Worrying while TTC

From even before the moment we decided to pray about whether or not it was time to time to start trying to start our family, I worried.

I worried about money, how I was going to continue running my company with kids running around, how Mr.E would be able to study (he’s still in school), if we would have trouble trying to get pregnant (nah! That will never happen to me!), my other medical conditions and how pregnancy would affect them, and so on.

And then we never got a BAM! revelation that it was time to start trying. It was just that one day we felt more confident in our abilities and the worries seemed less relevant. So I made the appointment to get my IUD removed.

Then a new worry started. Did it work? Did we time it right? Are these stupid OPKs and HPTs working???

By the time the second month of TTC ended, I knew there was something wrong. Call it crazy, or woman’s intuition, or whatever you want. I knew that something wasn’t right. So for the third month I found a doctor to test my basic levels during my cycle. They seemed ok. But I still just knew something wasn’t right. I could feel it. And I worried about it. A LOT.

After talking to an RE, he suggested getting Mr.E’s sperm count checked. Just in case. And to put my fears at rest.

So, on September 11, 2012 we went to get the semen analysis. I truly did not think anything would come of it, other than some reassurance that all was well. Imagine my surprise when I got that phone call on September 18, 2012. I will never forget that.

Whatever I used to think “worrying” meant was so lame compared to the way I felt then. And I haven’t stopped worrying since! Oh I’ve tried to stop. There have been times I’ve felt at peace and confident with our decisions, but for the most part I’ve worried. Even now, I worry about how I’ll explain a sperm donor to our kids.

I wish I could stop. I remind myself of quotes like, “Worry is a misuse of the imagination.”

Today I came across this one and wanted to share it with you all. I hope it helps you make the choice to stop worrying, even if only for a day. Be a little stronger today!

IMG_3797.JPG

IVF #3 – 14 Weeks 4 Days Pregnant

In 10 days I’ll get another ultrasound. It’s been 12 days since my last ultrasound. Frankly, I have no idea how fertiles do it. How do they wait MONTHS between opportunities to see their babies? I guess if it was me, i would pay money every few weeks at one of those ultrasound places in the mall. In fact, I’ve considered doing that already. After this three week wait between ultrasounds, I have another three week wait for the next one. That one will be the anatomy and gender scan! Four weeks and two days!

We’re going to have the ultrasound tech write the genders on paper and out them in an envelope. Then our friend is going to make cakes and we’ll find out the genders at the same time as everyone else!! OMG I can’t wait!

Right now, they don’t feel much like babies in my belly. I mean, I know in my mind that they are there and I see them moving during ultrasounds, but I haven’t felt them moving yet. And right now I kind of feel like a baby sitter or an emotionally invested incubator. I hope when we hear the genders I’ll start thinking of them as my sons or daughters. Did that make any sense at all?

Oh yeah and the other reason I know they’re there is because my stomach is huge. Large and in charge. My mom said I’m going to have to lie to people about about my due date if we’re not going to tell them about the twins because nobody is this big at 14 weeks. We’re keeping the twins a secret until the gender reveal party! But seriously. My waist is 46 inches. Forty six. (BTW – 48 inches is 4 feet. Holy crap.) Not complaining, just observing.

I hoped to have something interesting to write after my last ultrasound 12 days ago. It was actually my NT scan (nuchal translucency). They did an ultrasound and some blood work. Unfortunately, they couldn’t give me any results yet because the blood work has two parts and they have to be done 4 weeks apart. No results until the second set of blood work comes back. I swear, pregnancy is a LOT of hurry up and wait, over and over again. I’ll do the second half of the blood work the second week of October. I’ll get a good detailed post for that!

Hope everyone out there is doing well. I think about you guys, my readers, all the time. Wondering how you’re doing, what stage of the azoospermia/infertility journey you are in, how you feel, and how you’re handling it all. Feel free to drop a comment any time to catch us up on your story, to rant and rage when needed, and to share any and all successes!

Metformin and Thyroid Testing

This is huge. Wonderful breakthrough for advocates for proper thyroid testing. And for patients with PCOS or type 2 diabetes who are also experiencing recurrent miscarriage.

Today this study came out that proves that while taking Metformin (used for type 2 diabetes, PCOS, and other conditions), your TSH is artificially suppressed.

When TSH is low, doctors assume you are hyperthyroid (hyper meaning too much) or that you are taking too much thyroid medication. They want to adjust your dosage based on your TSH.

Or worse, your TSH level shows up right in the middle of the range and your doctor says, “It’s normal. You don’t need any thyroid medication.” But in reality, your TSH is artificially low because you’re taking metformin. So you continue walking around overweight, tired, with dry skin and a growing bald patch on your head.

If you are taking metformin, your doctor MUST NOT use TSH to find the right dose for you. He must use Free T3 and Free T4.

To learn more about proper testing of thyroid hormones, whether you take metformin or not, go to Stop the Thyroid Madness.

IVF #3 – 12 Weeks 2 Days Pregnant – Kate Middleton

You guys. Did you hear? The big news networks confirmed she’s pregnant. The “news” I wrote about here seems like it might have been true, but might have been a little early if she’s not 12 weeks yet. I did get it from tabloids.

Anyway. Do you know what this means?! I’m due before she is! She stopped stealing my life and my babies! Yay! I feel like the curse has been lifted!

IVF #3 – 10 Weeks 6 Days Pregnant – IVF Clinic Graduation

We graduated from our IVF clinic today! There was no ceremony, but it was a bitter sweet moment saying goodbye to the doctor. We’ve really come to love the doctors and nurses at the clinic. It’s strange to think we won’t see them again until we’re ready to have more kids! I rest easier at night knowing our two little frosty embabies are in good hands there. I look forward to seeing them again!

We had an ultrasound today, our 5th one for the pregnancy. Both babies looked good. At first I was scared because they weren’t moving and wiggling like they did last time, but then I saw their little blinking hearts. It had only been 7 days since the previous ultrasound, but my imagination goes crazy in between. My morning sickness got much worse at exactly 10w0d, so I’ve been taking a third dose of my B6+Unisom cocktail. I worried I was hurting the babies all week, but felt much better today after seeing them.

The next ultrasound will probably be two weeks from today at the nuchal translucency (NT) scan. I haven’t researched it much, but apparently they measure the fold of skin at the back of the babies’ necks and then that measurement along with some bloodwork gives you a probability score of having a baby with a chromosomal abnormality like trisomy 18 or trisomy 21. Most insurance companies will pay for this scan and for the gender and anatomy scan around 20 weeks.

If we were pregnant with a singleton then getting Noninvasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) like MaterniT21 or Panorama would be an option. Those are done around 10 weeks, test for the more chromosomal abnormalities, and can also tell you the gender of the baby! Insurance will not usually pay for this unless you are over 35 years old, but if you want to know early you can pay for it out of pocket.

I worry my blog is boring or less relevant to the TTC infertility world now that I only have pregnancy updates. I really hope the nausea comes to an end soon because I have some post ideas about azoospermia and pesticides, azoospermia and endocrine disruptors like BPA and triclosan, azoospermia and stem cells, etc. that I really want to work on and get uploaded.

IVF #3 – 9 Weeks 0 Days

I had a funny dream last night. I dreamt that Mr.E slept with someone else and he had to tell me because she got pregnant. Of course I was very upset and I kicked him out.

As he was leaving I realized all of a sudden, “Wait a minute. She got pregnant? That means he has sperm!!!” So I ran after him trying to catch up to him to tell him to stop and come back.

Now that I’m awake I think it’s funny that I forgave the infidelity so instantly just because he had sperm 🙂

On the TTC front, we don’t get to see the babies again until Friday, 9w6d. That appointment is with a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor. I hope I like the doctor because I wasn’t thrilled with the regular OB. He has an obsession with just looking at TSH for hypothyroid. The TSH test is a joke.

Anyway, then the following week we’ll have an appointment with the IVF clinic. If things are still going smoothly, we’ll be released and sent on our way!

IVF #3 – 8 Weeks 2 Days Pregnant – Morning Sickness

I used to want to be a spy for the CIA. I even learned Arabic after 9/11 and then applied. They rejected my application, but they didn’t give an explanation why. I think the CIA knew something about me then that I just learned about myself. They must have known that if I was captured by the enemy, the enemy wouldn’t even have to torture me to get information. All they’d have to do is make me nauseated and I would give it all up. I would tell them anything and everything they would ever want to know just for a little relief.

My real morning sickness started the evening of 6w6d, just over 9 days ago. Within a few short days of writhing in bed 24 hours a day and me begging whoever would listen to make it stop, an evil part of my brain reminded me that a miscarriage could make it stop. This is how I know I’d give up all my spy secrets if the enemy made me nauseated. Who spends over $80,000, invests thousands of hours in research and doctor appointments, and immeasurable amounts of heartache to make a baby and then after 3 days of nausea begs for it to come to an end?

Do I actually want a miscarriage to make it stop? Of course not. But in the midst of my agony I couldn’t seem to make those thoughts of sweet relief stop entering my brain. And that’s how I knew that my goal of an unmedicated pregnancy would come to an end. I love the babies and my biggest fear is that something bad will happen to one or both of them. But if I’m imagining a miscarriage as “sweet relief” I need to make some changes.

On Friday (7w6d) I discovered this article about vitamin B6 and Unisom. I sent Mr.E to Walgreens and took half a Unisom tablet in the morning. I had my first OB appointment that afternoon. There was NO way I was going to be able to make it to that appointment. I was in too much misery. But the Unisom made it possible! We got to see the babies again, this time via my very first abdominal ultrasound.

Doxyalamine, the active ingredient in Unisom, is pregnancy Category A, which basically means it’s one of our safest options. None of the Rx meds for nausea and vomiting are category A. Zofran is Category B and Phenergan is Category C. Even though I desperately wanted a medication-free pregnancy, I view the Unisom as definitely the lesser of many evils and certainly preferable to the nightmare and heartache of a miscarriage.

If you get nausea after you get that elusive BFP, don’t let it get so bad that you’re looking for sweet relief in all the wrong places. Talk to your doctor about trying the B6 and Unisom combination.

UPDATE: 8/11/14 @ 6pm
When we were still in the thick of things trying to find sperm and figure out why there weren’t any, I used to get so annoyed with whiny pregnant people on FB. I would think, “You ungrateful little brat! How dare you complain! Don’t you have any clue how lucky you are?” and, “I would never complain. I would love the stretch marks and the nausea and the lack of sleep, all of it. I want those motherhood battle scars. Give them to me.”

I guess what I wanted to get across in this post is that just because you’ve suffered emotionally and physically trying to get pregnant doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to suffer once you are pregnant. Nor does it mean you have to suffer silently during pregnancy.

Hopefully this clarifies my thoughts and doesn’t make it worse. I don’t want anyone to think I’m complaining. But I promised myself that I would be truthful and honest in this blog. I don’t want to leave out any of my feelings.

IVF #3 – 7 Weeks 4 Days Pregnant

After Michael Jackson died, I swear my iPod played his music more often than it did before. I was pretty sure Apple had changed their random algorithm temporarily. Of course it isn’t true, it just seemed that way because of the circumstances. What does this have to do with anything? You’ll see.

I’m embarrassed to even write parts of this post because I feel like such a worrywart dork. Frankly, I’m a nervous wreck. About everything:

“I have to go to the bathroom. Good. I want to check if there’s any blood. Great! No blood this time!”

“I just woke up on my right side. Crap, I hope the babies are ok.”

“Ouch there’s that cramping again. I know it’s normal for other pregnant ladies, but what about me? I hope the babies are ok.”

“Does that bacon have nitrates?”

“I hope this headache doesn’t get worse, I don’t want to take Tylenol. It depletes glutathione.”

“Is today an egg day? Eggs have choline so I need to eat 2-3 eggs every other day.”

“I don’t have any friends to invite to a baby shower since infertility made me want to isolate myself from the rest of the world for the past 2 years.”

“I better make breastfeeding work because formula is expensive. Times 2.”

“I just sneezed and felt a super sharp pain in my belly. Oh my gosh, it’s not going away!! Oh wait. There it goes. Phew. I hope the babies are ok.”

“Whoops, I forgot I was pregnant and sat down too hard. Crap. I hope the babies are ok.”

“I hope I make it to full term. I don’t want to leave the hospital with babies in the NICU.”

“I really want some Costco Pizza. I hope that’s not bad for the babies.”

“We can’t afford organic fruits and veggies AND organic, hormone free, grass fed meats. I hope pesticides are ok for the babies. What am I saying! Of course they’re not. Maybe I should just skip fruits and veggies.”

“This shower feels good. Hmmm, I wonder if that means it’s too hot for the babies. I better turn it colder. Gosh, when am I going to remember to buy a thermometer for the shower so I can test the water?”

This is just a small sampling of what goes through my head, sometimes multiple times a day.

Yesterday at about 4pm, for the first time since 9dp5dt I had blood when I wiped. It wasn’t bright red blood, just pink. It scared me because before I went to the bathroom I had cramping. And then the cramping seemed to get worse and it lasted for hours. So I called the IVF clinic hoping someone could do an ultrasound right away and tell me if the babies are still ok. They couldn’t see me until this morning. I was very disappointed, but decided to just go home and rest and cry about it.

I kept thinking and saying, “I knew it was too good to be true.” Mr.E tried to comfort me. He wasn’t worried, he said he doesn’t worry about stuff until after it’s confirmed. I have NO idea how to do that.

Anyway, late last night a new set of darker pink blood started after the first round had turned brown. And I noticed I still had the cramping.

This morning I woke up in really good spirits. I was laughing and joking between bouts of morning sickness. Then we all got in the car to go to the ultrasound.

When we were sitting in the waiting room I started thinking about how my iPod played more Michael Jackson after he died. And I started wondering if I imagined the “extra” cramping with the bleeding. The more I thought about it, the more I was pretty sure that was true.

The ultrasound itself went great. Two wonderful heartbeats, 132 and 136 bpm. Baby A was almost triple his/her previous size at the first ultrasound. Baby B was more than double his/her previous size.

I cried tears of relief and joy as soon as he showed each baby and their heartbeat. What a roller coaster of emotions this journey is!

I took a nap when I got home home and when I woke up I started theorizing about all those worries I listed above and everything else that happens to me. I wondered if that Michael Jackson iPod phenomenon fueled so many of my other worries.

Here’s the theory I came up with: once you’re infertile, you’ve beat the odds in the worst way possible. You realize that bad things can happen to you, so you start to see them in your life more often than you used to. In reality, I think it’s just that infertility makes you examine your life under a magnifying glass. Things that wouldn’t have seemed so bad before are now huge and feel insurmountable. The bad things seem to happen more often and success seems further away.

Of course, just like my iPod didn’t play Michael Jackson more often after he died, infertility doesn’t make you more susceptible to bad things happening. It doesn’t mean that any joy you experience is too good to be true.

IVF #3 – 6 Weeks 6 Days Pregnant

At my ultrasound on Monday the doctor went over my (extensive) list of supplements and my medications. Other than the estradiol and PIO shots, the only other prescription medication I take is Nature-throid. It’s natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). A more well-known brand of NDT is called Armour. I’m a really big believer in people using NDT as much as possible instead of Synthroid / levothyroxine / levoxyl, which I think are synthetic crap.

Anyway, so as I listed each vitamin and drug, he didn’t have much comment until we got to the Nature-throid. He said that on Saturdays and Sundays I should double my dose because the babies would be taking some of it. This is the first time I have ever heard this. In fact, in my own research prior to getting pregnant I thought I read that hCG from the placenta triggers the pituitary to release more TSH, which would naturally increase my own thyroid hormone output. I thought this meant that I would need to decrease my dose, but apparently not. That was an interesting tidbit of information.

I called my naturopath who prescribes my thyroid medications (FYI – don’t ever bother going to an endocrinologist for thyroid problems, they just.dont.get.it.) to get my thyroid bloodwork done again. He also ordered a Complete Metabolic Panel which tests stuff like calcium, sodium, potassium, etc. Would you believe I’m on the cusp of hyponatremia? Hyponatremia is low sodium in the blood. In my case it is probably caused by OHSS. My level is 135 and normal is 137-146.

So, of course I freak out thinking I’m killing the babies because I’m grossed out by Gatorade after drinking it for the last few weeks. I went back to drinking water about a week ago but the bloating and discomfort had come back. I ignored it because it wasn’t too bad I thought. And because the thought of more Gatorade made me want to puke. Anyway so I feel guilty like I’m hurting them because their little placentas are gonna be all dried up because there’s no fluid for them because there’s none in my blood.

Needless to say I’m back on the Gatorade and I had canned soup for lunch and I’ll probably have more for dinner. Anything processed is loaded with sodium.

I also decided that if we do another IVF someday I think we should take our chances and not do a fresh transfer. OHSS is so incredibly uncomfortable. There’s no way to escape it once you have it. It’s not quite unbearable, but close. And I’m not even severe. Probably just mild. Of course I say this now, but I’ll probably change my mind back when the time comes because I know it’s worth it in the long run.

In other interesting developments, about a week ago my hands started falling asleep while sleeping. If I lay on my right, my left hand falls asleep and vice versa. I’ll probably buy some carpal tunnel wrist braces to sleep in.

Seeing the heartbeats really did help me be less anxious. I didn’t think it would but it has. I know I’m doing everything I can to make this work, so if something goes wrong it will be because of something out of my control. I’m taking good thyroid meds, the proper B vitamins for MTHFR, baby aspirin for MTHFR, drinking my Gatorade, eating grass fed and organic meats, drinking organic milk, etc.

I’ll close this post with the Serenity Prayer:

20140801-204438-74678261.jpg

IVF #3 – 18dp5dt – Betas #3 and #4

On Saturday morning (16dp5dt) I realized all of a sudden that I wasn’t nauseated anymore. I had been experiencing early morning nausea since about 5dp5dt. True to form, I immediately panicked and decided I must be having a miscarriage because my one and only symptom of pregnancy had disappeared.

So yesterday, on 17dp5dt I went and got my hCG done again, beta #3. It came back at 5,296. That seemed pretty good, but I wanted to make sure it was going up, not coming down so I got it done again today. Beta #4 was 7,716.

Hopefully the next 6 days will go by quickly. Our first ultrasound is one week from today at 6w2d.