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.
I couldn’t have possibly imagined just how much of a toll this journey really was going to take on me. I thought I could just whiz through month after month hoping for the same result and when it didn’t happen, we would just carry on. There was no way I could have prepared myself for just how much it would hurt. I know people have been through more than we have and kept on going but after 2 failed IUI’s I (we) needed a break.
We decided after our last negative we would take a trip. Take some time away to recharge and decide how we would move forward. You try and find an affordable option on one weeks notice to somewhere that doesn’t have Zika. It was tough but we landed ourselves in Lisbon, Portugal. It was exactly what we needed. We explored and enjoyed all the city had to offer. We did day trips and saw some pretty incredible sites. We slept late and ate what we wanted and just enjoyed each other. I didn’t cry. I didn’t stress. I didn’t even really think about anything to do with baby. I just enjoyed the time I was given to be alone with my husband again. I didn’t think after Thailand we would have a trip like that for a while but we are in a situation right now that we can’t control. What we can control is the moments we have to just be us because, afterall, it’s only ever been just us two. We know that will change one day and will welcome it with big open arms but also recognize we will always need time just for us.
We are now back and starting IUI round 3 in a little under two weeks. I have mixed emotions as I do each cycle but will continue to move forward being cautiously optimistic. All we can do it take it cycle by cycle and if more failure means other life experiences, I think we will get through this just fine.
Growing up for us on Mother’s Day always meant KFC buckets, DQ ice cream cake and fun family parties. That was usually because it was always overshadowed by my birthday (sorry Mom). With Mother’s Day approaching this weekend, there is no way I could have possibly anticipated how much harder this day would be for me. You see it’s not that I’m not happy for all of the deserving Mother’s being celebrated around me (including my own), it’s just that I long to be one.
When we knew that fertility treatments would be starting at the beginning of this year it seemed reasonable to me that by halfway through 2017 I would finally be pregnant. This is not the case. After two failed rounds of IUI, the journey is becoming increasingly harder and each month brings its own set of emotions.
While I’m absolutely thrilled for my Mom tribe, especially those celebrating their very first Mother’s Day, it is yet again a reminder that I haven’t joined the club. On the other side of that, I must also thank all of our Mom friends who allow us to be such an active part of their children’s lives. Without that, I’m sure we would feel a lot more lost.
I will put on a happy face this Sunday and spend the day with my own Mom doing the things that make us happy but deep down inside my heart will break just a little bit more. I will see Mother’s and their children around me and while it will be tough, I will stay strong. I will get through it just like any other day because, as I’ve said a million times, I WILL be a Mom. Just not this year.
My advice to my infertility sisters who will inevitably struggle on this day is to embrace it. Don’t feel bad for feeling all the feels. It’s all a part of the process and without it, we wouldn’t be able to move forward and carry on. Celebrate the day any way you would like to even if it’s not at all. But please know, you are not alone.
Or so they say. It is with a heavy heart that I sit here and write that, once again, I am not pregnant. Words you would think would get easier and easier to say, mostly due to repetition, but don’t. I tested early on Wednesday (which was way too early) because I already had a gut feeling what our result would be. Today’s beta was simply just a confirmation of what I already knew. The thing about it is I still held on to hope until the very last minute. Until I walked out of a two hour audit committee meeting and looked at my phone to see there was no missed call. No missed call and an unread email from Procrea.
I think the hardest part about this round is that we are now at an indefinite standstill. Shawn needs to see a specialist due to some other complications and we will regroup with our fertility doctor about next steps once we hear back from him.
For now, we wait. I think I had a lot of expectations when starting fertility. I knew it wasn’t going to be the answer right away but I certainly couldn’t have anticipated how much the disappointment would affect me since I still have yet to see a positive. My heart hurts. Like really hurts. It’s as if someone has punched me right in the stomach yet there is no one even standing next to me. I just feel completely broken inside and there is not much anyone can say or do to make this better (although we truly do appreciate the outpouring of support we have received).
Just know that I will pick myself back up. We will carry on and never give up until we have our sweet little babe. But today is not that day. Today we mourn another cycle gone and another negative result. Another bump in our Long road to baby.
I’m sorry, where did the last 6 days ago? Recap – I went in for my CD13 scan on Friday and triggered at 10:00 p.m. Friday night. IUI #2 was promptly at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning and wow did I feel good about it. I was already in a fairly pleasant mood when I woke up. Mostly because I was cramping which meant the Ovidrel was working. We walked over to the clinic around 9:45 a.m. and I walked through the door to see two of my favourite nurses standing there (bonus!). I then explained the cramping in my left side to which the nurse let me know I was likely ovulating and that it was a good sign it was on the left as that’s where my big juicy follicle was this month (I triggered at 2 cm this time). They brought in the washed swimmers and guess what? Shawn’s numbers doubled from last month! I was impressed seeing as it’s the same frozen stuff as the last time but this must have been a winning vial (also, good sign). All signs pointed to a way better experience than the first time. I left laughing and smiling and overall in a much better headspace.
I am now 2 days past IUI (or, 2dpiui in infertility talk) and feeling pretty great. I started the progesterone again yesterday morning and have that nailed down to an art. I am tired and cranky but I’ll blame my job for that one at the moment (kidding.. kind of ). May 5th is the big Beta day and hopefully I will have better news to report than last month. Of course if you see the martini on Instagram again, you know the deal.
Much love and hugs to everyone who has kept us going through this second round. It means the world.
At least that’s what I keep whispering to my follicles. This cycle has slowed right down. At this time last cycle I was in the bathroom at work anxiously triggering for IUI #1 while this month I still have two more days before my next follicle scan. What does this all mean? This month I have two lead follicles in my left ovary where last month I only had one. I think it’s taking a little longer for these little guys to grow because they are competing with each other. While I’m happy to have two instead of one this month, I’m not confident both will mature and have a feeling I will trigger once the leader reaches its full potential and the other “follie” will get left behind. I only really need one. I haven’t had much to report. Week #2 on Menopur has been FAR less sad than week #1 which is all I can ask for since I legit thought I was going to drown in a sea of my own tears last week. I have been keeping busy with work and friends and my second blog for Fertility Matters Canada was posted on Monday: Dear Past Self. I’ve been way more relaxed in some ways this cycle but stressed out in others. I think overall it’s working itself out though 🙂 I hope everyone had a great Easter long weekend and hopefully I’ll have news of IUI #2 soon!
And no, I’m not referring to a baby. I’d have to say that one of the toughest parts of this IUI journey so far is not being myself. If you know me you know I’m a happy go lucky gal who loves to be in the presence of family, friends and loved ones. Lately though, the thought of leaving my house most days is more than I can handle thinking about. You see I’m pumping this body of mine full of hormones and man oh man are they taking over. I find myself irritable, exhausted and depressed almost daily. I cry and cry and cry and then will eat half a chocolate bar. More often than not I don’t even know what I’m crying about (okay last night I caught up on Grey’s anatomy.. could have been poor timing). It’s as if someone else is living in my body and I have zero control over her thoughts and emotions. I know this is all part of the process and that this too shall pass but if I turn down an invite or seem off in the next little while it’s not you, it’s “her” and she’s sorry but she’s not me.
I’d have to say that some of the longest moments of my life took place between Friday of last week and yesterday morning. More so, I didn’t think time could possibly stand still until yesterday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 11:57 a.m.
I had my first Beta test yesterday to determine if the IUI worked or not. My blood was taken promptly at 7:30 a.m. and then the waiting started. Shawn and I went out to Bagel World for breakfast and then came home to watch TV and hang out. The nurse had said she would call with good news otherwise she would send an email because it would also have to include next steps. What felt like the longest 4 hours and 37 minutes EVER quickly came to a halt when I refreshed my inbox for the 400th time and the email came in. I saw the name ‘Nurse Procrea’ in my inbox and at that point, I knew what was coming next: “Hi Michelle and Shawn, I am so sorry, I really wish that I was calling you right now. Your test is negative today”. It took a couple minutes to digest. I cried almost instantly but it hadn’t really registered with me yet. I mean, I’ve had 53 negative pregnancy tests over 53 months already, what makes this so different? I carried on watching TV while reading the email about 6 more times just wishing the word “negative” wasn’t there. It wasn’t until about an hour later that it really hit me – I wasn’t pregnant. How was this possible?! I ate all the foods, stayed away from all the alcohol and the gym, did all the acupuncture and everything else I thought was going to ensure I got pregnant. But again, I wasn’t. It was then that I broke down. Like the ugly wet face kind of crying you only are capable of while watching This is Us but mixed with some anger and yelling. I was a hot mess and my heart actually hurt. Thankfully Shawn was there to talk me off the ledge. We would carry on. We would move forward. We would get through this all, together. I never really think to ask how HE’s feeling. How HE is handling all of this so then I did. As always, his number one concern is me. He hates to see me cry and even more so, he hates to see me hurt. We are okay. We spent the day doing things that made us happy (which included a lot of food and some alcohol) and we will wait a couple of days and start all over again.
IUI #2, I’m ready for you! Until then, I am off the progesterone for a couple of weeks, back to the gym and just doing the things I love. I am really looking forward to blowing off some steam this weekend and then jumping back on the saddle.
I will be a Mom.
As you can imagine I’ve had a LOT of time on my hands the past 6 days. Never through any two week wait before has life felt like 24 hours was more like 24 days. Every cramp, itch, pulse in my body triggers some sort of emotion and I’m sure the progesterone is not helping. In fact, I know it’s not because you know what? Progesterone side effects mimic pregnancy. Lucky me, right? While I’m trying to keep my eye on the prize, I am filling my days with work and my evenings with friends and family. I try to sleep as much as I can but without fail I wake up around 5 a.m. most mornings and my brain is in full blown hamster wheel mode. Lovely. I decided that once a day I will try to take a few moments completely to myself and reminisce on happy memories from the past. Today I thought I’d share this memory. This picture was taken in November 2008 (about 3 months before I met Shawn for the first time). I went on a 3-week backpacking trip across the west coast of Australia. My sister lived in Perth at the time and her and I did a 10 trek up the west coast from Perth to Broome. On my way back home I stopped in Sydney for a night and that’s when I decided I HAD to go skydiving. Thankfully a lovely friend I made on the trip arranged everything for me so when I arrived in Sydney I just had to jump on a train and 2 hours later I’d be at the skydiving spot. Keep in mind I was completely alone at this point of my trip. I arrived in Sydney a little later than anticipated that day and had time to drop my bags at my hostel and run to the train station. Luckily I made it with minutes to spare and when I arrived at my stop I called the skydiving company who sent a driver to pick me up. On our way to the location, I heard talk about the heavy winds and how we may not be able to jump that day. I felt slightly discouraged but waited to get more information. Upon arrival it was confirmed that due to winds, our jumps may all be cancelled that day and pushed to the next day. Well, that wouldn’t work for me as I was flying back to Toronto at 11 a.m. the next morning. I panicked a bit but found a nice picnic table to hang out at while I waited for the news. Finally, around an hour later, we were informed that the jumps WOULD be happening but that we wouldn’t be able to land on the beach as originally planned. YAY! I was sooooo happy but it only took about 15 minutes to go from happy to sad again. You see, there was a limited number of seats on the plane and they were only sending it up one more time that day. I was the odd woman out. There was no room for me on that plane and I was pretty upset. It was the one thing I wanted to do to finish that trip off and now I would just watch everyone else go up but me. About 15 minutes later everyone was boarding the plane when one of the reps came over to me to apologize that his colleague made an error on the count and that I in fact DID have a seat on the plane. Up, up I went and jumped from a plane at 14,000 feet above the Sydney coast. The 60 second free fall was one of the most exhilarating feelings I’ve ever experienced and I was so happy that I cried after. I remember how many emotions I felt that day and I’m glad I didn’t turn around the first time they mentioned the jumps might have been cancelled. I persevered right until the end even though I didn’t know what the outcome would be. Fast forward to current day and I find myself doing the same. It’s amazing how these little lessons that you think you’ll never apply to life again have a way of making their way back full circle. I won’t give up, I will make the jump again (maybe not from an airplane) but things seem to have a way of working themselves out sometimes.
Seriously. It’s crazy how much has happened in 48 hours. On Tuesday (mid-day) I was anticipating being monitored again Wednesday and then BAM I was told that I will trigger on Wednesday instead. “Trigger” is a shot – more commonly known as Ovidrel – which forces ovulation (something the Orgalutran had previously been preventing). I triggered in the bathroom at work on Wednesday right before lunch (that was interesting) and had my first IUI this morning. For those of you who don’t know what IUI is, it was the actual insemination of the semen in to my uterus.
We used one of the frozen samples that we had stored in October before we went to Thailand. We found out, as I was laying half-naked on the table, that they were a bit concerned with the motility (18%) and post-wash sperm numbers (1.9m) but that they’ve seen worse. This instantly brought on a mental breakdown in the room and when the nurses tried to calm me down, Shawn said (man he knows me too well), “all she’s hearing right now is this isn’t going to work”. It is what I heard. I can go from zero to the most negative person ever pretty darn quick sometimes and this morning was one of those times. I didn’t even really feel the rest of the procedure because my brain was doing 1 million other things. I left the clinic upset and angry. What was supposed to be a happy start ending up in tears. Those tears lasted for a few hours. I realized that this really is just one big old lottery. A semen and egg lottery where the grand prize is a baby (and many of you have heard me say this today). Thankfully I have really amazing friends that helped put things in to perspective for me and I eventually was able to turn my frown upside down. I had fertility acupuncture this afternoon with my ND and she put on an amazing guided meditation for me which was exactly what I needed. I left acupuncture with a far more positive outlook. It only takes ONE. ONE sperm and ONE egg. 1.9 million sperms are inside of me at the moment and that will increase tomorrow when we have our second IUI. Instead of searching for all the reasons why this won’t work, I am going to spend the next 13 days rooting for the ONE (I started by feeding it a teeny bit of my favourite chocolate). I’m not sure how much I’ll have to report after tomorrow, but I’m sure I’ll have something to share during the dreaded two-week wait!
One shout out I really need to take the time to give right now is to my AMAZING team at work. Everyone (whether a part of the legal team or not) has been absolutely incredible through this all. From working with my wonky schedule and monitoring hours to allowing me to work from home on my IUI days, I honestly don’t know how I’d manage my stress levels if I didn’t have them on my side.
We are excited to see what this first cycle has to bring and while we don’t know our outcome quite yet, we will learn from this either way I’m sure.
Much love always.