Friday, July 31, 2009


First of all, thank you so much for your encouragement. I love my bloggy friends!!! I didn't go to the support group meeting, which I think was a wise decision. Work has been really busy lately (I haven't even had time to blog!), and I've been feeling a little drained. In addition to the IVF stuff, we've also been car shopping and planning our vacation. Lots of decisions and busy-ness! (Apparently we're into spending money at the moment...our checkbook is taking a pretty big hit!)

Now for the drive-by update: C and I went to a mandatory IVF meeting at our RE clinic last night. It was amazing; such a contrast to our experience at the other RE practice! Everyone at the meeting was so friendly. The lab director gave a presentation on everything from how they ensure that the right embryos are given back to the right person to the biology of the process itself. He was very clear about the downsides of IVF; they want to make sure we know exactly what we're signing up for. He also showed video of the ICSI and assisted hatching procedures - I was truly speechless. God has created us in such a wonderful way!

I finally got my progesterone results back, too. My level was 2.4 on day 22; my RE considers 3.0 to be ovulatory. I was disappointed, but it just makes me more eager to get started with IVF. I did start a new cycle last night, and I have a call in to the IVF coordinator to get my bloodwork scheduled. My next acupuncture appointment is on Thursday. I'm hoping to get an idea of the protocol the acupuncturist uses for IVF cycles. With all the spending we've been doing, we want to make sure our budget is clearly nailed down.

So, progress. It's good.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

PMS Symptoms...Here We Go Again!

I think the crazy pregnancy-mimicking PMS symptoms are starting again. I'm prepared this time, so no BWE (blogging while emotional) - I promise! (Well, no more than usual...) My acupuncturist was really excited about everything that happened last month; she said that it shows my body is responding to the treatment. I haven't gotten my progesterone number back yet, but I am hoping that it supports her opinion.

I'm debating whether I should go to my infertility support group tomorrow night. I didn't go last month, and I don't know that I have the emotional energy to go this time around. It's the sort of meeting where you drag yourself in the door, and it's really painful while you're there, but it's also really good. The prayer time especially is incredible. Selfishly, there is part of me that doesn't want to grow too close to these ladies, because I don't want to be a permanent fixture in this group. I want to "graduate", as they put it. And now.

Maybe I will make it "a game-time decision", as C often says, and decide tomorrow on the fly. For now though...I am still at work and should probably not be blogging. My work day was supposed to end three hours ago! (It's just so nice and quiet here...)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back in the Game!

I stopped by the lab this morning for my day 21 progesterone draw. It's been quite a while since I've been poked and prodded with "real" needles (the acupuncture needles are too small to count), and while I am not a fan of lab procedures, it felt good to be back in the game. To be monitoring hormone levels, gathering data, and moving forward in a quantitative makes me happy! The acupuncture has helped me so much, but sometimes I need the tangible reassurance that western medicine gives. I am excited to have found a practice that sees value in both.


C and I went for a long drive the other night, and he surprised me. Out of the blue, he commented that he is really tired of going through all this and he's just ready for this season of our lives to be over. He is usually so stoic and silent when it comes to our infertility. Apparently, though, he's been running some numbers and thinking a lot about IVF. It was strangely nice to have a glimpse into his feelings on the subject - I certainly don't want him to hurt, but seeing his pain helps me understand that I'm not in this alone.

The end result of our conversation is that we will probably do IVF sooner rather than later. I am much more comfortable with the new clinic, and financially we can swing it. If my progesterone level suggests ovulation, we may do one more cycle with acupuncture only. Timeline-wise, that would take us up to our vacation. (BEACH! Sorry - I digress.) C is off the following week too (lucky duck!), and that would be a good time to schedule our IVF consent appointment. It's all coming together...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

IVF Price Tag

The financial coordinator at the new RE clinic called today to discuss our insurance coverage. They move quickly! I am so impressed with their customer service philosophy. We have a clear picture now of what we will need to pay and when, if we choose to do IVF. She went over everything, including items that may not be necessary. She suggested that we plan for the worst case scenario, and save up enough to cover everything that could possibly be needed. Sage advice!

In discussing the actual numbers with C, I understand better that this is not something we will be doing next month. I got a little carried away in my mind, and pictured signing up NOW. But C reminded me - let's hold the course and see what effect the acupuncture is having first. Sunday is cycle day 21, so I will probably have my progesterone level checked on Monday. If I've ovulated, we could be looking at a whole different ball game (with a much smaller price tag).

Why do I feel even more restless now...I am impatient today!


I am restless today. It's hard to concentrate, and the paperwork that has already engulfed my desk looks like it wants to swallow me too. I've hit a wall; all I want to do is take a nap.

The weather isn't helping. We've gone from yesterday's bright, summery skies to an overcast ceiling that threatens to collapse in a heap of rain at any moment. And maybe I am a little bit depressed - yet another friend had a baby last week.

Infertility is isolating. I miss my "old" life. I miss going to C's softball games. I miss hanging out with our friends. I miss our old church, where we knew lots of people and had a history. I miss being happy.

Then I remember the last time I went to a softball game, when I hid in the car and cried because I was the only married woman in the stands without a baby, and because people asked hurtful questions. I remember sitting in our living room while our "friends" gushed for hours about the news of their pregnancy. I remember sharing the news of our diagnosis with our home group, and no one knowing how to act around us anymore. I remember the couple in our home group who told everyone they were pregnant except us. I remember the pastor who led the home group wanting us to leave because we made everyone uncomfortable. (He didn't say it in those words, but that was the bottom line.) I remember dreading church on Sunday, because I didn't want to see him. I remember putting our wedding pictures away, because I felt so betrayed. (He was the pastor who married us.)

And as I remember the pain of all these things, I know that happiness is a long way off. Someone in my infertility support group once told me that she "didn't feel well" for years. That resonates with me today. I don't feel well. Physically, emotionally, spiritually: I just don't feel well. And while I know that joy exists independent of circumstance - that joy and sorrow can occupy the same space without displacing each other - I miss being happy. I miss feeling good.

Monday, July 13, 2009

One Foot in Front of the Other

**I need to process through my second-opinion appointment with the new RE, and I'm going to do that by writing about it. So, consider this fair warning that the length of this post may soon rival Vanity Fair. If you don't want to read the whole thing, but are curious to know what our next steps will be, feel free to skip to the pink part at the bottom.**

Summer seems to be flying by, and I'm missing it! Life has been so busy lately; I feel like I'm holding my breath because there isn't even time to breathe. One of the things that seemed to sneak up on me overnight was my second-opinion IVF consult, which was this morning. It started off well. I appreciated the tone in the office: from the office staff to the nurse to the decor, there was just an overwhelming feeling of friendliness and comfort.

We waited in that friendliness and comfort to see the doctor...and then we waited...and we waited. Forty minutes after our scheduled appointment, the woman who checked us in told us that they had a new doctor in the office, and that the doctor we were going to see (let's call him Dr. No-Bull) was taking some time to go over my records with her in detail. Twenty minutes later (an hour after our scheduled appointment, if you're keeping track - I certainly was), we were led into a conference room with very comfy chairs. C almost fell asleep in his comfy chair, while we waited yet another twenty minutes. We agreed that we were willing to overlook the delay because we liked the overall feel of the practice so far. I will, though, admit to having doubts about whether they were really taking that long to look over my records!

By this time, I had exhausted all my nervous energy (and in hindsight, I do wonder if that wasn't part of the point). When Dr. No-Bull and his young protégé finally made their appearance, I was calm, composed, and completely capable of rational thought. (Feel free to laugh here, but usually I turn into a blubbering idiot when doctors are in the room. They scare me, and I have a tough time communicating coherently.) But then, Dr. No-Bull launched into a speech that stopped me cold in my tracks.

With his eyes focused solely on the paper in front of him, rarely looking up at me or C, he began to address the questions and expectations I had listed on the intake form. My first impression of him was arrogance, and the long wait suddenly seemed much more of a thorny imposition. He pegged me as a control freak (and said so, using that exact terminology), and lectured me on the dangers of applying internet research to my situation without the proper knowledge and training needed to interpret it. (I noticed that C was watching me with great interest at this point - he later commented that he thought I was going to "turn" on Dr. No-Bull. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but I don't think it would have been good!)

I realized the issue when Dr. No-Bull said that even though his undergraduate studies concentrated on biology, he would never assume that he knows more about my field than I do. I calmly replied, "Of course; this is why we're here. You're highly specialized in this field, with much more training than the ob/gyn we've seen thus far." I was rewarded with slightly longer eye contact, and it seemed to me that the tone of the meeting changed after that. In Dr. No-Bull's defense, I probably gave them the most comprehensive intake paperwork that they've ever seen. I'm sure I had "problem patient" stamped all over each one of my extensive notes. With my background in biology, he may have expected me to challenge his experience, knowledge and opinions. (I'm sure he sees more than his fair share of patients who read it on the internet and believe it's the gospel truth. While I believe the internet can be a source of great research, reading a few articles does not make me an M.D.)

I scored again when we discussed the lab tests I wanted to have done. I had listed on my paperwork that I want my progesterone checked, meaning that I want to have a day-21 blood draw to see if I'm ovulating on my own. There wasn't a lot of space to write, so I didn't specify exactly what I was after. Dr. No-Bull said that he didn't think having my progesterone tested "in the way [I] want" would be of value to us, and looked pleasantly surprised when I replied, "Really? I'm curious to know if I'm ovulating, and would be interested in checking my levels on day 21. Because if I'm not ovulating, then we're just wasting our time, and we should move on."

That seemed to seal the deal, and from that point on Dr. No-Bull relaxed visibly. Not that he didn't still tease me about being a control freak (at one point he told C he was trying to decide which of them has it worse; apparently Dr. No-Bull's wife and I have some things in common) - but we began to see his sense of humor, and we relaxed as well. At the very end, he said that he hoped we weren't offended by his matter-of-fact approach; I feel like I should be offended but strangely I'm not. It was a getting-to-know-you sort of session, and he gave us some really great information.

Overall, we decided that we are going to update my lab work in general and check my thyroid function (more to rule it out than anything else). Dr. No-Bull also wrote a standing order for day-21 progesterone tests, so we can monitor my ovulation or lack thereof over the next few cycles. He gave us general information about laparoscopy and IVF, and their financial coordinator is going to check with our insurance and give us the bottom line numbers. Other things I really liked:

  • They didn't kick me out when I mentioned acupuncture. In fact, the woman at the front desk wrote down my acupuncturist's name, so they can let her know about their new facilities.

  • I really think they spent the whole time we were waiting (or at least a good portion of it) looking over my records. They knew my medical history better than I do.

  • Dr. No-Bull isn't going to put up with any bull from me, but he's not going to give me any either. He was honest with his opinions (even if they were a bit brutal at times), yet he also took the time to explain each of them. I like information, and he seems to understand that.

  • This may put me back on the IVF roller coaster once and for all...THEY DO EGG RETRIEVAL PROCEDURES UNDER ANESTHESIA. The other clinic does not; need I say more?

  • C and I have some decisions to make. We are going to take some time to make them, but overall I have a good feeling. God is leading us down a path, and while we may not know yet where it leads, we are putting one foot in front of the other and walking it out. I am confident that He is in control and that He is still God, and (most importantly) that He is still - and always has been - good. But that, my friends, is a subject for another overly-long post!

    Sunday, July 5, 2009

    Braggin' On My Man

    C did a really sweet thing on Friday. Since it was such a difficult week, he brought me flowers. And then he took me out to dinner. We don't eat at restaurants very often, mostly because we have such strict dietary habits - but also because this whole infertility thing is expensive. It was a lovely date night, and a very special treat indeed!

    Flowers up close

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    The Blues & A Decision in the Making

    Music can be healing. Sometimes just the right song can express what's in my heart better than any words I could ever string together on my own. However, I have to admit that I found it ironic this morning when I realized I was literally singing "The Blues" (a la Switchfoot, that is). You can find the lyrics here if you're interested.

    C and I have been discussing the merits of jumping back on the IVF roller coaster. We still want to continue with TCM, but the question is whether to do it as a stand-alone treatment, or in conjunction with western medicine. Most of the success stories my TCM practitioner has told me about were in conjunction with other treatments. And while I do not relish the thought of putting more drugs into my system, I also don't know how much more of this I can take. The scientist in me is screaming for more data. I don't understand what happened last cycle, and I don't think I can go through that again without an adequate explanation (i.e., exactly which hormone was out of whack and by how much).

    One of the reasons I hesitated to proceed with IVF before was that I was uncomfortable with the RE I was referred to. We just didn't click. Now, all of a sudden, I find that a fertility clinic two hours away has opened an office five minutes down the road. From their website, it appears that they put great emphasis on patient care and education.

    I called to schedule an appointment, and already I'm impressed. The person who answered the phone was very warm and sweet (unlike the automaton who mans the phones at the other clinic). They have a new patient coordinator, who will be calling me back to explain how their clinic works, go over insurance basics and schedule an appointment. Information up front? Now there's a novel idea.

    I'm not sure how this will play out. We are still praying it through, and waiting for God to speak. But it is nice to have options again! And after the heartbreak of the past few days, it would be really nice to have a reason to stop singing the blues.