I have a post I’ve been meaning to finish and post, but in the meantime I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I hope everyone is healthy and happy during this holiday time. I know that for many of us it feels like a piece of us is missing, but hopefully everyone can find comfort in their friends and family and good food.
Because I work in a school, I am lucky enough to get the two weeks off at Christmas (the only time I get the same holidays as the teachers and it counts as half of my vacation time all year though). We got to leave early today since it was the last day before the break. It was also perfect because I had to go for another pelvic ultrasound. While I was at my appointment, I snapped a pic of extra wands aka the dildo cams. For those not acquainted with them, they put a condom on it and insert. I figured the pic was good for a laugh. (Click on the picture and zoom in for a better look at the actual wands)
I thought I was most afraid that the RE would say that we are unexplained. I know I would have been highly frustrated if he had, but I had recently read several IUI success stories with unexplained and I think I would have felt a bit more hopeful than I feel right now. Instead, it turns out that I have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR). This means that I have less eggs than a woman my age (29) should. In fact, quite a few less. My antral follicle count, which gives an indication of my lifetime supply of eggs, was 5. Apparently a woman in her 20s should be in the double digits and even an 11 would be considered low. Combined with my FSH of 9 which is officially good, but apparently kind of high for a woman my age, the doctor diagnosed DOR (he said reduced ovarian reserve, but all my google searches brought up DOR and really diminished and reduced are synonyms so same diff.). So basically my eggs are quite a bit older than me.
I thought I was prepared for whatever the doctor had to say, but I was wrong. As I started asking questions, the reality of what he was saying mixed with my worst fears brought tears to my eyes and soon they started spilling down my cheeks. I was a bit embarrassed and when I went to apologize for my break in composure I burst into tears. J reached over and squeezed my knee. He was quiet during the whole appointment, as he typically is (he processes emotions much more internally than I do), but this was the sign of support I needed from him.
The RE ordered more CD2 bloodwork for me and another pelvic ultrasound with antral follicle count. He wants to check to see that this AFC wasn’t a fluke and to confirm the diagnosis. J’s count and motility were good. His morphology was 4%. Apparently 5+% is normal, but the RE said that morphology criteria are becoming so stringent that the difference between 4-5% is really arbitrary and morphology results are more or less becoming unhelpful. Apparently medical studies suggest that morphology might not matter that much.
We’re meeting again on January 15 to go over those results and hear which treatment he recommends. At this point, our options are injectables with IUI or IVF. From what he has already said, I think he’ll favor IVF. At my age, my risk of triplets or more is pretty high with injectables and IUI. Not only is it a bit scary to think of trying to care for 3 newborns at once, but the risks to both myself and the babies would significantly increase. Our projected success rates all depend on how well I respond to the medication. Ideally, IUI would give us 20-25% chance of conception each round (I erroneously told some friends 13%; that was a different stat that no longer applies) and IVF would give us 50-55% chance of conception each time with 20-25% chance of live birth.
J and I discussed it more this evening. He thinks we should really listen to/trust what the doctor recommends as his top choice for our treatment. Due to finances, I think 3 IVF cycles would be our limit (before pursuing adoption). If we got lucky on the first, we’d likely try for a second child but if it takes 2-3 IVF cycles we’ll probably have to change our plans and be content with one child. I definitely think I can be happy with one child. I was an only child and there were a lot of benefits (and some downsides) to it. It would be millions and millions of times better than not being a mother at all, but the thought of being forced by my body and financial constraints to stop does make me sad. Of course, we need to take each cycle at a time and see what life hands us.
I have gone through the gambit of emotions this afternoon (which was a total write off even though I stayed at work). I have been sad, scared, making jokes, and angry. Making jokes was necessary for me to try to bring some levity to the situation and I think the sadness and fear are self-explanatory. My anger rose up in mini waves when I thought about how unjust this is. When I think of the people out there who don’t appreciate their children or treat them badly and who got pregnant without trying or paying a dime, it infuriates me. Also, when thinking of the possibility of adoption I thought about how we’d essentially be pleading with someone to find us worthy to raise their child. I understand that completely from the perspective of a birth mother, but the thought that someone might find us unworthy makes me so sad, scared, and angry because most people don’t prove anything to anyone before becoming parents (even though some should probably have to). It’s definitely not fair and nothing about it ever will be. But it is our reality, and I’d better come to terms with it so that we can move forward.
On Friday night, I went to J’s office Christmas party. It was on the casual side and held at the office (which isn’t so bad since there’s a playstation – hello Rock Band and Rap Star!), bubble hockey set, and lots of booze. The staff all had a nice lunch at a steakhouse and drinks early on and then significant others were invited for the evening. Because I was only on CD11, I decided it was safe to drink. I was dead sober at last year’s, knew next to no one, and felt pretty awkward. As sad as it is to say that alcohol helped me mingle and have a good time this year, it did. When I drink I’m not so good with limits. I get drunk pretty quick and once drunk another drink seems like a great idea. To avoid any regrettable moments or embarrassing situations, J asked/told me not to drink too much. I drank enough to be drunk and too much to avoid a hangover, but I kept it contained.
My work Christmas party is this Friday. We’re doing more of a traditional (and possibly a little less fun) dinner and dance. It’s a semi-formal event though, so I get to wear a new long-sleeved black sequined mini dress. I plan on being the DD mainly because of where I’ll be in my cycle. Considering that I don’t even really know all of my coworkers, J will definitely feel pretty awkward I think. So I’m sure he’ll be having plenty of drinks to make up for my soberness.
Since we’re in the throes of my fertility window right now, I’m reflecting on many things. On Friday at the party, I noticed some ewcm and a pretty moist (blech, hate that word) thong. I wanted to yelp with joy! Funny the little, and kinda gross, things that make our hearts soar when TTC. On more of the downside, I was thinking about how TTC (particularly prolonged TTC) sucks the passion and excitement out of sex. I so wish I could just have sex with my husband when we both feel like it. What I would really love is “I can’t wait to rip your clothes off” sex. I know that tends to dwindle in long-term relationships anyway (as anyone I know who has been with someone for 3 or 4+ years seems to be able to attest to), but there’s nothing like having to have sex to drive that point home. Because of the necessity of timed sex, it seems like neither of us is too keen on it during the “off-season”.
Continuing with the random nature of this post: I found out today that one of my coworkers, who I am quite friendly with, is 9 weeks pregnant with baby #2. I knew she was trying (as of September, 2 months before her daughter even turned 1) and I really appreciate that she told me when it was just the two of us. She didn’t really say it in a way that suggested that she was trying to be sensitive to my needs, but rather just with the excitement that she deserves to feel. I am genuinely happy for her, but of course a part of me feels like I should get a turn before everyone else makes their way through round 2. She had it so easy too. It only took 2 months each time! Maybe she’ll be my lucky charm though since she told me that everyone around her got pregnant once she was pregnant with her first, even some couples who had been struggling (wishful, delusional thinking).
Tomorrow is our appointment with the RE. Results, lots of questions, and treatment plans are on the agenda. I will be sure to post about it afterward.
If I were to change careers, and especially if I could go back to being 18, I think I would have become a midwife. Don’t get me wrong, I like what I do, but for 7 years of post-secondary it feels like it doesn’t pay enough (in comparison to other jobs with that much training) or always get the respect it deserves. Plus, I just think I’d like being a midwife. I LOVE babies and science so it would combine the two. My parents are both doctors, so I’d be in a related field (I guess I kind of am right now too). It only takes a 4 year bachelor’s degree and it pays really well (especially considering you only need a bachelor’s).
I used to think that midwives were just for the dark ages and hippies, but Alberta Health Care actually covers the fees of a midwife and it’s becoming more popular. I watched a documentary by Ricki Lake called The Business of Being Born, which piqued my interest in midwifery. The modern, western medical approach is counterintuitive to what our bodies want and need. Women lay on their backs for the doctor’s convenience, whereas a squatting position is more conducive to delivery. Also, more c-sections tend to happen around quitting time on a Friday evening or the weekends than at other times and research suggests that c-sections are often pushed to suit the doctor’s schedule rather than what is medically necessary. Considering that c-sections are major surgery with some serious risks, this is disconcerting. Also, I read before that the recovery and rate of postpartum depression are better for mothers who deliver by midwife. Part of this is likely attributed to the fact that a midwife’s role typically doesn’t end on delivery. From what I have read on the websites of local midwife agencies, they do home visits, help with lactation, and even care for the baby while you rest/shower or help with some housework. That kind of support sounds wonderful, especially since I am at increased risk for postpartum depression.
Of course, some people are still leery of going against the norm of a doctor-assisted delivery and I don’t even know which I’ll do if I’m ever so lucky as to give birth. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, then a doctor is likely the better choice, and even with low-risk pregnancies, most midwives have a go-to hospital where they’d take you if complications arose. You can even deliver in-hospital with a midwife so that if a doctor is needed, it’s easy access (that would probably be my route if I decided to go with a midwife). I’m not quite clear on where midwives stand on epidurals though. I like the idea of not having one, but I’m definitely not going to commit to not getting one. I used to always think I’d be like “drug me up as quick as you can”, but now that I am actually hoping to get pregnant and deliver I find myself questioning it. Either way, I’d like the choice to be mine to make (likely in the moment) rather than to have the option taken away by my choice of healthcare provider.
There’s also the option of a doula, who to my understanding is like a birth coach and advocate during the labor and delivery process. Doulas are not covered under Alberta Health Care, but if not going with a midwife, it could be a worthwhile expense. You can involve a doula for the process or even just afterward for the extra care and support you may need. I have some friends who have hired doulas, but I never really asked about how they felt after all was said and done.
Some people write letters to their unborn child and I’ve decided to write a letter to a baby that hasn’t even been conceived.
Dear little nugget,
I love you even though you don’t yet exist. Your daddy and I are waiting for you and we try to be patient, but it is not easy. We already know that we have so much love in our hearts that we’re ready to give to you. We know we’re meant to meet you, but perhaps you aren’t ready for us. In order to meet you, one of millions of sperm needs to find its way to a particular egg of mine. Any other combination wouldn’t lead to you. And once we meet you I know we wouldn’t be able to imagine you being any different than you are. So we all need those perfect circumstances to happen so that we can all meet and be a family.
For the last 13 months we have been trying to create you. I got really worried that we wouldn’t get the chance. So I started taking vitamins, getting acupuncture, and researching everything all the time. Now we have met a doctor whose job it is to help us find you. I believe in him and I hope that he brings you to us quickly. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to bring you into our lives. I even find myself praying when I’m not sure that someone is listening. Sometimes I even hold my belly while talking to you, even though I know you aren’t there.
I know that we have a lot to provide you, but the most important is that we will love you and care for you with everything we have. You will be a part of us and we can’t wait to see what you’re like. I will keep on loving you and from the day I find out that you’re on your way, my love will only grow.
Does anyone else enjoy teen dramas? They are definitely one of my guilty pleasures. I am a huge fan of shows on the CW, ABC Family, and Degrassi. One of the shows I watch, even though I can’t say it’s the best, is 90210. Has anyone else been watching that? If not, there is a character named Silver and she has the BRCA gene, which enhances someone’s chance of breast cancer. I forget the direct linkage, but for some reason as a result of discovering that she has the BRCA gene she has been told that if she wants kids she has to have them now (at about 20-22 years old). So she asked her best friend to donate sperm. I recognize that TV shows are often inaccurate, particularly about medical and scientific issues, but 90210’s approach to fertility issues makes me both laugh and shake my head. In one recent episode, Silver said that insemination wasn’t working so she was going to switch to IVF. First of all, she would have had time in the storyline to try one IUI (assuming she was ready for it right away) and there might not have even been enough time to know the results. Second, the show’s approach makes it sound like it’s a very quick process that happens as soon as you want it to. So she goes to talk to the doctor about IVF where she is told that the estrogen injections can cause side effects but these are rare . . . . hmm I have never had to inject hormones, but from the many blogs I read, I’d certainly say that side effects are the norm. What the show was really talking about were the symptoms of OHSS. Silver ends up developing OHSS, but have no fear, once she’s treated in hospital they immediately go in for the egg transfer and she has 2 lovely embryos waiting for her and she can “get pregnant whenever she’s ready”. I never really counted on 90210 to be my source for accurate infertility information, but the show makes it sound like it’s as easy as a pap smear. In and out, babe in arms. It’s too ridiculous to truly annoy me.