We’re just volunteering to be head sheep of this weird little herd in our area, with every intention of pointing to our Shepherd.
Its been a while since I’ve posted an update to our story.
Honestly, there just hasn’t been that much to tell, I feel like. We’ve waited a lot. Got some “eh” news, made some decisions. Waited some more, crunched some numbers. Twiddled our thumbs. Now we’re waiting on *one* more puzzle piece, and we’ll have a solid timeline.
Edge of your seat stuff, let me tell you.
So, here’s an update:
Surgery + Endometriosis
Its been almost 6 months since my excision surgery. I can say with confidence now that this surgery in ATL has been the best medical decision I have made in my adult life thus far. I am a new woman. I have almost* no pain. I cannot tell you what cycle day I am on based on where the pain is focused. I actually have to check my app on my phone. This is my new normal, and its pretty amazing. I will stand on any platform given and sing the praises of my surgeon and his team at the Center for Endometriosis Care. Be educated. Be informed. Do not settle. Praise be to God, I am still in remission.
*Last weekend, I had a cyst start acting wrong and rupture. I hurt the most I’ve hurt since surgery, and even then it was only registering as “moderate” on my personal pain scale. Enough to annoy me, and occasionally channel my focus and attention, but not enough for me to miss work. After running a fever around day 3 of “moderate”, I decided to check in with my doc here in Hattiesburg. My clinic is set up with MyChart, so I shot a quick email to my nurse. I had an ultrasound booked the next day, just in case. I’ve also had a terrible case of the Fall Snots, so it was tough to know if this fever was coming from the Snots or an infection south of the belly button.
Everything is fine, I resolved it on my own, fever is gone, and hopefully I will trade in this gravely baritone for my original alto voice sooner rather than later. Based on my other cyst experiences, this was a walk in the park.
Fertility + Endometriosis
We decided August was our last “one more month” of trying to conceive without medical intervention. I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that we put our fertility worries on a shelf, put a date on it, and we weren’t pulling it off the shelf until that date. August was that date. I had some Day 21 blood work done during that cycle, and it came back worse than abysmal. I’m pretty sure Mister has more progesterone pumping through his system than I do. This computer probably generates more progesterone than I do. Biochemically, I’m messed up. Endometriosis and the abnormal growths really get your hormones all wonky. There’s a super scientific way to explain it, but that’s the gist. After 15 years of my body knowing nothing other than wonky, it seems as though that’s how I’m programmed now. You wouldn’t put unleaded fuel in a diesel engine and expect it to run right, and we’re finding the same is true with me. On my own, my body won’t do right, reproductively. I’m a diesel, and diesel is expensive.
My doc told me some tough truths.
You’ll likely never conceive on your own. However, you are an excellent candidate for IVF. Your hormones are off and don’t look like they’ll ever be right without intervention, but we know you respond incredible well to IVF medications. IVF was invented to help families like yours.
This was echoed by our FE. This was a major bummer and comforting all at the same time. Feelings are hard sometimes.
I had my sad day and a lovely glass of wine. The next day, I called my FE and made plans to move on.
Its been almost a year since we last saw our FE. Almost a year since the Very Worst October Ever. I took a little trip to Jackson to see my FE earlier this month. Since its been a while since he’s been around my block, I took ALL the data with me. Blood work charts from the last two years, daily monitoring data for 2015 so far, surgery report, path report, pictures, diagrams, all the things. I wanted to make sure he was good and familiar with the neighborhood, since my surgeon has done a few renovations since my last visit.
I conference-called Mister in to the meeting (we’re millennials, we do that now), and we talked about our options. We could do IUI again, but our odds of that working are about like they were this time last year: slim. Real slim. Slimmer than Mister (he’s a bean pole). We’ve ridden the IUI train, punched our ticket. Its time to move on.
After adjusting my protocol based on the fact that I am still in remission (woohoo!) and my AMH came back pretty super (woohoo! squared), we are looking at starting IVF this winter.
Originally, we wanted this fall. A multitude of reasons pushed this back a bit. I never thought I’d say this, but we are planning our IVF cycle around football. This likely seems absolutely insane to most people, but right now, our lives revolve around NCAA and MHSAA football. I would throw NFL in that mix, but have you seen the Saints this year?? The nation has enough Sad Saints pictures for the rest of the century, no one is buying those now. A December – January cycle is looking like our best bet. We are trying to find a few loopholes in our good ole MS insurance plans (political plug: make sure your representatives know that women’s health is kind of a big deal and MS should be better at it and stuff), and if loopholes big enough can be triggered, we’ll be waiting until January when our new calendar year starts. If those loopholes are going to be as helpful as another negative pregnancy test, we’ll go ahead and start our cycle in December.
Once we have dates set, I’ll have another post. I will likely ask for incredibly specific prayers at specific times, and post my protocol to see if any of you gals that have been around this block have any tricks to help get through a stim cycle with your sanity intact. We’ve settled on a host of IVF-ethics issues that we hoped we’d never have to face in real life, but now we’re staring down the barrel of that gun. We are following the convictions that God has laid on our heart. They likely aren’t the most popular in the IVF world, nor the most popular in your typical “Conservative” world, but God bless America, they are our choices for our family and we have the freedom to make them ourselves. More on our specific convictions and IVF FAQs in a separate post.
We have been very open about our struggle and our choices over the last year. That has opened us up to both encouragement like we never could have imagined, and at the same time, criticism and thoughtless comments. Mostly encouragement. We choose to focus on the encouragement, and chalk the thoughtlessness up to a lack of education. Folks can’t help if they’re ignorant, right? Bless their hearts. Through this sharing and openness, it has come to light that other friends of ours are struggling with infertility. Maybe not like us, everyone’s journey is different. It continues to reinforce the truth that this is not a rare issue. So many women are fighting this battle. So many families are struggling with feeling broken and frustrated. When I connect with someone over infertility, I immediately feel excited and bummed out. Again, feelings are hard sometimes. I’m excited that I have another soul to share this with that gets it. Someone who can relate. At the same time, I wouldn’t wish this journey on anyone. Its unpleasant and hard and I hate it and if I had the choice I wouldn’t be on this road. No one signs up for this willingly.
We are well aware that God does not “need” IVF to help Him start our family. God also does not “need” chemotherapy, defibrillators, pharmaceuticals, or any form of medical practice to accomplish healing and His Will. Sometimes, that is just the path He has for us to further His Glory. Praise Him for the sense He gave humans to practice all kinds medicine.
We know that we are surrounded by a great host of witnesses. So many of you have let me know that you are praying fervently for us, and we appreciate that more than we will ever be able to convey. We ask you to continue these prayers. The turn of the year is about to get wild. Feelings are hard sometimes. May God be glorified in the journey.
October 2014 has been the very worst month. The worst month of my adult life. The worst month of our relatively short marriage. I am not sad to see it go. Good riddance. Is it November yet? At the beginning of this month, we were … Continue reading Grieving, healing, and moving on
Try as I might, I won’t adequately address the many facets of this question in one post. I’ve been preparing this for weeks, but I know I’ll leave something out. It is my goal to be as edifying and biblical as possible.
This question (and many derivatives of it) is probably the most frequently asked question when someone learns that we are struggling. It’s usually asked in exactly those words, verbatim. I hate it. It is soul crushing, for many reasons. Reasons you probably never considered. If you’ve asked me this question, bless your heart. I know you didn’t do it with ill intent in your heart (most of you…). I know you are honestly just concerned. Curious maybe. I hope to answer this question in the post, and share why this can be a painful question when asked in such a flippant manner.
We are well aware that there is a great need for more families to adopt in this community/state/nation/world. In fact, I’d wager that no one is stirred more regarding unwanted and parentless children than a couple who cannot have any. I’m sure you have a friend who has adopted. Maybe adoption is within your family. With that thought, have you discussed the actual process of adoption with these friends or family members? It’s not something you “just” do.
There is no Target or Amazon.com for insta-families. The shear amount of paperwork and approval process and travel involved is the only thing I can think of that is more stressful than actual fertility treatments, and it can take even longer. There is nothing easy about adoption.
As we face our struggle with endometriosis and starting a family, we are striving to approach it as biblically as possible. This includes the financial aspect. Long term, endometriosis can affect quality of life in a crippling manner. At times, it has kept me from maintaining a regular full time job. It has been years of treatments, doctors, surgeries, and medications. None of that is free, and none of that is stopping anytime soon. To protect our future and my quality of life, this disease must be treated as quickly and efficiently as possible. Pregnancy now is our final shot before scrapping the whole kit and kaboodle. There is no cure, only remission.
In addition, in our price comparisons and in our situation, fertility treatments, including 3 full rounds of IVF (egg retrieval, fertilization, implantation), is less expensive than one domestic adoption. Domestic.. Not even international. I could write another several posts on why this is so messed up. We feel very strongly about approaching this in financial baby steps. We will not go backwards and dig ourselves in deeper debt to add to our family. That is not being a good steward of resources. The steps we have taken so far and the coming steps are reflective of what is affordable and what is recommended by our doctors. We will always strive to be good stewards, both with our finances and human life.
Some derivatives of this question that I feel I need to address:
“If you just adopt one, that will take the stress off and BAM! You’ll be able to have your own!”
At no point is a child from adoption ever a “consolation prize”. At no point is adoption EVER a “last resort.” We will never use a child as a lucky charm. Again: I know you mean to be encouraging (bless your heart), and I know you probably have a friend (of a friend) that knew someone that did this and it TOTALLY worked… But stop it. Please stop using that logic. It is insulting to both the adopted child and the conceived child, it is insulting to the parents, it is insulting to those of us who desperately want to be parents.
“I get it. I don’t know if I could love an adopted child as much as I love one that’s mine.“
I don’t think you get it. Bless your heart.
Adoption has been something that Mister and I have talked about since our first year of dating. It’s something we both want, something we both feel called to, when the time is right. When we adopt, it will not be a last resort. When we adopt, it will be our child in every sense. Needing to combine and duplicate our DNA has absolutely nothing to do with our decision to have a family. Our love will extend equally to our children, regardless of their genetic make up. Our Father has called us His own, our Jew and Gentile roots irrelevant. We will imitate our Heavenly Father.
Some of you, with whom I have an intimate friendship, have discussed this with me. You know my heart, and I know yours, and I thank God every day for placing you in my life. Most of you are not that “some of you.” Sometimes, this is difficult to discuss outside of very intimate friendships. I understand that it can be difficult to understand, difficult to relate to for you. I believe there is no way for you to honestly wrap your head around it unless you have experienced it. I pray you are never able to wrap your head around it. I hope that this has helped shine some light on our specific situation, and highlighted that people make family planning choices for very specific, very personal reasons. It’s not always easy. It’s very rarely black and white. Most of life is grey.
I hope this has brought great respect to those who have adopted and are in the process of adoption. We are all called to glorify The Almighty. Thank you for responding to the call of adoption, and glorifying Him in your journey. We are striving to glorify Him in our journey of infertility.
We are anxiously awaiting the day that he calms our storm and is glorified in the growth of our family.
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.
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.
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?
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?