Tuesday, March 31, 2009

IF Humor

On Sunday we went to a birthday party for my niece. It was at a hotel so that the kids could go swimming and there was a really nice party room attached to the pool area. My sister and BIL usually have a New Year's Eve party at their house. But after going to this hotel they thought that it would be a good place to have the New Year's party for a change. So, my sis emailed us yesterday and asked what we thought of having the New Year's party at the hotel this year and renting rooms overnight. I told her that we were in.

Last night DH and I were talking about it and he said, "What are all of the kids going to do when it is time to go to bed if we are all in the party room?" I explained that all of the kids, except L, are old enough to stay up until midnight. Then I said, "ha ha ha, maybe I will be pregnant and I will be sooo tired and I will want to go to bed before midnight so I can take L to bed with me. ha ha ha". He said, "Yes, maybe. That would be nice." I looked at him and said, "If you believe that good for you because I don't".

It's weird because I have *hope* (my best friend and worst enemy all on the same day) that one of these cycles will work, but I don't *believe* that they will. Does this make any sense?

In other news, my meds are being delivered on Thursday. And I start Lu.pron on 4/7, NOT 4/17 as I stated in my previous post.

I have also lost 14.5 pounds and I am SUPER excited about that!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Free Meds!

I received my calendar today for IVF #3 (#5, including FETs). We are looking at an estimated ER of May 6! I start Lupron on 4/17, stims and ganirelix on 4/24 and a host of other meds on various days. We are doing the Sher protocol, but starting the antagon on the day 1 start stims, rather than on CD 6-8.

I received a phone call from the two pharmacies that my meds are ordered through today also. I ordered my stims, but need to wait to order my other meds since I have a HUGE drawer of leftover meds from previous cycles that I need to inventory so I am not paying for excess meds that I may not use. I was price checking the Endometrin suppositories at both pharmacies and one pharmacy would not give me the price- they told me that I needed to contact the clinic to get the price.

So, I called the clinic and talked to the Business Manager to find out the price. When he came on the phone he remembered who I was (which is surprising since I haven't spoken to him since March 2008). I explained that I was looking for a price on the Endometrin. He told me that it is $105/week but that he has a stash of meds and he would love to give me them FREE! I will pick them up on April 16, when I go in for my baseline u/s. He also told me that he hopes that this works for us this time. After expressing my surprise that he knew who I was he explained that they sometimes have difficult patients and when they get a really nice patient everyone talks about how much they are pulling for them. Awww, how sweet!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Insurance Rant

Today I was looking over my bills from CCRM and trying to figure out what needs to be submitted to my insurance company for reimbursement. In further looking and after calling my insurance company to confirm, my insurance company did not and will not pay for anything we had done at CCRM. Not even the hysteroscopy or u/s. I am not completely surprised, just p*ssed.

The insurance company helps to pay for those who are alcoholics and need to go to treatment and for those who are trying to quit smoking, which are lifestyle choices (term used by the insurance company). I did not choose infertility...it chose me. Aren't I the lucky one?

So, while we paid over $30,000 in out of pocket expenses last year to bring a baby into our loving home, people went to AA and quit smoking and didn't pay a dime. Now, before everyone gets upset, I am NOT saying that the insurance company shouldn't pay for AA and smoking cessation. What I am saying is that in addition to covering medical treatment for lifestyle choices, IF treatments should also be covered by ALL insurance companies under EVERY plan.

On a happier note: I should be getting my official cycle calendar later today or tomorrow. We had some conflicts with the dates that we were trying to figure out so it has taken a couple of days to figure out. Woohoo!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

10 Honest Things... A Little Late

So, oh about back at the end of February kayjay tagged me to do the 10 Honest Things post. And somehow, I missed it. I was looking back at my previous posts and then saw her comment on my blog tagging me and then I went to her blog and my name was clearly written on her blog tagging me. Wow! I'm not sure how I missed it since I am addicted to the internet and other people's blogs. I must have been in never, never land for a while there. Sheesh! So here it is: 10 Honest Things About Me!

1. My DH and I met at a bar through mutual friends after I completed college. While we were dating we figured out that I grew up a block away from his cousins (until my family moved when I was in 3rd grade). We have pictures of my sister and I at the bus stop when I was going into Kindergarten with DHs cousins. We also found out that my mom and DHs dad went to high school together and were in the same English class.

2. Both my DH and I are are Italian. Both of our families make our own Italian sausage (my family recipe is a secret and I was only given the recipe a couple of years ago). Both of us have ancestors who were in the Italian Mafia. My ancestor was my great great uncle, AKA B.ig J.im C.olosi.mo who was close with A.l Ca.pone.

3. DH and I are both self-employed and work together on both of our companies. DH is contractor and installs underground utilities. Our other business is a property management company. We own commercial real estate that we rent out. DH does all of the stuff in the field for both companies and I do all of the behind-the-scenes office stuff.

4. I have a BS degree in Business Management with an emphasis in Human Resources. My parents forced me to go to college and this is what I chose. I loved working in HR, but love the flexibility of working for myself more. When I quit working at a company outside of our own businesses, even though I had L, a lot of people wondered what I would be doing all day and if I would be bored. A lot of people assume I will go back to work outside of our companies when L goes to school. I most likely won't.

5. I have mostly lost 8 of my friends due to our IF. We all hung out as a big group and I have known them since elementary and high school. I don't really miss any of them individually. I think I just grew out of their friendships, it was time to move on and oh, we just happened to be going through IF and they couldn't handle it and couldn't be good friends. I do, however, miss the feeling of being part of a "group" of people my age who have similar interests. As a result of #5 or maybe just coincidence, we have become friends with other couples who are really top-notch. None of them know each other and it is kind of fun to have "separate" friends.

6. I love to cook and love trying new recipes. I am a cookbook whore. I have so many and I keep buying them. Every once in a while I go through them and pass them on to someone else, but mostly I keep them and refer to them often. If I ever decided to go back to school I would want to go back to be a chef. But I would never want to work in a restaurant or on nights or weekends so I most likely will never go to school for this. If I make something new that my DH doesn't like he tells me that "it's not bad". He loves that I cook dinner every night.

7. We go camping almost every weekend in the summer with a group of people. There is a wide range of ages and diversity in the group. We only see this "group" in the summertime and only when we go camping. My parents are part of this group too. We have a fifth wheel that has a stove, refridgerator, running water and a nice bed- no tent camping for me! This summer we are going on our first week-long trip camping trip with our camping friends to Italian Fest in Milwaukee, WI.

8. Sometimes when I am in a room with a bunch of people, that is when I feel the most alone. A lot of times I feel closer to my IF friends whom I have never met IRL and real life friends and family who "get it", rather than those whom I only see here and there (like at Christmastime when you see people you haven't seen all year). I wish we could all have one big meeting and have a fun girls weekend with those that I met online. I have a couple of friendships IRL that are invaluable, priceless. Surely I would have not survived thus far without these couple of key people- you know who you are!! :)

9. I live on 3 acres just north of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Some days I don't leave the house if I am not in a good place to be dealing with people. My neighbors are far enough away so I don't have to see them much and most of my communication is done through the computer. I haven't felt this way in a couple of months since we have not cycled since November, but I am sure once I start my meds for my next cycle I will be holeing up in my house on some days again. I mean, no one wants to deal with a crazy woman on more IVF meds than you can imagine so why go out into the world to torment these people, right? :)

10. Overall, I am happy. I try to live my life everyday in a place of joy and gratefulness. A lot of days I fail at this. I have tremendous guilt over so much that sometimes it consumes me more than it should. I try to work on things daily to be a better person. Hopefully my hard work will pay off someday.

Since I am responding so late to kayjays tag, I won't be tagging anyone individually. I think that this tag was passed around to most everyone a couple of weeks ago so I don't want to re-tag anyone. So, if you are reading this and have not done 10 Honest Things, consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life Begins When?

We had a great time in Wisconsin Dells! We stayed at two wonderful resorts and we were in the water so much that we turned into prunes. It is so amazing to me that my four-year-old loves rides way more than I do. He was constantly running up the stairs to go to the next water slide with a huge smile on his face. For the rides that we were able to go on together I would scream and he would laugh at me.

Right before we left the hotel this morning AF started to arrive. Not a pleasant way to end such a fun vacation. On the car ride home I started crying and DH asked what was wrong. I told him that I can't wait for menopause to come. He started light-heartedly laughing at me. I told him that even though at this point I know that we are unable to conceive on our own, it just stinks getting that reminder every month. As we were talking I told him that the cruelest joke of all would be to be a good responder and gets lots of eggs when I cycle, but that all of them would be chromosomally abnormal. To know that I make all of these eggs and that they could all potentially be crappy would not be fun.

About halfway home we took a pit stop to fill up our gas tank. As we were exiting the freeway there was a billboard that said, "Embryos are tiny babies." I read that billboard and pointed it out to DH. It's funny because I have been thinking about this for a few months now. When does life really begin? Does it begin as a thought in your head? Does it begin at conception? Does it begin at implantation? Does it begin when you see a '+' on an HPT? Does it begin when your RE confirms your pregnancy through your beta? Does it begin when you see that beautiful flicker of a heartbeat? Does it begin when the baby would be viable outside of your womb? Does it begin after you deliver at full-term?

You see, I've thought about this a lot. I always thought that life began at conception. ALWAYS. For as long as I remember I thought this. Until I became infertile. Then, I started questioning when conception actually occurs.

The other day L was looking at our wedding pictures and he asked, "where am I in this picture?" I pointed to my head and said, "you were just a thought in mommy's head." He looked at me and said, "how can I be in your head?" I explained that the picture he was looking at was taken on our wedding day and that he wasn't born yet, but that we knew that we wanted him. So, did his life begin then? I mean, I knew that I wanted him, but he wasn't actually conceived until nine months into our marriage. But he was this little thought that grew in my head for so long. And when he was conceived I believe from that moment that he was alive in some way. And then when I saw his heartbeat he was even more alive. And then as I watched him grow via u/s and as my belly got bigger he was even more alive. And as I lay in the hospital in labor for 36 hours and was hooked up to the doppler I heard his steady heartbeat and saw this 9lb 4oz baby on the last u/s I knew that he was even more alive. And once he was delivered via emergency c-section and he cried his first cry and was held up to my face so that I could kiss his plump little cheeks I knew he was alive. A little unstable, but alive. And once he was whisked away to the four medical staff awaiting him to clear the meconium from his lungs and given a bottle in the nursery to increase his blood sugar level, he was alive. You see, from the moment that he was conceived, to me he was alive.

Then I became infertile.

When I look back at the 41 eggs I have had retrieved of which 32 were mature and 26 were fertilized via ICSI, I get confused. If I go according to what the billboard said, "Embryos are tiny babies", I would have to say that I have conceived 26 babies in the last year. And I am still empty-handed. So, is that billboard really true?

I have had 8 embryos transferred and my RE has never technically declared me pregnant. So how could I have conceived 26 babies, transferred 8 embryos and still be empty-handed? If my embryos were tiny babies, then where are they? Were they not viable and, therefore, not babies? Or were they babies that were alive, but then died? I have a really hard time thinking that all 26 babies I have conceived in the past year were babies that were alive. Not because I don't believe that life begins at conception necessarily, but because it just compounds my grief. To know that I conceived so many children that didn't make it.

If I move one step further and say that life begins at implantation and look back at my IF history it hurts just a little less to know that I have had two chemical pregnancies in the last couple of years and, as a result, have two babies that didn't make it, compared to 26 embryos that were conceived and didn't make it. But even those two didn't stick around for long, or at least not long enough to see their heartbeats.

If I move even one step further and say that life begins when you see a heartbeat and I look back at my IF history...well, I guess I wouldn't even need to look back because none of those embryos or chemical pregnancies made it long enough to see a heartbeat. And, that just doesn't sit well with me. To know that I have gone through two fresh and two frozen cycles and to have them completely ignored would be hurtful on so many levels. It would be as if they were discounting my IF journey and everything that DH and I have been through. If we end our IF journey and our arms are still empty I will still feel the loss of the next child that never quite made it to my arms, but whose soul was forever planted alive and well in my head.

I'm not so sure that billboard was right or that it is such a black and white answer to when life begins.

I think at different times I look at this differently. Sometimes I believe that life begins with the thought in my head. Sometimes I think about those 26 embryos. Sometimes I think about the two chemical pregnancies. Sometimes it is just too painful to think. At all.

One thing is for certain...I deserve and so badly want to be a Mom again.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Time for Vacation!

Tomorrow morning we are heading to Wisconsin Dells for a few days. To those who have never heard of WI Dells, it is almost the waterpark capital of the world. Since we couldn't figure out which hotel to stay at we are breaking up our vacation to stay at two different hotels. Here they are:



Besides just having indoor (and outdoor for the summer months) waterparks, they have a bunch of other things to do too. We are really looking forward to it!

On a side note: this is the first time that I will wear a swimsuit after losing 12 pounds. Woohoo! I still have at 10-15 pounds to go, so I am about halfway to my goal.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

CCRM Re-group

Today we had our re-group appt with Dr. School.craft from CCRM. The only thing that came back abnormal in all of our testing (other than the sperm morphology issue, which we already knew) was that I have restricted blood flow to my uterus. He said that this is "not a black and white" answer as to why we are not conceiving. Dr. School.craft said electro-acupuncture and avoiding all caffeine will help with this, but of the eight embryos transferred one of them surely would have implanted regardless of my restricted blood flow. I am not sure how I feel about this. Back in my August cycle I did have a really low hCg and a faint positive on HPT so I feel (and knew in my heart) that I was just barely pregnant. It wasn't the trigger shot that I took before ER either...I had already tested on HPT and it had been negative just a couple days before the faint positive showed up.

Dr School.craft said that the "only stone left unturned" would be to do CGH. We asked a lot of questions about CGH and the chromosomes in my eggs. He said that even though we have the right number of chromosomes in our blood (shown through the karyotyping and sperm DNA fragmentation testing we had done), my eggs may have different chromosomes. He went into this long explanation of how chromosomes on eggs "work". I am not sure that I can coherently or eloquently explain this to someone else, so I won't attempt to. For some reason, as I was listening to him talk I got tears in my eyes. I mean, no one likes to hear that their eggs could be bad. Jeez! He said that he thinks that I have a higher percentage of eggs that are "bad" compared to the normal range of other 31-year-old females. I asked him if he thought the margin of error for CGH (which is currently at 10%) would be improved in the next six months or so and he said that he didn't think so. I also asked him what he would do if all of my embryos came back as "no result" (meaning that they could be chromosomally normal or abnormal) and he said that he would transfer them.

I told him that due to our work schedules and being busier in the spring- fall months I didn't know that we would be able to cycle at CCRM until late fall. We also told him that we have one more cycle to do locally, if we so choose, and asked him what his thoughts are about that. He said that he thinks that if it hasn't worked locally before, that it won't work at all. He said that instead of cycling locally, he would rather see us cycle with CCRM and that he would offer to us to come out on the day of trigger for ER rather than the normal requirement of flying out there on day 6 of stims. This would minimize the length of time we would have to be in CO greatly. He also said that we could to the FET on a Friday so that we would just have to fly out there on a Thursday, ET on Friday, bedrest on Saturday and Sunday and then fly home on Monday.

I am thinking that DH and I will still cycle locally in May and before we go to CO. Although, it all seems so tempting to skip this last cycle locally and go straight to CCRM, arguably one of the best fertility clinics in the nation. It would be really nice to know if we are making any chromosomally normal embryos through CGH, that is for sure. However, I am just not sure that I want to try to coordinate this last CCRM cycle during our busiest and most stressful time. And I am just not ready to be on my last cycle.

What would you do? Would you cycle locally since it is already paid for? Or would you cycle at CCRM to hopefully find answers and end this crazy roller coaster ride sooner rather than later?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Socially Unacceptable

As they say, some things come in "threes". I have experienced the "threes" two times in the past couple of weeks and one of them has not been pleasant. The other one has been pleasant, but has been one that makes me think of the injustice of IF.

A couple of Sundays ago my neighbor hosted a Valentine's Tea. Every year she has the women from the neighborhood over to her house for Tea- pomegranate mojitos, scones, chicken salad, sweet treats, tea, the whole shebang. Some ladies that came this year were either new neighbors or friends of our current neighbors. There were about 25 women that attended this Tea- a lot of whom I have never met and the rest are people I see only 2-3 times each year (we all live on 3-6 acres so our house isn't clearly visible to eveyone else's). We started out by introducing ourselves one by one around the room. When it was my turn I said, "Hi, I'm Kris. I live in the tan two story across the street". Someone shouted out, "Kris, how is L?". I replied, "Good. Yes, I have a son who is four named L". Another neighbor then thought it was appropriate to address me by saying, "So, um, Kris...don't ya think it's time that you ah...ya know...give L a sibling? You know, a little brother or sister?". My response in my fakey, jovial way was, "Wow! There is nothing like putting someone on the spot in front of a bunch of people, now is there?" Insert polite laughter. I continued and said, "Well, I guess the only thing I can really say to that is sometime we have to work a little harder for the second than we do the first", then, I picked up my pomegranate mojito and took a large gulp as we moved on to the next person to introduce them self. I was mortified in this room full of women whom I hardly knew. I just can't believe that people are so...shall we say, bold? I don't know what else to call it....maybe, rude? Obnoxious? Forward? Nosey?

The second of the "threes" in this theme was last weekend at our camping get-together. I was sitting on the couch next to one of our fellow campers. All of the sudden, she turned to me and said, "So, Kris, when are you going to have another?" I looked at her and said with laughter in my voice, "Wow! I get asked that a lot. I just don't think it is socially acceptable to have only one child." She replied, "I just want to you feel the misery of having two children, like I do.". My response, "I enjoy and cherish every day because I have L." The mood was light and she corrected by saying, "well, everyone asks you because L is so stinkin' cute and we want you to have more cute kids." At this point, we were laughing and poking fun about it and then in our silly conversation I said, "How about this? M and I will have sex tonight and I'll call you and let you know if it worked." By this time, everyone, including she and I, that was sitting in our immediate area was laughing and so she got up and walked over to where M was and said, "M, Kris said that she was going to call me the next time you guys have sex." My husband, ever the funny guy and playing into the conversation replied, "Good, I hope she calls you tonight!" By this time, the whole room was laughing and it turned into a huge joke.

The third of the "threes" was last night. We went to a carnival at my nieces school and saw my cousin's wife, whom we only see on average of 1 time per year. She looked at me and then at all of the kids in line for the carnival game and said "which ones are yours"? I said, "Just L, I only have L." And then not more than 10 minutes later we ran into a mom whose son goes to preschool with L. She looked at all of the kids in line for this next carnival game and said "which ones are yours?" Why does everyone always assume that you must have more than one child? Honestly! Is it really that socially unacceptable to "only" have one child?

In the past couple of weeks I have been told by three people, "Kris, you are such a good Mom." My response, "If I am such a good Mom, why I can't I have another angel?" Then, in my mind I think about all of the mothers in the world who do not deserve children. You know, the crack whores, and ones who abuse their children and do all sorts of horrible things to them. Then, I think about all of my wonderful friends whom I have met on this IF journey and how they deserve SO much to be Moms and how wonderful they would be.

As long as I live I will NEVER understand the injustices of infertility. Why is it fair that women who don't even want children find themselves pregnant while so many other women who work so hard and struggle to persevere on this horrible IF journey wind up empty-handed? Why? Why? Why? And, how do I go about explaining to people the depths of my desperate soul when it is so hard to define, to pinpoint and to share the lengths I have gone through to try to complete my family?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cycle Update and Acupuncture Question

I talked to the nurse at my local clinic and told her that my endometrial biopsy came back normal. We talked about my next (and last cycle locally) and she told me that we need to get in and get our communicable (STD) diseases b/w updated before we cycle again. She also told me to start BCP on CD 3. AF should arrive around March 16. In looking at the calendar she told me that my RE will be on vacation the first two weeks in May and that we would not be able to do ER?ET until the week of May 18. Yep, just in time for Memorial weekend. We always go out of town that weekend so I guess we may just be canceling that trip.

I also went today for another electro-acupuncture treatment. I fell asleep as the needles were vibrating wildly in my back. Ahhh, it is so relaxing. I am in quandary about this whole electro-acupuncture thing. My initial consult and treatment last week was $130. Every treatment after that is $80. I am supposed to go 2X/week for four weeks before my cycle. I have decided that I will extend my treatment to at least 2X/week for six weeks, just to make sure I have done everything right. If you go 2X in one week the cost is $120, vs. $160 for two treatments on two different weeks. Quite the spendy little venture, I must say. So, for 2X/week for six weeks, it will cost me $720. I feel like I should be going 1X/week for now and then increase it to 2X/week around April 1. But, yikes! That is a lot of money! If I do it 1X/week for the next four weeks that is an additional $320. I would be spending over $1,000 on acupuncture for this cycle.

I am debating whether or not to skip all acupuncture treatments for the month of March and then start going 2X/week around April 1 OR go 1X/week for the next four weeks and then increase to 2X/week around April 1. What would you do??

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fun Fun Day!

WARNING: my child mentioned a lot in this post

We had the best day yesterday! Yes, one of the best days I have had in a LONG time. We started our day off early and met my parents at the Mall of America at 9:30. I had bought DH and my dad a gift certificate to ACES Flight Simulation for Christmas and we finally had a chance to get together so the guys could take their flight. While they were flying, my mom, L and I went over to the Nickelodeon theme park inside of the Mall and we took L on some rides. L had a blast riding all of the kid rides and I had fun hanging on tight to him as we whirled and spun all around. I have never been a ride person, but when my four year old can ride them without being scared, well, I just have to suck it up. On the little roller coaster I was laughing and screaming in his poor little ears which, in turn, made him laugh and giggle.

When my dad and DH were done with their flight we all headed over to the Rainforest Cafe. It was so fun to see L's eyes light up at the monkeys and gorillas hanging over our heads and the fish in the huge fish tanks. I bought him some little animals from the store at the restaurant and he had more fun playing with the netting that they came in rather than the animals themselves, go figure!

After eating lunch, my dad and DH took L back to the Nickelodeon park to go on some more rides and my mom and I headed over to the American Girl store where we bought my birthday presents for my niece. I had never been in an AG store before and it was crazy! There were so many women and girls there and then every once in a while we would see a guy standing off to the side looking bored. Too funny!

After we left the AG store we went to the Build-A.Bear store to get another present for my niece and my mom also got L a gift certificate for that store so that we can go back someday and he can build his own bear. My mom, sis and I have talked about going back to the Mall to go on rides and the AG and Build-A-Bear stores in June when all of our husbands go to a NASCAR race. Hopefully, it will work out.

After we were done shopping we met up with the guys and left the Mall. Then, we headed out to look at some model homes. My mom and dad and DH and I are all thinking of moving to the same development. We are both planning on putting our houses up for sale within the next month. DH and I have decided that if our house sells, it does. If not, it is fine too. Just in case, we have house plans drawn up and have been working with a builder. Anyway, I digress. So, we headed out to look at some model homes to get some decorating ideas.

We all ended the day by going to a get-together at one of our camping friends' houses. We get together every winter to plan our camping trips for the summer. There is a group of about eight families and we all go camping together in the summer.

We got home at 10:15 last night and we were all exhausted. L was such a good boy, as usual, and he had so much fun. He fell asleep in the car on the way home and looked so cute. His legs were criss-cross-applesauce in his car seat and his head was folded down on his shoulder. I just love watching him sleep. When DH carried him to bed he crawled right up and was sleeping so peacefully.

I can honestly say that I have not had that much fun or joy in one day in such a long time. I have had a lot of fun on many different days and have done lots of fun things, but yesterday was just different. It was almost like I was content for once. Like I had forgotten all about our IF and just enjoyed the fun day. I kind of felt like how I felt before we were diagnosed with IF: happy, content, joyous, care-free. It was a day that assured me that I might just be okay if L is an only child. Ahh, yes, it was a great day and one that I won't soon forget.