fall apart, start again

Yesterday we found out our third and final IUI had failed. To be honest, I knew Tuesday. Monday night I started to spot which, in some cases, can mean implantation or could just be good old Aunt Flow rolling in to town. I feel as if I know my body and I knew what was going down. Tuesday morning I woke up with stronger symptoms and pretty much knew we were out. To confirm, I took a test that morning just so I could start to prepare myself. The thing is, you can’t prepare yourself for the feelings that overcome you when things don’t go your way. 

I never thought that our first IUI would be our answer. I knew conceiving was something we were going to have to spend a little more time fighting for. I also did not think that IUI wouldn’t work for us entirely. I remember thinking to myself that this was just the extra little push we needed to conceive, and then it failed all 3 times. 

The past few days have been filled with every emotion possible. I had my blood test yesterday to confirm that we, in fact, were not pregnant. Then I had my IVF appointment 2 hours later. We will start in the next 3 days or so. 

IVF is a far more invasive process. One I will definitely get in to in more detail one day soon as I also have a lot to learn. I’m trying to take comfort in knowing that there is a higher success rate with IVF and that we are getting closer to our sweet babe every day. 

We could have never imagined this would be our path but it is and we will continue down it until we reach where we are going. 

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“just relax and it will happen”

The dreaded sentence. The sentence that people just throw out there without actually thinking about how it affects the infertile person you’re saying it to. Contrary to popular belief, I am actually a very relaxed person. I may seem busy to most people at times but there are few moments where I’m truly overwhelmed.

Last month we took a cycle break and booked a very last-minute trip to Portugal. I cannot tell you the number of people who made comments like “well maybe now you’ll get pregnant” or, “watch, once you’re relaxed and on vacation it will just happen”.

Well, it won’t and it didn’t.

I decided to use last months cycle as an example and hopefully bring more awareness to infertility. Infertility is a reproductive disease and I don’t know many diseases that can be cured with sunshine and a couple of sleep-ins. I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from Crohn’s disease as well. It’s funny how no one thought to tell me my chronic illness would be cured on my trip. Because that’s not a thing.

I was the most relaxed I’ve been in weeks on our trip. I completely disconnected from work and (most of) the outside world. We went on spontaneous adventures, took in all the sights, ate all the food, got all the sleep I could have wished for and just took it easy. I also ovulated. My fertile window just happened to fall right in the middle of our trip. When I was relaxed. And on vacation. I didn’t even know it until I was walking down the street in Lisbon and started having pains. I checked my app and sure enough it was that time.

We did all the things that we needed to do to conceive while on our trip (not even knowing I was going to ovulate) and surprise, still not pregnant! Well, not surprise to us. We know that what we are dealing with can’t be cured on a beach on the other side of the world. We know that assisted fertility is our only chance of becoming parents.

next stop, iui #3

It has occurred to me recently that while I am fully fluent in all things infertility, the majority of you aren’t (and trust me, that is SO ok….). As we are approaching IUI #3, I thought I would take a moment and actually explain what a full IUI cycle looks like for us.

As some of you may know, every cycle starts with a period making the first day of my period cycle day 1 or, CD1. On or around CD3, I go for a baseline ultrasound and blood work. I have a full bladder ultrasound as well as a transvaginal ultrasound. These ultrasounds take place at a clinic about 5 minutes from our house on a first come first served basis between 7:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. I have arrived at the ultrasound clinic as early as 6:20 a.m. so when those doors open at 7:00 a.m. I am somewhere in the top 3 in line to get in and out. After the ultrasounds are done, I then head to Procrea (our fertility clinic) for my CD3 blood work. From there, we wait for the nurses instructions but it usually includes me starting my injectable medications that night.

So far my protocol has involved 3 injections: Menopur, Orgalutran and Ovidrel (I will explain each as they come up). From CD3 usually until about CD13 I take a daily injection of 75 units of Menopur. I think I’ve explained before that Menopur “contains follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone activity. These hormones stimulate healthy ovaries to make eggs”. In other words, Menopur helps my follicles grow. Around CD6 I will have another ultrasound to see how my follicles are developing. For example during our first IUI cycle I only had one follicle on each side and only one actually grew large enough that we triggered (at about 1.7 cm). During our second cycle I had 3 follicles but, again, only one made it to 2 cm and we triggered. Our doctor will not let you trigger if you have 3 or more mature follicles due to risk of multiples and I’m okay with that. So around CD10 or 11 I start another injection called Orgalutran. Basically that stops me from being able to ovulate on my own (since I actually do ovulate on my own). They do not want me to ovulate until I have at least one mature follicle (being anywhere from 1.7 to 2 cm). So from that point until I trigger, I am taking two injections each night (Menopur+Orgalutran). From around CD11 on I never know how often I’ll be monitored as it all depends on my follicle(s) growth. Once I reach the point that my follicle is ready and it’s go time, I stop the Menopur and Orgalutran and take my final injection – Ovidrel. Once I have taken that injection, I will ovulate within 36 hours and that is when we schedule my insemination. So far, Shawn has not had to provide a sample on insemination day as we have been working with the sperm we froze before our Thailand adventure. That is about to change. FINALLY after 6 long months, Shawn is deemed Zika free (not that he had it in the first place but that is how long a male has to wait after returning from a Zika country). This month we will use a fresh sample for the first time.

After the insemination, life carries on like normal. The next morning after the procedure I start taking progesterone twice a day and that’s a whole other can of worms that I can get in to if you have questions but it’s probably my least favourite part of all of the steps of this. I think I’ve mastered it now and while I can’t control the side effects, it’s seemingly more pleasant than when I first started.

We then wait about 12 days after the IUI to have our pregnancy test and so far, both have been negative. This will be our last IUI before IVF and if we get to that stage, it will be a whole new protocol with many more steps and a completely different injection list. So for now, this is what we go through on a monthly basis to bring us that much closer to our babe. It’s exhausting (emotionally and physically) but there isn’t a single thing about the process I would change except maybe getting a positive on our next pregnancy test.