In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Birthday Recap - The last year of my 20's.....

Well, I’ve been 29 for a little over a week now, and it hasn’t been so bad.  I used to dread turning 29, because it meant that I only had one more year till I turned 30. I know for some people turning 40 is a dreaded birthday, but I always thought that turning 30 would be worse.  There is just something about leaving the youthfulness of my 20’s that I never liked the idea of!


Recently, I’ve gained a new perspective, and turning 29 hasn’t been so bad.  Instead of, “Oh no, only so many more days till I turn thirty!”… has become, “How many more days till I turn 30!  It can come fast enough!” The reason for that is because we have started the process of adoption, and our heart is to adopt from China.  China won’t accept any of our paperwork until I turn 30, so all of a sudden I am anxiously awaiting my 30th birthday, instead of dreading its arrival.  It’s funny how twists and turns in life can change our perspective on things.


While 30 should hopefully be a big birthday for us, because we can officially get the adoption process moving with the Chinese government, 29 was also a pretty big birthday for me.  If you’ve read my blog posts lately, you know that we have been in the process of seeking fertility treatments.  It just so happened that the timing of our first IUI fell right around my 29th birthday.  When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I said that it would be the best birthday ever if our IUI was successful on the first try. It’s still too soon to take a pregnancy test, but even if the test comes back negative, turning 29 has still not been that bad;)


Here’s an Instragam recap of the beginning of my 29th year……


Like I said, the day before my birthday was spent at our doctor’s office, as we had an IUI schedule for that morning.

My husband had to leave on a business trip that afternoon, so he wasn’t home for the majority of my birthday weekL  He did buy me a new book to read while he was gone though, and gave me strict instructions to take advantage of the empty house and rest!  I missed him while he was gone, but I do enjoy my alone time when I can get it:)

I took my actual birthday off of work.  Not so much because it was my birthday.  It was more or less to take the day after the IUI to rest.  My husband did his best to make sure I rested while he was gone and arranged for me to get a massage on birthdayJ It was wonderful!  He knows I love it when I am able to get a massage! If we could afford it, I would get a massage every week!

It was a typical February day on my B-day.  And by that, I mean cold, dreary and greyL  I picked up Panera for my birthday dinner, because it is the perfect comfort meal for a cold February day that I didn’t have to cook.  I really wanted the soup and bread bowl, but I controlled my urge to consume that many carbs and just went with the bowl of soup and bread on the side;)

The rest of the night was spent reading a book with the dog by my side.  An overall quiet birthday, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way:)

When Matt got back from his trip, we spent the weekend celebrating my birthday together.  He had previously made reservations for us to go to the Melting Pot for my birthday dinner.

It was a fun, unique way to enjoy a meal together.  I personally like this restaurant, because couples are sat in a small booth/room to enjoy the meal together. I often get sidetracked  with people-watching when we go out, so it was nice to not have any distractions during our meal.

Dinner was lovely, but dessert was definitely the best!  I could seriously drink the chocolate fondue!  Of course I didn’t…..I showed some self control;)

I like to go to Ikea a few times a year to get inspired, so the following day, we had planned to go to Cincinnati.  We don’t have any Frisch’s Big Boy’s in our Indy area, so we always stop at one when we go to Cincy.  As if I didn’t have enough calories the night before;/  Don’t worry, I didn’t eat all of my meal…..that’s what my husband is for;)

I didn’t go too crazy at Ikea.  I just bought a few things for the house.  I could walk around that store all day though, so it was very thoughtful of the hubs to want to take me there. 


And that pretty much sums it up!  That’s how I turned 29.  Nothing spectacular about it, but it was pretty perfect to meJ

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Infertility Update: Why go public with something so private?

         If you’ve read my blog lately, you know that I have started being really open about a very personal part of our life.  I’m talking about that word that I never thought I would use to describe me, INFERTILITY.  Honestly, even a few months ago, I would not have used that word in a description of myself.  It wasn’t until Christmas time, when my OBGYN transferred all of my files to an RE and put me under his care, that it really hit me….that word…that ugly word “infertility” now describes me. 

            While I haven’t put together a post about our entire infertility journey, I have been open, honest and even vulnerable about parts of our journey in recent posts. Some might wonder, “Why be so public about something so private?”  I understand why some would ask that question.  For awhile, I didn’t think that I would ever talk to anyone about this subject, with the exception of my doctors, my husband and my mother.  Infertility is all too common in many women, and many prefer to be silent about their struggles.  I completely understand that, because seriously, how do you even bring something like this up with friends, family and acquaintances?  I mean, it’s not like we go to church fellowships and say, “So….we’ve been trying to get pregnant….and we haven’t been able to…..and I’ve been going to doctors…..and nothing is helping….and it really sucks.” In fact, if it wasn’t for my blog, I would probably still be silent about our journey.

            When I first brought up infertility on my blog (Looking Back on 2012 andLooking Forward to 2013), I was simply giving a brief overview of our year.  I brought up infertility, partly because when I looked back on 2012, it was the first thing I thought about.  Also in part, because sharing some of my feelings on my blog was like a free therapy session for me.  It was around that time that we were told that we would need to try IUI or IVF to get pregnant.  I was devastated.  Probably the only time that I have ever felt completely defeated throughout this entire journey was on the day that I left that doctor’s appointment.  As we entered the Christmas week, I remember telling my husband that I was seriously considering seeking some sort of therapy to help me deal with the constant disappointment and frustration of not being able to get pregnant.  When I thought about why I felt like I could benefit from some sort of traditional therapy, it wasn’t because I felt like I needed direction or counsel through our struggle. It was because I really hadn’t talked about our struggle.  I really hadn’t said the things that I was feeling out loud.  My husband, God bless him, is a very quiet man. He doesn’t always understand my hurt, and that is by no means his fault.  He doesn’t know what I’m feeling, because he’s not me.  He admits that when I talk or cry about our disappointment each month, he has the tendency to want to make my hurt go away, so he’ll hold me for awhile and then quickly try to change the subject or distract me from my reality.  I’m not saying that my husband has not been there for me, because he certainly has.  I’m just saying that there is something very comforting about the idea of sitting across from a complete stranger and telling them your story in a very honest and vulnerable way without any interruptions.  For me, the few posts that I have written on my blog about this subject have helped me be honest and vulnerable.  It’s helped me to express my feelings and deal with what has been put before me.  I’m not the most verbose person.  I express myself when I write.  Writing about our struggle has become my therapy.

            If I need to write my feelings down, why not just journal my feelings and keep them to myself?  Well, I have surprisingly found that there is also something very therapeutic about making others aware of my situation.  There were a few reasons I wanted to bring awareness to others. For one, I didn’t think that I could handle many more people asking me that dreaded question.  You know the one I’m talking about.  “So when are you and Matt gonna have kids?”  I know that it is a common question to ask a couple once they’ve been married for a certain amount of time, but my situation has taught me that it is probably not the best question to ask when getting to know someone.  You never know why a couple has or hasn’t started a family, and that question can lead to some awkward conversations that a person may or may not be prepared to talk about.   I know that people always ask that question with the best intentions, but there were times that I had to fight back the tears and simply look down and say, “oh, someday hopefully” and then purposefully change the conversation. Since I’ve made our situation known, not one person has asked me that “dreaded question”, and that in itself is a relief.

            Other than avoiding awkward moments, I wanted to make people aware of our struggle as we began to pursue the possibility of an IUI, so they would know how to pray for me.  I expressed this in the following post:  Infertility update: IUI scheduled forFebruary.  I believe that prayer is powerful; it does have the power to change.  There are numerous people I know who desire to know how to pray for me.  How will they know if I don’t tell them?  I wasn’t necessarily asking them to pray that we get pregnant.  It was more or less requesting that people pray that God gives me the grace to accept the situation He has given us no matter what the outcome.

            Lastly, I found that making people aware of our situation had the potential to help others going through the same thing.  Whether it is someone that I don’t know contacting me through my blog or someone that I do know reaching out to me in confidence through other forms of communication in my real life, I have learned that there are plenty of others walking a similar journey.  A journey that has its ups and downs, full of heartache and can often feel very lonely.  Some women have reached out to comfort me and in return have found comfort by simply sharing their story with me.  I have found that everyone’s infertility story is different.  Whether it is someone who has journeyed through rounds of IUI or IVF without success, or someone who is trying to get pregnant but has been told by doctors to try for a full year before having tests done.  I’ve learned that hurt is hurt and frustration is frustration.  In all cases, a woman is desperately trying to do what her body was designed to do….get pregnant and sustain a pregnancy…..yet for whatever reason her body is not cooperating.  Sharing our stories with one another doesn’t take away the hurt, but it does lessen the loneliness.  The very possibility that my few personal blog posts have perhaps lessened the lonliness of others walking through their infertility journey is more than worth being public about mine.

            Other than using the blog as my free therapy session, I’ve also decided to blog so that I could educate others about some of the medical aspects of infertility.  I have several fertile friends who had no idea how much goes into finding out that someone can’t get pregnant on their own and how much more goes into doctors trying to help get someone pregnant.  I find that people are just in general curious about the process once you’ve gone public with it.  For example, once we announced that we scheduled our first IUI, I later decided to explain our IUI on my blog  (InfertilityUpdate: Explaining an IUI), rather than explaining to thirty different people, thirty different times.

            So that pretty much sums it up.  I’ve gone public about a private matter to express my feelings and bring a little therapy to myself as we journey through infertility, to encourage others who are walking or have walked similar life journeys and to educate people who have never had to walk this journey.  There will be more posts to come on this subject, I’m sure.  I’m less than a week away from finding out if our IUI was successful.  I know I’m really putting myself out there by sharing the outcome of the procedure on my blog, but I’ve come to accept that it's just a part of my story….a story that I am realizing is mine to embrace and share.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Infertility Update: Explaining an IUI


In previous posts, I’ve mentioned our struggles with infertility.  In my last update, I let you all know that we had our first IUI scheduled for today.  For those of you unfamiliar with fertility terms, an IUI is commonly called artificial insemination or intrauterine insemination.  In today’s post, I’ll try to inform you about the process of an IUI, why we have chosen to proceed with an IUI and the differences between an IUI and IVF.

The process of an IUI combined with hormone therapy:
When going through fertility treatments, ovulation stimulating drugs are to be taken orally on cycle days 3-7 to prepare the body for ovulation. Clomid is the most common of these drugs, but doctors are increasingly having more luck with a new drug called Femara.  You can read more about Femara here.  The past two months I have been working with an RE (reproductive endocrinologist) who is a firm believer in Femara.  He believes that my chances of pregnacy are good with up to three rounds of Femara combined with an IUI.  I find that I have fewer side effects with Femara and prefer it to Clomid.  Femara works differently than Clomid by secreting the production of estrogen in the body during the time it is taken.  It also does not linger in the body once the user stops taking it.  As a result, the body works overtime to produce a surge of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) once the medicine is no longer in the system; therefore, forcing the body to grow good follicles by mid-cycle.  I have ovulated like clockwork on cycle day 14 with this drug.  Femara is also known to produce super ovulation (more than one follicle), which can sometimes make for a more painful ovulation.  I can say that unlike any other month with or without drugs, I have had noticeable, slightly painful yet bearable, ovulation cramps with Femara, which I consider to be a good sign. 

After the ovulation stimulating drug does its job, a mid-cycle ultrasound is scheduled to see how well the drug performed.  The ultrasound is commonly performed on cycle day 12 or 14, but if one gets a positive OPK prior to those cycle days, an ultrasound is to be performed immediately.  I would say that most women who are actively trying to get pregnant, fertile or infertile, are familiar with OPKs (ovulation predictor kits), which can be purchased over the counter in any pharmacy.  While taking Femara, I have gotten a strong, positive OPK both times on cycle day 14, which is exactly what my RE likes to see. Today was my cycle day 14 ultrasound.  These ultrasounds are transvaginal, much like a first pregnancy ultrasound; only instead of looking for a fetus, doctors are looking at the uterus and the ovaries to determine how fertile a woman’s body is that month.  They measure things like the uterine lining, and of course they are looking for mature follicles on the ovaries. Mature follicles burst once they grow to a certain size, releasing an egg that is ready to be fertilized. This month, Femara helped my body produce three follicles, two on my right side and one on my left.  While I would have liked to have seen more follicles to increase my chances of pregnancy this month, I'll take what I can get. One follicle on my right side was considered a dud, only measuring 10 mm; however, we had a winner with the second one on my right side, measuring 22 mm!  That measurement told us that I had a very mature follicle ready to burst at any time, so I was really happy with that number!  There was an instant feeling of relief once they read that measurement to me, because if I didn’t have any mature follicles, we couldn’t proceed with the IUI today.  The follicle on my left wasn’t as big as the one on my right, but it was still considered mature, measuring 17.5mm.   If the follicles look good in the ultrasound, a woman typically is given an HCG trigger shot.  HCG is the pregnancy hormone, and when injected into the body at the time of ovulation, it forces the eggs to release, usually within 24 hours from the time the hormone is injected.  The only time I have ever had a positive pregnancy test is when I test the HCG out of my body. It usually takes my body less than a week to test out.  Even though I know I am not pregnant when I’m testing HCG out of my body, just seeing the positive on a test makes me a little happy….crazy, I know:/

This month, for the first time, we took our fertility to a new level by scheduling an IUI. An IUI is typically performed a day after the trigger shot.  In my case, we performed it the same day, because my husband will be out of town for a few days.  After my ultrasound results this morning, we got the green light to continue with the IUI.  To do this, my husband had to give a sperm sample.  Once collected, the sperm is washed to give us the best chances of pregnancy.  You can find out more about sperm washing here, and why it is so important to do when performing an IUI.  I was actually shocked when I saw the vile of washed sperm they were putting in my body.  It was only .5 ml!  So small, yet so potent….that’s how my doctor put it:) It looked like the size of the tip of my pinky finger; yet they say that it is common for some of it to come out after the procedure, because the uterine cavity can only hold so much!  The sperm washing takes 90 minutes, so we were told that we could leave the premises during that time to grab a cup of coffee or something.  90 minutes later, the actual IUI can begin.  The procedure is somewhat uncomfortable, but fairly quick and painless.  Basically, the vile of washed sperm is put into a catheter, and then inserted into the uterus. Once finished, the only instructions given are to lie down for 15 minutes and take it easy the rest of the day.  You can go here to have a youtube video explain it in an easy, textbook sort of way.

Like previous months, I will finish my cycle by taking 200mg of progesterone daily, beginning 72 hours after ovulation and finishing at the time pregnancy is achieved or a new cycle begins.  My body does not make enough progesterone on its own, another unfortunate factor in in my infertility. The progesterone supplements give my body a better chance of achieving implantation and sustaining a pregnancy.  Progesterone supplements can be taken orally or vaginally, it just depends on the doctor.  My OBGYN always prescribed them orally, but my RE prefers his patients to take them vaginally.

Why we chose an IUI:
We chose an IUI, because the past four months of hormone therapy alone have failed.  It is important to say that an IUI can be done without hormone therapy, but when combined with hormone therapy the chances of pregnancy are higher.  Considering that the reason for our infertility is that my body is unable to ovulate like it is supposed to do, hormone therapy is a must for us no matter what.

The differences between IUI and IVF:
There is a big difference between IUI and IVF.  IVF, commonly called in vitro fertilization, is much more complex than an IUI. In IVF, the eggs are extracted and combined with the sperm in a dish, and then put back into the woman's uterus; whereas during an IUI, the sperm is simply injected into the woman's uterine cavity, bypassing the cervix.  Rather than having me ramble about a procedure that I have not gone through, you can read more about IVF here or watch a youtube video here.

Aside from the actual procedures being different, IVF has higher statistics resulting in pregnancy.  I believe that the latest statistics state that a woman has a 50% chance of getting pregnant with IVF; whereas a woman of my age only has a 20% chance of getting pregnant with an IUI combined with hormone therapy.  My chances are obviously much higher with an IUI than without one, but not nearly as high as going through IVF.

One big difference between an IUI and IVF is the cost.  My RE told us that one round of IVF cost $10,000.  Anyone struggling with infertility knows that it can take several rounds of IVF or IUI to get pregnant, and in some cases women may never get pregnant.  An IUI cost $500 for the procedure/sperm wash, $300 for the ultrasound and $200 for the HCG trigger shot. We walked out of the office today paying around $1,000 for the day, which is obviously much less than IVF. Because fertility is often not covered by insurance companies, we don’t get a break on the cost.  My husband has a good job working for a finance company downtown, and like nearly everyone else struggling with infertility, we don’t have any coverage for fertility treatments. I’m gonna get on my soap box for one minute here…bear with me:  my husband and I are fortunate that we are in a position financially to be able to afford all of the treatments that we have done up to this point, but I get really frustrated when I hear about the government using my tax dollars to pay for other people’s abortions at institutions like Plan Parenthood…..or when I hear about companies being fined, because they believe that it is morally wrong for them to pay for their employees to use the morning after pill, which could possibly terminate early pregnancy. Yep, for someone like myself who is paying A LOT of money to try to conceive a child, I get really irritated when insurance companies don’t help pay for people to get pregnant, but the government has no problem terminating pregnancies for free! I’m obviously pro-life….read my blog much and that wouldn’t be too hard to figure out, but whether one is pro-life or pro-choice, I just think there is a glitch in the system….that’s all….stepping off of my soap box now.

Lastly, a couple is given more control over the outcome when they choose IVF.  Whenever you hear about women who have 6-8 babies at a time, it is usually from an IUI.  In an IUI, you have no control over the amount of follicles that could potentially become fertilized by the sperm.  Some women produce six follicles thanks to ovulation stimulating drugs. While only one of those may release an egg and be fertilized, there is a chance that all six will be fertilized.  In my case, I only produced three follicles this cycle, one was bad, one was decent, and only one was considered a really good follicle.  It’s safe to say I’m not going to have six babies if I get pregnant this round;) In fact, with only one really good follicle, I'll be lucky to get pregnant at all this month.  When a couple chooses IVF, they can choose how many and which follicles to extract from the body, giving them more control over the situation.

I hope today’s post helped some of you understand more about what my body is going through from a medical standpoint.  I now begin the dreaded two week wait before finding out if today’s procedure was successful.  There is still a very good chance that we will not end up pregnant this month.  I am preparing my mind for that very real possibility; however, there’s nothing wrong with hoping, and I’m certainly hoping that we have a successful month.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Infertility Update: IUI Scheduled for February

       Well, I haven’t been on the blog in a month.  In my last post, I briefly mentioned our struggles with infertility throughout 2012, and how we had some big decisions to make about continuing fertility treatments and/or beginning the process of adoption in 2013.  This post is just a quick update about those decisions. 

          Let’s talk about the adoption update first.  We’ve decided that now is the time for us to step out in faith and begin the process of adoption! Even if we had the ability to have biological children without any difficulty, adoption has always been a first choice for us.  It is something that we knew we would eventually do for our family.  Considering the amount of time and money that an international adoption takes (for us $30,000 and a minimum of 2.5 years), it just made sense for us to begin our adoption journey now. Adoption is going to be a long process, and we are only at the beginning.  While we are excited about it, the actual “bringing a baby home” is so far in the future that it is difficult for me to get too excited about it at this time.  Unlike our journey through infertility, I plan on blogging about our journey through adoption as we go through it, so I’ll share more adoption details in later posts.
          Adoption is a wonderful thing, and I can’t wait to bring our baby home from China (if the Lord wills); however, adoption does not take away my desire to have children naturally. I have a strong, equal desire to journey through both adoption and pregnancy.  It is our goal to grow our family both ways if we are able, which brings me to our infertility update. In my last post, I mentioned that we were meeting with an RE in January to discuss the possibility of an IUI, after my OBGYN told me that there was nothing more that she could do for us.  The RE had me try a new hormone medicine in January, which failed to result in pregnancy; therefore, we’ve decided to schedule our first IUI this month for the morning of Monday, February 18.  I’m really praying that the IUI is successful, because in the previous four months of medical treatments the following have failed: one failed month of progesterone (LP); two failed months of Clomid (CD3-7), follicle studies with HCG trigger shots(CD12) and progesterone(LP); one failed month of Femara (CD3-7) and progesterone (LP). If my CD14 ultrasound shows mature follicles this month, we’ll proceed with a trigger shot and an IUI on the same day.  If my follicles don’t look mature, then we will not be able to do an IUI this month due to my husband going out of town for the remainder of my fertile days.  I had some concern about doing both the IUI and the trigger shot on the same day, but my doctor tells me that it should be fine.  Usually an IUI is a day after the trigger shot, but my husband is leaving for a business trip on CD14 and will be gone for four days, meaning that it’s all or nothing on CD14.  If any of these terms sound confusing to you, I promise I will explain what it all means in detail when I write a later post about my journey through infertility.
          I’m not nervous about the IUI.  The procedure itself should be quick and easy.  I am, however, nervous about the results of the IUI.  There is a lot riding on this IUI for us this month both financially and emotionally.  Financially, the IUI is $500.  Add that amount to the usual $500 we’ve been spending on hormone therapy each month, and we’re looking at $1,000 for fertility this month.  Matt tells me not to think about the money and to just concentrate on relaxing and praying that the procedure works for us.  An IUI cost much less than IVF (10K).  Even so, we’ve spent more than I would have ever hoped to spend on fertility between numerous test, procedures and treatments.  The emotional investment this month is more concerning to me than the financial one. Emotionally, I will be crushed more than I usually am if this month doesn’t result in a pregnancy.  Each month of disappointment is more difficult than the last, but I’m absolutely dreading the very real possibility of another negative test this month. 
          Before I end this post, let me say that it has been too painful for me to blog about each detail of our infertility as we’ve gone through it.  After this month, I am hoping to take time to sit down and write my entire infertility story.  I’m waiting until the end of this month, because we are taking a break from fertility treatments if we do not get pregnant this round.  My body has been through a lot, as I am now on my fifth month of hormones.  Emotionally and physically, I need to take some time off after this round, before scheduling another IUI in a few months if this month’s IUI fails.  We are hoping that this month will result in a pregnancy, and our journey through infertility will come to an end.  Unfortunately, I am more than used to the disappointment of not getting pregnant month after month.  The reality is that this month could quite possibly end with more disappointment.  Please pray that the IUI goes well, and that God gives me the grace to accept the outcome of the procedure, no matter what it may be.