Long-Awaited Update

Well, I don’t have a pregnant belly to show you. By my calculations I would have been 8 months or so by now. Things kind of went downhill from my last post. Here’s what happened next:

My belly got worse. Bigger. Much, much bigger. On Thanksgiving day, I was in bed trying to swallow chicken broth without throwing up. I could barely breath, walking was very very hard and forget sleeping. The next day (Friday) we went in for a check-up. The doctor, seeing I was in extreme distress, recommended a surgical procedure whereby she extracted two-and-a-half litres of fluid from my abdomen. In my groggy haze, I remember saying before the surgery, “I’m so sorry … I haven’t showered in a week.” The next thing I remember is looking in the doorway at a visiting Swedish doctor who was holding up two large containers of bloody fluid with a big smile on his face, exclaiming, “We took all of this out of you!” or something like that. I asked if I could take a picture and then passed out.

Needless to say, I felt MUCH better after that. I even went out to eat. Having only had chicken broth for several days, everything tasted magnificent. My belly was still huge, but it didn’t hurt anymore. I actually enjoyed looking pregnant and pretended that I was. People looked at me like I was pregnant, that was a fun moment … albeit short-lived.

None of the embryos took. I fell off a very deep end, hormones coursing, no anti-crazy pills. Should we try again right away? I became extremely depressed. Christmas was just a couple weeks away and my husband’s family would be visiting from Canada. I couldn’t deal with doing all “that” again while also doing all the other.

Then when Christmas was over, I was even more depressed. I talked to my doctor about Zoloft, which is supposed to be safeER for pregnancy. In other words, if you really must, Zoloft is the best of the bad.

I tried it for a few months and it wasn’t doing the job.

We finally decided that being pregnant while wanting to kill myself would not be a good combination. So I went back on the meds that work and took pregnancy off the table.

While friends all around me are either pregnant or have babies, I’m forced to consider a life without. Sure, we can adopt. But interestingly, after aaaaallllllll that effort, time and money, I’m settling into the reality that my husband and I might not have children at all. We will be that couple who loves their dogs and enjoys visiting their nieces and nephews.

So that’s where I am right now. And here are my final thoughts on this process: If it is meant to be, you will get pregnant. Part of that “meant to be” is the amount of crap you are willing to put yourself through. You will know when you have met your limit. And if you meet your limit and you are still not pregnant, you will find peace in knowing that you did everything you were capable of doing. I met my limit. I am not willing to put myself through any of that crap again. It is not meant to be for me. And I am finding peace with that.

Would I recommend the Beer Clinic for “unexplained” fertility? I don’t think so. It’s too many tests and too confusing and too overwhelming and too expensive and too unproven. Plus, most of the procedures are not recommended by the experts I consulted with (see So Many Decisions and More Opinions).

That is just my opinion.

Would I recommend IVF? Until you’ve gone thru the process with the stimulation and transfer and all of that you really can’t understand how difficult it all is … physically and emotionally. A month and THOUsands of dollars later, we were worse off than when we started. But I’m only one story. I guess I would try it once. For some people it’s easy-breezy. But if it’s too much for you to bear, don’t feel obligated to do it again.

I wish you the wisdom to know when enough is enough, the strength to stop when you need to, and the best of luck in your journey.


All done but the waiting

So it’s all done, with some bumps along the way.

Prior to starting the IVF medications I had to go on the pill for a month. The pill makes me crazy. At the same time, I had to go off of my anti-depressants. The anti-depressants make me not crazy. So, to recap, ON the crazy pills and OFF the anti-crazy pills. I knew this was going to be a bumpy ride.

On November 6th, just after discontinuing the pill and while on vacation in Ojai, I started taking the “stim meds” (forum-speak for stimulation medications) which are meant to stimulate my ovaries into making a shitload of follicles and, thereby, a shitload of eggs. The stim meds consisted of 350 mg of Gonal-f, 2 vials of Menopur and 2cc’s of micro-dose Lupron. I took one Lupron shot in the morning, and one Gonal-f shot, one Menopur shot and another Lupron shot in the evening. There is a lot of complicated measuring and mixing and I feel qualified to be a biologist at this point. Note: these are all hormones that make a person (at least this person) totally crazy. So these crazy-making hormones in incredibly high doses were now added on top of my lack of anti-crazy pills. I would also like to mention that having gone off of the anti-depressant Lexapro so quickly caused me to feel like my brain was being teased with a cattle-prod whenever I moved. This lasted for about two weeks.

So, to recap, cattle-prod to the head + mass doses of hormones shot into my belly = not very reliable at work (which requires a lot of multi-tasking), crying at EVERYTHING including Jennifer Gray’s rumba on Dancing With The Stars and my husband’s thoughtful re-heating of my decaf mocha, plus also wanting to kill everyone who called me at work and didn’t state immediately and succinctly the purpose of their call.

My first few ultrasounds showed high levels of estrogen but slow-growing follicles–9 in one side and 10 in the other–so they upped my Gonal-f to 450.

Ok, so I may have been overstimulated just a bit. By the end of the 2nd week I could not button my pants and walked around literally buttonless and zipperless. My belly was so big that my pants stayed up just the same.

By my last check-up, I had extremely high estrogen levels and 30 follicles. The day of the egg retrieval, last Friday, they harvested 27 eggs, 19 of which were mature enough to use. Because I’m opposed to freezing embryos when future “discarding” is a possibility, we had the doctor only fertilize 4 eggs and freeze the rest.

Following the egg retrieval is when the fun started. I quickly e x p a n d e d in the belly-area and looked like I was already 6 months pregnant. This was because of all the follicles inside my enlarged ovaries, which are now, 3 days later, the size of 2 grapefruits. I’m having a hard time breathing, eating, sleeping, moving. I was worried they might not go through with the transfer today.

This was a pic of me I took last night just so you know I’m not exaggerating:

And FYI I normally do NOT look like that.

But when they examined me this morning, they said I have a little fluid in there (from “sweating ovaries,” ew–but a great band name) but mostly it’s just a whole lotta ovary. Because I haven’t been throwing up and have been able to continue breathing they decided it was a GO for the transfer. Four lovely little embryos graded 8BC, 6AB, 6BC and 6BC. They have the most hopes for the 6AB but said all of them look awesome. Here, see for yourself:


Aren’t they so pretty? So it’s back to bed for me (where I’ve been since Friday anyway, very hard to stand up straight…and walk) for the next three days while the little guys (and/or gals) hang on for dear life. Wish them luck.

Blood test on 12/1. I promised I wouldn’t buy a home pregnancy test 🙂


A New Day

I am back from my hiatus and ready to start again. A few things happened at once to inspire me…I had a dream that I gave birth without knowing I was pregnant (yes, I was one of those girls) and I was so elated; our good friends just got pregnant through IVF; we moved to a house that is in a great neighborhood with great schools; and I learned that you can freeze eggs instead of embryos. So, we are going for it.


The idea is that at my “advanced maternal age,” we have a better chance of a “live birth” when we have more eggs to choose from. Hopefully, the reason I haven’t been able to hold a pregnancy is due to egg quality. IVF will increase my odds.

FSH – 7.5; Follicles – 9 in one, 14 in the other; uterus – lookin’ good.

The only problem at the moment is my inability to absorb vitamins. The antibiotics wreaked havoc with my insides and I have no good bacteria left in my belly or my intestines. I’m a mess. So I started a liver cleanse called Core Restore that is supposed to put me in tip-top shape. However, at the moment, I am exhausted and have a headache (only day 3 of a 14 day program) which is expected. Allegedly, in theory, I should be feeling awesome in 4 days.

Bought all the IVF drugs which I’m supposed to start taking on or about November 3rd. Just in time for our first vacation in a year up to Ojai (what is it with me and vacations?) Excavation approximately 11/14. Implantation approximately 11/17.

One day at a time.


Change of plan

I decided to stop taking my antibiotics. I’ve also stopped taking the Lovenox. Clearly, neither helped me keep a pregnancy, so what’s the point?

Since Saturday (the day of the stopped antibiotics) I’ve eaten all manner of sugar, bread, dairy and caffeine. It’s somewhat out of control, actually. But it’s been several months, so I’ll give myself a break on this one. It will even out after I see my herb guy tomorrow and admit to my failings…he’ll guilt me back into shape.

I saw a general internist-type doctor for the first time. My husband is convinced I need a captain of the ship, as it were…someone to oversee all the specialists. This Dr. spent a lot of time with me, reviewing my medical history, examining my reflexes, heart, etc. He ordered some blood tests and referred me to an allergist because, get this, he thinks my allergies to our cat (who I adopted just before marriage) is the source of my immune system problems and miscarriages. Interesting theory, but after a search on the interweb (which, as we all know, is the definitive medical source), I found no such link. Appointment isn’t until first week of January, so will have to wait to find out.

In the meantime, I’m in the middle of the two week wait, sans Lovenox :O

Here’s a question for anyone who feels qualified to answer it: How can you trust your doctors when they all give you different opinions?


I need a vacation from my vacation

My husband and I have never really had a vacation. We didn’t have a honeymoon after we got married. So this last weekend we scheduled a 4 day getaway to the beach. Nothing but relaxation and rest for 4 straight days.

Thursday was a great day, they upgraded us to a suite! It was literally bigger than our house. Unfortunately, it smelled like old lady perfume and moth balls. Thursday night my allergies started really bothering me so we asked for foam pillows and took the feather comforter off the bed.

By Friday my allergies were so bad we asked for a different room. They gave us a new suite that was just as big but no old people perfume. Unfortunately, by this time I realized my allergies weren’t allergies at all, but a cold…a bad cold.

Friday night we bought me some Nyquil, but because there was a small possibility I might be pregnant, we decided to get a pregnancy test and take it before I took the Nyquil. We were trying to forget about the wait, weren’t going to test at all, just let things unfold. But because I was sick and had to take the medicine, there really wasn’t a choice.

o I took the test. And it was positive! We couldn’t believe it. We were so excited. Finally, not thinking so much about it actually worked! I wasn’t going to do it, but I looked on my iphone app to see what the due date would be, what sign the baby would be. A Leo born August 6th.

We ordered up some room service and watched a movie. Every so often my husband would point to me and smile. High fives. I didn’t care so much that I was so sick.

Then I went to the bathroom and there was blood. My husband tried to convince me it was normal, that it was just spotting. But it wasn’t.

And then I got cramps.

I never would have known I was pregnant again if I hadn’t gotten sick. Such a cruel, cruel trick. We’re trying to figure out what to do now. I was taking the Lovenox, so it wasn’t a clot. Was it the Lyme? A co-infection? Should I start the other antibiotic? But that means taking 3 months off. Three months is a long time. And if the reason is just that I’m old, then continuing to try every month is the best thing to do, not take time off.

It’s getting harder and harder. And when I think it can’t get any harder than it is, it gets harder still.


At least I don’t have swine flu

Well, I woke up this morning 10 percentage points lighter on the “ability to conceive” scale. But I had some very nice birthday wishes from family and friends, so there’s the bright side.

Had my 2 month appointment with Lyme doctor Sunday. I saw Dr. Thoring this time instead of Dr. Harris. Dr. Thoring is putting me on some better Magnesium supplements (why I wasn’t given these before, I don’t know…two months of crappy supplements = wasted time). He said if my restless leg problems don’t resolve after a week on these, I probably have a co-infection. If I have a co-infection, I have to take three months off of baby-making to take another antibiotic that is not baby friendly. When you’re 41, the dog-years theory applies so three months is really actually like 5 years. I’m really hoping the new supplements make me better. I ordered them on Monday and they said it would be one or two days max but they’re still not here.

I also complained about my hair falling out (which it is doing again) and Dr. Thoring suggested I try Armour Thyroid instead of Synthroid. Any google search will reveal a massive controversy about this subject. I called Dr. Stricker’s office and first they said it’s not available so stick to Synthroid. Then I told them Dr. Thoring has some, so can I just get a prescription. They were very defensive, espousing danger and full of warnings. Look, if it might make my hair stop falling out, it’s worth a try. I’ve begun imagining myself like Little Edie in Gray Gardens, dancing around with a towel on my head.

The new supplements plug up the afternoon no pill-popping hole so I’ll have to update my regimen. I also have to set the alarm an hour before I get up just to take my thyroid medicine (whatever that ends up being) so that I can wait an hour to take the probiotic/saccharomycin/herbs and then wait another hour to take my antibiotics/olive leaf/fish oil with my breakfast. I’ve reached the point where there aren’t enough hours in my waking day to take all of the shit that I have to take.

I started the Lovenox shots this week and something happened two days ago that has never happened before: I pulled the needle out and I was bleeding where the needle came from. Then immediately there was this hard lump under my skin the size of a quarter. A call to the pharmacist and some online sleuthing put me at ease as evidently this is a known side-effect. Why it had never happened before, and why it was happening now, I haven’t a clue. But it’s normalish, I’m fine, and I hope it doesn’t happen again. Plus there’s the lovely accompanying big purple bruise.


Crap mood

I woke up in a crap mood this morning and it only got worse. I decided last night I have to start taking the Lovenox shots again because in the off chance that I do get pregnant and have not taken the Lovenox, I could lose it again…so I have to. P.S. I still have a bruise on my poor belly from the last shot I did over a MONTH ago.

I’ll be 41 next week which means I’ve lost another 10 percentage points on the ability to conceive graph. To make matters worse, the mail this morning gifted me an AARP membership card. I know I’m a few years away from 50, but it was still a shocker to see it. They shouldn’t do that to people.

I got to donate $20 to the receptionist’s baby shower which will be held on Tuesday. I usually avoid talking to her, but today I asked if she had gotten a flu shot. After a 10 minute conversation about baby size, movement, trimesters and due dates, she proclaimed that she was ready to be done with the pregnancy. Poor pregnant girl with my $20 and a party next week.

By the way, this morning before I left for work I noticed that the cat had pooped on the couch…and I just left it there.


Pass the tequila

My hip feels great. It’s not even three weeks since the surgery and I’m about 95% back to normal, except it’s better than normal because I don’t have the crazy hip pain anymore. I actually went grocery shopping today pain free. It’s absolutely amazing.

Went to my herb guy, Majid, on Wednesday. He said I’m 50% better overall than when I first went to see him a month and a half ago. He also said that my ph balance is good and the hormones look good and if we want to start trying to get pregnant again we can. I’m trying to decide what level of commitment I’m up for…do I start the lovenox? Do I go back to acupuncture? I have to say it was pretty great this month just knowing I was not pregnant. No tests, no wondering, no counting days, no contemplating due dates. I was simply not crazy this month. It was a nice respite.

I think this month we should not try to get pregnant, but at the same time not try not to. This is what my sister-in-law did and guess what, she’s pregnant. My friend with the new baby suggests drinking more. She, as well as many people she’s talked to, were evidently really drunk when they conceived. It sounds counter-intuitive (and somewhat harmful) but maybe it’s worth a try. I’ve tried everything else.

I have my next lyme dr. appointment next Sunday on November 8th. I recently read the most up-to-date information regarding lyme and pregnancy and the concensus is that I have to be on antibiotics the entire pregnancy or risk passing lyme to the baby which can cause several problems which include everything from heart, brain and lung damage to death. So I guess I’ll be on antibiotics either until I have a baby or reach meopause. Great.


Back from pain

No posts for a while because I was recuperating. Had the surgery, it went well. Had absolutely no pain whatsoever from Wednesday through Saturday so I decided (stupidly) to go out on Saturday night. Went to a gallery opening and a pumpkin carving party. I paid for it all on Sunday. Went to work for a half day on Monday. Came home, took my first pain pill, and got sick. Now I’m in pain and I’m throwing up. Tuesday, went to work half day, got a new prescription, came home, ATE something then took the medication. Ahhhhh, sweet relief. Had physical therapy on Wednesday which put me back a few days, lots of pain. Had my follow up with the doc Friday morning and ever since I’ve been feeling great. He said he fixed everything and I should be off crutches by this Wednesday. Well, I was actually off of them yesterday, so I’m ahead of the game.

During the pre-surgery prep, the nurse asked if I was pregnant. “Uh…no.” She made me take a pee test just to make sure.

Now it’s time to think about the shoulder….


Under the knife

Met with the hip doctor, Dr. Guanche in Van Nuys. He looked at the MRI and said I have a tear in my labrum which is a piece of cartilage that goes between the ball of your hip and the socket. He said I also have some fraying and some extra bone. He’s going to fix the tear and shave the bone. He’s going to do this on Wednesday.

It’s a general anesthesia with a nerve block so I’ll be out all day, but it is outpatient surgery. He said I could go back to work on Monday, but everyone I’ve talked to says that’s crazy. We’ll have to see how I feel. I’m relieved it can be fixed. I just hope there aren’t complications or something and I end up worse than I am now. Positive thoughts….

Crutches for a few days and physical therapy and I’ll be good to go in 6-8 weeks, allegedly.

One of the advantages to all of this is that I can’t take a lot of the crap I’ve been taking, like the herbs, vitamins, etc. So my pill intake is diminished at least until Wednesday!