1DPO

I’m happy to report that the nurse was actually able to get the catheter into my uterus for IUI #2. It was a different nurse, and when I met her, I knew she would be better than the last. We used ultrasound guidance from the beginning, so no walking down the hall mooning people this time. It did take awhile for her to maneuver the catheter in. At one point, I was sure she was pretty close to giving up and going to find another nurse. I did not particularly appreciate the fact that our sperm had been sitting in its vial on the counter for about 30 minutes by that time. So, I told her I believed in her and I knew she could do it. I tried flexing my glutes, abs, and other core muscles to try to tilt my uterus for her. I also pit my fists underneath my butt to lift up my hips. When she finally broke through the last lip of the cervix, we could all see it on the ultrasound machine and cheered. The ultrasound tech said “THANK you for your positive energy! That was really helpful.” I had to laugh. I was mostly trying to keep the nurse calm and confident. It was SO gratifying to see the sperm at the top of the uterus on the ultrasound. It made it so obvious that they didn’t even get past the cervix last month. I only rested with my knees to my chest for about 5 minutes, and then we were on our way. Are you supposed to keep your feet up longer than that? I figured that my cervix would keep the swimmers in there. I did have a tiny bit of spotting and leakage later in the day. Google tells me that’s normal, though it was a tiny bit discouraging.

All in all, I’d say the IUI was much more successful than last month, and we left feeling much more optimistic as we left. Let’s hope at least one of the three lead follicles produced an egg and it has united with the sperm in my fallopian tubes!

Happy Halloween and fingers crossed for all of you in the TWW out there!

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Trigger & Stats

Because I love data.

IUI #1
CD 4-8: 100 mg Clomid
CD 10: 16, 14, 12 mm follies
CD 12: 21, 16, 13 mm follies
CD 13: Trigger at 1:00 a.m.
CD 14: Insem (1:00 p.m.)

IUI #2
CD 3-9: 100 mg Clomid
CD 12: 18, 17, 17
CD 13: Trigger at 10:00 p.m.
CD 15: Insem (10:00 a.m.)

Conclusions to be drawn?
Same dosage of Clomid for more days = more viable follicles, but not bigger follicles.
I feel better about earlier trigger this time. I think I might have ovulated early last time, since one follicle could have been as big as 25/26 at estimated time of ovulation.
At estimated time of ovulation (insem) for IUI #2, I should have approximately 24, 23, 23 follies – if everyone continued to grow at an average pace.

In hindsight, I wish I had asked whether we could do the insem today, at the end of CD 14. I think we might have been more likely to catch the egg and not miss ovulation. Though, I did not have a +OPK yesterday. I triggered last night without incident. Wife was nervously tempted to do it, but again she shied away. Now I am waiting for the insem, which is tomorrow morning at 10:00. Then I can start another fun TWW of phantom symptom spotting. Wee.

Okay, I’m done over-analyzing and brainstorming things to worry about for now.

Follicle Check

It’s CD12 and I survived another visit from our friend, Clomid. The side effects were similar this time, but I got to enjoy her stay for 7 days instead of 5. I’ll refrain from burdening you with the nitty gritty details, but know that Clomid is a feisty lady who does not pass by without a scene.

This morning I had my follicle check and it turned up two follicles on the left side (18.3 and 17.7) and one on the right side (17.9). There were a few small trailers, but we didn’t measure them. My lining was 7.3, and the doctor likes to see 8-12 at ovulation. Thinned lining is a common side effect of Clomid, so I’ll be using Estrace this cycle to give the lining a little boost. Estrace is a blue pill that some people take orally. I’m popping it right up my va-jay, hoping it dissolves, and then watching for blue discharge. Maybe the commercial writers for Always and Depends had Estrace in mind when they crafted commercials showing their pads catching copious amounts of blue fluid. I always thought it was strange, because I typically don’t secrete anything blue. Until now.

To be honest, I was slightly disappointed that I didn’t have two follicles on my right side. Because I can convince myself of all kinds of bizarre and unlikely scenarios, I have a working theory (based on the very short video of my guts during my HSG) that my right fallopian tube is shorter, and I am more likely to conceive with a ripe follicle (or two) on that side. Yes, I’m giving myself a side-eye judging face right now, too. My wife just ignores these theories at this point, not even wasting her time to say “you’re absurd.”

So, I anticipate triggering tomorrow evening with an IUI on Thursday. I assume that means my three leaders will grow another 2-4 mm, before launching themselves into the cavity of my abdomen in hopes that the fallopian tubes will vacuum them up.

I can now start fretting over whether I’m going to ovulate early and miss the tiny window of possible conception. The things I can over-analyze are unending.

In unrelated news, the wife had a swim meet this weekend. For adults. I didn’t know that was a thing, either. Until now, we’ve always planned for the kids to be swimmers, skiers, and soccer players. Because we can plan that. Until they show up and refuse to participate in those sports and demand wrestling, ballet, and horse back riding lessons. However, after spending the better part of Saturday at the massive, indoor, rec center pool, I’m questioning my fortitude for supporting child swimmers. It was loud, muggy, and chlorine-y. Blech. The horse stables are starting to sound pretty good, and at least I could catch a snooze during a ballet recital, right? Anywho…photographic evidence:

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New Protocol

We march onward. Ultrasound this morning showed no cysts and lining back down to 5mm, so we’re headed toward medicated IUI #2. The protocol this cycle is 100mg clomid CD 3-9. I’m not thrilled about the potential of seven whole days of clomid-induced constipation, but I’m prepared. I’ll be chugging water and Garden of Life fiber powder.

I complained to our regular nurse about the botched IUI, stabbing of my cervix, and emptying of the syringe before it got into the uterus, and she apologized. She is not the one who performed the procedure, and unfortunately, she is leaving on maternity leave, so she won’t be the one performing the IUI this cycle either. I do know we will NOT be having the same nurse again. And I told her if the same thing happens again, we are pulling the plug on this clinic. She apologized a lot and said that your cervix changes every cycle based on your hormones, so even if you have really easy IUI’s one month, it can be very difficult another month. At least this month we will be having ultrasound guidance from the beginning, so I won’t have to walk down the hallway in my paper sheet skirt, mooning other patients.

I also downloaded Circle and Bloom’s IUI meditations. They follow your cycle days, and CD1 was lovely. Very relaxing. Who knows if it will actually make any difference, but I’m willing to give it a shot. I did the first 15 minute meditation before bed last night and struggle a few times not to drift off, haha. It was a good way to wind down. I’m into the whole visualizing success thing.

The in-laws return to town this evening for two more nights of “fun.” We plan to take them to the planetarium and observatory to look at stars and planets. Tomorrow my wife wants to go show shopping, because she figures she can convince her mom to buy her new boots. Whatever. Below is a picture from last weekend when we took them on a very short hike in the foothills. Everyone have a great weekend!

Flatirons

My wife would appreciate if I told you that I’m not really taller than she is (maybe 1/3 inch). It just appears that way because of the rocks on which we were standing. And yet again I need a haircut…

CD1, Medicated IUI #2

AF showed up in the wee hours of the morning today, so I experienced my first ever short cycle – 26 days. I think I ovulated on CD 14 and had a 12-day luteal phase. I am interested to hear why the doctor thinks clomid + trigger shortened my cycle. I’m typically 29-33ish days.

I feel very neutral about this news. The last few days, all real and imaginary symptoms tapered off, and I didn’t “feel” pregnant, but I was also relying on the wise words of Decaf, who reminded me that most women’s first symptom is a positive HPT. So, I figured I would wait for that first symptom and ignore the rest. Obviously, I never tested, because I don’t like to test until my period is actually late, and this time she was mercifully early.

I’m slightly frustrated not knowing WHY it hasn’t worked in the last two tries – the first was an unmedicated IUI and the second included 100mg clomid and trigger. It annoys me to not know what I can do better next time. I realize that there may be nothing, but I absolutely hate the feeling of helplessness, or lack of control, if we’re being honest.

My nutrition, sleep, hydration, and activity levels were all pretty good this cycle. I didn’t experience much stress beyond the norm. I exercised more than the clinic recommended. The nurse suggested that I don’t get my heart rate above 140. Ha. I raise my heart rate to 160-190 five or six times a week… And I’m unconvinced that would prevent implantation. I’ve been working out at that rate for at least 6 months, and I’m under the impression that as long as I’m not adding weight/impact/strain, it’s okay to maintain.

I’m considering some type of meditation this month. Anyone have any experience with fertility meditations, chants, prayers, or novenas?

On the bright side, I get to have wine during my in-laws second visit in a week, starting tomorrow. I’m still pulling for those of you in the TWW! I hope we get to see some BFPs in the blogosphere soon!

10DPO, Deflating Boobs & Sharp Pangs

Up until yesterday evening (9DPO), I would have told you I could be pregnant. Then, this morning, I woke up to my boobs being deflated. Yesterday I was spilling out of my normal bra, and today it fits about right. There is still a small amount of tenderness, but not much. I don’t have very sensitive boobs (like, you can pinch and pull them without any pain…or pleasure), so I’m not sure that if/when I do get pregnant, I will actually feel the soreness many pregnant women describe during pregnancy – the type of soreness that won’t let you lie on your stomach.

I was pretty disappointed/angry when I woke up this way, because I know that your body pumps progesterone after ovulation and through CD 10-ish to support implantation. My understanding is that if your body doesn’t find that a fertilized egg implanted, the progesterone level drops and your period comes a few days later. So, I interpreted the deflated boobs and lack of all other symptoms to mean the end was nigh.

In the “plus” column, all week I have had little pinches around my lower abdomen, but I’ve dismissed them as phantom symptoms (or indigestion, muscle soreness, gas…). Twice over the weekend, I know I actually felt “pangs”. The first happened when I stretched my arms above my head in my desk chair on Friday (7DPO) – just a shot down the center, very brief. The second happened Sunday (9DPO) when I turned around in the driver’s seat to get something from the back seat of the car – just a little poke. However, this morning when I was stretching at the gym, about an hour after I woke up, I got a sharp shooting pain heading down from my belly button toward my vagina. It was like a lightning bolt and lasted 2-3 seconds. It literally felt electrified, and was slightly painful. A few minutes later, I felt another “ping”, but not as strong. It’s hard to describe the way my lower abdomen has felt…kind of tingly, kind of like I have to pee, and also like I am completely imagining it.

So, make of it what you will. I’m cautiously optimistic, but I’m also emotionally preparing for AF to show up on Friday. If I have other positive signs, I’ll test Friday morning. If signs take a turn for the worse, I’ll wait until Saturday or Sunday.

The weekend with the in-laws included a lot of driving/sight-seeing and what felt like a lot of eating. We took them to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, and a few local sites around Boulder. I think they enjoyed themselves, and I know they enjoyed the food, so it was relatively successful. I know that they noticed I wasn’t drinking, but they were kind enough not to mention it. Their family does not speak about many things directly, which can be frustrating, or refreshing, depending on the circumstances. My mother, however, noticed immediately when I did not have a glass of wine with cake/ice cream. She waited for the moment I was alone in the kitchen to ask “So, are you not drinking, because you might be pregnant???” I told her “no! I’m just so full…and I had a glass of wine with dinner,” which was partially true, because I drank a few sips. Our family speaks about everything directly…sometimes too directly.

The only good photos I took with my own phone this weekend were of buffalo. My mother-in-law really wanted to see “wildlife.” These buffalo, as with nearly all buffalo in North America, and not wild, but she does not care about the details. She was just excited to see buffalo for the first time. Without further ado, I give you buffalo:

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Thanks to everyone for keeping their fingers crossed. I hope the TWW is going smoothly for those of you who inseminated recently!

Progesterone

29.7 on 7DPO

Apparently 11-20 after ovulation is “normal.”

Of COURSE I am interpreting this to mean that a fertilized egg implanted,* duh. Progesterone rises with HCG when you’re pregnant, so the only logical answer is that my progesterone is rising as a result of pregnancy. Cue: more phantom symptoms.

*I am aware of no research to support this interpretation.

Waiting and Phantom Symptoms

Well, today marks halfway through the TWW. I also consider it to be the beginning of the phase when I might feel something. To be fair, the first week passed pretty quickly. I’m hopeful that the second week speeds along, or I get some strong symptoms that cut the wait short.

I am an EXPERT on phantom symptoms. I swear, I can convince myself that I feel all kinds of things. So far this cycle, I’ve experienced: extreme fatigue on 5DPO, pangs/pinches in lower abdomen on 6DPO, frequent urination and bloating on 7 DPO (today), and voracious hunger since 4DPO. I know it’s too early for these to be real symptoms, which is why I consider them phantom.

There is one other odd symptom, and I don’t know what to make of it. I have Trypophobia. It’s a completely irrational repulsion (or fear) of holes, irregular patterns, or bubbles (If you are brave, google it…but be forewarned that the images are gross/weird). I’ve had it since I was a kid, and things like locust pods can gross me out, but it’s usually pretty mild, and I typically just feel like scratching. Last night while I chopped a butternut squash, the seeds and fleshy center nearly made me vomit. I literally felt my face go pale when I looked down at the squash flesh. And we eat a lot of squash – this is not the first butternut I’ve carved. I don’t know why this time was so different. I am not a queasy person and rarely (outside of the flu) do I feel nauseated. This could be an odd symptom, no?

In other news, the weekend will be filled with entertaining the in-laws. They are road-tripping to Nebraska to visit family, so they are stopping in Colorado both on the way out and on the way back. We plan to do a little hiking, some fall foliage viewing, and celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday. Other than that, I’ll just be waiting for these phantom symptoms to turn into real symptoms.

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Waiting for a new little sibling to show up…

The IUI from hell.

The IUI happened on Friday, so we are approximately 5DPO. I’m not exactly sure when I ovulated, but the trigger was 1:00 a.m. Thursday, so I figure ovulation was sometime on Friday.

The IUI itself was miserable. A nurse performed it, and I was initially delighted that it was a woman and not the creepy doctor. However, after several minutes of her stabbing my cervix, I was regretting my initial delight. She simply could not get the catheter all the way through the cervix to reach the uterus. I was trying really hard not to express any pain, because I did not want to make her more nervous or tense. Finally, I had to get up and walk into the next exam room, because the ultrasound machine was in there. She did offer that I could put my pants back on before walking down the hall, but I opted for using the paper sheet as a sarong, because I didn’t want to waste any time, and I wanted the procedure to be over with ASAP.

The ultrasound tech, who I really like, was happy to help. But even with a better visual using the U/S, the nurse still could not get the catheter in. I think she basically evacuated the load in my cervix. Which equals an ICI. And we can do those at home.

My poor wife was sitting in the chair watching with HUGE eyes. She could tell, because she knows me, that my twisted hands indicated extreme pain. And she also had the pleasure of watching bloody instruments going in and coming out of my vagina.

The nurse tried to tell me that I have a sharp bend in my cervix that makes entering my uterus very challenging. What I did not tell the nurse (yet) is that I have had one IUI, which I barely felt. I also had an HSG just over a month ago, and the doctor skillfully navigated into my uterus with the catheter, spewed dye all over the place, and exited within about 4 minutes. This IUI took almost half an hour of her jabbing, twisting, and re-inserting, and I think she wasted our vial of liquid gold.

If this cycle does not work, I’ll be having a long talk with the doctor and head nurse about how I wasted my money paying them to screw it up. It was SO frustrating knowing that I had enjoyed five days of clomid-induced constipation (the likes of which I have never experienced), woke up at 1 a.m. to trigger, and paid a gabillion dollars for bullsh!t tests mandated by the clinic to have them drop the ball on the one yard line. It was so painful knowing that the sperm weren’t deposited deep into the uterus to swim their way out the Fallopian tubes and find the eggs. Instead, I pictured them stuck and dying in the cervix, which was undoubtedly swollen and bleeding from the trauma.

Now, I know sperm can swim, so I’m hopeful that one or two of the little devils made it through the uterus. If it worked, I will look back and laugh and eventually send the clinic a cheery Christmas card. I am trying to remain positive and hopeful, so we will see what the next nine days bring. In the meantime, I have no symptoms yet, and I’m waiting to feel some magical implantation tug or pang.

Cross your fingers for me that the worst IUI ever somehow created the best baby ever. Thanks!!

Trigger Shot

As some of you suggested, the smaller follicles tapered off, for the most part. On Monday I had nine growing follicles, with the leader at 16.4, second place on the other side at 14, and then five follicles between 11 and 12. Yesterday afternoon I have a leader at 21, second place at 16, and third place at 13. The rest were all under 12. The good news is, the nurse at the fertility clinic told me to go ahead and trigger. I am slightly disappointed that we don’t seem to have two viable contenders. NOT because I want twins, but because I want to increase the likelihood that one of them fertilizes and implants! But, some people on the world wide web seem to think that a 16 mm could be a contender. Anyone have insight on that? I’m also not sure how much more those three will grow in the 46 hours between the ultrasound and the IUI, or more sepcifically, between the ultrasound and ovulation.

The same nurse scheduled me for the IUI on Friday at 1:00. Those with trigger experience will know that means I got to get up at 1:00 a.m. this morning to do the trigger shot. It would have been lovely if they could have squeezed me in for a morning IUI so I could trigger before bed, but that option was not on the table.

The shot itself was uneventful and painless. My wife got up, saying she wanted to take advantage of this rare opportunity to stab me, but when the rubber hit the road, she shied away and let me do the dirty work. I think she was 60% trying to be supportive, getting up in the middle of the night with me, 30% curious to see how a self-administered shot would go, and 10% had to pee.

I doubt that the doctor or nurse who performs the IUI will do an ultrasound before the insem. Our LA doctor would do it, if we asked. I liked to see the collapsed follicle and know that the egg was off on its journey.

So now we wait for the IUI tomorrow, and then we wait for the dreaded TWW. It’s been about six months since we have had the joy of the TWW. My wife’s parents will be in town for two of the weekends, including when we will test, if we test. Honestly, I don’t love that idea, because I don’t like having to mask emotions. If a test were positive, I would definitely not tell them that early. Alas, it is what it is.