National Infertility Awareness Week 2015

What a good time for me to start blogging again! I just realized that this upcoming week is National Infertility Awareness Week.

One of the things that has helped me cope with my infertility has been sharing our journey via this blog, our YouTube channel, and my Instagram account. I think the busyness of "creating content" (i.e., posts and uploads) helps me put it in a perspective that allows me to think analytically about things, perhaps with a little less hurt.

So, I wanted to share some of the "things" I created and I encourage you to use these images for free across your social media accounts. I got the original logo from but being the creative person that I am, I had to edit it and make it more social media friendly. Obviously these are for those affected by infertility and those who wish to show their support for those suffering from infertility.

Code: TTC Cycle with HSG, Rx, and IUI

Long time, no write! And talk for that matter- I have done a terrible job with updating this blog and my YouTube channel. Most of that stems from my anxiety about perfecting something or having all of the details before I put it out in the world, but I am just going to have to say 'to hell with that' because I may never know all of the details, and it will never be perfect. However, since my last post a couple of things have happened, so let's take a trip down memory lane together...

The last post was during my third medicated cycle, Cycle 16, back in December/January. We knew that if that one ended in a BFN that we would go through with my thyroidectomy, which I am sure from the pictures you can see it happened. So, Cycle 17 was the Cycle of Surgery + Recovery. If you don't want to read about the terrible situation with surgery then skip down to the next section, "Recovery + Stress-less Cycles".

Thyroid Removal Surgery

At least I look happy in this top left picture, and perhaps overall I am happy with it being done, but the care after my surgery was a bit disastrous. First of all, when the nurse called prior to my surgery to find out what medications I was on, I was at work and couldn't remember my dosage for my Prednisone (Later on, I realized I could have pulled up my blog! Another bonus to this thing!). So I told the nurse she would have to check with my doctor that prescribed it- they are all a part of the same health system and he is listed as my primary. But she did not! She stayed with the guess that I was taking 10mg of it, and even when I was being admitted for surgery and they were double checking my medications I said, "Oh yeah, by the way- I take 2.5 mg of Prednisone- not 10mg," they didn't fix it, and I woke up from my surgery and they gave me the 10mg. I was so mad about that and they didn't have any response on that one.

My night nurse was actually pretty nice, but then my morning nurse was a nightmare and trying to get out of there was a nightmare. Before the surgery my surgeon came in and was like I hope you like to wake up early, because I'll be discharging you at 8AM." I said, "YES! I do wake up early, the earlier the better!" What. A. Liar. 7AM rolls around and the resident who was in on my surgery walks in and says the surgeon will be by around 9AM to discharge me. Soon after they serve me breakfast, I start to eat and I think, 'Wait- where's my Synthroid? I have to take it before food each morning. What is the deal now that I have NO thyroid? Isn't it more important?!' No nurse around to answer my questions. The cleaning lady comes in and is like, "Why aren't you eating?" and I told her I was waiting for a nurse to come by with my medicine.

Nurse comes by around 45 minutes later to say, "There is nothing on your records that says you are suppose to take that." Are you freaking kidding me? I just had surgery to remove my thyroid, now I sure as hell need something to sustain me.... We asked the nurse to check and he comes back 30 minutes later to say it was DCd. More anger. Don't play your freaking games with me, like I am suppose to know was DCd means. Let's talk TTC, D&C is a WHOLE other thing asshole. So I snap back at him, "What is DCd? How am I suppose to know what DCd means?" He then tells me that it means discontinued and that there is a note that I will be getting a new increased prescription, but it isn't written and they don't have a pharmacy to fill it anyway. At this point I am mostly mad that someone just didn't tell me they were changing things on me because I know Synthroid operates as a weekly medicine, so if you miss it one day, you can double up the next. But really, TELL THE PATIENT you can changing her life-sustaining medicine, please. It doesn't end here.

Surgeon doesn't show up at specified time. Then we are told resident will come around 10-10:30AM to discharge because the surgeon took the day off... OKAY. Didn't know that the day before? So then we are just waiting. And waiting. Then the time changes to 10:30-11AM. 11AM rolls around and so do resident and nurse. Resident says okay to go and I ask to have my IV removed, but nurse has to do it, but nurse is no where to be seen. I was feeling trapped and imagined myself like Rick Grimes trying escape the hospital, about to rip out my IV.

Then nurse comes back with prescriptions and discharge papers, I ask to have IV removed, but now is not the time. And then leaves again. And then comes back with crap to remove IV. Removes it, but won't let us leave. NOW he has to go get a freaking WHEELCHAIR and roll me out even though I have been walking around since an hour after I woke up from surgery. So I wait. And then he attempts to HELP me into the wheelchair that I don't need. And then we have to wait on the elevator. And then as we get near the exit near where G had parked, the nurse says, "No! You have to pick her up in the front circle." OMFG. G pulls up in circle and literally TWO men try to help me from my UNNECESSARY wheelchair into the car. So I'm like fine. THEN one goes for the seat belt, I am so fuming but I just let him do it because the less I argue the faster we can get out there. It doesn't end here.

We drive the 45 minutes home and stop by Publix to drop off my two prescriptions, one for the painkillers, and one for the new dosage of Synthroid. G comes back to the car to tell me that Publix can't fill the Synthroid because the doctor forgot to date it but they will call on Monday to get it taken care of. Of course. Because the slips don't tell one what information is needed... So we go home to wait on the painkillers and I just take one of my regular doses of Synthroid I have there. Then I get a phone call that the painkiller prescription was not filled out correctly at the top and that this type cannot be called in to be fixed. Yeah, I know that drill, I worked in a pharmacy once.

As you can imagine, I am raging at this point. A bunch of small, stupid, shitty things have piled up on me and I cannot imagine what it is like for people with more serious conditions than me. Those poor people. So I call the number I was given in case of emergencies, speak to a nurse who said she would call back in 20 minutes. I had little hope, but DR. JESUS called me back and said he would take care of me. JESUS. Really. He said he would call in two prescriptions for me but that I couldn't get the exact painkillers, that's okay with me, just give me something! So he followed through quickly and the rest is history.  It's situations like this where you just want to yell at someone and say, "DO YOUR JOB RIGHT," but you know that it literally will make no difference.

Recovery + Stress-less Cycles

Like I said, Cycle 17 was the Cycle of Surgery + Recovery, i.e., it was pretty much shot. You cannot do BDing when you cannot turn your head easily or when you feel like the stitches in your neck might explode through if touched at all. Seriously, the internal stitches feel creeeeeepy and they will take about 6 months to dissolve I am told. The nice thing about that cycle is that I didn't have the stress of TTCing. I was not sad when my period came. And at the beginning of Cycle 18 I thought, 'Hey, that was nice. Not stressing. Let's do that again.' So I deleted all of my TTC apps and bookmarks of sites and blogs, drank beer, wine, and coffee, and did not pee on a single stick. Until my period was late. And then I let my hopes rise, 'Yes! It worked, of course it did, that happens with all the ladies who take a break!' What. A. Fool. It was 34 days long. When CD 1 of Cycle 19 came around I was done taking shit, and being played a fool. WTH is wrong with me? So I called and setup an appointment with my RE.

This Past Cycle, #19

My RE said that my body had been responding well to the medications during the medicated cycles and that G's analysis was fine so now that my thyroid was getting leveled out that we should try medication again. I went in with a plan, though. I said that I had read about other women getting an HSG done to take a look and see if there were any problems there. He said that most often there isn't a problem, but that if I wanted to do one we could easily schedule one. Obviously, I wanted to do one, I want all the information possible when it comes to why this just isn't working for me. Then, for the remainder of the appointment we got all the information we needed about IUI and IVF. We decided to give an IUI a try. So this past cycle mapped out like this...

CD 1: Consultation
CD 3-7: Femara/Letrozole
CD 9: Gonal-F Injection
CD 11: Follicle Scan + Ovidrel Trigger
CD 13: IUI
CD 27: Test

Apparently, I am in the minority in regard to how my HSG went down. It was painful and did not come with good news. I sat on an inclined table so that my hips were lower than the rest of my body. It also kind of dipped in the middle for your butt to sit snuggly in place. Above me was an x-ray machine on an arm that could be moved around as needed. My RE had a hard time FINDING my cervix- surprise number 1: My cervix is deviated. What? How come in the past two decades+ not a single doctor told me this. Isn't this one of the things they feel for when they are all up in our business? I don't get that part. Still. Additionally, it is small. That's two bumps in the road for sperm travel. My RE had a hard time getting the tube-o-ink through my small, deviated cervix- this translates to PAIN. At one point, my RE offered to give up, but I could not see myself opting to sit through this again, so I said "JUST DO IT." He eventually got through and then came the ink and it was SO. MUCH. PAIN. And yeah, I get it- some people will say, <insert snotty, whiney voice here> "It is going to hurt more to have a baby." Well guess what, at least with that pain you end up with a BABY. This pain offers no such thing. Not even a future guarantee of one. So STFU.

Anyway, as soon as the RE says the ink is in, the nurse grabs the x-ray and starts taking shots and we are allowed to see the immediate results. Which are not so hot. Along with my deviated cervix, which is to the right, just my whole uterus favors the right side, and it stretch far away from my left ovary. My right ovary and tube could not be seen (probably because it was hidden by my uterus) but there was lots of splotchy ink around that area too. My RE said it could possibly be endometriosis, but it is hard to tell just from this one picture and that I should just go ahead with the IUI because the protocol to treat endo is mostly the medications I am taking, plus pregnancy does a good job of taking care of it too. I was too shocked and uneducated about the endo to know what questions to ask so I simply left. Called my husband crying and asked him to meet me at home and then called my sister and just cried to her on my drive home.

Seriously, four days ago, I stood on the streets of NYC with my students at the Today Show. We were the second largest group there trying to get some screen time. The largest group there was women wearing yellow, holding signs about being "1 in 10", for World Endometriosis Awareness Day. I remember standing across from them thinking about my own journey, how I am 1 in 4 diagnosed with infertility, but at least I am lucky to know my thyroid has been my problem and that I am lucky to not have to also be 1 in 10.

Well, shit. Now I don't know anymore. He said that it could possibly be endo because  the scarring could be causing the pull which places my uterus so far off to the right. But like I mentioned, he said to go through with the IUI anyway, so we did.

My CD 11 follicle scan looked good. The nurse was able to see my right ovary which made me feel a lot better and she saw three good-sized eggs: 28L, 24R, and 15L. I triggered that night and then followed the protocol of BDing that night but then waiting until after the IUI Saturday morning before BDing again two more times.

The IUI was painless, which was such a relief after the HSG. The following Friday I went in to have my progesterone level checked and I found out a few days later it was 58.2! I was excited about that because that is almost triple what it has been in the past. I even spotted a few new symptoms during the second week of my TWW and let my hopes get up. Stupid me. Damnit.

I think that is my biggest struggle with my whole fertility problem is that I feel so dumb for getting my hopes up, only to be let down. Even after I get a BFP, I know I will struggle with feeling hopeful that the baby will stick after having a MC last year. How does the saying go if you have been fooled beyond twice? Say, for the 19th time? I can only count up to thrice.

Like I said, stupid me to get my hopes up. Spotting started happening the day after I actually thought this could have worked and the test today is negative. I guess now I'll need to investigate and get a true diagnosis on the status of my uterus- endo or no? Are there any other tests I can have done? I've got to get it things straightened out in there, especially if I want to pursue IVF. I just wonder if my spirit can last long enough...

Will 2015 be our year?!?

I forgot to talk about the Prometrium that we are adding to the meds this cycle, so I will post details about all my meds tomorrow! For now- enjoy this video update!

Cycle 15: First Time with Injectables!

This cycle we have a couple of things happening: consulting with the surgeon about my thyroid and upping our TTC game with some injectables!

More than likely I will not be able to have surgery this month to remove my thyroid so we decided to continue our TTC efforts until the doctor says "We have a date for surgery." More on the TTC efforts in moment... As I may have mentioned elsewhere or earlier about my thyroid, it is not a dire emergency, but I have been advised my by endo to have my thyroid removed since it has Hashimoto's disease and is so large and not shrinking. My appointment with the surgeon is coming up so more details about that will come later.

This cycle we have decided to add injectables to the TTC cocktail of drugs I am taking and increased the dosage of the Femara to 7.5 mg (I noticed cramping on both sides with this dosage). Eek! Let me tell you, today is CD 9 and I was not looking forward to the Gonal-F injections but we survived! G and I watched a video about how to prepare the Gonal-F injection, followed instructions, and then he injected me! It was easy, stung a bit, and my dosage was doubled so it took two needles, but I am not having bad side effects so far except for a little bit of cramping- so yay!

On Tuesday I go in for a ultrasound to check out the status of my follicles and that's when they will let me know when to do my Ovidrel shot. The Ovidrel is a pen- so it is all prepped and ready to shoot! Wish us luck!

The Journey Continues...

Looks like Cycle No. 14 wasn't so lucky. Our journey continues and we hope you'll join us. We are so thankful for each other and our family and friends who have shown support.

Patience and positivity are hard to come by when you are facing infertility, but the strength of a great partnership makes facing all the difficulties much more manageable.

Acupuncture for Fertility

This past summer when I was seeking out ways to increase our chances to have a baby, I came across many  women who had positive experiences with acupuncture. I really wanted to go but was nervous about making such a decision for some reason. I think I was partly nervous about the cost and partly nervous about the needles- because I hate needles!

Anyway, at our first appointment with the Reproductive Endocrinologist, when he realized I was open to alternative or complementary methods, he suggested acupuncture. He referred me to two different places. Thankfully, I was able to visit both of their websites, compare offerings and fees and chose one. I called and was able to get an appointment that same week. 

At my first appointment, I had to fill out some paper work similar to what you would at a doctor's office. Then, she brought me into the room which felt much like a room you would get a massage. There were a table for the client to lay on, a table of supplies, relaxing music and a little seating area for taking off shoes and consulting.

After being led to the room and told to take my shoes off, the acupuncturist came in. We spoke about my medical history, what my progress with TTC has been like, and then what my goals were for acupuncture.

She then directed me to lay down on the table and roll up my pant legs and sleeves. Since this was my first time I had had acupuncture I only received 8 needles- two in each arm and two in each leg. I did not look while she was placing the needles but when she was done I asked if she minded taking a picture for me because I wanted to share it! Then, she dimmed the lights, put a heat lamp on my feet and played the peaceful music. After about 20-30 minutes, she returned and simply plucked out the needles and sent me on my way.

At my second appointment, we did not have to have a long as a discussion to begin with- she just checked on my cycle and symptoms and placed the needles. I graduated to ten needles for this session (two additional ones put in my toes!) After she was done placing them, I was brave enough to take a picture myself and then start relaxing in the dim peace. 20-30 minutes later, she returned and plucked out the needles.

At my third appointment, I had become familiar with the drill. Cycle update, needles, picture, relax, pluck. I was excited at this appointment because she placed needles in my face and then I started to feel like a real acupuncture client! What can I say, I'm a nerd...
My fourth appointment was exciting. Cycle update, needles, picture, relax, pluck. It was CD 10 so she placed needles on my abdomen to encourage ovulation. I think one important aspect of acupuncture is that the whole process itself is relaxing- the dim lights, peaceful music, the scent of essential oils in the air and the dedicated to just simply being at peace.

At my fifth and most recent appointment, the acupuncturist put even more needles in my head: one in my scalp, one in each ear, and one between my eyes. Honestly, I have not been able to keep count of how many- I still try not to look at them too much, just get a picture right after she places them and then relax.

So, the big question is "Does it help with fertility?" Obviously, I am still waiting on that one since I am in the middle of my TWW, BUT I will say that I believe it has positive effects for those who experience a lot of anxiety over TTC. I'll keep you posted!

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to check out my videos on our YouTube Channel- just click here!

It's What's Inside That Counts...

...and apparently what's inside me is a bit wonky so...

What I take ...
Morning: 100 mcg Synthroid
Afternoon (CD 3-7): 7 mg Letrozole (Generic Femara)
Dinner: PreNatal Multivitamin with DHA and Folic Acid & Fiber+Calcium Supplement
After Dinner: 2.5 mg Prednisone
Before Bed: 81 mg Aspirin ("low-dose")

Details & Reasonings....
The first thing I did last September, when G and I made the decision to start trying for a baby in October, was stop taking the daily birth control pill and start taking prenatal vitamins. I was excited to find GUMMY prenatal vitamins that tasted pretty good- I was worried after hearing horrible accounts of how they make some people sick! For this past year, I have been taking VitaFusion's PreNatal Multivitamin and their Fiber+Calcium PreNatal Support gummies but I recently discovered CVS has a version of the multivitamin so I am giving them a try.

After the MC, I began taking one low-dose aspirin at night, per my OBGYN. At a time when I was desperate to make whatever fixes I could to in order to make sure another one did not happen, she said that taking the low-dose aspirin was the only thing proven to help. Therefore, I take one of these each night.

Upon being diagnosed with hypothyroidism I started taking generic Synthroid (levothyroxine). I started out at 25 mcg with my original doctor and then when I went to the Endocrinologist he increased it to 50, then 75 mcg. My blood work throughout this time was showing improvement, and even got into the "normal" range, however, my doctor said that my TSH levels should be even better for pregnancy (from 0.4 to 2.5). When I started going to the Reproductive Endocrinologist he said I should take the brand name for this drug in particular because the generic version is known to have varying percentages of ingredients that make a noticeable impact. After my baseline blood work with him, he consulted with my regular Endocrinologist and increased my dosage to 100 mcg.

In addition to increasing my thyroid medication and changing it to brandname only, my Reproductive Endocrinologist had me start taking Prednisone because some of my blood work showed elevated levels of DHEA Sulfate. I don't have the finer details of the reasonings for this one, other than the Prednisone should help decrease the DHEA Sulfate so that I will have more DHEA in my system instead.

The last medication that my Reproductive Endocrinologist prescribed was Femara, or the generic which is Letrozole. Apparently, one's AMH levels in your blood work indicate if you should start with 2.5, 5, or 7 mg. I was in the higher end of the normal range and therefore he started me on 5mg for my first go-round. Femara is supposed to be a great alternative to Clomid for infertility issues because it has less side effects. I have never taken Clomid before, but I can attest to minimal side effects, possibly none. The first day that I took it, I already had a huge headache but it last for over a day so I am not sure if it had anything to do with the medicine.

Today is my last day of Letrozole! I am continuing my weekly acupuncture visits and will begin testing for ovulation with my Wondfo strips. I will share more about these aspects of TTC in my next post.

Take care!

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