Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I'm Not Pregnant And what I learned

The latest fertility treatment didn't work we timed it exactly took clomid which produced levels indicating that two eggs were ovulated (done via blood work).  This time around I tried some home remedies such as taking low dosages of musenex to thin the mucus to help the sperm get through and increase the chances of it attaching, and chiropractor. 
It really really sucks.  I've really want to cry about it, but haven't yet.  I've thrown myself entirely into my work.  I've written a GED Handbook to train our very new team.  The book contains 20 pages, most of  which I have collected the material and typed into an easy to read format.  I provided a 2 hour presentation to our team today and really felt that I covered a lot.
When I started the GED team, my manger gave me a caseload of 85 customers.  Prior to this, I had NO experience with the DWS training procedures.   I arranged school visit, went to orientations so I knew times and locations to send customer.  I also had to to learn to interpret the TABE scores and provide  customers with information accurate interpretations.  This all start when I got the bad news that we were going to have major issues conceiving,  Looking back, I understand that my purpose duing this time was that I needed to help customers get their GED's and make sure I had a solid knowledge of the program myself.
retreatedmyself in my work.   My program went region wide and I'm proud of how successful we have been and it helped me cope with the disappointment as I knew I was making a difference in peoples lives and the lives of their children.  Each time they think of their schooling experience, I know I have a part in that accomplishment and no matter what happens with my fertility or adoptions , its a great blessing to serve others and truly learn to love those you service.
After 3 IUI treatments failed, the first one with a miscarriage.  I needed a break so I book a one way first class ticket to Washington DC.  My sister in law was  living there, I missed them and need a break so I took 3 weeks off to gallivant across the USA.  After week of fun and amazing experiences I headed off to St Thomas, the US Virgin Islands,  It was amazing. Check the photos on my facebook page.   This is defiantly something I couldn't do with children,  A months later Mikey went to St Thomas for 3 months to find himself.,  Turned out to be an amazing time for him and when I joined him 2 weeks that we actually could talk comfortably about our future.  It was nice to have the time the time to work on our relationship and I count that as as another reason reason that I didn't have a child.  I had time to find the real Maren and I've changed so much,  I'm stronger, fear doesn't make my decisions, and I have the answer as to why God said no to a baby at this time.
Then we started trying again,  First one ended in a miscarriage,  We tried another two times but no success. I'm starting to see that my projects (trying to get tutoring for my customers) and its training to an intense project that I will help progress my career, so there is another positive,  Mike also started school so the timing wouldn't have been great.  And so I'm thinking that maybe a nice trip will be in order.
So to all my friends who struggle with fertility or having a hard time finding a spouse, be patient and God will show you why you have this trail and find ways to serve those others around you and do activities that you could not due with child or a spouse.  Take a trip,  Buy ridiculously expensive item. 
Know that god is watching over you and will lead you on the right path and you have to be willing to hear him,  I love my friends and family and if you need the support, let me and I'll there holding your hand.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

9 days...And a in-depth desciption of fertility treatments

9 more days.  The wait is killing me!!  And my brain is super fried.  Good thing I have learned to preform well under pressure.  Plus staying busy at home and work keeps me from obsessing.  Ha Ha.  Not really.

I realized that some people reading this may not be familiar with a lot of the technical stuff that goes into diagnosing and treating infertility so I'm going to explain.   And I'm going to print this off and wave it in front of any offspring that I have (adopted or biological) when they inevitably tell me that "I don't love them".  The medical procedures and public humiliation that Mikey and I have undergone proves otherwise.

Recognizing you are having trouble reproducing can take a while.  All the Internet info will tell you that if you are under 25, don't worry if it takes a year or two to conceive, so I didn't.  By 26 I started to wonder.  We had been using no protection for years, and nothing was happening, I was starting to question if we might have a problem.  I REALLY hate going to the doctor for "female issues" though (I don't want any lectures, but I have only had 3 pap smears in my entire life ) so I kept putting it off.  Finally though, my sister in law got pregnant with after seeking medical help so I sucked it up., went in, and hoped for the same results.

The first doctors appointment is awkward.  You have to go over your sexual history in great detail.  With a total stranger.  Lots of blood tests were ordered and they have to get them done on certain days of your cycle, so for a month I felt like a human pin cushion.  All my bloodwork came back normal.  Normal levels of progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone, ect, so it was on to the next step.  Apparently any abdominal surgery can cause scarring that could potentially block Fallopian tubes and I"ve had a hernia repair surgery as an infant and my appendix out as an adult (awesome story, I refused to go to the hospital until it burst, and spent the day trying to work while periodically laying under my co-workers desk crying and throwing up when the pain got too bad.  Sorry Jess), so an HSG test was requested.  The doctor didn't tell me much about the procedure and I didn't ask.  I figured it couldn't be that bad or the doctor would have warned me.  Plus medical procedures kind of freak me out and I didn't want to give myself anxiety over nothing. HSG has some long involved name, which is irrelevant cause all you need to know is it HURTS !!  To undergo this emotionally and physically traumatic experience I first had to pay $1500.  Then I was admitted to Davis County hospital where the entire radiology department (8 people both male and female) decided to get an up close and personal view of me.  Apparently this isn't a common procedure at Davis and it was a "training opportunity".  I still cringe when I hear these words in any context.  Sitting on the freezing table, I first realized that there might be a little more to this procedure than I thought.  Then I saw the largest needle of my life.  Seriously, the thing was 12 inches long and at least a half inch wide.  When I questioned one of the many techs wandering around, I was assured that I wasn't going to be poked with the needle and given some lame excuse about the reason it was there.  Stupidly, I bought the excuse, being somewhat distracted by the large group of people staring at me while I was naked from the waist down. Apparently the needle was used to allegedly "numb" my cervix.  Yeah right.  Still hurt.

Then the procedure began.  OMG.  Worst pain of my life.  The idea of the HSG test is to inject dye into your fallopian tubes to look for blockages.  It feels like really bad period cramps unless they find a blockage.  Then they send this balloon inside and push the balloon and the dye against the blockage in an attempt to dislodge it.  That really really really hurts.   Worst pain of my life.  Worst than my appendix.  I couldn't even stand up straight for several hours after the procedure. 

The verdict?  One blocked fallopian tube.  Not good, but at least one was functioning, so it was Mikey's turn.  He had to provide a "sample" for mobility and quantity testing.  The sample had to be provided in a cup, at the doctor's office to get an accurate reading.  Poor guy. They handed him a cup and sent him to the bathroom of the Tanner Clinic.  Everyone knew what he was doing.  I probably should have been a bit more sympathetic, but I was still recovering emotionally from my HSG test and glad he was getting a taste of what I went through. 

Mike's verdict?  A very low sperm count with poor mobility.  If I remember correctly, he was at 19 million per "sample".  Seems like a lot right?  Not when normal is 40 million plus.  Male factor infertility accounts for 40% of all infertility cases.  The downside to male factor infertility is that you can't provide men with the range of medications available to women.  The doctor informed us it was time to seek out a specialist. 

Time passed and we finally decided to follow through with the specialist.  Utah fertility clinic was great.  Pricey ($350 per apt), but good.  Dr Heiner requested a special test to determine my egg quality.  I can't remember the name, but thankfully it was only a blood test.  The test determined the "age" of your eggs based on a chemical level in your blood while ovulating.  If the level is high, its indicative of polycystic ovarian syndrome, a disease in which your body doesn't release eggs during ovulation.  If the level is low, you have old eggs and it can indicate an early onset of menopause.  Apparently I have the eggs of a 40 year old woman.  I was 27 years old at the time of the test.  There is nothing that can fix this problem.  Your body only has so many eggs and when they are gone, so is your chance of having a biological child. 

The recommendation from the doctor is trying a round of Inter Utero Insemination (IUI).  This procedure involves the male providing a "sample".  The sample is taken at the fertility center, filtered to obtain only the highest quality sperm, and then the sperm is placed in a special nourishing solution to increase mobility.  Then a turkey baster is shoved up inside the woman and the solution is injected.  We tried this procedure 3 times.  The first time, Mikey's count was 10 million.  It had dropped in half from the previous sample.  The second try, the count was 3 million.  The third try, it was 900,000. 

There was no medical reason or treatment for this rapid decrease.  It's simply genetic.  By the second IUI, donor sperm or IVF was strongly suggested by the doctor.  The cost of IVF was and still is impossible for our financial situation.  Sperm donation is not something I'm comfortable with, mostly cause I've chatted with a few men who have donated or who thought about donating and that thought of my having their child (we wouldn't know the donors name, but still, I would always question it) made me realize that I'd rather stay childless.  And in some cases, if it was a case of life and death, I would rather die.

That brings us pretty much to present day.  I've had 2 miscarriages, which could be related to the poor sperm quality, my old eggs, or some other undiagnosed issue within me.  The first one was with our first IUI attempt.  It broke my heart.  The second happened three months ago in the bathroom of the Syracuse movie theater.  We stopped pursuing fertility treatments for few years after the 3rd IUI attempt because of the emotional trauma and difficulties it brought to our marriage and embraced the philosophy that whatever happens is meant to be. We started up again recently(at the time of the second miscarriage) and I've been taking a medication called clomid in hopes of producing multiple eggs during each ovulation cycle to compensate for Mikey's low sperm and my one blocked tube.  Clomid sucks.  I'm absolutely an emotional basket case.  I want to scream for no reason at times and have NO patience. It takes every thing I have not to yell at people sometimes for silly things, such as loud breathing. I've had some pretty fantastic meltdowns over the past 3 months.  Sorry Jess (just realized that there is a lot of apologizing to Jess in this) and Mikey.  You guys are rock stars for putting up with my crazy.

9 mores days till I find out if this time it will be different.  But even if it isn't, there will be some amazing lesson or reason for the failed attempt.  Just a matter of figuring out what it is. 

Next topic, relationships (cause I just didn't feel like discussing them today, but there has been a large effect on them) and adoption.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

2 Week Wait

Then next 10 days are pure torture.  10 days till I can find out if the latest round of fertility treatments actually worked. 

I've experience the 10 day wait many times.  12 times a year for the past 5 years (and that's just the time spent actively trying. I'm not including the years that I just didn't use birth control and didn't care either way) adds up.  But for some reason it never gets any easier. 

Every little cramp makes me think it's implantation.  Every time I want to throw up (probably from stress) I wonder if its the start of morning sickness.  Each time I want to snap at an innocent passerby (perhaps the start of pregnancy hormones?), I wonder.  Acid reflux?  A symptom of pregnancy.  Tender breast?  That's the first symptom most women notice.  Unfortunately, these are also symptoms of starting your period, so there is no way to knowing yet.  Hence, the horrible 10 day wait.

I know the waiting game is stressful for any couple trying to conceive, but the longer you struggle with infertility, the worst the wait gets.  People are so quick to offer advice "just be patient" or, "if it doesn't work this time, just try again next month, its fun"  Yeah, sex started out as fun and still is; except for ovulation week.  Ovulation week I am insane.  Mikey has a very low sperm count and I"ve only got one working Fallopian tube, so timing is critical. I have to pee on a stick for two weeks after I start my new cycle and when the two dark blue lines appear, its go time. Nothing gets in the way.  Mikey's sick, I tell him to take some meds.  He's not in the mood?  I don't mind getting creative. (due to the fact my parents are reading this blog,  I'm not going to give details)  Wanna know?  Just ask me.  I come with references. LOL.  I feel bad for Mikey that week because due to his low sperm count, we have to ensure he has the maximum sperm available.  The guide lines are pretty strict in how to do this  No ejaculation 4 days prior to ovulation.  've got a pretty good idea what day my ovulation falls on, so I know when to cut Mikey off, but no hanky pany on the side .  I've been told by numerous men that this is difficult.  And that happens to poor Mikey one day a week, for the past 5 years.  Also, no caffeine or wearing tight underwear or pants.  Also avoid stress.  I always wonder how, outside of smoking pot constantly, one is supposed to avoid stress. It's a part of life.

You'd think after so long dealing with infertility, I'd learn to stop getting my hopes up, but I don't.  That little part of me that still believes in unicorns never dies.  Most of the time, this is a character trait is the one I value most, but when it comes to fertility treatments it's my Achilles heel. Each cycle I tell myself things will be different.  The treatment will work, the doctor is wrong in saying that full on IVF is our only option, God will grant me a miracle since I've been patient so long, the list just keeps growing.  The devastation of the negative test is like a knife in the heart and it's not something that everyone understands.  "Be patient" or " my friend/sister/family member/or random person went through this and got pregnant as soon as they stopped trying" is the WORST advice to give to a infertile women.  The reason being is, whoever got pregnant wasn't truly dealing with actually infertility(it can take a couple with no fertility issues about 12-24 months to conceive or they had a major miracle.  It's called a miracle because that doesn't happen much.  I'm the rule, not the exception, as are most infertile individuals.  Despite this knowledge, after a week of mourning, I'm back and ready to do another round, convinced that "this time will be different"

Infertility/pregnancy is a huge factor in my life.  My job requires daily involvement with single parents, many of whom are pregnant and have young children.  Thankfully I've always felt of my customers as "my children" so dealing with them doesn't present an issue with me, but I know it has been difficult for co-workers dealing with infertility.  It affects friendships, relationships with family, and my marriage.  I'm extremely grateful that my optimism helps me rebound, but sometimes, even that isn't enough and I cry in the shower or into my pillow when the hurt gets to bad.  I know friends have suffered from this same condition, but so far, all but one has still managed to conceive biological children.  I know that one day, this couple will conceive and I'll walking the road again alone.  This is the reason I'm writing about infertility.  I feel that up to this point, I have been needed as emotional support for people and one of the reason God has give me this as a trial.  This is the only thing that keeps me sane sometimes.

Mikey's had a rough time with infertility as well.  Its a blow on a man's pride when he is unable to father a child and we've spent years in counseling dealing with these issues and the hurt on both ends. With the the severity of Mikey's issue, the doctors have informed us that realistically we would need to try IVF, but our money tree died and I can't go back and collect the $15000 needed for a money back guarantee attempt.  Without the guarantee, the cost is still $10000, if I'm spending my money, I'm getting it back if the IVF treatment is unsuccessful. 

Another thing that REALLY sucks when you are infertile is a miscarriage.  Enough said.

Sorry to ramble on, but I've got 10 days to kill.

Next up is how infertility affected my marriage and a few of the people I love most in the word.  Some of those relationships I have damaged beyond all hopes of repair, but its a good learning experience.  Wish with all my soul I could change the things that have happened, but I know I've grown a lot as a person and really had to reassess my values.  Once again, hard things have proven to be a blessing in disguise, lame but true. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

setting the stage

ok, lets start with the basics. im twenty nine and have been married for eight years. my husband,mike, is thirty.
going into our marriage, i had told mike that it may be difficult to have chldren because of a surgery i had as a child that left scarring around my fallopian tubes.  we were young and dumb and convinced ourselves that this really wasnt going to be an issue.
mike and i dated only a few months before we got married and as a result of this, and the fact neither of us had steady jobs yet, we put starting a family on the backburner while we adjusted to married life.  i wont lie and tell you it was perfect.  we had two unemployed people who didnt know each other very well.  there were definatly growing pains, and im glad we had the first three yeas of our marriage to build as a base, because what was about to happen flipped our world upside down.  during the first three years, i got a job with the utah department of workforce services which still am working at today and loving every min.  looking back, im so blessed to have the co workers and managers ive worked with because they have been my rocks.  work and the good we do in the community has helped me deal with the challenges life threw my way. mikey hopped through differerent jobs with fairly short employment and long stretches of unemployment.  the rest is a story for another day....


my husband, mike, and i have been dealing with infertility for the past five years.  its been  a struggle to put it tactfully.  i was asked by a family member to provide some insight for those struggling in this same area and it was extremely theraputic.  after i gave him the information though, i realized that there is so many additional areas of my life that have been impacted by infertility. friendships gained and lost, a floundering relationship with my husband we had to work very hard to fix, and some really poor choices that were made along the way.  but there is so much goodness anad love and little miracles along the way.    ive become a better, stronger, more compassionate person as a result of this trial.  i wouldnt change my experiences.  some of us are meant to walk a different path and right now, children arent on my path. who knows what the future holds though. whatever it is, im sure it will be amazing and exactly what i need to become a better person.
since so many people struggle with this issue, im going to tell my story. it may get uncomfortable at times cause im not holding back, but i know that others have been or will be put in these types of situations and if i can offer insight and help, then my experiences are totally 
worth it.