Infertility: enduring more than you ever thought you could

I’m asking for prayers, love and light to be sent to a dear fertility friend of mine.

After enduring over 5 years of trying to conceive, 1 fresh IVF cycle that resulted in OHSS, extensive fertility testing including the scratch to determine the receptivity of her uterine lining (which came back positive), she just found out that her 4th FET was not successful.

She has never had a BFP.

Life is horribly unfair. 

This is why I feel like anyone facing infertility should never have to defend their feelings. We endure so much to achieve our desire to have children.

We undergo poking, prodding, testing, and surgeries that leave us physically vulnerable and emotionally bruised.

We face our fears and overcome them – only to find new ones hiding on the other side.

We learn who are true friends and family are. We leave behind those whose own journeys prevent them from being a part of ours.

We hope.

We fail.

We grieve.

Yet, we continue on.

We define what we are willing to do to reach motherhood – IUI, IVF, donors, surrogacy, or adoption. We may even find peace with a child-free life.

Does this mean we are unlucky?

No, it means we are strong.

We endure.

We come out on the other side having a completely different perspective on life.

We have suffered, yet we are grateful for learning the things we have, for facing so many life lessons, for becoming a better version of ourselves.

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Laurie – I admire your strength and determination. Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Dealing with insensitive (in)fertility comments

Yesterday, I had a mini-meltdown after my husband’s Aunt asked me how things were going and then proceeded to give me her opinion (or observations as she put it) about our fertility situation.

I defended myself over and over again until I broke down into tears and my husband told his Aunt to drop the conversation.

As I went over the conversation in my head later on, I found myself having to remind myself of the following (in)fertility facts.

1. Relaxation may help the process, but it’s not the main reason why you haven’t conceived or carried a baby to term. 

“Just relax”. Those are fighting words. Straight up.

Resolve.org has the best response to this statement: Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of “relaxing” are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as “infertile” until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren’t infertile but just need to “relax.” Those that remain are truly infertile.

2. A vacation may help to ease your mind and give you some time to reconnect with your spouse, but you are not guaranteed to come home pregnant. 

Fertility treatments eat away at finances and vacation time. Each month, we require time off for appointments and extra cash to pay for treatment and drugs.

If any fertile would like to speak to my boss about paid time off and donate a nice all expenses paid trip to us, I’d be more than willing to test our their ridiculous theory that vacations = babies.

We’ve taken many vacations throughout our journey, but that hasn’t changed where we are at today: still (in)fertile.

Since my husband and I are going out of province for our upcoming IVF cycle, we are actually considering it a vacation of sorts.

3. Minimizing the situation or offering your fertile (meaning unsubstantiated) advice is not supporting us on our journey. 

I can handle when a fertile shares a hopeful story of a friend who conceived via fertility treatment.

I can’t handle when someone offers advice that doesn’t make any sense at all!

Example: “Maybe you should stop acupuncture? Going to all of those appointments must just cause you more stress”.

Couples going through fertility treatments have a ton of appointments and a very strict schedule: follicle scans, pills, needles, egg retrievals, transfers, blood work, etc.

You may think that adding an extra appointment for acupuncture or yoga here and there may create more stress, but these activities are known to reduce stress and compliment fertility treatments.

I do my best to follow our doctor’s recommendations. I wouldn’t be doing anything that decreased my chances of conceiving. I know myself, my body and my limitations. If something is too much for me, I’ll make the decision to cut it. Thanks for your opinion, but that decision is not yours to make. 

4. (In)fertility is not anyone’s fault. 

Throughout our journey, I’ve felt like both side of the family have tried to pin our unexplained diagnosis on the other half of the couple (meaning my parents thought it was my husband’s fault and his family thought it was mine).

Statistics from Resolve.org show that (in)fertility cases are divided into:

  • 35% female factor
  • 35% male factor
  • 20% a combination of male/female  factors
  • 10% unexplained

It doesn’t matter what factor defines your diagnosis. You chose to pursue the path to parenthood. As a couple, you are on this journey together.

I truly believe that anyone who faces (in)fertility ends up being a stronger person in the end. We learn to communicate better with our spouses, our friends, our family and our doctors. We become advocates for our health and wellness. We recognize our limitations, but continue to push ourselves further than we ever thought would be possible.

None of us asked to be (in)fertile. We were diagnosed with a medical condition that is beyond our control.

If you are faced with nagging, insensitive comments, or ignorance from your friends or family, just remember that you don’t have to tolerate it. Your emotional well being should always be top of mind. Excuse yourself from the situation, leave the premise, tell them you don’t want to discuss it, or defend yourself and shed a few tears – like I did. Whatever you choose, just remember that there is no reason to be ashamed.

(In)fertility doesn’t define you. It’s just a part of your journey, your story, your life at this moment.

And when the going gets tough, always remember: us (in)fertiles are in this together.

Doing things my way

CD 4. Natural cycle.

Being the rebel that I am, I stopped my progesterone on Thursday, skipped my Beta on Friday and good ol’ Aunt Flo made her roaring appearance on Saturday.

Ain’t nothing like sitting in a meditation course all afternoon cursing your period cramps and the fact that you didn’t bring anything with you to provide some relief.

Emotionally, I’m doing alright. No major breakdowns since this last cycle declared itself officially negative.

The hardest part has been reflecting on our time line. When I first joined the (in) fertile club, I saw myself as one of the lucky ones who would only ever have to update her signature to read: IUI #1, BFP!!!!

4 medicated cycles including 3 IUIs later,  we are clearly not on the easy route.

I’m sick of friends and family asking if the cycle was a success,  only to get no response back from them when I say it was negative. Don’t bother asking if you can’t manage to spit out any sort of supportive reply.

My ball team gave me exactly what I was looking for. I posted in our group chat app that I would be at the game and looking forward to beers after (meaning clearly not prego). We played an amazing game,  went for a beer and no one asked me anything about it. They knew it was negative,  but they also knew that I would bring it up if I wanted to discuss it. Everyone else needs to catch a hint.

I called in my cycle start on Monday and left a message stating we would be taking a break this cycle. And they never called me back. Not really surprised.

I thought I would be anxious to get the paperwork done for our IVF consult with the other clinic,  but I’m totally avoiding it. And the fact that I need to get our records transfered… Awkward. I still have a few weeks to get it done though. 

Other than that,  I just feel like staying away from all things baby for a while.

If you don’t hear from me much,  please know that I’m trying to spend less time online and more time outdoors.

Sunshine feeds the soul. And right now,  my aching heart could use some warmth.

The chosen path is time for a break

13 DPIUI.

BFN. 

I ain’t playing around. I know I’m not showing much hope, but give me a break here. After 22 months, 4 medicated cycles and 3 IUIs, I know my body well enough to know when it’s another negative cycle.

I will still go for my Beta though.

Although, I’m not sure whether it’s to appease that small glimmer of hope deep in my heart or to just stick it up my clinic’s statistical ass that they failed, yet again. 

I have a friend at my clinic who just didn’t go for 2 of her IUI Betas. I thought she was brave to rebel against the process. She figured why bother? She had already gotten her period anyway. Can’t blame her. Us (in)fertiles get poked and proded enough!

Turns out, she must not be the only one as the nurses never got mad at her. She is also now happily pregnant after her 1st IVF. 🙂

As for which crossroad I’ve chosen: it’s break time. 

I’m sick of:

  • Being overly emotional
  • Having my life revolve around medication and appointment schedules in 2 week increments (pre-ovulation or post-ovulation)
  • The extra poundage I’ve put on since I began fertility meds (only about 10 lbs, but that’s enough!)
  • Not being able to enjoy my life because I feel like crap
  • Avoiding the things I love to do because of the “what ifs”
  • The grief from failed cycle after failed cycle

Our IVF consult is scheduled for July 8th. I have to complete our extensive medical questionnaire and get our records transferred from our current clinic. I want to have the paperwork done within the next 2 weeks.

And then, it’s time to enjoy being me without the worries and stress of fertility treatments.

I’m going to:

  • Be present-minded as much as possible
  • Curb my eating habits – healthy here we come!
  • Start working out – weights, biking, walking, running, yoga, softball. My ankle injury last fall combined with months of fertility treatment really set me back. I want to feel amazing in my body again.
  • Enjoy the sun, the summer and patio beers
  • Trust – that this break will be good for my mind, body and soul

I’m stepping out of the world (in)fertile madness and getting reacquainted with myself.

Welcome back, Lindsey. 

Free your mind, free your body, free you spirit.

Trust.

Good things are to come. 

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Medical coverage & (in)fertility: it’s all about the benjamins baby!

Unfortunately for us (in)fertiles, money can often be a deciding factor in how and when we proceed with treatment.

My husband and I both have family medical coverage via our employers through Great-West Life (GWL). Family coverage means that whatever isn’t covered on my plan goes through his for extra potential reimbursement.

As far as I know, it’s NOT common in Canada to have a medical insurance plan that covers IVF. I could be wrong though. Some provinces subsidize treatments depending on your medical history, but our province does not.

We do have decent AMAZING fertility drug coverage though.

So far, my Clomid + HCG + Prometrium (progesterone capsules) has been 90% covered.

Each IUI cycle costs us $350 for the procedure and about $25 for the drugs. Since our clinic is located over 40km away, we can also claim mileage and meals on our income tax. On paper, if we drive back and forth without a hotel stay, an IUI cycle with oral meds costs us about $700. I’m so glad it’s almost summer now and we don’t have to stay overnight! Canadian winters in the Prairies = harsh winter driving conditions. 

Anyway, I thought maybe calling my medical insurance company would help me decide which treatment option is best for us.

Last time I contacted GWL, they told me I had up to 90% reimbursement for fertility medications with no cap – meaning unlimited fertility drug claims.

I didn’t believe them though.

You know how it is when you get that one Customer Service Rep who tells you the WRONG info and completely screws with your plan. For all I knew, that particular Rep may have only been looking at the oral medications.

I decided to call them back if we ever decided to move to injectibles or IVF – just to be sure. 

This afternoon, I made that call. My current clinic posts a Drug Identification Numbers (DIN) list on their website for all injectible meds that they prescribe. The Customer Service Rep told me she didn’t need the list because my drug coverage would cover any fertility drug up to 90% with no maximum claim amount.

I had her double check like 3x before I would believe her. Lucky me. 

The catch is Femara (a.k.a. Letrozole) is considered primarily as a breast cancer treatment drug. Since it’s an off-label fertility drug, my insurance company requires the prescribing doctor to fill out a prior authorization form before you can fill your prescription and qualify for reimbursement.

Of course, they HAVE to make the easiest next step slightly more difficult for us. Ugh. 

Right now, I am VERY GRATEFUL for our coverage. It makes the thought of moving to injectibles less stressful.

So for now, I will hold tight and keep praying for a BFP this month.

If my stars don’t align, I have until CD1 to make up my mind.

Baby dust to you all! XO. 

At an (in)fertility crossroad: which path would you choose?

11DPIUI.

I tested this morning…

BFN.

I know, I know. It’s still early.

But, I’m feeling defeated.

I only used an internet cheapie today. I’m going to buy a pack of FRERs tonight and test again tomorrow (as planned) on 12DPIUI.

It’s hard to be hopeful. The last few days of the 2WW are always the hardest for me.

I was feel great up until Sunday – 9DPIUI. I usually am a nighthawk, but I went to bed before my husband on Sunday night. The progesterone side effects kicked in – exhaustion, sore nips, bloated and the ever-so-slight cramping.

I think the worst part about this potentially negative cycle is that we don’t have a plan for next cycle. I was hoping deep down that we wouldn’t need a plan.

Last week, we got our consult date for the other clinic we are interested in.  We are strongly considering switching due to their more advanced techniques and their focus on unexplained cases.

Our skype interview is July 8th.

We have an extensive medical questionnaire to fill out, then I have to contact our current clinic to send copies of our records to the new clinic, and contact my family doctor for a referral (helps with medical coverage since this clinic is outside of our province).

I have been putting it off, as I wanted to see what the outcome of this cycle would be.

Since we still have a cycle before our consult, our options are:

  1. IUI #4 + clomid fermera?
  2. IUI #4 + injectibles
  3. Take a break and wait for IVF consult with new clinic

My husband has left the decision in my hands. He said he will support me either way. He would like to move forward, but knows that the drugs are hard on me.

Being in this situation reminds me of a “choose your own adventure” book, except I can’t flip ahead to see what the ending will be.

Today, I’m leaning towards a break, but who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Hopefully a BFP. 

Home, relationships and the 2ww

I have a whole bunch to blurt out today, so here it goes…

Home life

Last Thursday while I was having my hormonal meltdown, my neighbour cut down all of the cedar trees that we along his fence line.

I used to LOVE the privacy and greenery surrounding our backyard. Now, I just feel like he is constantly watching us.

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I’m not sure what to do! Backyard landscaping wasn’t really in the budget this year. I felt like my backyard sanctuary isn’t so peaceful any more. My husband says maybe next year we could build a higher fence and redo the deck with a privacy screen. Ugh – next year.

The kitchen is ALMOST done. We have a few spots to touch up on the walls and one drawer to rebuild (don’t ask).

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I’ve also been going through my junk treasures to decide what to put in my garage sale. I’m hosting one at the beginning of June. Two of my girlfriends are going to join me to sell some baby stuff. It would be AWESOME if we are prego and can loot their pile before the sales start… but I’m not holding my breath. 

My one girlfriend is so strong. After having a really bad miscarriage almost 5 years ago, they have not been able to conceive. They tried IUI, but have decided to leave it at that.

She is selling the baby stuff that her sister-in-law gave to them for when they would have kids. That’s gotta be hard.

She’s done lots of soul searching to come to terms with only being an Auntie.  I pray everyday that they will receive a miracle.

Hey God – hopefully before June 7th when she sells all her free baby goods! haha

Relationships

Before this IUI, I heard from a few close friends, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law on my husband’s side.

I heard NOTHING from my parents.

I reminded my Dad on Thursday that we were going the next day, but they “forgot”?!?!

I got a text from him on Friday afternoon, on our 2 hour drive back from the clinic. It was a photo of my Mom holding my brother’s baby. Thanks Dad! So, I sent him the photo of me on the clinic table with my thumbs up.

He replied with, “Oh you’re not home. Sorry. Go ok today?”

I gave him a brief, “Yeah doctor was positive. Procedure was least painful but I’m cramping now. Counts were good”.

No response. 

I waited all night – all weekend in fact – to see if my Mom would message or call.

Who forgets that their daughter is going through an invasive medical procedure in the hopes of conceiving a child – their grandchild?

I didn’t even call on Mother’s Day (I had sent a gift and a card a week ahead of time, so I didn’t feel so bad).

Last night on my way home, I finally caved and picked up the phone. 20 minutes into the convo with my Mom, I brought it up. I told her I was shocked that out of everyone, my own parents were the ones who didn’t say “Good Luck!”.

She admitted that they had completely forgot (yeahhh they were too busy visiting my bro and his new baby – makes a person feel wonderful). I told her that it only takes 30 seconds to send a text. She apologized, but I’m really not sure it sunk in.

I’m not upset that they were with my bro, I’m just upset that they didn’t take the time to recognize what I was going through. I honestly thought my Mom would say something nice to me on Mother’s Day. Clearly, I was being naive. 

I don’t often feel like I need to lower my expectations with my own family, but I guess times are changing.

My husband did give me a card and two planters for Mother’s Day from the fur-babies. He has been recognizing Mother’s Day ever since we got our first chihuahua, long before we started trying to conceive. I am so grateful that he understands.

The 2ww

It’s 4 dpiui. No symptoms besides gassiness. Yesterday, I was bloated and crampy but it seems to have subsided.

I’m feeling a bit defeated today. My husband suggested we get away for a weekend next month, but I feel like everything is pending the outcome of this 2ww.

I’m staying positive by doing some daily affirmations and avoiding Google as much as possible. 🙂 

My husband insisted that I skip my ball game last night to take it easy, but I am going tomorrow. I’m don’t want to completely put my life on hold.

And it is super hard when people don’t “get it”. One of my team mates told me to “Get well soon!”. hahaha Right. 

Anyway… that’s it for now!

3 down… hopefully no more to go!

CD 14. IUI #3

WE DID IT!

IUI #3 is officially in the books.

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Out of the past 3 procedures, this one was the most pain-free. There was no need to adjust the catheter. Everything went smoothly. The nurse even said, “That went really well today. Good luck!” as she left the room.

My husband’s counts were 20 million with 45% motility.

We were a bit concerned that the motility was the lowest yet. Our RE assured us that his count was still excellent (her words, not mine). They recently switched up their procedure in the lab and have been seeing lower motility but higher counts overall.  The new process is actually giving them higher success rates. Higher success rates? Alright, I’ll take it. 

We discussed next steps with the RE, but I decided NOT to focus on the next steps. I am going to do my best to take my mind off everything during this 2ww. I can decide what comes next as we get closer to my Beta.

When we left the office, we took a selfie and my husband said, ”This better be our last time in this elevator.”

He doesn’t realize we would have to go back for our first ultrasound when we are pregnant, but that sounds like an decent surprise to me.

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Tonight, we’re having a relaxing movie night at home with our fur-babies. I’ve been feeling a bit crampier than usual, but I’m brushing it off as nothing to worry about.

Beta is scheduled for May 23… and the 2ww begins.

Come on baby. I’m ready for you. 

Me + hormones = disaster

CD 13. 

This week has been a variety of ups and downs. 

Tuesday:

I had a CRAZY SORE OVARIES. I ended up leaving work early, contacting my Reiki Master and having her send me some distant energy healing. I fell asleep giving myself some reiki (yes, I’m a Level 1 Practitioner – soon-to-be Level 2). When I woke up, I was feeling WAY WAY WAY better. My pain had dropped from an 8-9 to a 0-1. 

Wednesday:

I had an uber productive morning at work. I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired lately, but it was good to get the creative strategy juices flowing again.

In the afternoon, I had an acupuncture appointment. She found some blocks and was able to loosen them with some persistence (yes, a few needles kept falling out) and some moxa. 

I also did my HCG trigger shot at midnight. It’s a good thing my husband set his alarm as a reminder because we both fell asleep around 11PM, only to be woken up by the lovely BEEP BEEP at 11:30pm. 

I actually feel like the trigger shot is easy peasy now. I get more worked up about mixing it right than I do about shooting myself up. 

Thursday:

Today was an emotional nightmare. We planned on BD-ing last night, but that didn’t happen as we both were exhausted. The change of plan was to fit in a romp between the sheets this morning. 

I know that sounds close to IUI time, but I thought we could try it closer and see if that affects my husband’s counts and/or BFP success. 

Well… that didn’t happen.

Because my husband stressed himself out and “couldn’t perform”.

He kept getting calls from work, then he was worried about whether I was feeling sore still or not, plus he was supposed to be at the farm today getting ready for seeding. One thing lead to another, we didn’t have sex and my emotional breakdown began. 

I took the day off work (like I needed to do that right before a day off for IUI! Grrrr). I spent my time between crying on my bed and relaxing in the bathtub. I wasn’t THIS emotional earlier in the week. WTF is wrong with me today? 

I hope this isn’t a sign of what the pregnancy hormone will do to me WHEN my time comes. 

I calmed down late this afternoon and managed to get some work done from home. 

Tomorrow is IUI #3. 

I am praying that this is our miracle month… otherwise, I’m saying sayonara to Clomid and asking to be put on something else. 

Oh the life of an (in)fertile! 

So, what do you do? Do you have sex before and after IUI? Have you noticed if it affects his counts? Fill me in ladies!