Sunday 19 May 2013

Calendar is filling up....

.....with fertility related appointments, of course. And there's other fun stuff in there like graduations and weddings and dinner dances and music in the park.

I went for the first Day 2 blood draw today. I learned that you should drink water before a blood draw, or they have trouble finding a vein. Nevertheless, I felt quite clever that I was able to get to one of only two labs open on a Sunday in the city, at 7:07am. I was the 27th drop -in patient at 7:07. (Obviously it's hard to make an appointment for Day 2 bloodwork because you would have to be totally sure when Day 2 is going to be. Even though my guess turned out to be correct, I wasn't sure enough of myself to make an  appointment berforehand. So I had to play the drop in game.) But, I was done within an hour, so not a bad deal at all. And since I  had nothing better to do this morning, really, it was good timing. I came prepared with Margaret George's The  Autobiography of Henry VIII, and a snack (but next time I'll remember water).

(UPDATE: Dr. Cotter wants me to repeat my first Day 2 test - this time with fasting. At first I thought it was because I didn't fast the first time - i.e. I did the test wrong. A phone call however clarified the following: No, I did the test right, but the estradiol levels were high - so she wants another test to compare it too. Okie dokie. Of course I googled high estradiol levels and am trying not to freak out over what this all might mean.

When it comes to reproduction, I so desperately want to be boring and normal. Boring and normal is  not usually something I wish for myself, but in this case....I've been hanging onto the hope that I have no  issues, that all we will be working to overcome is Mr. Turtle's issues. Oh well, no point worrying - right? - it won't do any good.)

I have an ultrasound for May 27th, and the hysterosalpinogram on the 29th. I wasn't expecting to fit the hysterosalpinogram in this cycle, because I'm out of town from CD 6-9, but lo and  behold, they got me in on CD 12.  I'm starting to worry a little over the time I need to take off work, although I'm telling myself firmly that yes, my appointments are important, and besides, it's going to get crazier so get used to it and stop guilt-tripping.  The Great Ship Fertility Intervention has sailed. We don't know where she will end up: perhaps she will have a pleasant cruise with only a few mild storms. Perhaps she will hit an iceberg. Perhaps there will be a mutiny. Perhaps she will dock at Atlantis. Perhaps she will just get hopelessly lost. However, she's not going back into port. Not yet anyway. Everyone get your sea legs on.

 However, when telling my colleagues and department head about yet another half day absence, I finally added that I am having reproductive system tests done, and while I'm trying to minimize the impact, I really can't control the scheduling of some  of them.  Mainly I didn't want them to worry that I have some serious disease (which I'm assuming I don't). I hope that's OK.

Now I would like a nap.

Monday 13 May 2013

First Appointment at Fertility Clinic

So, we had  our first appointment at The Fertility Clinic on May the 9th. Our doctor referred us to the clinic in January, after seeing the results of Mr. Turtle's first semen analysis (very low motility, insufficient for natural conception.) After cooling our heels for a few months, here we go maybe.

Incidentally, we think the low motility is likely caused by a genital lymphedema, which is causing the sperm to not develop properly. The lymphedema in turn could be caused by disruptions to the lymph system as a side effect of Mr. Turtle's Crohn's Disease. Another possibility is that a medication he took for the Crohn's in the past has had some lasting damage. We really don't know.  In the meantime Mr. Turtle is trying massage treatments and compression to see if that can reduce the inflammation and possibly increase fertility.

The Fertility Clinic is on the opposite side of town from where we live and I work. I took a bus across town on a hot spring day to meet Mr. Turtle and the car halfway. I  got a first hand look at how much traffic there is in this city.Where can everybody  be going at 12:30 on a workday? They can't ALL have appointments at the fertility clinic.

Well, we get there and check in at this very polished looking facility with huge picture windows overlooking the river. It  was soothing but also disturbing when I reflected that I was in a place that was designed to  sooth people. I complained to Mr. Turtle that there were almost no signs to the fertility clinic until you are in the door to the office, while all the other medical facilities in the building were well advertised. Seriously, do infertiles need all this self-conscious anonymity?  Pop stars make music videos in their underwear but I'm supposed to be too sensitive to press an elevator button next to a brass plate labeled "Fertility Clinic." Give me a freakin' break.

Anyway. As you  can conclude, despite being sure we were very, very ready for this, and despite being very grateful for the appointment and opportunity, it was still pretty awkward. I imagine in a  few  months I will not care less about any of the above.

After waiting for a while awkwardly in an office facing yet another picture window, we were met by "Dr. Cotter." We had each filled out a detailed  medical history, but Dr. Cotter proceeded to re-ask several of the questions. Maybe people lie on  the histories and they have to check for inconsistency.

A few things that stand out:

"You sound like you're not a good ovulator" (because my cycles are less than 27 days)

"We'll have to do some tests to see if they (the ovaries) are packing it in" (or words to that effect).  OMG did you just say I could be periomenopausal? At age 33?? Nooooooo.

"Men's sperm counts in this city vary enormously from  week to week" (no explanation why, and I didn't think to ask. Could it be our wacky weather?? Do the Chinooks cause sperm counts to go up or down?)

"We have a lot of issues with men in biker (cyclist) shorts." (Mr. Turtle was obliged to explain that he has to wear biker shorts as underwear to work because of the lymphedema.)  Dr. Cotter: "That's the reality of your life right now."

The appointment was, I imagine, typical.

Mr. Turtle was asked to do another semen analysis (already scheduled).

I have to take the following tests:

  • Pelvic ultrasound (antral follicle count, r/o cysts, polyps, fibroids, hydrosalpinges) (May 27th)
  • Hysterosalpinogram
  • Day 2 (on 2 different cycles) and Day 21 blood tests

We made a follow up appointment with Dr. Cotter for the 24th of June and registered for the IVF information session on  June the 20th. We walked away with multiple requisition forms (for me) and info and forms for IVF. We can't be accepted to IVF waitlist until seeing the info session.

I've had mixed reactions to the appointment. Prior to going I was excited and optimistic, because it was energizing to think  that finally things were moving forward for us, and we could start getting some answers and real options to start a family. Other than the comments about the ovaries "packing it in," I wasn't surprised by anything we heard. I expected to be asked to do several tests and am even looking forward to it in a way. I'm trying to not overreact to the ovary comments either. I know that was something she had to mention just based on  the preliminary data.  I believe that I do ovulate normally at least 80% of the time. (I do have some wonky cycles for sure.)  I can predict when my period will  come within a day or two based on the data of the Ovacue, and my own  fertile signs (such as cervical mucous). If my body isn't ovulating it's doing a pretty good job of pretending it is. But there's no way to know without the advanced tests, so a-testing we go, a-testing we go.

I was utterly exhausted after the appointment. Normally I devour anything fertility-related that is remotely  relevant. When we got home all I did was take the papers out of my purse.  I ate something and fell asleep on the couch.  Mr. Turtle practically had to drag me off it so I could go to band rehearsal.  Work has been busy and in addition we had a very full day Saturday with our end of year community band concert and big band dinner dance. I definitely had a good time but I've also felt a bit moody the past days. I respond well to distractions and diversions but when they are over I feel sticky gloom coming on. I feel like I have to try really hard to get stuff done at home and at work. On Sunday I finally had the energy to look through the papers and requisition forms, and I bought a binder and pocket dividers at Staples and organized all the papers from The Fertility Clinic. Small detail, but it made me feel better and in control. I think the appointment, while useful and necessary, also made me a bit depressed because it reminded me again how real infertility is and what we will have to go through to have a child. I had started to distance myself from it the past few months.

Well, to everything there is a season.

Sunday 12 May 2013

I would just like to say

I can be extremely good at getting myself (and others) organized.

I can put out wildfires before they begin, and after they have begun if that's how it goes.

I adapt well to whatever adversity typically comes my way, though I haven't seen the worst kinds of adversity.

I work hard.

I know how to enjoy life.

But these days,  for every day I have one or more the above, I have a day when I'm just. too. tired. to move.   (Although often I still make myself).

May 9th appointment redux and thoughts coming soon. Along with some other random stuff. Meanwhile, life happens. For which I am lucky.

Happy Mother's Day, inclusive of all the people who have complicated feelings about Mother's Day.

We shared a beautiful day yesterday with my mom and dad, playing and listening to music in the park, and then going to a Big Band Dinner Dance.

Today will be sharing the evening with one of the other Mothers in the family.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

This was not a Freudian slip AT ALL.

I just realized I bought a diaper bag at Winners.

I swear I just wanted a big purse. I went to the toy section because I am trying to find tiny plastic farm animals to use in my student's salt dough modeling projects. (No luck yet. All they sell is tiny killer robots and stuff like that.) While there I noticed these awesome bags for $20. They were stylish and a great size for spring because I walk and use transit during the week, and this time of year I need a big enough bag to stuff my sweater or raincoat in if it gets warm. It's a pain to have to carry a purse and then figure out how to drape a jacket or sweater over it. But a backpack makes my back sweat. I also thought: How clever of the manager to put such pretty purses in the toy section. Mom will come in shopping for her kids and decide to get a pretty bag for herself.

 Came home and started taking out all the paper and stuff they put in it and thought: That's weird, why is it lined in plastic and has this funny plastic pad in it?  And then OMG I bought a damn diaper bag. Sure enough  when I actually looked at the tags  there were pictures of mom and baby and all that!!

But nobody has to know, right?

I'll know but I think I'll just have a little giggle about it whenever I take it to work. It is the nicest bag.

Sunday 5 May 2013


As the weeks trundle on toward the beginning of a strategy to tackle IF, disclosure is more and more on my mind.  I've noted before that I haven't talked about IF to anybody close to me (i.e. parents, siblings, close friends). But I am starting to talk about it to people less close to me. It  occurred to me today that this seems backwards: you're supposed to feel more comfortable talking to people with whom you  have an intimate relationship, right? Well, apparently I'm the opposite. I'm not talking about IF to complete strangers, but I'm starting to talk about it to people that I don't consider close friends or family.*

My first disclosure was at the beginning of March to a  group of women with whom I was sharing a weekend away. They are all mothers, which makes them different from my other friends, but which was part of the  intrigue for me: I liked getting to know people in a different life-stage. I confided in them because we had spent the year as a kind of girls' support group, and we were talking about important events and personal growth. There was no way to not mention IF in that context. They were all understanding and supportive, said nothing hurtful or clueless, and we actually had a very interesting conversation about the adoption journey one had taken (previous to this we did not realize she was an adoptive mom.)

My next disclosure (just yesterday) was to someone I consider a good friend, but with whom I do not share the kind of history that I  share with some of my friends. We were talking about big life events and decisions: she is recently engaged, might be moving to another country for year, and we are both teachers and share concerns around that, including how to fit career and family together. So at one point in the conversation I just up and said "And we have an appointment at the fertility clinic this week...." and then  talked around the subject without going into the nitty-gritty details.  She was also kind and supportive, mentioned that she knew someone who was starting treatments, and by her remarks let me know that she understood this was a big deal and wished us  the best. So, that went well too.

I think it is easier for me to talk about IF with people I am less intimate with, because I'm not especially worried about the news upsetting them. I think the biggest reason I haven't talked about it with people who are close to me is because I'm more concerned with their reactions, and I don't feel like dealing with those reactions until I have a handle on what is going on.

These "little disclosures" are also like practice for the bigger ones.  I'm starting to develop a level of comfort in talking about IF and what the future holds  for us.

I don't plan to go so far  as to share this  blog with family and friends, though. If I decide to share information about treatments, or go make public statements about IF, I'll probably do that on my less-anonymous blog.

Still, I find myself identifying more and more with torthúil and "The Turtles." As in, they are labels for an  experience that is becoming more and more real.

Mr. Turtle and I spent an awesome  day today hiking in The Badlands.
Scramble, Scramble


Looking down into the canyon

The Not Pregnant belly. 
(Um, I was hot, there nobody nearby in the canyon at that moment, and I wanted to let the breeze get at things. Of course,  Mr. Turtle specifically watches for these moments to get a photo.)

 * I am talking about IF through this blog to people who are technically strangers, but the blogosphere feels different...sometimes more of a  community  than the people whom life tosses into my path that have no particular reason to understand or care about IF. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here.)