The answer is TWO lines

I am overjoyed that this blog has a very happy ending!  I was becoming increasingly worried about letting my readers down…. Isn’t this funny?

At 3:30 yesterday morning, I was looking at the test pictured in yesterday’s blog.  The second vertical line was so faint, but according to the test directions, it was still considered a positive…. Now, I was sitting in my bathroom a bit in shock and thinking it could be a false positive, but my escessively bloated condition seemed to be evidence that it was not.   I was wondering if I should wake Zach and decided to wait.  I went down stairs ate two grapefruit and then actually fell back asleep.  When Zach and Ella Rose woke me up later, I revealed the test stick and asked them both how many lines they saw.  Later on that morning, I had blood drawn for the blood pregnancy test that checks HCG hormone levels.  At 2:30 that afternoon, I received a call from my favorite nurse practitioner (who performed the insemination two weeks earlier) with the good news of our positive test result.  I told her she had the magic touch 🙂

I will return on Monday for another blood pregnancy test to see if my HCG levels are increasing.  If so, then this is a good sign that the pregnancy is progressing and then I will have my first ultrasound in two weeks.

We remain in blissful shock here at this news!

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Day 1 is here

So… how many lines do you see?

Image

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Day 9 “peas and carrots”

“… from that day on, we was always together.  Jenny and me was like peas and carrots.”

This line is from my favorite movie Forrest Gump, which just also happens to be the movie that I saw on my first date with Zach.

Zach is my husband, my best friend, my favorite travel partner, “Ella Rose’s daddy,” and my partner in crime in this whole infertility business.   This line from Forrest Gump comes to mind when I think about our relationship.  Prior to writing this blog, I asked Zach if he would be okay, really okay, with me publicly writing about our lives.  Although he said he would be, I still send every blog that concerns our lives to him prior to posting.  If he is not comfortable with it, then it is not released.  So far, this has not happened, and his only advice has been related to grammatical and spelling corrections J

When people think about infertility treatment, I think that they tend to just think about the woman and how hard this may be for her.   I would postulate that this focus on the woman is likely due to several reasons.   Let me mention two here.  One, the woman receives most of the infertility treatment (e.g., requires more blood and lab work done, receives repeated ultrasounds, possibly undergoes surgical procedures, takes medicine, undergoes the IVF or the insemination procedure, etc).  Two, the woman may be more apt to talk about her experiences (“Oh my God, I really thought the pregnancy test was going to be positive this time!”), desires (“I want a baby!”), and angst (“I cannot believe how expensive this Follistum medicine is!.”) than the tight-lipped guys who may not be blessed with the female’s innate gift of expressing emotions through words.

Despite the above reasons, I think that we need to acknowledge, respect, and support the husband who is also suffering through the emotional whirlwind of trying to have a baby.   Although he may not be subjected to shots in the belly, vaginal ultrasounds, or egg retrieval, he still has to “perform under pressure” when it is time for him to give his sperm sample or have timed intercourse.   He also has to endure the wait period before the pregnancy test.  It is further likely that he has to make sacrifices due to the financial shift of devoting a whole lot of money to infertility treatment (remember most insurances do NOT pay for this costly affair).

I want to take a moment in this blog to recognize my husband and the other dear men out there.  Thank you for being brave enough to enter infertility treatment, being supportive to your partner, working hard to financially support your family’s (and hopefully growing family’s) livelihood, and giving unconditional love to your partner through it all.

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Day 2 – let’s start off with some encouraging news today…

Good news to report…

First, I did not need to call Zach today to report “code red” (if you don’t know what I mean by this, please see previous two blogs).

Second, I am as BLOATED as an African Bullfrog (if you don’t know what this is, you can see one in the reptile exhibit at the Jacksonville Zoo).  I figure that this is the only time in my life when being BLOATED is a good thing.  When Zach arrived home from work today, I showed him my big ole’ swollen belly, but told him not to get his hopes up.  His response was, “Okay, when have you ever been that bloated?”  The answer, which of course he knew, is right after we found out that I was pregnant with Ella Rose.

Third, I am a citrus-consuming machine.    Over the past week, I have consumed an average of two grapefruits per day, gallons of lime-infused water (ran out of lime today, so switched to lemon juice), and one orange.  Now, I may be crazy and simply doing this out of superstition since this is what I did prior to learning that I was pregnant with Ella Rose.  Or, maybe, just maybe…. My body is wanting these vitamins and extra water because I have a little blastocyst who needs this right now… I can only hope the latter is the case.

So, do we have high hopes given the above?  Let’s just say that Zach looked at me during dinner tonight and said, “I think you’re pregnant.”  Oh, I hope he is right!!!

Fourth, as you can see by the above, my writer’s block is gone.

In today’s blog, I would like introduce you to guest writer, Ann Lander’s granddaughter, Alice.  Alice has her grandmother’s knack for addressing matters of social appropriateness.  However, Alice is a member of the Infertility Treatment Club, and she realizes that there is a need to address how the general public should interact with individuals who are struggling or have struggled with infertility.  Alice will kindly respond to some questions from this blog’s readers.

Question 1:  Hi, my sister is going through infertility treatment.  I am afraid to ask how things are going?  I want to be there for her, but I also want to avoid probing into her personal business.  –Sally, Texas

Response: 

Dear Sally, 

Now, would be a good time to remind your sister that you care about her.  Without asking questions, you can simply tell her that you love her and are there for her if she ever wants to talk.  Since infertility treatment can be extremely stressful, you could also make your sister smile and let her know that you care by sending her a thoughtful note or gift (like flowers or a picture of you two when you were kids) or offer to take her out to lunch.  Your sister will greatly appreciate you for these acts of kindness and love.

 Question 2:  Whenever I see someone with multiples, I am curious if they were the product of infertility treatment?  Is it inappropriate to ask someone this? –Nancy, WA

Dear Nancy,

The clear and simple answer is YES.  Instead of asking such a question, it would be better to remark how cute the children are.  If someone wants to share this information with you, she will.

Question 3:  I am going through infertility treatment.  Every time I walk into the waiting room of the doctor’s office, I see lots of unhappy women.  I would like to meet other women who are going through what I am, should I try to strike up a conversation in this setting. –Debra, GA

Dear Debra,

First of all, I wish you success in your treatment.  Second, it is natural that you would want to meet other women who are traveling this same path and likely experiencing much of what you are.  However, I think it would be good to respect the individuals in the waiting room who are likely coming to terms with their infertility and processing everything that is going on in their lives.   If someone is looking down or not making eye contact with you, then I would respect her desire for privacy.  If someone, however, indicates that she may want to converse with you by making eye contact and smiling, then I would say go ahead and initiate a conversation.      Also, you may want to consider joining a support group.  You can go to this website and look for support groups in your area:  www.resolve.org  You can also ask your infertility specialist if support services are offered through their practice. 

Question 4:  Hello, my friend and her husband just completed their first round of IVF after two years of trying other infertility treatments.  Whenever my friend tells me about her negative test results, I get flustered and just don’t know the best way to respond. If their latest attempt is unsuccessful, how should I respond?  -Frieda, CA

Dear Frieda,

First of all, I’m sure that we are both hoping you don’t have to worry about responding to the news of a negative result.  Hopefully, you will soon be saying a resounding, “Congratulations!” and devoting your attention to supporting your friend through her first pregnancy.  However, if this is not the case, then the best way of responding to your friend is first by a heartfelt embrace.  Then, tell your friend how much you admire her for her strength and courage.  Tell her that she is amazing, and the negative news just SUCKS! Then, you may want to repeat this several times.  Don’t feel like you need to talk here.  Leave the door open for your friend to talk if she wants and be a good listener. 

[Okay, just so no one sues me or accuses me of posting false information on my blog, to my knowledge, Alice does not exist and I have no idea if Ann Landers has children or grandchildren for that matter…. And, if they do – I hope that they are all very fertile.  Alice’s responses are actually my responses.  Also, no blog readers sent in questions and I didn’t ask them to do so.  Last, the questions came from my head, which made it very easy to respond to them.  :)]

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Day 3 – writer’s block

Having a bit of writer’s block today.. likely due to lack of sleep, a long work day, chasing Ella Rose around this evening, and the increasing anxiety as the big day approaches.  Luckily, I did not call Zach today to convey bad news. 

I totally confused Ella Rose tonight before she went to sleep.  I said to her, “Ella Rose, do you think there is a baby in Mama’s belly?”  She looked at me and said, “Baby, ” and then lifted up my shirt.  She looked at my belly button and then at me like I was a bit crazy…… Her expression conveyed, “Mama, what in the world are you talking about?  I don’t see a baby!”  and then she quickly became preoccupied with poking her finger in my belly button. 

Before writing this blog, I just looked back in my planner and calculated the number of days following my trigger shot (this shot induces ovulation) that I started my period.  For the first round of treatment, it was 11 days (awesome, past that point now).  After the second, it was 13 (that will be tomorrow, ugh!). 

Okay, I am ending this blog here, succumbing to my writer’s block and just going to bed! 

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Day 4 – Afraid to look down…

We are on the homestretch to the pregnancy test, and today I started to experience some anxiety.  Every time that I go to the bathroom, I dread looking down at my panty liner for fear that I am going to see blood, which would be an early indication of a negative pregnancy test result.  Yesterday, Zach said to me wearily, “I am just hoping that you don’t call me this week and say that you started your period.”  This has been the case during our past two rounds of infertility treatment.

Today, I will finish providing thoughtful commentary pertaining to episodes 4-6 on www.noneintheoven.com.

Episode 4 – “Swimmers” – Zach has not seen this episode, but he would totally relate to it.   Note to infertility specialists around the world, make sure your man cave is well-equipped with stimulating reading material and videos.  Don’t force our guys to perform their duties in restrooms (which would lead to arrest in most places) or sterile exam rooms!

I would also like to say that I do feel genuinely sorry for our guys because around the time that they need to give sperm samples, we ladies become watchdogs.  Some statements that a woman may say to her husband:  “You aren’t using your heated seats in your car, are you?”  “Are your running shorts too tight?”  “What did you eat today?”  “Did you take your vitamin?”  “Hey, I think your shower is too hot!  You need to talk colder showers.”  Okay, yes, I will admit it – these were all statements that have been emitted from my mouth, but really it was the HORMONES talking not me!!!

Episode 5 – “Expensive” – I have made mention to this before, but infertility medicine is liquid gold.  Unlike birth control that my insurance pays 100% of the cost, my insurance pays zero towards the cost of my infertility medicine.  My insurance also pays zero percent of the cost of the infertility treatment procedures.  I am not unique here.  Most patients receive no support from their insurances.  So, yes, if you know someone who is going through infertility treatment, then offer to take them to dinner and pick up the tab 🙂

In this episode, Kristen is having a panic attack because she cannot remember which way to turn her Follistum pen and is afraid of wasting the precious Follistum medicine inside.  Similar to Kristen, I have had countless moments where I completely freaked out because I was afraid of wasting one precious drop of medicine.  Please note that I am a big fan of Follistum because it is pretty darn easy to self-administer; minimally painful (remember it is administered via an injection into your stomach); and, okay, this is the main reason,  it was the medicine that I took when I was successful with my daughter.  I [heart] Follistum.. and, yes, to the manufacturers of Follistum, in the event that I need more of this medicine again (which I really hope that I don’t), I will mention that I love your product in ALL future blogs if you donate some medicine to the Mae and Zach Infertility Treatment Club (a small chapter of the big ITC).

Before my love affair with Follistum, I took another medicine called Menopur of which I am not a fan.  I had countless mental breakdowns as I mixed the Menopur solution with a sterile saline solution to prepare the medication for injection and then attempted to release the air bubbles from the syringe.  Now, the Menopur manufacturer makes this seem soOOOOOO easy in the directions and video clip illustration, but Zach and I both decided after doing this with much difficulty that you really need to have a nursing degree to accomplish this with success.  When I watched Zach prepare the injection, I would literally flip if I saw a drop emerge from the top of the needle.  “Oh, my God, you are wasting it!” I would exclaim.  Then, of course, the same thing would happen when I tried, and I would curse myself.  Then, I learned it made me feel much better to just curse the damn makers of the Menopur who should have been smart like the Follistum creators and given you a pen for injecting a ready-mixed solution!

Episode 6 – “Dairy” – In this episode, Kristen hears a televised news snippet on a recent study showing women’s consumption of dairy may improve fertility.  After hearing this, she consumes dairy around the clock.  I never tried dairy like Kristen, although maybe I should have!  However, prior to infertility treatment, I did try the following:  acupuncture, herbal supplements to promote ovulation, meditation, and probably others that I just can’t recall at the moment.  I don’t know if these things helped or not because I often did not try them in isolation and I may have not tried them for a long enough period of time.  Trying these things provided me with some peace of mind in that at least I was doing something that might be helpful as opposed to just hoping and waiting for the infertility problem to solve itself.  The latter I did for a prolonged period of time, and this was completely ineffective.  Ultimately, my husband and I achieved baby success when we went ahead and embraced medically-based infertility treatment.  Oh wait…  I mean the Follistum was really the key to our success J yes, I am hoping for some free medicine by adding that last sentence to today’s blog (which I really hope that I don’t need in the future, and I can donate to another member of the ITC club).

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Day 5 – www.noneintheoven.com rocks!

I recently discovered www.noneintheoven.com, a comedic web series about infertility.  The web series was the brain child of Kristen Sullivan, an actress who struggled with infertility for three years before deciding to channel her frustrations into this project.  The web series consists of six brief episodes that members of the Infertility Treatment Club (ITC) will totally connect to.  For non-members of the ITC, this will give you a great handle on what it is like to go through infertility treatment.

In today’s blog, I will share my comments pertaining to each of the six episodes:

Episode 1:  “Advice” – In this episode, Kristen (who plays herself in the episodes) first talks about how it’s really important to not become frustrated with your partner, which, of course, sounds a lot easier than it is.  After those moments where I have become frustrated with Zach or started an argument with him, I just wanted to say, “I’m sorry.  It’s not me!  It’s my hormones!!!”  I had comparable “emotional regulation” problems when we did become pregnant and my hormones were raging.  At this time, Zach was reading The Birth Partner book in preparation for his wife’s transformation and upcoming baby arrival.  The book stated how early on the husband may need to prepare for his wife becoming “a little moody” and “slightly emotional.”  Needless to say, Zach knew this was an understatement on the author’s behalf (probably because he was scared of his own wife’s reaction if he told the truth in text).     

Also, in this episode, Kristen remarks about how when you are trying to get pregnant, everyone has advise to offer and knows someone who did X, Y, and Z simultaneously while riding on a train and conceived… so, yes, you should do the same!    Here are some bits of advice that I have heard from caring friends:  try acupuncture, supplements (can’t remember the names), stand on your head or put your legs up after sex, make sure your guy is on top, go on vacation, just stop thinking about it, massage… I have also been given gifts for good luck (which I always accept because I do believe in luck J) :  Tibetan bell, bees wax candles, pottery with fertility symbols, and baby-making rum (I think that I also received advice to drink this and have lots of sex while on a Caribbean vacation, which is the best advice that I think that I ever received!).    Sometimes, it is hard for me to not become frustrated when people offer this advice because I want to say, “Hey, there is a medical reason why I am not conceiving!”  However, I appreciate all of my friends and family for caring enough about me to offer their two cents to try to help me reach my goal. 

Episode 2:  “Coffee”  – In this episode, Kristen is told by her Ob/Gyn that she should stop drinking coffee because it may be interfering with her baby-making.  This episode is devoted to the downward spiral of her functioning when she follows her doctor’s orders.  Let’s just say that… in the absence of good research on the impact of caffeine on conceiving, I am continuing to drink my morning cup of coffee, and everyone around me appreciates this. 

Episode 3:  “Mattress”  – In this episode, Kristen is given a crib mattress and a breast pump by a friend.  Kristen’s husband thinks it is premature for Kristen to accept such gifts and a bit strange.   I can totally relate to this episode!  Prior to having our first child, a dear friend called me and said she needed to clean out all of her baby stuff.  She had been trying for years to have a second child, and she was “all done.”  For closure, she decided she needed to clean out all of the baby stuff that she had saved from her first child.   I took her up on her kind offer.   After unloading two car loads of baby furniture, linens, toys, and mommy accessories (breast pump, boppy  pillow), my husband and I sat and stared at the belongings piled in our attic.  We were wondering if we had jinxed ourselves… but, three months later, we discovered that these items so tenderly loved and used by my friend and her son brought us great luck.  We continue to be grateful for these gifts…. Oh, and don’t worry about the warning notices on the breast pump, you can totally reuse it J …  Also, it may come in handy prior to the baby’s arrival, but I can discuss this later on if I am pregnant …. maybe I’ll start a “natural delivery” blog J 

Alright, I think that I’ll save my commentary on the other three web episodes for tomorrow’s blog…  Hope you enjoy watching www.noneintheoven.com

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