Acupuncture and Paperwork

So I went to my first acupuncture appointment today! She told me I had a “cold uterus” and stuck like 44 needles in me. It was actually really relaxing! I spent 30 minutes face down and then 30 min on my back. I am not sure I believe in the efficacy of the treatment, but it is, at the very least, a relaxing hour in my day. Also, 90% of the needles didnt hurt going in, but as soon as she stuck one in my right leg, the bottom of my foot felt this crazy surge of energy or something, which was pretty weird and fascinating! I really like my acupuncturist. She also told me, while looking at my chart and background, that I really might have egg quality issues. Which just confirmed my biggest concerns right now. She doesn’t know for sure, of course, and she’s not an RE, but it was something she immediately said.

I just don’t know what I will do if we go through all of this and have 0 PGS normal day 5 blasts. I mean, I really might lose it. And there’s nothing I can do to figure it out in advance. This is so hard to go through and people on the outside really don’t have a clue.

Anyway, then Mr Upside and I met at our clinic and signed our official paperwork with our IVF nurse. Got to go over some really cheery stuff about what to do with our embryos if we divorce or die.  But honestly, signing the paperwork was another check off the list and another step forward on this journey to what I eventually believe will be a baby. I hope and hope and hope and will try what I can for it to be genetically ours, but, if its not- it will still be a baby. I hope. One day.

Came back to do some work on the couch and snuggle with my cat. The best support system there is!

Leap of Days, Leap of Faith

Leap Year: So we got gifted an extra day this year. The 29th. I didn’t really need or want an extra day, in February of all months, but I knew we were getting it anyway.

Somehow, the 29th arrived– and I also happen to be 1 DPO. I don’t know how I managed to ovulate this month–  I was shocked myself. As I mention in my About page, I have anovulatory cycles. My follies grow, but I often don’t get a strong enough LH surge to either register on any OPKs or to strongly release the egg on my own. Hence the Femara (Letrozole) and the trigger shots (Ovidrel).

And so certainly– this month– with my 30 mm cyst on my good ovary– I assumed I wouldn’t ovulate. And yet, on CD 18 this month– this Leap Month— I got a peak reading on my Clear Blue Fertility Monitor. A peak despite my anovulatory problems and my cyst. Wow.

Sometimes when you’re feeling the most down (like my last post) you get something to lift you back up.

Now, I know that there’s a low probability this month (and every month), particularly in light of the not using any fertility meds– and also because we were only able to BD on surge day (as in, not yesterday– although I get the feeling O day is often too late anyway). But to have a completely natural cycle produce an ovulation is that little boost of faith I need when things get tough.

Plus, the countdown is on. No, not that one, not the TWW. The countdown to see a new RE to get a second opinion. I want my labs and body looked at by a second pair of eyes because I want to know if we are on the best course of action– if we are doing everything we can.  Call me Type A– I just like to feel more in control. So, 8 days. Eight days until March 8 when I see someone I will call Dr Unicorn. Maybe she can be something rare and special and just the fix I need. Maybe between Dr Unicorn and my leap year ovulation, I’ll see enough natural miracles to make me believe.

Call it a Leap of Faith.

The numbers game (FSH, AMH)

So here’s something you may not read every day: I love statistics.

I studied stats in grad school, and I play with them just about every day in my day job (which, by the way, does not involve trying to conceive). I love that statistics is a field of math, but one in which there aren’t necessarily clear-cut answers. I love the stories the numbers tell, and I love that some can be up to interpretation. I love thinking about building models that can explain things, and picking apart studies that think they’ve explained things. It’s a tricky field. You’ve all probably heard that line…yes, you know the one: lies, damned lies, and statistics. But I prefer this one: It is easy to lie with statistics– but it is easier to lie without them. 

But I’m having a tough time with numbers now. When it’s your personal life, things are a bit different.

I got my recent lab results back, my CD 3 baseline, and I’m a bit perplexed. So here they are:

Estradiol: 35

FSH: 8

AMH: 2.2

My doc just emailed them with a note that says “labs in normal range!” At first I was relieved. But, as is my nature, I couldn’t just leave it at that. I’m a researcher at heart. So I googled…then googled some more. And the only thing I know for sure is that I’m confused.

Some information I see puts me squarely in the normal range. Some of the rest puts me borderline. And still, some more put me in the “low fertility” corner. And believe me, I have put in way too much time looking up information. I calculated a conversion of ng/mL to pmol/L to read more charts.

Anyway, my doctor’s note included the range of AMH which went from .176 to 11. From all I can tell, .176 is a terrible reading. So what gives?

As a 30 year old, I think my FSH and AMH are slightly borderline. Or maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re fine, after all. That’s the thing about the uncertainty of cut-offs and statistics. Creating cut-offs for things that are, by nature, continuous and linear, is a strange business. I think I want a second opinion. I’ve been seeing the same doctor for a year, and I love her– I really truly do. But sometimes I feel like I’m going to go crazy in my own mind and a third brain in the mix can’t hurt…can it? I’d rather know my options sooner rather than later, and I’d rather find out bad news now. I’d rather know that I should be pursuing something else, changing course, or moving quicker than I am.

If you can’t tell, I have a tendency to go down rabbit holes. Let’s hope I can climb back out of this one.

 

Smell the Roses

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

I know this “holiday” gets a pretty bad rap. And some of it may be deserved. But, at the very least, perhaps we can use this time to take a pause and appreciate the relationships all around us. These relationships don’t necessarily have to be romantic. They could be familial or platonic friendship, or perhaps the love you feel for your cat or dog (or bird, or lizard).

I know that for me, Valentine’s Day 2016 is one of my upsides. I always like to celebrate, not with a fancy dinner, but with cards, flowers, and maybe Thai food with my husband. Sure, it’s a silly holiday, and sure, it’s less meaningful than our anniversary, but I enjoy the way we can use the day to pause and appreciate each other.

But there’s another reason I’m thankful today, too.

See, a few weeks ago, I was in Dr W’s office for my trigger shot. Before she pulled down the top of my pants to stick a needle in my bum, she was looking at my chart. “Oh,” she said, her fingers scrolling across the paper and pen marks. “Looks like on Valentine’s Day you’ll either get your period or a positive test!”

She said this excitedly. I looked back at her like she had two heads. Seriously? I thought. The last thing I want is my period and all the disappointment that comes with it– on Valentine’s Day.

“I know what’s going through your head,” she said. “But just think– it could be the best Valentine’s Day ever!” Sweet Dr W. She is always an optimist.

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day and I’m not pregnant. So why is there an upside? Because my period came a few days early. It meant cutting the interminable and excruciating #2ww (two week wait) short. It meant not having to go through the last 2 days wondering if I’m pregnant, debating whether or not to take a test, and kicking myself when I break down and get a BFN. It meant that I found out two days BEFORE Valentine’s Day, which means that I did’t have to wake up on February 14th with the bad news. I had time to process it. I nursed my wounds for a couple of days. And right now, I’m not so upset.

So we got to make the most out of VDay 2016: I made Mr Upside breakfast, he got me beautiful roses, we went on a long, beautiful hike, we cuddled with our cat, and now he’s about to take me to dinner– where you better believe I’ll be drinking all the wine I want. 

So happy Valentine’s Day, wherever you are, and whatever you’re struggling with. Take a brief pause and smell your own roses. My wish for you is that this day grants you the ability to see your silver lining, just as it has let me.

Upside 1: Getting to Know You(r Body)

I don’t know about you, but I have always loved The King and I. To be honest, the first version I saw was starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-fat, not the classic with Julie Andrews. But it came out when I was young, and quickly led me to the classic. Here she is, pictured above, singing Getting to Know You.

Which leads me to my first upside of IF: getting to know your own body. I know, it sounds weird, that you wouldn’t “know” a body you’re been inhabiting for 20, 30, 40 years– but the truth is that most women just don’t totally understand their reproductive processes or recognize the signs of their fertile days.

A year and a half ago I would never have been able to explain to you acronyms like: CM, BFN, OPK, CP, POAS, EWCM– the list goes on and on! But it’s not just the lingo that matters. It’s what it all stands for. It’s the fact that your own body is an extremely precise, well-regulated (well, some more than others), complex machine of cyclical nature.

Chances are, you’ve been hearing all your life that you can get pregnant ANY time you have unprotected sex. Chances are when you were in your teen years or early 20s, you spent a fair amount of emotional energy making sure you never let that happen. And while it’s true that for some women, pregnancy can occur at varying days of the cycle, the fact remains that it is extremely rare and extremely difficult to get pregnant outside of a window of about 4 days a month. Believe me, I have tried.

There was something innately exciting about the first time I saw my ovaries on the “big screen” (aka, ultrasound). When I saw the follicles, when Dr W explained how their sizes shaped up. Just as there is something profound about being able to guess your date of ovulation based on just the signs your body gives you. After going through (an admittedly pathetic- thanks, Texas public ed) sex ed, after getting not just a college degree but a graduate one as well, after 11 years of being on the pill, and despite thinking I’m pretty in tune to my own health– the truth is I knew none of the signs of ovulation, nor did I know how to guess my peak fertility day. It may not be for the squeamish, but checking CM and CP for me is always an interesting and intimate experience. It’s my own body, so why should I be shy?

I have always considered myself a proud feminist. But my total lack of understanding of my reproductive system, until recent years, held me back from “getting” how cool and fascinating the female body really can be. I have nothing against the pill– it kept me happy and healthy and unpregnant for more than a decade (there’s some dark humor in here about not seeming to need its help after all). But it also just masked my body’s natural processes, it put blinders on me, and its artificial hormones distanced my mind from my body to the point where I really never thought about it. I truly believe that the mind-body connection is real, and how can you have one if you are ignoring one of the most interesting components of yourself?

I believe that I know myself better. I believe that, despite periodic anger, frustration, sadness, and fertility treatments, I recognize and understand how to take care of the body I’ve been given. I know how to love and nourish it. I know how to exercise it. And importantly, I know how to forgive it.

Sure, you can get to know your own body without experiencing infertility. But let’s be honest: who is a better expert than the people who have been trying, reading the signs, exploring their bodies, and getting to know their organs on the “big screen”- for years and years? So that’s my first upside: I never truly knew my own body until my journey with IF. But now, my body and I are very deeply connected.

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