30 June, 2016
Today I submitted my culminating Master's paper to my academic advisor. It felt great to summarize my experience at my university in a paper. I am attending my last class for my program right now. I have been attending school for almost the entirety of the mess. I love learning. Putting 6-12 hours of studying and attending class a week has been wonderfully distracting.
2. Education II
Having a job that you can immerse yourself into is also very distracting. As an elementary school teacher, I cannot focus on anything other than school when I am at work. Every time I have had a miscarriage or a setback on the route to having a child, going to work has been what has pulled me out of the slump the most. After miscarriage number 1, husband and I both dreaded the weekend because I had too much time on my hands.
3. Awesome family
I have had some great family members that have been extremely supportive of me. One of my sisters-in-law did some research once I announced our problems to the family so that she could start to understand what we were going through. One of my sisters is touring Europe with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir right now and sends me daily texts for support.
I love to create. (Ironic, right?) My favorite medium is paper. Making cards, classroom decorations, and crepe paper flowers have been an awesome way to fill my time. Tonight I grabbed some canvases to paint. I have also been dabbling back in the world of the piano. Cooking always increases in the summertime and we have been experimenting with new recipes. I also love reading fiction, biographies, and books that are in my classroom library. (Yeah, and I guess I garden, but the seeds are taking forever to sprout this year. It is much more exciting to garden when plants you want are growing.)
29 June, 2016
28 June, 2016
This morning, an impressive box showed up on our front door.
Inside was a styrofoam cooler, filled to the brim with meds and needles.
Unpacking the box almost felt like Christmas. I felt that way because the cost of the medications greatly exceeds the cost of Christmas. As I start taking each one, I will detail what it is used for.
I also received a home sharps container! How legit am I now?
One more day of birth control, two more days of the Z pack, and then I get a two day break until we deal with the nasty stuff. During that time, I only have to take the eight pills that I have been taking for a couple months.
27 June, 2016
I was not nervous for my water ultrasound. I have had dye tests to make sure my tubes are open and I have had three IUIs not to mention a countless number of transvaginal ultrasounds. How much worse could a water ultrasound be?
Much worse, according to my informal research on the subject.
When I was pulled back into the exam room, I was slightly surprised that it was one of the regular exam rooms I had been in before. For some reason, I thought I would be lead to a special room, equip to deal with water leakages.
Our technician entered and I was stoked to see it is my favorite technician. I had not seen her since the IUI days. She sat down and explained what would happen. They would insert a catheter into my uterus, stick in the ultrasound stick, and pump saline water in via the catheter to fill the uterine cavity. By doing this, it helps see things that you cannot normally see with a regular ultrasound such as polyps. We asked our technician to see how common it is to see a problem and she gave us a 15-20% chance of seeing something that would postpone an IVF session. That is a low percentage, but hey, there is also a super low percentage that a couple would have to deal with male infertility, and we got stuck with that.
It took a while to get the catheter in. Our technician remembered doing our first IUI (which took forever and the process was halted for 20 minutes so I could drink water to help insert the catheter) and asked how much water I had this morning. Even though I visited the bathroom on my way to the exam room, I drank quite a bit of water this morning to prepare for this. We tried catheter number 2 and it went in easier. For some reason (hunger, maybe) my legs were shaking like mad. The technician was worried I was in a terrific amount of pain.
When they started inserting the water, it was a strange feeling, but not because of the slight cramping. The water almost immediately started coming right back out. A trickle of water pooled onto the table. We checked the uterus and the ovaries. I received a (figurative) gold star and was sent on my way.
I receive the rest of my meds tomorrow. Yesterday I started taking a Z Pack to help me stay healthy on the journey. I only have three days of birth control left. My next appointment is on Friday for a baseline ultrasound and blood work. This thing is really going to get going soon.
23 June, 2016
I ended up at my clinic just before 3:00. I thought they would be quite a few people waiting to attend. Shockingly, there was only one couple that joined me for the event.
I was curious as the doors were opened and both our names were read. The other girl looked slightly familiar. Whether I knew her or I've just seen her in passing at the clinic I will probably never know.
I was curious. What was her story? Why was she here? I could tell that she had not done any IUI cycles. Has she been pregnant before like me? How many years has she tried?
I was not terribly chatty during the brief demonstration. Partly because I've done a shot before and partly because I did not want to start coughing. The other couple asked good questions that I had prior to the first injection.
The coordinator showed how to mix and inject the different medications I would be taking. No big unknowns came up for me except that sometimes the needles can bend on one of the meds. Yikes.
She also suggested pinching my stomach hard when I do the injections to take my mind off the stinging of the meds. The one shot I am not excited for (okay, I am not excited for any of these injections) comes after the IVF procedure. I get to inject an oil dose of progesterone in my rear for the first six weeks of pregnancy. It makes sense. My body will not be aware that it created a baby (because my body will not be creating a baby) so it will not know to produce progesterone. I have to do the shots until the placenta can take over.
22 June, 2016
I don't have much to report. Birth control cannot hold me in its hormonal snares this time, apparently. Husband and I painted yesterday. I hung out with baby brother and we Dr. Who'd it up. I found that my cough is better when I am outside so I weeded the front garden, much to the admiration of my neighbor. Lots of tiny weeds grew while we were gone.
Well, wasn't that an exciting post?
21 June, 2016
After I take my first round of pills and vitamins, I plop the rest in the bowl to remind me I still have to take them. Let's face it: I am a busy person. (Okay, I am not terribly busy in the summer, but life is more fun with a pineapple bowl.) I do not want to forget how many vitamins I have taken.
20 June, 2016
Today is cycle day 3. Up until this point, I have taken one baby aspirin, four prenatal vitamins, and three Coenzyme q10 tablets. Today I added one pill. I am now taking a birth control daily for ten days. "Birth control?" you think. "She desperately wants a baby and she is taking birth control? Wow, her clinic must be getting it wrong." By taking birth control for a short period of time, it will line up all my eggs, getting them ready for the big race of seeing how many we can get to be nice and plump.
Not much else to report here. I am slightly nervous to see how hormonal I get on birth control because during the three months I took birth control at the beginning of my marriage, I was not myself. I hope the fact that I have taken many other hormones over the last six months will boost my chances of not becoming a crazy hormonal beast.
Because I came home early from my trip means that I get to attend a shot class offered by my clinic. I will go on Wednesday to watch them demonstrate how to successfully stab myself with metal.
18 June, 2016
IVF is about to start. Today is cycle day one. It is also the day we cut our European vacation short. I never thought I would cut a vacation (let alone a European vacation) short, but it made the most sense. And now because I am in the Detroit airport for a few hours, I will recount in depth why the vacation is concluding now instead of five days from now as per the plan.
On Monday, I woke up with a sore throat and small cough. I thought nothing of it as occasionally I get a sore throat and/or cough during the school year and the majority of the time, it dissipates quickly.
Tuesday, the cough worsened. Still not a problem. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Wednesday was bad. I was incredibly sore when I woke up and I ached all over. I alternated between having a fever and having the chills. The cough was getting bad and had a bark to it. I took a nap in the afternoon, woke up abruptly, dashed to the bathroom, and watched as the contents of my stomach poured out of my mouth. I hate throwing up. I hadn't thrown up for four years when I had a bad case of food poisoning. It was also around this time that I started getting nasty it-looks-as-though-I-lost-an-appendage bloody noses.
Thursday I lost my voice. I went from whispering to talking in my squeaky and quiet voice. My little brother and I were at the airport, getting oyster cards for our group. Standing in the line, crazy coughing began and it suddenly turned into me throwing up. Baby brother and I eyed each other, my cheeks bulging as we were beckoned to the next pay station.
Friday night was the most intense. I had woken myself up every night with coughing, but this time was different. There was hardly any time between coughs to breathe. After a few seconds of this, blood started to gush out of my nose. Then I felt my stomach churn. I'm sure I was very glamorous as I threw up while coughing with blood pouring out of my nose. This is the stuff of nightmares, people.
Today (Saturday), I have yet to throw up! The coughing comes and goes and my voice is still gone.
We wanted to continue with the rest of our trip even with my crazy sickness. However, husband's dad had a heart attack yesterday. W was worried, but my father-in-law will be fine. We still wanted to continue on the trip.
I was super worried though. This month I should be healthier than any other time in my life. This is the worst month ever to be sick. I wanted to cruise the streets of Vienna, but more of me wanted to cuddle up in bed with a book and cup of soup.
Then came our day at the airport today.
5:45 Leave apartment.
5:50 Discover the entire subway line that we needed to take is closed all day today.
6:00 Get on different subway line.
7:00 Arrive at Heathrow and go through security. Discover that our flight will be delayed by 90 minutes.
7:20 Cozy up with breakfast.
7:30 Realize the flight has now been cancelled.
7:40 Talk to a fight agent who says she cannot change our flight. We have to go through immigration to do that.
10:00 Make it through immigration.
12:15 Get through ticket line. Only option the agent gives us is to rebook the flight and arrive at 9 p.m.
12:20 We decide we're tired and would rather just go home. Delta is much more helpful over the phone than Austrian Airlines is in person. They switch our return ticket for $20. We cancel our flight to Vienna.
2:30 After rushing through the airport to another terminal, we make it through security again (they decide to look through my bag this time) and to our flight with 20 minutes to spare. Phew!
04 June, 2016
The same day as husband's surgery, we scheduled an infertility appointment at my obgyn's office as a starting point. A quick review of my file was completed as well as a fast physical. We were sent to the hospital for lab work (8 vials-my record for one day) and they said they would refer us to an infertility clinic.
A week later, the results for the labs came back. Everything looked great except for my anticardiolipin level. It was slightly elevated, not enough for a formal diagnosis, but definitely on the wrong side of the borderline.
As December progressed, we arrived closer to the date of the radiation. You see, with my husband's thyroid cancer, chemo does not do any good. A nice dose of radiation is what patients are given. It's enough to set off radiation detectors and not surprisingly, they do not allow their patients to try to have kids for 4-6 months after the radiation is administered.
As the radiation date loomed closer, I fretted increasingly. Not just because my husband was on an irritating no iodine diet (look up everything that has iodine in it) or because I was worried about how he would react to the treatment, but because I was exasperating at the 4-6 months that were too follow.
I did, however, feel extremely selfish about these feelings. In the back of my mind, I decided I had to put those thoughts aside. This was not time to focus on me.
As if he could read my thoughts, husband approached me the Sunday prior to his Friday radiation date. He offered to do a sperm bank so that we could continue our quest for offspring during that time.
We had to spring into action quickly.
Monday he called the infertility clinic and was told they could definitely help us out, but they needed a referral from his endocrinologist. The endocrinologist's office was slow to comply and did not get the referral to the clinic until Tuesday Between Tuesday and Thursday, we were able to freeze four vials of sperm. (Like the one in the form of a stuffed animal in one of the clinic's doctor's office pictured below.) I felt relieved as he went in Friday morning for his radiation appointment.
I wasn't able to get in for my initial appointment for another month. A week before the appointment, we printed off the large amount of paperwork and started writing down our medical histories. Filling in medical papers takes no time at all for me. It takes a bit longer for the husband. I dutifully finished in one night, excited and curious for what was to come.
The morning of the appointment arrived and I enjoyed sleeping in slightly. Husband and I took separate vehicles to the clinic. I recently commented to him that we had passed the building several times in our relationship (It's on the way to my in-laws) and I always wondered what was in it. Who were the types of people that went inside. I was not even entirely clear on the purpose of the facility. Now it was clear; we were the types of people that belonged there. Our story was sad, but we looked normal from the outside.
I took in the waiting room once we pulled the door open. Televisions were playing the morning news and a drink bar with snacks sat to one side. (It's a rare appointment that the husband doesn't grab a cookie or two.)
We handed our novel of paperwork to the receptionist and did the usual first-time patient stuff. My picture was taken, we handed over the insurance card, and a few clarifying questions were asked. Then, we sat down. I took in the news, and the husband probably pulled out his phone for entertainment.
Finally, we were called back. A nurse directed us out of the waiting room and into our doctor's office. I love our doctor. She is a short woman with strait blonde hair. She is always smiling and makes sure we are clear on everything. (During the last visit, she even okayed checking husband's thyroid levels because his doctor would not do it.)
We had a great chat the first time around. The endocrinologist talked us through what goes into an IUI and what the sperm levels looked like. We asked dozens of questions and she calmed us down with answers for all of them.Before leaving, she gave me instructions for the first IUI and then repeated my cardiolipin test.
The entire process was so hopeful. She gave us no reason to think that we wouldn't be able to take a baby home. For the first time in over a year, I was excited about this process instead of feeling pessimistic.
You have to have a good sense of humor to be a reproductive endocrinologist. One tip is to keep a sperm pillow in your office.
03 June, 2016
A month passed and we were approaching the last few weeks of school. My summer classes for my Master's program had started which meant sitting through 2 1/2 hours of class every day after teaching. I had also applied and been hired for a new teaching position along with my favorite teacher friend so I was also busy packing up my classroom.
I took my first ovulation test. Positive. Sweet! Then because I'm just a curious person, I took one the next day and the day after that and I kept taking them for a week, continually coming up with positives. Upon completing research, I learned that I was in a weird circumstance. I shouldn't have so many positives. I also learned that ovulation tests can pick up hcg hormone.
The day after school got out, I stayed in bed after husband got up. I was having an internal struggle, trying to decide whether or not to take a pregnancy test. I heard the husband start up the lawnmower and knew I would not be interrupted for a while so I took one.
Seriously? I was just pregnant. This was just about the earliest I could become pregnant following the nasty miscarriage. I couldn't believe it. Disbelief quickly turned into fear. What if I miscarried again? I couldn't go through that harrowing experience so soon. Also, what would the husband think if we both got excited only to be broken hearted again? I seriously considered keeping my husband in the dark until I had proof from an ultrasound image. I didn't want him to have to deal with the frustrating emotions.
Don't worry, guys. I told him. He came in the back door after mowing and we both got excited. Correction: he was excited. I was a mixture of unsure and doubt and fear. I couldn't get excited. I did not believe it.
That afternoon, I was a teeter-totter of emotions. I went from regretting choices I had made the past couple of weeks (I can't believe I carried lots of heavy furniture! Why did I eat that unhealthy food?) to fear (I'm just going to miscarry).
That evening, husband and I headed out for some frisbee golf, but before we left, I noticed some bleeding. Needless to say, I was slightly grumpy and not really into the frisbee throwing.
We returned home to lots of bleeding. At that point, I knew it was gone. Husband asked if I wanted to go to the ER or call the after-hours doctor. I reminded him that if I was miscarrying, there was nothing to be done. They would pat me on my back, give their condolences, and send us a hefty bill.
My baby sister came by with her then-boyfriend and I tried to be distracted by them. We probably played a game and had a dessert because that's what we do. I think I told her about my dilemma and she would have hugged me with sorrow in her eyes.
Sunday slowly marched by and Monday finally arrived. We eventually made it to the doctor who sent us in for lab work. (I'm such a pro at this now.) Two days later with the blood draw repeated, the call came. I wasn't surprised. Besides, I had already started grieving. I went to my class, slightly zoned out and went on with life.
02 June, 2016
The average miscarriage seems to last around 2 weeks. I guess I'm just an above average person, because my body was determined to be above average in bleeding as well. I called my doctor after a couple weeks of the mess and they didn't seem phased. They simply told me to keep going to the hospital to do lab work so we could see when all of the hcg hormone was out.
That's great, but these blood draws were costing just under $100 each and I didn't feel the need to go in every week only for a nurse to call the next day with the same news, "It went down by a bit again. I'll send in a requisition for next Thursday." (It seemed to always land on a Thursday.
When I got fed up with being poked and prodded, I finally asked if there was another option. "Well, you could take a home pregnancy test every and then when those start coming up negative, we can go back to the blood tests."
The cost was a fraction, but the pain was undoubtedly heightened. I hadn't put two and two together. I didn't even think about the fact that with heightened hcg levels, I could totally fool a pregnancy test. That's one of the worst things someone who has just miscarried can do. Take a home pregnancy test with the result being "pregnant" even though you know it's fibbing.
Spring break rolled around and the bleeding finally decided to conclude. (Read: spring break is in April. The miscarriage started in February. Blood poured the entire month of March plus some.)
The doctor's office called one last time with a cheery, "You're good to start trying again!" and I felt relief. They did not, however, prepare me for what came next.
The week after spring break, I had a field trip (and night performance) of patriotic extreme with my fifth graders. Between the exhausting school day and the even more tiring night show, I noticed the beginning of a real period. Hooray. I was normal again.
Cue the next day. My students were taking a math test. I started to feel uncomfortable. I poked my head in my neighbor's door and asked her to watch my little angels while I visited the bathroom. (The joys of teaching.)
Upon reaching the bathroom, I felt a familiar feeling. I was bleeding in a scarily similar way to when I miscarried. I wasn't sure what to do. It was too much blood for me to resume being a nonchalant school marm and I had made a mess of my clothes (thank you, black pants for not showing anything).
I rushed back to my amazing teacher (friend) across the hall from me. I cleverly avoided showing my face to the secretaries in the office as tear began to flood. My miscarriage never gave me much pain (for which I am extremely grateful and lucky) but the emotional memory was coming back in a way I could not control.
I beckoned my friend out of her classroom and quickly explained what was happening and that I had no idea what to do. This is why I chose to move to a new school with her. She is so loving and understanding. She has been one of my biggest supports throughout this emotional journey. She went into action, grabbing my bag out of my classroom and then shepherding me down to the office. She had a few quiet words with our main secretary and then pushed me out the door with said secretary. (Much to the horror of one of our aides watching from the sidelines.)
I was walked to the secretary's truck and she calmed me down as she drove me home. (I did insist on having a towel between my blood-soaked pants and her truck's worn seats.) She eventually got me to laugh during the twenty minute drive as I apologized profusely for living so far away.
She dropped me off and even came back a couple hours later with dinner for husband and me. I have amazing co-workers.
The heavy bleeding concluded that night and I felt relief after doing research. The first period after a miscarriage is no joke, people.
01 June, 2016
There are so many fun colors on the calendar I was given today by the IVF specialist assigned to me. Granted, if I was in charge of choosing the colors, I probably would have chosen a lighter shade of green, a nice teal, and a coral. It would look much more adorable. We met for almost two hours today discussing what is going to happen and the order of events and all the drama and drugs that come with this procedure. We left with a navy folder packed full of information sheets, permission forms, and the calendar below.
As we covered all the information, I realized it still has not sunk in that all these dates and drugs as for me. I am the one that gets to stab herself and stick to a medication schedule. I need to get used to the idea of needles. I am not squeamish. Much. I just cannot stand the idea of stabbing myself with a needle. Even when I am done with this organized chaos, for every single pregnancy I have to do two injections a day for the duration of the pregnancy.
"I can't do [fill in the blank with something husband dislikes]. I have cancer!"
"You should feel bad for me. I have cancer."
He is mucho fun. Technically, he does not have cancer anymore, but milking the cancer excuse is one of his favorite hobbies, right behind playing indoor frisbee and trying to tickle me.
Back in October, one of my favorite sisters got married. (I have three favorite sisters. I also only have three sisters.) I was the best wedding planner ever. As I set up for the reception, my number one volunteer (read: husband) had to ditch me to go to an ENT appointment for his chronic earaches. I didn't think much of it except that I had to assemble a gross of Chinese lanterns by myself. Upon his return, he said that the doctor was more interested in his enlarged thyroid than in the earaches.
An ultrasound and biopsy came and painfully passed. I was super chill with the whole thing. "It's not cancer. Everyone I have talked to corroborates this." He, on the other hand, was feeling opposing opinions. "It's totally cancer. I have cancer. We will have to deal with cancer!"
November 2, I was sitting in an assembly listening to a couple of people singing about topics kids care about. I innocently texted my husband to enquire as to the results. I received a call in return.
A call does not mean something happy.
You wouldn't call someone, if they were a teacher, to announce something happy and exciting like, "I don't have cancer!" You'd just send a happy text. Four words. I don't have cancer. Even better? A thumbs up emoticon.
I knew, even before I answered, what the conversation would sound like.
Thirty minutes later, my principal sent my weepy self home. I watched a chick flick and sulked on the couch.
Cancer involved a thyroidectomy and radiation therapy a month later.
Radiation therapy involved living in separate shelters for several days and then sleeping in separate rooms for several weeks. It also involved us not "naturally" trying to have kids for 4-6 months.
Husband likes to throw the idea at me that if he did not have cancer, we may not have as aggressively sought answers for our infertility problems. He may be right, although I like to think we would have been in the same place at this time even without the cancer drama.