Bust a Myth - Preconception Testing for Infertility

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week I am happy to participate in the RESOLVE Bust a Myth campaign.

MYTH - A couple should try to conceive on their own for at least one year before seeking fertility services.

BUSTED - When I first told my OB-GYN that we had started trying to get pregnant she took the time to review my pre-conception health. She advised that I should be screened to see if I was a carrier of the CF gene, a test costing almost $500 that was not covered by my insurance. She also ordered a standard blood panel  to make sure that everything looked normal.

My husband and I spent the next year using ovulation predictor kits and pregnancy tests. Setting aside the emotional toll that this took month after month, we were also spending at least $50 per month on the conception supplies.

I returned to my OB-GYN to share my concerns that so much time had passed without a pregnancy. She advised we try for another 6 months, but I insisted on some initial testing - a semen analysis for him and day 3 bloodwork for me. At this point we'd already spent over $600 on ovulation predictor kits and home pregnancy tests and nearly $1,000 on testing to confirm that I was a carrier of CF while my husband was not.

As it turned out, our efforts had been in vain. My husband was diagnosed with azoospermia. There was no sperm in his ejaculate. A non-invasive, $16 semen analysis provided us with this critical information.

Considering that one in eight couples will experience challenges conceiving, and knowing the emotional toll that waiting so long for treatment has, I now urge anyone who will listen to ask for a semen analysis and day 3 bloodwork as part of their pre-conception testing.

By the time we finally got our infertility diagnosis we were already emotionally drained. Realizing that the previous year and a half of trying was in vain was like a slap in the face.

It seems really crazy to me that the ACOG recommends CF carrier testing be offered to all Caucasian couples for a disease that affects less than 3 in 10,000 people, and yet testing for a disease that affects 1 in 8 couples is not offered until a couple has suffered for at least a year.

These recommendations can be changed. This myth can be busted. It is our advocacy, our voices, our action that will raise awareness about infertility, and prevent the unnecessary suffering of those who follow us on this journey.


What's Normal?

So, we just got home from our bonus ultrasound and I am happy to report that everything looks good. The Doc couldn't identify any cause of the bleeding. So we got an extra peek and heard a much faster heartbeat, and were sent on our way with instructions to take it easy for a while.

For the first time on this journey I've started to feel a sense of anger. I am angry that it can't just be easy, that a loss would mean that we have to start from scratch again, that I don't know what is normal, that I am having such a hard time just enjoying this. It is all starting to make me mad.

I really am trying so hard to be zen about it all, and find ways to change scary thoughts into positive ones - like thinking that the cramps are just the little one saying hi, but I just feel so disconnected. I can't say if I am afraid to connect with this little bean, or what, but I really don't feel connected enough to be able to trust my body.

In other news, as of this last weekend I am officially tapered off of the Lexapro. And I haven't taken a Xanax or a Klonopin since the retrieval.  I know that this is best for our baby, and it felt like the right decision when we made it, but today, I am wondering. I made the Dr agree that we could revisit the meds at any time and it feels early good to know that option is there is I need it.

I have so many other happy things to post about, but they are all in mid-thought at the moment.

Oh yes, my boobies started hurting this weekend! It was so exciting! and ML swears to me that they are growing. :)

Again, I have to thank all of your for the incredible support, at every step of the way you've been here for me. The beautiful Carlia won my cycle giveaway, but I do have a little something for the rest of you, if you'll email me your mailing address.


Wishing it Would Stop

"Oh Shit Honey"

Not the words ML wanted to hear from me as we were getting ready for bed last night. I had just sat down on the toilet and discovered a pantyliner full of red blood. He came running in, looking even more concerned than I felt. I got cleaned up and climbed into bed so he could deliver my PIO shot.

He asked if we should call the Dr in the morning, but I knew from our last round of spotting 2 weeks ago that there was nothing that could be done. It was what is was, and all we could do was hope that it stopped. He assured me that he loved me. No matter what.

I wasn't worried, so much as I just wished it would stop.

We'd done a lot of walking around that afternoon. Maybe I just overdid it a little.

We'd also defied doctors orders and engaged in "a tiny little bit" of intimacy the night before. We were very careful, I didn't O, and it lasted just a minute. It was my choice. I just needed to be close to him.

This morning, I woke to find a lesser quantity of darker older blood. It is what it is, right? All I can do is make myself cozy on the couch today, with my feet up, and my laptop to keep me company.

Happy Easter.

And the Winner Is...

Infertility is the most difficult painful thing I have ever experienced. The repeat trauma of devastating news. the tears. the depression. This journey has been a long dark struggle.

But there have also been some rays of light along the way.  I would have never guessed that I was as strong and resilient as I am. Or that my love for my husband could be so intense.  And who knew that there was this incredible community of amazing resilient women waiting here for me in blogland?

The support and encouragement I've found here, well,  - i just don't have the words to communicate how incredible it has been.

I found my voice here. This blog has given me a space to unload all of my fears, and hopes, and crazy mixed up thoughts. It gave me a structure to organize my thoughts, even when I am not logged on, I create posts in my head, and am able to let go of the thought insanity. It has kept me sane this past year.

I wish I could personally thank you. every single one of you who has read, who has commented, who has emailed, who has shared your story for me to read, who has opened your own blog up to my comments... Your presence has made this space real for me.

Thank You from the depths of my heart.

During my IVF cycle I received 419 incredible loving supportive comments. amazing. I am now thrilled to announce that the winner of my IVF cycle giveaway is Carlia from The Stork Drop Zone.

Carlia and her husband started trying to conceive back in 2002. She started her blog in 2008, and has really picked up steam this last year. Her posts are always fun and interesting, and I love how she always manages to incorporate pictures. I've really enjoyed reading back through some of her older posts and am so impressed with her perseverance and resiliency. She is embarking on a plan of IUI's and I hope that her new fertility bracelet will give her some extra strength on her journey. Carlia is the winner of a beautiful Bloomtastic fertility bracelet handmade by Jenna from Among the Blosoms.

Heck, I wish that I could send all of you a beautiful inspired gift to thank you personally for your incredible support. If you are willing to send me (via email) your mailing address I would like to send you a little something special. While I can't promise a beautiful Bloomtastic bracelet, I can promise that you'll receive a little gift from me to say thanks.


one little heartbeat

The ultrasound couldn't have gone better. I caught a glimpse of something in there right away which put me at ease immediately. The Dr confirmed that there were no tubal implantations and then showed us our little one. Yes, one, which actually came as a big relief to me. He pointed out the sac and the fetal pole, not that I could tell what he was talking about on the black and white screen. He measured us right on track at 6w3d. Then he tried to show us the flick of the heart. I couldn't see it, as hard as I looked, but he did and that is what really mattered to me.

And then, all of a sudden, there was audio. With one little heartbeat. It was pretty awesome, and a lot to try and take in all at once.

ML was intent on the screen throughout, twisted halfway out of his seat so that he could see it clearly.

We met with the Dr afterwards and he gave us three little pictures. My favorite is the one that shows a graph of the heart motion along the bottom. Pretty freaking cool when I stop and think about it!

The Dr was pleased with how everything was progressing. He told me to go ahead and schedule our first OB appointment, which I already did last week :) We'll have another ultrasound with the RE in two weeks and then he'll release us to the OB. I asked about exercise, since I am desperate to do something/anything, and he gave the green light for leisurely walks and non strenuous stretching. I was starting to feel a little stir-crazy.

So far so good!

Before the 1st Ultrasound

Just wanted to take a moment to document some of my thoughts before our ultrasound today.

I am excited and nervous. My biggest fear is that there will be nothing there. Its been a long two weeks since our betas, and who knows what might have happened in the meantime. And as much as I've dreamed of twins and would also love to not have to go thru all of this again, the thought of twins has become a little overwhelming.

I asked ML what he was thinking as we go into the ultrasound. He can't decide if he'd rather see one or two. Seeing two means that we don't have to go through all of this again, but one sure seems to be more manageable!

It took some time to sink in, and still is very surreal, but I am really loving being pregnant. I am feeling great.

I decided after the spotting adventure, that I am going to think of every symptom as communication with our little astroid. Every time I get cramps, I think, oh feel that, little astroid is saying hi, and I stop for a moment and send some love. When I feel hungry constantly, I stop for a moment and say hi to the little growing babe. It feels so much better to respond with love than worry.

And yes, our little bean has officially been named astroid. I asked ML the other night what he'd like to call the little one. Impending Cataclysmic Event(s) was his response. ICE for short. It was actually a very funny conversation. I decided that Astroid sounded a little nicer, but retained some of the power of ICE.

Little One is expecting a baby brother later this Summer. Bestie has been teaching her that the 'baby boy' is in mama's tummy. I walked into the house on Friday and Little One greeted me pointing to my tummy saying 'baby'. It made my heart melt.

I spend a lot of time with my grandma. This past Saturday my uncles and aunt were in town and we all met up for dinner. It was a rare event where my dad's family is all together (without my dad, unfortunately, but thats his deal). I love being with my uncles as they remind me so much of my grandpa who passed, and also of my dad. Their stories and mannerisms, it was a great evening.

So at dinner I told them I had an announcement. My Uncle yelled, "You're Pregnant". As soon as I could confirm, my aunt started screaming, and my other uncle jumped up from the table to give me the biggest most wonderful hug. My grandma was just glowing. It was the most perfect moment. I felt so much love from my family, and their excitement was so real and pure and genuine. I am the oldest grandchild, and I know that they've all been wondering what has taken us so long. I explained that we've been working on this for A LONG time and finally succeeded with IVF. They seemed to understand that this was that much more special of an announcement.

Since my pants started feeling uncomfortably tight last week, I went on craigslist to try and find some used maternity clothes to start expanding my wardrobe. I picked up a big bag of clothing from a woman who it turns out knows my mom from baby classes and recognized my name. (Who doesn't know my mom in this town, geez) As we talked, I found myself telling her that we'd waited a really long time for this miracle and finally used IVF. Seriously none of her business, and I know how gossip spreads in the community. (Ohh, did you hear that Mama Foxy's daughter used IVF?) But it felt right, It felt like the right time to start talking openly about our experience. People can be excited about the pregnancy, while also begin exposed, albeit briefly, to infertility. At this point, I think that everyone who knows we are pregnant, also now knows that we used IVF and struggled for many years.

This all leads me to the naive innocence that has let us share the news with so many folks. I know that the rule of thumb is to wait until 12 weeks, or at least until after the first ultrasound. We didn't really talk about waiting, and I have really loved being able to share the news. Seeing other peoples reactions is a big part of what has made this feel real to me. Their excitement has become my excitement. And besides, part of me really feels like we will need ALL of them to support us if this is not to continue. That and a naive attempt to bring pregnancy loss into the mainstream, if that is part of our journey.

So, I think that sums up a lot of my thoughts at the moment. Thoughts that I hope will continue to grow and evolve after our ultrasound today. Wish us luck!


Bestie saw my rump

ML is out of town for boys weekend at our college town. Before he left he made sure that I had someone lined up to give me my nightly PIO injections. I probably would have forgotten and then panicked last night as I went to bed and realized that I was on my own.

Bestie is the best friend a girl could ask for. She came over last night and braved the PIO injection for me. And again tonight I went to her house and she delivered the injection. She did a great job. and I love her for it.

My rump is feeling increasingly sore and painful. I have to be careful as I sit, and rolling over in bed at night is enough to make me gasp when I roll onto a sore spot. ML has always said that my tolerance for pain is crazy low. I'm beginning to think that he might be right.


Happy Birthday ML

Things are going pretty well over here in my Foxy world.

Today is ML's birthday. He is SO good with my birthdays, but I always have a hard time trying to figure out what I can get for him. The man has a pretty freaking good life, and there really isn't much that he needs. The things that he really wants are uber-big ticket items, purchases that I could not make without consulting him (even if we could afford them, ha!)

I was actually feeling last night as we went to bed, that I've been on the receiving end of this relationship for some time now, am beyond lucky to have this incredible man as my partner, and need to step up my game a bit. I love and appreciate him so much, and really want him to know that.

Bestie was asking me yesterday if we'd had 'the talk' about shared responsibilities when the kiddo(s) arrive. I honestly have to laugh, because, if the kiddo(s) are like any other part of our relationship, I'd be shocked if he didn't jump right in and carry his weight plus more. I don't want to sound like a lazy fart, so I won't go into details about our current breakdown of home responsibilities, but you get the picture.

There is a annual get-together with all the guys from his college fraternity* this weekend. These guys, as hopeless as they seemed in college, have turned out to be some of the most upstanding successful men I know. ML has been debating whether or not he wants to go. I warned him that this might be one of his last free passes before the kiddo(s) arrive after which time he'll be on lockdown with me. It was a joke, kindof, and we laughed a little, but I could see the terror in his eyes. Really though, I am so glad that he has these amazing friends, and honestly wish that they could all get together more often. I know that he could really benefit from their support right now.

* Have you ever seen the movies Animal House or Old School? His house was a little like that, a bizarre mix-match of guys living together in the most disgustingly dirty house with a keg on tap 24/7. I actually met ML at a party in that house, but that's a story for another day! oh yes, the house was burned to the ground accidentally last year. idiots.

The spotting has stopped, which although I've been assured is normal, had me a little freaked out. I've been having some cramping, nothing very strong, but definitely noticeable, on and off throughout the day. A big nasty cold sore popped up on my upper lip yesterday. I get a cold sore every couple years and take the wonder valtrex pill which makes it disappear almost instantly, but alas no pill for me this time.  My PIO rump is growing increasingly painful, but still bearable. and tell me I'm crazy but my pants are feeling tight. I gained about 5 lbs during the ivf cycle, and another 2 lbs since then. So maybe it is just the extra weight, but it does have me wondering what I am going to be wearing here pretty quickly!

In celebration of National Infertility Awareness Week, I made an appointment to advocate to my Congressman and also decided which myth I am going to bust.


Mind Games

I went to the spa with my mom yesterday. As soon as we arrived I noticed that I was spotting. It was the darker, older looking discharge, but it worried me. I took a glorious shower in the triple shower-head using all of the luxurious body gels. I walked up to the salon and got my hair styled while my mom got a massage. I sat with my girlfriend while she got a pedicure. Then I stopped by the restroom only to reactivate my concern. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough to make me wish it would stop. I'd start having cramps when I was up and moving around, but they would stop when I stopped. I sat at the edge of the spa with my feet in the bubbly water, chatting with my mom. We then moved to the fireplace room where we cuddled up with blankets and read magazines while eating almonds. Another trip to the restroom and I was nervous enough that I actually just wanted to go home. I took a very quick sit in the sauna, just long enough to slather on lots of rich lotion, jumping out just before the steam machine refilled the space with hot steam. I usually stay at the spa til they kick us out, but was happy to head home a little early.

I got home, told ML about the spotting, felt oddly calm thinking that it was what it was. Then I checked with Dr Google. Dr G has been pretty good to me in the past, but this time, not so much.

The internet told me that spotting/bleeding was not uncommon, but was not normal, and that 50% of the time, bleeding leads to miscarriage. This really wasn't what I wanted to read. But as I said, it was what it was, and what could I do about it?

So I texted Bestie, freaking the poor girl out. She had the most logical reply: "Can you call your Dr" Duhh. Thats what we pay him the big bucks for, right?

So I called, had to tell the answering service that, yes, for me, this was an emergency. They had the Dr on the phone in about a minute. He assured me that there was nothing to worry about. 99% of his fertility patients have some spotting. The progesterone suppositories irritate the cervix which causes some spotting. It was okay, I didn't need to worry. I was okay unless there was lots of red blood.




I always expected that we would be ecstatic when we finally got the wonderful news that we were pregnant. The reality has been so different. 

I expected to cry tears of joy, to embrace ML, to joyfully announce to my mom that she would finally be a grandma, to hug Bestie knowing that we are finally pregnant together. 

There were tears, my dear sister burst into sobs when I told her over the phone that she was going to be an auntie. It was the sweetest, purest reaction. Her heart is so big, and even though we've had our challenges, her love for me, ML and this baby is so clear. 

We've been so cautious as we've shared the news. And everyone has ben so careful to follow our lead in their response. At the same time as I want them to understand our hesitation in believing that this is actually happening, I want them to burst into tears of joy, to dance in the street, to respond ecstatic.

I really think that there was a part of me that believed we would never find ourselves here. My Someday mantra was specifically crafted in such a way that it looked beyond HOW we would become parents. Early on our journey huge pieces of the how were torn away from us and I spent a long time grieving that loss. Part of that process was letting go of a lot of the the expectations I had about how we would become parents. 

I had the tinyist bit of light pink spotting when I wiped yesterday. I was strangely calm, thinking that 'it was what it was' and there wasn't much I could do about it. But it also made me think that being pregnant, what I thought was an outcome I wanted, is really only a means to the ultimate outcome that I really want. 

Don't get me wrong, I've wanted this pregnancy more than anything. I want this more than anything I've ever wanted. However all these emotions are all existing together in that crazy mishmash of feelings that I've learned co-exist in each of us. 

Its been a week and 2 days since we got our good news, and slowly, very slowly, it is starting to sink in, starting to feel real. 

Resolve is celebrating National Infertility Awareness Week with a Bust a Myth campaign. I've been trying to think about a myth that I can bust in honor of NIAW, and came across this Myth/Fact on the Resolve website. It seems fitting for what I am feeling right now. 

Myth: "You will be ecstatic when you get that positive pregnancy test."
Fact: There are many non ecstatic feelings aroused by that positive test. Most couples experience shock and disbelief. As one RESOLVE member said, "During eight years of infertility I had fantasized how I would react to the news we had waited to hear each month. I had dreamed how I would shout it from the roof tops and call everyone I knew that didn't happen. When the doctor told me...all I could say was 'are you sure?' I sat at the table, numb, trying to absorb what I had just heard. I guess what I feel is that I am protecting myself again." There is also a great deal of fear and anxiety, especially about pregnancy loss. Often there are symptoms, such as spotting, that escalate that fear. For many people, the anxiety is somewhat eased by an ultrasound showing a uterine pregnancy or by carrying into the third trimester. For others, especially those who have previously lost pregnancies, anxiety can remain until a healthy baby is delivered. One pregnant woman said, "My first 4 pregnancies ended in miscarriage...I cannot bear to hear people say, 'Oh, how wonderful! Congratulations!' No, it is not wonderful...being pregnant is frightening and anxiety producing and a situation in which daily life feels like walking on eggs."

I'm off to the spa with my mama. Hope that you all can find an excuse to pamper yourselves a little this week :)


An Open Letter to PETA

Read this post from Keiko first, then read my post, then write your own letter.

Ingrid E. Newkirk, President
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals 

Dear Ms. Newkirk,

I too am a member of the infertility community and respectfully request that you immediately discontinue your "Win a Vasectomy" contest that is being held in honor of national infertility awareness week. Furthermore I request that your organization issue an apology to the infertility community for this insulting and hurtful ad campaign.

I am a lifelong advocate for spay and neuter programs. In fact I work in a capacity to direct significant funding to out local animal shelter for the purpose of spay and neuter programs, and ensuring the humane treatment of animals.

Being a mom is the only dream I've ever had. My husband and I were married for five years before we started trying to start our family. The day we received our azoospermia diagnosis was the worst day of my life. We spent the next two years undergoing extensive invasive testing to determine and treat the cause of our infertility. This is the most painful thing I have ever experienced, complete with embarrassment, stigma, and grief.

Infertility is a silent disease. It is a disease that affects 1 in 8 couples, including just as many men as women. I am speaking out on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of inertial couples who have not yet found their voice.

Please do the right thing and correct this wrong immediately.



Beta #4

At my second beta, before they gave us any indication of a pregnancy, I brought the clinic a batch of fresh baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I presented them as a bribe for positive news, and since the clinic accepted the cookies I assumed that we had a deal! 

After today's beta results I feel safe to say it was a brilliant strategy on my part :)

Today's Beta #4 at 15dp3dt is 275 (with a doubling time of 34.56 hrs from the previous test)

at 9dp3dt our beta was 7.6
at 11dp3dt our beta was 30.5 (doubling time of 24.56 hrs from the previous test)
at 13dp3dt our beta is 105 (with a doubling time of 27.27 hrs from the previous test)

Our next appointment is on Monday April 18 for our first ultrasound. A second ultrasound is scheduled for May 2.

I am feeling great. Only symptoms I'm noticing are lightheadedness if I get up too fast, a sore rump from the PIO, a little bit of heartburn yesterday, and it could be in my head but I swear that I am farting way more than normal.
I calculated the winner of my giveaway last night, and will be making the announcement very soon. Stay tuned!


Low Doubling Betas

Just got home from beta #3.

ML took the call confirming that we were in fact pregnant on Friday but didn't know to ask about the beta numbers. Our RE waits until after the second beta to give you any info, so I knew at least that we had two positive tests, and that the number had at least doubled.

Today when we were there, I was able to ask about the earlier beta's.

at 9dp3dt our beta was 7.6.
at 11dp3dt our beta was 30.5 (doubling time of 24.56 hrs from the previous test)

I've spent my fair share of time on BetaBase to know that these betas are on the low side. As soon as we got home I got online and confirmed my instinct. However, as long as they keep doubling we are looking good, so I remain cautiously optimistic.

We just got the call to let us know the results of beta #3

at 13dp3dt our beta is 105 (with a doubling time of 27.27 hrs from the previous test)

We have a 4th beta on Tuesday, so there is a little more reassurance coming our way soon enough!

I am so glad now that I didn't poas before my first betas, since these early levels would not have registered and I would have been needlessly disappointed. I have never seen a positive pee stick, and just might have to take one now, just for fun.
* * * * *
This still feels very surreal. I think that there was a part of me that believed we would never experience pregnancy. and maybe a part of me that seriously wondered if we would ever have children no mater how hard we tried by any means. The self-preservation that led to those beliefs in the first place is fighting hard now to protect me now.

I want to be careful how I say this, but the reality of knowing that this child was created with the assistance of a donor is something that is weighing heavy on our hearts at the moment. There is an element of grief that has risen to the surface, which I think is healthy and necessary.

Don't get me wrong, we are happy, but not in the ecstatic overjoyed dancing in the streets way that I expected.

Maternity Clothes

I really want this. I've always wanted this. I knew when I was little and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. They thought it was cute when I responded by saying that I wanted to be a mom. I can honestly say that being a mom is the only thing I've ever expected and wanted out of life. It is the only thing that I've always wanted. 

I was talking to Bestie about finding her style as a new mom. She has always been attuned to the fashion of the day, so this is not a surprise.  I am not a particularly fashionable gal, never have been. Most of my clothes are hand me downs from my fasionista sister. I am embarrassed to admit that I still have clothes from high school in my closet. I wear what is comfortable, and clean, and and consideration for style is secondary. 

However, I have always imagined that I would be one of those cute fashionable pregnant women. Now, more than ever I dream of flaunting my baby bump. 

I've been doing a little online window shopping and wanted to share what I found. I'd love any suggestions about good online sources of affordable and cute maternity clothes, especially for us tall gals. 

Pea in a Pod Sweater
Old Navy Maternity Roll-Panel Boot-Cut Jeans - size 10 long #7372130021003 

Old Navy Maternity Roll Panel Twill Pants - size 10  #8183970120010 

Gap Demi panel corduroy pants - size 10 long black #7618610021003 

Gap Demi panel perfect trouser pants (navy pinstriped)- size 10 long #7799380021003 

Due Maternity Knit Maternity Pants by Maternal America - large black

A Pea in a Pod Short Sleeve Side Ruched Maternity Sweater - large brown #18755

ASOS Maternity - Everything!

I know it is still early, but it takes time to get a nice wardrobe pulled together.  I am also wondering where I might find used maternity clothing. There must be thousands of women with closets full of beautiful maternity clothing. I want to collect a few pieces of my own, but would really love to buy a wardrobe from someone who has already built it, like the hand-me-downs I loved growing up. In case it matters, I'm 5'9" and 160 lbs. Do you know where I should look? 


Its All Good.

The news is good.
We are thrilled, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the emotions are mixed.
I can't believe that this is for real.

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