Saturday, October 8, 2011

What I have been through since July 15, 2010

So, my original purpose for starting a blog was documenting what I was going through while pregnant. I have yet to become pregnant, and it just occurred to me that I could blog what I'm going through while trying to become pregnant. If/when I ever do become pregnant, I know it will be nice to have this blog to look back on to reflect what I went through, and possibly for my child to read one day to see what I had to go through to have them.

On July 15, 2010, Casey and I decided to start trying for a baby. At this time, I was working as a tax accountant, so we decided we would start trying once tax season would be over if I were to get pregnant at that time. So I started my cycle not long after that. At this point in time, my cycles were quite long, approximately 40 days. I had been keeping track of my cycles using an app on my iPod, so it calculated when I should be ovulating and when I should get my period. Well I was due for my period while vacationing in OBX, so I brought pregnancy tests with me, I thought how cool would it be to find out I'm pregnant while on vacation...that was my first negative pregnancy test in this journey.

To back track a few years...back in 2007, my cycles started getting longer and longer, and I was straight-up skipping periods, I was not on birth control because it never reacted well with my body. I decided I should look into this since I knew it was not right, I went close to 3 months without a period. I started going to a doctor who started testing me for everything! I had so many blood tests run, and had ultrasounds, everything! By a process of elimination, the doctor said I have PCOS. I do not "look" PCOS --> most women with it are overweight, have excessive body hair, and many other qualities you can see. The only thing the doctor could "see" were more than normal cysts on my ovaries, so they say this is what I have. Many people never have problems getting pregnant with this, and many people do. The doctor started me on a medication called Metformin. This medication has helped me have a more "normal" cycle. I've been on this medicine every since, and last fall my dosage was increased, I have to take 2 pills every morning and 2 when I go to sleep.

Back to reality, I started going to a Gyno in September, 2010. She saw all of my past information, had me do tons of blood tests and instead of wasting time, she decided to start me on your "basic" infertility medicine. This medicine is called Clomid. I take it for cycle days 3-7, then normally around day 14 which is about when one should ovulate, I'd go into the doctor's office for an ultrasound of my ovaries. At this time, they would look at both ovaries, and measure the size of the growing follicles which in turn release the egg. It didn't look great for the first cycle on Clomid. So we decided to try it again for my next 4 cycles (it's only safe to take for a total of 6 cycles). Unfortunately, I was not responding to Clomid like they had expected, so my next step was to see an infertility doctor.

On March 1, 2011, Casey and I had our first meeting with Dr. Sullivan at Buffalo IVF. He asked us a bunch of questions, looked at all of our past history, and decided to start me on a fertility medicine that women normally respond to if they don't respond to Clomid. This is also the day that we found out that Hopper was doing very bad, the cancer was eating him from the inside out. As we were taking the next steps to welcome (hopefully) a new life into this world, we had to make the decision to put Hopper down the next day (P.S. I'm crying right now as I'm writing this, just thinking about this, we loved him so much!). Before Dr. Sullivan started me on anything, he wanted to make sure that my tubes were clear and looked good, so I had to have a procedure done called an HSG (or dye) test, where a catheter is inserted into the Uterus and then dye is flushed through the tubes to check for any blockages, which I had none, so good news. P.S. Having a catheter inserted into the Uterus hurts like hell, it feels like a contraction, the Uterus does not like things inserted into it!

Okay, so the new med that Dr. Sullivan started me on is called Femara, it's actually used to treat breast cancer in women, but is used highly by infertility doctors. I started on Femara in April after a long March cycle. Femara is an oral medication, taken like Clomid, days 3-7. After an unsuccessful cycle on this, we decided to introduce the next step, which is getting an IUI (or intrauterine insemination or artificial insemination).

I took the Femara on days 3-7, then I started getting my ovaries/follicles measured by ultrasound on Day 10, and continued until they reached a certain size. For my first insemination, I had a follicle that measured 21 mm, which is a good size for insemination. Being this size means, it should be ready to be released and I will ovulate (hopefully). I decided to take an at-home pregnancy test 2 weeks after that, which was negative. So after yet another unsuccessful cycle, we decided to introduce one more thing that should help.

In June, I took the Femara on days 3-7, started getting my ovaries/follicles measured around Day 10, and on Day 13 I took the new drug, Ovidrel. Ovidrel is given by shot in the abdominal area (no it doesn't hurt). This is done at home around 8 pm, then 36 hours later, an IUI is done at the doctor's office. When I first found out I'd have to take a shot, it made me nervous, but then I wondered how I was going to get this shot. I did not think Casey could give it to me because he HATES shots, needles, bloodwork, all that. I mentioned to him about contacting a nurse friend and he said "I can give it to you," he doesn't have a problem administering shots, he just doesn't like to receive them. So, he gave me my Ovidrel shot which induces/pinpoints ovulation, and then I had my IUI on Day 15. In case you are wondering, the IUI does not in any way replace Sex! It's just another way that could assist in getting pregnant because the sperm is injected directly into uterus, and doesn't have to travel. P.S. Casey has "super sperm," so in case you were wondering again, I am the only problem, thankfully he is not. I think he could look at someone and knock them up with how many active sperm he has! Haha! Continuing on, on June 26, my 25th birthday, I work up with my period. I was absolutely devastated. I always thought I would have at least one child by the time I turned 25, and to find out yet again that I was not pregnant, was horrible.

So, we decided to do another cycle just like the last one, Femara, Ovidrel and IUI, my follicles didn't really grow very big on this cycle and there were only about 2 that were growing, but it only takes 1 to get pregnant. In the meantime, I met with Dr Sullivan to discuss what came next if this were to not work. Which as you can imagine, it did not.

So, here's what came next. Instead of taking an oral fertility medication, I would now only do injectibles. The medicine that the doctor put me on was Follistim. Follistim carries many benefits, but it also carries many risks. It's beneficial in that it grows the follicles faster, and bigger and people typically respond better to this if they didn't respond as well to the orals. Some of the risks are, our chance of multiples has now doubled, and hyper/over-stimulation can occur where in the most extreme cases, the ovaries blow up like balloons and if they become too full, they can burst! Eeekk! Follistim is administered via a pen. Every time a new shot is given, a new needle is attached and there is a dial that is adjusted to how much of the medicine the doctor wants the patient to have. Ohh and being on Follistim, the doctors monitor the patient much more closely via bloodwork and ultrasound every couple days. On Day 3, Follistim was started. This cycle, I drove to Buffalo 6 times which is approximately 120 miles each time. On Day 10, after I had been in for bloodwork that morning. I got a phone call from the Doctor (which the Nurses always make the calls, so I knew it had to be bad). He indicated that my estrogen had more than doubled since the previous day and that I was on the verge of being over-stimulated, so the cycle had to come to a halt! He specifically told me to "stay away from that husband of yours" because it'd be too dangerous to pursue the cycle. I had way too many follicles, which can result in way too many babies.

A very strange thing happened next, 7 days later on what would be cycle day 17, I began my cycle. Now I'm used to having cycles around 32 days, this was practically half that. I went in for my Day 3 ultrasound, and the nurse said I "have crazy ovaries going on" which is not something the doctors want to see on a day 3, on day 3, your ovaries should be nice and quiet. Another downside of the Follistim, the old follicles like to stick around from the previous cycle, we only want fresh new follicles for a new cycle. So, cure for this...take birth control for 2 weeks. Wait, now I've been trying to get pregnant now for over a year, and now I have to take birth control?! Not cool!! Well I did, so I was blessed with another period 18 days later.

Since I reacted "too well" by developing so many follicles after the Follistim last cycle, the doctor's decided to do a hybrid cycle basically. I go back to taking the Femara for days 3-7 to get the follicles growing, then on Day 7 I begin taking lower dosages of Follistim, while continuing to be monitored every couple of days to see how things are looking. By adding the Follistim to the Femara, the Follistim picks the couple growing follicles and grows them even bigger than they could grow with only Femara. On Day 15, they had me do the Ovidrel shot (which I did for the first time ever myself because I had to take the shot while I was at a Tupperware party, I'm really proud of myself for being able to do this). Then on Day 17, I had the IUI. I woke up that morning feeling like my stomach hurt. Well I get up to the doctor's office and the nurse asks how I'm feeling and I tell her about my little belly ache and she tells me those are my ovaries telling me they're "full" and ready for ovulation! Wow best belly ache ever! This was a great sign, I was so excited because I'd never felt this before. Before the IUI was done, an ultrasound is always done to look at the ovaries, and they looked great, best cycle I'd had thus far!

Well, all of a sudden last Sunday, October 2nd, I got crampy and started my cycle. This was very hard on me. I'm always hoping for the best but expecting the worst, but this time things were different. I reacted very well to the meds, I got the ovary ache, nurses were so it was so hard starting that cycle.

One of the options discussed in July was if the Follistim didn't work, then he wanted to do surgery. At this point, it's unexplained to the doctor why I can't get pregnant. I've had "help" for the majority of my cycles over the last year, and have tried lots of different things, on top of that I'm healthy, so in his eyes, I should have gotten pregnant by now.

So, next Friday October 14th, I'm having a Laparoscopy where a tiny camera will be inserted into my abdomen which will then will be used to look at my reproductive system. The doctor will be looking for scar tissue, endometriosis, anything that could suggest why I haven't gotten pregnant. If he finds nothing, I'm not sure what's next. If he does find something, it'll obviously depend on what he finds. This is considered to be a minimally invasive surgery, but it's still surgery, I have to have pre-op testing and be put under anesthesia. Casey will take off of work to bring me and I will probably be laid up all weekend, hopefully no more, but everyone handles things differently, the scarring with this should also be minimal.

So that's everything I can think of at 10:00pm on a Friday night (posted Saturday night because my computer decided to act up), this basically explains what Casey and I have been through over the last 15 months. It saddens me to see other people get pregnant. I'm happy for them, but at the same time I always wonder, why can't that be me? I do have Baby Envy and get sad a lot. There are many times where I feel like I'm failing. I feel like I've taken the right path in life, I have a Master's degree, a great job with amazing benefits, a supportive husband, I own my home, I feel we're financially ready for a child and yet I can't do the thing I'm supposed to do. As this goes on and on, I become more and more open because it does help to talk about it. I've found people to talk to and it has definitely helped me more. Anyways, that's it for now, I know it's long but oh well, my story is long. And now I'm going to bed to cuddle with my wonderful, supportive husband. Good night <3


  1. From your brother-in-law. Well we are all hoping for the best and you have a wonderful family to support you all the way! You know you always have me to talk to if you ever need support. You are always there for me when I need support and I will always be there for you too! I love you sister :) <3

  2. I love you and I think writing this is a great idea. I pray for you daily and I hope you know I'm always here if you need me. XOXO.

  3. With every day, You become stronger and braver with this whole situation and I couldn't be more proud of You! We have grown closer and stronger and no matter the outcome we will make it through this. Just remember, we have done everything we can do and theater is no failure in that. You have succeeded, in my eyes, at what Life has thrown at You and I see no shame in that. I couldn't be happier with the way things have happened in our life thus far, even though things haven't always gone the way we have hoped. It is said, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and I believe everything happens for a reason. We don't have to understand the reason yet, we just have to push through and play the cards we're delt. Life would be boring and pointless if everyone were given a royal flush. So lets take what we have and create our own game that ends in a triumphant victory! I Love You Angelica!

    Your Husband.

  4. I am also seeing Dr. Sullivan. We have been going since 03/2011. Like you I have PCOS, and my husband isn't the problem. I was on femara and clomid. None of those worked. Now I am on Gonal F and HCG trigger shot. I tried for one cycle and didn't get pregnant. Next cycle I had too much activity on Day 3. I didn't want to take the birth control to quiet things down. I actually wanted a little bit of a break. Going forward next cycle we are going to try IUI. This is one of the hardest things that I have ever gone through. It's so refreshing that you are so hopeful.

  5. Rachel, thank you for reading my blog, I'm hoping that it can help others out there. In this process we tend to feel so alone sometimes. It definitely helps to get it out! I wish you the best of luck :-)

  6. Thank you so much for posting this blog. It is nice to know that I am not alone in this process. And my thoughts and wishes are with you and everyone that has to go through this. I have PCOS and we are on our second year of treatment. We just finished our first month of injectibles, when I my cycle started after going through all of that the devastation was horrible. I had to take a month off just for sanity purposes, but will begin everything again actually tomorrow. I can't believe what a physical and mental roller coaster this has all been, but I know that in the long-run it will all be worth it. I admire you positivety and your courage to blog about it. All the best and wishes. Julie

  7. Hi Angelica. I found this blog kind of randomly on line, and I just wanted to say thank you for writing it. As I read I was shocked that our stories are exactly the same! I was especially shocked to find out that you go to Buffalo IVF and see Dr. Sullivan just like me! What a coincidence. At any rate, our stories are EXACTLY the same except I haven't had laproscopy done yet. I am in the middle of our first IVF cycle right now. I hope so much it works. Again, thanks for posting.