattiesburg, and at DocJax he asks just as many questions as I do.

He is a “fixer”, as most men are, and I know it bothers him that he cannot “fix” this for us. Our first years of marriage have not been normal. No one mentions endometriosis or infertility in premarriage counseling. We’ve both learned as we’ve gone.

He’s not perfect. Neither am I.
He’s made mistakes, but you will not find a list of them on this blog, or anywhere.

Now, as I wait for the wrath of Medusa the Cyst, he waits. This weekend, he’s been looking for quick trips we can take to help alleviate the stress and take our minds of the (many,many) negatives. He is working two and three jobs so that we can continue to pay cash for everything and save for possible future treatments. On top of those jobs this weekend, he’s taken care of me with a several day-long migraine.

I am married my nurse, my therapist, my back scratcher, my ledge talker, my negotiator, my hand to squeeze, my personal comedian, my live-in cook. I married my Helper. He is mine and I am his.

IUI

This is a compilation of questions that have been asked of me by many friends and family.

Warning: Names of specific organs that only women have will be used. If that makes you uncomfortable, I don’t really understand why you want to know more about IUI.

What is the difference between IUI and IVF?
IVF = in-vitro fertilization
IUI = intrauterine insemination
IUI does not require the FE to put sperm and egg together to create or handle an embryo.
The sperm is collected, “washed”, and treated. The doctor is able to determine if the sample is of adequate quality.
A catheter is inserted through the cervix, into the uterus, and the sperm is injected. This allows the sperm to bypass the majority of their required journey, giving it a longer life and a higher chance of meeting the egg.

Do they knock you out? Does the procedure hurt?
No, and it’s not comfortable. You are fully conscious for this procedure. It’s very short, and not completely awful, but not something you’d choose to do in your free time. It’s a lot like a Pap smear, but more invasive, more uncomfortable, and it takes a little longer.

Are you on any medication?
A few. I have taken estrogen-binders in the past (Clomid, Framara) that were ineffective for me.
When I start a cycle, on the third day, I take subcutaneous (in the skin) injection in my lower abdomen of Menopur. It burns like a million fire ants all bottled together.
When I have follicles (release an egg) that reach the right size after several days of Menopur, I receive an intramuscular trigger shot of HCG (causes the follicle to release the egg) in “the hip”.
A day or so after the trigger shot, we go in for the IUI procedure.
After the IUI procedure, I immediately start progesterone, twice a day. This helps the uterine lining stay thick, and gives me a greater chance of “catching” and “keeping” a embryo, and sustain the pregnancy during the first trimester.

Is it covered by your insurance?
Yes and no. We are abundantly blessed with amazing insurance that covers almost everything. Our insurance has covered all of our visits, lab work, and ultrasounds. That may not sound like much, but when you are doing it multiple time a week, it adds up.
Our insurance does NOT cover our medication (shots, syringes, needles) or the actual procedures. That is a significant cost.

Are your chances of multiples increased with this treatment?
Yes. So far, all three treatments I have had have been with two follicles at the ready. Two follicles = two eggs. Two eggs = possibility of fraternal twins. We have a very responsible and conscious doctor, and he will not trigger or perform the IUI procedure if there are more than three follicles. The risk to the potential mother is too great, and he cannot guarantee a healthy mother and that many healthy babies past three.

How many time will you do IUI?
Four. Past that, we feel as if our funds, time, and energies would be better used towards IVF.

What is your chance of pregnancy with each round?
10-25%.

I think I’ve hit most of the major questions regarding IUI. I hope to address
more questions on different subjects at a later time. Did I miss anything?