Moving the Blog

Greetings, Faithful Blog Readers,

In the effort to promote privacy in my posts, I am moving my blog to my Tumblr account. The link will be posted on my Facebook page.

New blog post to come shortly there.

Thanks for your support!
A

Moving Right Along

I am currently slouching comfortably on my couch. I have a heating pad on my abdomen, my feet are up on the coffee table, and on and off, I'm watching quietly as John plays video games. I feel completely calm, content, and rested after a four-hour long, sedative-induced sleep.

Today has been a day of this type of atmosphere. After waking up at about 5:45 a.m., we left for the hour-long drive to the Torrance office of Pacific Reproductive Center for my second diagnostic hysteroscopy. The last one, exactly a month ago, did not report as promising news as we had hoped: Dr. Salem had found a large amount of polyps and some thicker-than-normal endometrial lining within my uterus. She and her team of nurses tried to suction it out, but to no avail. Though this news was not ideal, we were instructed not to be alarmed, as we were told it may have been the result of some irregular bleeding I had had a month before and that I had only been on the birth control pill for about five days then, and it may not have had a chance to produce too much results yet. They took a biopsy of the polyps and sent us on our groggy and unsettled way home. After a week of waiting, we were informed that the pathology lab results showed no malignancies, and that I was to continue the BCPs as instructed until I ran out. After running out and not getting my period as expected, I was told to go ahead and begin my second pack of BCPs immediately and go in for a follow-up hysteroscopy. 

I attribute the easiness of this particular hysteroscopy to the fact that I knew what was already coming. We checked in early, at about 7:20 a.m., and I was dressed in my hospital gown and hairnet type cap by 7:30. The very friendly nurse, Kate, ran us through the process, asked if we had any questions (we had none), and notified us that Dr. Salem, Sr. would be performing the procedure today (my regular doctor is his daughter). Same steps as last, they took me into the operating room, drugged me up, and Dr. Salem went in and laparoscopically performed the hysteroscopy. I was awake, although heavily sedated, but I could hear him talk about what an improvement it was from last time. The nurses talked to me during the procedure, and I responded somewhat lucidly and was able to follow along as Dr. Salem did his work. During this particular hysteroscopy, I could feel the pressure down there a little bit more, as Dr. Salem scraped, suctioned, and cleaned my uterus -- but there was no discomfort worth writing home about. Ten very short minutes later, they wheeled me back into recovery, where John appeared within seconds. 

As I did the last time, I rushed myself through the waking process. I could feel the sedatives very strongly and I found myself snoring and waking myself with each breath. I wanted to get out of there, grab some brunch, and head home to sleep. Within minutes, they took out my IV, I was dressed, we were given last minute instructions, results, and of course, the doxycyclin for me to take for 5 days. 

Nurse Kate notified us that the procedure went as smooth as they come. Though Dr. Salem still found some polyps, he was able to remove them all, thus giving me a "clean and clear" uterus, now in the most ideal condition to house an embryo within the next couple of months. 
The picture above shows the "after" shots, after Dr. Salem removed the remaining polyps within my uterus. All the white stuff on the sides of the first three pictures is the thick endometrial lining that has been suctioned out and cleaned as shown in the fourth picture on the bottom right.

Immediately after leaving PRC, John called June to let her know that the procedure went successfully. June was out sick so he left a message, confident that Nurse Kate sent a message saying the same. 

I felt great. I even had enough energy to get some brunch, run an errand, and then check out a nearby pumpkin patch with John on our way home. We got back at about 11:00 a.m., and it didn't take long for me to fall asleep. I napped until 3:00 p.m.

On our way to dinner, at about 5:25 p.m., we were surprised to get a call from June. Although she was out the whole day, I guess she came in for a while after hours to return phone calls. She told me that she did receive the message from Kate and that by next week, she will be sending us our planner (eeeeeeee!! so excited) and he prescription for Lupron. I am scheduled to start taking the Lupron shots starting October 25th. On October 21st, I have an appointment for the Lupron shot lesson at PRC. She ran through a rough schedule of events with me, which was not an easy task to keep up with, as we were in the car at the time. Luckily, she had called John's phone, so I was able to view the events and days on my phone as June spoke. We will probably be doing the egg retrieval sometime between November 15-17 and the embryo transfer between the 18th and 20th. After about the incubation period of about 1-2 weeks, we should find out results by December 1st. 

We are excited, overwhelmed, and anxious to take the next steps to having this baby. So far, our November looks insane with appointments, and procedures, and bed rest. Everything is happening so fast, and we can barely hold in our excitement. 

What has been really fun has been watching John when we see babies and toddlers around. We both just smile and tell each other that we can't wait til we have one of our own. Today at the pumpkin patch, we had a great time watching the mothers pull their babies in the wagons, feeding the animals at the petting zoo next to excited little toddlers. Needless to say, both John and I are thrilled to have gotten the green light from PRC to continue. Hopefully, by next Halloween, we will have our own wee one to take to the pumpkin patch too. 

Please keep your prayers and well wishes coming. Thank you all for your support. We will keep all posted as we go along.

Anxiety

This has been a week of anxiety. After waiting for a week for my period to start after the first pack of birth control pills, Monday came with no signs of starting. First thing Monday morning, I emailed June to find out what I need to do next. Last week, I had emailed her asking when I would start and she told me it is normally sometime between Day 4 and Day 7 of stopping BCP, so when Day 7 arrived, I was sure to be on top of it and get in touch with Pacific Reproductive right away. June told me that she would notify Dr. Salem and that she would either call or email me later on in the day. Needless to say, my workday seemed so much longer than usual as I waited for her to contact me. Finally, at about 5:15 p.m. I received a call from her, instructing me to just go ahead and start the second pack of BCPs and to schedule my secondary hysteroscopy immediately. With John's work needing him to work longer hours lately, I worried that I wouldn't have anyone to take me to and from the appointment, so I started trying to make arrangements with friends and family. I had a couple of very generous offers from them, but was still relieved to find out that John had rearranged his schedule to be able to accommodate taking me to and from the appointment. After telling him of our friends Pat and Harold offering to take me, it was very reassuring to hear him say, "No, we have to do this ourselves." -- Made me feel not-so-alone, and that he is really here 100% of the way for this process.

On a side note, I think that pregnant women do have a tendency to feel alone during their term, there also is a considerable amount of feeling almost-loneliness and solitude for women who are trying to have a baby. While the husband / partner IS there and experiencing it as well, the ticking of the biological clock is stronger with women. The thought of carrying that little life inside you -- and the frustration of not being able to do so right away -- equates to emotions and mood swings that no amount of IVF hormones can compare to. That being said, you can imagine the amount of reassurance I felt when John was so adamant about doing these processes ourselves, about him being there for all appointments and conversations and emails with PRC.

I digress. My secondary hysteroscopy is scheduled for this Friday at 11 a.m. at PRC's Torrance office. It involves the same preparation process as the last -- no food or drink after midnight the evening before, arrive 30 minutes or more earlier, and yes, the same $900 cost. The main (though not sole) purpose of this particular hysteroscopy is to check that the excess endometrial tissue from last time has decreased to a level more ideal for carrying a baby. After this, I am hoping to only wait one week to obtain results, of course hoping that no pathology lab test(s) will be needed this time. Needless to say, I am taking the day off work on Friday, as I will be drugged up and drowsy for most of the day. I am thankful for being able to take that day off, as it is one more day to not only rest but to get a break from my nightmare co-worker M.

As far as M is concerned at work, I have done a fairly decent job in keeping her at arm's length away from me. Despite being more accommodating to her and sometimes actually listening to her talk about how much she is eating, I have remained quiet and significantly more reserved at work, which keeps her just far enough away. I have found that when I hear her start talking in the hallway, I just turn up the volume on my iPod and shut my door. Today, our other co-worker and my dear friend Amy brought in The Belly Book, which is a journal for pregnancy. It is the book that I am actually planning to purchase once I do get pregnant. Like clockwork, M came into my office right after Amy walked in, as M does not like to be left out of any conversations (read: nosy). M told us she just ordered the book from Amazon last night and recommended that I do so as well. I was very quick (but not short) in telling her that it wasn't time yet, and this response seemed to have me dismiss the issue much quicker. With each passing day, I learn and adapt more to this situation of having insensitive M pregnant around me. My self-preservation methods are becoming second nature and easier to apply. I am hoping that this keeps this way for me throughout her pregnancy, and maybe even through mine.

I am thankful for the baby steps we are taking towards having this / these baby(ies). Little as they may be, these are leading us closer to our goal. I'm not going to lie and tell you that it is easy -- because it is not. It's a slow and long and painful daily process and reality that I have to face. I am trying my best not to vent so much to John because at the same time, I do not want him to feel the pressure and to feel aggravated. My poor husband has been so patient, kind, and generous of himself throughout this process, and I feel that bombarding him with my daily head rants will just push him away from me.

There are so many things to be thankful for on top of that. Two weekends ago, our friends and second-parents Harold and Pat came and spent the weekend with us. We had a fabulous time hanging out, shopping (of course), going to dinner one night and relaxing all day then making dinner the next. Last weekend, I got to go away with one of my bridesmaids and best friends, Molly, on an overnight trip to Palm Springs. It felt good to shop, gossip, lay out by the pool, and just enjoy my time away from the reality of trying to become a mother. Last night, another one of my bridesmaids and best friends, Kristen, came over for dinner and we had one of our famous long talks late into the night. The support of friends like them as well as our family has been beyond a saving grace for us. We are blessed and thankful for all your love.

Standstill

Today is day 2 of me with no birth control pills.. I have finished the first pack, and have been instructed to now wait until my period comes. Four days into my period, no matter what day it is, I have to start on the second pack of BCPs. I also will have to notify June so that she can schedule my follow-up hysteroscopy sometime the week after. Another unforeseen, unplanned $900, but hey, we're hanging in.

After the hysteroscopy (and God-willing, the results turn out fine), I will be taking my BCPs until around the 25th of October when I will start the Lupron shots. Lupron acts by suppressing the pituitary gland (the gland which is normally responsible for triggering ovulation). Evidently, this will give me menopause-like symptoms (i.e. hot flashes, mood swings, etc.). This part of the process is known as the suppression phase. During the suppression phase, spontaneous ovulation will not occur. I think (and note, I think . . . don't necessarily "know") this just helps with the timing and balancing of hormone levels before they induce follicle stimulation (e.g. my body to produce more than one follicle / egg in one cycle). Anyway, I don't want to get too ahead of myself here. More explanation in posts to come.

Things at work are quiet, largely due to my own choices of not being involved in conversations with M regarding her pregnancy. She had informed me that she plans to own but NOT read What To Expect When You're Expecting since I was reading it anyway -- she just planned to ask me everything. I know it is just her twisted way of trying to get me involved in her pregnancy to shove it in my face, but after extensive talks with my wonderful other half and a couple of well-trusted title holders in my life this weekend, I have decided to take an active stance in not allowing her to "suck me in" to her dramatics. Embarrassingly, I broke down in front of my boss last week. Being not only my boss, but a good friend of John's and mine, he noted that he understood how I felt, but appreciate how I have just tried to bury myself in my work and ignore the situation. Even he said that if M's pregnancy reaches levels of dramatics like her wedding planning and seemingly everything else in her life, he was not going to put up with it. "Not putting up with it" can entail so many different definitions, but even a mere word on the side would satisfy me. Thus far, it has worked for me. Yesterday, she came into my office and told me that she was starting to get "my" nausea (as I had been experiencing since starting BCPs and prenatals) and I just acknowledged her with a mere "huhh." Needless to say, she was upset and didn't talk to me the whole day and has been quiet today too -- exactly my goal! I want to just put in my 8 to 5 and go home to the one person who really matters. My day yesterday was comparatively better than the days of last week, and I plan on maintaining that.
I think the most frustrating part of this stage of the process is that I feel like we are at a standstill. Not a fan of "sitting / waiting around", I pride myself in being active, dynamic, pragmatic . . . and yes, perhaps with a flair for being a little bit anal retentive. I make a list, and I expect . . . no, no, no, I ENSURE that everything on that list is knocked out systematically one by one (hence: our wedding). Write it down and get it done. That being said, you can imagine how sitting around and waiting for Mother Nature to knock on my door is really against my mantra. I feel restless and anxious, as if I should be doing something, anything else rather than waiting. I tire myself out sometimes, but it's the only way I know and the only way I like to be. This might explain the five different calendars I have created at work, at home, and on my phone -- it helps me keep busy by giving myself short term goals and events, therefore keeping most of my anxiety at bay.

As the days go by, and the more frustrated I get, however, the idea of eventually being a stay-at-home mother becomes a more present internal struggle. I have worked my entire adult life, with only a few days' break in between jobs. No matter how small the amount, I have earned my own money and pride myself in the fact that although John rightfully takes on the traditional role of breadwinner, he does not do so solely. I take pride in the fact that he does not have to pay for my personal bills -- car, auto insurance, cell phone, and credit card payments -- as well as a majority of our grocery shopping. When I become a stay-at-home mom, John will be the sole breadwinner of the family, and I dread the pressure and weight that it will put on him. He will have to take over those payments on top of what he already pays for. I am aware that the argument lies that I will still "earn my keep"; being at home entails all the household chores and taking care of the kids, which are large undertakings on their own. Still, I can't deny that our life now is very comfortable and I cannot bear the thought of all the financial responsibilities to be borne by John and only John. Conversely, however, I know that John and I both agree that we do not want a stranger raising our child[ren]. Not having any family living nearby, we would have no choice but to have me stay at home. We could choose to have me work part time, but (a) the mere thought of putting my child[ren] in a daycare filled with other kids with a cold or a cough or strep throat sends me close to a panic attack and (b) with the exorbitant costs of day care in South Orange County, I would be earning just enough to send one child to day care, let alone two children. At this juncture, we it is still a bridge that we will need to cross when we get there, but forethought never really hurt anyone.

The general themes of my days lately have seemed to be something along the lines of "Just Survive". For someone as talkative and bubbly as I am, I'm finding it a challenge (though not an impossible one) to keep to myself and just be quiet at work, although in doing so yesterday, it made my day go by faster. The faster my days go, the closer John and I get to the conception process of having a baby, the closer we get to having everything we have ever dreamt of.

Raw and Honest


I lied.

In the past few posts, I have preached a good amount about keeping the faith, being determined, being patient, and doing things right.

But I lied.

While I have determination and do want to accomplish this the right way, I am not exactly a fountain of patience. In last night’s post, I was honestly too lazy and tired to dig up emotion, and decided to hide behind a storm of infertility jargon.

So today, I’m sitting in my office and it hit me.

A co-worker, M, just told me yesterday that she is 5 weeks pregnant. I have not really been a big fan of hers since the beginning. She is abrasive, pompous, a know-it-all, and from day one, has always had a self-inflicted comparison complex with me. We do have quite a bit in common – we both married men who are a little bit older than us, we are around the same age. When we first started working here (I was hired six weeks before her) we were not engaged, and no more than two weeks after I got engaged, she got engaged too. In fact, she shared with me that the night I got engaged and she told her then-boyfriend (now husband), he asked her if she was ok “because Angie got engaged and [she] wasn’t yet”. I never understood her drive to compete with someone who (a) she barely knows, (b) who doesn’t compete with her, and (c) who doesn’t care for her too much anyway. She has told me herself that she feels that anything she has done, I do better. The funny thing is that John and I do things because we want to do them – not because we are driven by some competition with them or anyone for that matter. To say the least, I find her a pain and really cannot stand her.

Suffice it to say, the second she heard that John and I wanted to have a baby, she text her husband and they decided they would try too. More than once have I heard from her mouth that she wanted us to have a baby first (and it was in that tone where you just KNOW that she means it the other way around). Mind you, she and her husband are still living the college lifestyle. Nothing against it, but it does not necessarily create the best environment for a child when your husband spent last weekend wasted at Big Bear Oktoberfest and, in his drunken stupor, almost peed on your brother. The weekend before that was spent in Havasu, needing to be dragged home from the bar because he was so blitzed that he started rubbing another guy's head and yelling "I want fun!!"  Recently, a weekend was spent at a cousin's wedding where M videotaped her husband on the floor of their hotel hallway writhing on the floor in drunkenness, kicking her, and telling her he wanted to party more.  Even worse, I don’t necessarily think that your oaf of a husband is ready to procreate when he makes you give him your entire paycheck so you can split all the bills completely, even though he makes three times more than you. He gets angry when M wants to buy a $4 face wash at WalMart, and splits "his" stuff from "hers" at the checkout stand.

At any rate, we found out yesterday that yes, his sperm may not have been as stupid as their carrier and found their way. I have dreaded this day because, as another co-worker told me yesterday, she is the type of person who will make this pregnancy the most melodramatic one yet. And quite honestly, I can't stand the thought of going through a pregnancy with her.

Yes, there is a part of me that feels completely envious. Jealousy is a whole different creature from envy. I am honestly happy for M&S and hope that this baby brings them growth and happiness and perhaps a sense of selflessness. But I do feel envious because I cannot wait until John and I get to that point -- announcing it to our friends and family, scheduling doctor's appointments, and preparing for the little life (or lives) we have created together. I know our time will come, and I know that we will be equally happy (if not more so), but I can't help but wish (for this very limited part) that we can have that happiness NOW.

My birth control pills are causing me to have the emotional instability of a pregnant woman already and I want to cry. M was talking to another co-worker earlier about how she is feeling now, etc. and I just had to turn up the volume on my iPod and mute them out.

I just came from the bathroom right now to have a second to collect myself because I just cried. I confided in my friend Amy (Who can't stand M just the same) and she asked me, "Is it because you can't stand her or because you wish it was you?" and I honestly told her that it was both. Amy reassured me that our baby will be coming into a better marriage, a better home, and that she thinks that this baby will break up M&S because they are the primest example of not being ready for a child. I don't really care what it does to them, but I just care that John and I get to be at that point soon. 


We are so ready that it aches.

Much-Anticipated Results

June is back! Although Debbie was very nice and easy to deal with last week, it still feels great to have our regular nurturer at PRC back.

I didn't waste any time, and called as soon as I had a moment this morning. We had been anxiously awaiting the results of the pathology lab, and I had a few questions, as I received another pack of birth control pills in the mail on Thursday.

June explained the lab results and thankfully, they came back negative for malignancies. She added that one of the perks of using IVF actually is the hysteroscopy, as Dr. Salem actually "cleaned [me] out". In other words, because the hysteroscopy is not only an exploratory surgery, but also involves suctioning out any polyps and excess endometrial lining there is in the uterus, it creates a pretty-close-to-ideal environment for a fetus to live in. It's just like your house right after the housekeeper leaves. Further, I had some dark discharge a few days ago, which was explained to me as just "old blood" and my body's way of cleaning house after the irregular bleeding in July/August as well as after the hysteroscopy.

Dr. Salem does want me to finish out the last of my first pack of birth control pills, which I only have six left of. This means I will be done with it by this Sunday, the 26th, and get a menstrual flow next week. From there, I will need to start the next (new) pack of BCP on the 4th day of my cycle (e.g. the 4th day after the start of the flow) and take those throughout the month of October. We start weaning me off the BCP around the 25th, when the 3 weeks of Lupron shots start. From there, I will be taking 3 more weeks of shots and fertility drugs and hormones to include hGC, doxycyclin, Medrol, and progesterone. (Don't worry, those terms are all close to Greek for me; I'll explain further in later blogs as I get more clarification on them).

We are still, so to speak, on track with everything. Although this part feels long and tedious, I am feeling inspired and determined and supported by everyone around us. With each moment that John and I get closer to having a child (or two? or three?) we are much more thankful for each other and we feel the love for our still-theoretical children. I am ready as I will ever be... as anyone will ever be. I feel in my heart that our prayers are slowly being answered. As long as we keep our faith, then we know we can keep going on this journey.

P.S.
I'm working on putting up a calendar widget so that you can view our progress with IVF. Hopefully I can figure one out soon.

Thank you for all your following, support, and prayers! We appreciate them all!

Little Things

It is Wednesday and the third day in a row that I have decidedly not taken my prenatal vitamins. They always made me sick -- constipated and indigested, not to mention give me too much energy for someone who has a desk job. I've noticed that while on them, I stayed up much later at night, slept lighter, and woke up several times in the middle of the night, unable to fall asleep. Last night was the first night in two weeks that I have actually really slept -- and without the assistance of any sleep aids.

As for my birth control pills, I have continued to take them, despite the headaches and nausea they cause. I feel like I have all the symptoms of a pregnant woman -- irritability, nausea, mood swings -- and I am not even pregnant! What really got to me was last Saturday, when John and I were eating lunch as we waited for my engagement ring to get cleaned. During the conversation, John said, "So, am I starting to bug you now? Am I getting on your nerves?" I knew that I had been a little crabby lately, but did not realize that it was starting to affect him . . . and I felt rotten. I apologized, told him it wasn't his fault, that it was my hormones' fault, and despite his acceptance of my apology, I didn't feel any better. I felt like a spoiled, ungrateful wife. I can't change what happened, but I have been trying my very best in the days that have followed to be nicer and not let my roller coaster hormones get the best of me, and in effect, the best of him. John doesn't ever ask for much, and I want to give him so much more.

The nausea is ridiculous. Every day and every night, I am nauseous. No food sounds appetizing. For weeks I had craved and ate tuna melt sandwiches for lunch, and as of late, the mere thought is followed by those of vomit. My meals have become progressively less and less as I constantly feel full; however, once my body realizes that it is, in fact, hungry, I feel so starved that my stomach growls and I get hunger burps. Oh the burps! I burp so much that it's ridiculous. Little gas bubbles keep rising up from God-knows-where and coming out of my mouth. I do have to comment, though, that the burps have decreased significantly since I stopped taking the prenatal vitamins.

Our nurturer, June, is on vacation this week, and there is a part of me that feels like Jack Nicholson's character in As Good As It Gets when his regular waitress (Helen Hunt's character) is not at the restaurant. I'm freaking out a little bit at the change and the shift in constancy. She did give me a contact in the interim, Debbie, but it doesn't feel the same. Of course, I have sent Debbie an email of my first set of questions for what, I am sure, will be a long and arduous week for this poor woman. I try my best to relax and lay low, but those of you who know me know that that is like asking a dog to stop licking its ass. You can swat me all you want, but it's just not gonna change.

June also emailed me yesterday to let me know that she was going on vacation (I had known this since last week) and that she would be sending me another pack of birth control pills because now I will need to take them for another cycle. Looks like no matter the results of the pathology labs, I would be taking another month of BCP, which pushes back the actual pregnancy another month too. I keep telling myself the right thing -- patience, patience, patience -- but somehow I have such a hard time getting myself to believe my own words. I feel like I am coming out of my skin in sheer impatience. Waves of intense emotion have taken over my body and I can't control it.

One of the few things that keeps me going these days is John. He is a vision of patience and virtue. He is my source of solace and laughter. What amazes me most about him is that no matter how difficult I've become, how irritable I have been, he still manages to make me smile, and laugh, and feel good about myself. Most of all, I am amazed that he still manages to love me and not leave me!

The one other thing that keeps me going is prayer. I don't spend much time on my knees in white-knuckled prayer, but I have my regular and constant conversations with God. I know He is here and He does listen. I know He has a plan and I ask for patience to help me wait to see how it all plays out. It is only in prayer that we get answers.

In these situations, it's hard to find things to be thankful for. The waiting is hard, the emotion is overwhelming, and not everyone always understands or is willing to listen. I have learned to find the little things to be thankful for -- a meal that sounds good and stays down, the husband who patiently rubs my back when I feel particularly tense or sick, the love that keeps us grounded, the faith that keeps us stable, and even the ability to write [type] out my experiences and share with family and friends who read it and support us. These little things make me grateful for this life . . . and for the little life that I know will be joining us not long from now.

Painless Hysteroscopy and an Excruciating Week


It has been four days since my hysteroscopy.

My hysteroscopy was scheduled for last Wednesday, September 8. Ironically, that day was John’s and my “technical” one-year anniversary, as we got married in the courthouse last year on that day. Any illusions of a grand dinner or the like were, of course, pushed aside for necessity that day.

We left the house at about 7:00 a.m. and got to the Torrance location of PRC at about 8:20 a.m. Although my procedure was not scheduled until 10:00 a.m., we were advised the day before to arrive at about 9:00 a.m. or earlier, as we would be able to get in earlier. Thankfully, we did not need to wait long, as we were immediately processed in (and they did not waste their time taking our $900 for the procedure). Before I knew it, I was dressed in a hospital gown with a hair cap, facility-provided socks and sock covers. Complete patient couture. A friendly nurse hooked me up to an IV line and Dr. Salem came in shortly to go re-explain the procedure with John and me. Having very little to no tolerance to pain, scared me when she told me that they will have to numb the cervix and that it might sting momentarily. Even the thought of a momentary episode of pain, well, pains me. Besides the moment of hearing whatever results may be, that moment of potential pain was what I was most anxious about.

It was only moments later that John was asked to exit into the waiting room and I was taken into the procedure room. Despite having had to put my feet in stirrups more often in the past few months than ever in my life, there is nothing comforting about laying down on that bed and having to “scootch forward” to have my cha-cha exposed – it’s a feeling you never really get used to. Although that morning was no exception, they did not waste any time in sedating me (yesssss!). Another nurse, Mary, introduced herself to me. The same soft-spoken nurse from earlier informed me that she was beginning to put in my sedatives into my IV line. Like clockwork, I began feeling very woozy. The doctor asked if I felt alright, and I told her that I just felt heavy. I was awake throughout the procedure, but just felt tired and sleepy. The doctor kept me well-informed throughout the procedure, pointing out my insides on the TV screen, although honestly, I really could not keep track as the sedatives just kept my head mostly in the clouds. They wheeled me out shortly, and I remember the nurse asking me in recovery if I wanted her to have my husband come back in. I don’t remember my answer, but evidently, I said yes, as I slowly fluttered my eyes open to a very comforting feeling of John kissing my forehead.

I came in and out of consciousness. I fought the sleep as I knew I couldn't and wouldn't sleep comfortably there anyway. I wanted to wait until I got home to do so. When I could feign alertness enough, the IVs were taken off me, and I was told to get dressed and given instructions for the next few days. We want to try to avoid infection in the area, so I must take two Doxycyclin pills daily for 5 days. (Doxycyclin is an antibiotic) Also, although spotting may occur, no tampons, douching, or sex for three days. (Imagine my husband's thought process at this time.)

Because I was told not to consume anything after midnight the night before, I was starving by the time I got out. There was lots of discussion as to where to eat, and we ended up at Maggiano's at South Coast Plaza. I was hungry and I ate heartily, but barely tasted, let alone enjoyed my meal as I was so groggy. I fell asleep in the car and as soon as I got home, I was zonked out. It was 1:00 p.m.

At 5:00 p.m. I finally woke up and found John downstairs. Although I slept well, I woke up with a headache, much like a hangover headache. As my sleep pattern was badly tampered with, that evening, I went to bed with the assistance of two Advil PMs.

The adventure of sleep adjustment is no match for the ordeal occurring inside my head as I await the results of the pathology labs. The doctor noticed that there was some thicker endometrial tissue (the tissue that lines your uterus) and some polyps so she took a sample of it and sent it to the lab for analysis. The reason for this could have something to do with some irregular bleeding I had a month and a half ago or that I may have just started the birth control pill the week before. We won't find out the how or why of it for one to two weeks from that day. The doctor and June both said that a possibility might be that I take the birth control pill for another month more before starting the Lupron shots (the first of the hormone shots) during my October cycle instead of the September one. This pushes us back a month, but we just want to do this right. We don't want to half-ass ourselves, and in effect, our baby/babies.

This in-vitro process is long and arduous, and we knew that going into it, but I'm not going to lie that even in the beginning stages, hiccups like this really make me question if I am up for it. I know I have said it a million times: I don't care what I have to do; even if I have to stand on my head and spit out quarters for three days straight, I will do it because I want children for us so bad. However, determination does not always equate constant self-assuredness. We are human; we get tired, we get frustrated, and yes, we are constantly scared. We are scared that it doesn't happen, that we end up in a miscarriage, that our child/ren will have any abnormalities, that we wouldn't be able to deal with it if, God forbid, it does happen. On the same token, these are worries that most, if not all almost-parents and parents have. They are fears that everyone has because of so much love for their children, even if at this point, they are still our theoretical children. What I have to keep reminding myself about, however, is that this will happen and it will unfold perfectly according to God's plan. --- I'm sorry, I hate to get so preachy, and I hate when people get like that --- but I know that He knows the love between John and me, and He knows that we want children because we want to share that love with them. We are married, by Church and state, and have been, and these children are well-planned-for, well-prepared-for. In no time at all, His plan will come to fruition.

The Journey of a Thousand Steps Begins with One

Today is day 5 of my BCP and also the 4th day of my return to prenatal vitamins. So far, so good. I am still getting my daily headaches, although they have become noticeably less painful everyday. My energy level has been good, and conversely, have not experienced the insomnia I had last week upon first taking the prenatal vitamins.

I’ve been reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting as a way to stay ahead of the game. In doing so, I read about a genetic disease most common to those of Southern Asian descent, particularly Filipinos, called Thalassemia. Thalassemia is a form of anemia that causes the body to produce less hemoglobin, which is responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood throughout the body. There are two forms and one of which is deadly. Evidently, this is one genetic disease that we must look out for.

Thankfully, we are opting to undergo the process of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). Mainly, we are using this procedure for gender selection for our baby/babies, but PGD also screens embryos for a number of genetic or chromosomal abnormalities, including Thalassemia. I have not heard of anyone in my family on either side ever mention anything about Thalassemia or any history of anemia (with the exception of my mild version, which I attribute to the irregular bleeding I went through in July/August); in fact, I had not heard of it until I saw it in WEWYE, but I made it a point to e-mail June, our Patient Coordinator / “Nurturer” at Pacific Reproductive Center, to ask if they will specifically screen fro Thalassemia during our PGD process. If not, I am prepared to request my regular doctor for an amniocentesis at 16 weeks, just to check for Thalassemia or any other red flags. God-willing we get [a] happy, healthy, and normal baby / babies.

Tomorrow, my hysteroscopy is scheduled for 10 a.m. John and I have both taken the day off work because I will be put under general anesthesia for the 40-minute long procedure. While it is considered a surgical procedure, it is minor, and an outpatient procedure. I am nervous, but it did make me feel better that my regular doctor, Dr. Martinez, left me a message this morning that she inspected my ultrasound results (albeit from 4 weeks ago) and that they came out normal.

Despite the expense of $900 extra dollars for tomorrow’s procedure, I am confident and ready for it, and feel so lucky that my husband is so present and supportive in everything that has to do with having a baby. So far, our battles and roadblocks have been manageable, and we pray for our journey to be the same all the way through.

Sleep-and-Pills

Today is Day 2 of my birth control pill and also the second time I have taken my prenatal vitamins.

So far the experience I have had with my prenatal vitamins has not been the most favorable. I took it Wednesday evening, per the advice of my sister-in-law. She told me she used to take hers in the evenings before bed because they made her sick if she took it in the daytime. Apparently, I didn't take into account that everyone's bodies react differently to everything. While Melissa had no problems with sleep due to prenatal vitamins, my experience was quite the opposite. That entire night, while my husband quietly slumbered next to me, I tossed and turned like an out-of-sync washing machine. To surmise, I felt like I was on speed! I fought the sleeplessness with all my might, trying to stay in one position, laying on my side, on my stomach . . . all to no avail. Throughout all this, I kept on telling myself that if I was not asleep by 4 a.m., I would call in sick. I know the nightmare I become with lack of sleep. The minutes and hours ticked by. My body was so tired, but could not find itself any sleep. To make matters worse, I felt gassy all night -- I felt the bubbles going up and down my throat, not helping with my cause of finding some much needed sleep. At 5:30 a.m., I went downstairs to watch some news. I started to lightly fall asleep but got woken up by my gas bubbles. At 7 a.m., I sent a text to my boss to let her know I wasn't coming in. By the time my husband got up at 8 a.m., I was in the middle of watching movies on TV. There was no sleep in the near future.

That entire day, I was hungry, but the vitamins suppressed my appetite. So not only was I beyond sleep deprived, I was also starving. Crabby would not begin to describe it. I was an emotional wreck. My poor husband had to put up with me the entire day, until I finally took an Ativan (an anti-anxiety medication) at 7 p.m. I slept for 12 hours that night.

Needless to say, I have been afraid to retake the prenatal vitamins. My sleeping pattern is incredibly sensitive to any changes (be it caffeine too late in the day, an extended nap, and in this case, too much vitamins).

Yesterday, I began taking birth control pills. I need to take this for three weeks to help regulate my ovulation. I never really took birth control pills -- maybe for only a month or two at a time in my earlier twenties. The effect of these pills, so far, has been unforgiving headaches and fatigue. Yesterday, I suffered with a headache for the better part of my day, and was afraid to take any ibuprofen because I just don't want to be taking too many pills. I got out of work at 2:45 p.m., ran some work errands, did some shopping, and then went home for a while to freshen up. I had all the plans of going out again to run some more errands, or at least to go to dinner with my husband and stepson when they got home, but ended up getting so drowsy that I napped for 3 1/2 hours! One would think that this would solve my headache issue but I woke up, had dinner, and took a shower with a ginormous headache. Much to my own dismay, I went to bed with the aid of two Advil PMs.

Today was the first day I mixed both BCP and prenatal vitamins. I took the prenatals in the morning with breakfast, and the BCP at 9 a.m. as I had set my alarm to. I looked forward to seeing the effect of the prenatals because we were scheduled to go up to Big Bear to help my mother-in-law pack up the cabin, as she is selling it. I was anxious to see the energy I would have, but was surprised that not 20 minutes into our drive, I felt drowsy and slept for a good hour and a half of it! We got to the cabin and I didn't pack much, as I ended up laying down with another headache. On the way home, I fell asleep for about 10 minutes and fought sleepiness for a large part of the trek home.

So, I tell myself, three weeks of birth control. This is a preview of what is to come. Thanks a lot, hormones. Thanks a lot.

Introduction

It is now a well-known fact that John and I are starting the process of In-Vitro fertilization. Hand-in-hand with this process comes thousands of dollars in expenses, tests and procedures to no end, and nothing short of a shit-ton of anxieties and a roller coaster of emotions.

We have a had a lot of questions about having babies. When are we having babies? What do you have to do? Do you have to take shots? Are you going to be a giant bitch because of the hormones? Ergo, the blog.

I am not pregnant yet, but I cry at the drop of a hat these days. I’ve become one of those women I feared: the ones who see other people’s kids and tear up, or at least have that silent moment that my husband almost-always inevitably catches me on and has to whisper, “Don’t worry. We’ll have ours soon enough too.” I told myself, a blog is necessary. Let out all your evils and anxieties here. Well, maybe yoga too. The latter is still in research mode, but everything else is now swinging in full force.

For those who do not know, let me do a quick synopsis of IVF: IVF is actually one of two procedures we are going through. It goes with a procedure called Intercytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).

An IVF cycle goes about 7-8 weeks from treatment to fertilization. Basically, after several blood tests for me and John, as well as other physical exams, I begin taking 3 weeks of birth control pills. This part is important because it regulates my ovulation. At the end of the 3 weeks, I begin taking two daily subcutaneous injections of a drug/hormone called Lupron for about 1-2 weeks. Lupron is administered to momentarily suppress the growth and maturation of follicles (a.k.a. eggs). This helps in the timing part of the process. Next I get injections of the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). The purpose of this is to encourage body to produce and release not just one follicle in one month (as in normal menstrual cycles) but several (up to 20, I am told!) to harvest. After two weeks of that, they will be ready to harvest the eggs. On the same day and within the same building, John and I will enter different operating rooms and will be put under local anesthesia. They will then harvest my follicles and surgically harvest John’s sperm. Immediately after, they will take our “stuff” to the lab and perform the ICSI part – they will actually physically inject the sperm into the follicle.

The waiting begins here, as we have to wait the two- to three-day incubation period for the zygotes (egg+sperm) to become embryos. From that point, the embryologists will grade the eggs and will perform a process called Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). This process is optional (which, in our terms, means a couple thousand more $), but we want to do it because this not only checks the embryos for any chromosomal abnormalities, but more importantly for us, it will allow us to choose the gender of the baby. So after PGD is done, the embryologists will tell us what the best quality eggs are, etc. and we choose two (and only two – so NO Octomom here) of them to implant into me. We are also choosing an option to freeze any other good quality embryos just in case.

Out of those two embryos, a few options can happen: (1) Both may “stick” and we end up with twins – which is our goal; (2) One may stick and we end up with one child (which we will be thankful for either way); (3) None may stick and we will have to start the whole process again; or (4) Both may stick, and one can split, which would give us triplets.

Throughout the latter end of the cycle up until the end of my first trimester of pregnancy, I will have to be taking progesterone shots on my buttcheek everyday. Progesterone encourages the health of the lining within the uterus, thus helping the embryo(s) “stick” better.

So that’s the process. Today, I have started my first birth control pill (BCP). We have also been trying out prenatal vitamins, as both our doctors as well as books advised me we have been reading that it’s a good idea to start it before we even get pregnant. So far, it has been difficult, as I took one the other night and it caused some pretty horrible insomnia (had to call in sick because I didn’t sleep all night). Worse, it suppressed my appetite, so although I was starving, I didn’t actually eat anything for almost 20 hours – which, sorry for my poor husband, made me even crankier, crabbier, and more emotional. I took it in the evening then, so I am waiting until the weekend to try to take it in the morning with a meal, so hopefully the insomnia wouldn’t kick in as bad.

Right now we are awaiting the arrival of September 8th. On that day, I will undergo a small surgical, though outpatient, procedure called a hysteroscopy. In that process, they will put a camera “down there” to take pictures of my uterus, to ensure that there are no polyps or fibroids or other things that may hinder and downright damage the growth of a fetus. John is taking me to our fertility specialist’s office in Torrance. (We normally go to their office in Irvine).

I am nervous. I am anxious. I am scared. Crossing my fingers that everything turns out normal and ready and that the doctor finds no abnormalities next week.

What’s keeping me somewhat sane? A few things, really. One is my age. I am 26 years old, generally very healthy. My blood and hormone tests have come back normal and primed for babies. John’s physical exam went beautifully. His urologist, Dr. Rajfer, is world-renowned in the field of fertility medicine. Pacific Reproductive Center, our fertility specialist, Dr. Salem, and our “nurturer” / patient coordinator, June, have all been wonderful, approachable, and available for all the questions and concerns we have had so far. Most of all, my incredibly patient husband has been nothing short of a saint. He has not only put up with my emotionally-wrecked hormones and crabbiness, but also gone above and beyond by offering for someone to come in and give me a massage, taking me out to dinner and going shopping with me for pregnancy books for both him and me.

So that’s it for today. I am hoping that my commitment to this blog is better that the blogs from before. Wish me luck….

Thank you everyone for your prayers…