Not negative but not positive either

February 25, 2013 § 17 Comments

First of all, I am floored by all of your thoughtful comments on my last post. Truthfully, I didn’t realize how many people both read this and care. You all are amazing.

Yesterday was a bad day. And, ya know, this morning didn’t start out so great either. First, the car in front of me getting onto the ramp headed toward the highway plowed over a bunny who was just sitting tharn in the middle of the road. Right in front of my face. And, don’t say he didn’t see it. He saw the bunny. It was in the middle of the freaking road. And it wasn’t moving. And there were no other cars around. This jackass just chose to not slow down to allow it to get out of the way. Admittedly, this kind of thing probably bothers me more than it should. Forgive me. And then, I somehow just forgot to get off at my exit for the hospital this morning. So, not the best entry into Monday.

But, as the day wore on, my mood improved. The Artsy Engineer called me around 10 to tell me that, whatever the results of this morning’s beta, he is 100% on board with moving forward with treatment. He said that he was having a rough day yesterday, too. He was anxious about money and work. And the prospect of another failed cycle. If I’m allowed to feel shitty and hopeless at the very end of the 2ww, he certainly is, too.

Weird thing. So, a couple of days ago I had really swollen boobs. It lasted for two days. I allowed myself to get a little excited, but I figured it was mostly the progesterone talking. Then, yesterday, the swelling went down. They were still tender, just not as big. I think this is part of what sent me into a tizzy.

But maybe it makes sense.

I went in at 7:45 for the beta, and I got the call back around 11.

In the words of the nurse on the other end of the line (my favorite nurse, by the way), the beta results were not quite negative, but they weren’t positive either. Let me explain. At my clinic, a “negative beta” is below 1. (I’ve always read that the number is 5, but my RE explained to me that their tests are really, really sensitive and can detect trace amounts of hCG that are in the blood stream even before implantation.) My number was a 2. The nurse explained that we clearly achieved fertilization but that it didn’t get much farther than that – it probably never made it’s way out of the tube.

Major bummer.

Of course, we are disappointed.

But, I actually don’t feel nearly as crushed as I thought I would feel. I felt momentarily upset, but then it quickly went away. We achieved conception. Step two may have been a bust, but step one worked. I know the stats. 50% (or up to 70% depending on you who you talk to) of all fertilized eggs end up this way.

I guess this just wasn’t the right combination.

Thanks for all of your support, friends.

On to round 2.

Today everything feels like it sucks

February 24, 2013 § 15 Comments

It’s weird. I had a really good night last night. I attended a fancy work* party with my supervisors and my supervisors’ supervisors. At this work party, I got some pretty good feedback about my performance. People were making comments like, “when we have a student we really like, we try to do everything we can to create positions for them within the department when the time comes for them to get a job.” So, yeah, last night I was feeling pretty good about myself. Last night, things were looking up in the world.

Then for some reason, today everything is wrong. I lie. I know the reason. I have all of these symptoms that I know I can’t pay attention to because I’m on progesterone. My boobs are sore and huge. Or, huge for me, which is still tiny (I like to use the term “perky”). Yesterday afternoon, I took only the second nap I have taken in my entire adult life. My chart is revealing this beautiful triphasic pattern. But. I am 12 dpo on my first medicated cycle. I didn’t test today because I tested yesterday and the day before (at 10 and 11 dpo) and both were negative, and I just didn’t want to see that shit again. Actually, they both had really faint second lines, but that means nothing because of the trigger shot I took less than two weeks ago. And the 11 dpo test was lighter than the 11 dpo test. So, negative.

Oddly enough, despite all of my initial optimism, I wrote this cycle off right after ovulation. I had no good reason to do this, aside from the fact that I am not a person who gets lucky. And I would have to get really lucky to get pregnant on my first medicated cycle. So, in my head, I’ve been looking ahead to the next round of treatment.

And, poor Artsy Engineer. I think this glass-all-the-fucking-way-empty attitude of mine has weighed heavily on him. And now in addition to feeling shitty about not being pregnant, I feel guilty for killing The Artsy Engineer’s hopes. And we’re both really concerned about finances. I make nothing, and The Artsy Engineer works for the state (and so makes just next to nothing). Our insurance does not cover anything related to fertility treatments, including ultrasounds. Just a simple, old cycle with nothing but Femara costs us nearly $500.

The Artsy Engineer and I took the dogs on a walk today. It was really nice out, especially for February in Wisconsin. The sun was out in full force and it actually felt kind of warm when it hit you. But, I was cranky the minute I woke up this morning. Not irritable, really; just pouty. A real Debbie Downer. Sometimes when I get like this, The Artsy Engineer gets pissed at me. Which is understandable. Even from the inside, I can tell that it creates a far from pleasant home environment. Anyway, we were walking. I brought up having to drop another $500 this week for treatments, and The Artsy Engineer pulled a surprising one on me.

It went something like this:

Artsy Engineer: Truthfully, Lentil, I am just not clear on how all of this is helping. We were able to get pregnant on our own back in October. That makes it seem to me that our problem is just a lot of bad luck and poor timing or something. I don’t see the point of these treatments if we did it ourselves once. It would be different if you were not ovulating on your own, but you are.

Me: What. The Hell. Are you saying? I thought we were both excited and hopeful about this next step. Are you hinting at wanting to pull the plug?

Artsy Engineer: Yeah, kind of. Nobody seems able to tell us why exactly this medication is worthwhile in our situation. And I am not one to just trust a doctor because she’s a doctor.

Me: Okay. You’re right. I have no fucking idea why it was recommended. Nobody has said, “Lentil, your eggs will be healthier if they don’t have to wait around in there for an extra week, which will lead to greater likelihood of pregnancy and less likelihood of miscarriages.” It was just recommended. And this is what I assumed. And we both seemed to think it was the right move.

Artsy Engineer: Well, I don’t know if I buy it anymore.

Great. Now look what I did. In all of pessimism, I finally rubbed enough of it off on my always optimistic husband. And, he is absolutely right. I don’t know the justification for this treatment. I don’t know why it was recommended. I feel like I’m just blindly following advice, which is not my style. My RE hasn’t really given me any more than “sometimes it can be helpful, so we will try this first.” Despite a long list of questions that I have in my head, whenever I actually go to the RE and she is finishing up and asking if I have any additional questions, I panic, forget everything, and tell her “no.”

And this also made me realize that he has definitely not come as far as I have in the process of accepting that what we are dealing with here is infertility. To him, it is still some combination of bad luck and sub-par effort or knowledge or something. If we could only figure out what it is we are doing wrong, we can fix it.

My blood hCG test is first thing in the morning, and I am not at all hopeful. I just want to stop putting progesterone into my vagina so I can get on with the next round.


* I don’t actually have a paying job. That would be too much to ask. I’m taking part in clinical training for my degree, which takes up many, many hours in my week and is unpaid. Yes. It is ridiculous.

Healthy distractions

February 21, 2013 § 25 Comments

I don’t think I’ve done anything particularly noteworthy to deserve this, but Sarah over at Fallopian Groove, has been so kind as to provide me with a solid distraction for this second (read worst) half of my two week wait. I really like her, by the way. I love the way she writes, and I’m so glad to have stumbled upon it. If you have not read her blog, you should definitely give it a peek.

I’ve been blogging for less than a month still, so I’ve only heard rumblings of this Liebster Award business. From what I can tell, it’s this little gem of forward payment – an attempt to increase the readership and community for new bloggers or those who have fewer than 30 followers. It’s a bit of a pyramid scheme in the very best sense of the phrase in that once you are nominated, you are asked to nominate six other novice bloggers. It also provides an opportunity for a bit of a question-and-answer setup, which I think is very cool. I do not often just talk about my SELF. I mostly talk about my VAGINA. So. Look up here at my eyes for this particular post, folks. I’m going to try to keep my ramblings out of my pants.

I guess you are supposed to do the following: (1) include 11 previously unshared things about yourself, (2) answer 11 questions posed by your nominator, and (3) nominate 11 other bloggers. That’s a lot of stuff! I’ll try to do some of it, but I may need to break it down into a couple of posts.

I’ll start with #2, Sarah’s questions for me:

1. What’s one thing you wish you had known before starting this, ahem, adventure?

Oh, my. Well. I wish I had known that I could talk about it with people. I have a tendency to be a little tight-lipped about “personal” stuff with most people, including my parents and my sister, and all but a couple of very close friends. Despite being at a pretty normative age for childbearing, because I’m in graduate school and most of the people we hang out with on a regular basis are also in graduate school, no one is really focused on making babies. It was not until after we had the miscarriage that I told anyone that we were even really trying, and I only did it then because we were at our wit’s end and desperate for support. Once I opened the gate, though, it became much easier to do.

2. What’s your vice/guilty pleasure?

Terrible reality television and salty foods. I do not indulge in the former all that often, but I have a hard time staying away from the latter. I am not really a sweets kind of person. I would rather eat a second helping on pasta (or two) any day. I would also call blogging a guilty pleasure, because every time I’m doing anything related to the blogosphere, I ought to be working. Like now.

3. What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?

Here’s the thing. I really struggle with favorites questions. I can definitely give you a few of the past year’s very best.

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes

4. Chocolate or peanut butter?

If I had to choose, I would choose chocolate, I guess. But only in small quantities. Too much screws with my stomach. I also have been known to eat peanut butter straight out of the jar, though, so maybe I am not answering this completely honestly.

5. Complete this sentence: When I grow up I want to be _______.

less focused on work.

6. What non fertility-trying-to-conceive website should the rest of us be wasting time on right now?

Ohh, man. Well, 101 Cookbooks  satisfies my need to look at pretty pictures of food. The Artsy Engineer and I both cook A LOT of recipes from that one. Bookshelf Porn brings me quite a bit of visual pleasure. As a lover of travel, I’ve had a crush on been living vicariously through the chronicled adventures of this nomadic guy from Wandering Earl for a couple of years now. And Suri’s Burn Book satisfies my desire to make fun of browse through the children and child-rearing techniques of the beautiful, rich, and famous. It’s so stupid. Don’t judge.

7. What was your favorite childhood television show?

Oddly, I don’t remember much television from my childhood. I don’t think we were allowed to watch it very often. I do remember that when I used to watch sports with my parents, my dad would turn down the volume during the commercials and we would make up new dialogue for them. I also remember that my first love interests were the Tramp from Lady and the Tramp and Robin Hood from the cartoon version. I still think it seems kind of normal for kids to have crushes on cartoon character animals, but I have tested this out on a lot of people, and I am the only one I have found so far. Really? Look how dreamy they are! I guess I have always had a thing for the bad boy.

lady-and-the-tramp robinhood

8. You are down to your last $20 – what do you buy?

A bottle of wine and a used book? Shoot, and maybe some cheap dog food.

9. And finally, because I have a tendency to succumb to peer pressure, please share a recipe?

We have been making this shakshuka recipe from smitten kitchen every couple of weeks for a few months now. It is delicious, you guys. And easy and cheap.
And now my nominees*:
2) jAllen at Mine to Command
3) Amanda at beloved burnt toast
*I will be adding a couple more these throughout the next day or so. I’m having a hard time finding appropriate nominees that fit the criteria, and I need to get to back to work!

The Artsy Engineer’s internet debut

February 17, 2013 § 15 Comments

With The Artsy Engineer’s permission, I have decided to post the video we took of my first ever at-home injection. It’s quite possible that we’re the only ones who find this video funny. I think we find it so amusing because it is sooo far from his typical presentation, and you all don’t have anything with which to compare it. But, I don’t know. I’m sure he isn’t the first husband to lose it a little during their first time playing nurse. Maybe you all will relate!

Disclaimer: I think I sound a little bossy in it, but The Artsy Engineer assures me that I wasn’t. That he needed me to be “direct” with him, because he was terrified and not thinking clearly. I think he is maybe just being nice.

So, without further ado, I bring you The (very anxious.. glad it’s not me for once) Artsy Engineer.

The elephant in the room. In my head.

February 14, 2013 § 9 Comments

You guys don’t know me all that well yet, but one thing you will learn as we go on is that I’m a pretty content person. I’m generally happy. I’m anxious, yes. But one can be a joyful worrier, I believe. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Sure, I have down days. I wallow on occasion. (You’ve seen it here.) Sometimes I get envious of other people, especially other women, when they are cooler or smarter or wittier or more talented that I am. I lament (not just lentils but also) things like the fact that I carry weight in my hips and thighs and not in my boobs.

But I think these things are fairly normative. And when it comes down to it, I consider myself happy. Content for sure. Even lucky in a lot of ways (not involving my womb).

But lately I’ve been feeling something scratching at that wall of contentment, trying to break through. And last week, I figured out what that little sharp-clawed thing is.

If you’ve poked around on this blog–the little corner of my inner world I’ve chosen to share with others–you know that I’ve experienced pregnancy loss. Yes, it was early. Yes, the miscarriage completed itself without complication. I was “lucky.” And, according to my RE and many of the close friends we chose to tell, at least I know I can get pregnant.

But I had symptoms. I felt pregnant. I was pregnant. And then it was gone. And that is heartbreaking.

Y’all. If I hadn’t lost that baby, I would be 20 weeks and 5 days today. I’d be more than halfway through. I would be showing. My baby would be about 10 inches long. About the length of a carrot or a banana. I might know the sex if we had chosen to do that. We might have a name picked out. We might have baby-related things beginning to gather in the basement for impending use.

Instead, I have none of those things. I’m no closer now than I was when I started this process.

Sure, I’ve gained some things from this journey:

1) a closer, more emotionally intimate relationship with the Artsy Engineer,

2) astonishing knowledge about the female body and procreation, and

3) a new community of kindred women.

But this is not what I want this week. This week, probably because it would be the halfway point, I’ve been plagued by the woulda coulda shouldas. They’re lurking, scratching at my typically high spirits. Behind the scenes but making waves.

My first mid-cycle ultrasound, Grover Clevelands, and nausea

February 11, 2013 § 8 Comments

You know those days when you feel like everything is going beautifully? Well, I haven’t had too many of them in the past several months. I’ve had some, for sure. But, for the most part, I’ve felt unsettled.

I decided today that I think that notion of being unsettled is the result of feeling hopeless. And, I know this because today I felt great nearly all day (except when an old friend announced her pregnancy with number two and I had about of ten minute period of the why is everyone fertile but me‘s).

My mid-cycle ultrasound was at 8 AM this morning. And I think I’m pretty pleased with my response to the Femara. This morning, which is my CD 12, my lining weighed in at a beautiful 9.2 mm. I had three measurable follicles – one at 21.5 mm, one at 13.5 mm, and one at 13 mm. From what I’ve read on the all-knowing Dr. Google, the smaller two will likely do nothing for me.

Overall, I’m really pleased. My body is really weird and finicky. It responds to meds/supplements/substances in a really funky way. Either a) nothing happens or b) I’m extraordinarily sensitive and have every weirdie side effect in the book. For instance, I am super super sensitive to caffeine. I stopped drinking it about 4 months ago, but before that, I had only about 8 oz of coffee a day (almost nothing), which I had to make sure to drink first thing in the morning. If I didn’t have any by 11:00 AM, I’d get a terrible withdrawal headache by 1:00. And if I drank anything at all with caffeine after about noon, I would straight not sleep that night. For the whole night. Which is why I felt like a slave and finally quit cold turkey after a 15 year love affair with coffee.

I digress.

I do kind of wish that one of those other two measurable follies would have been a little bigger. If we’re dropping a Grover Cleveland* on one cycle, I wanted to get my money’s worth with a shot at two mature eggs.

Tonight, we triggered. And I actually took video of it. Because, y’all. The Artsy Engineer was hilarious. He wasn’t at my appointment this morning, so he didn’t get to hear the instructions first hand. He also hates needles. He admitted to me this morning that he has been looking at the package that was so dear to my heart with dread. In fact, when I pulled the materials out tonight, he developed all sorts of different kinds of symptoms. By the time we had everything sterilized and prepped, he was white as a sheet, his hands were shaking, and he’d been telling me for about 45 minutes that he thought he was getting sick**.

But he did it, and he did a great job. I didn’t feel a thing.

I’m now about ready for bed. According to the chart my RE gave me, we have to go have sex now, so cover your eyes. In approximately 36 hours, I will hopefully ovulate. This sucker will be the freshest egg I have ever ovulated (usually they sit around in there for at least another week or two before they decide to make the trip). I know our odds are still not good. But I feel some hope, because I think they’re at least a little better than they have been up to this point. And that little bit of hope went a long way for me today. Me and my healthy, average response to medication. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like a celebrity. Happier than a pig in shit. Like a million bucks.

*Apparently Grover Cleveland, US President #22 and #24 (the only US President to serve two nonconsecutive terms), was on a $1000 bill that was published in the 1934. Who knew.


**It’s now an hour and a half later and (lo and behold!) he’s not sick. He’s playing his guitar with his harmonica strapped around his neck. Full of energy and zest. And health.

I’m in love with the mailman

February 6, 2013 § 10 Comments

Today, I met a new guy. He came right up to my door (ballsy!) and proceeded to try to engage me in small talk about dogs (mine were barking their sweet little noggins off at him) and the weather (it’s sunny and there is snow on the ground; whoohooo) and the superbowl (meh). He was nice enough. And not unattractive. But I kind of ignored his face and his words. Because I could not keep my eyes off the box he was holding in his arms. My eyes were so attracted to it that you would think that it was glowing. Or on fire. Something.

If this very kind Fedex man knew what was in the box I was struggling internally not to yank from his hands, he probably would not have been semi-flirting with me. He might have averted his eyes, as have a few of my male (and female) friends who I have told about my miscarriage and about my infertility. He likely would not have had much to say except an awkward “Uhhh, are you Lentil? Can you sign for this?”

Mr. McFeely's Speedy Delivery!

    Mr. McFeely’s Speedy Delivery!

But he didn’t know. And so he engaged. And I kind of fell a little bit in love with this kind, chatty Fedex guy. Little does he know that he has now played a roll in helping me knocked up.

The flaming box.

  The flaming box. And view #1 of my living room.

Once I finally got the box inside, I ripped it open (after feeling oddly compelled to document it for you all), and emptied the contents onto my kitchen counter. One box of Pregnyl HCG trigger components. Two syringes. Two needles. A prescription bottle of progesterone (The Artsy Engineer, funny guy, already informed me that he keeps the applicator for the these vaginal suppositories in his pants). And a bag of Hershey kisses.

The contents plus the kisses (and view #2 of our living room).

The contents plus the kisses. And view #2 of my living room.

I was so excited to get this package. And y’all. I was tickled to death that they put a bag of Hershey kisses in the package. I have no idea why. I’m no big sweets person. I’d choose a second helping of pasta over dessert any day. And I know this pharmacy in New Jersey that specializes in infertility medication very likely puts Hershey kisses in with their shipments purely for business reasons, to make me feel special and cared for so that I continue to purchase my expensive drugs from them. But, they got this girl. Those kisses made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. And those syringes made me feel hopeful. Not too bad a combination for a Wednesday afternoon.

A new plan

February 3, 2013 § 8 Comments

It’s been a week since I wrote a post in real life, but I feel like I’ve written several. In a sense, I have. It’s just that most (or all) of them have been in my head. A lot has happened in my little infertile world over the past week. And I’d rather see a lot happen than see nothing happen. Things happening means progress. Usually. Maybe I should not be so optimistic. Maybe it just means movement. But with all the waiting I’ve done, movement is lovely.

First, I started spotting 9 days into my two week wait, which is earlier than I’ve ever started spotting in my not so brief history of charting. That was Monday evening. I was pissed. I was devastated. The world was not fair. Cue catastrophizing Lentil.

See, not only did I want this last cycle to be my lucky cycle more so than any other cycle (although I’ve noticed a trend with that one.. there is an strong positive relationship between how long this takes and how much wanting I do), but I also really thought this might be it. October just felt right. I almost knew it. I even felt guilty for starting a blog about infertility on the same cycle that was was most certainly going to get a beautifully positive pregnancy test and leave the infertility world just after officially entering it.

So much for that silly intuitive sense I was so certain about. So so certain.

I spotted for three days before finally getting my period. I don’t know what the hell that means. If anything. I’m trying not to add it to the list of things to worry about that may or may not be wrong with me.

While I was spotting, I made a decision. A big decision. Round two. A new plan.

Back in September, I had just finished all of my initial testing with my RE. She found nothing wrong (hence the unexplained nature of my oh so special blend of infertility). And she recommended that I start treatment with three cycles using Femara. At the time, I thought that if my very good doctor could find nothing wrong, I probably didn’t need the Femara. Perhaps I was just being impatient.

So, I didn’t take the Femara. And then I immediately got a BFP. And then I lost the pregnancy. Now, three cycles later, I’m back at the same decision. And this time, we were so ready. I threw away the vitex and the red raspberry leaf tea, abandoning the herbal supplements I was hoping hoping hoping would be all I needed, and I called the clinic. That was Wednesday. On Friday, my CD 2, I went in for an ultrasound. Everything looked good to go. And I’m now on day two of the Femara. When I look at those little pills, I feel a whole lot of love.

After a whole lot of back and forth, we decided to also do the HCG trigger shot. At first we were thinking we’d hold off, because I typically have a lot of success with ovulation predictor kits accurately telling me when I’m going to ovulate. But then the nurse at my RE’s office said that the Femara could possibly mess with my usually predictable OPKs. And she also said that the trigger would release all mature follicles, which seems like it would up our chances of having one of them meet one of the Artsy Engineer’s swimmers and stick. I guess what I still don’t know, though, is if you release all mature eggs even if you don’t use the trigger. And I also don’t know how likely it is for me to have multiple mature eggs while using the Femara. Timing alone doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to spend the extra $550 for the trigger+ CD 13 ultrasound. But if it might throw another egg into the mix and increase my odds of getting pregnant, then maybe it’s worth it. Plus, I feel like getting a CD 13 ultrasound during my first Femara cycle makes sense (it’s not mandatory at my clinic), because what’s the use of doing three rounds of the thing (for $500 a round), if it may or may not actually be working as it’s supposed to work? I think the CD 13 ultrasound should give us some insight into whether or not this medication is doing its job. And if we’re going to do the CD 13 ultrasound, why not do the trigger? It’s just another $100. What’s $100 when you’re already spending nearly $1000? Holy shit. $1000. For one cycle. And then I saw some awful statistics the other day saying that there was only a 5% chance of conceiving using Femara/Clomid if you’ve been diagnosed with unexplained infertility. Is that true?! If so, how the hell can I justify spending this much money doing this??

Who knows. From that jumbled mess of thoughts I just spit at you all, clearly not me. I feel so new at this. I feel like I just dove into this decision without researching and reading every tiny little thing about it first (my typical modis operandi). It was definitely a reactionary decision. I was still reeling from the failing end of my January cycle that was supposed to be the one. But maybe I needed the reactionary bit to get me going. Otherwise, I would have futzed around, weighing the pros and cons, over and over and over again (also my modis operandi).

And so, here we are. Me and these little orange pills I’ve already fallen in love with, because they’ve given me hope.

Oh, and look forward to upcoming posts on my difficult sister who I love dearly, getting lost in the woods yesterday, and Femara farts (all things that occupied my thoughts/time/ass this weekend).

Where Am I?

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