Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life Doesn't Stop

For so long, getting pregnant was the goal. I think I definitely didn't think through all the "what I'll do when I get there" details. :) So really, it's not that exciting right now. There isn't much going on. I'm hoping I've escaped the morning sickness beast for the most part, as I'm feeling much better and really wasn't that sick to begin with. I'm still so tired, but I'm managing! I have to say how wonderful Rob has been. He's really stepped up around the house and I truly appreciate it. I'm really very lucky! I finally made an obstetrician appointment, I have two (weird?) next week. I'm worried sometimes that I'm not pregnant anymore. I can't wait to be able to really see a bump and feel the baby, because it's hard not to obsess!

So I told work last week. One woman actually knew, because she knew about the cycles and how things were going. She has twins through IVF eight years ago. That support has been great! But I also told my immediate supervisor. Ugh. We don't really get along and this has not helped. He was supportive in a way, but this week he is actually pressuring me to tell the HR person and the (male) VP. I also told the owner last week. I like her, but her reaction was very "what about work?" focused. Which is fine, but I did expect her to be a little happier for me, since she also has a child through IVF and knew about my cycles.

But my supervisor pressuring me is really pissing me off. It feels like an invasion of my privacy. He's threatening to tell them for me, which is a huge breach of trust. I'm only 9 weeks! I don't see why I have to advertise yet. I only told him because I don't want to be asked to do certain sampling events due to exposure risk. This definitely hurt our already struggling relationship. Seriously, I feel very violated and offended by the way he is acting.

So work is not going well and I wish I could put it on hold to just focus on being pregnant. What a silly, self-absorbed dream, I know! :) Also, I'm a little bitter that the company is too small to have to adhere to FMLA and I get only 8 weeks (unpaid, of course). I expected more from a small, woman-owned company, to be honest. One of those times it doesn't pay to be an American woman, I guess. Our maternity benefits are just awful compared to other countries.

Sorry for the complaining post! It's raining and (surprise!) I'm tired. But I'm thrilled to be pregnant and thankful for all I do have.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Infertility - Starting with ART

So since there's not anything to really update - I'm still pregnant, as far as I know! - I thought I'd detail our experience after a year of trying to get pregnant, when we started to use Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). I hope sharing all of this can teach someone something, or at least help people understand why I can't just relax and enjoy this. Pregnancy doesn't cure infertility - does that make sense? I will always identify myself as an infertile.

After just about a year of being off birth control, I was ready to admit to myself and Rob that my body had let us down. It's a really weird feeling to not have a period naturally. I felt...broken. Combined with the many masculine changes from the PCOS over that first year, I really felt like less of a woman. I'm also the furthest thing from vain, but the physical changes had left me feeling like some Quasimodo. I could see things I didn't like in other people's eyes. So I wanted to start at least doing something proactive to get pregnant and move on with my life.

The first step was to take clomid under the care of my gynecologist. Clomid is an oral medication that works to trick the body into thinking estrogen is low, therefore stimulating the ovaries to produce the hormones necessary for ovulation. It has numerous unpleasant side effects, but I got pretty lucky with it. I had some hot flashes, mood swings, and headaches. But I ovulated! I know I did because I charged my basal body temperature every day (and because I got my period without having to take medication to bring it on).

I started suspecting I was getting some irresponsible care during my second month of clomid. Basically, it can have side effects that contradict the body's ability to get pregnant, ironically. And my doctor wasn't checking for those effects, nor was she checking to make sure I wasn't producing multiple follicles. Kate Gosselin was actually on clomid when she conceived her sextuplets. However, her doctor knew she had over-produced and told her to abstain from sex to avoid high-order multiples. Obviously, she didn't listen. And my gynecologist really wasn't listening to me or taking my questions seriously. Plus, I was ovulating, which I always thought was the huge problem, but still not getting pregnant.

After 3 months of clomid with the gynecologist, I decided to move to someone who really knew how to handle infertility: a reproductive endocrinologist. The doctor was wonderful - our first appointment in December 2009 went a long way to making me feel like someone understood my condition and how to treat it. Both of us felt a lot better after the first meeting. I started on a drug shown to help PCOS women that my gynecologist had refused to put me on called metformin, which treats the insulin resistance that is believed to cause PCOS. I started feeling better and things were looking up.
With the RE, we continued on clomid but added in monitoring of my follicles and uterine lining as well as intrauterine insemination (IUI). In an IUI, the man produces a sample that is "washed" to concentrate the sperm by removing the seminal fluid. That sample is injected into the uterus through a catheter, kind of cutting out the middleman. In this case, the vagina. :) We did 3 IUI cycles with clomid before moving on to injectable medication.
The injectables work more directly than clomid, they are actually synthetic versions of the ovulation hormones meant to stimulate your ovaries to produce high-quality follicles. It's surprising how injecting isn't a big deal after a few days. Although I did it myself occasionally, I generally had Rob do it. Not because I couldn't, but because I wanted him to realize how hard I was working on getting us a baby. But 3 injectable IUI cycles went by with no success.
Then the doctor mentioned in vitro fertilization (IVF). Whoa. That's one hell of a big step.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The First Ultrasound!

A few days late, of course, but I had my first ultrasound - and last appointment at the fertility clinic for quite a while - on Monday! We saw the baby! THE baby. Just one. :) Hooray for that!
It was the most amazing experience. It was certainly an odd feeling to go back to the office where I've received so much bad news in the past for such a happy occasion! Rob was able to get out of work early for the appointment, and I planned to work from home. We were ushered right into the ultrasound room when we got there. Heidi the u/s tech is such a sweet person. I certainly feel like I know her well, after all the times she's had to insert the good ol' dildo cam (the vaginal ultrasound, FYI). Right away, she exclaimed that there was one baby on board! She walked us through the measurements and all that could be seen. The little "cashew" (her size comparison) is measuring perfectly - right on track.
It's hard to even describe the feeling of seeing the heartbeat. I've never been so truly amazed and awed. Rob's face when he saw it was the sweetest thing ever. It is measuring at 149 beats per minute, also right on track.
So I've "graduated" from the reproductive endocrinologist. Another weird feeling! It's still just so unbelievable. Through all the treatments, you really lose sight of why you're doing it. I don't think I truly believed I would ever get pregnant.
The rest of the week has been good! I travelled some for work and it went well. I have to pack little snacks for myself, though, because if I don't eat every 2-3 hours, I feel like I'm going to pass out! I'm trying to eat as healthy as I can, but it seems like I'm eating so much more!
I know I need to get an obstetrician. That's the next item on the list.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quick cloth diaper post

I really, really want to cloth diaper when the time comes. This website is a great resource. And they're having a giveaway, so I'm posting this link because I want to win. :)


Friday, September 10, 2010

Infertility - The First Year

I was never someone who dreamed of being a mother. The idea still scares the heck out of me, honestly. Even a few years ago, it wasn't something I wanted. I'm not really sure when exactly it changed. Rob and I had been married about a year, and he was getting ready to turn 30, when we looked at each other and started the discussions. I think close friends having a truly awesome baby (quickly followed by another awesome baby) had a lot to do with it.

So we found ourselves ready to throw out the ol' birth control pills right around my birthday that year - October 2008. I turned 29.

Now, birth control pills at that point were part of my life. I had been on them since I was 15. Not for their originally intended purpose back then, I swear! Rather, to help with some of the issues I was having at that time: bad skin, weird periods, and recurrent (painful!) ovarian cysts. The Pill was my BFF for almost 15 years. It wasn't until I went off of it that I realized how "normal" it made me feel. Because - whoa, did it hit the fan when I went off!

I blew up like Violet Beauregard. Seriously. I haven't been a skinny girl in year and years, but I gained weight at an amazing pace. But in a different way than before - I was always very pear-shaped, but I started gaining a gut. My face broke out. Not in that way girls with not bad skin whine about - it REALLY broke out. Worse than even when I was a teenager. I started finding weird black hairs...one on my upper lip, on my chin, on my boob, on my "happy trail." And I started losing the hair on my head at an alarming rate.

And then there was the one non-appearance related issue, but it was a biggie: I didn't have a period. For months. I went to the gynecologist for a routine appointment a few months later, and when they asked "When was your last menstrual period?" And it was four months prior.

It didn't take long for the diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - or PCOS - to come. I was a classic case. It's one of those things that's hard to explain, but it seems to be related to the way my body handles glucose. The insulin I produce doesn't do it's job, causing the excess glucose to be stored as fat. This stimulates the ovaries to produce excess male hormones (androgens) and luteinizing hormone. These combine to cause the less-than-pleasant physical impacts as well as the annovulation. And you get fatter. And the cycle juts keeps going.

My doctor recommended trying fertility medication. But I wasn't ready. So we spent the rest of that year trying different herbs and supplements that were supposed to help, and trying on our own.

A year later, we decided to take the next step...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A little bit pregnant

I have a feeling it's going to take me a while to get the hang of updating the blog. :)

Anyway, I am back at work after a nice and low-key Labor Day Weekend. This weekend definitely brought some changes physically. I am now 6 weeks pregnant, and I'm starting to feel a little different. I've been getting waves of nausea here and there, although not enough to really affect anything. I get dizzy occasionally, too. And I find myself getting really tired without any reason! It was definitely tough to get up and go to work today, especially with the mornings getting darker and the long weekend behind me! I notice I'm having to get up and go to the bathroom much more than usual. I'm not sure if that's a symptom or coincidence.

So I didn't update with my blood test results on Thursday like I was supposed to! But my third beta was 3,396. So I have had two subsequent results that increased as they were supposed to. Apparently the level itself doesn't tell you much, it's the rate of rise that's important. So I went from 82.5 to 216 in 48 hours (it's supposed to double in 48 hours, so that was good), and then from 216 to 3,396 in 7 days, which was also good.

My first ultrasound is Monday the 13th!!! Eeek. :)

So anyway, above is the first photo of the baby candidates! We transferred two because it just seemed like a gamble to only put 1 back. However, now I'm freaking out a bit at the thought of twins. I guess I never thought it would work, you know? Anyway - I think it's just one. As disappointed as that makes my sister!
I do want to write a long post about our journey to get here. I have hesitated, though - it seems too soon to look back as if we've succeeded, really. Plus it'll be a pretty long post. So bear with me.
It made me a little sad at first to miss a big trip with friends this weekend, but we've been trying for this for so long that I'm happy to have a reason to take care of myself. :)