Friday, December 30, 2011

East Coast Meets Eastern Medicine - Part 2

So, about the appointment(s) [spoiler alert: I've had two]:

Like I said in my last post, I was super relieved when I walked into the acupuncture center. It was very spa like and clean looking. Plus, one whole wall was dedicated to baby birth announcements, letters of gratitude and thank you cards. In addition, on the table was a thick white binder full of acupuncture research and articles to read while waiting. All of this was reassuring as I sat, drinking my complimentary tea, waiting to be called.

Finally, J came out and introduced herself. She was nice, if frazzled. We then sat for my intake meeting. Basically, she went over the paperwork I filled out, paying special attention to my charts (yes!). But I felt like she did not say anything of consequence. Or really much at all. It was mainly me doing the talking and I found that disappointing. I know it is unrealistic, but I also know deep down I was hoping she would read my info, feel my pulse, look at my tongue and then say, "Oh, I see why you aren't pregnant. You are a water sign, and water signs need blah blah blah". Alas no. In fact, when she felt my pulse I even probed her a little, asking what she was doing and what it meant and she just answered curtly, "feeling your energy". WTF is that? Expand for us non-eastern thinkers please!

After that she plopped about 10 needles in me, turned off the lights and left the room. Leaving me for 25 minutes of "relaxation". Except - as anyone who knows me will not be surprised - I didn't. I did not find it the least bit relaxing. Not because I was grossed out or nervous about the needles. By this point I have had so much blood drawn I could be an extra on Dexter. No, I think maybe I did not relax because:

(a) I felt pressured to relax. Which basically makes me stress out. Am I relaxing enough now? How about now? maybe I should change my this more serene? Now am I relaxed?
(b) It's boring as all heck to lie still for 25 minutes straight when you can't even move because the needle in your arm is getting stuck on the blanket they so kindly placed over you. And you can forget about scratching that itch!

And that was it. It was kind of anticlimatic. I was hoping to feel fertile, or at least relaxed, but in the end I was grouchy and poorer.

Of course, I signed up for another appointment. As bitter and whiny as I may seem, I do believe that you might need to do something more than once to give it a fair go, and maybe with time I will find a way to relax. And actually, my next appointment was with C, the owner, and I liked it much better (not the needles, but the talking. I am less about the acupuncture, more about the action plan).

So, with this next cycle, I am looking forward to combining the east and the west to make a baby in the here and now.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why must I pee on dollar bills???

Also known as Ovulation Prediction Kits.

Normally, they serve a very good function. They tell you when you are ovulating, which is critical to planning the baby making (so I am told - I have yet to see it work).

However, I did not ovulate. Now I am on Provera which does not make you ovulate. But, my well-meaning (and has been proven to be wrong through the google-gods) doctor had said that there was a small chance the Provera could kick-start the stalled ovulation. And so I pee on sticks.

And the worst part is, the sticks do keep getting darker. Way darker then they were last week (like I said, I am addicted). So, their darkness keeps convincing me I should break out my pricier, only-to-be-used-for-confirmation digital pee sticks. They are my holy grail of pee sticks. That smiley face is the confirmation and affirmation I need to believe I truly am ovulating, honed from years of wanting stickers and As on papers to prove I was good enough. It is my external validation. And in past months (when I had more sanity left) I was pretty good about using them only in situations where I already knew they would be smileys. But now, my poor, hopeful heart keeps thinking these dark lines (which are not equal to the control like the box tells me they need to be) are dark enough and I keep wasting my lovely digitals.

Grr... I think I need D to stage an intervention and hide all pee sticks from me until sanity (or a normal ovulation pattern) has been regained.

East Coast Meets Eastern Medicine - Part I

A.K.A - B has used up her patience with western medicine and is now seeking outside help.

I'm not sure when I first started considering acupuncture. I read a lot of ttc blogs / message boards, so I have a feeling I heard it there first. Little whisperings about it working, and even if it wasn't working it was so relaxing. But I know I had it floating in the back of my head when Dr. D mentioned it at our last appointment. Perhaps sensing that I am not a relaxer (who me?) he suggested that we give it a try. He said it had worked with other patients. Hearing Dr. D recommend it gave it credence to me. Before that, it was just something else that us crazy-to-be-pregnant people might try (because, after a certain point, if someone said dancing in the moonlight with underwear on your head is the key to fertility, you ask when is the next full moon and get your skivvy's ready). But now it was endorsed by a Dr.! I was ready to give it a whirl. But only if this cycle did not work, and I was certain that it would.

Well, after the fateful call from Dr. D that not only did it not work, but I did not even ovulate, one of the ways I was able to (moderately) keep my sanity was by googling acupuncture places. While I wish I had done better research than just a web search (because, really, I feel like you should fully vet out a place that wants to stick needles in you), I am ashamed to say that's all I did. I mean, I did google every configuration of words to make sure it was okay. In fact, the following is my google search list:

acupuncture nj
fertility acupuncture nj
fertility acupuncture nj recommendation
______________ reviews (at this point I found the one I wanted)
______________ law suits
______________ deaths

But amazingly, nothing bad came up, so I figured, what did I have to lose (except, perhaps, feeling in a limb or several hundred dollars on failed treatments). So after this tough search criteria, how did a place finally win the key to my wallet heart? Here is a list of what helped me decide:

B's Super Tough Criteria for Choosing an Acupuncturist

1. They specialized in fertility. I am sure a regular acupuncturist would be just fine, but I figured since I was making the leap to go for this, I wanted to go with the most highly specialized available. After all, I did not want to wind up with cured sinuses instead of a fertile womb.
2. They had a pretty website. No, I'm not really that shallow. But it was nicely laid out, user friendly, and full of information, including the cost, a downloadable diet plan and a page dedicated to explaining what the first appointment would be like.
3. They wanted to see my charts. I was so excited. Months of getting up at 5:30 in the morning were going to pay off! Seriously though, that helped me seem like it would be customized services towards me, not just a generic fertility plan applied to everyone.

Hmm...I just sat here trying to think of 4, but I might have only had 3 criteria. I know I had a fourth that only went into place once I arrived at their location:

4. It did not look like a crack den. In fact it looked like a very shi shi spa. Wide planked wood floors, Yogi teas for you to drink while waiting, pastel colored walls. As I walked in, two affluent looking women were leaving. I figured if the women climbing into the Lexus gave it their endorsement, that was good enough for me.

And so, full of nerves, hope and yes, despite the Lexus Ladies, some skepticism, I walked in for my first appointment.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Christmas I Never Imagined

Back when we started trying in April, one of the first thoughts I had was about being pregnant at Christmas Eve. You see, Christmas Eve is a BIG DEAL in D's family. Every other year, all his aunts, uncles and cousins, immediate and twice removed, get together to celebrate. Usually it is 40 or so people in number, but even at its smallest it is over 20. It is known to be a riotous, drunken affair (complete with a secret society and drinking initiations). All-in-all it is a great time. And this year was our year to go.

So, back when we first started trying, of course my mind first went there. I thought about my 8 month pregnant belly, and my swollen and tired body, and thought how bummed I would be to miss out on all the partying, but also how exciting it would be because this would be the first grandchild for D's parents and even the first niece or nephew in over 4 years. I imagined serenely gliding (yes, in my imagination I can serenely glide) through the drunken crowd, hand over belly, and accepting congratulations and advice (also odd, since in real life I HATE being the center of attention, but in my fantasy apparently handled it fine).

And even after we did not get pregnant in April, Christmas Eve was my continual touchstone. Every month, I modified that vision to fit where I would be with the new due date. Each month, that burgeoning belly in the fantasy got a wee bit smaller. I remember in October, when I thought that would be the month, how I thought that maybe we could announce it to D's parents on Christmas morning. And arguing with myself how that would not work because his aunt and uncle spend the night and we would not want to tell them yet. And even in November and December I was still thinking about how hard it would be not to drink at the party without everyone noticing since we could not tell anyone yet.

And then it was here. Christmas Eve and no positive pregnancy test. Something I can tell you Ihonestly never, truly imagined. However, it was easier than I thought. Thankfully no one else was pregnant. Also thankfully, the number of people asking me when we wanted kids was at a minimum (two - and one is under 10 so I will give her a pass). But I will say it has crystallized my fear. I don't feel comfortable at this point saying, "Oh, but next Christmas we will have a baby" - that's only the case if we get pregnant in the next 3 months. Something I am in no way comfortable predicting. Even worse, I am scared to even predict we might be pregnant by next Christmas. But then I can't imagine another year of this...another year of trying and failing and crying. That is just too frightening to contemplate.

So I guess what it comes down to is this, I am scared to hope, but I am much more scared not to hope.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


I lied. Now I'm sad. Just saw on baby boards I follow that someone else is pregnant after two months of trying. Have a bad case of the "why me?s".* blerg.

*disclaimer: obviously am happy for them, no ill will, yadda yadda yadda....

Friday, December 23, 2011

Reversal of Opinion

My period was (originally) due today. However, since I did not ovulate, I of course should not get a period today. Nor have I. But in a complete role reversal for me, I found myself hoping to get my period. Every time I went to the bathroom, instead of looking skyward until the last second possible, hoping without hope not to see red drops, I was rooting for my period. What an odd, odd feeling...

And perhaps, in a weird way, a cosmic Christmas gift. Because it's a lot easier not getting the period I wasn't expecting than getting the period I was wasn't expecting. I got my grieving done a week ago instead. So, for the weekend I will eat, drink and be merry. And I'll toast the Monday afterward with my first dose of Provera.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Next Steps

So now that the trigger shot did not work and we are stuck in annovulatory limbo - where do we go next?

This is the question I asked Dr. D on Saturday when he called.

First, he mentioned going on Provera so I get my flow. Since it can give you major PMS symptoms and depression, he suggested I skip taking it through the holidays and take it starting in January. Then I would take it for 10 days and 5 days or so after that, I would get my period. Wait 2 weeks until January? I didn't think so. I was ready to head to Target and get my prescription filled while still on the phone with Dr. D. Being cranky and depressed seemed worth it not to waste two more precious weeks. But, after a bit, I started to think more rationally (read: D, mom and sister talked me off the ledge). I am going to wait until after Xmas to take it so I can be sane for D's family. I will start on the 26th so only D is subject to my depressed, crazed self for New Years (and they say romance is dead).

But after that, then what? According to Dr. D I am at a "fork in the road". My options are:

A. Continue with IUIs. He said you can do up to 4 or 5 before they are deemed not successful. He says technically I have only done 2 since this one did not work (sorry doc, still counting it in the official tally). At this point we would probably do it without the trigger since it flopped last time.

B. IVF or medicated IUI. I want medicated IUI because it seems only one small (okay, multiple- egg-producing) step above what we are already doing. I think it is too soon for IVF. That seems like something that would be after the one year mark to me. For both, we would have to find a trigger shot that works before we attempt it.

C. (I guess it is a 3 pronged fork) Surgery again. Assume the endo has grown back, as he said 2 years ago my pelvis was "full of junk". Remove endo and try naturally again.

I asked Dr. D his recommendation and he said (A) for 1 or 2 more months and then (c).

It seems like such a slow course. I am frustrated because I see myself getting to the 1 year mark without success. I am dreading more IUIs. It just seems more disheartening than trying on our own. I think because I feel like it should work, and feels like a bigger failure when it doesn't. On the flip side though, I am not ready to go more aggressive (except the medicated IUI which my doctor seems the most reluctant to do).

Sigh. I guess there is no answer that sounds good because I want to be pregnant RIGHT NOW. I just keep reminding myself that, like the tortoise learned long ago, slow and steady wins the race.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lucky Like That

New mortal enemy: the HCG Trigger Shot.

After our first IUI was unsuccessful, I decided to take matters into my own

What happened was, during the first cycle of IUI, the doctor had me go for bloodwork every Monday and Thursday to monitor _____(something) that would show that my eggs were ready to go. When he was satisfied by the results, he called me in, did an ultrasound, saw they were big enough and we did the IUI. And then...nothing. I did not ovulate for 5 days after that (CD 23), basically rendering the IUI meaningless. However, that week leading up to the IUI he kept asking me if we were "triggering" me. I had no idea what that meant, but I got the gist that if we were, I would ovulate within 36 hours of that. Basically eliminating hours of guess work and peeing on sticks on my part. Yes please!

So, when AF reared her ugly head after that first IUI, I called up N at the front desk of Dr. D's office and asked if there was any way to move up my ovulation. She said no. I asked about that "trigger " thing Dr. D had mentioned and she said, "Oh, we can do that" and voila! My salvation was ordered and shipped directly to my door.

Except, as you can probably guess by the fact that it is now my mortal enemy, it wasn't.

The second month of IUI was pretty uneventful. I was trying to scale back on charting for the sake of my sanity and my marriage, so I was only doing it sporatically. But when I DID do it, I noticed that my temps did not seem to rise all that much after the shot. Like .3 of a degree which seemed smaller than the usual spike. I read online that you may not see a huge temp rise due to the shot so I was okay with that (lies - i was really neurotic and obsessive about it); however, I decided to mention it to Dr. D. With that in mind, for this third IUI, he decided that on 7DPO, I would go in for a progesterone check. However, he also thought it was no big deal since my dear AF still visited at exactly 12 DPO like every other month.

This month after the trigger, my temps didn't just not go up very much. They PLUMMETED. Like, down to corpse level of body temperature. I had D take my pulse just to make sure I was still alive. And they stayed very very much down. But again, I was reassured that you pretty much have to ovulate after this shot and I was at least getting the progesterone test at 7 DPO. The most frustrating part, I said to D, is that the bloodwork is going to show I ovulated, so I am just going to have to wonder why my temperatures react so differently to the shot.

Well, I got the call yesterday morning and I was wrong. That would have been delightful comparatively. Instead, my progesterone level was .5. Less than one, my doctor felt the need to expand. Which is way low. If I had ovulated, it should have been around 10. If I did not ovulate, under 5 is fine. This was most definitely under 5. Dr. D says he has no idea why I did not ovulate; even if the trigger did not work, I should have ovulated on my own at the normal time.

I've of course googled the likelihood of the shot not working. I can't find anything official. Anecdotally, I've seen people say it's (a) impossible not to ovulated if you had mature follies (b) .1% likelihood of not happening (c) 3% chance of not working. All I can say is (d) it's just my luck!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Joys of Temping

Hi, my name is B and I'm addicted to temping.

And like most addicts, I hate that which I am addicted to. To put it bluntly, temping blows.

I started temping at 3 months into trying. D wanted to wait, keep things more "spontaneous" (which really meant I was furitively doing OPKS [my other addiction] in the bathroom and then inexplicably in the mood towards the later half of each month). But at three months, he was actually the one who suggested, well, why don't you try that temping thing?

Why, indeed? Perhaps because it is a soul sucking, day ruining practice? But, of course, I could not know that then. So, full of excitement, I purchased my CVS brand basal thermometer (because I did not want to mess up by using a regular thermometer -- g_d forbid I did not know my temperature down to the hundredths) and began the joys of temping.

And in the beginning, it was not so bad. Sure, my chart looked like a heart beat monitor, full of erratic ups and downs, but that was fine with me. And sure, getting up at the same time in the morning, including my precious weekends, was a pain, but it was part of the baby making territory. And when I saw that huge spike to indicate that I had actually ovulated - I actually was pretty amazed with the coolness that is the female body.

But, what goes up, must come down. And every time that red line on fertility friend went down, so did my spirits. A drop in temperature could literally ruin my day. Not to mention the fact that due to getting a puppy, all attempts at charting at the same time were rendered nearly impossible since puppy wanted to play at 3, 4:30, and 5. Plus, there's the countless hours I spend staring at my chart, trying to discern who-knows-what in a minute-by-minute analysis of data that is completely unchanged any time I look at it. And then, there's the chart gallery, and the pregnancy monitor and all these other bells and whistles which, when it boils down to it, are completely meaningless. I have stared at enough pregnancy charts to know - there is no sign. There is no sure thing. Like a football fan watching a field goal kicker shank that winning field goal, I will look at some charts and go, "Ooooh, that looked so good. I can't believe it didn't come up positive!"

On the bright side though, in a way, it's nice to finally have a hobby.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Crib Notes

I want back all the co-pays I paid out for birth control...

I thought it would be so easy. Ditch the pill. Have some unprotected fun. 9 months later, voila, a little mini-me (even better ~ a mini-us) would appear. HA.

To catch us up to the present day here are the stats:
months trying: 8
months using OPKs: 8
months charting: 5
basal thermometers owned: 3 (yes 3...and I doubt the actual accuracy of any and all of them)
IUIs: 6 (but that is 2 per month, so only 3 months)
HCG trigger shots to help the IUI: 2
Supportive husbands: 1
Nerves shredded: infinitely many....

And so I keep cycling along until I reach my golden destination of Babyville.